Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two More Things About Ballycotton

... and then I move on:

1) someone asked how my HR compares with previous races there. I averaged 171 last week compared to 172 in 2014. Previous races had been higher, 177, 176 and 175 in teh 3 years preceding that. If your max HR falls by about 1 per year then this would be reasonably stable, though in my experience it declines less than that, at least in me. I could come to the conclusion that I did not push myself to the total limit, which is entirely possible.

2) my age-rated performance has actually improved compared to my previous race there. 61:52 as a 46-year old is 78.84%, while 61:31 as a 44 year old was only 78.02%. Maybe I am ageing very well. But before anyone makes an unnecessary comment, races are run on the road and not in calculators, I know that perfectly well.

The legs had been a little bit heavy on Monday and the quads were rather sore on Tuesday, which is classic DOMS of course, but all felt fine again on Wednesday.

The one thing I mostly took away from Ballycotton, however, was a head cold. I felt cold during the walk back to the car, despite putting on a thick warm hoodie, and I cut my cool-down short a bit because I was feeling a bit cold during that as well, but it might have been too late. I felt absolutely rotten on Monday night with a bad headache and didn't sleep very well but was feeling much better already by Wednesday.

The HR was very slightly elevated initially but I would expect that during race recovery anyway, so the cold didn't have much of an impact there. On Thursday morning I extended the morning run to 8 miles and after about 5 miles did one single mile at 6:50-ish pace to test out what that would feel like, especially with Saturday's marathon in mind. Well, one mile isn't particularly long and it felt ok, and the HR at 161 was very much in the green zone, but the problem was that it then did not come down for the 2 easy miles after the fast one and remained at 157 despite the much easier pace.

I might make a very late decision on what pace I'll run in Tralee. My friend Chris Grayson keeps badgering me to run as one of the 3:15 pacers with him but I keep resisting. Tralee is my home marathon and I'd prefer to run a decent time, even if it's not the wisest decision with Manchester 5 weeks away. I won't race it all-out but I might wait as late as mile 1 into Tralee to make that decision. If things don't feel right I can still fall back and join Chris as an un-official pacer for company.

Tralee will be my 75th marathon (or, to be precise, my 50th marathon plus 25 ultras). While not exactly a round number it's a significant one anyway. The MCI certainly thinks so - I'm due yet another special award :)
7 Mar
5 miles, 41:06, 8:13 pace, HR 138
8 Mar
5 miles, 41:57, 8:23 pace, HR 137
9 Mar
5 miles, 39:51, 7:58 pace, HR 138
10 Mar
8 miles, 1:01:18, 7:40 pace, HR 148


  1. That age-graded thingy is handy - all I'd have needed was a 63:55 to win the "photo finish". Enjoy Saturday whatever you decide. Hope all the family are keeping well.

  2. Fear not Thomas for I shall never Badger you again!!

  3. I raced a 5 mile hilly trail race a couple of days ago and ran as hard as I could muster and averaged a HR of 170. Two and half years ago I raced a half marathon at an average of 178! My peak HR seems to have dropped off rather more rapidly than the 1bpm per year in the last two years, but prior to that it looked to be less than 1 bpm per year.

    I've changed my training quite a bit, now I'm running most days with higher average weekly mileage which has dramatically changed my HR for a given pace. My top speed has improved a bit, but less than one might expect is I had managed to maintain my original max HR. My best guess is that my cardio-vascular capacity has improved faster than my muscles capacity for generating peak power. Perhaps decline testosterone or in adrenaline sensitivity with ageing might explain this discrepancy.

    I suspect something similar might be happening to you as well, but perhaps not as dramatic as you've been training consistently for a longer period.

    Good luck with the race.