Sunday, September 14, 2014

Decision Time

It was a hard decision.

I spent a lot of time mulling things over and certainly took my time. After achieving the IAAF standard in July, I was contacted by both the Irish and the Austrian ultrarunning authorities and both of them let me know that I had a good chance of being selected for the team to represent them in the next World Championships, in April 2015 in Turin.

My passport is Austrian. My home is Ireland. My parents and siblings are Austrian. My wife and children are Irish. But even though I had kept my options open until now, I was always leaning towards my native country and I finally contacted John O'Regan last week and told him of my decision to run for Austria. Luckily, John is the perfect gentleman and was very understanding. In many ways I am in the same position as Irish national runner Eddie Gallen, who has been representing his native country numerous times even though he has been living in Spain for at least 20 years. Still, while I definitely feel I have made the right decision (I'm sure my parents will be proud of their son), it was not an easy one.

Since my training for Belfast has delivered the goods, this one will take similar shape. There are three major phases. First I'll build up my base, doing plenty of miles at easy pace, very much influenced by Maffetone training, though I don't strictly keep to the HR limits and I'll do one mountain run per week. Then I'll add some speed training, not much and mostly in the form of fartleks or the odd 5k race, and the third phase builds race specific endurance by doing a lot of long runs with plenty of recovery in-between. I very much favour marathon and ultra races over long lonely training runs and got really lucky this year as there was always a suitable race every 2 weeks over the summer. Things don't look anywhere near as good for the winter/early spring. The only races so far are Donadea, which happens to fall on Valentine's Day next year, and Tralee, which will coincide with Mother's Day, and Niamh has already voiced her objections. Getting to the startline in Turin both fit and still married might be a tricky task! That's assuming I will indeed get selected, of course. Things used to be much easier.

My legs aren't too worried about all those capers and continue to recover amazingly quickly from the Dingle ultra. I have kept the effort very easy every day, doing 5 miles early in the week and 8 miles later on. I thought about doing 10 miles on Saturday but decided to err on the side of caution. The pace had improved every day and by Saturday I actually had to put on the brakes a couple of times as I started to get carried away a bit, but I felt so good that I guessed it was safe to do 10 miles on Sunday. The HR on Sunday was a bit high, higher than it had been on Saturday for a faster run. That's not a problem as long as it remains an isolated case, but it shows that I am still very much in recovery and need to be careful.

Now I'll build up my mileage again, which won't take too long, and then I'll see how high I can safely push it while still being able to recover day by day. I also need to make sure that I can comfortably run a 3:10 marathon (7:14 pace, 7:10-ish on the Garmin) at the end of October as I'm pacing Dublin once more, but that should not cause any problems.
11 Sep
8 miles, 1:04:42, 8:05 pace, HR 135
12 Sep
8 miles, 1:04:37, 8:04 pace, HR 135
13 Sep
8 miles, 1:02:16, 7:46 pace, HR 142
14 Sep
10 miles, 1:18:22, 7:50 pace, HR 145
Weekly Mileage: 49


  1. congrats on attaining the iaaf standard, hoping you get to represent austria in turin. that will be seriously cool...

  2. Best of luck in attempting to represent your native country in Turin.


  3. I knew that shout out at Dingle would help you decide. Congrats,

  4. Cheering for Austria then!:)

  5. I'm sure you'll do Austria proud...

  6. Will you be let back in the country if Austria surpass Ireland at Turin? :-)

    Good luck with training, and what a thing to train for... not a 3hr marathon, not a qualify timing, but actually training to represent (one of) your contry(ies). It's great that you're still making progress, raising your ambitions, not settling for good enough.

  7. Unreal that you have the chance to run for any country! Surely your parents and friends, real and virtual, are proud of you Thomas.