Sunday, 27 February 2011

Head for the hills

The last run of my cut-back week was an off-road session in the Nagle Mountains (hills really) with Paul and James from the club. Paul has spent a lot of his time running off road, having completed a few mountain races. He's planning on running the Wicklow Way Ultra 2 weeks before Connemara. James isn't that far behind him, having run this particular route twice before. That's if you can call it a route as we climbed gravel roads only to turn off and head back downhill along rock strewn trails, stopping to walk through overgrown paths (Paul had thought about bringing a slash hook to cut back the vegetation - what would it be like during the summer months) - back up a 20%+ gradient where if you reached out in front of you you'd touch the ground (I walked a bit here). Needless to say my 140 heart rate threshold was well and truly exceeded.

I soon discovered what separated me from the 2 guys....weight. They both clock in at about ten and a half stone (67kg) ...mountain goats, whereas i'm nearly 3 stone heavier (84kg)... means a lot when trying to drag your sorry ass up a hill. We finished up the run with 3.5 miles on road to get up to 15 miles total. A good strength session. On checking the garmin after I was surprised the average pace was below 9:00.

That was the second of my cutback 15 mile weekend back to back long runs. The first was on another (less) hilly route to the south west of the City between Spur Hill and Ballinora before finishing up for the final mile on the grass of UCC Farm.

A Thursday morning run in the vibrams pushing close to my self imposed 140HR limit yielding a 7:25 average pace over 12.2 miles left my legs feeling tired and achy - just hope they got enough rest before I head into the final 3 weeks of high volume. I still don't know how I'll fit next Sunday's Ballycotton 10 miler into this high volume schedule - needless to say I won't be aiming for a PB, with my target similar, if not slightly better, than Dungarvan (1:12:03).

Tue 22nd Feb 8.3 miles @ 8:21 pace & 130HR with 5 x 1 mile @ 7:16 pace & 2 min recoveries. Wed 23rd Feb 2.5 Miles @ 7:56 pace (Treadmill) Thur 24th Feb 12.2 miles @ 7:25 pace & 137HR - Vibrams Sat 26th Feb 15.82 miles @ 8:21 pace & 131HR Sun 27th Feb 15 miles @ 8:45 pace & 134 HR - Off-road hilly run. Base Week #5 (Run 54.1 miles, Bike NIL, Swim 3.5 km)

Sunday, 20 February 2011


With time a limiting factor this week I didn't get much cross training in, concentrating instead on getting as many running hours under my belt as possible, particularly as this was my third week of relatively high mileage with next week scheduled as a cutback week before heading into the final 3 week build for Connemara (plus 3 week taper). Apart from my evaluation session at the track on Thursday all I could manage were morning and evening 5 milers during the week leaving it until the weekend to go long.
With the Clubs annual 5 miler this morning I was banking on getting most of my weekend miles in on Saturday. The plan was to run for 3 hours (up from 2:45 last week) at a steady pace, which meant heading out from the house at 7:30 a.m. My route was an out and back from Ballincollig to Blackrock returning via Turners Cross and the Lough - following part of the route of the Cork City Marathon. I carried a 500ml drink of High 5 with me and while I never felt comfortable enough to push the pace too far under 8 minute miles I never got more uncomfortable as the hours passed by. I overshot the 3 hours by a few minutes happy to get 23 miles on the clock and my legs none the worse for wear.
This morning was all about the Eagle AC annual 5 miler in Carrigaline, where I was helping out with entries and results (291 finishers in all). Everything went fairly smoothly with a few glitches showing up between the "racemaster" software and our expectations of what it could or should do. We'll know better next time.
With the rain coming in from the west I wasn't relishing the thought of going out for a run when I got home in the mid-afternoon. I also felt tired after the week and was nodding off on the couch in front of the telly. "Why don't you go for a 2 hour run and then cook dinner" Abina said half joking. With 63 miles in the bag for the week I wanted to climb to the 70's to get close to last weeks total. 7 to 10 miles ought to do it. The hardest part was moving from the couch to the front door and once there I was on my way - no turning back. The first 6 miles were what I would expect the day after a 23 mile run although they were much faster than last weeks Sunday run (8:59 avg) at a few seconds over 8 minute pace. I decided that I would run for 1:30, which would get me to about 74 miles for the week.
After 6 miles my legs began to feel much more relaxed and while the pace didn't increase by much I felt very comfortable. I felt like my legs were going through some sort of adaptation and who was I to stand in their way - if they wanted to learn I would "learn them real good". The 2 hours suggested by Abina now became my target ..........that was until the 40 mile weekend total entered my head, which meant i'd have to turn out 17 miles - 2:15 ought to do it. And so that is how it transpired with the last 11 miles churned out at a steady pace, checking myself every now and then to keep the effort under the 140HR, surprised that I was not slowing down or feeling the normal long run fatigue, particularly as I had not taken any drink of fuel with me. An unexpected high. The only discomfort after the run could have have been prevented by a strategically placed application of vaseline.
Time now to rest for the week and let all that experience soak in before the next lesson begins.
Tue 15th Feb a.m. 5.3 miles @ 8:09 pace & 119HR p.m. 5.0 miles @ 7:59 pace (Treadmill) Wed 16th Feb a.m. 5.33 miles @ 7:40 pace & 132HR p.m. 5.16 miles @ 7:56 pace & 131HR Thu 17th Feb 14.6 miles @ 7:45 pace & 129HR with 5 miles @7:10 pace & 140HR (Evaluation run) Fri 18th Feb 5.31 miles @ 8:20 pace & 120HR Sat 19th Feb 23.2 miles @ 7:57 pace & 133HR Sun 20th Feb 17.07 miles @ 7:57 pace & 131HR Base Week #4 (Run 80.97miles, Bike Nil, Swim 1.5 km) - all about specificity.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

MAF Test #2

Warming up beforehand I wasn't looking forward to 20 laps of the track at any effort above easy. The opening lap to get HR up to 140 was probably my fastest - I crossed the line for the start of the five mile test with 140 on the HRM. I kept my HR pretty constant, although it dropped a few times to 133 for a few seconds despite keeping the same effort. The run also served as mid-week medium long run of over 14 miles as I am helping out at the Club's annual 5 mile road race in Carrigaline on Sunday and will not get in back to back long runs.
The result is certainly encouraging and though initially I though the cool calm conditions would have favoured a faster pace my first evaluation 3 weeks ago was run under similar conditions. I suspect that the improvement will be more modest in 3 weeks time.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


My base training is coming along slowly as I adapt to the increased volume. The absence of speedwork certainly has taken the pressure off to facilitate the increase in volume. I pushed the weekend long runs out to 2:45 and 3:00 again covering more distance on the first day while easing back on Sunday as it's all about time on my feet. I'll keep the relatively high volume and low effort going until the 3 week taper, when I'll drop the volume right down and introduce some speedwork, just to awaken the fast twitch fibres.

Finally if you're looking for a race this weekend why not come along to Carrigaline on Sunday morning for the Eagle AC 5 mile road race starting at 11. Details of the race can be found here.

Tue 8th Feb a.m. 5.29 miles @ 8:44 pace & 114HR (Vibrams) p.m. 9.33 miles @ 8:25 pace & 128HR with 5 x 1 mile @ 7:16 pace. Wed 9th Feb 2 miles @ 8:30 pace - Treadmill Thur 10th Feb 11.76 miles @ 7:40 pace & 132HR (Vibrams) Fri 11th Feb 5.31 miles @8:02 pace & 128HR Sat 12th Feb 20.74 miles @ 7:57 pace & 133HR Sun 13th Feb 20.05 miles @8:59 pace & 124HR (Vibrams on grass) Base Week #3 (Run 74.42 miles, Bike 20.82 miles, Swim 5 km)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Putting in the miles

Despite having two rest days this weeks mileage was the highest in about 9 months at 64.3, nearly double last weeks total. Most of that came with 2 back to back weekend longs runs totalling 36 miles. If i'd been following the 10% rule i'd be waiting a long time to get that double in. I had been a bit behind on my training for Connemara compared to my club mates, so I took a bit of a gamble. The first run, yesterday morning, was a solo effort along the relatively flat roads between Ballincollig and Cork with the aim of staying out for 2.5 hours - it's all about time on my feet and not distance/pace (yet). The first 13 miles went reasonably well at a relatively even pace of around 8 minute miles, with the heart rate staying in the 120's and early 130's despite the strong winds. However from mile 14 on the pace slowed, first to about 8:30 pace and by the time I was finished it was close to 9:00 pace as I had to cut back to keep my HR under 140. At one stage I had to stop and walk briefly and continue on at a shuffle as it was climbing into the 150's going against the wind. As my endurance base improves I would expect this heart rate drift to slacken off as I become more aerobically efficient. I arrived home after 2.5 hours with 18.24 miles on the clock - 8:14 pace @ 134HR). My legs were a little stiff after the run so I went for an afternoon swim to loosen them out a little.
I was a little apprehensive about how long I should run today, given that it was my first back to back and I already was over 10 miles up on last weeks mileage. For the run I joined Denis, John and Paul from the club who are also training for Connemara and had covered 18/20 miles on their Saturday long run. The run was planned as a slow recovery pace effort around the 2.3ish mile grass circuit of UCC Farm. Perfect, I could go as far as I wanted without overextending myself. As we were on grass I opted for the vibrams but took a pair of runners as backup. The conditions were less than ideal with winds stronger than yesterday and plenty of mud (vibrams weren't built for grip). While the pace was on the wrong side of 9 minutes I wasn't concerned and with the good company the time flew by. The conversation varied covering such topics as .... you've guessed it.... ultra running, wing-suit base jumping (crazy f#c*ers) and birds (mainly the feathered variety;) but thankfully no politics. I actually managed to stay out 15 minutes longer than yesterday although I covered less ground - 17.87 miles, with a low average HR of 114 - fast stride walking effort?
On the plus side my legs held up pretty well (saved by the slower pace) and have none of the aches and pains felt earlier in the week - don't know where they came from or where they went to - Abina reckoned I was "coming down with something" - classic family diagnosis.
Tuesday was the other high mileage day with 7 easy miles in the morning and a track session after work - the closest I got to doing actual speedwork. I opted for 5 x 1 mile repeats with the 7:30 pacing group (well 7:30 in lane 3 ~ 7:16 pace) which just about kept my HR under the 140 upper limit (well it may have strayed up to 143 when I got a bit carried away passing a slower group). The 2 minutes recoveries passed fairly quickly but were enough to keep my HR under control. This type of session may just be what keeps me sane for the next few months.
Mon 31st Jan
5.27 miles @ 9:10 pace & 110 HR - Vibrams
Tue 1st Feb
a.m. 7.28 miles @ 8:20 pace & 124HR
p.m. 7.87 miles @ 8:29 pace & 126HR
Thu 3rd Feb
7.79 miles @ 7:50 pace & no HRM
Sat 5th Feb
18.24 @ 8:14 pace & 134HR
Sun 6th Feb
17.87 miles @ 9:14 & 114HR
Base Week #2 (Run 64.3 miles, Bike Nil, Swim - 4km)