Thursday, January 07, 2010

Out There On The Ice

The present cold snap has gotten old by now. I know the alternative is rain at very uncomfortable temperatures, and after contracting pneumonia 2 years ago I know very well that running in those conditions isn’t exactly ideal either, but by now we’ve had 3 weeks of icy roads and everyone is more than a little fed up. Of course these are not extreme conditions by any stretch of the imagination, but they are sufficient to bring a badly run country to a standstill (things are equalled bad across the Irish channel).

After Tuesday’s horror show I decided not to risk running on Wednesday and set up the indoors trainer the night before. When the alarm woke me at 6 o’clock I came THAT close to turning around and going back to sleep. After all, I wasn’t even going for a run, so why punish myself by getting out of bed at silly o’clock? But then the old instincts took over, and seeing as I was awake anyway I might as well get up and do some training.

75 minutes on the trainer followed, including some drills that had my quads begging for mercy and that would probably even do my running a world of good if only I did them regularly. When I bought the indoors trainer I had visions of doing regular evening workouts on it to supplement my running. In reality I have only used it as an alternative to running. I still have not given up hope of using it more often, but usually I’m too lazy to set it up in the evening, even on the rare occasions when I actually think of the contraption.

Anyway, the roads were slightly improved on Wednesday compared to Tuesday’s absolutely ridiculous ice rink and I thought it would be okay to run on Thursday. Therefore I was out of the door shortly before 5:45 for a loop around the lake. The moon was bright enough to make out the icy spots in advance (something that is impossible if you have to use a headlamp) and I made steady progress initially. The highest points of the route were covered in snow, which gave decent enough traction on the climbs. The nightmare started after about 6 or 7 miles when the surface became increasingly icy and treacherous. I must have slipped at least half a dozen times, but somehow managed to avoid a fall each time. This could have ended truly nasty. Had I crashed there in the middle of nowhere and broken a bone, miles away from the nearest house, on a very quiet road (1 car in 2 hours) in freezing temperatures and only wearing my running outfit, I would have been in some serious trouble. Luckily I made it through, but I did realise that the risks of today’s run had not been worth it. Any injury would have taken me out of training far longer than sitting out the present cold weather. Having said all that, the run went well. The quads were tired at the end, which I blame on the cycling, but considering how careful I had to step at times, I was surprised to get as close to 8:00 pace as I did.

The road on the western side of the lake was in surprisingly good conditions, but even that included a few icy spots (I knew in advance where they would be, they are always at the same places) and is separated from our house by a stretch of half a mile of treacherous road. I just can’t win at the moment.

Next week had been pencilled in as an easy week after the 10-mile race in Mallow. That race has just been cancelled, and the present week has already taken over as an easy one; I can live with that, but the crucial 12-week period before Connemara is getting very close.

I was both disappointed and relieved to hear about the race’s cancellation. Disappointed because I ran my best race ever there last year. Relieved because it meant I would not be driving 60 miles on treacherous roads to get there.

The schools were supposed to be open today. They remain closed all over the country because it basically is too dangerous to drive there. The kids are rejoicing. Niamh is not.

The cold weather is supposed to last for another week. As I’ve said, this is getting old.
6 Jan
75 mins bike, HR 140
7 Jan
15 miles, 2:01:43, 8:06 pace, HR 147


  1. I'd be cross training if I were you. Not worth a little loss of running fitness.

  2. If I had to put up with that, I'd be investing in a treadmill!

    Wish we could both split the difference between our high 30s C the next few days and your below freezings.

  3. I've been running in below freezing temperatures as well, but for the most part the trails have been in pretty good shape. This may change soon, a snow storm is headed our way.

  4. You're right about this being a joke of a country - our government have just set up an emergency task force - 3 weeks into this cold snap!
    It should be functioning by July.
    Banana republic indeed.

  5. You're lucky you didn't fall and break something. It's equally cold in Cork but my routes are relatively ice free compared to yours and I can see most of the way. Pity about Mallow alright, we need a good old burnout at this stage.

  6. What I don't understand is why you run
    at more or less the same pace for more
    or less the same effort (HR) as when
    the condition are good.

    Take St Pat's day last year

    17 Mar 22 miles, 2:55:29, 7:58 pace, HR 146


    7 Jan 15 miles, 2:01:43, 8:06 pace, HR 147