Monday, August 18, 2008

Island Crossing

No, Mike, I don’t think Dublin will feature 700-feet climbs in less than 2 miles, but I happen to believe that running hills will provide benefits even if your chosen marathon course has a different elevation profile. Lydiard’s boys ran a very hilly long run every week, and I recently read an article by Nobby where he stated his believe that a slow hilly long run will provide more benefits than a fast flat one (personally I think that your training should include both types). Ok, admittedly I didn’t quite realise just how steep Friday’s hill was, and might have chosen a different route had I known. Still, I thought the elevation profile of that run looked rather cool. I’m starting to suspect that Jamie and me are the only runners out there who thoroughly appreciate big hills.

Yesterday I ran from our holiday house in Knightstown all the way across the island to Bray Head. There is an old tower up on the cliffs, from where the Brits watched out for Irish smugglers 100 years ago. The tower is still there (and the smugglers haven’t entirely gone away either, allegedly), and it’s a great landmark to run to. I paused for half a minute when I reached it, looking out at the rather wild sea. I was standing on one of Europe’s most westerly points and for nearly 2000 miles there was nothing but winds and water ahead of me. Unfortunately I had to deal with plenty of both on the run, the weather kept worsening by the minute, and by the time I was back home it was blowing at near gale force strength, with matching rain. I still added a loop through Knightstown, partially to bring the distance past the 15 miles point, but mostly so that I could claim to have run the entire length of the island of Valentia.

If I thought yesterday’s weather was bad, today was even worse. Because I’m back at work I had to get up at 5:45 am, which was tough. Then, within 2 minutes of leaving the house a massive downpour left me with that all-too-familiar drenched feeling for the rest of the run, and the fact that the wind never stopped didn’t help. It came from the side, which meant that it felt like battling against it for the entire run. Valentia can be great for running; it has all kinds of roads. The shore road is basically completely flat, most of the rest of the island is undulating, and if you want steeper and/or longer hills, they are there, too. But the geographical setting means that we get the full force of the Atlantic weather, and all that wind and rain is starting to get to me.

Things will be slightly different tomorrow. On Niamh’s suggestion I’m staying in Caragh Lake tonight to give me 30 minutes of extra sleep due to the reduced commute. I’ll do my long run tomorrow, and (Mike will be delighted to hear this, I guess) because I’m planning on including some miles at MP and one at HMP I will run over a flat(-ish) course, probably towards Cromane. Since I will have a race on Sunday, the hope is that doing my long run 5 days beforehand will leave them in a better state. Of course, there is still a set of 1000s to come, which might have an effect as well.

P.S.: Apparently, after the wettest June on record and a bad July, we've already passed the mark for the wettest August on record, with 2 weeks yet to go! Half the country is flooded. This summer has been ... interesting.
17 Aug
15.3 miles, 2:03:06, 8:03 pace, HR 143
18 Aug
am: 9 miles, 1:13:47, 8:12 pace, HR 137
pm: 5 miles, 39:14, 7:50 pace. HR 142

Weekly mileage: 85+


  1. Your (and Jamie's)appreciation of big hills is a symptom of madness.

    Actually, it is good that you have come to embrace them. It serves you well, and the proof of that is in your performance.

    There are too many marathons that shamelessly market their 'flat and fast' courses to the masses.

  2. Who doesn't like hills?! Hills are our best friends.

    That tower spot sounds very cool.

  3. I love hills Thomas. But running them is another matter. I agree that they are a great training ground.

    While the weather is very poor I seem to have avoided getting wet - so far.

    Where's the 5 miler on Sunday?

  4. Hey, at least somebody is training! I can always count on you, right? :)

  5. I like how you and Grellan eased into the hill workouts. Forgive me if I’ve asked previously, but what program are you following at the moment (if any)?

    I’ve got one lined up for Boston based on my Sacramento race while working with my old coach (with some specifics from Jack Daniels’), but I’m always looking for new ideas. Perhaps I’ll follow your lead during my next marathon (post-Boston).