Anyone can run 20 miles. It's the next six that count.
- Barry Magee

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lets get the party started. Not.

A yes January here we come.   Working of the excess pounds put on over the Christmas, get the running back to somewhere near normal.  All sounds easy.  Boy I wish.   
Week 1:
I may as well be pulling a stone block for every run.     As soon as a run was done I would just feel like collapsing with the words “It was never as hard as this before”   Well that’s the pay back for an easy December.   Week 1 of December.   Not too bad.  I have started including my favorite run from a few years back.   6 mile Saturday morning hilly loop in Doneraile park.  Great session.   First time back and completed the 6 mile in 47:52.   Few years back I was sub 44 on this route so target set. 
Week total 42

Week 2.  
One thing I like about being back in Ireland is the Sunday morning runs.   There is nothing like a group of runners just chatting away on a long run.  Times flies and you end up forgetting about the miles you are clocking up.    Week No2 long run had us on a different route to our normal one.   I’ll call it the longueville route.  Beautiful countryside and plenty of up and down hills. 15 miles total in that run.   Bit of an odd week really.  Seem to run out of steam altogether mid week.  Ended up stopping in one of the mid week speed sessions.  Seldom I would stop regardless how I feel.   Anyway ended the week with Doneraile park 6 mile route.  46:03.  Happy with that.  Improving.  
Week total 41.

Week 3. 
Looking at the week ahead I wanted to start getting in some short races.  I think its last August since I ran a short race.  Not good as the short races should be standard for people doing regular training.  It gives you an idea if your training is hitting the spot.   Also the coach in the club would always advise us to do short races when possible.   Keeps the body pushing I suppose.  
So week starting with a long run.  18.5 mile on a route I haven’t done before with the club.   Lets call this one the Caherduggan route and yes it had a hill you could die for.  Or should that be die from.   A monster is all I could call this but enjoyable coming down the far side.  A good few miles of relaxed running.   
With the BHAA Little Island race coming up at the end of the week I was going to make sure I was rested.  Monday Wednesday and Friday off.   To be honest I had other things on so it was more of a case of not being able to get out those nights.  Tuesday and Thursday are session nights with the club.  These will either kill you or cure you.  The coach is a good man to test you.  Got to love the way he will tell you relax the shoulders just at the point you are near death.  It works but never have the energy to say “cheers for the advice”    The Tuesday night session was a 25 minute tempo run session.    Truth be told I wanted to push myself a bit to see what kind of run I should do on Sunday.   I did the 25 minutes at an average pace of 6:45 per mile.  I kinda put a target in my head of 26 minutes for Sunday’s 4 mile but would have been happy with anything under 27. 
Week total 37 miles.  

FMC 4 mile race.  
8lb lighter then the 1st of January and 120 miles later.   What the hell was this going to be like?  So long since I did a short race but my mind is already thinking “fool should of stayed at home and done a nice easy Sunday long run” Anyway here now so lets get on with it.    Usual get together at the start.  Usual talk, “What’s your plan”   Same thing that happens at every race.  
Gun off.  Plan is to stay as close to 6:30 per mile as possible.   If I suffer in the last 2 miles at least I’ll have a bit of a buffer built and will still make it under the 27.   Something I had forgot about this race is that there are plenty of drags in the first few miles.   Nothing major but you would feel them.    By 2 miles I really thought I had gone out too fast but was still holding my own.  Splits still holding strong.    Last 2 miles were a bit of a battle but in fairness mile 3 came down to 6:20.  I think this is really because a faster runner was beside me so it pushed me on to keep up.  Last mile feels like it was never going to end.   You run past the hall where you register and think I am nearly there.   “Half a mile to go” nearly there.  Grand in a jog but when all you want to do is puke it’s a long nearly there.  The sight of the clock is a welcome one but it’s a bit like a mirage.   Its there in the distance and the more you push the farther it gets.  Clock counting down and looking up to see what kind of time I can expect.   I see 25:4X.   by the time I make it to the clock it has just passed the 26min mark.   26:02 is my time and well pleased with it.   Pacing was good and steady throughout.   My watch had me running 6:25 and covering 4.05 but always get this with the Garmin’s.  They seldom match the course.  In fact if they did match the Garmin I would say the course was wrong.  I don’t take the shortest route so always expect a bit extra at the end.     So well pleased.  
Where does this leave me.?  Well I am hoping to do Dungarvan in under 70.   Based on this time and comparing it to last year I should be ok.   I ran a 4 mile last March around 26 something and came under 70 in the Mallow 10 miler.   Dungarvan is a nice course so I will give it a go anyway.    So head down this week and see what happens.   
Splits for BHAA  4 miler
Mile 1:  6:28
Mile 2:  6:29
Mile 3:  6:20
Mile 4:  6:28
276 ft:  0:16
Total time 26:02.   ;-) 

Till next time

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Post 1 Jan 2013. Time to get back into the swing of it

New year so new years resolutions.   

1.              Get training.  Pick races.
a.      Dungarvan 10
b.     Ballycoton 10
c.      Mallow 10
d.      Rotterdam marathon.   

2.              Set times. 
Times at this stage are not a priority.   For now it’s just a case of getting back to running properly.   Lack of motivation mixed with injury’s means that for now the goal is consistent training and we will see about times later in the month. 

3.              Update blog.    Keep it simple and maybe once or twice a month.  

4.              For 2013.   Hmmm.   Nice to get a PB at some race.   Lets see.   

Ok off we go.  365 days.  7 miles done.   Dead on the feet.    Once hell of a hard month ahead.   Talk soon.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Berlin marathon review.

Now that the dust has settled its time to cast my mind back a few days and try to put into words what my Berlin marathon experience went like.

Anybody reading my blog all along will know that my plan was to run this race with a 7:15 mile a minute pace in mind. My best case scenario target was 3:10 and a back up of 3:15 if things were not going to plan.

So bottom line is that my marathon time was 3:18:58 and a chip time of 3:17:41. (Think I’ll take the chip time on this run) Now using my chip time this is an improvement on my PB of over 3 minutes. Am I happy with that result is the question that has haunted me this week. It’s a PB and a person should always be happy with a PB but to be honest in the back of my mind I feel that there should have been a 3:15 in me. Still, almost a week later the body has started to recover and it’s now time to look on to the next run.

Now for the marathon itself. A brilliant event and one I would recommend to anybody who likes the big day events. I’ve got to hand it to the Germans, it’s a very well organised event. Is there anything I would change about the day???? I don’t think so. Maybe paper cups or bottles rather than plastic cups but hey if that is the biggest problem I have in a race then I have little to moan about.

The day itself was a wet damp day. Plenty of rain just in-case I missed the Irish weather. I don’t really think this had an effect on the runners - more the spectators. Prefer to be moving than standing still. Temperature wise I would guess it was around 15 degrees. To be honest the weather was fine and I’d take that any day over the weather from last year’s Berlin marathon where the temperature was around 27 degrees.

Race start was due for 9:03 (Not 9 or five past) and after the song (This is the moment) by some German singer 9:03 arrived and the race was underway. Myself and a fellow club mate had been allocated section D on our race numbers so we were located in a good position close enough to the front. It took us just over a minute to get over the start line (Not bad considering there was 40000 in the race) and from there I started the watch.

Mile 1 to 5

Mile 1 seems to be my worse mile but considering the crowd this is probably normal. Mile 1 7:40, Mile 2 7:25, Mile 3 7:20, Mile 4 7:26, Mile 5 6:59. Now these times are from my garmin so even though the full race on the garmin shows as a 26.6 mile distance the splits give a good idea of how I was running. In summary the first 5 miles were not consistent and by mile 5 I was telling myself to concentrate on a 3:15 marathon as I hadn’t felt comfortable from the beginning.

Mile 6 to 10. Mile 6 7:18, Mile 7 7:04, Mile 8 7:05, Mile 9 7:07, Mile 10 7.28

This section of the race was probably my most comfortable period in the race. The 7.28 in mile 10 & 7:18 for mile 6 was due to a water stop so my average mileage was sub 7:07. Looking back I ask did I run a little too hard and should I have run around the 7:15 pace.

Mile 11 to 15. Mile 11 7:04, Mile 12 7:11, Mile 13 7:00, Mile 14 7:05, Mile 15 7.17

Myself and Aidan after the race.

Once again I enjoyed this section of the race. Up to the 13 mile mark I was running with Aidan (A fellow club mate) and he is brilliant at running steady. Just after 13 miles I pulled in to tie my lace and that was the last time I was running with Aidan. Up to 16 miles I could see him in the distance but around 16 miles I pulled in for water and it was bye bye Aidan. (Did get to see him on Eurosport later ha) Aidan did the first half in a time of 1:36:31 and the full marathon in 3:12:05. Now that’s steady running. He is a master of consistency. Well done Aidan.

Mile 16 to 20. Mile 16 7:25, Mile 17 7:17, Mile 18 7:29, Mile 19 7:18, Mile 20 7.23.

I have to say at this point I was feeling good. A lot better than any of my previous marathons but always thinking the real race starts at 20 miles. My mile splits were not perfect but I was happy enough overall.

Mile 21 to 26.xx. Mile 21 7:32, Mile 22 7:32, Mile 23 7:39, Mile 24 8:18, Mile 25 7.41. Mile 26 8:24 , Last .63 of a mile 5:03 ( As per the Garmin) (8:02 per mile)

I will review this in 2 sections. Up to mile 23 I was starting to feel tired but nothing major. My times in fairness give an accurate indication of how I was feeling. My average mileage had gone up to the 7:30’s but I felt that all going well 3:15 was still possible.

From mile 23 things got a little harder. My friend the hamstring decided it was time to get re- acquainted with me and give me a little cramp. A few choice words were uttered at this point. Out with the bio Freeze and lash it on. Miracle stuff but takes a little bit of time to take effect. Anyway an 8:18 mile for my trouble here. Oddly enough as I was going slower the energy was starting to build back up inside me. Next mile was back to the 7:41 and sure there is a little bit of hope left. Mile 25 to 26 my left hamstring was feeling neglected and decided to look for some attention. No problem - a second bio freeze was called into action. Needless to say my shot of 3:15 disappeared in the Berlin rain at this time. The bio freeze worked a little but anytime I tried to increase the pace I could feel my upper leg muscles tighten. So a slow run to the finish at a very controlled pace rather than a hop over the line.

Some things to learn from this race. Be confident that I can achieve my target. Maybe its mind over matter but at 5 miles I was easily willing to give up on 3:10. Looking back now if my training was right then maybe this would have not have been so easy to give up on. All my races up to now would indicate that 3:10 was possible. Self belief is a big thing I suppose.

On a positive - In all my previous marathons I have suffered badly from cramps in my calves. Not once this time did my calves give me trouble. Compression socks did the trick here. Maybe I need an all over body compression suit. At this stage maybe a costume is required to cover my face also. ;-)

Hydration and nutrition. This worked well. 4 gels and plenty of water. Maybe it’s time to experiment with electrolyte drinks. Might help with the hamstrings.

It’s time to re-look at my training once again and see what’s next for me. The one big positive this time was the two 23 mile runs. I have to say I felt a lot better past the 20 mile mark then I have done before. I put this down to the extra miles on the long runs.

So back to where I started there is a mixture of happiness and disappointment in this race for me. The week has been a mix of wondering what I could have done different. I think I will stop now and just forget it. I was tempted to register for the Dublin marathon in 3 weeks time but to be honest do I think I would run any faster in Dublin. The answer is a big NO. Yesterday morning I went for a 3 mile recovery run and boy was my energy low. After a mile I was tempted to pull up. So no point in kidding myself with Dublin now.

Time to pick back up and look ahead to the winter training and change focus. I will now look to the 10 mile series that starts in January and train hard up to that point. Look at maybe giving the marathon a shot again in April. Maybe London.

For now its 2 week away in Croatia and Slovenia so running will be light and talk of marathons will be far away.

Till next time.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time to stop typing and start running.

730 miles, numerous bottles of water, 2 pairs of runners and 3 weeks of injury - it’s time to stop typing and talking and time to start racing. The beginning of June I started my current training program and to say it went without a hitch would be a lie. This was to be my most ambitious training program to date covering 18 weeks and a total of 900+ miles. A mid way a hiccup put me out of training completely for 3 weeks and meant I had to take it easy for the following few weeks of planned hard training. To be honest, looking back it could have been a lot worse and now I look at it as a rest period. Seldom do any of my plans go without a problem mid way.

Now I’m down to the last few days. From my previous experiences I decided not to drop my mileage as I would have done up to now. My taper started 2 weeks out and it was a 30% drop in mileage to 37 miles. This week has been a lot easier and I reckon a 3 mile stretch the legs jog on Saturday morning will finish off a 15 mile week. I started the week with a sports massage which was a welcome relief and although the muscles were tender for a bit the body is feeling good now.

Last local run this morning and Dublin bound I go later to catch my flight. At this point running is the last thing on my mind and it’s more about what to pack. Apart from me wanting to bring the kitchen sink (Never know it might come in handy) I am just doing my usual Noah’s Ark prep - 2 of everything. My flight is with good old Ryanair so to put my runners into the booked in luggage or carry it on? Hmmm.. dilemma. Only time my luggage has ever got lost was on a flight from Dublin to Shannon. Dublin Airport doesn’t fill me with confidence so maybe the runners might be best travelling in the cabin this time.

Lastly I suppose my plan is to go out and try to keep an even 7:15 pace on Sunday. Hopefully the legs hold up and it gets me close to 3:10. Anywhere close and I will be happy. The last marathon I ran I wrote the times of where I should be every 4 miles on my arm and found it handy. Shorts, Singlet, Runners, Gels and Biofreeze packed. It’s time to go. Oh yeah, lastly my Garmin. (Auto lap on or off?) Not sure.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time to taper. 2 weeks to go.

Well my last weeks of training have come to an end (Thank god) and it’s a 2 week taper that’s planned now. 18 weeks training was too much for me to be honest in the way of keeping my interest up. That said I feel good right now and I am looking forward to the marathon in 2 weeks.

My last week’s mileage has hit the 52 mile mark and it hasn’t felt like a hard week at all. Maybe this is a sign that I have trained enough at this stage that I find the 50 mile week handy. I won’t complain with that. My mileage over the next few weeks drops to a 35/38 mile week and on the last week I have an 18 mile week. Last year I started my taper 3 weeks out and I felt crap on the marathon day so hopefully this year 2 weeks will have me just right.

Today was the Cork half marathon day. St. Finbarr’s AC run this race every year and I usually run it to see where I am fitness wise before the Dublin Marathon. It is usually a well organised race and today was no different. Excellently run event & I look forward to returning again next year. This year was a bit different for me as its 2 weeks before the Berlin marathon and this is not the time to be racing a half. So today’s plan was mainly to run the half rather than a race it. My plan was to run somewhere between 1:35 to 1:40. Every year I have run this race I have always struggled and suffered bad after the hill around the 7 mile mark. Let’s just say it’s never been a race that builds my confidence. Today was to be a bit different hopefully. Handy run planned and one to enjoy. My friend is running his first Dublin marathon this year and the plan for him was to run a 1:40 time. We decided to stick together and it would help us both to keep close to the 7:30 pace.

First 4 miles of the race was close to target. We passed the 4 mile mark at 29:52 (Plan 30min). Next section of the race was the hilly section of the race. For my friend I knew that the next 4 would make or break him. Previous years this has proved a nightmare for me but today the 2 of us passed the 8 mile mark at 59:44 (Plan 60Min). Pace was exactly as we planned and more to the point the two of us were chatting and feeling good. From mile 8 to the end the pace started to increase. Its wasn’t part of the plan but we both just went with it as we felt good. At the 12 mile mark we passed at 1:27:32 (almost 2 and a half minutes ahead of plan) and then on to a strong finish at 1:35:43. The last few miles were sub 7 min and to be honest there was plenty in the tank to push it harder but with the marathon in 2 weeks time its important to remember what the target is. My Garmin recorded a distance of 13.25 miles at 1:35:43 time. Nice to finish this race and not feel that the services of a doctor were required. As for my friend I think he put in a great run and for his first half marathon. He finished at 1:35:50. Great time well done.

Now the racing is done and tapering begins I suppose there will be plenty of phantom pains and injuries that will torment me each day. As I type I wonder is my Achilles tendon 100%. Of course it is but it’s all par for the course. Concentration now starts on my diet more than running. Biscuits out fruit is in. Red meat out and white meat in. If I was a drinker then it would be beer out and water in but I live with soft drinks out and water in. Roll on the next 2 weeks and if they are as good as the last 2 then I’ll be a happy man. (Why the last 2 weeks.) Well the small matter of Tipperary picking up there 26th All Ireland last weekend and winning the under 21’s last night just topped off a dream week. Bit like the Carlsberg add. They don’t do dream weeks but it they did it would probably be last week.

Anyway enough for now and last update will be on Thursday week. I have decided that 3:10 will be my target time for Berlin this year and all going well that should put me in a good place to maybe make an attack on the 3 hour next year. Plenty of work to do for that but that’s for another days blog.

Take care


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Heavy training almost done.

4 weeks or 222 miles today since my last update. I had planned 236 miles during this period but I am quite happy to be just 14 miles off.

Its been a good 4 weeks of injury free running. 3 races also during this time and I believe they were needed. I had felt after the Churchtown south 5 mile race on the 22nd of July that I had lost some of my sharpness. This was probably due to injury earlier on. First race on the cards was an 8k race in Galway on the 7th of August. A time of 32:23. A definite improvement there.

Next race on the cards was a half marathon in Clonmel. This race was 6 weeks before the marathon and the race I planned to use to gauge my fitness and to see what I should target in Berlin. Now to say the day wasn’t as planned would be an understatement. Roasting hot day and a course that measured 14.3 miles rather then 13.1. A mistake by the lead car taking the wrong route. I believe I passed the 13.1 mark at 1 hour 30. Time for the 14.3 was 1:39:xx. I believe myself that on a normal day and no confusion about the mile markers that I would probably be close to 1:28 maybe 1:29.

Last race of the last 4 weeks was the Ballycotton 5 miler last Thursday night. Time 32:07. Once again an improvement of nearly a minute in the last 4 weeks so I am quite pleased with that. Compared to my Ballycotton 5 time last year it is a 2 minute improvement so I feel I am slowly improving. The one disappointing thing about last Thursday night is that I was really hoping to make the top 50 in the 5 mile series. I was in 54th position before last Thursdays race and ended up gaining 2 positions. I was 14 seconds off the 50th position. Anyway there is always next year.

My weekly training has gone well over the last 4 weeks and the mileage been steady. Week 11, 55 miles. Week 12, 53 miles. Week 13, 57 miles and week 14, 57 miles. In this period I have also put in 3 long runs over the 20 mile mark. 2 23 mile runs and 1 20 mile. Today was a 23.3 mile run at 7:46 average pace and I have to say it was the best I have ever felt after a long run. Some days are like that.

Now that the marathon is just 4 weeks away its time to look forward to it. There have been points in the last few weeks that I have got bored with all the training. Arriving home from work day after day to head out for another semi long run was starting to take its toll. I have stayed clear of hills and speed work for the last few weeks for fear of injury. Maybe in the next few weeks I will add an odd session here or there.

Before last year’s Marathon I started to taper 3 weeks before hand. This year I am changing it a bit. I felt very sluggish last year and believe my drop in training was two severe with 3 weeks out. This year my mileage will drop a bit but not to a huge extent. The next 2 weeks will be in the 40s and then I will start a proper taper in the last 2 weeks bringing the mileage into the 30s and teens in the last week. Over the next 2 weeks I hope to improve my pace over the 10 mile distance and aim to run a lot of them at my target marathon pace. This I have decided to be a Marathon target time of 3:10. 7:15 per mile pace. Fingers crossed.

Anyway next update will be in 2 weeks time.



Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plantar Fasciitis almost ruins the day.

Revised marathon schedule
5 weeks has passed since my last update and in a normal marathon schedule this should be a good time for me to build up my stamina. Should is the word. Weeks 12 to 8 of my 16 week program have not gone to plan. In summery the last 5 weeks have been a disaster. I have come to the stage that I always expect an injury now and again but I wasn’t ready for an injury called plantar fasciitis.

I got plantar fasciitis due to a number of things I believe. Increase in mileage, worn out runners, (that will teach me) Going out on a hard speed session with a niggling pain in my heel and lastly in the last few races I have been wearing flats. Not enough cushion in them and always felt sore after a race. I cannot blame any one thing but all put together it was an injury waiting to happen.

Now anything I have read about plantar fasciitis says that it usually takes from between 6 weeks to sometimes 6 months to recover. Any runner in the middle of a training program knows how this would go down -Like a sack of spuds! I decided the only thing to do was get physio, get cross training and get ready to get back out running.

Recovery: I started using a physiotherapist in Limerick a few months ago when I had a back injury and found her to be really good so went to her for a couple of sessions. Decided it was time to get the bike onto the road. I have built up my mileage on the bike to a weekly average of 60 miles. One week in particular I did a 50 miler - Hard on the ass but good on the legs. Lastly I ordered a plantar fasciitis foot splint. I wear this all the time while resting and sleeping. An awkward piece of equipment but it really does the trick. I’d recommend it to anybody who gets this injury.

To be honest I am very lucky as 3 weeks after I got the injury I hit the road for a slow 5 mile run. I really wanted to compete in the Chruchtown south 5 mile race the following night so had to test the foot. Churchtown south went better than expected with a 32.59 time and still keeps me close to the top 50 for the series. (Currently in 54)

This week has been a case of building up the mileage again. My week in total is 42 miles with an 18 mile run at 7.55 per mile today. All went well and I am really happy that all the miles were run at a steady pace -all between 7:30 and 8 min.

I have had to modify my schedule to take into account the miles missed due to the injury. No point in trying to pick up at 70 miles a week. So, on to my new program and fingers crossed that I can stick closely to it. I haven’t put in speed sessions or hill work for now but as the foot gets stronger I will add them in.

Over the next 4 weeks I am going to try to continue with the bike for an element of cross training. I also have 3 races ahead. Streets of Galway next Saturday and Ballycotton 5 at the end of August. I am also thinking of running the half marathon in Clonmel in 2 weeks to see where I really am. I need a gauge to know what pace I should try in Berlin.

Talk in a few weeks time.