Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fresh start, a newbie once again!

So my hamstring/tendon issue is resolving (a hell of a lot slower than I would have liked) and it's time to get back to running. Pity I missed the end of autumn and start of winter. I'll just have to get stuck into it with all my layers!
Having not been running for 6 weeks, I've lost some fitness and endurance. I've kept up my cross training (rower, core work etc) but it doesn't replace a nice long run or a speed workout. I miss them.
Before my injury, I had started wearing my VFFs for two or three runs a week, up to 10k. Marathon training kind of got in the way of getting any further than that though. So I've taken the decision to have a fresh start at running. I always feel it's better to practice the technique slowly, master it and then speed it up as required. This is also true in other sports. To this end, I went to a local Chi Running course, hosted by Catherina McKiernan, Ireland's only Master Instructor.
I went along to the hotel where the course was being held and quickly realized I was the only one of 13 wearing minimalist shoes - VFF KSOs to be exact. During the day, each one of the other attendees asked me about the VFFs, and I was even asked to give a quick talk about them and barefoot running (not that I'm any kind of expert!).
So we had a talk first, then Catherina made a video of each of us running along about 200m from the front, side and back. After that we went inside for some drills on correct posture etc and then we went for four laps of the local park to practice. Then we had lunch and chatted for a while before doing more drills and practice. Then we got to see how each of us ran on the video. It was the first time I'd seen how I looked when I ran and Catherina said I kept my back very tense and stuck my elbows out too much, but otherwise ok. A lot of the other runners were heel striking etc, so we each got critiqued.
We then chatted about various running related things (I was asked to talk about nutrition, but I was poorly prepared and didn't do the topic justice) and went over some stretches. Last up was a short, slow run in loops of about 100m where Catherina could run beside each of us and recommend how to correct our form. Gotta say I took a lot away from this and found it well worth it. All my runs since the course have focused on form, posture and just getting it all to gel without any speed at all. Just practice, practice. Also, all of my runs since I was injured have been in the VFFs (either Bikilas or KSOs). I'll bring distance up as I feel I can and then when that's comfortable and my posture is ok I'll add in speed work.
One step at a time...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm intolerant, time to deal with it

I was told by a gym instructor last year that "nutrition is 60% of your training". Since then I have paid a lot more attention to my preparation and recovery from training runs and races, and got a PB in all but one race I toed the line at. Kinda speaks for itself as far as I can see, but being a data nerd, I needed to know if there was anything else I could improve on. I don't want to get OTT about it, but I want to be sure I'm not doing myself harm nutrition wise either.
It was when I saw an advert for food intolerance testing that I saw a way to get even more information than I already had. The test is a small blood sample that was taken at my local chemists. They sent it away to a lab to get tested and about 2 weeks later I got the results. In fact I got the results after work yesterday...
Before I went along for the review I made a mental note of what I thought would be "trouble foods": onions, mushrooms and possibly wheat.
When the chemist sat me down we had a look over the three pages of results. They are broken down by their scoring according to how your blood sample had reacted. Zero to 24 are green (ok to eat), 24 - 30 is yellow (take in moderation) and over 30 is red - AVOID!!
For onions I got zero, mushrooms were 15, wheat also 15...but then at the very bottom there were two items in red...the pic below says it all, Baker's Yeast - 193!

So, I have a yeast intolerance, and a pretty big one too! This can (according to the booklet I was given) "progress to increased sensitivity to chemicals, dampness (i.e. arthritis), anxiety and infection".
For the next 12 weeks, I am to try to totally avoid all foods with yeast, wheat and dairy and anything that may increase the sugar in my stomach. I also have to try and stick to low GI foods to wipe out the issue. Apparently a yeast intolerance gives you stomach problems, so probiotics are a must. Acidophilus tablets are already being taken and I have switched to wheat and yeast free bread and soy milk.
Astonishingly, having only been on this diet for less than 24 hours, I can already feel my long term sinus blockage clearing. Wonder what the rest of the 12 weeks will bring, and how it will affect my running (when I can get back to it!).


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Injury update...again

As you may or may not know by now, I backed out of the Dublin marathon. Three days before to be exact. I had been forced off running against my will, but with my better judgement, due to a hamstring injury. If you have been reading this before, or listening to the podcast (and why wouldn't you?), then you'll know that it's been plaguing me on and off since May.
What actually happened, was that I was at the track doing 50m sprints and, yes, I was being competitive with people 25 years younger than me! Anyway, one of the "kids" there was doing the 50m in 7.00 secs and I was doing them at around 7:20, so I thought, "I can't let him away with that!" Stupid I know. So I did the sprint, but for some reason I was letting my legs stay on the ground a bit longer than I should, and the weaker leg muscles were pulling my legs forward, rather than my stronger muscles doing all the work. That's when and how it happened. I didn't rest it as much as I should have and rather than back out of the Kildare HM I kept going with my training, icing my leg whenever it played up. So the niggle I got in May ended up forcing me out of a marathon in October.
Of course, if I had 20/20 hindsight...
In the meantime I'm still doing my cross training in the gym and have gone three times this week. I used to think I had more lower body strength and fitness, it's turning around the other way now! In the gym earlier I was pretty tempted to jump on the dreadmill for 20mins just to test out the leg, but I erred on the side of caution, as it's not 100%.
I went to the DM Expo and picked up my goodie bag (hey, I paid for it already didn't I) and did some "retail therapy" in the form of buying a new pair of VFFs from who had a stand there. I had Bikila's already and this time I went for KSOs. Can't wait to try them out on a run!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Marathon taper injury

No, I'm not having phantom niggles, this is an *actual* injury. I was doing my not so L LSR on Sunday, starting to taper, and about 17k in the tendon at the back of my right knee gave me a quick shock of pain. I started walking and after 30sec or so it felt ok, so I started to try a jog, it was worse. It was so bad that I came to a total standstill. So I still had a little over 4k to get home and I had to walk/hobble very slowly, in fact that 4k took 50mins!
Anyway, I iced it and rested, Monday was a rest day anyway. I made an appointment with my local physio for Tuesday and backed out of the track session and coaching the kids that evening. I couldn't even go up or down stairs properly. Anyway, the physio said it wasn't too bad, but there was a strain to the bottom and mid parts of my hamstring and also one of my glutes on that side, which I didn't know about before.
So no running yesterday and today I was meant to do a 1:30hr run, but I don't want to risk it (and I wouldn't have the time!). Tomorrow I have a 40min run on the cards, so I'll do that in the VFFs and take it from there.
Only about 10 days to go to the Dublin Marathon. If I take my half marathon time, multiply it by 2 and add 10% then my marathon time is under 4hrs, which would be nice. I'm thinking of going out with the 4:15 pacers though, so I don't go too fast. I can put a bit of pace on towards the end if I'm feeling ok. Time will tell!!

Keep running,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Irish Runner podcast, Episode 12

This time I chat about the Dublin half marathon, the upcoming Dublin marathon, future races and how my post-race recovery plan is working out.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Running on noodles...

So we have finished with September and are now into the month of the Dublin Marathon. This day in four weeks over 13,000 people will be running/jogging/walking/crawling around the city streets. Some just trying to finish, some trying to complete it running and some aiming to get under a particular time and set a PB.
My primary goal will be to finish faster than I did in Connemara, which was 4:26. Secondary goal is sub-4hrs. As I've missed a couple of LSRs last month for various reasons, I'll be happy to get a PB, but if sub-4 is within my reach then I'll go for it.
The LSR yesterday went so much better than last week. The night before, I had a big helping of sirloin steak with spuds and carrots, followed later with fruit. I don't eat much red meat and almost never eat mince, but I thought my iron levels could do with the boost.
The morning of the run I had my usual porridge with raisins, then tea, toast and numerous sips of water. It had been raining pretty heavy the day before and more rain was forecast, but when I started out it was overcast, not too warm and no rain. I had been told that I may have been going too fast on my LSRs recently. Last week's run was at a target pace equivalent to a sub-4hr marathon pace. So this time I dialed it back to a 6min/k pace and kept it there as much as I could. About 40mins into the run, at the side of the road I spotted a dead rabbit, that looked like it had been hit by a car or truck, it had since been picked pretty much clean. Around the 1hr mark, I saw what looked like lots of thin white slugs on the road until I got closer and realized it was noodles! I reckon someone bought a box of noodles at a take away and chucked them out the window on the way home or wherever, nice.
Anyway, time moved on, as did I. I got to a T junction with 50mins left to run. If I went left I'd get home sooner, but would have to run up & down the road to make up time. So I went right and ran for 15mins, turned around and started running back home. For the last 20mins I decided to run at MP, just for the mental edge of being able to push myself after having done close to 30k already. It was pretty tough, having spent 3hrs on my feet running already, but it was simulating race day too. I got to the required 3 hrs 20mins and started walking. It had been raining for the last hour so I was pretty well soaked, and I was tired, but happy to have it done.
I had my recovery drink when I got home, and had a hankering for chicken noodles (!), so had them, got cleaned up and took it easy for the afternoon at a kids party.
Today (the day after) I'm feeling pretty good, little or no leg stiffness, just an overall tired feeling.
Keep running,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dublin Marathon training update

Just under five weeks left until the Dublin Marathon. It feels really close, but there's a lot of work still to be done.
One thing I'm going to work on (again) is my fueling for long runs. My LSR last Saturday was nasty. I was scheduled to run at an easy pace (conversational) for 3 hrs and 20 mins, which I did. But, after the 2hr mark it was a battle the whole way. I had been having lower GI issues the previous day and I still wasn't 100% going into the run. If I hadn't been working up to the marathon I would most likely have left it at 23-25k and gone home, but I stuck it out for a little over 33k in all.
Here's what I wrote just after the run...
After 60mins nearly barfed, kept going
1:30 - Not feeling great, ate a cereal bar to settle stomach, helped.
2:00 Nearly barfed again,kept going
2:30 Another cereal bar, helped again.
3:00 The end is in sight, lifted the spirits
3:20 Time to walk, nearly choked taking last endurolyte!
The last 600m or so I took off my runners and socks and walked on the wet grass as much as possible, felt good. Time for a cold bath and hot food :-)

I had scrambled egg and toast along with a protein drink post-run. Then plenty of time to put the feet up, take in water and fruit and watch a movie. I wasn't expecting to have the house to myself but I enjoyed the silence.
Last week was tricky logistically and I had to rearrange most of my runs and ended up moving the Friday run to Monday. That means I did four runs last week and will do six this week. This Sunday will also be my last of the really long, long runs before I start to wind down. I won't be tapering yet, just backing off the load a bit.
Last week I also did two runs in the VFFs on consecutive days, for the first time. My legs are fine with VFF runs up to about 8-9k, so I thought if I did a good bit of stretching and foam rolling in between it would be fine. It wasn't... My calves were tight as hell for a couple of days, so a bit of work on there too.
There's a free barefoot running clinic coming up soon, so I'm looking forward to that and will hopefully get a few tips on easing out the calves.

Keep running,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dublin Half Marathon

I had been looking forward to this race for months. Although I had also done the 8k (5mile) and 16k (10mile) races in the previous two months in the same park, I wasn't used to those distances. The HM distance seems to be (currently) where it's at for my racing.
The previous weekend I had missed my LSR, due to being at a friend's wedding in Paris. A pretty good excuse if ever there was one! So from there it was straight into taper for the race.
The Tuesday track session went well. Most of the group were doing 800m repeats, but I did a Fartlek session instead. I did a 1,200m warmup, 6 x 50m sprints, then 6 x 1min at 80% with 30sec JR followed by 5 x 30sec at 80% with 30sec JR. After that I did another 1,200m cool down on a chilly night.
I was meant to be doing my final run on Wednesday, but my wife was working and by the time I had got the kids asleep that night I had fallen asleep too. So I did my final run of just 40mins on Thursday, but took it pretty easy. On Friday I did a bit of walking, but no gym and no running.
Saturday morning had me up at 7am to get breakfast in so it would settle in time. My usual porridge, two pieces of toast and tea were followed by a banana. In no time at all it was 8am and time to get ready. As our daughter (3) had a bit of a cold, we decided I would go on my own to the race. I was driving over and just got off the M50 when I saw a couple of women in running gear waiting by the side of the road, looking pensive. I would not normally stop, but as they were obviously runners I did and offered them a lift to the race. They both accepted and we chatted for a few mins on the way to the park. One of them was going for a 2:15 time and the other was injured and was going to cheer the other on. I let them go ahead as I prepared at the car and then jogged to the start line (just over 2k). I had a GU about 15mins before the start and made my way to the wave 2 pen. Wave 1 was for sub 90mins, too ambitious for me yet! My PB was 1:50:04 and I was hoping for 1:48 or so, but at the last minute, I decided to aim for 1:45!!

The elites took off, and a couple of mins later wave 1 went. Then we moved up and I was chatting to the 1:50 pacers and a couple of women from the club that I bumped into. In no time at all we were off and the 1:50 pacers were ahead of me! In the crowd (a total of over 8,000) it was tricky for the first couple of KM, but I caught up to my target pace pretty soon and pulled away from the 1:50 crowd. I decided to try and keep my pace pretty constant and it was feeling good. We were doing two loops of Pheonix Park and as we came up the hill to Chesterfield Ave around the 8k mark I started to run low on energy so I took a GU with water. In 10mins or so I was feeling ok again so I picked up the pace.
Most of the race went fine and I stuck to my pace but at about the 15k mark my right hamstring started to complain (an intermittent issue). It was so bad that I had to take a walk break for a bit and took in some water. Just then, the woman I had given a lift to was passing and told me to "get back running" - in a friendly way. Looked like she was going a lot faster than a 2:15 pace! I started running again and couldn't keep the pace I had been at, but ran as hard as I could. With the final hill I slowed a bit (as most of us did) and put on a spurt for the final 600m or so. Crossing the line I was limping, but very happy with my 1:45:30 time, woohoo!
I got my goodie bag, water and bananas and chatted to a couple of people before walking back to the car. I would normally have jogged, but I couldn't.
Getting back to the car I had a couple more bananas that I had brought with me, a protein drink and more water. When I got home a coach from the club rang (who I had chatted to in the wave 2 pen) and we decided to meet for lunch. So we got ready (during which time the kids had soaked each other with watering cans!) and had a very relaxed lunch. I had a scrambled egg and cheese bagel with water, just what I needed.
That night we went to a local restaurant and when we walked in I recognized four women from our club and chatted to them for a bit, three of them had run the race and were all exhausted but happy. I had stuffed baked mushrooms, barramundi fillet with garlic and cheese potatoes followed by cheesecake...oh and we shared a bottle of wine too! The day after I felt fine and apart from my hamstring (which I was icing) I could have gone out for a run...but didn't.
Looking forward to the DCM now!

Keep running,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Irish Runner Episode 11

This episode I talk pre and post a recent 16k race and discuss an upcoming half marathon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marathon training - 8 weeks left

So this is my second marathon coming up. For the first one (Connemarathon in April) I had very little structure to my training and looking back, it shows. I had to do a fair bit of walking towards the end of the race, had a LOT of glute pain and as a result was disappointed with my time.
This time around, I have a much more structured training approach, I do tough work on my glutes in the gym twice a week and I have raised my expectations regarding a time. Publicly I'm aiming for under 4 hours, privately I also have another time goal :-)
My training still has me running 5 times a week, which I was already doing. But I'm now doing two speed sessions a week, two "easy" runs and one LSR at an easy pace. Easy being defined as conversational pace. One of my easy runs is a mid-week run that is up to about 15k and will be getting longer.
On Tuesday's I train at the club track and fall in line with what the coaches get the advanced group to do. This could be strength/conditioning, Yasso 800's or this week it was 1,600m repeats (that's roughly a mile for all you fuddy duddys out there). I must admit that I tend to go at my own pace and if someone goes slower or faster then I let them do their own thing.
The Dublin Half Marathon is coming up in just over a week and despite it being a tricky course, I'm aiming for a PB. My current PB is 1:50:04 (stopping to pick up a gel that I dropped cost me the sub 1:50 time), and I'm aiming for around 1:48, but if I get lower I'll grab it with both hands!

Keep running,

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I'm running the Dublin Marathon

A lot of people run marathons, the number is increasing year on year. It's great to see that in days of people only getting busier and "always connected" to work, that we care about ourselves and our health and longevity.
I've done a number of charity events over the years. These include a solo parachute jump from 2,000 feet for the blind, shaving my head for cancer research to name just two.
This year I wanted to run the Dublin Marathon for my Dad. He died from cancer when I was 22 and I think about him every day. I'd like to show him how much I've grown and for him to see my own kids and how they are doing.
Then last month, someone rang our door bell and asked me to donate money to Barnardos Ireland. I didn't have any money on me, but really wanted to help. Kids are unable to help themselves, vulnerable, but are also the future.
So I rang Barnardos and asked about their fundraising and they were only too happy to get me onboard.
I have since been sent out a sponsorship pack and have my own sponsorship page here.
I am only too aware how hard times are these days for each and every one of us. But also, Barnardos is having it's funding cut too, so children that are desperately in need may not get the help they require.
If you can, please just donate a small amount, every little helps!

Many thanks,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Frank Duffy race in the park

I'd been building up to this since the 8k race last month, which was the first of three in the race series, preparing for the Dublin Marathon. As race day grew closer, things got busier. We had family staying with us and race day was also my son's fifth birthday.
My training was all going according to plan and my time trials were going really well, coming in under the goal times each time. I was due to do a 5k time trial the week before the race, but I was having a bit of ankle trouble and took two days off running. On the day of the time trial I decided it would be best long term if I did a relaxed run, which I did. This made it a bit more tricky to predict my time in the 16k race accurately.
Two days before the race, I emailed a friend in Australia who is highly knowledgeable in coaching and marathon running and he said that without having done the 5k he wasn't sure. I said I'd like to get sub-85mins, but hopefully closer to 80mins.
The day before the race (Friday) the wind was howling and it rained on and off. Not good race weather! Then on the morning of the race the skies cleared and the wind all but stopped, it was as if it had been ordered especially for us. I got to Pheonix Park at about 9:10, with the race starting at 10:00, so plenty of time. I was going to bring my Nathan hand held but in my haste to get out the door I forgot it. As it turns out I was fine without it. I jogged over to the start area and got straight in the portaloo queue, which was massive and barely moving. An official came over and told us over a mega phone that there was 5mins to go before the start, but there was still 3 people in front of me in the queue.

By the time I got to the start line for wave 1 the race announcer said there was 5mins to go, apparently the start time got delayed for some reason - just as well. Just before the start I took a chance and set my Garmin for a "quick workout" - 16k in 85mins. I then switched the screen to the Virtual Training Partner, which I have never, ever used before. If it didn't work well I could just scroll down to the next screen which is my usual stats.
Pretty soon we were off and the large crowd (over 6,800) were bustling through the park's narrow roads and around the corners and roundabouts. I decided not to let my pace bother me for the first 2-3k, as the crowd would be an issue. After that I started to push myself to just over a 5:00/k pace and held it there. First water station at 4k, then some uphills with S bends. The side wind on Chesterfield was a welcome relief from the heat and lack of wind in other parts and pretty soon it was on to the second lap. I felt strong and took my only gel at around the 9k mark. I didn't scroll away from the Training Partner screen once during the race and it really helped me not do the mental maths that I always over-think during races.
Pushing up the last hill I still felt good so I kept the pace up. At the top there was about 600-700m left and I gave it everything.

I crossed the line at 1:21:23, well under my 85mins estimation and goal. I am now thinking, "What if I had set the garmin to 80mins instead of 85..."
Anyway, I'm delighted with the time I got and am now looking forward to the third in the race series next month, the Dublin Half Marathon...

Keep running,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Irish Runner Episode 10

I recorded pre and post a recent 8k race and discuss an upcoming 16k and the Dublin Marathon.

Keep Running,

Monday, August 8, 2011

LSR and fueling

So yesterday marked the end of week 4 of DCM training (Dublin City Marathon). I clocked up about 67k over the week and am really enjoying the hard training. Having said that, I'm enjoying the rest/recovery days immensely! I use them as an excuse to pile in the (healthy) calories.
Yesterday's LSR was to be about 2:40hrs long at a relaxed pace. Some online calculators suggest this to be around 6min/k for me, so I'm happy with that, but at times I wander up to 5:30min/k when I'm enjoying the run. I've been finding on these longer runs that I don't like taking in too many gels, but if I don't, then my energy levels drop off after the two hour mark. I've tried different gels and jelly sweets, none of which settle well in my stomach.
So I was in Sean's shop on Saturday (IrishFit) and saw a new product on the shelf. I was originally going in to buy some recovery drink and got chatting to the man himself. I pointed at the tub of Hammer Perpeteum Solids and asked what he thought of them and he was glowing about them (being an Ironman and Ultraman himself!). So I said I'd think about it and put them back and then picked it up again and ended up buying the tub.
It contains 765g (about 30 tablets) of chewable energy. You can also buy the dispenser (in the pic above) that fits 6 tablets. The suggestion is to take 1 before the run/endurance event and then between 1-4 per hour depending on the intensity of the activity and the individual requirements. I took 1 before the run and brought 7 with me (in case I lost any) in a dispenser the pocket of my Camelbak. I also brought 2 GU gels in case I felt really low on energy. As a test, I took one tablet every 20mins and an Endurolyte every 30mins (which is my normal electrolyte intake on a run). As you can see in the pic below, they are pretty big and are not meant to be swallowed whole!!
They are chalky and chewable, but took me about 2mins to chew completely. I found it best to push it to one side of my mouth while chewing, take in some water and breathe along the other side of my mouth. It sounds a lot more complicated that it was. After 1:40hrs of running I felt fine and decided to spread it out to 30mins and see how I felt. So I took one at about 2:10hrs into the run and kept taking the Endurolytes as usual. Even at the end of the run (27.3k) I felt like I had a good deal of energy left, and probably could have gone further.
Overall I think they are awkward to ingest, but the slow energy release definitely suits me better than gels. The small 6 tablet dispenser is also a good way to carry them. They do stick to your teeth, but that's not a big deal. So yes, I'll be using them in preference to gels in the future.

Keep running,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July monthly update

July really seems to have gone by pretty quick for me. Probably due to being quite busy with family, work and training! So here's the roundup:
 Last month I ran a total of 217km and when you take into account cycling etc it goes up to 255km. That's the most running in one month I've ever done, and it is only set to increase. So just the last two weeks were dedicated to full on marathon training, the week before was technically a recovery week. This month plans to be quite tough, as I'll be doing 90min mid-week runs, my LSRs will be longer and I'll still be doing two speed/intense sessions a week. With five days running a week, and getting to the gym for cross training twice a week I am really enjoying my recovery days!
This morning I was in the gym just after 6am and I have a track session tonight. Haven't decided what I'll do at the track, but probably sprints (80 or 100m) followed by 5 x 800m Yassos.
Just 13 weeks left until the Dublin Marathon!

Keep running,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Marathon training update - week 3

So I'm in full on marathon training right now. I had one recovery week after the Clontarf HM, eh, which I didn't do. But things have been getting busy last week and this week. To give you a flavour, here's how this week went:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - In the gym for 06:00 and 1:45 of core and upper body work, no big weights but enough reps to have me tired. Then that evening was track session: Run to the track and 800m warmup (2.2k total), then 6 x 100m sprints with a 3min recovery at the end then 5 x 800m with a target of around 3:45. I only went over that target once, so maybe I'm going out too fast...Anyway, I ran home after to cool down, so that's 1.4k or so. I had run over in the VFFs and brought my Asics to change into, but when I got there I realized that I had forgotten my I did the lot in the VFFs...
Wednesday - An easy 10.5k run, but I could only start it after 21:30, and it was raining. So I had my high viz vest and headlight on for the wet run!
Thursday - Up at silly o'clock for the same gym session as Tuesday, then in the evening an easy run in the VFFs, covered 7.3k
Friday - Another track session. Run over and 800m was 2.2k. Then 7 x 80m sprints (I meant to do 6, but lost count and only realized I had done 7 when I saw the Garmin readout at home later!), I took a 3-4 minute recovery and then did a tough training run. I was actually nervous about doing this: A 15 minute hard run around the track and check what distance I got. Do the same in two months and see what improvements I have made, if any. I went out too fast (sub 3:20min/k) to be able to sustain it and had to back off. I was checking the Garmin every minute or so, willing the clock to move faster. Mentally this was definitely the toughest training run I have ever done. I know now that I am being too competitive with myself and pushing myself too much. The fine art of negative splits was out the window on this one! Even the cool down run home was tiring...
So I have today (Saturday) as a rest day, but I had to get some stuff done. I ended up cycling about 15k to different shops to get bits and then spending a few hours painting and cutting grass etc. Then I had to do some actual work from 18:30 until after 02:00...and I have a LSR to do tomorrow, ugh...
Update: The LSR went ok, but slow. I had a lack of energy from working late so my pace was slow. But I still did a little over 23k in 2:20. I'll have to improve on that pace if I am going to get my marathon goal time.

Keep running,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

5 miler in the park

So this was the first of three races in the DCM race series, building up to the marathon in October. I had taken Friday off from training to prepare for it, the weather wasn't looking good though.
Saturday morning we were going to pack up the family and all go to the park so the kids could watch the race, but with a gale force wind and rain it wasn't going to happen. So I set off on my own and got there about 9am, and hour before the start.
I sat in the car eating fruit and drinking water until about 09:30 and then did a warm up run of about 1.8k to the start line, or to be specific, the portaloos! There were lots, so I didn't have to wait long :-)
According to the instructions on the website, and sent out along with the bib numbers, there were three wave starts. Wave 1 for sub 40mins, wave 2 for 40-50mins and wave 3 for +50mins. As my previous 8k time was 36mins, I went into the back of wave 1. I soon realized that most of the crowd (runners/joggers/walkers) did too! As the race organizers said afterwards: "The fact that 3974 entries went in wave 1, 1782 started in wave 2 and 562 started in wave 3 did not help".
There was an announcer talking over the PA system pre-race, and I presume he was trying to keep people's spirits up etc, but saying that, "there is a tail wind the whole way around" on a loop course is just wrong.
Anyway I set my Garmin to a "quick workout" and set it for 8km in 35mins. Then I reset it to 40mins, so I wouldn't be putting too much pressure on myself - glad I did that now.
There wasn't a starters gun, but I did notice the front runners move off rapidly, so I guessed we had started! It took about 20 secs for me to get over the line, so I started my Garmin then. The narrow roads in the Phoenix Park made it pretty congested, and as there were a lot of people starting with wave 1 who clearly should have been in wave 2/3 it held up things considerably! It took me about 1.5-2k to get past the walkers/joggers that had started in front of me, but I was able to get my pace up to 4:30-4:20min/k, which was my target really. There was one water station about the half way mark and I took a cup, but I can never get the hang of drinking from a cup while running. I managed two small gulps and dropped the rest over my legs, which actually felt good and cooled them down.
Then came the real test: Kyber Road, 1km all uphill. I focused on keeping running, slowing as needed and not looking too far ahead. I went down to about 5:30min/k, but that should have been ok along with my earlier pace overall. I tried to give encouragement to people who had to walk, and a few of them started running again. At the top of the hill, the finish line was about 200m away and I gave it all I had, although I was tired from the climb. The clock said 39:32, but my Garmin said 39:20, which would be more accurate. I was disappointed with my time, but given the congestion and lack of organization in the waves it couldn't be avoided really. I got a cup of water, two bananas and my goodie bag and started to breath normally again. I was cooling down pretty fast and started to feel cold in no time, so I jogged the 1.8k back to the car as a cool down run.

Our chip/electronic timers were a part of the bib numbers, so when we crossed the start line my race time should have started. However, looking at the results page my start time and my chip time are identical, so I can assume that my chip didn't register when I started for some reason.
Also, when I got home and looked at the t-shirt in the goodie bag, the date on it is wrong, weird! It says "July 6", instead of "July 16".
All things considered, if I had the chance I wouldn't run it again unless it was organized better. It is more time consuming to get a previous result from people and give a coloured bib number for each wave, and to get volunteers to police it correctly, but it means that people can run at the speed they wish (pretty much). Apparently there was a group of six women with identical t-shirts at the back of wave 1 that walked the majority of the race, at the start they were strung out across the road holding hands! I admire their solidarity, but that's bad etiquette (holding hands/taking up the road) and lack of organization (in wrong wave).
The signage should have been a lot clearer and hopefully the issues will have been ironed out by the time the 16k/10 mile race in the series next month.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

General update June/July

Well I haven't posted a monthly update for June, that's because I was in between two different websites for logging all my runs (went from DailyMile to RunAhead). Some are entered on both sites, some one one and some on neither. It's something over 125k running last month, but I'm not sure by how much, and I don't have the time or inclination to go and figure it out. I could go into Garmin TC and check, but other things in life are more important!
So this Saturday is the first of three races in the Dublin Marathon series, the Irish Runner 8k (known as the 5 miler, but I work in metric). The last 8k race I did was on Paddy's Day and I had indigestion for it and still managed 36mins and a bit, but it was quite flat. This time I won't have the stomach issue, but there's a 1k hill right at the end, and oh yea, there will be upwards of 6,500 runners on narrow roads too. There's three waves and I'll be in wave 1, which is for sub 40min runners. But it's self seeded, so anyone can jump right in and slow you down if they feel like it. I'm hoping for a reasonable time, sub 35min would be good. Rain is forecast and that would be welcome as it's pushing to 20 degrees these days - when its not raining of course :-)

Keep running,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Irish Runner Episode 9

In this episode, I take you on a 5k training run, discuss a recent 5k race, POSE running and my DCM training plans.

Keep running,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

South O'Hanlon 5k

Short version: It rained and rained, we ran in the rain and it rained.
Long version: Well, it was raining...The race was due to start at 8pm and I got there just after 7:30. As it was raining I got out of the car in all my running gear, rather than get any other clothes wet too. In the hall at the GAA pitch I got my number (€12 for entry) and realized that it must be getting close to start time. So I jogged about 1k from there to the start line (my warm up!) while pinning on my number.

A few hundred runners were hanging around the start area (in the rain) waiting for the start, so I did a bit of dynamic stretching and got under a tree, although I couldn't get any wetter at this stage! We were told to get ready and we all moved up, then we had to move back behind the line, then we moved up and had to move back again (getting cold now) and eventually someone shouted "GO!". I was in the middle of the pack which, on reflection, was too far back to get a good start. After a couple of minutes I was able to break through the bunch and get up to a happy pace. I started out at about 4:15min/k pace, a bit too fast for the start. I had a look at the elevation the day before and it showed two hills, the biggest about 2.6k in, so I held back to save some energy. What I didn't know was that the elevation chart had "dramatized" the hills...grrr.
Anyway I kept a good pace and tried to run near someone who was going at the same pace as myself, so I wouldn't get carried away. That worked and when I realized the hills were a bit of a "no show" I put the pace on again. Photo below is me coming in to the only water station, less than 1k to go...

My last 1k I didn't have much to spare and would have liked to have gone faster but given the conditions I was pretty much going as fast as I could. In the distance I could see the finishing line and 22:xx on the clock. I couldn't make out the seconds due to people and rain etc, but I knew I was close to breaking my PB! I pushed again and when I got about 200m to the end I saw 22:50 (or so) and I knew I wouldn't get a PB. I kept going and finished strong (in the rain!). Unofficial time 23:33, just 9 seconds slower than my PB I set a year ago. We all got handed bottles of water at the end while we handed back the timing chips. In my head I was saying, "if I had done x or y I would have been faster..." but that's for another day.
I did a 1.5k cool down jog (in the rain of course) and headed in to the hall for the post-race refreshments: tea/coffee, sandwiches, cake and sticky buns! All the goody bags had been handed out already, as many more had turned up than they were expecting, but they know who got their bag and who didn't and I was assured that one will be sent out. I didn't get to meet any club members unfortunately, but I stayed and chatted for a few mins in the hall with other runners, did some stretching and got dried off and went home. Of course it had stopped raining by this time, ha ha!

P.S. Race results here
Official time was 23:37

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tactically misplaced and VFF run

Looks like the temps are finally starting to creep up (mid-June, about time!). I've been only doing relaxed/easy runs recently, but they have all been stress and injury free and I've been enjoying them more. That's what its all about, isn't it?
I got my bike out a couple of times last week and I love being out on it, I'm not super fast and it's a hybrid bike, so no aero bars or anything. I've found a nice route that's about 27k long, no big hills (some small ones) and at the 20k mark there's a shop that sells Powerade, so I can refill my water bottle, which is empty by then. Only down side is that now that it's a bit warmer, there's a LOT more flies etc, so I may have to get a face mask if things get any worse, I'm sure dead insects on my face aren't that appealing!
I was in the gym on Friday morning - early - and one of the usual local guys told me of a new route I should try running. So I went home, walked my son to school and did just that. I didn't know how long the route was, but I did know it would be more than 12k and possibly 18k or so. I decided to bring my voice recorder to put down some more podcast audio and I stuffed it in the mesh pocket of my Camelbak. MISTAKE!
I took my pre-race drink, which tastes and smells as bad as it looks, but gives a sustained energy release, not a caffeine like spike.

The run started off out my usual 10k route and into a neighbouring village and then turned right, off the main road. At this point the directions I was given said to take the next right turn, which I did. The road got pretty narrow, only wide enough for one car. Even at that I had to step off the road when a van came towards me. The houses here were lovely. I didn't take any pics, as I wouldn't want any random person taking pics of my house, ha ha! I was starting to wonder where the road was taking me, but kept going and checked my Garmin "back to start" feature. Looked like I was going in the right direction according to it's compass anyway. I was 9k into the run and didn't want to have to turn and end up doing 18k when I could be home sooner (I had to get home to pick up my son from school at lunch). I kept on going and eventually the road twisted and turned and came to a familiar T junction - I was back on the main road I had recently been running on! With just over 5k left I turned for home and kept talking into the mic to record more for the podcast. I had clipped the mic onto the top of my t-shirt and the Camelbak hose is a bit short, so it gets kinda close to the mic when it's stowed away on the shoulder strap. I was concerned about audio quality from the two items brushing off each other.
Anyway I got home and in time to shower and change and pick up "mini me" and bring him for lunch. I listened back to the audio yesterday (over an hour's worth) and the whole time there is a weird noise that is really annoying. No, not my voice, but the sound of the recorder bouncing in the pocket and rubbing off the mesh - totally ruined! That's a pity, as it's kinda funny. I will go back to holding the recorder in my SPI Belt and record some more.
Yesterday we didn't have a babysitter and my wife is on night shift this week, so I had to get my run in early and skip the track session. I decided to do a relaxed 5k local run but to wear my VFFs. I started out slow but soon felt comfortable and my body naturally picked up the pace without me telling it to. I wasn't going super fast, just at a comfortable pace. I got back home with a little over 5k and the longest I've ever done in the VFFs, sweet!! I'll try to gradually bring up the distance in them over the next few weeks. There's a 5k road race next week, but I'm not ready to race in them and it's a club race, so I'll use my "normal" runners for it.

Keep running,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Club Championships, training sites and hydration

So last night was the 2nd annual Club Championships for Ratoath AC, which I'm a member of. The evening was focused on the kids and we tried not to make it too competitive.
There was age groups from u6 right up to u16 and a parents 60m dash. I'm proud to say that my son came 3rd in the u6 60m race (he's not even 5 yet!). His best bud came in first, so I'm sure there'll be some good ribbing in school today!
I was on hand partly as I'm an Assistant Coach for the kids and partly as a designated first aider, so I had to hang around until the bitter end. There was a lot of laughs and it was great to see some of the kids running barefoot (we use a grass track). The u9 girl's race was won barefoot even!
It rained on and off most of the evening, but it didn't dampen our spirits. About half way through the awards at the end I stripped off my track suit and packed it in my backpack (along with my first aid kit and umbrella and water) and headed off on my run.
I had been to the gym in the morning before work and did 3k in the VFFs, but wanted to get a longer run in. So I ran from the track past my house (about 1.2k) and out the Kilbride Road and back. I used the same 10k out and back that I normally run, which is clocked at 10.2 to 10.3k, so I logged it as a 11.5k run. Even if that's 100m out it's no biggie in the grand scheme of things.
Training has been going well. I wasn't happy about deferring Portumna, but I wasn't in shape for it, simple as that. It was the first big race and defined goal that I'd had to back away from but I wasn't enjoying my training and I was pushing myself too hard. Since then I took a couple of days off and started running relaxed again, with no definite time/distance for my runs. Feels great!
The next race I'm entered in is the Clontarf HM on July 3rd. It's billed as "Ireland's flattest half marathon". by the elevation it sure looks flat, but it's run on road, grass and beach, so not as fast as you may think. But I haven't done it before, so we'll see how it goes. The weekend coming I will be away diving in West Cork with a bunch of friends, so I will have to get a run in on Friday and taper from there.
Also worthy of note, I stopped posting my runs on DailyMile and started using RunAhead. I had various reasons for this, mostly because RunAhead has a more granular way of adding in details about the run and can graph them accordingly. Also, I've had issues with DM not syncing my Garmin, but never had those issues with RA. I'm now posting on both sites, in case one goes down and I lose everything - you never know.
Recently my old 1.5L hydration pack gave up on me. Actually the kids got it and it has been leaking like a sieve since. It only cost $19.95, so I'm not too bothered. So I went out and got a 3L Camelbak Octane XCT for €67.
I like the Camelbak, but it hugs my back so I get sweaty so more grooves in the padding would be good. Also, the hose could be 4-6 inches longer, as I think it's a bit short. It does have two side zipped pockets though and a cargo stash at the back for a rain jacket etc, so all good. 3L is probably more than I'll need. The pack only weighs 320g, but when you add in 3kg for the full bladder and gels and rain jacket etc, it does get heavy for running and I can feel it moving about on my back. It has a chest strap and another strap lower down (above the waist), but you don't want them too tight.
Anyway, I think I've blogged plenty for today!

Keep running,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Irish Runner Episode 7.1

This episode, I take you on a blustery run through Dublin's Pheonix Park and talk about some upcoming races, issues I've been having and products I've been using.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Decisions made

Some decisions are easy and are made in the blinking of an eye or the "shake of a lamb's tail". Others are a lot more tricky and really take time to figure out, weighing up the pros and cons. I've had two tricky, running based decisions this week. Both of them involved pulling out of races.
I was registered for two half marathons in September, one week apart from each other. Now I can run that distance every weekend and still do the rest of my training. I'm not boasting, there's a good percentage of runners far more capable than I, it's just the level I'm at right now. But I'm going to work towards the Dublin Marathon at the end of October, so I really don't want to risk injury that close to the big one.
I checked the elevations of both races and backed out of the Cliffs of Moher, as the profile was too steep to fit into my current level of training. That wasn't too tricky to decide. I'm still doing the Dublin HM.
The really tricky one was Portumna, my first 50k race. Had my training gone to plan, I would have recovered well from Connemarathon, done the Kildare HM and coasted into base building for Portumna. It didn't.
Two weeks before Kildare I strained one of my hamstrings and it's taken 4-5 weeks to be able to run well again. I told myself that if I couldn't do a 30k run two weeks out of the race, then I had no business going to the start line of a 50k. So on Sunday I went out and kept going until I had just over 30k on the Garmin. Afterwards I had my usual recovery drink, fruit, water and a big dinner. The next day I was tired, hungry and sore. It wouldn't normally take me that long to recover from a run under 3 hours long.
So on Tuesday (yesterday), I reached the decision that yes, I did the run I had set out to do, but my body was reeling afterwards. What would happen if I tried to do another 20k at the same level of fitness? I had clearly lost a lot of training in the time it had taken for my hamstring to mend. So I emailed the RD and asked to defer my entry until next year.
I don't feel good about the decision, but I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. Some stress is gone. After all, I'm in this for fun, I'm not getting paid for it! If I can't go into a race and enjoy it - why enter?

Keep running,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Build up and LSR

This last week has been all about building up some good distance/speedwork and getting in a LSR. I did a mammoth gym session on Monday, knowing I wouldn't get a chance to go again the rest of the week. Tuesday was club training at the track, Wednesday I did two laps of the village for about 7.6k (all I could fit in).
Thursday I took off, main reason was that I hadn't been doing a lot of training, so I didn't want a blowout.
Friday I did the same village loop twice, but it had gone up 5 degrees C in the previous two days! It was very warm and humid, so my pace was not what I would have liked. When I got home I had my recovery drink and poured a litre of water over my head - which the kids thought was a bit weird, but if felt pretty good!
Saturday we took off to a hotel in Druid's Glen in Wicklow. I was on call all week and as soon as we put our bags in the hotel room I got called and had to go online and work, but only for 30mins or so. We brought the kids to Greystones to climb the seaside rocks and mess around and then did some swimming in the hotel pool. Dinner was excellent, I love the food in this place!
I got called for work a couple of times during the night, so had interrupted sleep. We were only staying one night, so checked out and drove home on Sunday. Then I spent four hours painting the dining room while the rest of the family visited the in-laws.
With the painting done, it was overcast and raining, so I decided I needed to go for a run! It was nearly 18:00 by the time I had done faffing about and got out the door. I brought my 1.5L hydration pack, a bottle of Powerade, gels and Endurolytes, RoadID, Garmin and a headlight. After about 5k I realized I should have brought my shades too.
I hadn't had a big lunch, mainly fruit and water, but breakfast was big and healthy. My usual route for the distance I was hoping for would have been too busy with traffic at this time, so I had to wing it. The clouds were shifting and the sun came out. Headlight not required, but shades would have been nice. The first 20k was plain sailing, felt good and had a nice pace (about 5:20min/k), although I was trying to conserve some energy. From the 19k point I was running into the wind, which was a bit draining, and my pace soon slowed to about 6min/k. I was taking an Endurolyte every 30mins and a gel every 9k. I used my Powerade (500ml) first and dumped the bottle in a bin en route at about 10k. From then on I was on water.
When I was nearly back at the house I knew I would only be at about 24k, still 6k short of my target, so I passed he house and ran into the village the long way. On the return I had the wind at my back and felt better, then realized I would still be a little shy of 30k, so I turned back into the wind for a minute. That was pretty draining, as it was uphill too. When I turned again I was glad to be heading home, but had to run past the house and down the street for a couple of hundred metres and back again to get 30k on the clock. Overall pace was 5:47 and time of 2:54. This is my fastest 30k yet, which is good as I wasn't going for pace, just by how I felt. Average HR was 153, so happy with that too.
Left shin is a bit sore today, and it's Track Tuesday, so I'll see how I feel later but I may give training a miss and focus on long term goals instead.
Keep running,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

SR but not L and monthly update

On Sunday my hammie was feeling much improved, so I decided I had to get a run in, long one if possible. I drove to the Pheonix park with gels, hydration pack, recovery drink etc and of course it was raining :-(
I set off anyway, deciding on letting my leg tell me when was enough. It was quite windy but about half way the rain stopped and it wasn't too cold. I kept the pace easy and constant and my HR the same but about the 8k mark my hammie started complaining. I kept going but at about 10.5k I had to stop as I didn't want a relapse of the issue.
I went to the gym again on Monday as I knew I wouldn't get a chance the rest of the week and I really pushed myself. It included a 5k treadmill run done in 24:10, just less than a minute over my PB. Best of all - no pain!
Tuesday was track night with the club. I ran over to the school where we coach the kids and coached for the hour before going to the track just beside it. I did 3 x 400m warmup at a relaxed pace, then we did dynamic stretches and 20m sprints at 75-85%. After that we did 10 x 200m with a 30sec SR. There was 10 of us doing them and I was consistently coming in third, without racing it. I knew there was 10 to do, so no point in wearing myself out before the end. On the last one, I decided to push things and went all out from 50m. I took the lead but was beaten in the last 10m. Well she's done more marathons than me, is generally more experienced and a lot younger. Those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them!
We did 5 x 400m laps to wind down and after a chat with the group I ran home.
So for the month of May my totals have slipped a bit, down about 30k on April. That's down mainly to my hamstring issue. But I feel like I'm back on track now (excuse the pun!).

With just over two weeks to go before the Portumna 50k I really need to get a good LSR in this weekend. Physically I need to be comfortable with +30k and mentally I need to have my head in the right place. Getting my positive attitude will be a big help on the day, especially in the last 10k or so.
Keep running,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some progress...and Irish Runner Episode 6

Today I did my first run in well over a week. It felt good to be running again, albeit on a treadmill. I did 3k in just over 17 mins, taking it easy. The difficult part wasn't form, breathing etc. It was staying upright as I was running.
You see, over the last week or so I've started getting bouts of vertigo whenever I move. When I say move, this might be running, walking, climbing stairs, brushing my teeth...not good.
I went to the doctor about it yesterday and was told that it probably isn't a big deal (yea, right) and was given some pills to take. Apparently the pills work after you *stop taking them* (eh?) and the doc said "we don't know how they work, but they do". I was sooo brimming with confidence after that conversation...
Oh yea, the hamstring was fine BTW.

Also, here's the Irish Runner podcast Episode 6:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

I'm recovering from my strained hamstring slowly. I'm icing it still (even as I type) but I'm not running or cycling or even stretching it. So there's about four weeks until the 50k in Portumna. If I jump back into training straight away then I'll most likely re-injure myself. If I don't get some distance in soon I'll crash and burn in the race.
Having said that, doing the race isn't a life or death thing, if I don't do it this year I can do it next year, no biggie.
So, do I back out now and maybe closer to the day feel ok for it? Or, maybe start training again tonight to get as much training in as possible before the day, but risk doing damage? Or maybe the third option: Take it easy two more days and do a light training run on Thursday to test it out?

I think option three is a winner. I'm not going for a time in the race, just to finish the distance. So I reckon I'll do an easy 5-8k on Thursday, and if that's ok another light run on Friday and rest Saturday. All going well I'll try a LSR on Sunday morning.
Fingers crossed!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Kildare HM

I was unsure on whether to run or race this one. I'd been having hamstring issues for a bit so decided to see how I felt.

I met up with Jgal and Brian and a couple of his running buddies before the start and we all had a good chat - Jgal has a pic of us even! It was chilly with a bit of rain, but the wind had died from previous days. Start was delayed due to the amount of cars trying to get in to join the race, but we got underway and I then realized that my Garmin wasn't logging distance or pace! At about 500m in I powered it off and back on and that fixed the issue. We had aid stations every 5k and a few unofficial ones setup by the locals - very welcome treats :-)
At about 9k I was chatting to a runner I met and I started taking a gel. I squeezed it too quick and it went down my airway! I had to walk, cough and take in a load of water but got back on track. Then I dropped my other gel pack, went back and got it, then dropped my cap and went back for it...I was beginning to think I should get a bus! Anyway I kept going and caught up with the guy I had been chatting to and then overtook him.
I met a girl from my running club with 4k to go but my leg was in a world of hurt by then. The grandstand at the Curragh was a very welcome sight! The last 1k was signposted with distance left: 600m, 400m, 200m.
I pushed my pace as much as I could given my hamstring issue and got an official time of 1:50:04, a new PB! How much time did I waste picking up things I dropped and how much time could I have gained without hamstring issues? We'll never know.Average HR was 166, so not too bad for a 21k run.

Jgal finished shortly after me, sub 2 hours for her first official HM race, mega congrats!!
No time to rest for me. I took the kids swimming, had to do a few hours work later that evening and then get up at 4am to bring my mum to the airport just before starting work!
I went to the physio on Monday and he did some deep tissue work on the hammie and said to keep icing it and not to run for the week. Today, Friday, it's still a bit tender, so it looks like I won't be doing a LSR this weekend. That's a pity as it's only 4 weeks to Portumna. I really need to be getting some long runs in. I know I won't be ready to "race" it, but I'll push on and finish it, hopefully next year I'll be able to do it justice.
Four more half marathons planned for the year, so hopefully I'll be able to get sub 1:45 in at least one of them :-)

Keep running,

Friday, May 6, 2011

May monthly update

A thought for the day:
"I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy 
than a success at something I hate"
George Burns

A little later than usual with this, but here we go...

I'm trying to keep a reasonably steady amount of KMs on the clock per month but building them up slowly too. Looking back over the last few months, this seems to be working. As you can see in the screenshot from DailyMile below, there was a slight dip last month (April) due to tapering for Connemarathon and I took five days off totally to rest at the end of the month too. Bearing that in mind, the totals still seem pretty good.

I am working on a hamstring strain right now and hopefully that will be good by the Kildare HM in just over a week. I'll be taking it easy until then. Kildare is the only real race I have lined up for May, but I'll be (hopefully) getting in some long runs again shortly after that to build up to Portumna!

Keep running,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New training goals

I hadn't blogged about this, but I entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon this year. After anxiously waiting to see if a mini-holiday was about to didn't. I was a little disappointed, but it's not the end of the world. I'll enter again next year.
So as I now had a definite opening in my running calender I went and booked myself on the Dublin Marathon (5 days before NYC). I won't get a holiday out of it, but I guess I'll save on flights and a hotel!
It'll be good to have less hills in DCM than there was in the Connemarathon and I'll be able to set a realistic marathon goal, which I wasn't able to do before. As to what time I'm aiming for? Not sure yet, I'll see how the training goes.
So the speed session at the track took a bit out of me last Tuesday, actually it feels like a bit out of my right hamstring! It hasn't been the same since, so I'm keeping an eye on it. (It feels like either the Biceps Femoris, Long or the Semitendinosus to be precise!)
I took Thursday off to recover and on Friday I did a session in the gym, which went fine. I ended it with 3k on the treadmill in the VFFs. I'm slowly (read: very slowly) building up my distance in them. I then took Saturday off, which is a usual recovery day for me and drove to Pheonix Park on Sunday for my LSR. I had decided to do 20k or over, so I did a slow 3k warmup on the grass in the VFFs and then switched to my Asics before setting off.
I had to work the previous evening from 21:00 to 00:45 and I also had a couple of glasses of wine (the joys/pitfalls of working from home!), so my energy levels could have been a tad better. After 7k, both of my hamstrings felt a bit tender, but they eased up later. Towards the end my right hamstring felt sore again and stayed that way for the remainder. I felt like stopping after about 11k when I passed by the car, but I pushed on. It was a really sunny day, but a bit windy, so if you stopped for too long you got a bit cold.
After 18k I had no energy left in me so I stopped and jogged the 1.5k or so back to the car and did some stretching on the warm grass. Despite the niggles, I had done 22k or so for the day, so not too shabby.
Monday was a recovery day, and my hamstring was still bothering me. I walked for about 4k with the kids, nice and slow to get the legs loose. Then this morning I hit the gym again and added in bosu ball pushups as recommended by Sandi on DM. I had done my 50 pushups for my warmup and on the bosu ball I did another 4 x 10 sets, so 90 pushups before 07:00, not bad!

We have our track session tonight, but I can't make it as I'm picking up my Mum from the airport. I'll try a light/short run tomorrow, with more stretching later tonight.

Keep running,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back to basics...

So last week I barely ran. I took five days off with zero running. Partly due to a few niggles and just being busy but also a painful lower back that had been bugging me was just not healing. So I went to my local physio, Ratoath Physiotherapy and I had managed to twist my pelvis into some weird direction which was pulling my lower back muscles. A session on Monday and Wednesday got me "straight" again and I ran on Saturday and felt great!
What I actually did was to do a 3k warmup in the VFFs on the road (1.5k out and back) and then a loop of the village in "normal" runners, which added another 4.3k. After painting the house for 4 hours I needed to get the paint fumes out of my lungs!
On Sunday I still felt good and then on Monday I went to the gym in the morning for my usual workout. On returning home I realised that, apart from some muscle fatigue from the workout, I was feeling no pain, niggles or anything! Sweet!
We had a funeral to go to on Tuesday (my wife's aunt), but I was determined to make the track session that evening. I am usually the only long distance runner in the club, so I join in for some parts of the training and do my own thing (like Yassos) for the rest. This week I wanted to do some speed work, which I haven't been doing much of at all recently.
So the track session went like this:
Run from house to track (1.4k) and two laps (800m) to warm up (all in VFFs)
Then three laps of the track at RP, 100m into the first we sprint for 50m, then return to RP, second lap sprint for 100m, third lap for 150m.
Three minute recovery and do it again.
Then we did timed 50m sprints. We only had to do as many as we were comfortable with, but I did all three to push myself. My splits were 7.2, 7.8 and 7.2 seconds. Happy with that, although the last one was done at "eyeballs about to burst from the skull" effort! During the second 50m I nearly stumbled towards the end - a disadvantage of a grass track. It's great but not quite as flat as a tartan track.
I did a lap cool down and then ran home (1.9k). If you were wondering, I brought a backpack to carry the runners/VFFs while I wasn't wearing them and a water bottle.

Lots of protein drink, water and fruit after I got home and a peanut butter sandwich and more water before going to bed. Haven't slept that good in ages!

Keep running,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Active recovery

I'm a firm believer in an active recovery.
Rather than letting your mind convince you to take lots of time off, we should get back on our feet as soon as is comfortable without risking injury. That is why last Wednesday, three days after my first marathon, I was running again.
All day Monday and some of Tuesday I was stiff and sore in the legs, glutes in particular. Then Tuesday evening I was lined up to help coach the Little Athletics, which my son is in. I hate disappointing them, so I went along. It was our first outside training session for the kids this year and I found myself doing some light jogging around getting things set up. It was tough at first, but then my legs started to loosen up. I didn't go to the adult track session - no point!
On Wednesday morning I was back in the gym with the aim of doing light cross training involving exercises that would get the legs moving, but nothing that would make them have to actually work. That went well so I did a slow 3km run on the treadmill and felt fine! For the rest of the day my legs felt good and I was "itching" to go for another run, but I didn't. Thursday evening I was still feeling good, so I went out for a run around the village and covered about 7.5k with an average pace of 5:15min/k, happy enough. I went back to the gym on Friday morning and did the same as Wednesday and felt pretty good still. This time I did the run in my VFFs at a slightly faster pace than I would normally do in them.
Saturday I felt good but took a rest day. Sunday I drove to Pheonix Park and did a 21.3k run (just over a half marathon) in lovely 16C sunny weather. My max HR was 151bpm, average of 145 and total time was 2:02. Pretty slow and relaxed, which was my aim. Still feeling good though!

Keep running,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


For months before this race, when I told people that it was to be my first marathon, not only were they surprised, but some laughed. I didn't let it concern me. My job was to put the training in and do as much preparation beforehand as possible. In hindsight I don't think I would have done very much differently given the same circumstances. I knew it wouldn't be easy, that's why I did it, I enjoy challenges.
Due to a chest infection, I had only been able to get one training run in longer than 30k, but I was really happy physically and mentally about that run, so that was a bonus. I had booked a hotel in Clifden and we made a family weekend of it, driving down the day before. I took it pretty easy and went to the registration and got my race pack. Even before we went to dinner that night I had already got my chip timer on my runner, and my bib number secured to my shirt. There was a pasta party in our hotel, so I took in loads of carbs and calories (three plate fulls of pasta and three deserts to be exact...). I managed to get sporadic sleep, not a full night, but enough.

On race day I was up at 07:00 and went down for breakfast. There were a few others there too and everyone seemed pretty quiet and focused. After brekkie I got all my stuff together and went out to the bus to be brought to the start line. It was a 30min bus ride and we got dropped on a road beside a lake with a few hundred others in the middle of nowhere! I bumped into a couple of people I knew and chatted for a few mins. It was chilly and I didn't want to be standing around too long. Just before the start, some of the ultra runners came through, they started 21.1k before us.
We took off and I was very careful not to be caught up in the rush to get away. I kept my pace between 5:45 and 6:00min/k for the first 21k, depending on terrain. I got to the half way mark at 1:58, which I was happy with. I didn't want to be using loads of energy for the first half, knowing that the worst was yet to come.
Then the first hill came at about 24k and it sapped some energy. About this stage I started having pain in my glutes and it got progressively worse as time went on. I rallied but the next 14k was undulating with a mix of sunshine, rain and a sideways wind - pretty sapping. There was an aid station about every 5k. I had brought my hand held along, so I drank form that and used the water from the aid stations to refill it. The pic below shows the elevation, a total of 2,300 feet gain overall.

Then after 36k we got to the main event, the hill. A.K.A. "The Hell of the West". I could see the road up the hill for a few kms and I saw dozens of people in front, but only a handful running. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. The last 4k was a welcome relif once we were past the hill. 2km down slightly and 2km pretty flat. My family was waiting for me at the finish line and apparently I looked very pale (it was pretty windy and exposed). The clock said 4:21 and a bit when I went over the line, in the comotion I forgot to stop the garmin for a bit. Official time 4:26:22. This pic is of me about to go over the finish line.

I was hoping for a faster time, but with the big hill at the end it wasn't going to happen.
If you had asked me yesterday if I would do it again next year I would have said a definite NO. Today I may be talked into it. I'll definitely do more marathons etc, but might wait until I have more hill training done to try this one again.
I overheard someone say that they had done this race three times and only managed to run up the hill on the third year...I wouldn't recommend it to someone as their first marathon, but it's a great, friendly and well organised event. We drove the length of the course the following morning and we didn't see one water bottle or gel pack or any signs of the race at all. Great job!
I'm now in recovery mode and may do a short run on Wednesday and build it back up over another week. Time to train for the Kildare half marathon in less than 5 weeks time!

Keep running,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monthly summary and Ep5.5 of my podcast

Ok, as it's the first of the month it's time for my monthly review (I'm into the stats!).

So in Feb I said I was hoping to ramp up the distance for my running and as you can see I went from 135k then to 146k in March. I also increased my cross training, especially cycling. The chart below shows the total monthly distances for all training (running, cycling etc).
So I went from 180k in Feb to 287k in March, mainly thanks to some big cycling days! The month of April will be a bit lower, due to tapering for the marathon and then building back up afterwards. But overall I think my distances will level out.
Also, the next episode of my podcast is available to listen to here now, or it will be available in iTunes soon.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Keep running,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy weekend...

Ok, so I had been training every day since Tuesday and at that my legs were tired from the LSR the previous Sunday (32.5k). I went and did my usual workout on Friday morning as I said in my last post. Then on Saturday I was booked on a coaching course for the local athletics club from 09:00 to 16:30. I was debating whether to take the car or get a lift. Then I decided to cycle.

I hadn't mapped out the route, as I know the area pretty well. So I set off with 1:15 before start time and my packed lunch, lots of fluids and a change of clothes in a backpack. It was a bit chilly, so I brought my thinsulate gloves, which I really needed on some of the exposed roads. It was downhill overall on the way there and I ended up going through Pheonix Park just before 09:00. There were a good few joggers and runners and cyclists around, which was great to see. I got to the club and we got stuck in. The course is the entry level coaching course (details here) for teaching kids the basics of track and field events in a fun and non-competitive environment. It was a jam packed day and I didn't know it, but we were to be on our feet running around and playing kids games all day. Sounds like fun (which it was!) but it was also pretty tiring!
When the course was completed, I started the cycle home and decided to take a shorter route with a pretty steep hill as you can see from the elevation...
It was uphill overall on the way home of course! I stopped at around the 8k mark for more Powerade and an energy bar - my first time eating while cycling :-)
I rested as much as I could that evening and the next morning...
Sunday afternoon was the Dunboyne 4 miler. My wife was running along with me, so we brought the kids in a double buggy and I had decided not to "race" it. After the start, I was running and holding my son's hand as he ran beside me. After about 200m he was tiring out, so we put him in the buggy. My wife pushed it for about 400m and then I took over. We ran side by side at her pace until about the 1k mark and then she took a walk break so I powered ahead. It was a great friendly atmosphere with lots of runners commenting about the two kids and our son cheering me on (our daughter fell asleep by the 2k mark!). At the 2 mile marker I had to walk so I could take in water, as it was impossible to push a heavy buggy and hold a water bottle to your mouth and keep running. One of the runners I had overtaken offered to push the buggy while I was drinking, I thanked him, but declined. That was nice though.
I kept going and we went past the finish line - the course was a rough figure of eight with the finish line near the middle bit. There were loads of people in the crowd cheering me on because of the buggy and it really spurred me on. We ran the second part of the course and came back to the finish in the middle of the village with the crowds again. The cheers were amazing and I couldn't help smiling at the crowds. The final 200m I was really pushing it but I was getting overtaken by a few runners I had previously gone past. I guess they didn't want to be beaten by a guy pushing two kids in a buggy, ha ha! I crossed the line in an unofficial time of 38:40, not bad as I had a combined weight of about 53kg (roughly 116lbs) along with me...
After the finish line we got our goodie bag (fruit, water, energy gel, cereal bar, pens, umbrella and t-shirt) and stopped for a rest. I met up with my wife who had to pull out due to leg cramps, but she really enjoyed it anyway.

We brought the kids back to the playground for a while and then I got out my hydration pack, gels etc and started to run home. It was now quite warm and I had on a t-shirt and long sleeve shirt. At the start it seemed like a lot, but towards the end it was just right! After the first couple of km I was already aware of just how tired my legs were - this was going to be a tough run...
I went the long way home, but I could have extended the route. I had a bit of time pressure as my wife had to leave for work that evening. From the start I decided to keep it in zone 2 as much as I could and that wasn't a problem. My legs were in no mood for speed! By the 14k mark my mind was wandering off and from time to time I didn't realize I was running. That sounds very strange, and it was at the time. I don't know any other way to describe it though. Kinda surreal.
Anyway I made it home 5 mins before my wife had to go to work. I had covered a little over 17k in 1:48, so that's good that I was able to keep to my LSR pace. As soon as I had made up my protein drink my kids wanted me to play chasing in the garden, I did play with them, but not chasing - my legs wouldn't allow it!
So today, Monday, is a rest day and boy I need it! last week I made an appointment with a sports massage place for this evening and I'm really looking forward to it, although it's the first time I'll have had a sports massage. I reckon it's just what I need as I wind down to the marathon :-)
Also, this week was the first time I've logged over 100k - 46 on the bike and the rest running - woohoo!
Keep running,