Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2,440 Miles

I ran 27 miles less in 2008 than in 2007 (2,440 versus 2,467) but some of those miles were of a better quality particularly over the middle distance races. My 3 best results for the year were the HM in September, 10k in April and 10 miles in March. It easy to see from my yearly mileage breakdown that these races coincided with the high mileage months. My year was also beset with injury before my 2 marathons in June and October where I lost a total of 6 weeks training at a crucial time - all due to peaking too early. No regrets though I'll take PB's no matter what distance they are over. Happy New Year to All!!!

Monday, 29 December 2008

A bit of everything and a last minute PB

I woke up at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday morning to the sound of Abina rising, an hour later than planned, to set off for the "Next" sale. As she has risen early in the past to support my triathlon endeavors I decided to support her in her shopping endurance challenge and to see what all the fuss was about. So shortly before 6 we set off together on a cold (-2C) and frosty morning for the short trip across town. Just over 2 hours later we returned home with our purchases, having spent over 1 of those hours just queuing to pay. I don't think i'll be repeating the experience anytime soon - I just hadn't put in the training and it showed. As I browsed the aisles at a leisurely pace all around me shoppers moved at a blistering pace laying the shop bare before me - you couldn't help but be impressed.
After a quick cup of coffee Abina went back to bed to get a bit of shut eye before the rest of the house woke and I headed out for my scheduled long run. If only I had headed out at six I would be home by now. It was a beautiful morning for a run though - cold, crisp and sunny with firm footing underneath. My plan was to run for 2.25 hours so I headed into town along the Model Farm Road/College Road - along the south quays - across the river and up the north quays, through Sunday's Well and back out the Straight Road. A few loops around Ballincollig and I was back home for 11 with 17 miles in the bag. Not a bad mornings work.
I followed the run up with breakfast and an hour later I was back on the road with Adrian for a 22.5 mile cycle. As he was feeling energetic he took me over a hilly loop to Crossbarry. Needless to say I slept well on Saturday night.
Not the best preparation for Sunday's "Donough Coughlan Memorial" 5 mile road race in Bandon. My 5 mile PB of 32:06 was set at this race last year and my aim was to beat it and get under 32 minutes. I wasn't quite sure how the race would go as all my running since Amsterdam in October has been at a relatively "slow" aerobic pace with not one interval, fartlek or hill session behind me. Still it would be a good test to see where my current fitness lies. I had a slight concern going into the race as my left calf had begun to tighten up a little at the end of Saturday's 17 miler.
I headed to Bandon with Pat (next door neighbour) and signed up for the race with about 10 minutes to go. My warmup, which consisted of running the 0.5 miles to the start line and a few sprints, was less that perfect. I met up with Diarmuid (aka Miley) shortly before the start. He'd be the one to keep an eye on if I was at the top of my game - we were neck and neck after the first five miles (30:59) of a 10K race last April. I was no where near that level though. The course consisted of a fast downhill/flat first mile, a flat second mile, an uphill third mile and 2 downhill/flat miles to the finish. So my plan was to take it relatively easy until the end of the third uphill mile and see what was left in the tank after that. Once the gun sounded I headed off at a steady pace down the hill against a cold easterly wind over the first 0.5 miles. Diarmuid was already well out in front of me which I would have expected - being a master of the short distances he's never one for the slow start. At the bottom of the hill we turned west with the wind at our backs up through the town past the 1 mile mark in about 6 minutes even. Mile 2 was through the town and out the Clonakilty Road. One or two went past me at this point but I kept my pace even and comfortable, tagging onto one or two runners in front of me before turning south out the Kilbrittain Road past the 2 mile mark. 06:35 was the split - which I only saw post race (I thought I had been faster). We were now running up the only hill which went on for about a mile and while my pace slowed I began to pass other runners while I maintained a comfortable pace. Left again in a easterly direction to the crest of the hill and down to the 3 mile mark (7:10 was the split). I knew I would have to work hard but I was sure I was on target for the sub-32. I don't know why as I had not been keeping a proper track of the time and did not know what pace was required for the final 2 miles. Miles 4 and 5 were very comfortable compared to the uphill mile 3 but I did not take full advantage. With a mile and a half to go I felt a cramp coming on my right calf so I became conscious of not pushing the pace too much and making sure I got to the finish line without suffering the humility of stopping and having to limp home. I passed two runners over the last mile, one being the 2nd female, and felt very comfortable without experiencing any lung bursting pain at all. The last guy I passed came back at me strong over the last 100 yards, timing his strike to perfection and eventhough I sprinted for the finish he managed to pass me before the line. There was no clock at the finish and I forgot to stop my watch so I had to wait an hour for the results. I stopped the Garmin at 33:17 and when I looked at my splits it showed 26:03 for mile 4 and 32:25 for mile 5. However some of that 5th mile was spend catching my breath at the finish. It was looking doubtful though that I would break 32 minutes or even beat my 32:06 PB which would require a 5:57 or 6:03 final mile. As it turned out my official time was 32:03 - a 3 second PB which is not bad considering my lack of speedwork, less than perfect preparation the day before and that fact that I did not (could not) push hard during the last mile(s). My problem was that I had plenty of endurance but no speed. I could have run all day but ask me to up the pace and i wouldn't have known how to. That'll come in time. My warmdown consisted of a 0.7 mile hobble with Diarmuid - my right calf had begun to cease up. It's feeling a bit better today but I think I'll let the recovery run go for another day. Diarmuid ran a very respectable 30:50 - not long now before he breaks the 30 minutes barrier. That's it folks my last PB of the year and conditioning week 6 complete (Run 62.99 miles, Swim Nil, Bike 22.5 miles) Sat 27th Dec 17.09 miles in 02:15:00 (07:54 pace @ 140HR) Sleep: 4.5 hrs 5/10 Legs: 7.5/10 Sun 28th Dec 7 miles with 5 miles in 32:03 (06:24 pace @ 166HR) Sleep: 8.5 hrs 8/10 Legs: 8/10 (before the cramp set in)

Friday, 26 December 2008

I Will Do This

.............. maybe not this next year but soon.
Irelands first long distance triathlon is happening on 23rd August 2009 and while it’s not bestowed with the M Dot (Ironman) prestige it does cover the same 140.6 mile distance and comes with the distinguished title of √Čireman, but only for the winner. Not quite as sexy as Ironman perhaps, but then again sex should be the last thing on your mind as you crawl over the finish line. What’s attractive about the event is that the course is reasonably flat compared other courses in Ireland and the event also hosts a middle distance (70.3 miles) triathlon, which I could do in 2009. I just wouldn’t have the time to train for the full distance. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The weeks running is going pretty well with 10 miles on Monday , 5 on Tuesday and another 10 on the Eagle AC Christmas Eve run over the hilly Viaduct loop. I even managed to get out for a steady 10 mile run yesterday between stuffing the turkey, assembling a mario kart racing track, playing guitar hero on the Wii and driving zero gravity cars and my poor wife up the walls. The run was at a steady ("easy" for Brendan) pace of 07:30 which felt very comfortable throughout - best christmas present I could ask for. I intended getting in my long run (2.25 hrs) in today as I wanted an easy day tomorrow ahead of a 5 mile road race I want to run in Bandon on Sunday but as I got up a little late the run got postponed to later in the day and eventually it was cancelled due to lack of interest. I've now put it back until tomorrow when I have also committed to a 2hr plus cycle with Adrian. I just got interrupted by my good lady wife who informed me that she is getting up at 04:30 a.m. to go to the "Next" sale at 5:00. "Do you want to come?" she says. "Why" I ask "what do we need". "You can get things for €3" was the only response. I may just get up with her and go for that long run afterwards instead. Hope everyone is having a good holiday. Mon 22nd Dec 10.43 miles in 01:21:15 (07:48 pace no HRM) Sleep: 7hrs 7/10 Legs: 7/10 Tue 23rd Dec 5.25 miles in 45:53 (08:44 pace - no HRM) Sleep: 6.5 hrs 7/10 Legs: 6/10 (heavy) Wed 24th Dec 10.68 miles in 01:30:38 (08:29 pace - no HR) - hilly Sleep: 7hrs 7/10 Legs: 7.5/10 Thur 25th Dec 10.04 miles in 01:15:17 (07:30 pace @ 136HR) Sleep: 6/hrs 6.5/10 (Abinas phone alarm at 7 a.m. was the start of thr domino effect that is christmas morning) Legs: 8.5/10 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, 21 December 2008

A feed of pints, barefooting & other stuff

I don't know what stage of the evolutionary ladder I was on when I rose shortly after 8 on Saturday morning after a few pints of the black stuff at the annual Christmas bash and 5 hours sleep. Although thanks to Abina and some plink, plink fizz before I went to bed at 3 a.m. I could have felt an awful lot worse.
9 a.m. was the time for the Eagle AC Christmas run from the Lee rowing club on the Marina. As I was legally unable to drive (probably) I decided to cycle into town with my fivefingers strapped to the crossbar (I don't know where the law stands on blood/alcohol levels and cycling - getting banned would certainly be the end of my triathlon career). Anyway the cycle into town with the wind at my back went off without a hitch.
A group of about 20 had made the journey to the marina and after slipping (struggling) into the fivefingers and a few group photographs we were off on a 6 mile loop along the estuary/old passage railway walk. I decided to run barefoot as I knew the pace would be relatively easy (9 minute pace) and it would either provide a topic of conversation or provoke some funny stares (who's the langer in the poncy shoes). I ran most of the 6 miles with Jane and Donal McGrath. Jane is a prolific marathoner and triathlete and has just completed her second ironman in Florida (under 12 hours and all). It was very interesting talking to her about her training. She's off to Valencia for a marathon in 8 weeks and after that she has targeted the two oceans marathon (56k) in her native South Africa.
My feet felt reasonably comfortable over the 6 miles which averaged at about 08:45 pace. A few runners, led by John Desmond, were heading out on another loop to get 12+ miles for the day. I had the option of changing into my runners before setting out but I decided to keep going as I felt fine - this was going to be my longest barefoot run (my longest to-date was a 10 miler on Wednesday).
6 in all headed out on the second loop which took us out through Ballinlough to the Skehard Road before turning onto a gravel/stone trail for about 0.25 miles at the 10 mile mark. My stride up to that point had been quite good and while I may have felt some discomfort on the balls of my feet it was easily bearable. Now I was hopping all over the place as if running on hot coals as sharp stones pushed up through the thin rubber soles. I was glad when we returned to the macadam path at the mahon footbrigde although for the last 2 miles the ball of my left foot was sore. There was 4 of us left at this stage - John D and Pat Twomey setting the pace at the front and Denis Looney and I taking up the rear. The last mile was just over 07:30 pace. A quick stretch and change of shoes and I was on my bike for the 9+ mile cycle home. I dumped the bike at home and ran the 1.3 miles to collect my car from the Oriel Hotel, where I had left it the night before. Not a bad day considering.
All in all I covered about 14 miles in the 2 runs (12.69 + 1.38) not quite getting the 2.25 hour planned "long run" in. All my runs this week have been a bit jumbled. The long runs were short and the short runs long. Monday to Saturday went something like 10, 10, 10, 11.5, 2.5 and 14 - the only thing varying the monotony from day to day was the pace. What's more significant is that 22.6 of those miles were run barefoot - certainly a record. "Would you run a marathon in them" I was asked by John D yesterday and funnily enough this very question had been on my mind during the week. My ten miler on Wednesday was at a very comfortable 09:01 pace which I felt I could have maintained forever (famous last words of a first time marathoner I know) so while I probably could run a barefoot marathon I don't know if I would as I am more results driven at the moment and I don't think running barefoot would give me my best marathon (yet!).
The two main reasons for barefoot running are that I enjoy it and I feel it helps somewhat in improving my stride by preventing heel striking. The pain I felt yesterday is largely gone and should be expected as my feet are not used to getting a full workout as they have relied on the protection and help of heavily cushioned shoes to do the work for them heretofore. I have read a few articles on barefoot running and while interesting barefoot runners are considered as bit "out there" - one of the barefoot running links I clicked on was blocked by my internet service provider which asked me did I want to proceed as it came under the heading "occult". Funny the things that are preceived as inappropriate on the net.
It's been a busy week on the homefront with 2 school concerts to attend and my eldest, Keevsa, turning 16 on Wednesday - seems like only yesterday and all that. She's been very industrious now that she has reached the legal working age and started a part-time Christmas job on Thursday which is a feat in itself given the recession we're in.
Hope everyone has a pleasant Christmas.
Mon 15th Dec
a.m. 10.04 miles in 01:25:00 (08:28 pace @ 127HR)
p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (08:25 pace - treadmill)
Sleep; 7hrs 7/10
Legs: 7/10
Tue 16th Dec
p.m. 10.01 miles in 01:18:02 (07:48 pace @ 139HR)
Sleep: 8hrs 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Wed 17th Dec
10.05 miles in 01:30:35 (09:01 pace @ 121HR) Barefoot
Sleep:6.5hrs 7/10
Legs 8/10
Thur 18th Dec
11.49 miles in 01:33:20 (08:07 pace @ 136HR)
Sleep: 6hrs 6.5/10
Legs: 7/10
Fri 19th Dec
2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace - treadmill)
Sleep: 8hrs 8/10
Legs: 7.5/10
Sat 20th Dec
12.69 miles in 01:47:38 (08:29 pace @ 128HR)
1.38 miles in 10:54 (07:53 pace @ 140HR)
Sleep: 5hrs 6/10
Legs; 7/10
Sun 21st Dec
Complete rest day
Conditioning week 5 - Run 60.6 miles, Bike 18.3 miles, Swim 1.5k.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Joker

.............. in the family on spotting my blog has set up an alternative site to chart his comedy career and has promised to post every time that I do - so it should be fun.
While all the indications from Tuesdays MAF test are very positive it really only indicates how low my normal aerobic pace had fallen to after the marathon and how long it took to get back on track - I obviously needed the rest and recuperation and as long as I was patient my body would tell me when it was ready for a more challenging pace.
Another "barefoot" run on Wednesday over 8.5+ miles went without a hitch and while the pace was easy the average HR at 126 was a welcome surprise. With the week that was in it (well really I was too lazy to get up early enough) I only managed another 8.5 miles (with full cushioning this time) before Saturday mornings long run over 02:15. I've still a long way to go to get my endurance back as my legs felt heavy and achy over the last few miles - plenty of time.
Another rest day today saw me complete conditioning week 4 with 54.55 miles in the bag (swim - 1,500 sluggish meters this morning, bike - zero)
Wed 10th Dec
8.72 miles in 01:13:05 (08:23 pace @ 126HR) - barefoot
Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10
Legs: 7.5/10
Fri 12th Dec
8.58 miles in 01:08:50 (08:01 pace @ 135 HR)
Sleep: 8 hrs 7.5/10
Legs 7.5/10
Sat 13th Dec
16.58 miles in 02:15:00 (08:09 pace @ 139 HR)
Sleep: 7.5hrs 7/10
Legs: 6.5/10

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

MAF Test #2 - Expected improvement

My 10.5 mile run yesterday was the first clear indication that I was turning the corner in relation to recovery from Amsterdam. While the effort felt a bit strenuous at the start despite the relatively low heart rate it became more comfortable as the miles went by and I maintained a comfortable sub 8-minute pace for a sub-143 HR. All in all a 07:36 pace for a 139 average HR. Therefore I knew to expect a big improvement heading into this evenings MAF test which compares to the one 3 weeks ago as follows:- The only negative thing about my running this week was the embarrassment of falling off the treadmill yesterday morning at the gym. I'm not used to treadmill running so early in the morning and a lapse in concentration saw me stumble and while this would not have resulted in a fall had I been on the road in this case the road kept moving at the same pace under me and I ended up on my knees at the back of the machine with my hands instinctively stretched out before me trying to hang on to something. The words "thou shalt not have false gods before thee" came to mind as I knelt in reverence before the treadmill (there may be some truth to that ). The skin burns around my knees and a slight twinge in my back (nothing serious) were the only reminders today (A new injury to add to my list) Mon 8th Dec a.m. 2.5 miles in 20:30 (08:12 pace) treadmill pm. 10.57 miles in 01:20:25 (07:36 pace @ 139 HR) Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 7.5/10 Tue 9th Dec 7.59 miles in 58:20 (07:41 pace @ 138 HR) with 5 evaluation miles @ 143HR 07:12 to 07:33 pace. Legs: 8/10 Sleep: 8.5 hrs 8/10

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I should have cut my toenails.....

.........Before I headed out on Friday mornings run in these. I haven't used them since January and I don't know why as the 5 mile run on roads and footpaths went very well. In fact it felt great to run without the feeling of having my feet cocooned - the only niggle being the throb in the big toe of my right foot after the run - a nail clippers will sort that out in the future. While I know that barefoot running leads to a more compact (not necessarily shorter) stride which reduces injury risk associated with heel striking I still heel strike when racing as do most people as private has recently noted. However while not concerned i'll continue to keep heel striking to a minimum during training, if only to reduce injury risk. You cannot heel strike when running barefoot (without incurring immediate pain) and therefore heel striking is not part of our natural stride but only a product of cushioned shoes (like the beer gut is the product of a modern diet). Saturdays long run was over the hilly Viaduct loop with Eagle AC. Seven in all braved the freezing fog for the 0750 start from the Farm although I found out later that we were shadowed by a group of six who started out 10 minutes later (mix-up as to the exact location of the starting point - wouldn't normally be a problem except for the fog). I was the only one dressed for summer with bare legs and arms, brrr! - I shouldn't have closed the front door behind me without checking the air temperature first and making sure I could get back in. Better to grin and bear it that face the wrath of the wakened dead. It didn't turn out too bad once I warmed up. The run went quite well and the time passed quite quickly. I allowed my HR to go above the self imposed aerobic limit of 143 so as to get up the hill without falling behind (max HR of 153). A 10.3 mile loop brought us back to the Farm for about 0915. However I stayed on with John Desmond who was leading another group on a 6 miler at 0930. I wanted to get 2hrs 15 mins in and stayed with the 2nd group for a few miles before heading back. I covered 16.2 miles in all at an average 08:25 pace and 134HR. A running rest day today left me with 58.5 miles for conditioning week 3 (swim 1,500m cycle 23 miles today @ 17.2 MPH avg) Fri 5th Dec a.m. 5.3 miles in 43:28 (08:12 pace @ 142HR) HR 158 & 154 for 1st 2 miles before reducing to 132 for 3rd mile - only a problem on some runs) p.m. 2.5 miles in 20:27 (08:11 pace) treadmill Sleep: 6.5 hrs 7/10 Legs: 8/10 if you include the feet. Sat 6th Dec 16.26 Miles in 02:17:00 (08:26 pace @ 134 HR) Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10 Legs: 7/10

Thursday, 4 December 2008


My brother Donogh sent me an e-mail this week:-
Subject: Solo Run You've been busy. He was back from the UK today for a few days. "You're an awful blogger" he said. He neither meant "dreadful" or "awe inspiring" (I hope) but the less common known meaning of "prolific" as in definition number 4. here Apparently his friend Diarmaid aka Miley, who ran a few races with me, had spotted my blog ..."he's even writing about me and how I got "chicked" in a race n all"......."he's getting very technical".........." was thinking of joining Eagle AC myself" etc. etc. Well Miley I hope the wedding plans are going well and that you are getting some good quality runs in for the 2009 racing season in Cork. If you want to inquire informally about joining Eagle just turn up at the CIT track at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays or Thursdays or send me an e-mail. This week..... I've managed to get a few decent mid-distance runs in this week. On Tuesday evening I had to pick Keevsa up from the Dublin train at 8:30 (school tour) and as it was raining I gave the track a miss and headed into town early instead, parking by the train station and got a decent run in - heading out to the Marina along the old unlit Monkstown/Passage rail line before turning back at the Skehard Road underpass as there was a bonfire set in the middle of it - well it was a wet old night and the local inhabitants needed a bit of warmth. However I wasn't feeling the best as my left hamstring and Achilles were quite tight and my right ankle was paining slightly (nothing serious just enough to take some of the enjoyment out of the run). Still I got just over 11.5 miles in before the train arrived. A work enforced day off on Wednesday and a good nights sleep left me feeling much better for todays early morning run over more or less the same distance. Rest is the key to recovery.
Monday 1st Dec a.m. 8.62 Miles in 01:10:25 (08:10 pace @ 133 HR) p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20:27 (08:11 pace) Treadmill Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10 Tuesday 2nd Dec p.m. 11.63 Miles in 01:39:08 (08:31 pace @ 137 HR) Legs: 6/10 Sleep 7 hrs 7/10 Thur 4th Dec 11.69 miles in 01:37:02 (08:17 pace @ 137 HR) Legs 7/10 Sleep: 7 Hrs 7.5/10

Sunday, 30 November 2008

All Heart

Three of my runs during the last week have started with my recorded heart rate rising to above 180 during the first quarter of a mile, hovering in the 170s for half a mile, dropping back down to the 130s before the first mile is done and staying pretty much that way for the remainder of the run. I don't know what is causing it and besides mildly pissing me off I am not concerned as I do not feel any physical stress or discomfort. Perhaps other Garmin users have come across this anomaly. Meanwhile my running continues to improve slowly and despite having a lingering twinge in my left hamstring all is well. Mon 24th Nov a.m. 8.66 Miles in 01:13:11 (08:27 pace @ 133 HR) p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20:24 (08:10 pace @ 132 HR) Treadmill Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 8/10 Tue 25th Nov 5.67 Miles in 48:43 (08:36 pace @ 132 HR) Legs: 6/10 Sleep: 4 hrs 3/10 (another story) Wed 26th Nov 8.61 Miles in 01:14:15 (08:37 pace @ 133 HR) Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 8 hrs 8/10 (Recovery) Thur 27th Nov Zero (Swim 1,500m) Fri 28th Nov 11.51 Miles in 01:34:57 (08:15 pace @ 138 HR) Late mid-week medium long run Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs (7.5/10) Sat 29th Nov 14.70 Miles in 02:00:00 (08:10 pace @138 HR) Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7.5 Hrs 7/10 Conditioning week 1 - Run 50.9 Miles (Swim 500m, Bike 20.8 miles) Conditioning week 2 - Run 51.7 Miles (Swim 2,250m, Bike Zero miles - too frosty this morning)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Plods

I think I'm recovering from a case of the "Plods" - no it doesn't involve sitting for endless hours on the John, although apparently that is one of the symptoms. According to Tim Noakes (Lore of Running) the label was first used by Ultramarathoner Graeme Lindenberg to describe the heavy leg syndrome assocaited with overtraining - "heavey legged, sluggish feeling, generalized fatigue, malaise: and, not uncommonly diarrhea". Apparently if you continue to race or train it could develop into "Super Plods" - "persistent muscle soreness, loss of interest in training and competition, increase in resting heart rate and changes in sleeping patterns". Certainly over the last few weeks my interest in running has been at a low, my legs felt heavy and fatigued during every run and my resting heart rate was elevated. However I think I am slowly turning the corner. MY RHR this morning was down to 43 from 46 last Sunday and my 2 hour long run was much more enjoyable than last weeks - and I covered more distance also - 14.56 miles (08:15 pace) compared to 14.11 (08:30 pace) last week all at the same 138 HR. I put most of the improvement down to getting more rest, particularly sleep - I can't stress the importance of it. It's a difficult balance though - work rest and play. I still have a long way to go - checking through my log showed that a short time ago (27th September) I covered 24.1 Miles @ 07:34 pace with an average HR of 138 (160Hr at the end though). But I am a patient man and as long as I continue to enjoy running I can wait and enjoy the ride. I am going in the right direction and the heavy clouds are parting to reveal sunny skies ahead - figuratively of course - bring on the cold wet dark mornings of winter that's when you really feel alive (and everyone else thinks you're mad). Which brings me to my last point - Bill advised on my last post that I should drop the Garmin and HR monitor and get back in touch with how my body feels during my runs rather than relying on secondhand information to tell me how it should have felt - he's absolutely right - I should not be looking for a result in every training run that's a receipt for disappointment. My focus over the next few months is to run easy and while I won't lose the Garmin (I'm needy when it comes to numbers) I will be more focused on feeling relaxed and concentrating on form. WED 19th Nov a.m. 8.62 miles in 01:15:57 (08:49 pace @ 133HR) p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20:12 (08:05 pace @ 136 HR) - Treadmill Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10 Thur 20th Nov a.m. 11.49 miles in 01:38:05 (08:32 Pace @ 137 HR) Trying to introduce a mid-week medium long run although the 05:24 start was a little challenging) p.m. 5 miles in 45:13 (09:03 pace @ 133HR) tired after early rise. Legs: 5/10 Sleep: 7 Hrs 7/10 Fri 21st Nov 2.5 miles in 22:00 (08:48 Pace) Treadmill Legs: 6.5/10 Sleep: 8 Hrs 8.5/10 Sat 22nd Nov 14.56 miles in 02:00:00 (08:15 Pace @ 138HR) Legs: 7.5/10 Sleep: 7hrs 7/10 RHR: 46

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

MAF Test #1 @ 143HR

Mile 1 in xx:xx (xxxHR) - great start pressed the stop instead of the lap button. Mile 2 in 08:14 (142HR) Mile 3 in 08:16 (143HR) Mile 4 in 08:26 (144HR) Mile 5 in 08:22 (142HR) I felt a bit like a fraud at the track this evening running at 8 min plus pace while everyone else was churning out 200s, 400s, 800s - I was the only one doing slow 20 lappers. My warmup mile was the fastest. The only way is up! Covered 7.25 mile in total.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Learning to run slower

I am taking my time getting back into training after Amsterdam. Four weeks out and while everyone else appears to have a plan of action for their next marathon I am still running as and when I feel like it. Nothing wrong with that I suppose but I'd want to be careful - it's very easy getting used to sleeping that little bit extra in the morning and then not having time during the day to get a run in.
While the legs haven't been turning over as much as I would like, I have been exercising my mind as to what is the best way to proceed with my training.
All the good advice (thanks guys) following my last post points towards the tried and tested Lydiard training model. At the core of this model is aerobic conditioning and plenty of it. Lydiard in this seminar in Osaka in 1990 stated that “The day you start doing anaerobic training and stop your (aerobic) conditioning, your performance level has been set for that season”. While anaerobic training will improve my performance the benefit is finite compared to aerobic conditioning, which continues to improve performance over the years. Tim Noakes best illustrates (for me at least) the relationship/difference between the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic training in “Lore of Running” using the following figure. With performance on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis the green line represents aerobic conditioning, which steadily improves performance over time – represented by the line A to G. Once you start anaerobic (speedwork) training however you can get a significant improvement in performance over a relatively short period – represented by the red line B-C-D (8 weeks illustrated here - but will vary depending on the runner) before reaching a plateau (points D to E). This is when you want to run your target race(s). No amount of training after this will improve performance. Staying at peak performance is the tricky bit and invariably performance will begin to suffer if you continue to race, leading to illness, injury and overtraining which necessitates a period of rest and recovery (point F). I tended to reach my peak between 4 and 8 weeks before my last 2 marathons, which was a bit early and resulted in injury/overtraining and a less than satisfactory performance. Therefore this time round I’m going to spend at least 2 to 3 months on nothing but aerobic conditioning to see if I can push my sorry ass a little further along the green line and up the performance ladder before starting on speedwork. This should give a greater improvement in aerobic performance than starting speedwork earlier as illustrated below.
What I don’t know is whether or not you can continue to improve aerobic conditioning as much after introducing speedwork into your training. Dr Mafftone thinks not. He recommends a minimum 3-month programme of aerobic only running to build up a good base, without any anaerobic running or racing. All this aerobic running is to be done at or below the MAF heart rate, which is a conservatively low 143 in my case. Periodic “MAF tests” consisting of running 5 miles (preferably on the track) at MAF HR should show a gradual performance improvement over the 3 months and a reducing gap between the paces of the first and latter miles (effect of HR drift). This test is similar to the evaluation runs that Mike did during the conditioning phase of his build up to his NY marathon PB a few weeks ago – so I’m in good company. So that's the plan for the moment. My recovery from Amsterdam is slow. Most of my runs have been between 08:30 and 08:50 pace as my resting and exercising HR's gradually come down. MY RHR this morning was 46, which is 7 or 8 beats above what it was at peak performance. Today's long run over 2 hrs was at an average pace of 08:30 and 138 HR (14.11 miles). Having previously run 08:00 pace @ 130HR the only way is up. I will set the base by completing my first MAF test next week.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


.......Where to go from here! This has nothing to do with the reason I have not posted for 2 weeks (that's due to a combination of lack of running and a temporary ongoing home computer malfunction - bloody thing won't come on). I continue running - of course. for marathons - yes. ........................exclusively for marathons - well!. .........After Amsterdam Austin advised that I should concentrate on shorter distances for a while as marathons tend to blunt speed. Although to be quite honest I had no problem with my speedwork coming into the marathon - after all it is my marathon time (PB) that is so out of sync (slower) with my times at the shorter distances. So perhaps it is a few weeks or months of endurance training I need - long slow runs at low(er) HRs - before embarking on a race specific programme involving a shorter (4 to 5 week) period for speedwork. I know Thomas is going back to a high(er) mileage regime for his next marathon commencing with a base period of "aerobic" running under 80% HR. Jamie is following the Pfitz/Scott programme for Advanced Marathoning which also starts with the traditional "endurance phase" before embarking of lactate threshold and race specific speedwork. This programme comes heavily endorsed by those who have reaped the benefits from it. However I have a few concerns with the programme in that (1) the endurance phase still involves fairly challenging lactate threshold runs @ 15k to HM pace and (2) the peaking phase includes 3 x 8-15k tune up races the day before long runs. Recovery where are you? or is this scheduled "back to back hard days"? So if there are any other suggestions out there (for marathon training that is) i'm all ears. While i've heard of Lyiard method and have a fair idea of what it involves perhaps someone could direct me to a definitive text on the subject. Running I did get back to running since Amsterdam and even took in a 4 mile race last Sunday, topping out recovery week No. 2 with about 20 miles. I couldn't have asked for a better course to beat my softish 4 mile PB of 25:19 set at the start of the year. However I could have done with a better body - no niggles as such but just not enough speed, endurance or kick to take me over the threshold. However, despite my reducing splits of 06:07, 06:17, 06:25 & 06:27 I did manage to make the threshold and equal my PB, crossing under the line in 25:19 exactly - so not too bad........or too good for that matter. I wouldn't mind but 2nd and 3rd M40 came in at 24:36 and 24:40 respectively (well within my range on a good day with the wind blowing in the right direction). Cross training (code for tri) While I promised myself a recovery from running by swimming and cycling to renew my enthusiasm for triathlon (i'm certainly going to include more of these in 2009) I failed miserably on the bike (something to do with misplaced shoes) but managed to get in a few decent swims with a 3k pool swim last week in 61:28 (my longest swim ever - the last km actually felt better than the first 2 - perhaps it's a matter of getting over the boredom threshold) and another 1.5k swim this week in 28:43 with 2 x 500 easy, concentrating on form, and 1 x 500 steady (splits of 09:54, 09:54 & 08:55).

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Amsterdam, the aftermath.

My mile splits from Amsterdam read as follows:-
1 - 08:05 - 147HR (tight enough start and difficult to pass)
2 - 07:25 - 158HR (getting there)
3 - 07:16 - 159HR (still getting there - wanted sub 07:10)
4 - 07:20 - 161HR (still not there)
5 - 07:11 - 165HR (that's more like it)
6 - 07:09 - 166HR (feels like this is the best i'll do, but can I keep it)
7 - 07:24 - 164HR (not likely)
8 - 07:06 - 167HR (back on track - feeling better)
9 - 07:17 - 168HR (feeling the effort - this should feel easier)
10- 07:32 - 169HR (the rest of the run to mile 18 was based on keeping my HR at 170 or below)
11 - 07:20 - 169HR
12 - 07:23 - 169HR
13 - 07:32 - 168HR (half way at 01:37:37)
14 - 07:27 - 169HR
15 - 07:40 - 170HR (ouch - feeling tired)
16 - 07:31 - 171HR
17 - 07:56 - 172HR (nothing I can do - can't even keep HR down)
18 - 08:10 - 170HR (pulled up towards end of mile as sudden pain in calf)
19 - 16:03 - 127HR (HR under control - pace disastrous, can't have everything!)
20 - 14:44 - 120HR
21 - 11:25 - 138HR (resumed with a slow shuffle)
22 - 11:13 - 147HR (continue with slow shuffle)
23 - 08:53 - 160HR (tag onto faster runner and calf holds out - body resists at the start)
24 -08:14 - 169Hr (tag onto 03:45 pacer - effort, while no longer comfortable, is manageable)
25 - 08:31 - 169 HR (momentary lapse)
26 - 08:13 - 175HR ( I think i'm cruising - it' all relative)
26.42 - 07:33 pace 180HR (I'm smoking down the home straight - it's only afterwards, upon
reflection that I realise my finishing pace is less than my average PB pace.
I was never heading for a PB, the way I was slowing down before mile 18 - so the injury was the perfect excuse I needed to take it easy. Enough said.
Adrian, my running partner, was well on his way to his first sub-4 hour (01:54 half) when he got clipped by another runner and suffered a similar injury to mine, but he gritted it out to come in uder the 04:30 mark.
We left the marathon behind us on Sunday night as we met up for a few beers with the rest of the Cork contigent who were running the half. Austin & Siobhan and Tadhg & Rhona. Austin missed his 01:20 target by just 44 seconds and Rhona was 9th woman overall in a time of 01:25:33. The few beers turned into a few more and a taxi back to the hotel for 3 a.m. on Monday.
The rest of monday was a cultural day spent in the Van Gogh and Rijks Museums looking at the likes of these:-
They're far better than any marathon photos.
The evening was spent looking at the other sights Amsterdam has to offer.
There are five words that epotomise Amsterdam:-
Bicycles :- Everywhere - everybody cycles as there are no hills. Even the ladies in the fur coats
and high heels.
Trams:- Great for getting around (€10 unlimited 3-day travel on trams, metro & buses)
Canals:- 1250 bridges.
Coffee Houses:- A big tourist attraction.
The red-light district:- The other attraction. I had to avert my eyes, sensitive Irish soul that I am.
We flew home on Tuesday morning, but there was no rest for me as I had to head up the country for two further (work related) days away from home, getting back this evening. Needless to say I have not run, although my legs are fine and I cannot feel my injury. I think i'll use to next few weeks to get back into the swimming and cycling and lay off the running.
Best of luck to all those running the Dublin Marathon this weekend. (John & Thomas come to mind, although not in that particular order) Should see some sub-3 hour guys here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Greetings from Amsterdam. The time above shows that while things didn't go to plan I finished and am happy to have done so. In summary my calf held out until just before mile 18 (although the first sign of trouble was at mile 5 - so glad that it let me get as far as I did because if it happened at mile 5 I surely would have had a big DNF. Bottom line is I was determined to finish and started walking. On the plus side the watering stations were like a treasure trove of goodies...I'll have another banana and sports drink, thank you very much". After a mile or so I got bored and decided, from the 20m mile mark, to set a sub 4 hour target which required a 12:30 mile pace. My best walk would only give me a 13:30 mile so I started a slow jog. A pervious attempt at this had failed, but this time it was manageable and my pace improved to 11:30 or so - great, I could still stop at the watering stations and do a bit of food shopping and make up the lost time when I resumed jogging. With about 4 miles to go I tagged on to the coattails of another runner who was slightly faster in the hope that I would be pulled along. And sure enough it appeared to work. I carried on like this for a while, being very careful with my right leg. Then the 03:45 pacer passed us by. I ditched my pacer and followed the guy with the red baloon, now with the intention of beating my slowest marathon time (03:47). I found the effort hard going despite the long walking break and any notion that my calf was ok was quickly dispelled when a sharp pain shot through it going over a ramp. It appeareed that the closer I landed to the front of my foot the more intense the pain and so I made a conscious effort to land far back on my heel as I could, which made for a funny stride. With 2k to go I left the baloon man behind, remenber he started behind me and would probably bring me in closer to 3:46/47. One benefit of having an easy race number (4,000) is that it attarcted the attention of the organisers and just before I entered the Oylmpic stadium the crowd were addressed over the public address with "here come number 4,000, a big cheer for Grellan McGrath from Ireland" what a buzz it gave me as I entered the stadium and sprinted for the line. Great finish despite my tale of woe. To be honest my early pace was going to get me nowhere near 3:00 or even 3:10. I was suffering before I stopped and walked (came through the half in something like 1:38). I think my peak came 4 weeks ago in the Blarney half and mostly stayed for the 15 mile Cork to Cobh. I've come to the conclusion that the Brain Training programme I was following has too much speedwork over a long period of time and is probably more suited to shorter distances. Time for some beers now!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

An exercise in Blind Faith

A few week before I ran the Barcelona Marathon in March last year I got a pain in the fleshy part of the heel of my right foot every time I ran. I went to a physio and between the jigs and the reels he advised "no running" until race day. Of course this was alien to me - how was I going to know whether I could run pain free or not? So after a few days I resumed running and although the pain returned and my runs felt miserable (speedwork was out of the question) the pain got no worse.
At my final session with the physio, about 5 days before the race, he doubly stressed ""I told you -absolutely no running". and this time I listened. I prepared for the marathon as best I could and even bought a foot support strap thingy in case I needed it.
An so on a sunny March morning in Barcelona I went for a test run to see if the pain was still there and hey presto! it was completely gone and not only that - I felt completely energised from my enforced rest. I tucked the foot support thingy into my waistband just in case but I never needed it (I actually lost it somewhere on the course)
That was the most enjoyable Marathon I ever ran (5 to-date) - I actually felt no real discomfort until about 2 km to go and achieved a 13 minute PB (3:34). I'll admit, I did not push myself too hard (I was probably capable of sub 3:30) - but the suffering I endured during my previous (and first) marathon had given me a healthy respect for the distance.
I now find myself in a similar position where I just have to trust myself not to run until race day to give my calf the best opportunity to repair. The injury is different this time round and probably a bit more serious (I think it is a small tear in the muscle). No point in "testing" and risking setting me back a week or more - if I test it on Sunday and it fails to deliver I'll know I could not have done any better.
No running for 7 day now - any notion that I should go for a test run was knocked on the head when I felt a sharp pain in my calf when increasing my pace while playing hide & seek with the kids last Saturday and again on Tuesday. Plenty of RICE when I can fit it in (manic busy week at home and work).
Best of luck to all those running Marathon's this weekend (PEI & MDI - may the best man win)
Marathon Training Week 16/16 - Zero, Nada - I may get a long run in on Sunday though.
p.s. I'm not too pissed though as I know i'll be back running soon enough, either way and hey a weekend in Amsterdam is not to be sniffed at.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Not So Good fact "Not very good at all" or "what a fuc#ing disaster" depending on what way you look at it and how long after the event it is, but given my philosophical temperament "Not So Good" is fine.
And now that the title is sorted..........................
While recovery from Sunday's 15 Miler appeared to go well with no niggles except for a bit of tightness in both calves after Tuesday's reduced intervals I picked up an injury during Thursday's scheduled tempo run.
I felt fine at the track on Tuesday evening but decided to deviate from the plan and reduce the length of the 3k, 2k, 1k & 0.8k intervals at HM, 10k, 5k & 3k pace but perhaps keep the pace on the comfortably aggressive side (i.e. sacrifice distance for speed) and it went pretty much to plan as follows:-
Dist (km) - Time - pace (km) - pace (mile) 2.08 - 08:01 - 03:51 - 06:12 1.248 - 04:31 - 03:37 - 05:49 0.832 - 02:52 - 03:27 - 05:33 0.416 - 01:20 - 03:12 - 05:09
Wednesday I was busy at work and I only managed 2.5 miles on the treadmill at lunchtime (that's fine, i'm tapering)
Thurdsay was also pretty busy but I decided to get a shortened version of the scheduled tempo run (2 x 2.5 Miles @ HM Pace) in after work. As the evening was wet I was half tempted to give the whole run a miss, but convinced myself to go ahead with it as I had a busy work day on Friday also and would not get the opportunity to run.
I'd decided to keep it to 2 x 2 miles but if it felt too strenuous I would reduce or cut the 2nd set of fast miles - no need to push it too much. So after a mile warmup I started into the first mile completing it in 06:26 (feeling strong). The pace at the start of the 2nd mile was a bit on the fast side and I was beginning to feel the effort a bit more, so much so that on coming towards the end I was already deciding to reduce the length of the return leg. Then I felt a sudden cramping sort of pain in the top of my right calf. I stopped immediately and stretched and knew there and then that it was going to be a slow jog/walk the 3 miles home. In fact the attempts to jog had to be abandoned as I could feel the pain coming on.
I think/hope it's just a mild sprain but 24 hours later I can still feel the tenderness especially when walking on the tip of my toes (using the stairs) and know that the next time I am likely to test it is over a 26.2 mile course in 9 days time.
I could rant and rave about.......just about everything, but what would be the point of that. I trust there will be plenty of comments about how I should have taken it easy after Sunday and not taken the risk so close to my goal race etc. etc. but hey! everything is a risk and if I didn't take any I'd be still sitting on the couch without knowing I was blessed with so many mitochondria. Perhaps ignorance is bliss after all. I take some comfort from the stories I have read of elites being laid up for three weeks before race day and pulling off PB's on the day (i.e. the sudden unexpected taper). I know that if I can run on the day the PB is certainly there for the taking.
. Tue 7th Oct 6.14 Miles in about 50 minutes with Mixed intervals 2k to .4k @ 06:12 to 05:09 Pace . Wed 8th Oct 2.5 Miles in 20:00 . Thur 9th Oct 5.9 Miles in 01:00:09 with 1.83 Miles in 11:32 ( 06:18 Pace @ 158 HR) and most of the rest at a slow shuffle. Sleep: plenty of time for that. Legs: left - excellent condition, right - slightly worn.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Best Laid Plans and all that

I set out this morning to run the 15 miles between Cork and Cobh at 3 hour marathon pace (06:50 or thereabouts, which would give me 1:42:30 - more or less last years race pace) and failed miserably. I wonder was I ever really going to stick to my plan. I had already given myself some latitude - 06:40 (wouldn't it be nice to get under 1:40) to 06:50 pace depending on how I felt. It's just that I knew a few guys that were going out at 06:40 pace and the company would be nice. I headed into town with Adrian ( my Amsterdam marathon buddy) shortly after 8 for registration, preparation, check the waterworks and warmup. It was only on leaving registration that I noticed I had left the Garmin on the kitchen table at home - not to worry, back to the stopwatch and mile splits - although the need for a running companion to pace off became more desirable. Where's Thomas when you need him (first deviation from plan). I completed a short 1.2 mile (approx) warmup along Horgan's Quay and the Lower Glamire Road and made my way to the start. The sky was clear and the sun shining (beautiful day) with a temperature of about 13 to 15 degrees. I looked around the start line and sure enough Thomas was there in the throng near enough to the front. He told me he was heading out at 06:40 pace (the same pace incidentally that John Desmond and Pat Murphy of Eagle AC had told me last week they were heading out at - so there were a few that I could keep an eye on). The gun sounded and we were off in the October sunshine. I kept pace with Thomas for the first mile. "This is just like jogging" he remarked after about half a mile. "Why, what pace are we at" I replied. "06:35" - nice pace for jogging certainly. John Desmond and Derek O'Keeffe of Eagle passed by - John saying he was targeting 06:40 pace (his target pace for Dublin) and Derek 06:30. I missed the first mile split and Thomas had started to pull away from me. "This is all good, on target for 06:50 miles" I thought. As we headed down the Glanmire Road. I kept the pace steady and took the lap time for Mile 2 - 13:22 (06:51 pace - more or less on target but I would not want to ease off - actually the pace was 06:41 but after the lap time had gone from the watch I though I had seen 13:42). I was more or less running on my own at this stage with Thomas in a sizable bunch of runners 20 to 30 yards ahead. Mile 3 in 06:43 - passed the first watering station and out the Eastern Parkway to Little Island Junction (slight deviation from last years route). I kept the pace reasonably steady keeping the same distance behind the group in front, where I could see Thomas, John Desmond and Pat Murphy. Mile 4 in 06:41 - I started counting my time surplus/deficit against my target 06:50 pace. Plus 2 up to mile 2. Minus 14 to mile 4. Mile 5 in 06:33 as we headed off the parkway and on towards Glounthane. My pace had increased as I was closing slightly on the bunch in front. Minus 31 for mile 5. Mile 6 in 06:31 - Minus 49 "Perhaps I should be counting relative to 06:40 pace - plus 11 it is then" as the overall 01:40 target began to loom large. See! - it never entered my head that maybe I should ease up - well not while I was still so close to the 06:40 pacers. The pace remained steady and relatively comfortable. Still 20 yards behind the 06:40 group, although a few guys fell out the back towards me. Mile 7 in 06:43 - 2nd watering station ahead - I took my power bar gel out - the biggest effort involved biting off the top and getting some down my throat before taking a cup of water. Up to the half way mark and pressed the lap button "03:29 - "that can't be right and sure enough the time to the 8 mile mark of 03:04 gave me a total of 06:33 for mile 8. Still reasonably comfortable as we headed from Cobh Cross towards Fota with a slight gradual downhill - pull alongside Der Maloney who was falling out the back of the group in front. Mile 9 in 06:21 - I didn't realise it was that fast. I had long stopped counting the surplus/deficit in relation to 06:40 mileing but knew that I was within range. Past the entrance to Fota towards the 10 mile mark and Belvelly bridge (onto Great Island). Thomas was now within 5 seconds. Mile 10 in 06:56 - The mile markers are certainly wrong - no worries still sub-06:40 for the last 2 miles. 3rd watering station and I squeeze a bit more goo into my mouth and put my hand out for the cup of water, which was virtually empty so I slow down to take another cup and by the time I look up the 06:40 group, with Thomas pushing to the front, have gained 20 yards. As we make our way along the north side of Great Island the group begins to string out with Thomas going off the front. That's it, while he may have been a target to that point, I wasn't giving chase - this was supposed to be a less than maximal effort and I wanted to keep it that way. Mile 11 in 06:21 - kept plugging away. John Desmond just ahead. "I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy" he said. "I though I was too" I replied "but you were tantalisingly close". He though we had a minute cushion on a 01:40 finish, but then revised it by saying "maybe not, it's hard to think at this stage in the race" and off he went to build up a bit more of a cushion. Mile 12 in 06:36 - slower due to the gradual incline. "Three more miles to go, lets say 20 minutes" - which I start counting down - this is always the first sign that I want this thing to be over. Still my pace is steady and not too strenuous. Mile 13 on 06:37 - the stress begins and the effect of the sub-06:50 pace begins to take it's toll. There's no way i'm going to feel reasonably fresh after 15 miles - how could I - I had not stuck to my plan. Mile 14 in 06:49 - "I must be suffering if the pace is slowing, only a mile to go hang in there". I get passed by 2 runners during the last mile, however I pass a few also. 3 minutes left, 2 and then I can see the top of the fall into Cobh which is gradual at first and then steepens as I pick up the pace on hearing footsteps behind me - racing for the finish line, Nollaig Hunter just in front of me as I pass under the clock in 01:38:56 - overall 06:36 pace. Nollaig turned out to be third female. Mile 15 in 06:10. I was certainly happy with my result but a little disappointed that I neither stuck to my original plan nor raced. However the way I felt at the end I was certainly close to the "race" end of the spectrum and had I decided to race from the start I don't know if I would have done much better. I'd probably have gone out faster and suffered more/slowed down over the last miles. I warmed down over 2 miles (to the 14 mile mark) with Thomas and John Desmond afterwards. Thomas certainly had a great race and killed off a few demons in the process, i'd say. Best of luck to him in his sub 3 hour quest in Dublin, he's certainly ready. Also best of luck to Richard in his sub-3:30 quest in Dublin - should be no problem after today's 01:47 (I think) Adrian had a great day, coming in 2 minutes ahead of his target. Following a cup of tea and a few cakes in the scout hall Adrian and I headed for the train station to get the train back to Cork. No train for an hour - so we decided to hitch (I hadn't hitched in 20 years) and got a lift from a very nice gentleman, who brought us directly to my car - so we were home by the time the train pulled in to Cobh station. And now the taper for Amsterdam awaits. Sun 5th Oct about 18.2 Miles with 15 Miles in 01:38:56 @ god know's what HR. Sleep - 6.5 hrs: 7.5/10 Legs: 8/10 With 5 easy miles on Friday Marathon week 14/16 gave me 47.2 Miles. Well done to the other racers today - Brendan, who ran the Great North Run half marathon very close to his PB, Private, who went sub 17 minutes in a 5k for the first of many times and Nic who PB'd on his marathon time to get 3:08:19, which is only a training run for a 50 miler he has in three weeks time. Have a good week and don't get knocked down on the roads.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A Bit of a Non Runner

This week, the final week of hard(est) effort - the peak week with the toughest workouts has been a bit of a non-runner. Monday was fine - I got out for about 11.5 miles but the run felt stale with my left hamstring and glute achy and the perceived effort yielding a less than satisfactory pace. A 1km swim in the evening, on the other hand went quite well. As Tuesday progressed I felt a touch of a cold coming on with a general feeling of achyness and shivers all over, which, coupled with evening rain, was excuse enough for me to cancel the mixed intervals at the track. I kept this excuse for Wednesday also despite feeling much better. This morning however I broke the spell and got out for a tempo run of 2 x 3 Miles @ HM pace (the programme said 2 x 4.5 - but time was not on my side and that was all the excuse I needed). The outbound 3 miles went according to plan in 06:27, 06:29 @ 06:28 - but I was glad I was resting after the 3. During the half mile recovery I decided (quite rashly) that as I had cut the number of fast miles I would keep the sub-06:30 pace for the 3 home bound miles (It's great what you can plan from the relative comfort of a sub-145 HR) Unfortunately the 3 home bound miles went something like this:- 0 - 0.5 Miles @ 06:19 pace 0.75 miles - still at 06:20 pace - plunged into the darkness of the straight road - cars headlights coming against me on my side of the road - stepping onto the footpath - couldn't see a bloody thing until the car was near - had to slow right down until car had passed - nearly twisted my ankle on one occasion - difficult to get back on pace - repeat every 40 seconds. 1 mile in 06:35. Back to street lighting by 1.75 miles - mile pace @ 7:00 (felt like walking) finished mile 2 in 07:01. Mile 3 was somewhat better @ 06:45 to give 06:47 avg for the return leg. Overall 6 miles @ 06:38 pace, which looks better. On the plus side my left hamstring and glute felt much better although I did feel stiffness throughout the day. On reflecting on the elites marathon pace after last Sundays world record in Berlin I tried to put it into perspective - Mcmillan says I could run an 800m race (assuming proper training) in just a tad over 2:22 which is a second slower than what Mr Gebrselassie covered his 52.5 x 800m last Sunday. I.e. running flat out I would have kept with the leaders for less than half a mile before collapsing - that surely puts me in my box.
Mon 29th Sept 11.49 Miles in 01:31:11 (07:56 Pace @ 128 HR) Sleep 6.5hrs: 7/10 Legs: 6/10 Tue 30th Sept 2.5 Miles in 20;00 (08:00 Pace - Treadmill) Thur 1st Oct 10;02 Miles in 01:12:29 (07;14 Pace @ 151HR) with 2 x 3 Miles @ 06:28 & 06:47 Pace. Sleep - 6hrs: 7/10 Legs 7/10

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Road to Amsterdam

My last long run before Amsterdam is over and by the time I was finished I could have slept for a week. I took Mike's advice on specificity and kept to the flat roads running with the Saturday morning crew but doubling back before the hill (9.5 miles in) and meeting up again at my mile 14 (I did 2.4 solo miles before the 0700hrs start) . The pace from here on was 07:30 or less, which I found challenging enough (no gels on this outing) but I hung in and although the desire to take a quick break when passing the cars at mile 18.5 was all consuming, the opportunity did not present itself (i.e. no one else stopped and those that did had been ahead of the posse and were heading out again as I approached) I persevered with 3 loops of the flat centre Park Rd/Monahan's Rd that's used for the John Buckley 5k in June. Along this section a couple of the stronger runners took off at a pace that I couldn't manage and so I was on my own slogging out the last remaining miles to the car coming in with 24.1 miles on the clock in 03:02:25 (07:34 pace). A 10 minute dip in the Atlantic Pond to cool down the legs and I was finished for the day (on the running front that is). Unlike one or two who were heading home for an hour or two's kip I had a busy schedule on the home front as Abina was working. Next weekend the 15 Mile Cork to Cobh race is on Sunday. My schedule calls for 13 Miles @ MP and on balance (and good advice from others) i'll stick to this pace as opposed to race flat out. My MP, going on my recent HM, is somewhere between 06:45 and 06:50, compared to a 06:30 for 15 miles (I know I may never do 06:50 pace in Amsterdam, But I'll do it in training). Last year I covered the 15 miles in 01:42:33 (06:50 pace) so I'd like to beat that and ideally get under 01:40 (06:40 pace) - but as recent as this morning I was warned that manys a Dublin marathoner left their best race on the road between Cork and Cobh - and Dublin is 4 weeks after Cork to Cobh (Amsterdam only 2) - so others may take heed. Fri 26th Sept 6.73 Miles in 55:18 (08:13 Pace @ 128 HR) Run in the park with Brendan. p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20;00 (08:00 Pace - Treadmill) Sleep - 7 hrs: 7.5/10 Legs: 6.5/10 Sat 27th Sept 24.1 Miles in 03:02:25 (07:34 Pace @ 138 HR) Sleep - 6.5hrs: 6/10 Legs: 6.5/10 Marathon Training week 13/16 - 67.65 Miles

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Ticking the right boxes

This week has been busy on the work and home front but I still managed to tick off my quality runs on the marathon programme. At this stage i'm looking forward to starting the taper for Amsterdam at the end of next week. Just 1 long run (24 miles), two speed sessions and a 15 mile race (well maybe @ marathon pace) left before I take the foot off the gas. The weather decided to pick up this week with almost continuous sunshine - although my runs were consigned to either dawn or dusk. After a rest on Sunday, Mondays run went quite well with 11.5 miles on the clock at a reasonable 07:34 pace. Tuesdays intervals at the track were 3.2k, 2k, 1k @ 0.8k @ HM to 3k pace. (found out later that the 1k should have been 1.6k) which also went reasonably well although the recoveries did not go to plan as I stopped for 5 minutes talking to Laura Buckley about her tri season after the 2k rep (welcomed the break to be quite honest). 3k - 06:15 Pace - 155HR 2k - 05:58 Pace - 163 HR 1k - 05:45 Pace - 164 HR .8k - 05:33 Pace - 164 HR Wednesday was a work enforced day of rest (from running) - far from restful. I was tired getting up at 05:25 this morning but I was determined to get in 2 x 4 miles @ HM pace as I wanted an easy day (i.e. didn't want to get up too early) before the early rise on Saturday for my last long run. After 2 miles warmup I launched into the first 4 miles which went reasonably well - although the 3rd mile at the top of the "straight road" was in almost total darkness where I was jumping from the road to the footpath every time a cars headlights came near (had to get off the road to avoid being knocked down and had to get off the footpath once the car passed as I couldn't see the surface - all I could see was the road markings). I thought that would be a slow mile because of the ducking and weaving but I didn't get the time until after the run (turned out to be the fastest mile @ 06:20). Outbound 4 miles in 25:53 (06;28 pace). The return 4 miles were slower as I began to tire during miles 6 & 7 which were covered in 06:47 each. I recovered a bit during the 8th mile to give 26:37 for the 4 miles (06:39 pace). Glad as always to get it in the bag (these Thursday early morning tempo runs are the ones I look forward to the least but am most satisfied with when I get them done). My left hamstring and glute are still a bit tight/stiff since the half marathon 11 days ago which I particularly notice when I stretch after each run (less flexible that the right side) Mon 22nd Sept a.m. 11.54 miles in 01:27;15 (07;34 pace @ 134 HR) p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20:00 (08:00 Pace - Treadmill) Legs: 7/10 Sleep -7 Hrs: 7/10 Tue 23rd Sept 7.69 Miles in 01:02:47 (08:10 Pace @ 139HR) with Mixed Intervals 3.2k to .8k @ 06:15 to 05:33 Pace Legs : 7.5/10 Sleep - 7 hrs: 7/10 Thur 25th Sept 12.54 Miles in 01:29:18 (07:07 Pace @ 150HR) with 2 x 4 Miles @ 06;28 & 06:39 pace. Legs: 6.5/10 Sleep - 6hrs: 6/10

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Nice n Long

I rose this morning at 0600 for my last run of the week - The Long Run. I hadn't bought a new pair of runners since before the Cork Marathon in June and while I was feeling no ill effects, there must be well in excess of 600 miles on my current pair (closer to 1,000 i'd say - perhaps this built-in obsolescence is a cod after all). So I headed into town yesterday evening and bought myself a brand new pair of Asics Nimbus and two power bar gels. I got to Pairc Ui Caoimhe about 12 minutes before the scheduled 0645 Eagle AC meeting time so that I could do a quick out and back (1.8 miles in all) to test the shoes - no problems so drive on. There was 8 of us in all heading out the old passage railway line to passage, Monkstown and Rafeen before turning right up the only hill of the run (1.5 miles of it). The pace over the first 12 miles (including my solo 1.8 miles) to the top of the hill averaged at 08:02, which was the target pace for the run. However coming down the other side to the Rochestown Inn the pace went sub 8 minutes and stayed that way until the end. We took the long way back to the cars via the Estuary loop taking in Blackrock Castle and the Marina giving me 17.4 miles. Some bailed out here and some went on to do a few laps of the Centre Park Road/Monahan's Road loop (about 1.58 mile loop). I ran with John Desmond completing 4 loops which gave me 24.52 miles in all (22.72 for John - most went for 20 miles). Total time = 03:09:04 (07:43 pace @ 137 HR 155 HR at end) - last 12.52 mile @ 07:24 pace. Those power bar gels certainly seemed to have helped with the fuelling. John wanted to know what the marathon time would have been if we had maintained our finishing pace of 07:20 for another 1.7 miles. I figure it would have been 03:21:31, not bad for a training run. Rest day tomorrow. I certainly believe that rest and recovery (sleep) play a much bigger role in my training that I previously thought. In previous training cycles I would have gone out for a 10 to 13 mile recovery run the day after a long run just to get the weekly mileage up - not this time. Sat 20th Sept 24.52 Miles in 03:09:04 (07:43 Pace @ 137 HR) Marathon Week 12/16 - 65.6 Miles.