Sunday, August 26, 2018

Toe Troubles

When I ran to work on Friday, I noticed some serious discomfort from my right foot. I thought it was the sock rubbing against one of my toes, which does happen occasionally. It's not particularly serious but can be quite uncomfortable. However, once I got into work and got the chance to have a look at my foot, I could see it was something else. The top of my second toes was bright red and swollen and the toenail look a rather sickly milky white and seemed just about to come off completely. A quick google seemed to indicate a fungal infection, though I have since changed my mind and think it's a bacterial infection.

It was a lot word on Saturday, so much so that I really questioned if I should go running with this. But you know me, if in any doubt, I go for a run. The first mile was rather uncomfortable with some throbbing pain emanating from the area but then the endorphins kicked in and the rest of the run was fine. In fact, it was definitely one of my better runs recently - I saw a runner ahead of me after a couple of miles which gave me teh incentive to chase him down rather than keep plotting along. That was somewhat fun, even if I barely broke 8-minute miles, which renders teh term "chase" rather relative.

I also did a few hill sprints up our drive way at the end. That was pre-planned, not a result of feeling particularly energised.

Then the toe returned with a fury, enough to make me wonder if I'd have to visit a doctor for it. I eventually did what you're not supposed to do. There was a blister on top of my toe, right at the nail, and eventually I took a needle to it and drained it. Apparently there is a real danger of an infection when you do that but it has felt much better ever since, and on Sunday it also started to look better, so I guess I did the right thing.

What didn't go right at all on Sunday, however, was my run. I had planned a long-ish run, as you do on Sundays, but these days my long runs aren't particularly long anyway, so nothing to worry about you'd think. A was planning to go via Kilternan and set off at a very easy pace. However, after a few miles it became apparent that it wasn't all going to plan so I changed it to a shorter loop through Rathmichael. That was barely longer than 11 miles and shouldn't have been a problem but I only just about made it home, crawling at snails pace and was totally and utterly spent afterwards.

Thank God for chocolate cake!

What the fuck is going on here?
  • I was probably depleted, as I had waited out the rain and left it late, and still had not eaten breakfast by then.
  • I ran on cushioned shoes. Most people do, but for me that just seems to suck the energy out of my stride. I think I need to run on seriously non-cushioned shoes to be somewhat efficient.
  • The hill repeats from the day before might have sucked the power out of the hamstrings.
  • I might be overtrained again. I find that hard to believe because I have done so little training, but it feels a bit like that.

Now what?
23 Aug
4.97 miles, 42:19, 8:30 pace, HR 145
24 Aug
10.23 miles, 1:29:09, 8:42 pace, HR 145
25 Aug
4 miles, 32:29, 8:07 pace, HR 143
   4 x 12 sec hill sprints afterwards
26 Aug
11.41 miles, 1:42:12, 8:57 pace, HR 148

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mayo and Me

As I was cycling into work this morning, it occurred to me: I'm just like Mayo.

No, not the condiment.

The Mayo Gaelic football team!

In fact there are two striking similarities.

One, just like Mayo I have come second more often than I care to remember. Not that coming second is particularly bad, it's better than third, fourth or any number following thereafter. But if you've come second (or third) about 10 times as often as you managed to top the podium, it kinda sucks.

Second, just like Mayo I keep finding new and interesting ways to fuck things up. They might miss last minute frees, I keep get overtrained, and always in a slightly new and novel way.

I managed it so damn quickly this time, I'm almost impressed. I didn't even do any fast intervals, there were just 2 workouts of any note, but couple that with running too hard on my easy days and too hard on my long days and too hard on the workout days and Boom! in yet another hole.

I can't even explain why I did that workout on Monday when I knew from the very first step that it was going to be bad. I guess my biggest strength is tenacity bordering on stubbornness, not mental flexibility, which also makes stubbornness my biggest weakness.

The workout was shit, running on tired legs, slower than only a few days earlier and feeling knackered afterwards.

On Tuesday I ran into work, which counts as my long run, and I felt surprisingly good. Until I finished and took a look at the watch and was shocked by slowly I had run. It's not that I finally found my long run groove - I could have sworn I had run at least 30 seconds per mile faster. So I ran slowly and it didn't even feel that slow. That's when I knew I was digging myself into yet another hole.

So, what are we going to do about it?

On Wednesday I didn't run at all. With work commitments, a run would have been awkward to fit into the day, not that that usually stops me, but in this case it was a welcome break. And I'll refrain from workouts for a bit. We'll see how quickly it takes to feel better again. Just take it easy.

20 Aug
4.95 miles, 39:16, 7:56 pace, HR 156
   3 miles @ 7:27 pace, HR 163
21 Aug
10.2 miles, 1:30:46, 8:53 pace, HR 145
22 Aug

Sunday, August 19, 2018


With Berlin getting close, the time had come to take some action.

First of all, I finally booked flight and accommodation. I'm not entirely sure why I left it so late. Before Irdning I tried to focus on just that race and not even think of anything else but it then took me almost 2 months to look ahead towards Berlin. Anyway, despite being late I managed to snag some reasonably cheap flights and beds.

The other thing is that I'm trying to somewhat sharpen up beforehand. It's a very simple program from MC. Easy / faster / longer, and repeat. The main problems so far are that 1) I run too hard on my easy days and 2) I run too hard on my faster days and 3) I run too far on my long(-ish) days.

I just need to stop trying to be clever. For my easy day this morning I thought it might be a good idea to scout out the trail from the promenade towards Bray Head. I've run up the Eastern slope a few times and wanted to see what's it like from the other side. Well, wouldn't you believe it, the thing is bloody steep, so steep that any notions of "easy" got lost very quickly. Ah well. At least I know what's it like now. And which turn NOT to take, unless you like climbing precariously and end up bushwhacking for a bit.

Yesterday was an interesting route, via the road to Greystones and back on the cliff walk, with a couple of miles on the beach added for supposed fun. The beach section actually wasn't all that much fun, too soft in places and the sidewards slope made my knees hurt, so I'll leave that out in future. And I had estimated this to be about 12 miles and got caught out when it was over 14. As it turns out, 12 would have just about been enough to tire me out and the last 2-3 were a bit of a struggle on tired legs and out of energy.

Ok, I better get that right, and quickly. Easy days easy. Faster days at the prescribed effort. And relax on the long days. And maybe keep the exploring for another time.
15 Aug
4.95 miles, 40:31, 8:11 pace, HR 152
16 Aug
4.95 miles, 38:11, 7:49 pace, HR 156
   3 miles @ 7:22 pce, HR 163
17 Aug
4.8 miles, 38:52, 8:05 pace, HR 151
18 Aug
14.16 miles, 2:12:22, 9:20 pace, HR 148
   beach section & Cliff walk trail
19 Aug
5.75 miles, 1:00:52, 10:35 pace, HR 140
   Bray Head

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mocking Me

I don't know where the feeling is coming from. Who is the culprit? Is it the legs? Is it the brain? Whatever it is, something keeps telling me I'm old, slow and unfit. That's not what it's supposed to be like. Running is fun. I occasionally still get that. Even after a shit run like today. Out on the road itself, though, I do struggle. There's always that little demon sitting on my shoulder, whispering into my ear how old I've become.

The watch tells me I'm actually making progress. Today's run was a little bit faster than last week, which had been a little bit faster than the week before. So I know I'm making progress. The watch doesn't lie. However, it doesn't feel like it.

I'm actually signed up for a marathon in 4 weeks' time. Months ago I put my name into the ballot for Berlin, which I had never run before. I didn't expect to be drawn, but I was. So now I have an entry. I don't really feel like running a marathon. I'm struggling with 10 mile runs. However, unless I get sick or an injury, I know full well that I'm going to run. That's just me. I don't know how to quit. Or when. And I know I'll get the marathon done just fine. Not in a fast time, not even by my modest standards, but I'll get along just fine. The muscles always know what to do, and there's always the little bit of magic happening when I pin a number to my shirt.

There's plenty of time. Four weeks is enough to get some fitness back. I'm not exactly starting at zero. I'll just have to try and remember that when I'm out on the road.
9 Aug
10.17 miles, 1:29:39, 8:48 pace, HR 143
10 Aug
4.55 miles, 36:11, 7:57 pace, HR 147
11 Aug
4.05 miles, 31:49, 7:51 pace, HR 150
12 Aug
7.67 miles, 1:11:16, 9:17 pace, HR 149
   Bray Head
13 Aug
4.5 miles, 37:23, 8:18 pace
14 Aug
10.25 miles, 1:27:18, 8:31 pace, HR 149

Wednesday, August 08, 2018


It doesn’t happen often that I am completely stunned but that’s exactly what happened a few days ago. I opened Facebook and the very first entry I saw had my jaw dropping as I was staring at the screen in utter disbelief, barely being able to grasp the reality of what I was reading.

The 2019 World Championships in Austria have been cancelled!

Had I known that was to happen, I would have done things very differently this year. I sensed a long time ago that I most likely should take a break instead of training ever harder in order to get back to international standards. To make the 2019 team I would have to run 2 quality races: one to qualify, and then the championships themselves. It was always a tough assignment but I had managed exactly that in 2014/2015, but admittedly on fresher legs.

Since I never managed to get back properly, the championships themselves have become moot as far as my personal running is concerned. However, there was still that little devil sitting on my shoulder, daring me to jump into another race, either in Tooting Bec, or in Listowel, or in Barcelona, or in whatever place I would find. I knew odds would have been against me to say the least. But a world championship in my home country would have been a unique opportunity and I may well have tried to grasp at straws, no matter how unlikely.

That has now definitely become moot. As was always the most sensible thing to do, I will definitely take it easy.

That has been surprisingly easy. My mileage is less than half of what I used to do week in week out. I used to run over 300 days in a row, and now I have taken a rest day whenever running wouldn’t easily fit into real life, even twice in a row (gasp!). I haven’t got any goals, no races planned, and definitely no pressure.

I can see Little Sugarloaf from my garden. On Sunday I ran up – though running was limited to the bottom half of the mountain, closer to the top it was hiking and scrambling on all fours at times. The views were fantastic though.

On bank holiday Monday I did a very similar run, but up to Bray Head. That was much more runnable and might do as a replacement for Windy Gap. And the views were equally as good. It’s nice to have those climbs so close to home. Maybe I won’t be missing Caragh Lake quite as much as I though I would.

2 Aug
4.12 miles, 33:13, 8:03 pace, HR 149
3 Aug
4.07 miles, 33:27, 8:13 pace, HR 147
4 Aug
5.55 miles, 47:41, 8:35 pace, HR 145
5 Aug
6.33 miles, 1:13:23, 11:35 pace, HR 139
   Little Sugarloaf
6 Aug
5.03 miles, 49:30, 9:50 pace, HR 141
   Bray Head

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

In Limbo

I’m definitely starting to slack with my blog updates. If that spells the beginning of the end of this blog or just reflects my present state of mind will eventually be revealed.

I'm still undecided on what I want to go for next. Niamh definitely wants me to quit 24 hour racing but I prefer to make up my own mind. I'm not in any rush. 5k? Marathon? 100 mile? Iron man? 24 hrs? 48 hrs? One day I'll wake and know what appeals to me the most.

In the meantime I try and rebuild my fitness. It’s astounding hoe much you lose in 3 weeks of not running, even though I had started to cycle 20 miles a day for a week (that’s my work commute) before I started running again.

With the bike I managed to flatten twice in 3 days, which was mainly down to my tyre being well past its useful life I think, but it also reminded me why I prefer running to cycling as a sport, even though I really enjoy riding the bike.

And with the legs I’ve had a few ups and downs already. The numbers are depressing if you compare them with what they were like before the race, so I don’t compare them. They will pick up, I know that very well. Yesterday (Tuesday) was the first day when I felt I was really making progress, running felt much easier and I was doing almost a decent pace for once. All that progress came to a shuddering halt this morning when the legs felt like shit from pretty much the first step. I got 3 miles down the road still feeling somewhat ok but anything after that was a struggle. And since I was running to work I didn’t even have the option of bailing out early. Ah well. I was almost missing the feeling of sore leg – now I know again what it’s like, for sure.

We were back in Kerry one last time last weekend, mainly because of Shea's Debs, but also to get another van load of stuff. The house is rather empty now. It looks kind of sad. Time to move on.

26 Jul
4.83 miles, 38:51, 8:02 pace, HR 153
27 Jul
4.86 miles, 38:21, 7:53 pace, HR 154
28 Jul
5.05 miles, 42:51, 8:29 pace, HR 148
29 Jul
8 miles, 1:08:06, 8:30 pace, HR 147
31 Jul
4.1 miles, 33:19, 8:07 pace, HR 147
1 Aug
10.36 miles, 1:31:05, 8:47 pace, HR 151