Wednesday, June 19, 2013

After The Races

First of all, more photos.

In pensive mood before the start - Photo by Iain Shaw
The 3 guys in front at the start were the same 3 guys in front at the finish, even in the same order - Photo by Iain Shaw

Awful running form, I do apologise - Photo by Iain Shaw
Photo by Iain Shaw
And some observations from Portumna that did not make it into the race report:

When Niamh told him that I had come third, Cian said "why does he always come second or third but never wins!" (tough critic, that one), to which Niamh apparently replied "because he is getting old". I'm not sure if I ever want Niamh to defend me ever again.

"Thomas, you need to eat some pies. You are fading away!"

When I was about to lap Mo, he called out "hello Thomas" without turning around while I was still a few steps behind him. He had done the same in Donadea last year, which spooked me. I did not know my gait was so distinctive that I can be identified so easily, but Mo claims special powers in that regard and says my cadence is distinctively high.

Despite that apparently high cadence I am heel striking in every picture.

Recovery from the 50k is going amazingly well. My left shin was quite sore on Sunday morning, the same area that had been painful early in the race, but an easy 5 mile run that morning seems to have done the trick. I am convinced a full rest day would have led to slower healing.

I think my shoes were slightly worn out, and I am blaming that for the shin. The Saucony Kinvaras are lovely shoes, but they tend to wear out a little bit quicker than other shoes. I had about 650 miles on the pair I wore in Portumna. With the Brooks Green Silence that I have in rotation as well I don't even think about changing them before at least 800 miles. As a result, the reward for several months of faithful service for over a thousand kilometres on the road was a one-way ticket into the bin.

Running a race with a loop setup like Portumna is one of the very, very few situations where you can frequently tell the ladies that they are looking really good, without having to fear repercussions from either the ladies or your own wife.

I had a look at my 5k splits from the official results. As expected, my times were very consistent. Apart from the last lap, where I lost some time by goofing around at the finish, all other splits were between 21:42 and 22:04. I did slow down a little bit over the last 3 laps but not much, certainly when compared to some of the other times.

Recovery has been going very well indeed. My left shin was very sore on Sunday morning and I wasn't sure if running 5 miles was a good idea but went anyway, and after a rather gingerly start I started feeling better with each step. By the time I was back home I was already much better, and by evening time my shin was virtually pain free. I am convinced it would not have subsided so quickly had I had a complete rest day. The leg muscles have also been recovering well, I was never sore but there were definitely some heavy legs in the mornings, something that's still not entirely resolved but getting better every day.

This week will be an easy one to recover from the 50k. As long as I'm feeling good I will do some decent mileage next week and then it's time for some sort of mini taper before the 10in10, which is approaching at a rather alarming rate.

17 Jun
5 miles, 38:53, 7:46 pace, HR 136
18 Jun
8 miles, 1:01:36, 7:42 pace, HR 143
19 Jun
8 miles, 1:00:01, 7:30 pace, HR 143


  1. Great race and recovery, an amusing pictures.

    The shin strain might be indirectly down to your shoes wearing out, but it's caused by excessive dorsa flexion of your foot on landing. From previous races I don't recall seeing many pictures of you pulling your toes up so much on landing so it could be that your gait changed in general or perhaps specifically in this race to compensate for the shoes, or it could not have changed at all and it's just down to the particular angles/timing that make it look like you are landing with the foot more dorsa flexed.

    Whatever the truth about changes might be, in your 24hour race last year you suffered from shin problems, and with 10 marathon in 10 days looming, and a 100 miler later in the year it's an issue I'd look to fix.

    I don't believe you need to stop heel striking, but landing with a more relaxed shin and ankle, and with the foot flatter to the ground will reduce the loading on your shin.

    Another approach might be to alternate between different foot strikes through the race. Spend some time mid-foot, some time mild heel strike, some time forefoot (such as when going up hill), keep mixing them so different parts of feet and legs get used, while other parts get a rest. Practising this in training will be important.

    Another aspect that has helped me on longer runs is to do a body scan every little while. This is a bit of MOT check of how you body is going, looking out for any tension that is building up, or any areas of pain. Spotting problems early and adapting quickly to avoid a niggle turning into bigger problem could make or break an ultra.

    Good luck with the recovery.

  2. I've got a tip for you Thomas: Don't let Cian cut your hair before your next race.

    By the way, any of those 5k splits would give me a season's best for 5k - even 45 to 50!