Sunday, May 20, 2012

Twin Peaks

Amazingly, there was no marathon on this weekend. I almost feel like a slacker now. I'm also constantly questioning what I'm doing, it just does not feel like I'm getting ready for a 24 hours race. Then I remember that I just ran two marathons and my 39 mile race was not that many weeks back and I think I'm doing alright.

By Thursday I knew I was over the worst of the man-flu, which was a short-lived nuisance, thankfully. I slightly upped  the mileage to 8 on Friday and felt good all the way. The heart rate was also reduced compared to previous days, so I figured I was well on my way to recovery from both marathons as well as the head cold.

I ran a bit faster on Saturday in an attempt to not complete lose my leg turnover, and also to have a bit of fun. I found it hard initially to get my heart rate up; it seemed stuck in the 150s, despite working against a (slight) headwind. The HR graph afterwards was revealing, it climbed constantly for the entire duration of the run. The last mile was good bit faster than the rest, about 6:10 pace, all the other ones had been much more restrained. It felt really good to get the legs moving again.

Niamh was away for much of Sunday and I had to squeeze my run in after lunchtime. Since I did not want to run with a full stomach, it pretty much meant cancelling lunch itself. I did pay the prize late into the run with a few hunger pangs and I had turned into the ravenous beast by the time I was back home, but I don't think the run itself suffered. Running in the afternoon always throws out my pacing, I started out at what felt like an easy effort, until I looked at the Garmin and saw that I was doing about 7:00 pace. I quickly left the road behind and got onto the Kerry Way, climbing all the way to Windy Gap and down the other side towards Glenbeigh. I turned around at the gate and went back the same way, which made for a nice twin peaks shape in the elevation chart, but of course it was just the same hill twice in a row.

The views on this route are just out of this world, amongst the best the Kingdom has to offer. I looked across the Glenbeigh horseshoe with Drung and Beenmore mountains, and could not help but go hmmmm. Tempting. Running (ok, hiking more like) along those ridges is either fantastic ultra training or a waste of time, depending on who you believe, but it sure would make for a few interesting hours. The Reeks weren't bad looking either. The IMRA Carrauntoohil race is on in two weeks, but I'm doing the Cork marathon instead, of course.

I met quite a few walkers on the trail, but I think I was the only one under 60 out there. I felt like gatecrashing an OAP party. I'm certainly not dissing the older generation - quite the opposite, I'm disgusted that the younger one obviously can't peel itself away from the damn telly.

Climbing all those steep hills (the Windy Gap trail has a gradient of well over 20 percent) is an attempt to strengthen the legs. After running a couple of marathons, today I tried to get a different kind of stress into the legs, to help build up muscle strength rather than endurance. It was badly needed. The quads were quivering after the second climb and I was more exhausted than after last week's marathon, even though the distance was less than a half.

I have to figure out what I'm going to do next weekend. With Niamh gone, I might not get any training done at all, which is a right pain at a crucial time.

18 May
8 miles, 1:01:20, 7:40 pace, HR 145
19 May
10 miles, 1:07:20, 6:42 pace, HR 161
20 May
12.25 miles, 1:42:15, 8:20 pace, HR 158
   off road on the Kerry Way


  1. You're best off milking the good days for all they're worth - ditch the watch and listen to what the body tells you. I don't know one person who ever ran a great race looking at the clock.

  2. Just what on earth are you on about? I never race by clock and I don't train by it either. I use it to record my workouts, not to control them.

  3. Training for a seriously long ultra like a 24hour epic is challenge, your training so far certainly has given you plenty of aerobic fitness and speed, it's other areas which you'll need to work on now. Perhaps my own experiences can provide some insight on what it might be worth working on.

    I'm still an ultra newbie, longest to date was the 53mile Highland Fling 3 weeks ago so still trying to understand how best to prepare for long ultras. I'm pleased with how the Fling went but know I could improve on areas of weakness. For me I really struggled to consume enough food after about 6 hours, from 8 hours onwards I couldn't stomach solids that I'd usually woof down on the run, and even resorted to watering down my home-made energy drinks to make them more palatable/digestible. In the final three hours of the race my rate of consumption dropped to around 50-100 calories/hour, and in the last two hours meant that I ended up I just lacked the energy to keep running at a reasonable pace without taking walking breaks. This was frustrating as my legs had the strength to run sub 8min/mile pace, but without the carbs to support them couldn't sustain 12min/mile pace.

    In training my longest run was a 6 hour mountainous 30 miler, in this I consumed my 200 calorie/hour budget of food without problems, no gastric stress at all. During the race I kept this consumption rate up as well for the first 6 hours, and it was only beyond 8 hours I really struggled. I would guess exactly what you eat and when will influence how well you can keep eating, and I'm sure I could do better next time. However, the tough thing is what works for shorter runs isn't necessarily the same thing that will work after 8, 12, 18 or 20 hours. You can learn a bit from works for others, but in the end you won't know till you've experienced it first hand.

    You can't go out and do a practice 18hour run before your 24 hour race, but you could potentially arrange to do several 12 hour time on your feet days, where you walk, eat, run and generally work out how you body responds to being on the move for that amount of time. One thing to be mindful is on these long days is they are just part of training so you don't want to overdo it and end up taking a long time to recover afterwards. This means taking it very easy, eating and drinking at a rate that matches as closely to your expenditure as you achieve so you don't end up exhausting your reserves.

    Another factor as well as eating that you can training for on these long days out is the mental side, keeping your head in the game, but happily entertained with it. Having a friend along will help with this, even if they can only help out with sections.

  4. To be honest, doing a 24-hour race off such little training is a bad idea. I don't understand why people want to go longer instead of faster?! Surely you should be aiming for a 2:58 marathon or a 1:22 half first?

  5. Now there's a first. I have never been told that I'm doing "such little training". What constitutes plenty of training in your book?

    Btw, if I want to go longer or faster is my choice and my choice alone. If you don't like it ... tough.

  6. the refuge of the anonymous writer!!! take no notice thomas. what about run a 100 miles for 16 hours, go for a kip for 6 hours and walk around the track for two hours ;-) a brillant tactic in my opinion!!!

    seriously tho will you have a back room team up there with you, if only to set the tent up?

  7. I know you're right, Cathal; I'm close to turning off anonymous comments. I'm getting too many muppet comments, and I generally prefer to know who I'm talking to.

    Yes, I will have a crew there of some highly experienced ultra runners. They will do a lot more than putting up the tent. I still cannot believe my luck.

  8. Thomas, leave Anonymous comments on. They're entertaining in a devil's advocate kind of way.

    This Anonymous doesn't understand that you're doing the type of running and training that you enjoy doing. Enjoyment is the only reason to run - if you don't enjoy it, find something else to do. There's no need to "hammer workouts" - I can think of many examples of runners that don't hammer workouts and would probably lap Anonymous twice in a 10,000.

  9. 31st May - possibly a date to stick in the diary?