Sunday, 15 February 2015

Marathon Training Week 5 of 9

Up until now I was just about managing to keep on track with my marathon train(ing) but this week it got  derailed good and proper - all down to the application of too much speed. I should have known that the paces I was targeting were causing a bit more stress than the body could take and I paid the price (although not too costly as it turns out) at the track on Tuesday when I lined up for my weekly speed session (4 x 1 mile @ 10k pace). After my 2 miles warm-up (programme said 5 - ops!) I started a few strides to get the blood flowing and immediately I felt a sharp pain in my right hammy and knew immediately that fast running was out of the question. The good news was that I was able to continue on and run at an easy pace without aggravating the hammy and the longer I went the less noticeable the niggle.
With no speed work for a week to 10 days my second session of the week, a HM race, was also out. This was no harm really as the closest (only) HM I could find was in Mount Julliet in Kilkenny (2 hours+ away) and with our own Eagle 5 mile club race to help out with on Sunday, I didn't want to be AWOL two days running. Instead I replaced the hard race with a steady longer run, which went quite well, with not a peep out of my hammy, despite pushing the pace down to 6:14 (downhill) at one stage - the secret being that I was well warmed up. The analogy of a "slow roast" in the oven comes to mind, where it takes quite a while for the heat to penetrate to the centre of the joint (muscle). So i'll keep that in mind when I want to push the pace next time out. Actually the next scheduled quality session, next weekend, is the mother of all sessions - the one, that if you nail it, your marathon is in the bag - 2 miles warm-up followed by 3 x 4 miles @ MP with 3 mile moderate recoveries. At least the paces from here on in will primarily be MP or slower.

I will keep the comparison with my previous training programme to see where the next few weeks lead me compared to 2 years ago.

Swim - 2 Km (Nose clip worked a treat)
Bike - 0 miles (Eagle AC 5 Mile Race duties intervened - i'll call this a cutback week)
Run - 60 miles (3 days rest - certainly a cutback week)

February 2015  - Week 5 of 9
May 2013  - Week 5 of 10
Session # 1 – 4 x 1 mile @ 10k Pace with 2 minute recoveries.
The plan this week called for 4 x 1 mile @ 10k pace with 2 minute recoveries between 5 mile warmup and 5-6 mile moderate cooldown.
I remembered the middle bit but forgot the length of the warmup/cooldown. It was a bit irrelevant in any event as after 2 miles warmup I started a few strides and the niggle in my right hammy reared its ugly head and stopped any fast running in its track.
So my only option was to pick up the head torch from the car and revert to an easy run on the walkway along the Curaheen River to get a double digit run in - disappointed with the absence of speedwork but delighted that I had no issue with easy running. Looks like i'll have to suspend the marathon training programme for a week to 10 days as speedwork is out.
12.18 miles in 1:38:43 (8:06 pace @ 119 Hr = 599 Hb/Km).
I wasn't worried about this session too much as I was coming down from last weeks 4 x 8 laps of the track to 4 x 4 laps this week with 30 second more recovery - ok the pace was going to be 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster, but how tough could that be. Quite a bit as I found out.
While last months UCC 10k race was @ 6:21 pace average, I had already completed last weeks 4 x 2 miles @ HMP in 6:16/17 pace so I set my minimum target at my 10k PB pace of 6:09. With lane 1 open I had 6 minutes 1,600s in mind (90 second laps - 6:02 pace). Ok a bit faster that 10k pace, but surely i'm capable of churning out 6 minute mile repeats - not quite as it turned out - hitting repeats in 6:03/05/06/04 close enough but mildly dissappointing - it's a fine line between the 2 mile repeats @ 6:16 pace last week and mile repeats at 6:02 pace. Perhaps if I had an additional days rest after Sunday's marathon I might have done better. Then again I wanted to maximise the number of easy/rest days before my second session of the week.
15.97 miles in 1:55:44 (7:14 pace @ 136 Hr = 611 Hb/Km) with 4 x 1 Mile @ 6:03/05/06/04 pace.
Session # 2 - Half Marathon Race.
The plan called for a HM race but since hard running is out for the time being I decided to replace it with a long steady run. I turned up an hour early for the club 11.3 mile "Coffee Run".
I warmed up over the first 4 miles and pushed a 6:39 5th mile, with no issues, so I kept a reasonably steady high aerobic effort between 7:00 and 7:30 pace for the remainder of the session, turning up deliberately late for the club run (fastest pace group was 8:00) so that I could play catch up with the various pace groups.
I caught the 8:00 group at the bottom of Rafeen Hill and was dragged up the 1.73 mile climb @ 7:45 pace average (certainly anaerobic @ 153 Avg Hr) and down the other side to the Rochestown Inn (1.54 miles @ 6:16 pace) with the last 4 miles @ 7:18 pace.
I felt reasonably strong throughout with not a sign of the niggle in my right hammy. With the absence of (and associated injury risk with) pure speed i'll have to approach the remainder of my marathon training (now 4 weeks away) from the endurance side - marathon pace and up.
23.19 Miles in 2:47:43 (7:13 pace @ 137 Hr - 614 Hb/Km)
This is the only scheduled race in the programme and therefore took on a significance all of it's own - the only real test of how my training has gone and what i'm capable of. The timing was perfect for the Bandon Half Marathon (& 10k). The only issue is that it's a hilly half and I couldn't shouldn't compare the result against my HM PB of 1:22:32.
 My baseline target was 1:25 (6:30 pace) with an eye on getting under 1:24 if things went well. Although the plan was to average 6:30 pace to the top of the hill at mile 6.
I headed out with Clubmates John and Tony, with John also planning on 6:30 pace (but more as a hard training run than a race) and Tony fresh from his 2:56 marathon PB in Limerick on Sunday.
We stayed more or less together until Mile 6 (39:08), just 8 seconds off target 6:30 pace average - although mile 6 was @ 7:04 pace (slowest of the day). I opened up the throttle on the downhill Miles 7 (5:56 - my fastest of the day) and 8 (6:04) and kept a pretty good 6:15 pace for the next 2 miles, passing Mile 10 in 1:03:37 - 6:22 pace (about a minute down on my HM PB  - 1:02:46 @ Mile 10). The going got tough on the long rise between miles 10 and 11 (6:50) as I passed Carmel Crowley (leading female) with my legs turning to jelly, but thankfully turning back towards normal as the road levelled out and dropped steeply to give me a pretty decent mile 12 (6:15). The drop gives way to an energy zapping short but jelly leg climb, where I get passed by a 10k runner (I could hear him coming for a while and had assumed he was a HM runner). The 10k started 45 minutes after the HM - so if I was finishing in 1:25 say (6:30 pace), I should be in the company of 40 minute 10k runners (6:26 pace). Great Idea because a flagging HM runner could get pulled along by the 10k runners - although he was the only 10k runner that I saw (not many sub-40s today).
The last half mile was a steady drop to the finish line where I could open up the pace a little - Mile 13 in 6:11 and a final push to the finish - 1:23:30 for a 15th place finish and first M45 (worth €50). Delighted. John was just behind me with Tony a few seconds over 1:24 (and 2nd M45 - lucky for me he had a 2:56 marathon in his legs). Just under a minute (58s) outside my PB, but that was never going to be challenged on todays hilly course.
17.7 miles in 2:01:12, with HM race in 1:23:30 - 6:22 pace @ 160Hr - 633 Hb/Km (Max 167)


  1. Scary when you feel a pull or something strange on the stride warm ups. Good reminder to make sure you are warmed up sufficiently before hand on cold mornings. I usually do at least a 3 K jog before attempting them. I wouldn't be so worried about missing a few speedwork sessions at this stage as long as you are getting in longer tempo runs. You can always sharpen speed the last two weeks before the marathon if needed. The side by side analysis is a great idea BTW.

  2. Get the old roller out for the Hammer Grellan good to see your going well

  3. Wow - sub-4 ks for the HM - you're in good shape Grellan. Take care with that dodgy hammy.

  4. Ah, I see that was 2013. Thank goodness for that!