Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fast And Loud

Not me, obviously. I'm slow and old. So old in fact that I can actually remember No Sleep ’til Hammersmith being released. The geek in me never quite managed to work out why they had a useless umlaut in their name, though. Thanks for the sounds, Lemmy!

It's December 30th, which means it's time for a review of the year past, I suppose. It's been a mixed year, actually. I had some lofty goals that I did not quite achieve and yet I had some of the best memories of my running career with some outstanding moments in two of the world's most prestigious races in road ultra running.

I could say that running in a world championship was a dream come true, except that until a couple of years ago I would not even have dared to dream about a world championship. I have always been a better than average runner but the gap to the elites is so big you can hardly see across the divide to the other side. Why I'm so much better over 24 hours I cannot say, except that the secret ingredient is not in the legs but in the head. Maybe I'm just too stubborn/stupid to quit when it hurts.

As amazing as running in a red-and-white top in a world championship was, I'm not entirely happy with my performance there. My training was interrupted and sub-optimal but what really hurt me was the fact that I did not have a target in mind. In Belfast 2014 I had a very ambitious target and kept pushing myself to the point of collapse until I got there - in Turin I did not have the same drive and ended up with almost 9km fewer. This is also reflected in this year's world rankings. I am 143rd for 2015 - in 2014 I was 70th. A return into the top 100 would be nice for 2016, though my target is aimed at my own performance and where that leaves me in the world rankings is of secondary importance.

The absolutely outstanding moment of 2015, however, was running towards the statue of Leonidas in Sparta with seemingly half the local population giving us a standing ovation. I get goosebumps just by thinking back, and as much as I had promised myself for 6 hours prior to that never to do anything like that ever again, I knew straight away that I would break that promise.

The low point of 2015 was undoubtedly getting injured at the end of June and subsequently missing 6 weeks of training, though despite my fears it did not stop me from finishing the Spartathlon. My statistics on Strava still give me 3330 miles for the year, with a day yet to come, which is mostly a reflection on how well the last couple of months have gone. As much as I hated not running the Dublin marathon and Sixmilebridge, it was well worth it as I needed to build up from scratch again, without a race disrupting training. It paid off - I am feeling great right now, and with me being off work this week I am finally getting enough sleep to recover from 90 miles a week; the fatigue that has been a constant present for the last 2 months has finally lifted and it did not even require a step back in training.

As per the same plan as the last few weeks, I did 15 miles on Monday, finishing off yet another 3 day workout (fast-long-medium long), feeling surprisingly good after Saturday's race and Sunday's long run. Tuesday was (relatively) easy again with just 10 miles, finishing my run just as storm Frank was about to hit. The legs were a bit heavy early on but felt better with each mile until I felt like flying towards the end. This seemingly carried over to Wednesday, or maybe it was the coffee I drank before setting off, waiting for the worst of the storm to subside. Conditions seemed okay around 9 o'clock but there still were a few wild moments over the next hour before things improved remarkably and I finished off in bright sunshine with a 6:40 mile feeling really good.

I need to bottle that feeling for 2016!

Happy New Year!

28 Dec
15 miles, 1:53:10, 7:33 pace, HR 145
29 Dec
10 miles, 1:18:21, 7:51 pace, HR 139
30 Dec
15 miles, 1:51:59, 7:28 pace, HR 145

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Back In The Ring

As promised, I kept the training going over Christmas. I took it slightly easier on Christmas Day with only 8 miles, but the rain was so cold it really felt like I had been doing enough already. I had some vague plans of adding a few extra miles later on but the turkey was too filling and running would almost certainly have been a bad idea. Btw, I got upgraded to Turkey Cook this Christmas, which makes sense as Niamh is vegetarian. Both Cian and me agreed that it was an excellent turkey, but maybe that was just the men sticking together.

I'm in orange, the one with the race face
Anyway, St. Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day as the English ones in the family still insist on calling it, was the day of the very traditional Farranfore 5k race. Well, the Farranfore race is traditional, the 5k distance was only introduced 3 years ago, before that it had been  4.2 mile race to Firies; now we're turning around just before entering Firies. Anyway, I expected a wet and rather miserable few miles because it was raining heavily as I drove towards Farranfore but once we got going it was pretty much perfect, no wind and if there was any rain then I did not notice it. I was astounded by how many people ran off at full speed, not for the first time, but I caught half of them before we had crested the hill half a mile later. I stuck to a group that also contained 3 ladies but when it broke apart after 2k I had a decision to make, do I stick with the runners I am with which was hard but doable or do I go with the runners pulling away at the front and suffer for it? I went for the suffering option and wouldn't you know it, it was perfectly doable as well, if not exactly easy. The return leg featured that hill again, of course, and my legs weren't at their best any more. I battled with 3 or 4 guys with varying success but just before the top of the hill the lad right in front of me blew up and I gained one extra place. I tried to chase down the guy in front of me on the downhill but even though I managed to cut most of the deficit, he was still a few metres ahead of me at the finish, as the pic shows. I took my time to catch my breath and eventually managed to get my time from my watch, 18:12. That was a lovely Christmas surprise, quite a bit faster than what I would have thought possible, especially since this isn't exactly the fastest of races course with that hill that has to be tackled twice. One slight downer was that we waited in the hall for the results, in the hope that I might or might not have picked up an age group award before being sent home after 90 minutes without results due to a technical glitch. Ah well, results have now been published, they even gave me 3 extra seconds on the official results with 18:09, but I was only the third M45 runner and 26th overall. The standard was remarkably high, for sixth place, the last one to pick up a prize, you would have needed a stonkingly fast 15:49!

I added 4 miles later that evening on the treadmill but took it exceptionally easy; this was a true recovery run. If it helped or hindered Sunday's long run I'm not entirely sure, the legs sure still felt the effort. The original plan had been for 20 miles once more but the legs were hurting and I needed to be home early because Niamh had to leave for Killarney at half ten, so I cut it down to 18 miles only, passing Niamh just as she left the house; perfect timing after all. The legs felt just as they had right at the start, so from that point of view I could easily have added another couple of miles but I've been wondering the last week or two if I'm getting too tired and not entirely able to soak up the training, so a bit of restraint is probably a good thing anyway.
28 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:48, 7:51 pace, HR 138
26 Dec
am: 7+miles, including Farranfore 5k in 18:12, 5:55 pace, HR 172
pm: 4 miles, 35:14, 8:48 pace, HR 139, treadmill
27 Dec
18 miles, 2:27:25, 8:11 pace, HR 139
Weekly Mileage: 90

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ho Ho Ho

Well, just in time for Christmas the rain has gotten a lot colder overnight. It feels a lot more wintry now when the gale force wind blows the icy cold rain right into your face. Isn't it marvelous?

Actually, I got away lightly. The past three nights have all been atrocious and I know because the wind and rain outside kept waking me up. On each occasion, however, conditions had improved significantly by the time I stepped out of the door. With the winter solstice now behind us it will slowly get brighter again - thank God for that, right now it's still pitch dark even when I finish my run!

I made sure to take it very easy on Tuesday after the legs had felt like lead on Monday. To be on the safe side I cut the mileage down to 8 but thankfully they felt perfectly fine so I thought it safe to add 5 more in the evening on the treadmill - after I had waited my turn in the queue, that is; the novelty clearly hasn't worn off yet. The only family member not enthralled by the shiny new machine is the cat.

Because Tuesday had been going so well I did 15 again on Wednesday, trying to keep the midweek semi-long run going. The one problem with that is the lack of sleep. In fact, when the alarm went off I first thought there was a mistake because it felt like I had only gone to bed 5 minutes earlier and I felt groggy from still being half asleep even when I started running. I felt pretty good during the first half and a bit tired towards the end but nowhere near what it had been like on Monday. In general, the legs seemed to be fine but the pace was a bit slower than what I would have thought.

Because I felt a bit off on Thursday morning, probably the high mileage taking a bit of a toll, I didn't fancy doing another Kenyan fartlek, so I just ran 10 miles but added a few strides over the last 10 minutes. Once again, the run went well enough but the pace was a bit slower than what I would have thought.

There's two things I don't get about Christmas in this country. One is the refusal to do any physical activity "you're not running on Christmas Day, are you?" Of course I'm running on Christmas Day! I'd be cranky all day otherwise! (they even seem to be surprised that Mo Farah is going to train on Christmas Day - and he's a Muslim!). The other is the compulsion to get drunk. I don't see the connection between a family day and copious amounts of alcohol. Maybe that's what the guy who last week told me that I'm just not Irish was talking about.

Anyway, we won't have a White Christmas but it will be cold enough to feel like winter. Happy Christmas everyone!
22 Dec
am: 8 miles, 1:03:05, 7:52 pace, HR 136
pm: 5 miles, 39:50, 7:58 pace, HR 137, treadmill
23 Dec
15 miles, 1:58:39, 7:55 pace, HR 138
24 Dec
10 miles, 1:20:26, 8:03 pace, HR 136

Monday, December 21, 2015

Old And Soft

We're all getting old eventually and apparently we're increasingly craving creature comforts as we go along. While I'm not quite ready to retire to sofa, beer and 42-inch telly just yet (I was for a week after my first 24 hrs race in 2012 but subsequently changed my mind) I can see the signs as Santa must have visited us a week early as there is a whopping big treadmill in the corner by the tree where none used to be.

I'm not planning on cutting out the road just yet. The idea is to use it for potential second runs in the evening. I did one last month, and apart from hurting my foot I did not like the traffic. Running in the dark on twisty narrow country roads is fine at 6 am when there are almost no cars out there but things are very different at 6 pm and it just did not feel safe. In good old Western society tradition I'm trying to solve the problem by throwing money at it.

It got delivered on Friday and I used it for an inaugural run that evening. It was a slow, easy recovery run but in actual fact I was very slow working out that the 5/8 button was not minutes per km/miles but mph/kph instead, which translates into 12-minute miles. No wonder it felt excessively easy! One side-effect is that the kids have found a new toy, I can hardly get them off the treadmill! At least they're getting some exercise that way but if that will still be the case once the novelty has worn off remains to be seen.

I managed to do all the weekend runs on the road, despite the challenging conditions. The treadmill is strictly there to supplement road running, not replace it.

Saturday was the faster day once more. I actually ran a tad slower than last week but the effort was much more controlled and the lower HR shows that - it was a much better effort in the grand scheme of things. I could feel the benefits on Sunday. Last week's long run had turned into a bit of a slog over the last few miles, this one went much better. The last five miles were still challenging but that was more down to the fact that they were all right into a fairly strong headwind, which was never going to be easy. I felt remarkably good for the rest of the day, not tired at all, and was rather pleased with myself to be honest.

After feeling so good on Sunday, Monday's heavy legs came as a complete and very unwelcome surprise. There are several mitigating factors: conditions were rather awful with lashing rain and strong gale force winds, which was always going to force a slower pace. On top of that we had spent Sunday evening at a Christmas party. I might have been one of only 2 sober guests as I restricted myself to a single glass of wine, but I still ended up standing around for several hours and by the end my legs and lower back were killing me, which may well have been responsible for the heavy legs 7 hours later, especially coming on top of all the training. Lack of sleep didn't help either, 7 hours between the end of the party and the alarm clock just aren't enough (and that's after leaving the party early!).

Despite all those perfectly valid excuses there is still the possibility that I was running just that little bit too hard. MC used to warn me that too high an effort would invariably and mercilessly be revealed on the third day of the 10-20-15 combo, which is exactly how it felt. I could claim that I took it very easy, as shown by the low HR, but truth it the legs just didn't have it this morning.

Tuesday will be an easy day, and I will also try and get more sleep. With Christmas around the corner at least there's the chance of a few extra hours of sleep in the morning. I'll just have to hang on for a few more days.

Update: I was asked to pass on the following message:
I am unrolling news of my PhD project today. It is an exploration of community in ultrarunning. I am hoping to recruit AS MANY participants as possible. This includes runners, volunteers, directors, coaches, documentarians, fans. Elites and DFL. Veterans to the sport and those training for their first ultra. It is my hope to create the most extensive, comprehensive, and representative study of ultrarunning to-date and so I need your help!
If you're interested please contact me directly at my (new) project-specific email address: Please feel free to share news of the project with others that may be interested.

18 Dec
am: 8 miles, 1:02:51, 7:51 pace, HR 139
pm: 4 miles, 34:50, 8:43 pace, HR 131, treadmill
19 Dec
10 miles, 1:09:47, 6:59 pace, HR 154
20 Dec
20 miles, 2:35:16, 7:46 pace, HR 142
21 Dec
15 miles, 2:00:46, 8:03 pace, HR 138
Weekly Mileage (up to Sunday): 92 (88 road, 4 treadmill)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Late November I received an unexpected email:

Dear Thomas,

Entries for La Ultra - The High 2016 (7th edition) are now open, and you are invited ! World's cruelest race takes place in the mighty Himalayas of Ladakh, India. 7th edition is scheduled for August 11, 2016

What makes this race cruel ? 
    • 50 % oxygen of sea level.
    • Three 17,500 ft high mountain passes. 
    • 40 degree C HOT to minus 12 C COLD in 6-7 hours
For more on race, previous editions & registrations check our website - 

I took my time responding because I really needed to think this through first. Niamh did not want me to go because she wants me to come home alive but then again she had the exact same reservations about the Spartathlon and that worked out very well (she wants to go again!). However, running this race would rule out a 24 hours race in June/July and/or the Spartathlon, which quite possibly could impact my chances of running in the next world championships, so eventually I sent my regrets.

Ever since pressing that "send" button I cannot shake the feeling that I'm that idiot who just refused the offer of a lifetime!

Anyway, training goes on. After the last, extended weekend training I'm still feeling a bit tired, which means I'm very close to the edge and need to be a bit careful. My right calf was very tight after Tuesday's 10 mile run and I did wonder if running 15 miles on Wednesday was a great idea and would I be better served by some extra sleep? In the end I hated the thought of pulling back more than I worried about overtraining so went ahead. The calf felt perfectly fine but I'm still a bit tired. I did a 10 mile run on Thursday with a Kenyan fartlek (Kenyan in structure, not pace - ok, ok, I've been saying that every week, I know) because I think it's an easy way to get the legs moving fast without overworking them but I'll definitely take it easier on Friday and will assess over the weekend if I need to pull back.

Another lesson I'm only now starting to understand is how important it is to remove negativity from your environment. It really can be exceptionally draining.
15 Dec
10 miles, 1:16:43, 7:39 pace, HR 143
16 Dec
15 miles, 1:54:14, 7:37 pace, HR 147
17 Dec
10 miles, 1:18:30, 7:50 pace, HR 146
   Kenyan fartlek

Monday, December 14, 2015

Parting Water

The weekend had its challenges, though in actual fact it wasn't as bad as it might have been. For Saturday we had an orange weather alert in Kerry due to the expected amount of rain. It was wet and windy, alright, but nothing that would have justified an orange alert here, though people living in the lower Shannon region might have a different view, obviously. I was planning on doing 12 miles at a faster pace but changed that to 10, not because I was tired or getting lazy but because I'm trying not to overdo things. The pace was definitely a surprise, even with a slower warm-up mile I still averaged below 7-minute pace. A few weeks ago I had felt too tired after running a few miles at 7;13 pace, this was almost 20 seconds per mile faster and I actually felt okay afterwards. Mind, looking at the HR figures in the cold light of day afterwards told me that I had run a bit too hard on this occasion as well.

I did pay the price for that on Sunday, as you inevitably do. The weather had improved, it wasn't raining at all and the wind had mostly died down, which right now feels like a major improvement, albeit only a temporary one. There was no excuse not to run around the lake and I wasn't looking for one, but after 12 miles or so I definitely started to feel yesterday's effort. I did recover a bit but the last 5 miles were definitely hard work rather than enjoyable. I kept telling myself that it's those kind of miles that really build up your fitness which kept me going, and even passing our driveway after 16.5 miles didn't tempt me to cut it short but I was definitely glad to be done when it was finally over.

I did hesitate to set the alarm for 5:25 on Monday morning but thanks to a mostly sleepless night (don't ask!) I didn't even need it and I was glad to finally get out of bed instead of tossing and turning. I wasn't exactly relishing the thought of another 15 miles, especially as it was raining heavily (certainly a lot worse than during Saturday's orange alert), but this time I really managed to surprise myself. The legs just ran by themselves and the miles just flew by effortlessly, and tired as I was from lack of sleep and running through a pitch dark landscape I kind of wonder if I was merely dreaming it all but the watch says I did indeed run, alright.

Early on, during the second mile and unbeknownst to me at the time, I passed the 5000 km mark for the year. Considering that I was out injured for 6 weeks during the summer, that is some solid mileage. Obviously, miles alone don't make a good runner (though it helps). Let's hope I'll manage to turn a solid base into a some decent performances next year.

12 Dec
10 miles, 1:09:26, 6:57 pace, HR 158
13 Dec
20 miles, 2:34:47, 7:44 pace, HR 149
14 Dec
15 miles, 1:54:48, 7:39 pace, HR 143

Weekly Mileage (up to Sunday): 91

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Real Runner At Last!

There are some boxes that all need to be ticked before someone can call himself a real runner. That goes from running through all kinds of weathers, getting blisters, getting a few injuries, running until you throw up and, most importantly, having a mismatched number of toes and toenails.

It took me over 11 years and over 30000 miles but I finally can call myself a real runner! Pop the champagne!

The nail on the second toe of my left foot had been dark ever since the Spartathlon. The same had happened after Turin but it just grew out and I expected the same to happen again. However, a couple of weeks ago I noticed the toenail being rather loose - I didn't touch it and tried to be as gentle as possible but I noticed that at some stage during the last few days it must have fallen off. I always thought losing a toenail must be really painful  but not only does it not hurt, I did not even notice it! It has re-grown up to a point, so right now I have nine-and-a-half toenails. I'll spare you the photos and you'll just have to take my word for it.

Training as such is going swimmingly well but yesterdays (Thursday's) run was a series of mishaps.

I decided to do another Kenyan fartlek run (1 minute hard/1 minute easy). Things did not get off to the best of starts when the HR monitor refused to work. I tried to fiddle with the damn thing (and not for the first time either) but to no avail. Never mind, it's not needed for such a workout. A mile later I kept pressing the wrong button on the watch when I tried to turn on the fartlek app, I even turned off the watch completely at one point. I can only imagine that my brain was still in sleep mode at the time. Things went wrong during the workout itself as well, due to the howling wind it was easy to miss the beep of the watch every minute and I ended up with a slightly uneven pattern rather than a smooth 60/60 one, though I think I still ran the same amount of fast reps.

Most annoying of all, there is still debris one the road where the high water mark had been during Sunday night's flooding and on my way back home I promptly tripped over it and did a face plant. This was during a supposed "fast" segment, which did not help. I have a fair amount of road rash on my legs, though it looked a lot less gruesome once I washed off the blood in the shower (once more I'll spare you the photos unless you've seen them already on a dark corner of the interweb [someone made the mistake of "pics or it didn't happen" on FB - it did!]). I picked myself up and walked for a few steps, more out of shock than any real pain, and then continued with the workout. No harm done, though that's the second time I managed to trip up in about a fortnight!

Thankfully Friday was less eventful with 12 easy miles without any mishaps. After yesterday's misadventures I'll take that any day! I also managed to revive the HRM (take out the battery, insert it the wrong way round for 3 seconds, put it back in the right way - HRM works again. No kidding!)

For at least a month I've been planning on doing an evaluation workout but it just is not happening. First I was sick and then the wind started blowing, the two things that make an evaluation rather pointless as they impact the HR data. The sickness is well and truly gone by this stage but the wind doesn't show any signs of abating - that's the price you pay for living on the Atlantic coast, I suppose.

10 Dec
10 miles, 1:18:27, 7:51 pace
   Kenyan fartlek
11 Dec
12 miles, 1:32:31, 7:43 pace, HR 144

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sole Hip

When MC was coaching me to my first sub-3 marathon, 5 years ago, at some stage during the base building phase I reached a point where running no longer felt like training. Even long runs of 20 miles passed by without much hassle and I ended every workout feeling "pleasantly tired" but never fatigued.

This time I managed to reach that point all on my own, and it feels great. I have been running rather high mileage the last few weeks and I can feel myself getting stronger almost on a daily basis, so the stubborn insistence on keeping running every day through a various amount of setbacks has definitely paid off.

It's not all plain sailing, of course. It never is. The last couple of weeks I had to deal with two troublesome issues: my right hip and my right foot.

The hip was hurting a little bit, which normally would not have been particularly alarming but it was the same area that bad been injured in July and I was therefore rather paranoid about it all. I could barely feel it when running but it was more pronounced later in the day. Thankfully it seems to have sorted itself out by now, without intervention, which is a great relief.

Happy 12th birthday, Cian!
Well done with the anti-gravity cake, Niamh!
The other bothersome spot, my right foot, was a bit more troublesome as well as a good bit more painful. Three weeks ago I had done a double run and on the second day the balls of my right foot really started hurting, which is the reason why I have not attempted another double day since. It felt like the sole of the shoe had worn all the way through and I suspiciously inspected the shoe after the run for a hole, but none was found. It would have been strange - it was the very same shoe that I had happily used during the Spartathlon for 153 miles and for them to be completely worn through only 200 miles later would have been highly unusual. Nevertheless, the foot kept hurting, and quite a bit at times. Even during office hours I noted a "scrunched-up sock" feeling that just would not go away. Googling seemed to indicate a neuroma but it was the fact that the foot kept hurting while wearing my office shoes while feeling much better when I wore slippers at home that eventually helped me to find a solution. I figured my foot might be hurting because it was too squashed inside the shoe. I replaced the insole with a different, thinner, one that I happened to have at home, which provided more room for the foot inside the shoe. The effect was amazing, within one single run I felt much better and the problem has mostly gone away, apart from a very slight tingly feeling when wearing office shoes but that doesn't bother me.

The miles keep on coming. I did 12 on Monday on slightly tired legs and the same again on Tuesday a little bit faster. The most achy body parts were both calves, which very much felt like DOMS, I'm pretty sure that was caused by running through knee-deep water during Sunday's long run and will go away all by itself. Since the roads don't tend to be flooded at all times I don't think that issue will re-occur any time soon. I did 15 miles on Wednesday morning, in time before the next weather front hit - doing the same run in the evening would have been a lot worse. What surprised me was how easy I found it all. I felt like I could have been running twice as far without any bother.
7 Dec
12 miles, 1:34:54, 7:54 pace, HR 143
8 Dec
12 miles, 1:32:51, 7:44 pace, HR 145
9 Dec
15 miles, 1:55:41, 7:43 pace, HR 145

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Water Running

Since they started to name storms this autumn, nature seems to regard this as a challenge. We've had 4 worthy of their own name already and it's still only the start of December. By that rate they're going to run out of letters before winter is over!

Thursday was almost reasonable and I used the opportunity to run beside the lake again rather than hiding in the Ard-na-Sidhe trees. In an attempt to get some zip into the legs I ran a Kenyan fartlek, though the Kenyan element refers strictly to the structure only, definitely not the pace. It simply means alternating running 1 minute hard and 1 minute easy, as ever bookended by an easy warm up and an easy cool down, of course. To help me, I have my watch beep at me every 60 seconds, though I only programmed 20 repeats into the watch. That's ok for 8 miles but not enough for 10, so that's one thing I'm going to change for next time. It's an easy way to get a decent amount of fast running into the legs and a good introduction to speed work (proper speed workouts are still quite some time away).

I felt pretty good on Friday and ran at a slightly faster pace, though nothing out of the ordinary. When I was in really good shape 3 years ago this would still have counted as my easy pace. The wind had picked up once more and I remained close to home, though I knew a lot worse was about to come.

Storm Desmond was by far the worst we've had so far this winter. The wind wasn't too bad but the amount of rain was just unreal. The forecast had been up to a full month's worth of rain in one day, though I think it wasn't quite as bad as that because it did ease up for a few hours on Saturday morning. This was the time when I managed to squeeze in 10 miles. Obviously I got completely soaked and the wind was bothersome but it could have been worse (a few hours either earlier or later and it would have been) and I have run through worse conditions. I played around with pace and effort and added a few surges and 3 of the miles were sub-7 pace, though how I am supposed to run an entire marathon at an even faster pace is a bit of a mystery to me right now - though that's perfectly normal at this stage of training.

Desmond finally relented at some point during the second night and Sunday morning was surprisingly nice. It was perfectly calm and even the sun was shining for a while. There was no excuse not to go running around the lake, so that's what I did. The weather might have been nice but the remnants of the storm were clearly still there. I saw a fallen tree precariously hanging off a telephone line and close to Blackstones Bridge, halfway around the lake, the river had formed a second lake that covered the road on 3 occasions, about 4 inches deep, enough to be well above ankle height and the only way through was to get your feet thoroughly soaked. I thought this was bad but worse was yet to come. The lake level was several feet higher than normal and on 2 occasions it covered the road knee-deep. At one corner there is a little wall separating road from lake, which was completely submerged. Running almost a quarter mile through knee-deep water is surprisingly tough - the feet are dragging through the water and the resistance requires hard work to overcome. At least it was safe enough to cross by foot - I don't think I would have driven my car through that. And the water was already receding very quickly. The high water mark was clearly visible and was at least a footy higher, and that could only have been a few hours earlier. I was rather amused to pass a "Road Flooded" sign a couple miles later - the section indicated wasn't even fully submerged!

Anyway, the legs felt really good and strong all the way. I felt really good on the long, steep climbs during the first 6 miles but that can sometimes be misleading and end in some miserable late miles. Not today, I ran 20 miles but could easily have run a marathon today and still felt good, despite working the legs fairly hard the last few days.

The flu seems to be behind me; I still have a cough when I get up in the morning but that eventually subsides and that's it for the day. It certainly doesn't have an impact on my running, not even at higher effort levels.

I have really come on a lot in the last few weeks. I have reached the stage where training doesn't feel like training any more because it feels so easy. The long mile are clearly showing their benefits.

3 Dec
10 miles, 1:15:44, 7:34 pace, HR 149
   Kenyan fartlek
4 Dec
12 miles, 1:32:01, 7:41 pace, HR 147
5 Dec
10 miles, 1:14:20, 7:25 pace, HR 151
6 Dec
20 miles, 2:35:09, 7:45 pace, HR 147
Weekly Mileage: 89

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Flu Fighters

We got a letter from the kids' primary school, warning parents to keep their children at home if they're feeling unwell because of a massive outbreak of influenza b. At the end of last week they had half of the children missing from school, including ours, as well as a couple of teachers and they have cancelled the Christmas performances, much to Cian's dismay. Anyway, I'm sure the bug I have been dealing with over the last week is the same pathogen because the symptoms are identical as well as a few oddities like feeling perfectly recovered one day (me on Saturday) and sick again the next. I thought I was suffering from man-flu, turns out it's the real flu after all. Thankfully it's a mild one, though that did not stop Niamh from ordering me to stop running and stay at home. Luckily she tends to be asleep at 6 am so I'm literally out of the house already by the time she notices me missing, and so far I have been able to deal with the subsequent inequitable scolding.

The reason I'm so intent on keeping running is that this is the most consistent spell of training I have been able to put together since April/June 2014! Something clicks in my body when I manage to put together several weeks of reasonably high mileage, about 80 in my case, in a row. I can feel the effects happening and I am loath to stop that. I've had a ton of minor complaints, plus on major one, in the last year, and now a bit of flu that I feel I can manage easily enough isn't enough to make me bring all those lovely adaptations to a sudden halt.

The one thing I'm missing is sleep. The flu may well have something to do with it but it's mostly the wind that keeps howling outside the window that keeps me awake. This is going to catch up with me sooner rather than later if it doesn't improve soon but I'm not sure what I can do about the weather. I have run through some pretty awful conditions in the last couple of weeks and the next storm front is only a couple of days away, oh joy.

Anyway, I did 10 miles on Monday, 12 on Tuesday and 15 this morning. I've also started to run a little bit faster, obviously hoping that the accumulated effort is still below my recovery threshold, though the way I'm feeling at the moment I'd say that is indeed the case. I do monitor my HR to keep a lid on things but a side-effect of the flu is that the HR is elevated by a few beats.

One other side effect of that flu (at least I presume it's caused by that) is a lower appetite, which had me lose a few pounds from an already rather low level over the last week or two. I presently weigh in at 141 lbs / 10 st 1 / 64 kg, which is the lowest weight I've had in 8 years. With a height of 5'10 / 178 cm the BMI is 20.3, which is great. Oh, and my waist is under 29 inches, though I only mention that to make Niamh jealous. :-)

I wouldn't mind if those extra pounds kept off until the spring races come round but we'll have to wait and see, especially with Christmas around the corner. I sure do not intend to starve myself in order to keep the weight off as I regard that as counterproductive to quality training.

30 Nov
10 miles, 1:20:25, 8:02 pace, HR 142
1 Dec
12 miles, 1:32:16, 7:41 pace, HR 150
2 Dec
15 miles, 1:55:04, 7:40 pace, HR 150