Saturday, July 08, 2017


It's been a week since Belfast and I've had plenty of time licking my wounds. Mental wounds, that is. Physically I'm nowhere near as bad as I expected to be - I didn't run far enough to do myself some real proper damage, I suppose.

When things were still fun, 5 or 6 hours in
I have spent many hours of the Belfast race, as well as many before and many since, wondering if I had done myself some damage during the Spartathlon in 2015. It had been a monumental effort, pushing myself far beyond anything I have ever done before or since, including the day when I ran 225k. I have never felt 100% since that race.

I still don't know.  Maybe I'm just worrying too much, and maybe I'm just coming up with that as an excuse every time I hit the buffers.

On the other hand, I know I was lacking in miles during the training, both in long runs as well as overall mileage. I was coming back from overtraining, so there was a limit on how much I could do, and in the end it wasn't quite sufficient. I did okay for 12 hours. Then the tank was empty.

I managed to get my lap times from the IAU website and put them into a spreadsheet. I noticed two things straight away. One, right from the start they are a bit slower than what my watch said. Two, they look believable. There is talk that the official results might be unreliable. I think mine are correct. The organisers didn't help themselves by displaying wrong information during the race and then not displaying anything at all, but my numbers withstood a closer examination.

And when I created a little graph, it didn't make for pleasant viewing.

Right now, I'm doing fine physically. I could walk down a staircase without wincing even the day after the race. I don't think I've ever taken so little damage out of a long ultra. One of my toenails is dark and I expect it may come off eventually, everything else is fine.

Definitely no longer fun. Photo by The Galway COW
Mentally, I'm more affected. I've had two very disappointing races in a row, both of them international races. My career in the national team may well be finished, and I sure would have preferred to go out in a different way. But after some thought, and with the memory of the pain fading already, I'm coming round to the idea of giving it one more shot, next year. I don't know where yet. I'm definitely never going back onto the concrete of Victoria Park but if they move that race back onto the Mary Peters track I will consider it. There are other options as well, but we'll see. There is a long time left until I have to make a decision.

Meanwhile, I'm taking the entire July off. That will coincide with a week of holiday, which means that for once I might actually be able to go on holidays with normal clothes - usually my running gear more or less fills the suitcase and everything else will have to be rationed, much to Niamh's chagrin. After that I will start running again, mostly for fun for the rest of the year.


  1. Running should be a stress reducer not producer. Agree with your plan to forgo competition for awhile.

  2. Good to hear you're keen to give it another go. A race with a more forgiving surface/course sounds good. Do you think you would have ended up with better distance/legs by using a run/walk strategy from early? I know Martin Fryer has done well with that.