Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blame It On Killarney

It’s always good for a distance runner to be confident. In fact, it is absolutely crucial. However, there is a fine line between being confident and delusional.

It’s all Killarney’s fault. Of course. When I ran 2:56 there in May I learned that I was now able to easily run a sub-3 marathon in a training run without having to do the usual marathony things like race pace runs or tapering or any such like.

When I saw that last year’s first M40 runner in Clonakilty had run 3:05 I figured I had an excellent chance of taking that position myself. There was no prize money for age groups, which meant I wasn’t going to win any prizes, but that’s not the point anyway.

What I had not considered was the fact that I had been in excellent shape following the Tralee marathon in March, and it was that fitness that got me the 2:56 in Killarney. I’m not in the same shape right now – even literally, seeing as I weigh 8 pounds more now (the diet begins after New Year). In the meantime I have run things like 10 marathons in 10 days and a 100 mile run, which means that I can now easily run a marathon whenever I want to, even in 20 day intervals, but not particularly fast ones.

The marathon distance needs to be respected, and if you start the first half in a delusional state you will learn a lesson or two in the second half. Smart people learn that lesson and benefit from it. Others repeat the same mistake another 20 days later. Doh!

The other lesson, also one I have encountered before, is that I cannot trust myself when I have a race number pinned onto my chest. I was well aware that I was running faster than I should during the first few miles, but there is an obvious difference between rationally knowing what one should do, and what one actually does when the adrenaline is flowing. I know I can run easy marathons – if I carry a pacer’s balloon. If I run entirely for myself, things are obviously different. How that will work out next March in Tralee might be interesting.

So, right now I see myself as a runner who can knock out a 3:10 marathon whenever he likes, but it’s probably not a good idea to test how long that theory would hold. I’ll skip any longer races for the next 10 weeks.

First things first, and in this case that obviously means recovery, even I managed to work that out. I have run 5 very easy miles every morning since the marathon and it took until Wednesday for the soreness in the quads to go away. Until Thursday I’m a single dad with 2 kids at home, so training would have taken a back seat anyway.

9 Dec
5 miles, 43:02, 8:36 pace, HR 131
10 Dec
5 miles, 42:04, 8:25 pace, HR 135
11 Dec
5 miles, 41:22, 8:16 pace, HR 148


  1. i notice you are doing tralee in march (is this a goal A?); you going to do/race connemara ultra too, thomas?

  2. I suspect he will ;-). Well written article as per usual Thomas. It's great to be so mentally and physically fit to be able to knock out marathons once a month. Funny you consider your Clonakilty marathon a poor one- it's all relative I guess. Mind you your blog and running exploits should carry a health warning - don't try this at home. ;-)

    Your approach is certainly unique. Continued success

  3. I'll run Donadea in February and Tralee in March, both as training runs. Connemara Ultra is the "B" goal for 2014, but if I run Tralee too fast then I won't be doing myself justice in Connemara.

    The A goal is the 24 hrs in Belfast in July. Nothing else matters, even Connemara is ultimately a training run for that.

  4. Very tempting ;-)

    Certainly having a pacers balloon is the best "training marathon" and all the better if it's at an aerobic effort. You were like a ghost in Clon - your presence was reported but you proved elusive to me.

    8 pounds? You got away lightly.

  5. The weight gain could be due to the cold weather; I noticed that I crave more sweets during the winter. Those pounds will fall off easily once your body is finished recovering. You've had a great year, Thomas. Wishing you another fantastic season next year too, especially in Belfast then!