Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gone to the Dogs again

I managed to get through the two hard days without too much troubles, but I am quite tired now. Walking up the staircase into the office was a challenge, but I had just completed 24 miles within 36 hours. I’ll recover over the next two days, but Sunday’s 17 miler looks daunting now.

After about 2 miles there was a cyclist coming the other way, followed by two dogs – the same two idiotic dogs that had been bothering me last week. He asked me to make them follow me instead of him, which I really hoped they wouldn’t do, but they did indeed. Luckily, when we passed their home, they stayed there and I could continue undisturbed.

I’m a bit worried that my running speed seems to decrease, at the moment I’m struggling to reach 8:30 per mile, something I could do easily at the beginning of the training. I hope it is just because of the increase in training intensity and will be ok once my body gets used to it, and not a sign of over-training.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Reality Bites!

A few weeks ago I stupidly decided to give the wife a special surprise and got her 2 tickets for a concert of some aging overrated rock-group in Dublin (all right, U2 in Croke Park, the hottest tickets in the country by far), and now I’m paying the price. She went off Sunday morning and won’t be back until Tuesday, and I’m the one minding the children, thus no running. To get somewhat around this I did my 15 miler on Saturday rather than on Sunday, and got up at 5:20 on Sunday so that I could do my 4 miles recovery run before she left.

Yes, I was totally wrecked on Sunday.

Monday is a rest day anyway, but I had planned a hard tempo run for Tuesday morning, which will now be impossible. I might be able to do an easy 5 miles on Tuesday evening, the tempo run on Wednesday and 10 miles on Thursday, thus matching the pre-planned mileage, but I will have to see if I can handle two hard days like this in a row. Sigh. It always sucks when real life interferes with your plans, doesn’t it?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

alarm troubles

I’m really losing it. I set my alarm in time for my 10 miles run today, and set it for 5:20 instead of 5:40. I didn’t even notice at first, only wondered why it was still so dark. I didn’t even get any extra sleep when I went back to bed eventually, because our youngest one must have heard me getting up and demanded a) a bottle and b) some attention.

Apart from that the run went well, the miles were just flying by. Only problem is that I didn’t wear any of my usual running shorts because they were all in the wash, and the pair I wore were just a little bit too tight, not tight enough to be uncomfortable, but tight enough to cause chafing. Ouch. I hope it will have cleared up by Sunday, because a 15 miler with aching legs is not my idea of fun.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I hate dogs!

Actually, I love dogs. I used to have one when I was a child, until it died of old age when I was 16 or 17. But when I’m out running, things are different. Dogs that bark are a nuisance, but dogs that chase you are worse. Exactly that happened today. With 2.5 miles left on my run, those two stupid dogs started to come after me. They didn’t try to bite me, they just kept running alongside, and twice very nearly tripped me up. I tried to shoo them away, I shouted at them, and one stage, when it was getting too much, I even tried to kick one of them (no chance :-) ), but nothing helped. They kept following me until I got home (2.5 miles away from their home), and even tried to enter our house!

In fact, those stupid animals were still there when I left for work nearly 90 minutes later! Can you believe that?

The run was okay, apart from those last miles when I kept getting out of rhythm. I hate dogs!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Putting on the miles

I’ve noticed that I mentioned my heart rate in four of the last five entries, so I’ll leave it out for a while, or I might sound obsessed with it. Saturday’s four miles run was easy enough, but the 14 miles on Sunday were rather tough going. Usually I get into cruise-control-mode after about two miles, when the running becomes automatic and the miles just fly past. Not so yesterday, I had to push myself all the way, and was really knackered at the end of it. It was a warm day, and by the time I finished the run at 11 o’clock, the sun was really burning down.

Having to bring the kids to the pet farm in the afternoon (and staying there for 2 and a half hours) didn’t do much for me either. I’m exhausted today. Then again, I've just finished a 40 miles week, which is definitely the most I've ever run in one week.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Windy Conditions

I must be completely bonkers, because I got up at 5:40 in the morning for my 10 miles run, despite hearing the wind and rain outside. Getting out of the house was delayed by 5 minutes, because I was watching our kittens (4 weeks old) running around the hall and one daringly made it into the kitchen. They are incredibly cute at the moment, and I had to stay and watch them for a while rather than storming out of the house immediately.

The run was fine, I noticed that I must be getting fitter, because on the same run last week my average heart rate was 162, and today it was 158, despite running in quite windy conditions. Actually the wind wasn’t too bad, the road along Caragh Lake is quite sheltered, and there is just the odd spot where you feel the full force.

All in all, the training is going very well so far.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The First Tempo Run

When I started running, I checked out a lot of web sites, and was really frustrated about the amount of jargon they used without explaining what it was. Lactate threshold, vO2max, vvO2max and other weird things. It wasn’t until I purchased a book about marathon running that I finally caught on. Lactate threshold is easy: your muscles always create a certain amount of lactate, and it gets removed constantly. As your activity increases, so does the amount of lactate created. At some point you create more lactate than can be removed: this is the lactate threshold. It is one of the most important variables in marathon running, because your optimal marathon speed is just under that threshold. That’s why increasing your lactate threshold is important for a marathon runner who wants to improve his time.

I did my first lactate threshold run today, and it wasn’t as tough as I though it would be. After running 2.5 miles as a warm-up, I increased my tempo until the heart rate was about 165, and kept it between 165 and 175 for 4 more miles. The last 1.5 miles were a cool down. I managed to keep it going quite easily, apart from a big hill at the and of the tempo session, when the heart rate got up to 178. I slowed down, but the heart rate kept rising until it reached 181. That wasn’t planned and I was totally out of breath, but I don’t think it did any harm. I feel really energetic now.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wedding delays

I had to go to a wedding on Friday (which was set in beautiful Dingle, about an hour drive from home), and stayed there for most of Saturday – you don’t always get the chance to relax for a whole day without kids. As a result of this, my Saturday run was very late at half past five in the evening, and it was very hot.

I still felt it in my legs on Sunday, but I managed the 13 miles without any big problems. I’m very tired today though. The schedule for tomorrow is a hard tempo run, I hope I’ll be up for it. The training is clearly stepping up in intensity now.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Heart Rate Failure

I stupidly decided to change the schedule and try to run up a hill until I nearly pass out instead of running a comfortable 10 miles. Well, what happened was that I ran up a hill until I nearly passed out, jogged down again, tried to run up again until I felt like passing out halfway up and had to stop. Maybe I’m not fit enough to push myself so hard, or maybe I just don’t have the confidence to push myself so hard, but I still don’t quite know my max heart rate. I know that it is higher than the 185 from the old 220 – age formula, because at the end of the first run it was up to 186.

I just have to take a guess and say it’s probably between 190 or 195.

Plus, I played football for an hour last night, plus another hour tonight, so at least I won’t have to worry about not doing enough training.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Heart Rate Monitor

I’ve recently bought a heart rate monitor to help the training. It’s a very cheap one, a Polar F1 for 47 Euros – the cheapest I could find, but still from Polar (after reading plenty of reviews, I wouldn’t bother with any other make).

It’s great, I’ve already checked my resting heart rate (48), and now my only problem is that I don’t know my max heart rate. I suspect it is more than the 185 I would get from the usual 220-age formula (oops, I've given away my age now).

On yesterday’s 8 miles run I did a few sprints in-between and got the heart rate up to 179, and I’m sure that wasn’t anywhere near my max. I could do a really hard three-times-up-a-hill run to check the max heart rate tomorrow instead of the scheduled 10 miles run. I’ll decide in the morning.

Oh, and getting up at 6 am keeps being a challenge

Monday, June 06, 2005

Still in the first week and already nearly a half marathon

I had a really great 12 miles run on Sunday. Strictly speaking I ran too fast, but I was not pushing myself hard at all, I just ran at what seemed a comfortable pace. Over the first 4 miles I didn’t feel that great, and started to think that the training schedule might be too demanding. But after that I felt really good and just kept going. I did negative splits (meaning I ran the second half faster than the first one – always a good sign). All in all, the workout took 1 hour and 38 minutes, about 8:10 per mile.

I finally bought new shoes, and they felt fine as well. The pain in my left knee is completely gone, my right knee is still a bit sore, but I think it’s getting better too. There are no blisters or anything, always a good thing with new shoes.

Come on the second week!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Don't overdo it!

Thursday was actually a strenuous day. Not only did I run 9 miles in the morning, I also played football for an hour in the evening and then spent an hour doing yoga with my wife. (Actually my first proper yoga session ever!)

The football is a social thing that I don’t want to stop, even if it interferes with my marathon training, and the yoga was something I had agreed to earlier and then completely forgotten about.

As a result of all this I felt rather tired for today’s 4 miles run. It was supposed to be an easy recovery run, but I felt tired, even though I ran as slow as I could.

I must be careful not to over train. I should probably cut a mile or two off Thursday's runs, as I will get additional training from the football, even if it's not marathon specific.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Wednesday was a rest day, and today was another run, 9 miles this time. Just straight running, no sprints in-between, which made it easier than Tuesday’s.
The only problem was that I had gone to bed a bit late (11:30), and was woken by the baby at 2, at 3, at 4, at 4:30 (at which time I gave him a bottle) and at 5. I got up at 6.

I feel fine, not particularly tired, but my knees hurt. Again.

Running at 6:30 in the morning is great (once you manage to get out of bed), the roads are dead quiet (I met two vehicles, a tractor and a delivery van), and the scenery around Caragh Lake is just stunning. It was a bit windy but not too bad, considering that it had been storming all night.
I’m actually looking forward to the next workouts, 4 miles on Saturday, and 12 on Sunday.