Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Evaluation, Again!

It only feels like yesterday that I did my last evaluation workout. I'm not sure where all that time went. However, there was a significant event since the last evaluation, namely the 30-mile race only 9 days prior.

It was because of that race that I approached Tuesday's evaluation with a slight sense of trepidation. My legs have recovered very well but I do know from past experience that a marathon can show up for weeks in the evaluation numbers, an ultra, even a short one, should do even more so.

For a change the conditions were pretty much ideal, in contrast to what the weather lady had predicted, but I always forgive her. The evaluation workout is rather mellow as far as workouts go and time passed very quickly. It wasn't until I got home and checked the numbers on the Garmin that I started to raise an eyebrow or two.
        Mile 1    6:24   HR 161
        Mile 2    6:25   HR 161
        Mile 3    6:29   HR 161
        Mile 4    6:32   HR 161
        Recovery to HR 130: 35 seconds

These are the best numbers I have ever produced in an evaluation. I might have messed up Sixmilebridge as a race but as a training run I seem to have gotten it absolutely spot on. I'm not sure if my former coach would claim that there was a sharpening effect from the strong last mile, but I've had sharpening effects before and still the numbers were never as good as that.

I'm pretty excited about that. It sure bodes well for Tralee. Considering how well I seem to be able to recover from fast long runs these days I'm all the more sorry that I will miss Clonakilty, but there's nothing I can do about that.

Since the evaluation is such a mellow workout I didn't worry about following it up with another workout on Wednesday. Following Canova's guidelines I added a hilly fartlek run to my weekly repertoire, and in Kenya they're doing fartleks by running a minute hard/a minute easy (at least according to that book). Apparently they're doing it for an hour at a time, I thought it prudent to start with the less ambitious target of 40 minutes, plus warm/up and cool/down of course.

Twice during the faster repeats I caught a glimpse of my pace on the Garmin, and both times it showed 5:3x. I wasn't entirely killing myself but it sure amounted to a lot of fast running, more than 5k at faster than 5k race pace, apparently. I survived by concentrating on my breathing and trying not to start hyperventilating, an old problem of mine at high effort levels. After about 17 repeats I pretty much had enough, but slavishly followed the watch for three more; not sure if that was a good idea or not, but I survived.

It's a nice enough introduction to speedwork, nowhere near as daunting as quarter-mile repeats on a track but it keeps the legs moving nicely. Interestingly, Ron Daws in his excellent book on Lydiard training recommends fartleks at the end of the base phase as well; just goes to show that there's nothing new under the sun.

It's not all plain sailing, a few days ago as I was reaching the top of a hill towards the end of an easy run I felt a pain in my right adductor, or maybe just my right adductor tendons because that seems to match the area I felt the pain on. It didn't last and I made it home without problems, but Tuesday morning I felt it again after getting up. It went away completely when I was running but became rather sore later that day.

I wan't sure if running at fast pace on Wednesday was such a smart idea with that niggle, but (as always) went ahead anyway. Just like yesterday I did not feel it at all when I was running but it came back during the day.

I've had plenty of niggles over the last few years but despite never following the usual advise of taking a rest break I haven't been injured in ages, and that's just another niggle along the way. If I had taken a rest break every time something starts bothering me I would have missed a lot of training over the years (not much so recently, my body seems to be holding up very well indeed these days).
26 Nov
10 miles, 1:15:51, 7:35 pace, HR 140
27 Nov
12 miles, 1:22:39, 6:53 pace, HR 155
   4 mile eval: 6:24, 6:25, 6:29, 6:32; 35 sec recovery
28 Nov
8 miles, 58:11, 7:16 pace, HR 152
   20 x 60/60

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Active Recovery

I was never going to break any mileage records this week. The emphasis was clearly on recovery from the 30 miles on Sunday. I might not have run it at race effort (and don't I know it!) but it was still a significant effort and recovery was needed.

Accordingly I did not do any workouts, just ran at what felt like a reasonably comfortable pace. The HR was always a bit higher that what I would have liked to see. I never looked at the Garmin during the runs, they was done always purely by feel. It was only afterwards that I checked out the numbers, and I was always surprised by the high HR figure. This only changed today, Sunday, when the HR finally went below 150. All these runs have been at pretty much the same perceived effort, though.

The most challenging feature this week may well have been the weather, with heavy wind and rain and partially flooded road at the start of the week and icy cold temperatures towards the end. I don't mind either too much, I have run in worse conditions, though there was a short hail shower as well one day, and that's a bit too painful to be called "fun". Otherwise I was ok with it, I see it as additional mental training. I remember the winner of the championship in Bangor, John O'Regan, remarking to someone else after that race "who would train in such conditions!", and, well, I do. It's a side-product of always running in the morning. I get up and then I run, no matter what.

The pace has generally been pretty fast for an easy effort, maybe a bit faster than would have been advisable in a recovery week. Today I ran the last few miles, after the big hills had been left behind, at about 7:00 pace and felt comfortable enough. This bodes very well for Tralee. My present marathon PB pace is 6:50. If I can already run virtually the same pace feeling as good as that, that's a great place to be in, and yet the real training is still to come. The race is 16 weeks away, and the next phase of training, when things will finally start ramping up, is not too far off. I'm already looking forward to it.
23 Nov
10 miles, 1:12:53, 7:17 pace, HR 150
24 Nov
10 miles, 1:12:39, 7:15 pace, HR 157
25 Nov
14.75 miles, 1:49:25, 7:25 pace, HR 147
Weekly Mileage: 58

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Handling The Trauma

Obviously, I've spent some some time in the last few days thinking about Sunday's race. There's no point hitting myself over the head repeatedly. I threw away a possible victory due to a series of mistakes. To be fair, I haven't exactly had much reason or opportunity to hone my tactical racing skills up to now. I'll file Sunday's experience under "lesson learned (hard way)" and move on.

If Fergus really ran 3:35 in last year's DCM and one year later ran the same time for a 30 miler, that's a phenomenal improvement - if you're reading this, congratulations, mate! Don't worry about people thinking you were a bit too intense. You were intense, I was relaxed. You won, I lost. There's a connection here.

In Dublin I ran 26+ miles at 7:24 pace with a HR of 156. In Sixmilebridge I ran 30 miles at 7:11 pace with a HR of 158. That's in the same ball park, but marks a nice little improvement. Going purely by HR, my training is going well.

By the way, I can't quite believe I managed to close out the race out with 6:16 mile. I have run 5Ks where the last mile was slower than that. Just shows how much faster I could have run had I tried properly.

Let's move on, for real this time.

On the definite plus side, the one factor that cost me my win, namely the fact that I regarded it more a training run than a real race, has reaped benefits ever since. After Dublin I wasn't sore but I felt a bit stiff for a couple of days. This time, there is not even a trace of stiffness. I did not run on Monday because I thought a rest day might be a good idea after that race, but was surprised by how well I felt.

Accordingly, I went out for 5 miles on Tuesday.Why only 5 miles? Glad you asked. I got up in time for more but realised that I had forgotten to hang out the laundry the previous evening, so I did it there and then. When that was finished, I only had time for 5 miles before work. Ah yes, there's something like Real Life as well. I bet Mo Farah never had to worry about the state of the laundry before going for a training run.

Tuesday's HR was super low, which came as a bit of a surprise, but Wednesday and Thursday told a different story. The same happened three weeks ago. Two days after DCM, my HR was surprisingly low but increased significantly the following days. The exact same is happening now. If it follows the same pattern (which I think it will), it will improve again within a week.

The weather has been pretty wild this week, with plenty of wind and rain, flooded roads and icy cold temperatures. Great stuff! Makes you feel like hard core after 10 miles. I wasn't too bothered about the conditions in Sixmilebridge on Sunday - I've seen it all before, it was just like home.
20 Nov
5+ miles, 38:29, 7:32 pace, HR 142
21 Nov
8 miles, 59:56, 7:29 pace, HR 154
22 Nov
10 miles, 1:15:15, 7:31 pace, HR 154

Monday, November 19, 2012

So Near And Yet So Far

I went into this race with unclear targets. It was not a goal race, not even close. I don't run goal races 3 weeks after a marathon. I did not taper for it, just took it easy for two days, otherwise I was training right through it. Nevertheless I was very much looking forward to it. Tom Enright and his crew always put on a fantastic event.

And yet, last year I had somehow managed to win this race, and a repeat would be nice. The plan was to run it as a training run, and if there was a chance of winning (which obviously depended more on who would turn up rather than my own performance) then push that little bit harder and see what happens.

I arrived in Sixmilebridge in good time and all we talked about were the freezing conditions, but we were sure we would be fine once we started moving. Time passed quickly and before I knew it we were at the start line. There were many familiar faces around, but no fast guys that I would have recognised.

Right at the start I took off together with Deirdre Finn, running 7:30 pace, exactly like last year. The main difference was that one other runner in a yellow top and red shorts was doing 7:00 miles and quickly opened a gap. I was undecided if I should go with him, but decided to wait and see, which would save me from putting out an effort that would unduly set back my training for Tralee, because Tralee was and still is my actual goal race and I did not want to compromise my preparations for that race.

There were 4 races going on today, the double-marathon runners had already been out for 3 hours by the time we started and the marathon and half-marathon runners would join us later on. The race course was very unusual, a 1-mile loop through Sixmilebridge, and included a hill that climbs by 17 or 18 meters. Over 30 miles that adds up to over 500 meters of elevation change, a rather significant number. I find 30 small hills much easier than a long, sustained climb, but opinion amongst runners remained firmly divided on that matter.

Photo by Jason Fahy

I got a bit of feedback from the double-marathon runners as I passed them, some telling me that the "other guy" was huffing and puffing up the hill and would blow up eventually, but I mostly kept an eye out for him myself, seeing that he gained 10-20 seconds per mile, while I spent the first 3 miles mostly chatting with Dee. Eventfully, going up the hill the fourth time, I decided to push a bit harder to make sure the gap to the leader would not grow too big. I wasn't worried about blowing up myself - after all, at that point there was only  one marathon left.

I initially gained back some distance, but on the fifth lap (or was it the sixth) I spent a minute chatting to Ray, the leader and eventual winner of the double-marathon, and when I took up the chase up again the guy in front had dropped from sight. I was confused, I couldn't understand how he had opened up such a gap all of a sudden, but decided to just keep a steady pace; if he blew up I would catch him later, if he was able to genuinely keep at 7:00 minute pace for 30 miles then all kudos to him.

According to the weather forecast the rain was supposed to hold off until after midday. We had started at 10 o'clock and I hoped I would have done most of the race by the time the rain arrived. Unfortunately it started drizzling about 45 minutes into the race, and by the time the marathon started at 11 it was already getting seriously wet. For the rest of the day there was to be no respite, the conditions got progressively worse. With the rain came the wind and the cold, eventually big puddles formed and by the end parts of the course were basically flooded. But hey, living in Kerry means I'm used to that.

Photo by Jason Fahy
The average pace on my Garmin dropped steadily, from 7:20 early on down to 7:03, 7:02 and 7:01 after a while. Obviously that means that I ran a few sub-7 miles, which I always felt was a bit fast for an ultra, but I was always quite comfortable, though I might indeed have blown up myself had I run any faster. Looking at the splits from the race results now, I can see that my adversary steadily ran a few seconds per lap faster, gaining about 10 seconds each time.

Unfortunately it was far from plain sailing, my stomach started acting up even before the 10 mile point. It was manageable at first, more like hunger pains, but it started cramping badly later on as the race progressed. I took 2 gels and a couple of sports drink, which I could stomach easily enough, but any more would have been pushing my luck.

I went going through the halfway point still feeling pretty good but as I was nearing the 20 mile mark I started slowing down, and my stomach took a turn for the worse. I considered going to the toilet each time I passed the GAA ground, but each time felt it might settle again and hoped that I would be able to finish before a pitstop became required.

Running laps and laps and laps of the same course means all events become jumbled in your memory, and it all blends into one. Early on I was chatty enough each time I passed another runner, later on I became quieter and quieter, and eventually I basically stopped talking altogether. That happens every time in similar circumstances, I can use my willingness to exchange a few words as a gauge of how fresh I am.

Getting close to the marathon  point I was really starting to suffer. The legs, while tired, were still holding up but the stomach was in knots. At one point Niall Campbell, who was stewarding, told me I was about 4 minutes behind the leader and he was slowing down, but I told him it didn't matter because I was f*cked myself (excuse my language). And still I kept running past the GAA ground without stopping.

Just as I about to finish the 26th mile I realised that I was slowing down so much that the runners I had just overtaken were going past me again. I basically admitted defeat in the race, and this time I stopped at the GAA ground for a pitstop. To be honest, it was very much needed, I would not have lasted another half hour.

I lost about 90 extra seconds in there, but as soon as I started running again I realised that I had my running legs back. Apparently my stomach cramps had sapped much of my energy, now with that problem out of the way I was able to speed up considerably, from 7:33 in lap 25 to 7:16 in lap 27 and 7:04 in 28. I passed the marathon in 3:09, despite the emergency stop, which actually makes this one of my faster marathons, despite the fact that I still had almost 4 miles to run at that point.

Chasing victory seemed futile, but I gave the race my best shot, more for my own satisfaction than a real conviction that I could actually win. The announcer at the finish line noticed it as well, he commented that I was looking strong again all of a sudden.

Going into the last lap I still could not see the leader, which means I was more than a minute behind him. Pointless. I still ran as fast as I could. Then, halfway through the lap, all of a sudden I could see him, for the first time in 25 miles, halfway up the hill just as I was at the bottom. I gave it my best shot, ran as fast as I could, but when he turned the corner at the top he still seemed too far ahead. When I reached that point myself he was much closer than I thought he would be and I gave chase with seemingly all that I had left.

I caught him with less than a quarter mile to go. For a couple of seconds the thought that I was going to win the race after all was filling my head, but then I heard him, cursing loudly and coming after me. I'm not sure if he was swearing directly at me (which would have been a bit severe, considering the kind of language he used), or at himself, or if it was just his way to pump himself up for the finish, but he caught me again, still cursing loudly. I was slow to react and let him go past instead of trying properly to hold him off and all of a sudden I found myself a couple of meters behind again, with next to nothing left in the race.

29.99 miles into it. Photos by Sean Power

Sprinting was never my forte, I have absolutely no natural speed, and despite giving it all I was up against it. I can't say I didn't try, and I might even have managed to close the gap a little bit at the end but it was futile and now I know what it feels like to be losing out by a whisker.

I lay on the ground, completely exhausted and in utter disbelief of what had just happened. Ultra races are not decided in a sprint finish! But here we were, him celebrating, me sucking oxygen into desperately empty lungs as if through a straw. Eventually he helped me up and we gave each other a (manly) hug, each acknowledging the other's effort.

Race over, friends again!

All finish line photos kindly provided by Sean Power.

It was only then that I could ask his name and found out that my conqueror was called Fergus McCarthy, up to then he had just been that nameless competitor up front.

Obviously I was disappointed to have missed out on a rare victory by the smallest of margins, but I could live with that. I had a warm shower but started shaking and shivering. As I went back towards the tent at the finish, Tom Enright took one look at me and immediately dragged me off to the ambulance where I spent the next 10 or 15 minuted recovering from mild hypothermia. Eventually the shivering stopped and a few minutes later I was feeling sufficiently recovered to leave. I didn't hang around much longer, though. The freezing cold, rain and wind were still there and I was better off making an exit with the car's heating turned up full blast.

I had plenty of time thinking about the race since. This was a race I definitely could have won. I'm not blaming my lack of speed - I could have avoided a sprint finish. It was a tactical mistake to let Fergus go at the start. I have learned last year that holding a commanding lead in a race gives you a big boost, and I handed that boost to him on a plate. When I started chasing him I should have done so with more conviction rather that keeping a steady pace and hoping that he would eventually blow up.

Most of all, I should have set a clear target. Either treat a race as a training run and leave it at that, or decide that you are going for the win, but do not mix the two. Trying to win without giving it your best shot is a stupid tactic, and just because I managed to win last year did not mean a repeat performance was on the cards. In light of that, I'm happy enough that I came second - I did not deserve first place. If the opportunity will come again I do not know, but should it ever do so then I will be better prepared, tactically as well as mentally.

Sixmilebridge has not seen the last of me.

18 Nov
Eddie Murphy memorial race, 30 miles
3:35:46, 7:11 pace, HR 158, second place

Sunday, November 18, 2012


30 mile race in Sixmilebridge,
3:35 (ish), 2nd place. Lost out in a sprint finish by a second.
Spent some time in the ambulance, recovering from hypothermia. More to follow

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


1. To ascertain or fix the value or worth of
2. To examine and judge carefully; appraise

This time there was a slightly bigger gap than the usual two weeks between evaluations because of the Dublin city marathon. Of course said race might also have a significant impact on the actual figures. The evaluation workout is very sensitive to fatigue and will show it up straight away. The last few runs last week had indicated that I had recovered remarkably well from the marathon. I was curious to see if the numbers would confirm this.

(The numbers in brackets are adjusted pace, 7 seconds for every 2 heart beats off the 161 target):
        Mile 1    6:37   HR 161    (6:37)
        Mile 2    6:50   HR 160    (6:47)
        Mile 3    6:45   HR 161    (6:45)
        Mile 4    6:47   HR 160    (6:44)
        Recovery to HR 130: 38 seconds

The pace is remarkably similar to the last evaluation, apart from a slower second mile. Once I'm settled into the workout, the pace remains remarkably stable. Plus, the recovery time has reduced yet again. I think it confirms that I had recovered very well from Dublin. That's great, especially considering that I'm doing a 30 mile race on Sunday, which I wouldn't fancy on pre-fatigued legs.

The conditions for the evaluation weren't ideal. For some strange reason all evaluations I have done in this training cycle so far have seen plenty of rain and breezy conditions but this time they were particularly bad, which may or may not have had an effect on the numbers. The rain wasn't as heavy as the forecast had indicated but the wind was significant. It's surprisingly tricky to keep an even heart rate if you alternate half miles with and against the wind.

Some toes on my left foot started hurting badly right at the end. When I took off my shoes I could see the damage, the skin on one of the toes had been completely ripped off. I could blame the shoes, which have just over 700 miles on them, but I think the real reason was a hole in my sock, which left the toe rubbing directly against the upper of the shoe. Time for the bin. Should have done this earlier. It was really sore for the rest of the day, but a piece of moleskin eventually made a big difference. Being stupid and hurting your foot is not ideal 5 days before a long race, but I'll manage.

The other runs since Sunday have been easy efforts. My legs had felt tired on Monday, no wonder considering the pace on Sunday's long run, and a few slow miles were exactly what they needed to recover.

Today I got up shortly after 6, got ready, left the house before I was awake properly, hardly noticed the rain and could barely remember anything when I had gotten back home; 10 miles entirely on autopilot. The Garmin confirmed that I had indeed been running, and the pace had been decent enough.

12 Nov
10 miles, 1:18:29, 7:51 pace, HR 141
13 Nov
12 miles, 1:27:05, 7:15 pace, HR 149
   4 mile eval: 6:37, 6:47, 6:45, 6:45; 38 sec recovery
14 Nov
10 miles, 1:16:01, 7:36 pace, HR 142

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Definite Progress!

On Thursday morning I knew that I was pushing the boundaries. After hill repeats on Tuesday and 15 hilly miles on Wednesday I was in definite need of a little bit of recovery. 8 miles at a very easy effort did me a lot of good, and in actual fact I was quite heartened that even such an easy effort on tired legs now gives me 7:40 pace. That's a good place to be.

I assessed the situation again on Friday morning. A couple of weeks ago I had made the mistake of stubbornly going ahead with a harder effort even though the legs had not felt like it. However, they felt genuinely good that morning and I could go ahead in good conscience. I ended up with my fastest 10 mile time this training cycle (though I am not racing these workouts - the effort is strictly limited) and felt good all the way through. The one fly in the ointment was the fairly high HR of 162 - all other similar workouts had been in the high 150s, though the perceived effort was still pretty much the same.

Saturday is always a relaxed day because of the group run. I boost my mileage by running to and from the meeting point, accepting the fact that some people take it as proof that I'm slightly deranged, and since it was rather cold I did a few strides on the gravel road beside the GAA pitch instead of waiting around and freezing my bits off.

Strides are definitely an element missing in my training. In almost every training cycle I reach the point where I promise to add 2-3 sets of strides per week to my training, and so far I have alway failed to keep that going for any length of time. I just forget about them. I'll put a note somewhere to keep reminding me. Maybe that will solve that problem.

I managed to keep a good effort going for Sunday's long run. I have generally tried to run my runs at a faster pace this time round, while still keeping an eye on the all-important recovery. I think this is starting to pay off. I used to think of runs at almost 7:15 pace as tempo runs - to be able to run long, hilly runs at that pace and still feel reasonably comfortable is great.

I measured my resting HR on Sunday morning. Even though the measurement might have been compromised by the 3 children running around me at the time, the resting HR has gone down to 44, which is actually lower than before Dublin. I found that rather amazing. I might indeed have managed to get away with running the Dublin marathon as a training effort and subsequently continue training without the need for any time off.

Now let's turn the dial up by another notch and try that again.
8 Nov
8 miles, 1:01:39, 7:42 pace, HR 142
9 Nov
10 miles, 1:07:49, 6:47 pace, HR 162
10 Nov
14 miles, 1:44:37, 7:28 pace, HR 144
   7:03 pace - 5 x 100 strides - 7:59 pace - 7:20 pace
11 Nov
18 miles, 2:10:56, 7:16 pace, HR 153
Weekly Mileage: 81

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Up And Down

I checked my logs from last year what I had done between Dublin and Sixmilebridge, and my first thought was that I had done a lot. Then I remembered what I had done last week, immediately following the Dublin marathons and realised that I was already doing a similar number of miles with a few workouts thrown into the mix - sometimes the weeks might look tough but the body is holding up fine.

In fact, I felt fantastic on Monday; I ran what I thought was a fairly slow pace, it certainly felt very easy. It was not until I had come back home that I realised I had averaged 7:35 pace. It's great when 7:35 pace feels so easy. That kind of thing started to happen two years ago, when I was being coached. After a few months, the same pace that had always been challenging suddenly felt easy. It's always great when that happens.

I followed that up with a set of hill repeats on Tuesday. I wasn't exactly looking forward to that, the last time I had done them, just before Dublin, they had felt rather tough. I got a nice surprise; the first few once again were tough, but once I got into the rhythm of the workout I was doing them on autopilot, even though I was definitely breathing hard at the end of each repeat. I did not count them - on previous occasions I went back home when I got tired. Not so this time. I could have done a good few more, I went home only because I was out of time. Counting the spikes on the HR graph afterwards I came up with 14 - one more than last time while feeling much better. There is definitely progress being made.

In contrast to all the good things, today's midweek longish run felt much more like hard work than fun. I guess the hill repeats were still in my legs. The fact that a stone found its way into my right shoe and almost caused a blister did not help. Maybe the early hour had something to do with it as well, I had gotten plenty of sleep but 5:30 in the morning is still pretty damn early, no matter how you look at it.

I guess it's a sign to be careful. I am amazed how quickly I seem to have recovered from Dublin, but that was still only just over a week ago. The legs might feel fine but I know that deep down they are still being affected. Let's have an easy day tomorrow and take stock afterwards.
5 Nov
8 miles, 1:00:44, 7:35 pace, HR 140
6 Nov
8.1 miles, 1:12:17, 8:55 pace, HR 150
   14 x 60 sec hill repeats
7 Nov
15 miles, 1:54:57, 7:40 pace, HR 147

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Running a marathon as a training run for a marathon is fairly unusual, I admit. But having done a significant number of them, including several as training runs (though usually for ultras), I like to think I know what I'd doing by now (ok, up to a point).

The most important thing is recovery afterwards. After my first marathon I was so sore I never wanted to run another step (which is exactly what I did for a couple of months). Things have improved since then, and after Dublin I did not even feel sore, just a little bit stiff.

I did not take any days off but reduced the mileage for several days until I could no longer feel the effects of the marathon. I know they are still there. I measured my resting HR this morning and it came out as 49, about 5 beats higher than it had been before Monday and it will remain elevated for a few more weeks. But I could not tell that from the way the legs felt over the last two days. They have forgotten the marathon already.

This week I have steadily increased the mileage, never coming home feeling like I should have done less, which is good. Including the marathon it added up to a decent enough week and now I'm basically back in normal training mode. I will more or less replicate what I did last year, get a few decent weeks of training under the belt and then run the 30 mile race in Sixmilebridge. That went exceedingly well last year, so I don't see a reason to change anything. Of course I can't promise another win – that depends far more on who will be on the start line than anything I can influence myself.

Dublin was fun. I love pacing (which is why I'm doing it so often) and because it had felt so easy I already suspected that recovery would be very quick. I'm already looking forward to the next one, but now it's time to move on.
2 Nov
8 miles, 59:52, 7:29 pace, HR 155
3 Nov
10 miles, 1:14:12, 7:25 pace, HR 149
2 Nov
15.1 miles, 1:51:34, 7:23 pace, HR 154

Weekly mileage: 76+

Thursday, November 01, 2012


And there was me smugly thinking I had done a perfect job when pacing the 3:15 group in Monday's marathon, when I get a comment from the boss (no, not Niamh, the other one) that the brief had been to come home within 30 seconds of target, rather than 30-60 seconds as I had thought. So, the target for next year will be to run 17 seconds slower. Still, I don't think I did too badly. I certainly didn't get any complaints from my pacees, and that's the one group that counts.

Photo courtesy of Alan Murphy
There are lots of photos available of the runners, but I didn't see many of me, which is a bit surprising considering I was wearing a huge pink fairy wing. Actually that suits me just fine, I don't tend to be at my photogenic best when I'm running a marathon.

As regards to recovery, Dublin was just another training run (a rather long one, admittedly), and I never intended to take time off. You still have to respect the distance and therefore this week is a very easy low-mileage one, but training keeps going on uninterrupted. Walking down the staircase in Nana's house is an excellent indicator for the state of sore quads, and since I managed that without problems on Tuesday morning I went out of a short 5-miler straight away.

I thought I was running easily until I caught a glimpse of the Garmin and realised I was going at 7:30 pace, which is definitely too fast the day after a marathon. The HR reading was strange, very low. Either the Garmin was wrong or my leg muscles did a number on me. A low heart rate is not necessarily a sign of fitness, it can be a warning sign that the muscles are severely fatigued and most fibres just do not get activated, something I clearly cannot rule out in that case.

Anyway, I ran at a much more relaxed pace on Wednesday, and this time the low HR is certainly believable due to the easy effort.
Today, Thursday, the legs felt almost back to normal, though I know perfectly well that it takes a lot longer to be fully recovered, even after the stiffness has gone. I did an extra couple of miles (an extra two loops in Deer Park, that is), starting out slowly and gradually speeding up without even realising. In theory I should probably be running a little bit slower than that. In reality, I take the fact that the legs keep speeding up while on autopilot as a good sign.
There will be a few more easy days; I might do a longer run on the weekend; I will decide then, depending on how I feel. Next week I'll get back into proper training again. Last year I ran 2 weeks of 80-something miles after Dublin and had a fantastic race in Sixmilebridge, which came as a complete surprise. If I can replicate that, it would be great.
30 Oct
5 miles, 38:07, 7:37 pace, HR 138
31 Oct
5 miles, 40:11, 8:02 pace, HR 136
1 Nov
7 miles, 53:49, 7:41 pace, HR 150