Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The alarm went off at 5:15 on Monday as I was planning my one proper long workout for the Cork City marathon. Everything else was just recovery from Connemara, really.

Within a minute I noticed that my legs, especially the right hamstrings, felt very stiff and tired and decided, for the first time ever, to completely abandon the workout and go back to bed.

Then I thought about Saturday’s triathlon, and the fact that now I would not be able to do a speed session this week without tiring myself out for that race, so I turned round for a second time and went ahead with the workout after all.

What I had in mind were 5/4/3/2/1 miles at marathon effort with maybe 2 minutes of recovery in-between. That’s 15 miles of marathon pace, and 18 miles in total. This was going to be tough.

At least as important as the fitness boost from that workout would be the feedback from the pace I would be able to hold. Up to then I had no idea where I was, fitness-wise. Running and recovering from an ultra has messed up my system.

Well, I got going. The 5-mile section was always going to be do-able. I went by feel, and was very surprised by the low heart rate. The legs definitely told me not to go faster, but the HR seemed to be lodged in the high 140s, low 150s. By contrast, I expected to see something closer to 165. That difference is massive. But the pace, 7:00 exactly according to Garmin, was good.

After a brief recovery I launched into the 4-mile part. This started with the only climb of the day, which took some toll on my legs. I managed to make up for that, but I did notice that the pace was faltering towards the end. Had I run too fast?

At that point I took a gel and some drink. This revived me sufficiently to start the 3-mile run with renewed vigour. In fact, I broke 7:00 pace for the first time on this section, and the HR was still below 160. I did start getting tired, but it was definitely manageable.

The last 2 sections were always going to be easy due to their short length. I started the 2-mile section too fast because I was basically chasing after 2 girls who were jogging down the same road and had to put on the breaks when the Garmin told me I was doing 6:12 pace (Thomas you idiot!), and on the last section I just ran fast while still being in full aerobic control without looking at the watch once.

Considering I had very tired legs, this had gone brilliantly. I must be in better shape than expected. I compared this with other workouts for my marathons and found only one, before Boston (10 miles @ 7:18, 10 miles @ 6:48), that seemed better than this. It probably trumped what I had done before Cork in 2008 (17 miles with 15 @ 7:10 pace), so I guess I should be able to better that time (3:09). However, there is only one way to find out and as always in marathons, you only get one shot.

Today, in contrast, I went swimming. I saved the petrol driving to Killarney and went to the sea instead. I was rather nervous about an open water swim early in the morning, and the shock of the cold water literally took my breath away at first. However, 30 seconds later I was swimming properly, and in marked contrast to my 2 previous attempts in Rosbeigh I actually noticed that I was moving. I didn’t stay in there long, about 15 minutes, but now I can sign that waiver in Valentia saying that I have completed an OWS with a clear conscience.
17 May
18 miles, 2:09:01, 7:10 pace, HR 153
incl: 5 miles @ 7:00 (HR 152), 4 @ 7:01 (157), 3 @ 6:58 (157), 2 @ 6:59 (159), 1 @ 6:48 (163)
18 May
15 minutes OWS


  1. Some of the best workouts seem to come when your brain just isn't in to it. That was your body talking to you ;-) Nice job!

  2. Yeah Thomas

    I don't know why but I find that I often come good on the days I didn't want to get out of bed.

    I guess it's just the mind wanting to take the easy option but once it realizes that you are up and into it it submits and comes to the party.

  3. I also seem to have great runs on the days when I almost give in to whatever temptations there are to just skip it.

    Nice workout. PR at Cork then? :)

  4. Just goes to show you were never that far away from form, you just had to let Connemara get out of your system. That sort of feedback is great and coming just at the right time.

  5. That was a gift workout. If you had gone back to bed you wouldn't have had the confirmation of the good shape you're in. Go for 3:06 pace and maybe negative split for a PB.

    Nice OWS too.