Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hurt

I did go over some figures from Sunday’s race (results here, btw), and they just make my head spin. Not my run – that was mediocre enough. It’s the course than I can’t quite get my head around.

The overall elevation gain was well over 2100 feet, and with 3 miles of climbing that gives an average gradient of 14%. The downhill as a tad shorter, which of course means on average it was even steeper, though in actual fact most of the way was shared. Of course that’s just the average. The first mile of the climb was consistently between 20% and 30%, and the bit between mile 2.7 and 2.8 (the climb out of the Devil’s Punchbowl) averaged well over 40%, with bits of 50% thrown in for fun. What the figures don’t tell you is the awful footing, at least for someone used to tarmac roads. The stony path was bad enough, but the bog just defied belief. I can’t quite believe I even made it up there.

But it’s the downhill that I’m now paying the price for.

I’ve been told off more than once for not taking enough recovery after a race, especially the one a fortnight ago. Believe me, this time it is different. I should have known, of course. Dropping 2100 feet in 26 minutes on a surface that does not allow you to run, only to execute a series of jumps, was bound to shred my quads to pieces.

I thought I was being conservative when I set the alarm in time for 8 miles on Monday. It turned out to be the most painful 8 miles in a very long time. I was waiting for the endorphins to kick in to provide some pain relief, but that never really happened. At work I was moaning loudly each time I had to get in or out of a seat, but I still I scoffed at the remark of the colleague who predicted I would feel even worse tomorrow. What does she think, that I have never done this before?

Of course I had indeed never done this before, and I woke on Tuesday in a sea of pain. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed, and somehow I made it out of the door. The first half-mile was a series of baby steps on tippy toes before I could fall into some action that vaguely resembled running. The road was fairly flat, and while the flat bits hurt, the gentle climbs hurt more, and the still gentle downhills hurt like hell. I think my legs are being rebuilt from scratch, and I cannot help but think that I have been less sore after my last few marathons, with the possible exception of Boston.

Today, Wednesday, I’m still in pain, but at least I can tell that the worst is behind me. I made it out for 6 miles, but real training is still not on the cards. By now I’m more than a bit worried about the effect this might have on the Dingle marathon; I’m sure the quads will have recovered by then, but I’m missing a good bit of training at a time when I was planning to do the last few proper workouts. However, the message from my legs is loud and clear. Recover first!

But while I’m sitting here whinging I cannot help but remember that one group of Irish runners has much more reason to be in pain right now. Last weekend, while I did my poor impression of a mountain goat, the Connemara 100 took place, and the winner, Mick Rice, ran an absolutely mind-boggling time of 14:31:53! In the past he even commented once or twice on this very blog, so I guess I should feel honoured. Sadly I expect the official Irish ultra running organisation to be acting the maggot and refuse to accept this as an official national record, but at least there are plenty of people who know about Mick’s out-of-this-world performance. I wish I had been there instead of pretending to be a fell runner. Absolutely stunning!
17 Aug
8 miles, 1:04:30, 8:04 pace, HR 141
18 Aug
5 miles, 40:51, 8:10 pace, HR 139
19 Aug
6 miles, 47:13, 7:52 pace, HR 142


  1. You did commendably well on Sunday for your first time you. You need to respect the impact a mountain run like that will have on the body and running anything more than a short recover run the next day could cause more harm than good. If you do a few such runs like this though I believe you'll reap the benefits. You'll meet all sorts of conditions on the hills, bog being pretty standard. A pair of trail shoes is a pre-req if you were considering another one. Cheers.

  2. Hang in there, perhaps some forced recovery (sorry) will do you well. When ready, take an extra day and theen continue with the sharpening... I'm following in your footsteps. All the best.

  3. That's funny Thomas ;)

    Actually, your quads will probably be better for it once they recover.

  4. Welcome to the world of DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness). The more you do downhill running the easier it gets and the stronger your quads become.

    You'll be okay in a day or two!


  5. it's always worst 48 hours afterwards!!

  6. 12th on your first mountain run is very good. All that pain can only mean muscle adaptation, which will work in your favour over the hills of slea head.

  7. As the others have said , sore muscles are nothing to worry about. You will be fine in a couple of days and probably better for the experience.
    Now if you twisted an ankle in the descent that would be another story.

    "I am sore in places that I never knew would be used for running. My calves, my quads and my lower back are all tender, and the rest is recuperating as well. "
    Room for thought here.
    I do both road running and some mountain running and I don't find the latter take much more out of me than the former. For someone who runs some very hilly marathons, Dingle being the immediate example, maybe some off-road training would reap more benefits than repetitive high miles on roads. The beauty of hill running is you get both a cardivascular workout and strength training in one workout.