Saturday, December 29, 2012

End Of Year Report

2012 is drawing to a close, and if I had to describe it in one single word in the style of a Premier League footballer, it would probably be: "F***ing Awesome!".

Yesterday, on the long drive from Kerry to Dublin, Niamh asked me my 3 greatest achievements of 2012 and I responded with "coming top 10 in Connemara, top 10 in Dingle and finishing second place in a National Championship race", to which she complained that all these are running related, so I changed it to "all of the above while still remaining married to her", which she agreed was some sort of achievement, alright.

Purely from a running point of view, 2012 certainly surpassed my expectations by quite some margin and I'm obviously hoping for more of the same in 2013 (apart from losing a race in a sprint finish, maybe. I could have done without that). I'm in excellent shape already as the St.Stephen's Day race has shown, now I have to try and carry that into the marathon in March. I pretty much have most of my season planned in my head already, but right now I'm focusing on Tralee only, so I won't go into any detail on what is in store after that.

I just ran my 3400th mile of the year this morning and obviously there are still two more days to come. It's not my highest annual mileage ever but it's close, and if things continue to go well I'm about to get into the best shape of my life (so far); the year is definitely ending on a high.

The last few days have shown that I need to be careful, though. I ran reasonably easy on Thursday, following Wednesday's race, but the heavy legs on Friday told me that it was probably still too fast. I did a hill session on Friday, despite the tired quads, because experience from previous years tells me that those hill drills train slightly different muscles than normal running, and it's possible for your "normal" running muscles to recover while those "new" muscles are taking a bit of a beating. I certainly found some of the drills rather tough. Bouncing off the ankles is easy, but high knees and driving with the thighs (the same drills as MC had me doing when I was training for Vienna 2 years ago) are really tough. It definitely shows some weakness in those areas. I took it exceptionally easy this morning, because the legs had to recover not only from the race and the hills but also the long car journey.

There is another race here in Dublin on New Year's Day, a 5k in Phoenix Park. I ran reasonably well last year in 18:22; I can't help but wonder what I can do this year with my improved form. I will be racing on tired legs because I'm not interrupting my marathon training for a 5k; still, I'm definitely looking forward to it.
27 Dec
8 miles, 1:00:43, 7:35 pace, HR 142
28 Dec
10 miles, 1:31:52, 9:11 pace, HR 143
   Hill Drills: strides, thigh drive, ankles, high knees
29 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:43, 7:50 pace, HR 141

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Farranfore St.Stephen's Day Race

I had more or less taken a year absence from the local road racing scene. A low-key 10k in Tralee in June was the only local short road race I had done all year, so this was a comeback of some sort. I saw plenty of very familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while.

The kids were all happy with their heaps of new Christmas presents and I was able to leave for a couple of hours without feeling guilty.

Yesterday my left hamstring had started hurting on the last mile and as soon as I started my warm-up I could feel it again. Running a race with a dodgy hamstring is unlikely to be a good idea; if I got hurt now it would destroy my chances of a good Tralee marathon, which would be devastating after the excellent base training I had managed in the last few months. However, I decided to go ahead anyway. What can I say, I'm the guy who thought running for 24 hours straight was a great idea; idiocy comes easy to me.

This was the 51st annual Farranfore road race, very much a credit to the local running club for keeping it going for such an amazingly long time. It's an old-school race as far as the odd distance is concerned, about 4 miles and a quarter. Back then they didn't care much for PBs over certain distances, it was all about racing each other, and that's exactly what I had in mind today.

The race course is tough, you start by going up a hill right from the off, then a slightly undulating straight road to Firies is followed by a small loop and then the same road back, which means that for the finish you have to cross that same hill again, which has seemingly doubled in size since 20 minutes ago.

The front row was pretty much packed with the usual fast guys. Two guys shot off from the start and would contest the eventual winner between themselves, but the pack right behind them contained all the familiar faces, including John, Simon, Cian, Arthur, Ed, Rob and ... me??? I was wondering what was going on, I am used to being a slow climber but reasonably fast descender, so to hang on to the back of these guys despite going uphill and not even working too hard was odd. When we reached the top of the hill I was still right there but then it felt like they all accelerated in unison and left me behind, struggling on my own against the fierce headwind. On the following downhill section I was caught by about 5 runners, including the first 2 ladies. This was the complete opposite of what I'm used to, usually I lose a few places on the climbs and gain them back afterwards. I'm not sure how that happened, but I must have become much stronger since last year but at the same time can't seem to spin my legs fast enough on the descent.

I tried to hang on to the backs of the runners who had just caught me, but with limited success. All I could do was try and keep the gap reasonably small. Just as we got into Firies George overtook me. I'm used to him disappearing into the distance right from the start, so I figured I must be running well even if I was unable to match his pace from here on.

Positions and gaps were maintained through Firies and on the way back home I noticed I was gaining on the runner ahead of me. He held me off when I drew level and together we closed the gap to the runner ahead until the three of us were running level. That's when the final climb started, gently at first but getting steeper with each step. Again, in highly unusual fashion, I was strangely strong here and not only gapped the two guys but caught the next runner in front of me as well. Then we reached the top and from here on I tried to spin the legs as fast as possible until the finish so as not to lose those places I had worked so hard for, which was successful, happy days!

I finished in 17th position, 3rd M40 (George overtaking me was the decisive move as far as finishing in the prize money was concerned), in 24:30, official results are here. That's 5:52 pace over a hilly course in very windy conditions, much better than I would have thought possible! Funnily enough, I had been talking to John O'Regan beforehand and somehow I had been running the race he had hoped for himself while he ran the race I had predicted for myself.

The hamstring did not hamper me at all, after a mile or two I did not even notice it any more. I knew I was in good shape, but had no idea I was in SUCH good shape. Happy Days!
24 Dec
8.5+ miles, 1:15:08, 8:46 pace, HR 138
   Hill Drills: strides, high knees, thigh drive
25 Dec
8 miles, 57:58, 7:14 pace, HR 149
26 Dec
8 miles, including:
   Farranfore 4.2 mile race, 24:33, 5:52 pace, avg. HR 178, max HR 185, 17th place, 3rd M40

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Post Apocalyptic Training

Happy New Bak'tun everyone, I hope you had a pleasant apocalypse. Our twins took the whole thing seriously enough to pack a survival bag, though that did not include any provisions for the adults ("sceptics don't get saved, Dad!"). The Hunger Games have a lot to answer for.

After Saturday's hangover had passed (I exaggerate - I only had 3 drinks at Friday's party), I realised that the world was still standing and I better get on with my training. I tried to repeat last week's tempo run under the same guidelines, namely as soon as the pace started dropping or the effort got too hard I'd pull the plug, no matter how far (or not) I had gotten. The legs didn't exactly feel the love during the warm up, but that's not a good indicator for the following workout as I have learned over the years. When I hit the tempo segment I felt decent enough for the first few miles but as soon as I reached the far point of my loop I realised that I had to face the gale force wind on the way back home, and predictably the pace started suffering immediately. Despite all the good intentions I did struggle on for a bit but pulled the plug after only just over 3 miles, significantly less than last week. Of course runners always have a good excuse when it comes to sub-par workouts, and I am no exception. The gale force winds interfered badly, the previous day's run might have been a tad too fast and surely yesterday's drinks didn't help. Actually, later that day I noticed an even better excuse, namely a sore throat that I hadn't felt during the morning but the germs responsible for that may already have made their present felt in my system at the time of my run.

In reality I won't lose any sleep over it, I had expected a better workout but that did not happen, ah well. It still was a decent enough session, especially as I added another two miles of tempo pace at the end, though that was slightly downhill and might have overcompensated for the headwind.

The sore throat was still there on Sunday morning but did not stop me from going out on my long run, once more around Caragh Lake. I kept the effort easy enough but the legs kept moving well over the long climbs. I picked up the effort a little towards the end. 7-minute pace is starting to feel pretty easy. For some reason I was bothered with a side stitch that took ages to work out after about 7 miles, but I think that may have something to do with eating a couple of cookies right before heading out.

And so I have arrived at the end of the base training phase. Tomorrow I'm doing my first hill drills session.
21 Dec
10 miles, 1:13:25, 7:20 pace, HR 145
22 Dec
10 miles, 1:07:37, 6:45 pace, HR 160
   3.25 miles @ 6:16 pace (HR 165), 2 miles @ 6:14 pace (HR 170)
23 Dec
18 miles, 2:11:23, 7:18 pace, HR 146

Weekly Mileage: 77+

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End Of the World Training Cycle

Assuming the world will go on, Tralee marathon will be in 12 weeks' time. For me, that means that base building is finished and the marathon specific preparation is about to begin.

I thought about this long and hard and eventually decided that I will do a hill drills phase, similar to the one I had been doing under Mystery Coach's guidance. There is no hills phase in Canova's training, but I vividly remember how great I felt last year; every single day of the hills phase was better than the previous one and I carried the momentum all the way to my top-10 finish in Connemara and beyond. Of course there is no guarantee this will work again, especially as I am in quite different shape compared to last year, but I will give it a go nevertheless.

This base training phase has gone extraordinarily well, and if things go right for the next few months a string of PBs is basically guaranteed. I'm really looking forward to racing already.

The week has been very good so far, even the easy efforts are now at a pace that a few years ago would have been the goal pace of a tempo run. That's great. There is a voice in my head that keeps reminding me that I'm almost 43 already and the time when my performances will decline can't be too far away, but do far so good and I'll enjoy the ride for as long as I can.

Because last week's fartlek had started to feel decidedly easier I decided to extend it this week, from 20 to 25 repeats. That went well enough, but I could not fail to notice that the pace had been slower this week, even though I could have sworn the effort had been the same.

Wednesday's easy run was probably the most satisfying run of them all, and that's not something I usually say about easy runs. It just felt great, the pace was nice enough and yet I felt like I could go on like that forever, there seemed to be absolutely no effort involved.

That's not to say that today's run was bad. It was a good bit faster, but still very much controlled, less than marathon effort I'd say. It's great to be in sub-3 shape already. Two years ago, when I broke 3 hours for the first and so far only time, I had to give blood sweat and tears to achieve 2:59. This time it will be easier.

17 Dec
10 miles, 1:15:40, 7:34 pace, HR 138
18 Dec
9.25 miles, 1:08:00, 7:21 pace, HR 151
   25 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy
19 Dec
10 miles, 1:13:04, 7:19 pace, HR 146
20 Dec
10 miles, 1:07:15, 6:43 pace, HR 154

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Different Outlook

One thing that differentiates Canova'a approach to the standard one is that pace is more important than distance. I read one interview with the man where he states that a westerner would run 20 miles, no matter what, but a Kenyan would target a certain pace (effort, actually), and once he can't hold it any longer the workout is over, no matter how far he had gone. He also states that one approach isn't necessarily superior to the other, it's just how they act differently (cultural differences, maybe)?

I can't say I have followed that particular Canova principle so far, despite my attempts to base my training on the things I have read about and from the man, but I gave it a go on Saturday. The idea was to hit tempo pace, 6:15 - 6:20, which should more or less coincide with my present half-marathon pace (I haven't run a half in well over a year, which makes this a bit tricky), and not worry about the distance. As soon as I wasn't able to hit the pace any longer, or once it started feeling too hard, I would ease up. At the same time I did not want to give myself a license to pull out prematurely just because it felt tough; it was a fine line to be tread.

Last week's attempt at hitting that sort of pace was a bit of a disaster and I was ever so slightly apprehensive, but this new way of looking at things made it easier. The pace felt comfortable enough initially, but after 2 miles I started breathing harder. A few ups and downs in effort followed, at times I lost concentration for a bit, and once I was past 4 miles it definitely became harder. The pace had already started suffering when I finally pulled the plug on the effort after about 4.7 miles. After about 10 minutes of easy running I felt sufficiently recovered to give it another go and did a bit over a mile, albeit at a slightly slower pace. I think I got that workout right. I hung in there for as long as it seemed sensible but pulled the plug when I got into anaerobic territory. The hope is that next time it will feel that little bit easier and I can keep the same pace for longer, rather than try to hit a faster pace.

There's no rest for the wicked, and out I went again on Sunday morning. I waited out one rain shower, but that was of limited use on a day like today. I had sun, rain, hail, rain, sun, rain, sun, and a few other bits thrown in as well, the only constant being the wind, with a few very bright rainbows as a nice bonus. After about 15 miles I ran into Mark and we shared a mile or two, which was nice and those miles flew by particularly quickly. I did not even have to slow down for these, instead Mark increased his own pace to match mine, which makes me suspect that he is able to run faster than he presently knows himself. I didn't run any heroic sub-7 miles this time, just held a very steady effort over very hilly territory. These long runs are fine, but I am looking forward to some faster long ones as well (I might regret those words).

It rounded off another good week, with plenty of decent pace, and good mileage as well.
14 Dec
10 miles, 1:18:13, 7:49 pace, HR 139
15 Dec
10 miles, 1:07:22, 6:44 pace, HR 158
   4.7 miles @ 6:15, 1.3 miles @ 6:20
16 Dec
20 miles, 2:30:35, 7:31 pace, HR 145
Weekly Mileage: 85+

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Healthy Training

Last week, Maia was fighting off a cold all week. It was just one of the many bugs that a 5-year old brings home from school all the time. On Sunday, both Niamh and me felt a touch of the cold ourselves, but that's where our respective paths diverged. While a good night's sleep did wonders for me and I felt right as rain again, Niamh got it full on. She felt rotten for a couple of days and was only getting better by Wednesday, though she is still coughing quite severely today. This kind of thing isn't exactly unusual. Four school kids in the house mean they bring a lot of germs back home and usually some other family members catch it too, except me. My immune system must be exceptionally strong, and I sure attribute this to my running. It's because of these repeated occurrences that I do not pay any heed to the repeated scare stories about running that get printed in the press on a regular basis, one of them quite recently. While I know that a strong immune system is not an indicator that you won't get a heart attack, I simply cannot believe that an activity that demonstrably keeps me so healthy would be - well, unhealthy.

The training keeps going exceptionally well. After an exceptionally easy 10-miler on Monday it was time again for an evaluation. The last one had produced an excellent set of figures and I was quite curious what this week would bring. The conditions were not quite as ideal as 2 weeks ago, it was a little bit windy and I wondered if that would have an effect. I found it quite hard to get the heart rate up to 160 initially, I felt I had to work unusually hard for it. But as it turns out, once I got going I was flying.

(The numbers in brackets are adjusted pace, 7 seconds for every 2 heart beats off the 161 target):
        Mile 1    6:21   HR 160    (6:18)
        Mile 2    6:26   HR 160    (6:23)
        Mile 3    6:23   HR 161    (6:23)
        Mile 4    6:30   HR 162    (6:33)
        Recovery to HR 130: 30 seconds

I think I was still in the process of stabilising the heart rate during the first mile, which is why is was so fast - the HR basically took a bit to catch up. After that it felt smoother and it's another step up from 2 weeks ago. The short recovery time especially is a great sign; never mind that the average pace for these is just getting faster and faster.

Since the evaluation is such a mellow workout that does not require a recovery day I felt it safe to follow it up with a fartlek, which followed the usual formula of 1 minute hard / 1 minute easy. This used to feel quite hard a couple of weeks ago, but after 20 repeats I still felt quite good this time. Time to add more repeats, I guess.

Another fast run would definitely have been a bad idea after that, but I did a medium long run on Thursday, getting up very early like in the Good Old Times to run around the lake. It really was pitch dark, without the head lamp I would have run off the road on a couple of occasions. It was also fairly cold, at least judging by Kerry standards (which is not really cold, I know, I know).

I'm definitely in far better shape at this point in time than any previous year. My main worry at the moment is not to peak too early. Tralee is still 13 weeks away. The specific marathon training has not even started yet.
10 Dec
10 miles, 1:15:59, 7:35 pace, HR 135
11 Dec
12 miles, 1:23:32, 6:57 pace, HR 148
   4 mile eval: 6:18, 6:23, 6:23, 6:33 (adjusted), 30 sec recovery
12 Dec
8 miles, 56:43, 7:05 pace, HR 153
   20 x 1 min hard / 1 min easy
13 Dec
15+ miles, 1:45:14, 7:33 pace, HR 142

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Next Step

The training has definitely gone up a notch this week. I am still following my vague outline of a Canova build, and the advice for the last month of the base phase is to add a hilly fartlek run as well as a tempo run once per week.

This meant that the average training pace made a bit of a jump this week. The other by-product is that I was running a lot of miles at race pace or faster. I know that most elites, as well as a lot of not-so-elites, tend to run about 26 miles per week at marathon pace, which makes a lot of sense because the way to get good at running at a certain pace is to run at that certain pace, and now I'm basically trying to do just that myself (minus the elite bit, obviously).

The mileage dropped a bit, which helped keeping the legs reasonably fresh despite the increase in intensity. It is the standard thing to do when you start running faster, though I didn't plan a reduced mileage, just tried to adapt to the way my legs were feeling.

They definitely needed a bit of encouragement after Thursday. I tried to run that tempo run, with 6 miles at roughly half-marathon effort. I haven't raced a half-marathon in well over a year, but figured 6:20 pace should be pretty much it. Unfortunately, on the day itself I never managed to get going properly. Right from the start the pace was not there. The heart rate was quite low and I never managed to push it up to a higher level and I could not even hold 6:30 pace. I figured I was still fatigued from Tuesday's fartlek; I haven't really got any other explanation.

I took it especially easy on Friday to give the legs a break; I also happened to fast all day that day. I was a bit nervous how that would impact on my training, especially on Saturday. Although I had eaten again by the time I hit the road, I wasn't sure if running at a reasonably hard effort with definitely still reduced glycogen levels was really such a great idea, but got a pleasant surprise. I easily managed to run faster for 10 miles than I had managed for 6 on Thursday, and the expected sugar crash never came, so all was good.

My sugar levels definitely hit a high again at Cian's birthday party, but I wasn't the only one who loved Niamh's cake. It wasn't as sugary sweet as the photo suggested (see previous post) as the icing coating was quite thin, but the cake itself was just fabulous. It's a good thing I am a high mileage runner, imagine what I'd look like if all those extra calories weren't burned off day after day!

I decided to take it easy again on Sunday and just go for a fairly leisurely stroll around the lake. Halfway through the run I hit a rough patch that I initially attributed to empty glycogen stores, still a hangover from Friday's fast; when I felt better again a few miles later I dismissed that theory. With about 5 miles to go all of a sudden I decided to inject a bit of pace into the proceedings and dropped the pace from 7:45 to 6:45. It was a spur of the moment thing and initially I thought I'd do it just for one single mile but ended up running that pace for the rest of the run; I guess my glycogen stores were definitely not empty, then.
6 Dec
10 miles, 1:09:14, 6:55 pace, HR 152
   6 miles @ 6:32 pace, HR 159
7 Dec
10 miles, 1:14:46, 7:29 pace, HR 144
8 Dec
10 miles, 1:04:43, 6:28 pace, HR 159
9 Dec
18 miles, 2:14:18, 7:28 pace, HR 144
   13 miles @ 7:45, 5 miles @ 6:45
Weekly Mileage: 76

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Intermittent Fasting Report

I have been mildly curious about intermittent fasting for a while, reading a bit about it e.g form this guy. I have always been rather sceptical about the claimed health benefits and no real intentions of ever doing that myself. However, when I came across an ad for the Concern Fast something spoke to me, though not the fasting itself (which still smacks a bit of a "let's play suffering for a day" stunt to me) but the opportunity to raise some money and maybe make a tiny bit of difference for some. Before I had the opportunity to think things through I had already signed up.

Friday 7 December was not exactly the best date for fasting - it was also the day of my department's Christmas do, and I very much enjoy that every year. I might no look like it but I absolutely love food, and Jack's Seafood Restaurant in Cromane is one of the best eateries I have ever visited. I wasn't going to subject myself watching everyone else eating some of the most delicious food on the planet and then get drunk in unison, so the party had to go ahead without me.

Fasting was supposed to last from midnight to midnight, but I ate my last snack at 10 pm on Thursday; any later and I reckoned I would have trouble sleeping. Morning started as usual, I still went for my 10 mile run in the morning, except I only had water for "breakfast".

I started to get hunger pangs at about 9 o'clock when I arrived at the office and suspected I would be in for a long day. Turns out a cup of coffee is a surprisingly effective hunger depressant, though it's probably not the best thing for your stomach. As the day wore on, more and more people started asking how the fast was going, though I could not tell any difference. It did occur to me that today I could behave as grumpy as I liked and still have a good excuse, though I'm not sure anyone would have noticed a difference. The hunger pangs did not get any worse during the day; I even worked through breakfast and most of my lunch break. Keeping busy was a good thing.

Towards the evening I noticed I started getting slightly dizzy if I got up from my chair a bit too quickly, though that was as bad as it got. Cycling home was no problem, and skipping dinner was easy enough as I knew this would be over soon. Niamh tried to get me to eat at 10 o'clock, pointing out that I had been fasting for 24 hours already, but I insisted it would have to be midnight to midnight and went to bed instead. I woke a few times, and at 2 o'clock went to the kitchen and raided the fridge after 28 hours of fasting. Unfortunately I slept very badly that night, which included another feed at 5 o'clock in the morning.

I went running again at 7:30 in the morning, which went surprisingly well.

Would I do it again? Well, unless it was another charity gig that was supposed to last from midnight to midnight, I would do it from evening time to the following day's evening time, simply to avoid the sleeping problems. Otherwise it was actually pretty easy. I kept comparing it to running for 24 hours straight, and not eating for a day did not even register on the scale compared to that.

I also was 2 pounds lighter this morning, despite my 2 night feeds, but that may be temporary only.

I raised €157 so far, with a few more being pledged. Thanks everyone who chipped in, this is very much appreciated.

And while 7 December might not have been the ideal date for me, 8 December would have been a lot worse. Happy Birthday, Cian. I don't think my blood sugar levels will remain low for long today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Not A Kenyan

I was reading this book recently and I have to admit I am deeply envious of the author. Living in Kenya for a few months, concentrating on nothing but running (well, and writing a book, I suppose), would be just great. Unfortunately, I don't think Niamh's reaction would be the same as the author's wife if I suggested dropping everything and moving to Africa (admittedly, I never asked), so my chances of doing the same are probably rather slim.

So, instead of getting some high-altitude training with the world's best distance runners, I am stuck at sea-level, running on my own in the dark in temperatures only just above freezing (mind, that's still almost 20 degrees warmer than this time 2 years ago). The one Kenyan-like thing I'm doing is a fartlek workout that is also mentioned in that book, consisting of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, in my case repeated 20 times.

This was sandwiched between 2 easy runs. The legs felt distinctly heavy on Monday, which was probably caused not only by Sunday's 20-miler but also the increased pace of last week in general. Luckily, 10 easy miles seemed exactly what was required to get them back by Tuesday. The fartlek workout was challenging again, just like last week, but this kind of speedwork is mentally easier than, say, quarter-mile repeats where you are trying to hit a certain pace, which is why I find it much more agreeable. I was concerned when I saw the high heart rate reading afterwards, but a look at the graph later indicated that it was more a glitch of the HRM, which was not picking up the signal properly over the first mile and recorded readings around the 200 mark, than an actually  raised HR. That's something that tends to happen with Garmin HRMs, especially in cold conditions.

By the way, there is still time for you to click on this link and give a vital donation to a very worthwhile charity. Thank you so much to the ones amongst you who have already donated (or pledged to do so).

3 Dec
10 miles, 1:16:21, 7:38 pace, HR 137
4 Dec
8 miles, 57:52, 7:12 pace, HR 160 (not!)
   20 x 1 min hard / 1 min easy
5 Dec
10 miles, 1:16:19, 7:37 pace, HR 140

Sunday, December 02, 2012


I did a silly thing. I heard about the Concern Fast on the radio, and before I had a chance to think things through, I had signed up myself. To be honest, I do feel a bit uneasy about the whole idea. It smacks of a stunt, and comfortable Westerners playing hungry for a day, in the full knowledge that they can tuck in heartily the next day has absolutely nothing in common with people who are genuinely starving and suffering. Having said that, the underlying cause is a worthwhile one, and if you could find it in your heart to give a few quid to a deserving charity (and ignore what I just said), I would very much appreciate if you would follow this link and support me with a few quid.

The running has gone pretty well this week. My adductor felt a little bit better every day until I could feel no more discomfort yesterday. Things like that may be a sign of getting old, as I have been told by an authoritative source, but there isn't much I can do about that particular problem. The most important thing to me is that it did not hamper my training and went away again.

After a reasonably easy 10 miler on Thursday I followed the next step up on my Canova spreadsheet and introduced a tempo run. There are countless options, I settled on 2x2 miles and the pace I targeted was 6:20, giving myself the option to speed up a little if it felt too comfortable or to slow down if it felt too tough. In the end, 6:20 was just fine, my biggest problem was that I kept losing concentration and kept cruising at autopilot, but then again, being able to cruise at 6:20 pace isn't that bad a situation to be in. This isn't particularly fast. I am still in base training, and that is not the place for heroic workouts. But it is another stepping stone; I haven't been doing a lot of running at faster than planned marathon pace up to now. What I found remarkable was that I was taking it easy between the tempo segments, and when I checked my pace on my watch I was seemingly jogging at 7:00 pace; again, not a bad place to be in. All this bodes very well for Tralee.

Saturday's "group" run consisted only of Mark and me; I let him set the pace and it was a good bit faster than the usual group run. I probably won't be able to make a lot more group runs. As I am nearing the end of base training my runs will become much more specific and most Saturdays will probably see much faster pace; unfortunately right now there aren't any training partners for tempo pace runs at the club, though this may well change over time, you never know.

Sunday's long run was a little bit of a struggle. From the very first step it all felt a bit laboured, though the fact that I didn't feel any worse 20 miles later isn't such a bad sign either. The weather conditions were downright miserable, rainy and windy and cold. But I got the run done, and it always provides some satisfaction to jot down a run that starts with a "2" in your training log.
29 Nov
10 miles, 1:14:05, 7:24 pace, HR 152
30 Nov
10 miles, 1:08:45, 6:52 pace, HR 157
   2x2 miles @ 6:20 (HR 157), 6:21 (167)
1 Dec
13+ miles, 1:34:13, 7:07 pace, HR 148
2 Dec
20 miles, 2:29:17, 7:27 pace, HR 150