Saturday, December 27, 2008


A few days ago, TeddS left a comment:
I am interested in how you were able to go from "Connemara 26 Mar 2006 4:11:45" to "Dublin 30 Oct 2006 3:28:42."

And a bit later, Mick said:
I commend your commitment but wonder if the mileage is excessive? I say that as someone who does well to average 70k a week never mind 90+ miles :-)

Mick’s comment inadvertently answers Tedd’s question. When training for Connemara I ran a maximum of 55 miles per week in 5 days. For Dublin, 6 months later, I trained 6 days a week for a max of 70 miles per week. As you all know, I have since increased my mileage further, am running every day, and managed to knock another 23 minutes off my marathon PR.
I am well aware that others train less and that there are those who run faster race times on fewer miles. But my personal experience has been that the more miles I run the better I race. My take on that is that I have to run more miles to make up for a certain lack of talent. Then again, the fact that I’m able to run day in, day out no matter the circumstances is a talent as well. I tested the waters last summer with fewer miles and more speedwork, and I can honestly say that 90 miles at mostly steady pace is easier than 75 miles with 2 or 3 speed sessions. For someone who never ran that much, 90 miles a week might seem excessive, but I’m used to it and it feels easy enough. Honestly.

There is an Irish message board about running that I started visiting regularly recently. They had a thread about running over Christmas, and most runners seemed to say they would take one or two weeks off running. I can’t get my head around that. Over the holidays I can finally run close to 90 miles per week without having to get up at 5:30 all the time. I am not going to pass up on the chance of being both able to sleep and run.

After all that rambling I might as well mention my runs since the last post. I had gotten an early start on Christmas Day; last year the kids were up at some utterly ridiculous hour like 1 or 2 am and started opening presents. This year we made sure they would not be in place until 5 am. Luckily there is one adult in the family who thinks nothing of waking at that time. The timing was good, by 5:30 the boys were awake, and by 6 am the hall was covered three layers deep in toys, boxes and wrapping paper. Eventually we tried to get more sleep, but sleep was not forthcoming and eventually I set off on my run. I had planned no more than 10 miles and ran in the general direction of the city centre. After a mile I found myself on the marathon course and followed that for a while, but going the other way. I just kept going straight, and by the time I was supposed to turn around I was almost at Grafton Street so I kept going until I had passed through that.
Of course I got lost on the way home, but eventually found myself back on the marathon course, right at the point where things had started falling apart 2 months ago. I followed the course from Milltown to Fosters Avenue, and the hill that just about killed me at the race seemed hardly noticeable this time. I guess that’s the difference between hitting it after 11 steady miles rather than 20 fast ones. I got home after 13.5 miles and realised that I had inadvertently run tomorrow’s workout, 15 miles at steady pace, so I added a bit extra to complete it.

Subsequently I took it easier on Friday. I ran towards Cabinteely Park which contains an almost ideal hilly loop of about 1.2 miles. I ran 4 loops of that, and together with the way to and from the park it was 11 miles.

With a dirt track available, something I don’t have in Kerry, I opted for quarters today. The track is over 4 miles from here so I drove half the way, parked the car, and set off. I think this was the first time ever that I had driven to a training run rather than just leave from wherever I was staying. It is a clear but cold day today, the thermometer read –1C/30F at the start, colder than anything we’ve had in Kerry all year. At the track I shed the extra layers and ran 16 quarter repeats at 10k pace. I was surprised that the pace was almost exactly the same as last week; on a smooth and flat track I expected it to be a bit faster. However, I was happy enough with the workout. For a while I managed to pretty much tune out and just run the repeats without a thought in my mind. Eventually I returned to the Real World, ran back towards the car, and drove home. Family time was beckoning.

We had some wonderful days. I hope you enjoyed Christmas as much as we did.
25 Dec
15.1 miles, 1:57:05, 7:45 pace, HR 150
26 Dec
11 miles, 1:29:48, 8:09 pace, HR 148
27 Dec
10 miles, 1:17:07, 7:42 pace, HR 162
16x400(100) at 6:22 avg


  1. Hi Thomas - great Christmas photos.

    Based on the tremendous rate of improvement in your times, you've clearly found the method that works best for you.

    I'm hoping to get my mileage up about 100km/wk during my long build next fall, but anything beyond that is probably just wishful thinking for me - being able to continuously hammer out 90 miles/wk IS a talent. Not everyone can do it, I know I can't.

  2. great photos! you have the cutest children. I'm sure you know what you are doing re: the mileage!

  3. Love the Christmas pictures - the mess, the beautiful children, the toys.

    I've been enjoying some relaxed daylight runs too - one more week then it's back to early mornings and a headlamp. Oh, well.

  4. Seasons greetings Thomas. Your explanation makes perfect sense. When it comes to training and mileage it is 'whatever works best for you'. 80k is probably my limit due to work and family commitments.

    I'm with you with the running every day over Christmas thing - as its the only time I get to do that. While you were in Dubiln you could almost have joined our hill run yesterday on the Sugarloaf. Great fun (well not fun going up but you know what I mean). Happy running.

  5. Thomas, your count down to Boston timer should be on Eastern standard Time. Start all your runs 6 hours later than normal so your body has time to adjust, lol. Just kidding, but don't forget to make the adjustment when you fly over.

    P.S. Looks like you had a great Christmas, you have a lot to be thankful for.


  6. Certainly enjoyed it, but it was so HOT! Ran in 32C one day :)

    Looks like you had a great Christmas.

    That is interesting about the mileage - you've found a formula that works, so keep going. I should tell my training partner Kathy about your mileage - she reckons I overdo it at 80-90k a week!