Sunday, May 07, 2017

My Achilles Heel

I might not be a Greek demigod but I do share a weakness with one of Old Homer's finest. My right Achilles has a tendency to act up every now and again.

To be fair, it's been 4 years since the latest flare up, so I certainly can't complain too loudly. But complain I did, eventually, whining to my coach. He identified the problem not as tendinitis but an issue at the point where the tendon connects with the calf muscle. Most interestingly, the prescribed cure was not rest but to keep on training; exercise being more beneficial than idleness - something that I have learned time and time again to be true (with one exception in the last 10 years).

Anyway, my normal runs were manageable. The Achilles did hurt a little bit but it was definitely manageable. What it did hamper was my workout on Friday when I tried my usual few miles at a faster effort. The Achilles started to hurt as soon as I got above a certain threshold and I very quickly learned that forcing the issue was not on the cards, so I just kept the effort at a level where it all was still somewhat okay. Interestingly, looking at the data afterwards showed that I managed to go slightly faster as the run went on, from 7:30 pace initially to 7:13 on the 7th miles, with an average of 7:22. That was significantly slower than last week but what can you do.

Saturday was more telling, though. Following the advice that the long run was still on the cards, I combined the run with a tour through my new South Dublin neighbourhood, but never straying too far away from home in case the Achilles started acting up. What I found was that the Achilles was much better already, thank Goodness, that South Dublin is very hilly and that I cannot afford a house in the immediate vicinity (a lottery win being my only hope). I still have a bit of an issue with my right knee, which has felt a bit stiff ever since Longford, but as far as I can tell that seems to be on the mend as well.

After 5 days in Dublin I can state a couple of things. First, commuting by bus sucks. I actually live pretty much the same distance from work as I did in Kerry but instead of 10 minutes it's taking me an hour. I'm trying to get my bike to Dublin and I'm playing with the idea of running to work but I need to get organised first and a lot of the things I need for that are still in Kerry.

Secondly, running on Dublin roads is far less enjoyable than running on the quiet country roads near Caragh Lake. One glaringly obvious thing is my much higher HR the last few days compared to previous weeks, and I'm pretty sure the fact that my brain can't switch off in these new surrounding while I'm pounding the roads is a very real factor. It may improve as I get used to it but at the moment it's either sharing the road with far more cars than I'd like or running circles in a park, which does get mind numbing very quickly. Oh, and if you have some secret tips on how best to run here (I'm not driving to Phoenix Park for my runs - or anywhere else for that matter), I'd appreciate your input.

There are definite upside to living here as well, though. Last night's Iron Maiden concert was a 20 minute drive away rather than a 4 hour trip as it would have been otherwise. I certainly did appreciate that. And it did remind me of my last Maiden concert - in Vienna, 1993. Great stuff.

4 May
am: 7 miles, 1:01:10, 8:44 pace, HR 134
pm: 5 miles, 38:52, 7:46 pace, HR 145
5 May
10 miles, 1:17:43, 7:46 pace, HR 149
   incl. 7 @ 7:22 pace (HR 154)
6 May
18 miles, 2:23:50, 7:59 pace, HR 147
7 May
am: 8+ miles, 1:04:24, 8:00 pace, HR 144
pm: 5 miles, 37:53, 7:34 pace, HR 145


  1. According to Strava you are around Kilmacud somewhere?
    For running - there's a lap around UCD on trail/path stuff, about 5k and fairly flat
    For getting into the city - walking to the LUAS at Dundrum might be an option?

  2. Head up into Dublin mountains. Beauiful views and testing terrain.

  3. Welcome to the city. Hope the job works out for you. As an alternative to hitting the hills, run down to and along the coast, then either out to Poolbeg or the other way to the Dun Laoghaire piers, maybe adding a push up or around Killiney Hill.

    There are several paths off the traffic along streams and rivers but you have to find them and string them up with the smaller parks to make an interesting enough route (e.g. you can go a long way along the bank of the Dodder without too many road crossings).