Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Halftime Reflections

I nearly missed it (ok, I missed it), but I’ve reached the halfway point of my training. I’m now more than 12 weeks into the 24 weeks schedule, and it’s time for a quick recap.

Originally I was a bit worried about the mileage, especially the 70-miles weeks; I didn’t know if I would be able to handle them. Well, I’ve now survived the first 70 miles week, and it went better than I could have expected. In fact, I felt able to handle more. Previous training cycles have always been hampered by injuries at some stage, like shin splints a year ago, and achilles tendonitis half a year ago, all in my right leg, as usual. This time round I have felt a few aches and pains, usually in my right foot, or my right achilles tendon, but never so bad that I was worried about having to rest, and never so bad that I missed a training run. The one exception were the chest pains about a months ago, but that was an isolated incident, and I’m pretty sure it was brought on by some over-enthusiastic core strengthening exercise, which I have cut down since (ok, I haven’t done any).

I have so far managed 3 runs of 20 miles or more, all of them without any gels or Gatorade, or any other carbo-loading goodies. In contrast to Mike or Marc I’m not doing this to toughen myself up. I simply felt that they don’t make much of a difference. Last year I always used to take a gel at mile 10 for each run over 15 miles, and for a 20 miler I would take a gel at 10 and another one at 15 miles. Last week I ran 21 miles, and the only “nutrition” were two bottles of water strategically placed at the end of our driveway so that I could pick them up at the end of each loop. And you know what? I didn’t feel any difference. Sure, a gel always gave me a little bit of a boost, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it was more of a psychological boost than an actual reloading of blood-sugar level. Will I take gels during my next runs? No. Will I take gels during the marathon? I haven’t decided yet. I know that you shouldn’t take anything during a marathon that you haven’t tried in training, but I have taken gels before and know that my stomach can handle them without problems. As I’ve said, I’ll decide closer to the actual event.

Running. Yes, I’ve done more since my last entry. Monday was a bank holiday in Ireland, which would have meant sleeping in if we were childless *sigh*. As it was, I still left it a bit late and didn’t get out of the house until about 10 o’clock. It was quite hot, and my legs were very heavy, which was obviously caused by Sunday’s hills. I was sorely tempted to cut it short, but got used to both the temperatures and the heavy legs eventually, and managed to hang on until the end. I was a bit surprised afterwards to realise that I had averaged sub 8:00 pace again. No wonder I was struggling a bit.

After three heavy workloads in four days, the next three days are a bit of a recovery phase, starting with today’s 6-mile recovery run. The quads felt very sore from the first step onwards, more so than yesterday, which is a classic symptom of DOMS, of course. I expect this to be cleared up by tomorrow. The scheduled mileage for this week is a mere 64 miles, which I’m definitely able to handle. When I first noticed the drop in mileage I thought “what the hell is he cutting back the mileage for?”, but after the last two days I’ve come round to the idea of a few easy days.

7 Aug: 15 miles, 1:58, 7:52 pace
8 Aug: 6 miles, 56:18, 9:23 pace


  1. Easy days are your friend - as long as they don't hang around for too long.

    On the drug thing - I think athletes like Flo-Jo are the exception. There are probably hundreds of others who don't have those severe repercussions. (Otherwise we'd have a rash of sprinters dropping dead by now.) That's why people think it's a risk worth taking.

  2. Didn't Flo-Jo have a hidden heart problem that the drugs exacerbated?

    Thomas, okay, a little confusion here. A bank holiday. Does that mean all the banks are closed? Does that mean you work at a bank? Or is it some other kind of term that I don't get?

    You are awesome! You've been very successful in your training. It's kind of funny that you felt like you were really struggling only to discover that it was because you were running fast. Good job!

  3. No gatorade? No gels? You are one tough Irishman! I like taking gatorade on all my runs longer than 10-12 miles and gels over 20. Like you say it's good to use in training what you do in the marathon. Keep up the good work!

  4. How nice to read about all that you are acomplishing, it should feel great...
    You are some tough irish as love2run says, wow you don't even need carb loading :O!
    Thanks a lot for all your comments on my blog, they are helping me a lot!

  5. Yeah, the Tough Irishman image works for me too. You remind me of a former Canadian Olympic Boxer named Shaun O'Sullivan (I was the ring announcer...that's a long story). He was fiesty and refused water in his corner...like you refuse gels and gu.

    I've only tried them a couple of times and didn't notice a difference.

  6. I think I did it for my first marathon - no caloric intake in training...but I think I just didn't know about it. I do take it now:)

  7. I have been experimenting with gels, energy bars and normal food during my long runs. The result seems to be that with a single long run I really don't need to consume any gels or food. When I do a back-to-back (even when one is a medium run) I start dragging halfway through the second run on the second day if I don't keep the calorie intake going. I should add that I do use a watered-down energy drink in my CamelBak.

  8. it's those slow, easy days that will allow you to handle the big 70 mile weeks. enjoy them!

    have a great vacation next week!