Sunday, April 20, 2014


On Wednesday evening I decided that while my back was still in pretty bad shape (I was basically in chronic pain), running definitely did not make it worse; quite the opposite in fact, it seemed to provide relief, which may have been purely down to the endorphins. Therefore I didn't have to restrict myself to short runs only, I might as well resume "proper" training and accordingly I ran up to Windy Gap on Thursday morning. The weather has been nice all week with plenty of sunshine, if a little cold, but Thursday morning was probably the least nice time when it was quite overcast and Windy Gap stood up to its name. I only did one climb, which was quite enough only 11 days after Connemara, but the legs were able to take it, no bother.

I must have read dozens of books about running in the last few years. In fact, Niamh keeps complaining that while I read virtually every day, I never seem to read any "real" books. Anyway, it's rare to come across an eye opener after reading so  much but this book definitely is one. I know I am not in the same league as some of the guys in there but then again, if I don't do the training I never will be. I decided to give it a good go until the 24 hours in July. I already implemented one big change; all week I have been doing 2 runs a day. I always knew (or at least suspected) that running twice would make me a better runner but family life always prevented me from doing so. And make no mistake, family will always come first. It was easy this week with Niamh and the kids in Dublin. Now they're back but with the kids still on their Easter holidays, it should be no problem. I'll have to see how it goes once they're back to school. They do have various activities most evenings, which might put a stop to my fancy ideas. I'll have to see if I can work around it without upsetting anyone.

The other big thing is that I'll try and run a marathon or ultra every fortnight. This will either make me or break me.

If someone asked me how my back was, my subjective impression would be that it's just as bad as ever. But if I stop and think about it I realise that it's actually a lot better already. It's still sore and I'm still in chronic discomfort, but my mobility is much better already. On Monday, putting on socks or shoes was a major problem and I only just managed to do so; now I can do it without any troubles and it doesn't leave me in searing pain for a minute either. It's just that improvement is so slow and gradual that it's almost unnoticeable. I won't be doing any gardening this weekend, which is a shame as the weather is so nice, there is plenty of work to be done and I might not get another chance, but I just can't.

After almost posting a PB in the county championship I was tempted to run the Good Friday race in Killarney but in the end managed to resist, mostly because of my back but it would probably have been rather bad for my recovering legs and body anyway. I might feel okay but it's still only 2 weeks since I ran an ultra at rather fast pace. Interestingly, running twice a day does not seem to cause any fatigue. This might be a good thing, but the often repeated warning from my former coach keeps doing the rounds in my head:
"When you get toward peak shape your brain ignores fatigue, this is good for racing but bad for training"

I'm basically building mileage at the moment, so I'm restraining myself from speed work in an attempt to limit the stressors. I did 12 runs this week, which makes the mileage just shoot up so quickly and easily, it almost feels like cheating.

17 Apr
am: 10.75 miles, 1:34:15, 8:46 pace, HR 140, Windy Gap
pm: 5+ miles, 38:01, 7:31 pace, HR 138
18 Apr
am: 10 miles, 1:16:08, 7:36 pace, HR 143
pm: 5 miles, 37:25, 7:28 pace, HR 141
19 Apr
am: 10 miles, 1:17:27, 7:44 pace, HR 137
pm: 5 miles, 37:45, 7:32 pace, HR 138
20 Apr
16.7 miles, 2:06:48, 7:35 pace, HR 143
Weekly Mileage: 88+


  1. You seem like your in great shape for Belfast, & I hope things continue to go your way in the run up to it. Like yourself I started the double runs the week after Connemara in prep for my 100k. it almost seems Too easy, and this is what I'm afraid of as in the past when things are going this good I don't see the next injury around the corner. I basicly did out a training plan of what I could comfortably fit into work & family life, it consists of four double run days & three single! Varied with hill sprints, track & tempo, & long easy runs. The no rest day is the worrying bit but I need to crank up the milage & I promised myself the odd one here or there if I needed it, but so far so good. ( what's your thoughts on this ) another major change I'm making is trying to get 9 1/2 hrs sleep a night, I read somewhere ( possibly your blog ) that recovering muscles need that during sleep. I was previously only getting 6. Hills seem to be the key for for ultra running & I'm living in a valley that if you want to run you have to go uphill. How much milage is too much do you think for people with busy day jobs, mine brings me up to 85 miles average, & 95 at it's peak. Don't think I could risk Any more then that without being served with divorce papers. "it's Billy by the way"

    1. Hi Billy, the more sleep you get the better; my problem is that if I sleep a lot one night then I can't fall asleep the next one. But more than 6 hours a night would definitely be good.

      I agree on the hills being key, which is why I try and run up the mountains once a week.

      I wouldn't worry too much about no rest day, I only know one ultra runner who runs 6 days a week, and his injury history doesn't inspire all that much confidence. I have been running every day for years and I don't get injured. It's because I'm used to it, I'm sure. Same for mileage - if you're used to it you can easily run over 100 miles a week without problems. Any new runner would almost certainly get injured on 50.

      I might even see you for the 100 if you're doing Portumna; I haven't decided yet.

  2. Yeah it's portumna Thomas. It might be a good training incentive to try and stay with you a bit longer than I did last time :-) I might even drop the pace just a little bit. :-)

  3. I would do doubles too if I could fit them round easily family/work life. I believe doubles are a good way to get two kicks of growth hormones a day, and to do the mileage without being so glycogen depleted if you had done the same mileage in singles. With less glycogen depletion we'd also expect lower cortisol levels for the given mileage. More growth hormones and less cortisol should make for a good environment for building muscles and mitochondria rather than breaking them down.

    One thing you could do is play with polarising your runs a bit more, rather than two easy runs per day go for a run "with stuff" and a much slower recovery run. With the slower recovery run try getting down to your target race pace as running economy at 9 to 10min/mile pace is going to important. The "with stuff" could be anything from some hill sprints, short tempo sections, hill runs - stuff that stresses the upper part of the aerobic range.

  4. I am with you on the sleeping front Thomas. I have finally over the last 12 weeks managed to average around 50 miles a week running 6-7 days. Felt shattered for the first 3 weeks but got used to it after then. Looking to start adding one or two short runs to normal days to boost time on feet and improve recovery from workouts.

    Then again my appetite has gone through the roof and it's costing me more to eat ha ha