Thursday, February 18, 2010

The First Day of ... Lent

To start with the good news, I survived the first day of lent with my pledge still intact. The bad news is, the next 45 days are going to be looooooooong. As I sat down in front of the telly last night, I almost got up and went to the sweets cupboard, because that’s what I have been doing virtually every evening in the last 3/4/5 months (not sure when exactly that habit started). Drinking my cuppa without nibbling on chocolate felt entirely alien.

And can you believe it, they started selling scones in the office on the first day of lent. Beautiful, big, sugary, sinful ones at that. Luckily it was still the first day of lent and I was never going to cave in so quickly, but I’ve got a feeling that the next 45 days are going to be looooooooong.

And, by the way, I did some training as well. I lied in my last post when I said that I would go back to bed if I noticed some discomfort in my legs on Wednesday morning. I might have meant it at the time, but when I got up and noticed some discomfort in my legs I decided it was not THAT bad and went running anyway. It was freezing cold and I got caught by a rain shower around mile 9, but that only lasted for half a mile and was no big issue. What was a big issue was the pain in the quads that I noticed on each and every downhill. It got progressively worse, but when I passed our driveway after 16.5 miles it was still manageable and since there were no big hills on the out-and-back section I continued on. It was on that section that the pain really started, gradually but surely, and not just on the downhills. I am familiar enough with that kind of pain, when every single muscle fibre in the front of you thighs seems to be ripped apart with every step and you have trouble lifting your knees. This was a different problem to the one I had on the second run of my first back-to-back workouts a few weeks ago. Back then it was a lack of energy. Yesterday my energy levels were perfectly fine, the problem was muscular. This is exactly what it felt like in Connemara at mile 30, only tonight I was back home just as the real agony was about to hit and I was spared the worst.

If this was good training for Connemara (after all, that’s how your legs are going to adapt) or not (because I clearly was not recovered sufficiently to run 20 miles) is anyone’s guess. It is obvious that my kamikaze style descents during Sunday’s race have caused plenty of damage to my quads and I hope yesterday’s 20-mile run did not set back the recovery process by too much. I did not run today and went swimming instead (and a good session it was too. I’m definitely improving with every week) but the present feeling in my legs, especially the quads, is one of discomfort.

I’ll take it very easy tomorrow. There’s yet another 5K on Saturday, which may not be such a great idea but if I miss another one I won’t qualify for the results of the race series after skipping last week’s race, and I do have high hopes of winning the M40 age group. I could do the race and take it reasonably easy, but deliberately holding back in a race isn’t something I do.
17 Feb
20 miles, 2:46:14, 8:18 pace, HR 141
18 Feb
45 minutes swimming


  1. Hi

    The second part of this mountain running article covers downhill running and covers the soreness you described. Pain is probably from microscopic tears due to eccentric contractions in your quads. Basically its from trying to straighten your leg for the next step duringa downhill when gravity is contributing to the force trying to bend it. Pain fo a few days, but your muscles sheath together stronger do any subsequent downhilling (within six weeks of last) wont involve this microscopic tearing. I usually run easy pace for a few days. This may actually benefit your ultra training.

  2. You'll win. I'll take a guess at 18:06.

    Don't forget to cut that sugary bread out of your diet ;)

  3. I'm off drink for lent (of the alcoholic kind). First Saturday night and the pint of water is not looking as attractive as I thought it would be!

  4. Fair play on the sugar - perhaps you will inspire me. Though I missed Lent - funnily enough I was in Boston last week with a group of work colleagues over from Ireland and as we were digging into our steak dinner I said something like - 'ah well, at least today isn't Ash Wednesday"... oh, oh

    Nice job on the Bantry race! That sounds like a great one. I will be in Cork in 2 weeks time - in Glanmire - so I must find a trail to run on, or a nice quiet country road at least...

    Good luck in the 5K - but do look after the quads - Conn is just around the corner...!