Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Amazing Endurance

You might associate endurance with long-distance running, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. As of today, Niamh qualifies for the gold standard for the patient, understanding, supporting wife, having been married to that dork of a husband for exactly 12 years. Happy Anniversary, darling! Unfortunately, she came home from Dublin with a nasty cold, which might stop us from going out tonight. We’ll make up for it at a later date if that’s the case.

Back to running. With less than 7 weeks to go until Dingle I’m wavering if I should continue my training as it is at the moment or make some changes (speed work, rest days, etc). Basically, I never got out of base training. That’s quite deliberate. I resolved months ago to keep at that training until I stop improving. With the improvements still coming, I’m favouring keeping the existing approach for another 3 weeks, by when it will be taper time. My, hasn’t time flown. In past marathon builds I have tended to divide training into several segments of about 4-6 weeks. But I was never sure if moving on to a new phase was ever the best thing to do, because I never felt like getting towards the optimum stage of the ongoing build. So far I’m very happy with my new training regime; the lack of speed work has not stopped me from setting a new PR in the 10k, and my hope is that it’s even less likely to stop me from doing well in the marathon. The truth will be revealed in a few weeks, I guess.

If there was one thing I would change from the last few weeks it would probably the length of my longest run. I seem to have a problem committing to runs of 20 miles or more. With that in mind, I set out for exactly that on Monday. Interestingly, my main worry on Sunday evening was not covering the distance but getting up before 5 am. No matter how you look at it, that is very early. It was still quite dark when I got up (2 minutes before the alarm would have gone off), but by the time I got out of the door it was definitely bright enough to run without light.

My right calf started hurting on the first climb, just about 3 miles into the run. It didn’t stop me from running, but it made the next few miles distinctly uncomfortable. The soreness eventually went away, but not before giving me a few worries. Apart from that, running 20 miles wasn’t much of a problem. I felt weary during the first half, but concentrating on a quick turnover seemed to keep the pace honest without tiring me out. I felt better later on, and cranked up the effort level by a notch. I basically ran the first half at 8:10 pace and the second half closer to 7:30. Neither caused any problems, and I still felt ok, but could have done without the rain that had started with 2 miles to go.

Doing tempo intervals the day after 20 miles is more of a challenge than the long run itself. Having said that, it seems to be a mental issue rather than a physical one. I felt awful during today’s 1.5 warm-up miles and really questioned my ability of doing justice to the workout. Then again, that tends to happen every Tuesday morning. When I got down to business, it felt much better than anticipated, as usual. The weather wasn’t cooperating though. Gale force winds are bad enough, but to start raining the very moment I open the door was nature playing nasty. I grimaced as I started out, but got used to it eventually. That’s when it stopped raining. The wind, on the other hand, kept blowing. It did definitely have an effect on my run. The first tempo segment, wind-assisted and downhill, flew by faster than usual at 6:39 pace. The second, into the wind (and uphill), was slower at 6:53. The last one, partially with and against the wind (downhill) evened thing out at 6:46. Not brilliant, but pretty much in line with expectations. If it’s an indication that I should stick with the present training or not is open to interpretation. But as I’ve said, I’ll probably keep doing what I’ve been doing all along. At the very least it will serve as a solid foundation for future training cycles.
27 Jul
20 miles, 2:37:23, 7:52 pace, HR 144
28 Jul
12 miles, 1:26:40, 7:13 pace, HR 152
incl. 3x3 miles @ 6:39, 6:53, 6:46


  1. Tight calf muscles;
    Someone gave my this tip, can't quite remember who now but it works.
    Use a rolling pin to massage out the tight spots in the calf, just roll the pin up and down thw back of the calf, its amazing how it finds the tight sore spots. do it for a min or so each leg and hey presto loose and relaxed muscles.[ just don't tell the misses what your using the rolling pin for or you might get hit round the back of the head with it].
    By the way what happened to the summer......

  2. That's good running and it's sounding like our training is quite similar. My main concern is that I won't have enough long runs done before Dingle at a pace fast enough to prepare my legs for sub 3 but I'm sure with the 2 of us working together it should help on the day .

  3. Happy Anniversary - and may you have a dozen more 12-year anniversaries!

  4. I feel horrible during slow warmups too. Sometimes so badly that I don't do the hard stuff and just keep shuffling along. I find if I get my heart rate up a little I am more motivated to go do the scheduled workout. I love those 3x3 milers you do. Those will bring some good improvement.

    I count anything 2hrs 45mins or greater a long run. Anything shorter and I feel like I'm training a different system and not the 'fat burning' system.

    I'd go with what you're doing unless you come upon a good workout that makes you feel fresh and confident.

  5. Happy Anniversary to you both! Hopefully, she will be feeling better and you will be able to take her out on the town. Your steady as always with your training, Thomas.

  6. Keep going with it Thomas. I certainly don't think it will affect your marathon negatively by keeping the 'base' training going.

    As long as you feel like you're absorbing the training and getting improvements as the weeks pass. If you ever feel like you've hit a plateau, that's time to change something.

  7. Happy anniversary to you both, make sure you spoil your wife, it's not easy living with a runner (or so my wife reminds me regularily).

  8. Is a tempo interval really the best idea the day after a tough long run?
    My understanding is that speed workouts should not be done tired because you are not able to stress your body enough to generate the adaptations you are looking for by generating the work-out in the first place.

  9. Congratulations on your anniversary (it was Ally's and mine on the 28th too) and your the long run, well done.

    Oh, and if you think running 3x3-miles isn't speedwork (given you're training for a marathon), then you're a nutter. Keep it up, that combined with your mileage.