Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Intermission (Still)

Niamh already enquired what I'm writing on my blog when I'm not running. I made a few suggestions but most of them were dismissed out of hand (what's new!). Luckily this state of affairs won't last much longer.

I had a funny encounter the other day. I was cycling to work when a car pulled up alongside me and the driver shouted "well done in Connemara!". That's a first one.

My self-imposed exile from running is nearing its end, I will be back on the road on Saturday. I have already been asked a couple of times if not running is making me cranky. I'm not sure if they are concerned about my mental health or if I'm starting to get obnoxious without noticing, but I think I will just about manage the next three days without any major incidents. But I am definitely looking forward to running again, which is a good sign.

There is one last thing about Connemara, if you allow me to indulge myself. I only noticed it now, but looking at the pace chart from the Garmin track, you can see that from  mile 93 onwards I did a lot more walking breaks than before. I was not aware of it at the time, but all of a sudden I must have switched from mostly running with the odd walking break to mostly walking with the odd running break. I don't know if that has any real meaning, but for someone who hopes to be able to transfer that sort of race from 100 miles to a 24 hours race this is slightly worrying. If I want to break 220k I need to keep the pace up.

I am very much aware that over the years I have read countless of blog entries stating "I will now push on to the next level" only for the runner in question to more or less disappear from the horizon, be it because of a lack of hunger (they obviously never really meant it, which happens all the time) or injuries. After stating in my last post that I want to push on to the next level, I hope I won't be joining that particular group. I'm pretty sure lack of desire won't apply. I have not been injured in years, but the state of my achilles does have me worried. I count injuries as things that stop me from running, anything else is just a niggle and usually gets ignored (a surprisingly effective treatment). I hope I can keep it that way - I've had achilles issues before and they always went away eventually, though I do not remember it ever taking quite so long.


  1. Well done again Thomas - great performance.

    Regarding the garmin data though, I'd have your crew corroborate the data before trusting it fully. I have noticed that it can give some surprising feedback towards the end of runs for myself so if you did walk as much as the data suggests then the crew should be able to support this view.

    Regarding the achilles - take extra care this time round given the load you put on it only less than a fortnight ago! Given the extra distance involved you may want to give it extra time to recuperate fully!

  2. Walking a bit more in the last ten miles is not at all surprising or a sign a failure - just an opportunity for improvement!

    I think the pace data holds up extremely well through the race suggesting you paced it pretty well. It's only your second really long ultra so it's very impressive.

    Could you post your HR profile for the race as well? This might offer insights on where you might be able to tweak things.

    1. Very kind words Robert, thank you. The entire Garmin track is available publicly here.

    2. Thanks for the link.

      The HR trace shows that your second half was done at a lower intensity than the first. The extra walking breaks near the end don't look to make a big difference, but one would near to average the trace out more to know how things balance out.

      If an even HR trace across the whole period is the most efficient way to run an ultra then it would look like you went out too fast and couldn't sustain the pace later because of this, and/or that fatigue/nutrition/hydration/stimulant/mental side didn't allow you to sustain that level of intensity through to the end.

      I'm sure doing more ultra races will help with developing the skill and physical robustness to keep the intensity level up. That said from the sound of it your finished stronger than others in the race, so while there might look to be some opportunities for improvement you still did fantastically well - most runners would love to be able to run a 100 miler so strongly and quick, me included.

  3. Your comment on runners that want to take running to the next level, but fail to do so, is a interesting one. I am at the moment am one of these runners, it's hard to figure why lack of hunger and frequent injuries occurs in some runners but not others. Your drive and appetite for running is something great alright Thomas. Look forward to seeing your next challenge

  4. Well, Grellan walked 50% of the first 2 miles ;-) A well thought out run/walk strategy from the start might be the best way to go for the 24 hour race. Niamh must be hanging out for you to resume regular training again. Well done on the local recognition - people do read the papers!