Tuesday, May 01, 2012

What Have I Done!

Monday morning, 10 o'clock. The phone rings. It's the T.E., who organises the pacers for Limerick.

T.E.: Hi Tom, how's it going. Good luck tonight, but you'll blow it against Newcastle. Anyway, Dave dropped out of the pacing group. Is it ok if I bump you up from 3:30 to 3:15?
Me.: Oh, uhm, err ... only if you're REALLY desperate ...
T.E.: I am. That's great, see you then. Thanks a million.
Me: Oh, uhm, err ...
beep, beep, beep
Me: What the hell have I just agreed to (well, kinda)???

It's not that I don't think I won't be able to pace 3:15. I'm fairly confident that I can. But I am pacing Kildare the week after and God only knows if I am able to recover, and I really do not want to let my prospective Kildare pacees down. So much for pacing gigs being ideal training runs because the pace will be so comfortable!

At least I can now claim that the pace I ran for most of the previous weeks was in preparation for Limerick.

Just to prove that recovery is not guaranteed, my legs felt really heavy on Monday morning. Knowing that the mileage would take a leap next Sunday, I had already decided to cut it down a little bit during the week, and after the first step was most grateful for that decision. I was not sure how long the "concrete pillar" stage would last and with two marathons coming up straight away I was wondering just how deep a hole I was digging for myself.

Then something happened that evening to squarely put me back into a positive frame of mind.

Don't know about anyone else, but I feel absolutely fantastic this morning.
Despite being unable to sleep for half the night (I was incredibly tense during the match and then replayed the whole game at least twice in my mind instead of sleeping), I'm suddenly feeling great again. Whatever the reason, I was flying this morning, effortlessly gliding over the tarmac. It's a wonderful feeling.
30 Apr
8 miles, 1:03:56, 7:59 pace, HR 137
1 May
10 miles, 1:17:47, 7:46 pace, HR 148


  1. Didn't expect the sky blues to pull that one off. mind u the square up between fergie and roberto was even more entertaining ;-)

    as for doing back to back pacing for marathons best of luck!!!

  2. actually how did u end up supporting man city? i thought you would be supporting a austrian club team - rapid vienna?

  3. Why don't you run a 5 mile tempo instead of the long runs? You're wasting energy on a very poor pace, you should be working on V02 Max and lactate threshold instead of endurance. You already have enough endurance, but clearly lack a good lactate threshold.

    I can see you're serious about the running, anybody putting in that much time is, but you're really running a lot of junk. Most of the runners I've trained go sub 18:00 for 5km within the first 6 months if they train intervals and hills consistently.

    Consistency is key: you have to constantly keep your body guessing. Best of luck with the training Thomas, I'll keep an eye out for your 24 hour race.

  4. City: I happened to visit England in 1987 and the first match I went to was at Maine Road, Manchester City vs Plymouth Argyle. I fell in love with the home team (thank God I did not fall for the away team!!!).

    Training:P I really don't think working on my VO2max would be the best training for a 24 hours race. Seriously. My endurance is very good for a marathon but we are talking about a completely different type of beast here.

    The "poor pace" you're talking about would give me over 180 miles over 24 hours, which is almost the world record and would have won the World Championship every time it was held. I somehow doubt I'll run that in Bangor.

  5. But you'll need to run faster than that due to the amount of breaks you'll be taking during the 24 hours.

  6. Sure. But even if I ran "only" 20 hours at the same 8 minute pace I did on Sunday, that would still almost break the Irish record. I appreciate your input, but your views of what constitutes poor pace just do not match up with 24 hour events.

    Btw, the main reason I ran 8-minute pace was because I thought I was going to pace 3:30 in Limerick this Sunday and wanted to get used to that pace.

  7. ok tom, what's the goal for the 24 hour race ;-) -120 plus miles?

    yeah plymouth would have been a nightmare !!!

  8. Since I have never done anything like the 24hrs, setting a target is tricky. 120 miles would be fantastic.

  9. I remember you saying you used to have problems with cramps during races. I had the same as well as in bed in the middle of the night. However, since then I've been taking magnesium after my runs and in the morning and this has 100% gotten rid of the cramps!

    Have you ever tried magnesium supplements before?

  10. Mark, yes, I've tried magnesium without much luck. It was the compression socks that "cured" me - until mile 31.5 in Connemara this year, that is.

  11. Being asked to run 30 second a mile faster when pacing the marathon is tough, but well within your capabilities - it'll be the pace you did Connemara at that was 50% further with lots of hills. As long as your recovered you'll be stronger now thanks to the ultra toughening your legs up. My guess is that you'll bounce back quickly.

    As for cramps, I had a few twinges during the Fling last weekend, for me it was a bottom of steep descent off Conic hill that set it off. During the descent my HR went up to 170, and subsequently I felt twinges each time that my HR went up to the mid 160's. Easing off the pace to make sure my HR didn't go much above 160 fixed all hint of cramp and finished the second half of the race without any cramps. I have seen a similar pattern to this in previous ultra's - work too hard with too high a HR and cramps start building, ease off. I've also got the sense that my blood chemistry plays a part - too much stress hormones and too much lactate and poorly balanced fluids and salts over a prolonged period prime my body from cramp.

    I can't help but feel there is some similarities in the profile of your cramps at Connemara. You pushed too hard, your body got out too far out of equilibrium and you paid for it. Easing off and getting some more fluids in let your body sort itself out. My guess is that if you hadn't pushed so hard on the hills you wouldn't have any cramps.

    This weekends marathon shouldn't push you anywhere near as hard so I'd expect you'll just cruise it and enjoy the day.

  12. Congratulations on finishing the Fling, Robert!

    My best guess for the cramps in Connemara is dehydration. I DID work to get up that hill and I pushed the pace for a couple of miles once we reached the top, but at the time it felt well within my limits. I would be surprised if that's what brought on the cramps, but it is possible, of course. There's a very fine line between optimal effort and pushing too hard, in an ultra more so that in a shorter race.