Looking back over the first four months of the year I ran 5 races with 3 PB's @ 4, 10 and 39.3 miles - the last one was a gimme as it was my first at that distance. I was also just 1:30 shy of my marathon PB in Barcelona and surely would have lowered it if I didn't have a gammy leg. The last race, a 10k 6 days before Connemara, was more of a tempo run and was never going to yield a PB. So all things considered not a bad year so far.
My training since the Dublin marathon in October has had 2 distinct phases:-
Speed The Tuesday mile repeats at the track dominated from November to February and were instrumental in my breakthrough 10 miler in Dungarvan , at the end of January, by far my best result. However my speed has suffered since, particularly after Barcelona in early March, as injury recovery and preparation for Connemara took over my training regime. My return to the track over the last few weeks has shown that I do not have the same speed in my legs that was there a few months ago.
This week 5 x 1k at 3:43 (3:50 in lane 3) was on the cards, up from last weeks 3:53 - the aim is to to slowly return to the group I was training with up to February (who are now doing 3:36 kms). The session went to plan 3:49/48/47/48/45. Next week the coach is upping the pace for all groups so it may be a few weeks before I catch up. Plenty of time.
I returned to the track on Thursday evening to do some 400m repeats, which I had not done for at least a year. Initially I had planned on 10 repeats somewhere near 80 seconds (83 in lane 3). I teamed up with Pat Murphy who was also planning the same session with 80 second recoveries. The pace was tough but the 400s passed quickly. The lactic acid built up in my legs over successive repeats was an unfamiliar stress and when I was advised by Coach to stop after 6 repeats, as this was my first 400 session, I did not need asking twice. I thanked him for the reprieve and left Pat on his own (This was his usual Thursday session). While I could have battled on, the minimal benefit would have been far outweighed by the risk of injury. Endurance I was delighted with my run in Connemara, although my Plan A leading up to the race was for a 5:15 finish (8:00 mile pace). The race day temperature and erratic nature of my endurance training was enough to scupper that plan. Getting the sub 5:30 Plan B was still one of the most memorable race finishes ever (Plan C was sub 6 hours) The following schedules my weekly long runs since the start of the year, with the only ultra specific run in early January:-
33.2 - Ultra specific 21.1 16.2/16.8 - back to back 18.2 20.0 23.3 22.1 16.4 - calf strain 0 26.2 - Barcelona Marathon 2.1 11.5 21.6 10.5 39.3 - Connemara Ultra My return to endurance training since Connemara has been pedestrian as i'm in no rush as there is no marathon looming, well not at race pace anyway. Last weeks 11.6 mile run was followed by a 10.6 miler over the hilly viaduct loop this morning with a few of the guys from Eagle - it was all over before 9.
My endurance training over the last few weeks has shifted to the bike with a 3 hour bike ride last weekend to be followed by a similar session tomorrow. This is complemented by a 1 hr plus hilly session pushing the uphills on the big cog at the front and a low cadence in order to build up strength. I'm still slower than I was last year though, so a lot of work to do yet.
My swim training feels like it's going well, although I have no concrete evidence of this as I do not time my sessions. My training has been pretty simple with two basic drills (i) warmup/ cooldown using bilateral breathing (every 3rd stroke) and concentrating on lengthening the stroke and (ii) fast reps from 50 to 500m breathing on every second stroke.
Connie, the compulsive triathlete at work, is doing swim lessons with none other than Eillis Burns (well known local/national coach who trains her fair share of channel swimmers). Most of his training involves specific drills using pull buoys, fins, gloves & kickboards. He told me that in order to lengthen the stroke the advice is to stretch the lead arm as far forward as possible (imagine trying to reach a high shelf - this I knew) and not begin the down stroke until the trailing arm has come alongside the lead arm (i.e. both arms are straight out in front - this I did not know). So I tried to incorporate this into my stroke particularly during the easy paced warmups. While it took a bit of getting used to (and I still struggle to take in enough oxygen when bilaterally breathing using this technique) I noticed that the number of strokes per length (25m) has reduced from 16 to 14 (and from about 22 to 18 on the fast lengths - less haste and more speed hopefully) However reduced stroke count does not necessarily mean faster times.
Today's swim of 2,500m was the longest this year, with 750m warmup followed by 6 x 200m fast with about 30 second recoveries and a 550m cooldown. I though about adding another 2 x 200m but I was struggling to keep 18 strokes per length during the last rep and thought it better not to sacrifice form for distance.
Finally I've added a link to my sidebar ("other Interesting Sites") to a triathlete from Washington DC who is a tech wizard and knows everything worth knowing about Garmin products and their accessories (found through John - cheers).