Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Definitely Tapering Now

Since the recovery from Ballycotton extended smoothly into my taper, last week wasn't really the usual shock to the system. But I sure can tell the difference this week, the mileage has dropped considerably, I get more sleep, the legs feel fresh each morning and the countdown to Connemara is almost into single digits.

The long term weather forecast does not paint a pretty picture right now, but since they cannot even predict next day's weather with any degree of accuracy (the glorious sunshine on Paddy's Day being a prime example, the forecast had been appalling) I won't take too much notice of that just yet.

The training cycle has gone so well, I'm kinda waiting for something to strike at the last minute. Injury is rather unlikely, especially with my pretty good history, so it's mostly illness that I'm worried about. Virtually every family member has been sick at some stage over the last few weeks; Shea especially got it pretty bad with a very violent cough, but I didn't even get the sniffles. My immune system must be rather good. That said, I woke with a distinctive metallic taste in my mouth yesterday and can feel it again today, but there are no other symptoms. I think we can rule out pregnancy in my case and as long as nothing worse happens, I'm fine.

Never mind me, I'm just being paranoid as the race approaches. It will only get worse next week.

Two very easy 5-milers were followed by another race pace run this morning. At least it was supposed to be race pace. I kept the pace quite well against a blustery headwind on the way out but of course it blew me home faster than anticipated on the way back home. Generally I find that I'm able to tune into 7:15 pace reasonably well but there is always a tendency to inadvertently speed up if the legs are fresh. It's not an issue once I reach double digits on the mileage, but of course I don't want to burn myself off early in the race in Connemara. On the plus side I can now tell when I'm running too fast without looking at the Garmin, hopefully I will still be able to do that with race-day adrenaline floating in my veins.

My nutrition plans are taking shape as well. I seem to respond to sports drink better than to gels and will take that into account, but will still take several gels with me. I'll see and adapt according to how I feel on the day, and the general idea is to bring too much rather than too little, but not get freaked out if I can't get to my stuff from the aid stations for whatever reason.

Definitely getting excited now.

19 Mar
5 miles, 38:30, 7:42 pace, HR 140
20 Mar
5 miles, 39:00, 7:48 pace, HR 134
21 Mar
8 miles, 57:02, 7:08 pace, HR 145


  1. Hi Thomas great to hear your ready for Connemara .Can I ask one question- it seems that from reading your blog for about a year now, that you train by heart rate? Is there a specific method you have?

  2. Hi Clive, I don't actually train by heart rate as such, but I do wear a heart rate monitor whenever I'm running, not as a controlling but as a monitoring device.

    I keep tracking pace, HR and their ratio in a (very basic) spreadsheet. I don't care too much about individual values, but I do want to see the values go up gradually as the race approaches, and I also compare the values to last year (they're looking very good). This year's spreadsheet can be viewed here, if you're interested.

  3. Nice going Thomas. That was even more consise than Grellan's 'relatively brief' Mallow report ;-)

    P.S. Thanks for the link to the spreadsheet - interesting.

  4. Great to see how everything settled after Ballycotton, those HR readings at the pace you are doing are stella, I totter along at 8:30 pace with my HR in the mid fourties. I suspect Ballycotton will have topped up your fitness and use of fast twitch II fibres, something that will come in handy for the stages of Connemara.

    On the topic of HR training, this year I've started logging my HR, pace Calories consumed, Elevation/Descent on routes for all my runs. Putting this data into a spreadsheet and then adding a little maths I'm able to compute the Calories per mile, Calories per minute, and estimate the extra Calories consume to handle the hills on route. I then have a final figure on the efficiency on my run when factoring out the hills, and the average of this I can the track month on month.

    I've also putting in my two previous years training for comparison to work out how this year compares, and also what mix of training in the past looked to improve my efficiency. What I've found is that doing average too low a HR training my efficiency tops out, and if I do too much higher HR training again my efficiency tops out. This year I've been done my base building at a what I've now established as my upper aerobic zone (150-155) and have recently been adding hill sprints and tempo runs. Month on month my efficiency has been improving where previous years it would have topped out already. I'm now around 5% more efficient now than peak of previous years and I sense that I still am a short of where I could get to.

    I can't say I'm doing strict HR training, but I finding it useful reminder to keep me runs in specific aerobic or anaerobic range. The training I'm doing isn't too far off what you've been doing Thomas - just far less volume and impressive speeds to HR!

    I also have to give credit to your Thomas for being so regular and descriptive of the training you do and how it's going. It's given me confidence to trust in base building and not get too impatient with adding faster work. Going from a 4hr plus marathoner to a sub 3hr marathoner is inspirational.

    Is there any chance after Connemara you'll be able to write a blog entry that is retrospective over years you've been running, picking out the struggles and what has worked to transform your running.

    Thanks for your efforts on the blog, and your wife's patience with your spending so much time running and writing about it!