Sunday, January 09, 2011

Base Training

Back in October, at the start of training, the coach sent me an email containing a slightly cryptic message:
“This is good: 10 at 7:13 pace, 20 at 7:54 pace, 15 at 7:54 pace. It shows you recover and increased work capacity which will be needed in the peaking phase.”

I couldn't quite figure out what he meant at the time, but just got on with my training. The weekend runs are quite demanding and for various reasons there was always a reason why one run had to be curtailed or another ended up slower than planned. It's only recently that I have reached a level of consistency that I am happy with and the plan for Friday/Saturday/Sunday was 10 miles at faster effort (with a max HR of 155, I used the Garmin's HR alarm feature), then 20 and 15 at easy pace.

Friday's basic temperature was right around freezing point, just like the previous mornings, but a strong and biting cold wind added a significant windchill to the conditions. I felt fairly cold, even with the long sleeves, especially when it started raining on two separate occasions. Anyway, after a slightly slower first mile I got into the effort. While faster than the other days it was still very manageable, slower than marathon effort, I like to think. I settled into an effort slightly below the allowed max, in the low 150s, but I noticed that the pace increased only by a miniscule amount when I tried to push a bit harder, so I eventually left it at that. Usually the first half of these runs is a bit faster as I tend to slow down on the return leg as fatigue and a few gentle climbs take their toll, but this time the wind had me slower during the early miles but pushed me along on the way home and I ended up with an average pace of 7:06, a bit slower than a fortnight ago, but with the knowledge that I had left enough in the tank for the next two days.

Three days after Cian's very rough night, it was Niamh's turn. She must have run half a marathon between bed and the toilet bowl, and eventually I retreated from the scene, trying to get a few hours of sleep in Shea's room, which didn't entirely work either but I'm sure Niamh's second part of the night was still a lot worse than mine. I subsequently felt rather guilty as I closed the door behind me at the beginning of Saturday's run. I usually scoff at people who call running a selfish pursuit. It is a stupid thing to say, solitary does not equate selfish, but on this occasion I admit it, leaving Niamh behind with 4 children was a selfish thing to do; I really wanted to get my run in and was prepared to put my own needs first.

Anyway, selfish pursuit or not, I was soon absorbed in the effort. The next cold snap had arrived, there was snow in the fields and ice on the road and I had to be really careful, there were some seriously icy stretches and I decided that the Caragh Lake loop was out and the road to Killorglin the only sensible option. It was still borderline (read: I should not have run, really). I did three loops of the Killorglin/Rangue road, 5 miles each, and during the second loop the sun finally rose and conditions improved markedly, apart from one or two shady spots but by the third loop I had figured out the best line through the ice. Very much unlike the previous 20-mile run on St. Stephen's Day, I felt very good throughout and was still in fine form when I got home to find a surprisingly peaceful home; the children were all playing nicely with each other and Niamh was getting her much-needed rest after all. The rest of the day was a bit hectic, having to take on Niamh's duties in addition to my own, but I was glad to be able to make up for my earlier absence. Cian even had the cheek to say that Mummy should be sick more often, it's fun to be around Daddy all day.

I was a bit worried about the third part of the weekend program. Two weeks ago the first two days had gone well but the third knocked me out for the rest of the week and I did not fancy a repeat. The quads felt a bit heavy as soon as I got up, but at least Niamh felt much, much better again after sleeping significant amounts of the previous 24 hours, avoiding another guilt trip. It had been raining overnight and subsequently the road was covered in black ice, very dodgy, keeping me away from the Caragh Lake hills once more, or maybe that's just an excuse. I ran the Cromane Loop instead, adding a few miles at the end to make up 15 miles. During the first half I caught myself again and again running far too fast, doing close to 7:00 pace at times but each time I slowed down I soon found myself speeding up again as soon as the mind started wandering. This only stopped when I started getting tired during the last few miles. After countless miles on icy surfaces over the last few weeks today I finally slipped and fell as I was going through a junction turning right. I did bang my right knee, the dodgy one and it was a bit painful over the next few miles but I don't think there was any harm done. The right calf felt a bit tight at times and the quads finally became heavy during the final miles but all in all this went very well.

As mentioned earlier on, the coach's prediction months ago had been 10 @ 7:13, 20 @ 7:54, 15 @ 7:54, and keep in mind that these are training paces, to be run without straining yourself and ensuring good recovery from day to day. Just as I am nearing the end of the base training phase I feel I have finally reached this level.
7 Jan
10 miles, 1:11:03, 7:06 pace, HR 152
8 Jan
20 miles, 2:38:26, 7:55 pace, HR 145
9 Jan
15+ miles, 1:57:17, 7:47 pace, HR 143

Weekly Mileage: 86


  1. Bang on track Thomas. Hope the knee is alright.

  2. Looks like you're on target Thomas. MC is a clever fellow.

    What's the key to the three days? Fri, Sat, Sun? Are they the days you do most of your mileage?