Sunday, April 30, 2006

Whiskey In the Jar

I was going over
The Cork and Kerry mountains
When I saw Captain Farrell
His money he was counting

Well, actually I didn’t see the Captain, but I certainly went over the Cork and Kerry mountains, both by car and on foot. Last night I had set the alarm for 6am, but changed my mind in the middle of the night and re-set it for 5:45. That turned out to be a good move. Today wasn’t just the day of the half-marathon in Bantry, but also the “Rally Of the Lakes” in Killarney, which a serious number of people are following. As a result, the road I was intending to take was blocked and I had to re-route, which took me longer than planned (but was also very scenic over said mountains). My route also happened to take me from Glengarriff to Bantry, which is where the race would be run on. Thus I knew what was coming, especially the climb out of Glengarriff itself. The web site had mentioned something of a 1-mile climb, but I could see that that was barefaced lie – it was basically 2 miles (ok, 1.9 miles when I measured it again on the way back). I finally got to Bantry with less than 5 minutes to spare to get the bus to the start.

This was my first ever half-marathon (which is weird for someone who already has 4 marathons under his belt, I know), and I wasn’t sure how to pace myself. I had plenty of warnings from Mike and Liam not to start too fast. The plan was to start at 8:00 pace until about mile 5 (which is the highest point of the course) and then gradually accelerate and attempt to hold on to the higher pace until the finish. From the start, a lot of people overtake me, but I stick to my plan (and, in my mind, say to everyone who’s going past me, I’ll see you again soon enough). I miss the first mile marker, but at mile 2 my time is 16:00. How’s that for pacing? Mile 3 is 24:03, mile 4 32:10 (that is well into the climb out of Glengarriff). Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, on that long climb, I start overtaking people. Mile 5 passes in 41:58, which I don’t believe, cause there is no way that mile took nearly 10 minutes. Mile 6 is around 48:20, which confirms to me that the mile 5 marker was a bit off. By the way, my HRM doesn’t measure laps, so I’m quoting those times from memory. By now I’ve moved up the pace by a good bit, and I’m reeling in other runners for fun. My only worry is my HRM which keeps saying my heart rate is somewhere between 173 and 178, which seems too high to keep going until the finish, but I feel good and decide to keep going. I pass mile 8 at 1:03, mile 9 at 1:10 (no seconds on the timer from here on) and mile 10 and 1:18. I forgot the later splits, but basically each mile takes somewhere between 7 and 8 minutes. The course is never flat, after the big hill outside Glengarriff it’s rolling hills all the way to Bantry. Once or twice I start feeling worse, but concentrate on keeping my place and keep in touch with the runner ahead of me. After a minute or two I feel better again, and the overtaking starts again. At mile 11 I get a stitch – now there’s a rare thing. I slow down a little bit and concentrate on my breathing, and that problem passes too. At mile 12 someone pushed past me. I can’t quite keep up with the guy, but I decide to hitch a ride anyway, and keep him in my sights. We overtake a few more runners, and at mile 12.5 I put the hammer down and decide to treat it like a half-mile interval. I re-overtake the guy and storm towards the finish. There’s one more funny turn. There’s a guy with a microphone at the finishing line and he says things like number 326, that’s Mike Murphy, give him a good applause. Well, when I come along, he starts “number 266, that’s Thomas (long pause) erm .. (longer pause) WELL DONE THOMAS”. He’s not the first to have problems pronouncing my surname, which I owe to my Austrian-Czech ancestry, and he won’t be the last one.

Anyway, I basically sprint all the way to the finish and cross the line in 1:41:10. My aim had been 1:40, so I missed that, but I’m pleased all the same. On a flat course the same effort would probably have delivered 1:40 or even better. I also didn’t really train for this. The last 5 weeks were marked by my recovery from the Connemara marathon, and my only concession to today were two resting days before the race. I still felt very strong at the end, which might mean that I could have run a bit more aggressively, but then again my average heart rate was 175, which would be 93% of my max. Is that even possible? Maybe I should leave the HRM at home next time, but then again, it’s also my stopwatch, and I definitely prefer to know how far into the race I am. Today I never ran by heart rate, only by feel, and that went very well. It was definitely fun the catch runner after runner from mile 4.5 onwards, and it reminded me of Connemara in that respect.

The drive home was delayed by the bloody Rally again, and it took well over 2 hours to get home. I feel stiff as a plank by the time I’m home, and I know I will be feeling sore from all the downhill stretches tomorrow and on Tuesday. And if I counted correctly, it’s only 25 weeks to Dublin – the training for that is almost upon me.

30 Apr: 13.1 miles race, 1:41:10, 7:43 pace

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Lola and Shea!

Today is the twins’ fifth birthday, and they got very excited (again) about presents. Five years ago Niamh and me agreed resolutely not to gender-stereotype them, ever. But, five years later, all our intentions are in tatters. They are old enough to know what they want, and the presents reflect that. Shea got some Dinosaurs (and a volcano!) and a dinosaur story with him as the main character. Lola got a princess bed and a story of a ballerina, with her as the main character. Can you get any more stereotypical? Oh Dear!

The running is going very well indeed. I did a slow recovery run yesterday, and another 9 miles today, with a few strides thrown in for good measure. I felt great all the way. Getting up at 6:10 am is much easier now than it was during the winter, because it’s already very bright. One thing I must be much more disciplined about is going to bed early. I didn’t get enough sleep when training for Connemara, and when I'm training for Dublin I must plan for the fact that Shea usually wakes at 6 and I’m unlikely to sleep for another minute after that.

The weather is absolutely gorgeous at the moment. Niamh took all the children for a pick nick in the Killarney National Park, while I had to waste my time in the office. Life just isn’t fair!

26 Apr: 6 miles, 57:13, 9:32 pace
27 Apr: 9 miles, 1:13, 8:06 pace

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Getting Faster

I’ve got 5 days before the half, and decided to have one more tempo run. I know it won’t have any benefits for the actual race, but I needed a psychological boost more than a physical one. I have gotten faster every week since the marathon, and over the weekend was quite surprised at how much I had improved in only one week. 10 days ago running at 8:00 pace was basically impossible, and on Saturday I managed it without even trying. I must be in better shape than I thought I was.

I won’t be tapering for the half (it’s only a half, after all), but I will take two days off before the run. Today was the last fast run; I did a 2 miles warm-up, then 4 miles at LT tempo (which in my case means a HR of around 170) and 2 miles cool-down. The pace for the speedy part turned out to be 7:05, which is 10 seconds faster per mile than a similar run in the middle of my marathon training a few months ago.

Cian has caused more drama in the meantime. On both Saturday and Sunday I had to mind all 3 children on my own for a few hours. At one stage I spent maybe 5 minutes with the twins, and then started looking for Cian. I found him in the kitchen, just about to raid the cupboard (again!). I pried him away and turned around only to see big black smoke coming out of the toaster. As I turned it off, big flames started to come out of it. Cian was as excited as I was shocked. Once the flames had died down, I found some crepe paper lying around. He must have stuffed some of it into the toaster and turned it on. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened! I feel guilty about it, but don’t really know what I should have done better. I can’t be in more than one place at the same time.

On several less serious occasions, he has raided the kitchen cabinet. After two years of relentless trying, he managed to break the childproof lock, and I haven’t got round to replacing it yet. On one occasion he left a trail of weetabix behind him (at least it meant he was easy to find), and twice he snatched a full packet of porridge and poured it, well, all over the place. There was so much porridge on the floor that he thought he was on the beach!

Oh, and the twins had their 5th birthday party today. The birthday is not until Thursday, but for logistical reasons the party was today. I arrived home at lunchtime to find a massive bouncy castle in the garden. It was nearly as high as the house itself! They had invited 33 kids (33!!!!), and 31 turned up. It was like an invasion. To my immense surprise, the house is still standing, nothing was broken, and every single one seemed to have had a very good time. They got so many presents that they still haven’t opened all of them. Oh wouldn’t it be nice to be so young and excitable again?

25 Apr: 8 miles, 1:03, 7:52 pace (with 4 miles at 7:05 pace)

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I did three really stupid things over the last three days.

Stupid thing number one, I set the alarm clock to go off at 6:15 on Friday morning for my 8 mile run, but forgot to actually turn it on. I even awoke at 6:25 but didn’t click, and by the time I realised what had happened it was too late to go out and run. Since Saturday is normally a rest day for me I decided to swap those two days around. It’s a slight violation of the hard-easy principle because I also planned 11 miles for Sunday, but 8 and 11 miles aren’t that hard.

Stupid thing number two was the pace for Saturday’s run. If it was the joy of having our car back (and functioning) or if it was exuberance more befitting a man half my age, I don’t know. What I do know is that running at sub-8 pace isn’t a normal run for me. It wasn’t quite a tempo run; that would have been more like 7:15 pace for a few miles. Instead I kept my pace very steady for the whole distance, and while the run went very well, I was quite tired afterwards, and felt a twinge in my left hamstring for the rest of the day. To compound my tiredness I also worked for well over three hours in the garden, trying to get rid of some more gorse, which resulted in my arms looking like I'd had a fight with a wild cat.

Stupid thing number three was the fact that I ran 11 miles on Sunday in full sunshine without any access to water. I drank plenty of water before the run, but started to feel thirsty after only three or so miles. I thought about turning around, having a drink at home and going for a second loop, but decided against it. It had taken me 15 minutes or so to say bye to the children, especially Lola who, overdramatically, begged me not to go, and I didn’t fancy a repeat performance. So I plodded on. I actually felt a little bit better on the way back, because a bit of a breeze helped me to stay cool. It’s not often that I welcome a head wind, but that was one of those occasions. I made it home in good time, but I really have to be more careful in future, dehydration isn’t something I should take lightly.

So there you have it, my list of errors laid bare. Will I learn from it? Maybe.

Cian has caused more havoc in the meantime, but this blog entry is already long enough.

22 Apr: 8 miles, 1:02, 7:45 pace
23 Apr: 11 miles, 1:30, 8:10 pace

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nearly Stranded

We had a bit of drama in Dublin. On Tuesday afternoon, the day before we were meant to drive all the way across Ireland back to Kerry, Niamh rang me to tell me that the car had broken down. Luckily it was just half a mile from the house, so I ran down to help her. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and we ended up calling the AA (as in Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous). The guy arrived an hour later, and, after on hour of a lot of head scratching, figured the fuel pump was broken. There was nothing he could do about it there, and he towed us all the way to AA headquarters. From there the car will be brought to a garage in Tralee for repairs (which will hopefully be done by Friday). We got a rental car, and drove back to Kerry yesterday. Niamh had to give it back today, and, please God, we will have our full complement of cars (two) back by tomorrow. Our cover plan with the AA meant that the whole episode didn’t cost us anything, apart from 14 Euros to upgrade the rental car. When the plan had been up for renewal in February, I discussed with Niamh if it was worth it, and she decided yes. Good Call!

Oh, this is supposed to be a running blog. Liam asked where I did my running in Dublin, so I used the magic of Google Pedometers to whip up a map of the 7 miles route I did on Wednesday. According to the computer, it was a bit less than 7.2 miles, so I guess my estimations weren’t too far off. Said run was a tempo run, which I did a tad too fast, because on one or two occasions my heart rate crept into the high 170s, which is too high for an aerobic workout. I have to be more careful about this in future. I have to say I'm quite jealous of you City dwellers, as that bit of software is utterly useless if you live and run in Kerry. Today I just did a 5-mile recovery run to shake off my usual stiffness after several hours in the car. It went well, and it was great to be back in my familiar woods.

I’ll do an 11-miler on Sunday, to get me used to longer distances again. The half in Bantry bay is just a week after that and I won’t be in top shape, but I knew that when I signed up for it.

Apr 20: 7.1795306 miles, 57:44, 8:02 pace
Apr 21: 5 miles, 46:33, 9:18 pace

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Bunny has left the Building

My, how time flies. It’s already our last day in Dublin, and tomorrow we‘ll be heading back to Kerry. Cian’s antics have subsided somewhat, he’s just raided mummy’s make-up kit (which is a particularly favourite way of his of causing havoc), but got stopped before he managed to transfer the stuff anywhere but his fingers. Maybe the fact that he has stuffed himself with chocolate for three days has reigned him in a bit.

We don’t have weighing scales at home in Kerry, so Friday was the first time I’ve stood on one since January and was quite surprised (and pleased) to see that I have lost 4kg (nearly 9 pounds) in the meantime. Unfortunately, I’ve put at least one kg back on since, thanks to all that chocolate lying around. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but if I’m tempted 24 hours a day, I do succumb.

I rested on Monday, apart from running after Cian that is, and did 45 minutes today. Initially I felt like crap and was afraid I was coming down with yet another bout of sickness, but after a mile or two I settled down and had a decent enough run. I’m still coughing from the last bug I caught, and so is the whole rest of the family. It seems to be a particularly slow bug to shift, but apart from a cough and a few runny noses, it doesn’t bother us.

19 Apr: 45 min, 5 miles (est.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

In Defence of the Parents

God, you guys are a critical lot. We don’t usually leave eggs in reach of a 2-year old, but Niamh was just about to use them to make French Toast, got distracted, and by the time she came back, Cian had done the deed. It didn’t get much better afterwards, while I was writing my last entry, he managed to get hold of the jam jar and helped himself to second breakfast, minus the bread of course, but leaving a sticky trail.

We’re now in Dublin in Nana’s and Gaga’s house, which is less childproof than our own. In the one-and-a-half days since we’ve been here he’s raided the mushrooms (and was just about to tuck into the broccoli by the time I arrived to stop him), spilt washing powder all over the kitchen floor, picked some of Nana’s daffodils and been in several fights with the cat. At that rate we might be asked to leave soon ;-).

I bought some badly needed new runners yesterday, but as I don’t know any running shops around here, I had to go to one of the big-chain stores, where they display their shoes on one wall, with a big sign “display models only, don’t try them on” without anyone to assist you. When I finally managed to hunt down a shop assistant, he of course didn’t have a clue about shoes, but was finally persuaded to bring me a couple of pairs to try on. I eventually left as the proud new owner of a pair of Asics GT-1110. I’ve tried to the 2100 before and didn’t like them, but I decided to give them another chance, seeing as so many runners really seem to like that brand (I was also desperate to get out of that shop). I took them for a spin today. The plan was 9 miles, and I felt really good until mile 4.5. When I turned around I realised why running had felt so easy, because all of a sudden I was running into the wind. Oh well. It still went really well, actually. The last two miles are over a fairly big hill, and I just seemed to fly up one way, and down again the other side. Add to that the over five miles I did yesterday (my distances in Dublin are just estimates, but I reckon they are reasonably accurate), and I’m on 31 miles for the week.

15 Apr: 45 mins, 5 miles (est.)
16 Apr: 1:15, 9 miles (est.)

Friday, April 14, 2006


That’s the third time I’ve been sick in the last 4 weeks, and I very much hope I’m done with all the retched sickness stuff by now. I’m definitely improving, I’ve still got a cough, but my nose isn’t as blocked as it was yesterday, and the headache is much improved as well. The weather has improved as well today, which is nice as we will be sitting in the car for several hours on our way to Dublin. It’s the first time we’ll take the seven-seater for such a long drive, and it should be much more comfortable than the old hatchback where the five of us were very much cramped together like sardines and the kids got worse and worse by each mile.

The family is finding more and new ways to keep me from running. My mother-in-law just doesn’t get running. She constantly worries about me running too far (“7 miles? You can’t possibly run 7 miles in one go!”) and once told Niamh that she had to insist that I take frequent breaks while out running (“No, mum, I don’t think he will”). Cian, on the other hand just causes chaos wherever he goes. He left a trail of cereal all over the house while I was out, and just managed to get his hands on half a dozen eggs, which he one by one smashed against his tricycle. Oh the mess!

On the plus side, I played reasonably well in yesterday’s match (though we still lost 2:1) and while everyone around me was panting and coughing, I was hardly sweating at the end, and it wasn’t for lack of effort. I wish I had got more than 25 minutes though. Today’s run was fine, except for the masses of gnats that seem to have appeared all of a sudden. Horrible creatures. It’s bad enough when you can feel them bumping against your skin, but on two occasions one flew right into my mouth. Disgusting! The run was fine, it was the first time since the marathon that I tried to speed up a little; it went quite well, though I couldn’t have pushed much harder. It’s amazing how quickly your peak form disappears into thin air.

14 Apr: 7 miles: 57:41, 8:14 pace

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I don’t feel it, but I guess I must be getting better. I can’t really tell, my nose is blocked up and I’ve got a slight headache from feeling stuffy all day, but I ran the exact same course as yesterday with the exact same average heart rate, but nearly 2 minutes faster. It would have been better to run it slightly slower than that, but I find it difficult to estimate the effort when I’m not entirely healthy. I estimated that I should feel a bit worse than usual to take the cold into account, and then ever so slightly misjudged the effort I should do. Never mind, I’m sure there’s no harm done.

I’ll rest tomorrow. Maybe the cough medicine will let me sleep until 7:45, but Shea usually puts a stop to that. There is an annual football game organised by the company on Thursday, where my lack of skills as a fullback will be on display. Unfortunately I expect we’ll get our collective arses kicked. On Friday we’ll go to Dublin and spend a few days there, which makes running awkward because I’m off my familiar routes and always find it difficult to judge the distance covered. I guess I’ll have to run by time. On the plus side, Stillorgan is surprisingly hilly, and offers roughly the same type of terrain as my normal haunts alongside Caragh Lake.

12 Apr: 5 miles, 45:56, 9:11 pace

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sick as a Parrot

Would you believe it, I’m getting sick yet again. I thought I had just about managed to avoid the bug that grounded Niamh for several days, only to discover that I managed to snap up something else. I felt a bit low on energy yesterday, but decided to play an hour of football in the evening anyway. I felt like crap after a few minutes, but improved as time went on. Then I did a 5-mile run this morning, and experienced the same again. I felt really bad at the beginning, but gradually managed to get into it. The run as such went ok, though the heart rate was too high to call it a recovery run, but I put that down to being sick. I’ve also got a bad cough that kept me awake until 3am in the morning. That’s when I took some cough medicine and slept like a baby until 6, when Shea woke me up. I took some more medicine before going to work, and had a hard time trying not to fall asleep at my desk – the medicine made me drowsy (not getting enough sleep hardly helped).
Will I run again tomorrow? I’ll decide in the morning. I haven’t got a temperature, and I’m sure a short run won’t have any bad effects on me.

We had an office sweepstake for the Grand National (that’s a big horse race), 40 people put 2 Euros each into the kitty and blindly pulled the name of a horse out of a hat, winner takes it all. I never bet on horses, but felt compelled to take part as part of the office fun. And wouldn’t you believe it, my horse only bloody won, and I’m 80 Euros to the good. That should get me a new pair of runners, all right. One problem less.

11 Apr: 5 miles, 47:40, 9:32 pace

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A bit sore

Yesterday was a day of cross training of some kind: several hors of working in the garden. After digging and pulling gorse as well as strimming rushes for nearly 4 hours, I was more tired that after a 20 miler. Let’s call it upper body strengthening, because my shoulders and arms are quite sore today.

So, when I went out for my 7 mile run this morning, I just couldn’t get relaxed. This might seem strange to a non-runner, but due to my sore shoulders I could not get into a relaxed stride. After one mile I decided to abandon any ideas of calling this stumble a recovery run and ran a bit faster. The main problem with running recovery run after recovery run is that they start to get really boring after a while. I really felt like speeding up, and when today’s loss of a relaxed form offered an excuse, I jumped on the chance to get in a “real” run. It probably wasn’t the best thing to do from a recovery point of view, but I’m glad I did it, because I really enjoyed today’s run. I didn’t get carried away and still kept my pace in check; it was just a bit faster than all the previous runs since the marathon.

I’ve got three weeks until the half, and I’m a bit unsure on what’s the best way to proceed from here. I need to increase my mileage, but should also try to get in one or two tempo runs to sharpen up a bit. I’ve no real idea on what’s the best way to do this without jeopardising my recovery. My guess is I might do about 30 miles next week, then maybe around 35 the following one, and 40, including the half, after that. I could also try to do a tempo run a week before the half. I don’t know if that’s sensible, I’ll adapt it if I feel a problem along the way.

I also need to buy a new pairs of shoes. If only I wasn’t broke already.

9 Apr: 7 miles, 1:01, 8:42 pace

Friday, April 07, 2006


So far, I have indeed managed to avoid the bug that’s doing the rounds in the house. Lola recovered very quickly, Niamh didn’t. She’s better now, most of the aches are gone, but she’s still got a very sore throat, and went to see the doctor today.

I had a sore throat Wednesday night (or Wednesnight, as Lola calls it), which looked like an ominous sign, but was absolutely fine the next day. Knock on wood, and it shall pass.

I did a very slow recovery run today. I can’t remember the last time I ran slower than 10:00 pace, but I consciously slowed down every time the heart rate went over 145, to make sure it’s a real recovery run. The right calf is much better now. There might have been a tiny twinge, or maybe I was just imagining it, but I’m calling myself recovered now. I’ll still do another few recovery runs before I’ll speed up again. I’ll see what mileage I can safely do, after Sunday’s run it will be 20 miles for this week, and I’m planning around 30 for next week. It’s only three weeks to the half marathon, but I won’t do any training especially for that. I won’t be at my peak, but hey, it’s only a half.

There is an article on Running Times about the 3-country marathon I ran last October. It’s a nice enough read, but it painfully reminded me of how I had to decline the Free Beer at the finishing line, because I had to drive 40 miles after the marathon. Sigh.

7 Apr: 5 miles, 51:05, 10:13 pace

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Still Recovering

I went out for two easy runs yesterday and today, and managed to keep the pace down this time. The difference to Sunday was amazing; most of the tightness is gone, apart from my right calf muscle, which is still acting up. I’m taking it very easy; tonight is Yoga, tomorrow I’ll sleep in (yeah, right), and I’ll do two more recovery runs on Friday and Sunday.

The weather is beautiful, sunshine and no wind, but it is still deceptively cold in the morning. This caught me out yesterday, I thought it would be much warmer and went out without gloves, but the temperatures were about 0C/32F, and my fingers nearly froze off. I learned my lession today, and felt much more snug in my trusty old gloves.

The one thing worrying me at them moment is a cold that’s doing the rounds. Lola and Niamh are both sick, with Niamh looking especially bad. I had to drive the boys to school/crèche in the morning because Niamh is bed-bound, resulting in me being half an hour late for work. Don’t worry, they are very understanding here. I just hope I’ll manage to avoid that particular bug.

4 Apr: 4 miles, 39:19, 9:49 pace
5 Apr: 5 miles, 48:18, 9:39 pace

Monday, April 03, 2006

On the Road Again

After a full week of idleness, I finally ventured out on the road again on Sunday. It was funny, on Friday Niamh said “You haven’t been running all week, have you? That’s good.” On Saturday evening she said “I think you should go running again.” On Sunday morning, as I went into the kitchen and was just about to tell her that I was going running, she said before I could utter a word “How long are you running for?”. That woman can read me like a book.

Anyway, I had planned a five mile recovery run, but the calves felt very tight and stiff, so I decided to cut it short by a mile, and only did 4. I also thought that I ran nice, easy and very relaxed, but when I got back home I realised that I had run at sub 9:00 pace – too fast for a recovery run, especially after a marathon. I’ll do more recovery runs on Tuesday and Wednesday. After all the rain, wind and misery, all of a sudden the weather is absolutely gorgeous and far too inviting to stay in bed. As Shea keeps waking me at 5am every night, I can’t sleep in anyway. I’ll try to slow down though. I really need to be more disciplined when it comes to recovery pace, especially when I try to up my mileage to new levels.

After taking all the comments from my last entry into account, I’ve decided to follow the Pfitzinger 70 mpw plan. At least I'll try, and only once I feel fully recovered. Following the other Mike’s advice, I’m seriously considering raising the mileage very slowly and doing the 18 weeks schedule rather than the 24 weeks one, though I’m not sure if I should really listen to the advice of a man who publicly displays those kind of shorts! I’ll slowly up my mileage over the next few weeks, and according to how that feels, I will settle on a plan.

I’ve also signed up for a half marathon in 4 week’s time. The timing is rather unfortunate, just 5 weeks after the Connemara marathon and right at the start of a new training cycle, but it’s not far from home, and the scenery should be stunning – from Glengarriff to Bantry along Bantry Bay.

2 Apr: 4 easy miles, 35:52, 8:58 pace (too fast for a recovery run)

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I still haven’t been running since the marathon. I didn’t feel very well on Thursday. I don’t know if it was a setback of the fight against the cold I had before the race, or if it was something else, but I felt a distinctive lack of energy. I felt completely slack and devoid of energy, and feared I was going to be sick yet again. However, I felt better on Friday, and I’m absolutely fine today. The weather, though, isn’t. The wind is blowing very strongly, and between bouts of sunshine we have rain so heavy that you wouldn’t send your dog outside (but of course you would still train for a marathon if you had too).

My thoughts are turning to the Dublin marathon, despite the fact that it’s still a long time away – 30 October 2006, to be precise. If I counted correctly, there are 29 weeks to go, which I intend to use to prepare thoroughly. I just don’t know how yet. I have plenty of options, but two of them are very much in my mind. The first is Pfitzinger’s 24 weeks/70 miles plan. It starts with several weeks of around 50 mpw, and gradually increases to 70, a level that is reached on three separate weeks. I quite like that plan, especially as it increases the mileage gradually, and I’ve never run such high mileage before. The second option is a Lydiard style training. I don’t intend to do the full 100 mpw that Lydiard recommends, mainly because I’m convinced it would leave me injured. In his book, he describes some lesser training plans, one which goes like this: Monday 1hr, Tuesday 1.5 hrs, Wednesday 1 hr, Thursday 1.5 hrs, Friday 1 hr, Saturday 2-3 hrs, Sunday 1.5 hrs. That’s 10.5 to 11.5 hours per week, which would probably mean about 75 mpw, give or take a few. You know what? That sounds rather daunting, especially for someone who has never run more than 55 mpw. Actually, I once did around 65 miles in 7 days, because I did a long run late in one week, and then another long one earlier in the following week, leaving me with a higher mileage for 7 days, but that wasn’t planned.
The main drawback of the Lydiard method, at least from my point of view, is that it’s much more difficult to follow. When following Pfitz, I can just do the workouts he describes every week. I tend to juggle the work around every week (e.g. do the long run on Tuesday and the rest day on Saturday, rather then long Sunday/rest Monday), but I tend do to all the workouts within each 7 day schedule. Lydiard isn’t so clear, his method requires tuning into your body and adapting accordingly, and I don’t think I know my body that well yet, being the inexperienced runner that I still am. I’m sure Mike would disagree, but I think I prefer Pfitz this time round, even if it means not being quite as well prepared.

Or am I too ambitious, and should do less mileage? Is it foolish to increase my mileage to 70 mpw, when I only just about managed to stay reasonably injury free on 55 mpw max (and that still included tendonitis, muscle pain in my quads, in my hamstring, and some mild heel spurs – yes, I know, I have a warped view on being injury free).

So much to think about, so much to decide. What do you think?