Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Don't Be Afraid To Fail

"Are you going to run Achill Island? Or would that be stupid?"

"Yes - and yes, I suppose"

I haven't run more than 15 miles since June and on Sunday I started getting tired after 10 miles, so to run almost 40 miles on Saturday may well be a BAD idea. However, I'm going to do it anyway. The Achill island ultra is still only about a quarter of the Spartathlon and the way I see it, if I can't run 40 miles (ok, 39.3) on Saturday then I won't be able to run 153 exactly a month from now. Besides, last year in Belfast I promise Donna I'd run her race this year.

Being hampered by injury actually has one advantage: if I went into that race in good shape I might well have been tempted to race it as a win might have been be a possibility (obviously, that depends on who's turning up). Since that possibility can now be ruled out, I can run as slowly as I want without any regrets.

I'm not overly keen on mantras and memes, but that one caught my eye because that is exactly attitude I have decided to adopt for the Spartathlon. I haven't done the training I wanted to do and I will still be far from peak fitness when the start date comes round far too soon but I will give it a go and if I fail, so be it. There's only one way to find out.

If I cripple myself in Achill, I guess I'll have to fall back to option B, namely going to Greece for a holiday instead.

Anyway, I took it easy after the weekend. It was a no-brainer because my quads were hurting, almost certainly because of the mountain run. I was really surprised by how much they hurt because that run had gone so well and I had not felt tired at all.  I had initially toyed with the idea of doing 2 workouts during the week, another mountain run and intervals on Tuesday and Thursday. Then I figured Thursday was a bit late considering that race on Saturday so maybe a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back workout pair would be an option? However, with the legs hurting as they are, that idea got dumped (I probably just about avoided doing something really stupid here).

What I did do on Tuesday was to run in some extra layers to get some heat adaptation going. However, as it turns out, even wearing 3 layers on top, including a running jacket, won't make you feel particularly hot if you're an idiot and don't wear a hat. In fact, once it started raining I started to feel distinctly cold instead! It's still a bit early for heat adaptation (it only lasts for about 2 weeks), so I guess a bit of experimenting wasn't that bad an idea; that way I might get it right by the time I actually need to.

On Wednesday morning I did that one weekly workout that was left in the schedule, a set of half mile repeats. Last week I had done 4, this week I increased the number to 6 and slightly lowered the recovery from 0.5 to 0.4 miles. Initially I resolved to run a bit slower than last week, just trying to hit the 6:30 to 6:40 window rather than surpass it but once I got into the workout I actually started to speed up, unnoticed. Once again, the 2 websites I'm using for data upload report very different numbers:

Movescount: 6:43, 6:32, 6:35, 6:40, 6:25, 6:26
Strava: 6:33, 6:26, 6:30, 6:35, 6:17, 6:21

And, like last week, the strava numbers are the ones I remember from the watch during the workout, so I guess that's what I'm going with (plus, they sure look a lot better). I'm still flabbergasted how the same data set can be reported so differently. It hurts my technical background.

The real difference, however, was how much better I felt this week compared to last week. I could not have done 6 repeats last week; in marked contrast, this morning I definitely would have felt capable of at least 2 more. This is also reflected in the HR, last week it went all the way up to 181 and today it peaked at a much more acceptable 173. I certainly have already gotten better at running at 6:30 pace. How that translates into efficiency gains at ultra pace is debatable - however, I am convinced that this is a very valuable workout and ultra runners would in general improve if they added more speed work into their training repertoire (btw, that's a note to self).

The hip is fine. Every now and then I can notice a bit of a twinge, but that's it.
24 Aug
8 miles, 1:09:17, 8:40 pace, HR 138
25 Aug
8 miles, 1:09:56, 8:45 pace, HR 143
26 Aug
9+ miles, 1:17:18, 8:30 pace, HR 144
   incl 6 x 800 @ 6:33, 6:26, 6:30, 6:35, 6:17, 6:21 pace


  1. Good to see the hip and fitness improving. Hope all goes well at Achill (that's a serious test!) - enjoy running not for the win.

  2. It's good to see the fitness improving and hip settling. I understand your view about Achill, if you can't run/walk 40 miles now, then the chances of pulling off a 153 in a months time ain't good.

    Being able to take the Achill nice and slow will be the key to getting to most out of it w.r.t prep for the Spartathon. You'll be able to practice race pace for Greece and your risk of injury will be lower, and recovery quicker.

    I suspect holding yourself back might be a challenge so planning of how to keep yourself slow and stick to it might be needed. Looking at your current HR for a pace figures I'd say a max HR of 150 should keep you from going too hard, perhaps even putting it lower than this at 145.