Friday, September 24, 2010


The main reason why I had decided to use the Brain Training plan again was the pure and simple fact that I had run my best marathon using that program. No other program has given me a faster time. The fact that M.F. later on got a coach is neither here nor there – plenty of athletes get a coach even if they do know what they’re doing, for the simple reason that 2 brains are better than 1. Yes, I had grown to hate the program – the speed work clearly pushed me way out of my comfort zone – which is exactly why I reasoned that it’s a good thing. I need to get pushed out of my comfort zone. I can run 5 hour back-to-back runs over hilly terrain, no problem, I won’t even bat an eyelid, but the first thing on waking up on a day that calls for intervals of any kind that goes through my head is “oh no, speed work!”. I take this as a sign that I need more speedwork.

Having said that, the negative feedback from people whose opinion I value has made me think again. The first thing I have decided is not to decide anything yet. I have 2 XC races coming up as well as the pacing duties for the Dublin marathon to look forward to, and only then will I start training for real.

Do I want to pay for a Marius Bakken plan? I don’t know. It’s probably the fact that I don’t like paying for a “coach” that won’t ever see me run and is only available via email. Maybe that’s a stupid reason as his plans are clearly cheap enough to be affordable, while I would never be able to afford a coach that would do hours of one-to-one coaching. I don’t know …

One other option is to do a 5k or 10k program for the next few weeks, at least as long as the Killarney 5k series is going on, and then put a shorter marathon build on top of that. I know of one runner, Gary, who finished 30 seconds ahead of me in Connemara half a year ago and whose marathon progression is just scary (and no doubt about to reach yet another level in Berlin this weekend), who uses this strategy with astounding success. I have plenty of plans for shorter race distances in the dozens of running books on my shelf, including the man’s himself, Jack Daniels. I have never followed a plan for anything shorter than marathon distance, so that would undoubtedly get me out of my comfort zone as well. Of course, asking to get out of one’s comfort zone is very much a case of “be careful what you wish for”.

As for the last few days, I can already feel my legs bouncing back. Wednesday was a nice, slow recovery run that left me feeling good, but then I could not sleep at night. That happens almost every Full Moon; I think I must have a werewolf gene. I finally fell asleep somewhere around 3 or 4 o’clock, and I turned off the alarm because sleep was more important than running (“that’s a first” – Niamh). The combination of one easy run and one full rest day meant bouncy legs this morning and I promptly ran my steady pace run a full 15 seconds per mile faster than on Sunday with a lower heart rate. It’s amazing how quickly things can improve at times (if only that rate could be sustained!).

The cold was shifted already, but I felt my achilles again for the last 3 miles today. I had thought I had overcome this because I had hardly felt it at all before that. I have diligently done eccentric calf raises over the last 2 weeks, a trick that has gotten rid of achilles problems in the past, and something I will keep doing. Right now I’m wondering if the Asics Speedstar shoes have something to do with it. I had never used that kind of shoe before, and while they feel comfortable maybe they’re aggravating things. I’ll keep an eye on that.
22 Sep
5 miles, 43:08, 8:38 pace, HR 143
23 Sep
24 Sep
9 miles, 1:07:08, 7:28 pace, HR 157


  1. recently, when i was in the asics store in london, i asked about the suitability of asics speedstar/ds racer shoes for long distances and the shop said neither is suitable for runs longer than 2.5 hours duration

  2. Thomas, be very aware, if you aren't already of the studies that shoes can make a tremendous difference in injury rate and that counter intuitively the more you spend the less you get.

  3. I think the MB plan was only $50 or so. If you buy it, doesn't mean you have to start using it now for a marathon 100 days in the future.

    In any case, enjoy the 5/10k training and racing. Having a fast 5k PB is always useful for the marathon.