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.

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Keep running,