Friday, December 04, 2009


I’ve finally written down my training plan for Connemara, but it is still open to change. I do need to have a plan or else I’m not training properly, and once I have it I tend to stick to it fairly closely. It contains fewer miles than during the summer training, but more and longer long runs to get me used to spending several hours on my feet during the ultra. It seems strange to run fewer miles in preparation for an ultra than for a marathon but I suppose after concluding that I was a bit overtrained a step backwards is needed. There is still room for several intensive workouts because I think they are just as critical to endurance as long runs. I have done the Connemara Ultra twice, and if I don’t manage to cut a significant chunk of time off my previous efforts, I will be disappointed. It should definitely be possible for me to run 39 miles at 8:00 pace, but I know I said the same 2 years ago and I know what happened then.

The cross training will definitely be adhered to and I had another swimming lesson on Wednesday. This time my coach did turn up, and he had a reasonably good excuse for dissing me last week: he had broken his finger while hammering in the dark. At the very least I have learnt one lesson from him then, namely don’t do that! Anyway, we spent the time in the pool working on my kick, which was in dire need of being worked at. I found it hard going; I might think that my legs are pretty strong after years of running but swimming is a different sport and I was pretty tired afterwards. I also found it impossible to concentrate on the arms and legs at the same time, but of course it is still early in the learning process.

The legs were a bit stiff during the first few miles on Thursday but came round once I started a set of 8x30 seconds of sprints. They did remind me of the 30/30 workouts I had done last year, but I took long recoveries this time. Then, during the last two miles, just after climbing a long hill, I took off. For pure fun I accelerated down to about 6:30 pace and held it until I was back home. I was having a ball and had a big grin on my face, running for the pure hell of it. I think my mojo is finally back.

Effortless Running
Gliding over the asphalt
Big smile on my face

Ok, that won’t win any prizes, sorry ‘bout that. Oh, I nearly forgot, I also saw a rainbow – in the moonlight! That’s a new one, and it showed how bright the moon was that night when it managed to sneak in between the heavy clouds.

Thursday evening was a bit stressful as Niamh was away and I was supposed to look after the children. Which ended badly when Maia cut the back of her head during a tumbling session with Shea and started bleeding. Actually, I didn’t even notice the blood for a few minutes, and by the time I finally realised what those red drops were she had long calmed down. I kept a close eye on her, but she was absolutely fine, and Niamh hasn’t killed me yet for apparent neglect of duty. My punishment came during the night when Maia woke at 3 o’clock in the morning requiring a nappy change and joined us in bed for the rest of the night, because I was unable to fall back asleep afterwards. 90 minutes later I got up, cleaned the kitchen and read a book for an hour before I finally was tired again. Of course it meant I felt completely exhausted when the alarm went off at 6:40 am and my sleeping time had been cut down from the expected 8 hours to less than 6. Tempted as I was to stay in bed I got up for 6 miles with a set of short hill sprints, a similar workout to last Saturday. I tried to put a true maximal effort into these, but initially the heart rate didn’t quite go as high as last week. It wasn’t until the last sprint that I got it all the way up to 177 again, but the wobbly feeling in my legs told me that I had done the work.
2 Dec
0 miles, 60 mins swim
3 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:01, 7:45 pace, HR 156
incl. 8x30 secs accelerations
4 Dec
6 miles, 51:42, 8:37 pace, HR 151
incl. 6x30 secs hill sprints


  1. Thomas i'm obviously interested in your appraoch to Connemara, you being a veteran of the course and all. Two things in particular interest me at the moment:-

    1 - Pace. If you're planning on 8 minute pace average (or sub 8 as the case may be), how do you think it would vary from start to finish & would you consider introducing walking breaks (before being forced to)

    2. Nutrition, Would you vary it much from your recent approach to marathon nutrition or do you think you need to revert to the rice milk or an equivalent substitutem or are you thinking of something completly different.

    Now that i'm zoned in I have a third question/suggestion. Would youi think compression socks would help prevent/relieve the calf cramps that are likely to arise during a road race of that distance.

  2. Good to hear that Thomas. Mojo is an important ingredient to running well.

    Nice going with the swimming - you'll be doing 2.4 miles before you know it ;)

    Grellan's question about run or run/walk is an interesting one. I know Martin Fryer only does run/walk from the start for 24 hour races. Still, 7:45 pace might be just as easy as 8s, and let you build up some time for walking breaks.

  3. It's really good to hear you've got the fun back in your runs. Yes, it seems to be a given that walk breaks work best if you start them early and work them into your training and the course.

  4. Your poem it's too bad Thomas. It gets at the essence of the matter and that's what its all about.

  5. Sorry Thomas that was meant to be "isn't," no not a feudian slip!