Fish RIP (2008 - 2012) Sadly Missed.
My training for Connemara has moved away from the base building phase. To be quite honest I got bored with it and anyway I felt that my base, coming off the back of last year, didn't need much building up. Also Connemara is creeping up and I needed to get my ass in gear. My approach this year is different from last year. Not for me the high mileage weeks I ran last March, culminating in a 114 mile week 3 weeks before the event (At times I used stand on my doorstep not knowing whether I was going out on a run or coming back from the last one ;) spending the rest of the time washing laundry). My quickly hobbled together plan this year is concentrated around 3 key sessions per week.
First up, and probably the least critical, are the mile repeats at the track on Tuesdays. I progressed these from about 6:48 pace down to 6:10 pace, being able to rattle off 5 with 2 minute recoveries during the last session (the night before Fish bit the dust). Hopefully these will be of some benefit for the two 10 milers I have planned, 4 (Ballycotton) and 2 (Mallow) weeks before Connemara.
Thursday mornings are reserved for Tempo sessions, which I have run in the vibrams as I plan to race my two 10 milers in them. Why? you may well ask. Why not! I may well answer. An experiment of one perhaps. The target pace for these runs are 6:20 to 6:40 pace - ideally sub 6:30 as my aim in Ballycotton is to run sub 65 (6:30 pace). I have completed 3 to-date. The first was a 3 & 2 miler at 6:27/25 pace with 1.5 miles recovery in between. The following week it was 2 x 20 minutes @ 6:29/28 pace and this week 2 x 22.5 minutes @ 6:26/39 (against the wind) pace. The warmup/down and recoveries were kept steady (between 7:00 and 7:20) so that the overall pace has been around 6:48/52 pace - completing my first sub 1:30 half marathon in the vibrams this week - 13:39 miles in 1:31:27 (6:49 pace). My calves certainly feel tight for a day or two after these runs as they share the pressure of the increased cushioning provided by the muscles of my feet.
My third weekly session and the most important (it's race specific) is my specific endurance weekend long run. Last year before Connemara I ran 7 runs of duration 2:45 or longer, with 5 of those under 8 minute pace (the other 2 were the second of back to back runs) and the longest a 29.17 miler over 3:45 at 7:43 pace (fastest of all my long runs). To-date this year I have only run 2 long runs of duration 2:45 or longer, the first a 22.42 miler last weekend in 2:45 (7:22 pace) and the second a 3:15 marathon (26.34 miles) @ 7:24 pace this morning. As Ballycotton is next weekend I have only 1 more opportunity to run long before Connemara ( 3 weeks out) While these runs have been very encouraging with a pace 20 seconds per mile faster than last years training runs I remember that last year I still only managed an average of 8:17 pace during the race, primarily due to a dodgy calf. Hopefully my calves will be stronger this year.
As far as my fuelling strategy is concerned, I don't have one at the moment and did not trial any on my long runs to-date. In fact this morning was the first time I ran the marathon distance without anything passing my lips (except for the cup of coffee beforehand) - I did keep a bottle of water outside the house as I was passing it at miles 22.4 & 24.4 but I did not divert from my course to take it (foolhardy perhaps). I lost 2.5 kg in the process. Certainly I am beginning to believe that taking food on board on the morning of a (ultra?)marathon is probably unnecessary if you have eaten well the evening before, unless you need it to get your bowels moving, which is important.
Apart from the vibrams, the two pair of shoes I am rotating at moment are a €20 pair of Aldi specials and a pair of lightweight Asics Gel Hyperspeeds, which I have used for the track work. It took awhile to break in the Asics for the longer runs (probably because they are designed for short races) but last weeks 22.4 miler in them went well. Likewise the Aldi specials this morning caused no problems, although with 420 miles on them, they are wearing a bit thin underneath, noticeable (surprisingly) because the thickness of the sole under the balls on my feet has reduced to a few mm so that I am beginning to feel the indentations in ground underneath, the way I do in the vibrams - the first time that I have seen shoes wear under the balls of my feet - is my foot plant changing in my traditional shoes??? There is also wear on the outside of the heels (see photo below - very noticeable wear locally under the balls on my feet). I think i'll use the Hyperspeeds for Connemara. 5 weeks to go!