Thursday, 30 April 2015

It's all on the wrist.

Yesterday was one of those days that could have made or broke my summer. After completing the half marathon last Sunday, I rightly or wrongly took my foot off the gas for the bones off a week. I had been sleeping even worse than usual which didn't help the motivation and I think I as had been looking forward to some down time after the marathon this played into it as well.
So I decided to make a fresh start Monday, with a session of 400's. To cut a long story short it didnt happen but I managed to get 10 miles easy in. I followed this with an easy 45 minutes on Tuesday with the view to do a proper session of 400's yesterday (Wednesday).
As the day wore on though I was feeling less and less inclined and was looking for all sorts of excuses to get out of it. I ended up writing 'mansuit' (or HTFU in cycling speak!) on my hand to try and bring my head back to the right place during my weaker moments!
When I got home from work I had a brainwave - why not do mile repeats instead of 400's? 6x1mile is always easier than 16x400m. I also decided to set the bar low, start off with a 6.00 pace & stay there if necessary! I think part of the problem after Limerick last year was expecting too much too soon, and despite not having 26.2 miles in my legs I still thought it better to aim low.
I got through the first in 5.47, feeling grand and as a result my recovery was probably the shortest ever, being a tad under 2 minutes. At about midway through the second I decided under 5.40 for all of them would be a nice target to aim for. The next 3 were all 5.38 although the effort was increasing but was still reasonably comfortable. Recoveries were still short - just over 2 minutes. I managed to pick up the pace over the last 2 (due in no small part to some fit4life ladies turning up) with a 5.34 & a 5.30 dead for the last - pushing hard over the last lap. OK it was slower than I was back in Malaga the week before Ballycotton but hopefully it's the first step towards a productive summer, so long as I keep writing things on my wrist! Conditions were pretty close to perfect btw.
Have slept OK all week, until this morning so did a ridiculously slow 4 miles to work at 4am!. Havent crashed and burned yet though. Pacing the 1.30 half marathon group in Limerick on Sunday and as tomorrow is a day off here I will try and go to the track again in the morning. But we shall see...
Monday:10miles @7.31 HR135
Tuesday: 6.3miles @7.26 HR134
Wednesday: 6x1mile (12miles total)
Thursday: AM: 4miles @8.36 HR120

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


So haven't been blogging of late, mostly due to the erratic nature of my running. In 6 days I am due to toe the line outside The so called theater of dreams but unfortunately my preparation has turned into a nightmare of sorts. 
While my chest infection almost cleared I headed to Mallorca on holiday with the intention of putting the finishing touches to my preparation. I had had 2 very light weeks and so decided to ease my way into it. Had hoped to do an easy hour the first day, but after 45 minutes felt wiped and as I was planning on going to the track the following day I finished up with that. 
Felt pretty crap on the way to the track where the plan was for mile repeats but when the first lap was 90 seconds and I was struggling at that I decided I wasn't ready. This was particularly frustrating as the track was buzzing with athletes and I felt a bit of an imposter failing to perform. 
Decided to test the water the next day and I was flying. I was effortlessly running along at 6.30 pace, although my HR was up in the high 140s it felt grand. I guess it made sense that the muscles had enjoyed the 2 easy weeks more than the heart and lungs. Did an hour and went back for a session feeling a little more confident the next day.
While it wasn't the best session ever I managed 5x1mile starting with a 5.30 before slipping back to 5.40 by the end. I was just happy to get something done by the end.
Was up early the next morning and knocked out 10 miles pre breakfast and felt pretty good. Was really getting the feeling I had cracked this goddamn infection. 
I had found a race for Sat morning and was debating all week whether or not to go for it. I did a very easy 30 minutes on Friday and decided to give it a lash. I found the town where it was on no problem, a gorgeous cobble stoned called Soller in the Mallorcan hills. Unfortunately finding the race was a little more difficult. I walked up and down the town but saw no sign of any runners. As I headed back to the car to get my gear before resuming the search I met some girls in running gear. I asked were they going to the race and they said yes but were as in the dark as me as to the location. I decided to tag along as they spoke the lingo and could run back to the car as my warm up. Or at least that was the plan. We didn't get to the start until about 15 minutes before the start so I resigned myself to racing in a cotton t-shirt but thankfully I had my running shorts on under my regular shorts.
After barely a mile of a warm up I was thankful that the first half mile was downhill. Wasn't feeling great though and had settled into a group with 3 guys ahead of us. Slowed as the race progressed, it was a reasonably hilly course with 3 laps so by the end we were catching some of the back markers. Can't remember my time but came 6th at 5.51 pace
Which is pretty shocking for a 7.5k race. 
Managed to spot my new friends on the jog back to the car so offered a 'vamos' which no doubt inspired them!
Got out for another run that evening just because the sun was shining. My long run Sunday morning was 11.5miles and I don't think I could have managed another step. 
Arriving back in Denmark on Monday (without my trusty massage boule, taken from my by an over zealous security in Eindhoven airport) my plan was to head to the track.
Within the first mile I knew it wasn't happening so I turned around. Fuck it anyway I thought. Maybe I did too much too soon. Did nothing for the rest of the week except cycle to and from work. And make a pig of myself! I think there was more cake at work this week than I'd ever seen before and I think the fact that I resisted any indulgences in Mallorca, got the better of me.
Was in Ireland for the weekend so went to the Mardyke Sunday where the session was 4x 1mile. These ranged from 5.38 to 5.55. Didn't push it, hopefully can start building up again from here. Planned an hour pre breakfast but only did 45minutes as again wasnt exactly firing on all cylinders. It was just as well as I had slightly misjudged the time and needed to head to Dublin for a flight on which I'm writing this.
Manchester is off the cards BTW!!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Haven't been blogging lately so below is a rough summary
So on the Friday following Ballycotton, it was the run that has been on my mind ever since I realised I had 7 hours to kill in Schiphol airport and decided to get my long run out of the way here. I was fretting about the logistics, Even though I've been through Schiphol over 200 times over and have used the lockers etc. before. I was more nervous about finding a route that
A) wouldn't get me lost, and
B) wouldn't have me stopping for traffic 
The reason b was important because it was my second fast finish long run. I think this is the main reason I was so nervous as it would be a good indicator of whether I was on track for my marathon goal which is getting ever closer. 
I read back over my post for my first FFLR which had gone really well and I noted I had had a terrible week leading up to it. I've felt ok this week so it should go even better right ? The plan was 10 miles at 140 HR followed by 5miles @ 6.10 followed by another 5 as fast as possible. 
 I was well fueled having had pancakes with 50/50 flour and porridge for dinner and a large bowl of porridge for breakfast at 8.30 and topped up at Copenhagen airport with some rugbrød. Felt grand for the first 4 or 5 miles but fairly rubbish heading towards 10. Not to worry , almost a carbon copy of the last day. 
However as soon as I tried to get going I knew it was going to be a tough day. I was struggling to get below 6.20 pace. After a mile or so I was tempted just to make it a regular long run, I'm sure if I was closer to the airport I'd have said to Hell with it! But I decided it would be a long walk of shame and despite not wearing stilettos I would have felt eyes looking at me and bowing and shaking their heads. Anyway I soldiered on and even though I expected the wind to be at my back I hadn't counted on some canals not being straight but the breeze wasn't too strong in any case. I kept thinking I'd reevaluate after each mile and now I had a slight pain in my left calf. I just about got through it but was knackered.
20 miles including 10miles @ 6.50 + 9miles (6.16/6.15/6.28/6.30/6.23/6.31/6.18/6.35/6.54) + 1 mile HR 137.
Got out for 6 miles on Saturday and calf was a bit sore but nothing major. I had tinkered with the idea of a second run that evening but as all my problems started almost to the day last year I decided to not bother with it. Little did I know it would be my last run for 6 days.
Weekly total: 83 miles
I wasn't really in the mood to run Sunday and with my calf the way it was easy to convince myself to give it a miss. I woke up on Monday (I was n't flying back until Tuesday morning) with a bad cold and feeling miserable. Now normally I'd run away with a cold but I was completely lacking in energy. It didnt abate for the week and I attempted a run on Thursday but had to give in after less than a mile and just go to bed.
By Saturday I was finally feeling some way normal so I attempted to run again and let off some pent up energy - felt Ok thankfully and managed 9.1 miles @6.33 HR 139.
I realised I really needed to get a long run in, so managed to restrict myself to water while watching Ireland retain their 6 nations title and got up early on Sunday morning. 4 weeks out from Manchester and at this stage last year I managed 24 miles. As always I aim for 20 & see what happens. Things went well for the first 13 miles or, I was cruising along at around 6.40 pace. It did get tricky then very quickly and by 16 miles I was knackerered. Held it together until 18miles after which my pace really dropped off and my hamstrings were suffering. Kept going until 22.4 miles or 2hrs35 minutes in absolute bits.
22.4miles @ 6.55 HR 137 Weekly Total: 32 miles

Was still wrecked on Monday, ran to and from work. The run in was bad but the run home was one of my toughest ever.
AM 4miles @ 7:54 HR 121
PM 4.3miles @ 8:17 HR115

Tired today (tuesday) but managed a slightly longer run in. Plan was to run home but screw it!
AM 7.3miles @ 7:33 HR 129

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ballycotton 10

On getting in to Cork I settled on Midleton as a venue for my run. Just managed an easy 6miles and I couldn't wait to get it done and dusted. Felt similarly on Saturday morning, 3 miles never felt so long!!
Friday 6 @ 7.18 HR 127
Sat 3miles @ 7.47 HR 125
And then the big day arrived, the 38th Ballycotton 10. The conditions were nigh on perfect with the light breeze due to push us home. I was nervous, I had 55 minutes in my head but knew it would be a pretty tall order. My weight had dropped to 62.1kg - you might n't be able to fatten the pig the day before the Mart but you can slim down the runner thankfully! I had some work to do Sunday morning so unlike other races I didn't go prerun the race in my head which I don't think made a difference either way – the plan usually goes out the window anyway!! 
After a big feed of carbs I hit the road but between the jigs and the reels I found myself quite late getting to the start line. I barely had time for a 2mile warm up which was done quickly and didn't even manage any strides. 
Maybe because of this when the gun went I struggled with the pace a little. Usually running down through the village is the easiest thing in the world. I reassured myself with how bad I felt for the first mile of the half marathon last year which turned out a PB so early days yet. I was struggling to stay with a group so let them go. I then got sucked in and spat out my Maria McCambidge's group and as I assumed she'd be 55 minutes plus so this worried me - as it turned out she smashed the course record with 54 minutes!
As we got to mile 2 I felt I had lost my head , I just wanted the damn thing to be over and was already thinking just get it over with and enjoy the social aspect of the day. As my pace dropped below 5.30 I realized I would probably end up outside 57 minutes. Things hadn't improved by mile 3 but I got good encouragement from an injured clubmate who was spectating and that sort of shook me up a bit. He has since told me that I looked determined but up to that point I was anything but!
I started to focus on the runner in front. My pace had drifted to 5.36 but as I approached mile 4 runners were definitely coming back to me. The next mile and a half were directly into the breeze so my pace drifted to 5.38. I knew I'd lose time on the hill to the finish so after the turn I focused on pulling back some time and other runners. I was conscious of dying from mile 7 last year and indeed in the 15k last month so was careful not to overcook it. The pace did come back to 5.36 though so a PB was starting to look a possibility now, with the tailwind. At this stage I had it in my head that every metre that passed before the sufferfest began was a bonus. 
Approaching mile 7, & taking every step feeling OK as a bonus (pic Gearóid Ó Laoi)
I passed 8 miles in 45 minutes - the exact same time as last year. 
I was behind a Leevale athlete now and my focus was to stay with him up the dreaded hill. Not alone did I achieve this but I passed and dropped him. I was really suffering now but still catching runners and more importantly my pace still read 5.36. C'mon Frankie !! With about 1200 to go I caught another runner and considered attempting to pass but he seemed to pick things up. Grand job I thought and I latched on and let him pull me to the finish. I was in agony now but I managed to see the clock tick through 56 minutes I gave one final push to get through in 56.13 a PB of 35 seconds and one place down on last year with 33rd. Whilst a long way off my goal time I would deffo have taken it at the 5 mile Mark!!
Inside the last 400m - being dragged along (photo Joe Murphy)
After a minute of catching my breath, the next race began - down to the pub to watch the European indoor 800ms final. I walked in with 2 club mates declared we had no money but asked the bemused bar maid could we watch it. For some reason I thought telling her that it would literally take less than two minutes would help our argument! She kindly switched on the telly, just in time to see Mark English claim a brilliant silver.
Managed a very slow warm down with some clubmates before heading home for some refueling and a shower. Finished the day out with some pleasant pints and even more pleasant food before hitting the hay quite content before midnight.
Warm up 2miles 10miles (5.23,5.30,5.44,5.39,5.48,5.36,5.32,5.31,5.42,5.29,5.06 pace for last bit) warm down 1.3 miles. Weekly total: 54.6 miles
 Was woken early by a howling gale and rain. Managed to get back to sleep but just after 7am I decided to hit the road. Thankfully I had left my car in Ballycotton so had no option than to brave the elements. I took an extended route for a 5mile trot, covering some of the course from the day before. Didn't feel terrible but not incredible either. Managed to get a more enjoyable hour in at noon before having lunch and heading for the airport 
AM: 5miles @ 7.40 HR 131
PM: 8.3miles @ 7.00 HR 133
After remembering how knackered I was the last time I did a double the day after a late flight I set my alarm for 7.30 to give a bit of a lie in. Woke just before 7 so went out and did my most enjoyable morning run down by a lake, as it was daylight and running to work wasn’t an option due to needing to bring my PC in. Felt OK during the day but as soon as I laced up my shoes to head home I realized I was knackered and the hour was quite a struggle.
AM: 8.6miles @ 7.15 HR 132
PM: 8.4miles @ 7.10 HR 132
Was up a little earlier this morning but it was still reasonably bright so managed to run to work via some lakeside trails. Nice to get off the tarmac for at least part of the run. Felt pretty tired and even now a few hours later the stairs are proving a bit of a challenge. I’m conscious of not killing myself this week after getting injured the week after Ballycotton last year, so even though the miles are high they are pretty low intensity.

AM: 8.4miles @ 7.05 HR 132

Friday, 6 March 2015

Running late

So my recovery week didn't get off to the most auspicious start. After the hard week of training, I let the hair down a little on Sunday afternoon and had a few beers while watching Ireland put in a stellar performance against England in the 6 nations rugby. Ended up pigging out foodwise for the evening after being pretty disciplined all week, but I guess there's no major crime in that. It did come as a bit of a shock to my system though and as a result I hardly slept. At least this meant I was up in plenty of time for the flight back to Denmark. After getting to the airport in plenty of time I needed to find a petrol station and from there everything fell apart. I located a filling station but alas finding my way back to the airport proved elusive due to my terrible navigational skills.
By the time I got there my flight was closed and I nearly cried with frustration. Now I've missed plenty of flights in my time but it's usually been because of an epic night on the lash but for half a tank of sans plomb, give me a break! 
Thankfully I managed to get another flight departing about 4 hours later. I contemplated getting a run in but my stomach felt like it contained a shot putt, and not the ladies one at that. I trudged like a condemned man through security but miraculously I resisted the urge to go on a junk food binge which was sorely tempting, but the shot putt called foul at least.
 Almost went for a run when I got back to my apartment that evening but decided against it, said I might as well let the body recover from the week it had just endured. This has been an idea I had been toying with, so decided to execute it. Rather than a full low key week I was thinking why not break it two, ie recover a bit, build up a bit and then recover again. My logic is that rather than a week where there's no progress at all, by having a mini peak in the middle of the week I might make some gains but as the overall mileage is still down the body should hopefully recover just as much as if I did low mileage all week. 
I had sort of done this in the build up to Ballycotton last year but hadn't taken the Monday off, but I also had had a quiet weekend running wise at least in the lead up to it, so a Monday off wouldn't have made sense.
On Tuesday I did a session of 400s. I didn't even bother with the track, just found a flat stretch of road on my commute from work. Felt terrible and had times in the low to mid 80's. Yuk.
Ran to work Tuesday morning, taking the most direct route for once and also conscious of not arriving at the same time as the chefs (i use their locker room) I put the hammer down and ended up averaging 6.38 per mile.
Did a more sedate run on the way home but exchanged quality for quantity and did just over 10 miles. Ran in again Thursday morning but took a long route this time. Was up early this morning for a flight home and will do a run once I hit terra firma.
As a side note my weight has been frustrating me this week. I know I did the dog Sunday night but I had been good all week, and although as I hadn't weighed myself I definitely felt leaner. My weight was 65 kg on Tuesday morning but I expected it was just bloating from salt etc. I thought I'd be back to normal by today but as I stepped on the scale this morning I was still 63.8kg. I know my mileage has been down but I've reduced my intake to match. Anyway was in a similar situation last year and it didn't seem to figure against me so we'll see how it goes. 
Tuesday: 8x400m 8.7 miles total
Wed AM 4miles @ 6:38 HR140
PM 10.3miles @ 7:16 HR 131

Thursday 8.8mile @ 7:31 HR 125 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Fin de siècle

Today brought a bit of a milestone, my first ever imperial century or 100 miles in a week. Hopefully not the last one but a good week for the first considering that I'm off work. Was awake quite late last night - stayed up to watch the Carl Frampton boxing match and ended up just surfing the net for a few  hours after so it was about 3am before I finally shut my eyes. Was awake around 8.30am but didn't head out for a run until around 10. Had stuffed myself after the long run yesterday so wasn't that hungry so just ate some mango before hitting the road.
Wasn't sure where I'd go so headed off up a dirt road I had found a few days ago. This brought me up into the hills behind the hotel and I found the hippodrome which housed a 400m track which I had originally planned on using . In hindsight I'm glad I didn't as it was very exposed and I can imagine quite windswept so I was probably better off with the one in Fuengirola which has served me well.
Once I got up to higher ground I was keen to stay up there as long as possible to make the last few miles easier, so I ended up doing a few over and backs before finally heading back down to sea level. Felt quite nice once I knew I was into the last couple of miles with a hearty breakfast calling to me and knowing I am heading into a recovery week leading up to Ballycotton.
10.2miles @ 7.25 HR 130

Weekly total: 101miles

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A tale of two halves

I found myself awake a little after 5 but spent the next few hours drifting in and out of slumber before getting up around 8am. After a small bowl of porridge and a toasted chicken sandwich I had my coffee and prepared myself for today's long run. Was looking forward to trying out a route which took me along the coast into Fuengirola before turning right and running along by a river for a while, bringing me into the hills and then back through the countryside before coming down to the coast again further South than where I began so I would have another couple of miles to get back to base. I reckoned it was between 10 and 15 miles so would do 2 laps if it was at the short end of the scale. 
 Once I got going I was quickly down to sub 7 miling and felt grand. Heart rate was high 130s, the sun was shining and there was only a light breeze and I was enjoying the run. After about 5miles was able to go onto a dirt road for a few miles which was nice although it was a little off camber. Once I got to 7miles the hill really kicked in and my pace started to slow from a fastest of 6.43 and by the time I got to the top was at 6.51. Just before the top I can remember feeling great and thought I could run all day long. At this point I took a gel that I'd brought along. It was the same that's being provided at the marathon so just wanted to make sure it didn't have any side effects. Just then as I was heading downhill I went under a bridge that I thought maybe I should be on. Came across an extremely steep road which appeared to head up to the bridge. After a few hundred metres I spotted that it didn't but also noticed I had been right all along. 
 Despite heading downhill again my rhythm was broken and I had the first inkling of suffering. I was back at the coast at 10 miles but wasn't half the man I was 2 miles earlier. Got back to base at around 12.5 miles and picked up a bottle and set off towards Fuengirola once more. Pace had dropped off to 6.55 or so but now it was just about keeping going. Once I got to the river again I had 16miles done so I doubled back. Was really starting to suffer now but decided to run past the hotel for a mile so I'd be almost at 20 when I got back. The primary objective is always to get to 20 and then see what I'm good for! 
Not much as it turned out but I struggled on, and reminded myself why I was here. Decided I wanted to do 2hrs35 and this coincided almost exactly with 22 miles as my pace had sunk below 7 minutes per mile. Not that I really cared!!

22 miles @ 7.02 HR 135 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Perhaps understandably I was a bit apprehensive attempting my third session in 5 days but I decided since Wednesday s tempo hadn't been that fast maybe I wouldn't need as long recovery. Plus I had only done one run yesterday. Regardless I decided no matter what I did it would be a bonus on an already good, if not incredible week. Today is also the least windy of the week so far which made a nice change. 
 The plan was for mile repeats again and I said the best way to start was to attack it from the off and hold on for dear life. 
With this in mind I was below 5minute miling for the first lap and even though it got very tough I managed to hang on for a 5.28. Muy Buen! Approached the second with the same strategy and achieved the same result off 2.30 recovery. Said I'd definitely do 3 and then perhaps reevaluate and duly knocked out a 5.32. So far so good but was really starting to tire now. Managed a 4th in 5.36 but it was on the 5th the wheels came off and I ended up stopping after one lap (87 sec btw). Hmm what to do. Decided maybe a few 400s wouldn't go astray especially since I'd unwittingly already done the first. Felt okay on the second and managed 75 seconds which I was happy enough with. The next was a little slower in 78 but still acceptable. My pace was a bit slower on the next and the effort was a bit less. So much so I kept going and going and ended up with a mile in 5.33! Finished off with another 400 in 81 to complete a strange session but worthwhile.
Happy to have all my speedwork out of the way, although I know there's the small matter of a long run to come. Still I feel I can relax a little now, so much so I'm still at the track two hours later, stretched and foam rolled enjoying a coffee in the sun. This is the life :) 

2 mile warm up. 5x 1mile 4x400m 2.5mile warm down 12miles total

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Finished off yesterday with a very easy 25 minutes. Was shattered so kept it brief even though inexplicably I managed 6.53 for the second mile...
PM 3.5 miles @ 7.08 HR 127
Was in bed at around 8.30 but took a while to drift off. Slept late but ran pre breakfast just so it wouldn't be too much of a shock when it's not an option. Did 80 minutes only kept going by the notion that if I did more than an hour I wouldn't have to go out again.
11miles @ 7.21 HR 133
Writing this from the McDonalds on the Spanish Gibraltar border. Drove down for something to do not realising one needs a passport to actually get to Gibraltar!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

going around in circles

Yesterday was meant to be a relatively easy day but it felt anything but. After breakfast I headed out on a route recommended by a guy in the hotel. Straight away it went up, up, up which was no fun, fun, fun. I struggled through it though and was thinking maybe I suffered due to a lack of carbs at breakfast, or maybe I just felt bad cos I just felt bad!
After an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing I got in another few miles on flatter ground which went a bit better.
AM: 8.2 miles @ 7.18 HR 135
PM: 5miles @ 6.58 HR 129
Spent the rest of the day agonising, yes agonising over where to do a temporary run today. Whilst there's a nice promenade in Fuengirola, it's made from bricks so no doubt would wreck me. I drove around looking for somewhere else but at 3am this morning I decided to do it on the track. The things that keep me awake at night! With this decided I drifted off dreaming of 5.50 pace or below. On waking up at 8 I could hear that it was quite windy out which reiterated the idea to use the track.
Really struggled, partly due I think to the monotony of the track but more so I guess due to mile repeats 2 days ago. Averaged 5.57 with splits of 5.48, 5.55, 5.59, 6.00, 6.04, 6.02 and 5.48 for the last quarter. Not too bad considering I wanted to stop from about 1.5miles in!!
Treated myself to a crepe and ice cream as a reward!
The plan is to go to the track again Friday as it's closed at the weekend but I'll see what way the body is tomorrow.
Warm-up 2.25 miles. 10k at 5.57 cooldown 2.6miles.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Domingo - Esta la pista ,eh Open?

Despite pretty much sitting on the stove for two hours after the ice bath, I didn’t really feel heat in my bones until I got out for a second run in the evening. As I was in Midleton and was under a little pressure I ended up going a little faster than usual, but legs felt grand once they got going. Being under pressure for time has always made me run a little faster so maybe I should make important plans for after every race!
PM: 6.6miles @ 6.34 HR 141
Woke up early on Sunday and lay in bed for an hour before getting up at 6am. Spent the next few hours watching the Birmingham indoor grand prix from the day before before having breakfast around nine. The rain was falling all morning but thankfully the strong winds that had been forecast didn't materialise as I went out for my run around 11. Was flying initially, almost continuing where I left off the previous day but I don’t know if fatigue set in or mentally I put the brakes on, knowing I had a session planned for Monday. Pace really went down, as did the rain and would have called it a day after 10 miles but I wanted to round off the week to 90 miles, which isn't bad considering Wednesday and Thursday fell into the ‘jour sans’ category!

11.7miles @ 7.18 HR 135

Right now I've got Monday off to a decent enough start, I have a week off work so headed for Malaga last night (not spur of the moment - decided a few weeks ago). After a breakfast of porridge brought from home I found a track relatively easy. Was a little apprehensive due to fear of Friday's long run being still in my legs and felt a bit under pressure to perform after my effort of getting here. The plan was for mile repeats and after a warmup the legs did indeed feel kind of tired on the first repeat. There wasn't the holding back that I often need to do on the first but I managed to get under 5.35 as planned with a 5.34. After 2.30 recovery actually felt a little better on the second but still not great and got through in 5.30, nice. The third was fine too with a 5.32 and I was thinking about who things fell apart the last day at the Mardyke after the third. This must have spurred me on as I knocked out a 5.25 for the fourth with a more sensible 5.33 on the fifth before giving everything on the sixth to get under 5.30 and duly ended up with 5.28. Happy days, was well spent after and just sat in the Sun and relaxed for a while before an afternoon of doing nothing other than eat.

Got out for another few miles in the evening and felt comfortably tired but not knackered. Had hoped to go back to the track on next Sunday, as I fly back to Denmark Monday morning but turns out it's closed for the weekend , go figure...

AM 2 mile warmup 6x1mile with 2.30 recoveries (5.34, 5,30, 5.32, 5.25, 5.33, 5.28) 2.5 mile cooldown total 12miles
PM 6miles @ 7.07 HR 133

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A strange week

This week has been quite strange, starting quite well with a dip in the middle but thankfully getting back on track (though not literally) towards the end.
Started the week with a long run pre breakfast. I did a few of these last year and found they brought me on a bit so said I'd give it another go. Went pretty well. As I was flying back monday evening I squeezed in my second run in the early afternoon on pretty tired legs getting 20 miles in for the day.
AM: 13miles @7.38 HR 131
PM: 7miles @7.17 HR 135
For the first time ever I attempted a morning run to work after getting in late post flight and I have to say I found it really hard to get going. Struggled through however and the run home was actually worse. Felt oh so tired and just wanted my bed as soon as I got home in a bit of a daze.
AM: 7.4miles @7.43 HR 123
PM: 4.5miles @7.32 HR 123
On Wednesday I was still pretty knackered but said I'd better go to the track. I was planning a fast finish long run for the weekend so forewent my usual tempo run in favour of another session of mile repeats. Felt rubbish on the jog towards the track and threw in the towel after about 300m's of the first  repeat. Decided I needed an extra day's recovery so just did an easy hour in total, which felt anything but easy!
8.25miles @7.29 HR 125
On Thursday I wasn't feeling any better. Both physically and mentally I was just drained. Ended up stuffing myself at lunchtime thinking maybe I hadn't been eating enough, but if anything it just made me feel worse. Started doubting myself and whether all this work was worth it and in a fit of self pity took the day off. Went to bed at 8.30pm which was no harm as had to be up at 3.20am to begin the journey home.
Got a pretty good night's sleep considering and debated whether I should attempt my long run as soon as I landed or wait until Saturday. Did a fair bit of carbo loading while waiting at the airports so decided to put it to good use and headed straight to Mahon from the airport. The plan was to do 10 miles easy followed by 6 miles getting progressively faster. 
Even though I didn't feel exceptional during the opening 10 miles my pace was good, getting down to about 6.53/mile before a few 7min miles brought me back to 6.56. I had left my HR strap in Denmark so was relying on feel but didn't feel I was over exerting myself. I said to myself if I did 2 miles at 6.30, 2 more at 6.20 and a final 2 at 6.10 it would be a good day out so with this in mind I set out on my 11th mile a little nervous and a little excited. Straight away I was at below 6 minute mile pace and  felt grand but probably more to do with the garmin adjusting to the increase in speed. Made sure to back off though - better to go for longer rather than faster. Did re-evaluate though and decided to aim for a drop of 5 seconds per mile rather than 10 every 2 miles. Plan actually worked almost perfectly. Felt very much in control, adjusting my speed slightly as required. Ended up with 8 miles getting faster and faster and as recommended by Greg McMillan finished off flat out. It was pleasing to see my last 5 miles were pretty much an average of 6 minute per mile which was a nice way to end an 18 miler and only really had to dig deep on the last mile and a half or so.
10miles @ 6.56 + 8miles (6.26, 6.22, 6.18, 6.11, 6.00, 5.59, 6.02, 5.52) + 2miles warmdown
Did a very gentle run in the evening to help recovery: 3.3miles @8.05 HR120 (bought a new Strap!)

So this morning. Did an easy hour - legs felt OK considering . Made the best of an overnight fall of snow to have a free ice bath!
AM 8.2miles @ 7.21 HR 131

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Sunshine, rain & pancakes

Sitting down with ice on my quads as they are quite tired now after another session of mile repeats. Just did an easy run yesterday as planned. It would have been easy to do a few miles more in the warm (yes warm!) sunshine. 8miles @7.19 HR135bpm.
So on to the session. Was interested to see how it would go, had 5.35's in my head as I drove to Cork with the window wipers on full. Thankfully the rain stopped just as I parked up at the Mardyke. Felt grand warming up, but didn't feel particularly fast on the first, but did manage to get through in 5.34. Took a reasonable recovery of 2.17 and followed it up with another 5.34 which felt slightly better. After an almost similar recovery the third mile was 5.35 - so far so good. Was starting to tire so extended the recovery to 2.30, but seemingly not enough as the next mile was a disappointing 5.46. Strangely I had to run quite a bit past the start line to get to the mile (definitely more than 9 metres!) But thems the breaks and I wasn't complaining when the garmin seemed to be beeping early the last day out. Took an even longer recovery as darkness set in before banging out another 'long' mile in 5.40 after seeing 5.47 pace with around 400m to go. Took a really long recovery before the final effort (3.17) and dug deep to finish with a 5.39 finishing on the crest of the track so it was definitely long. Finished off with 2 incredibly slow miles for a warm down giving a weekly total of 93miles.
Warm up 2 miles 6x1mile Warm down 2 miles.
Then brought the highlight of the day - some pancakes with peanut butter while looking out the car window at the rain which resumed as soon as I finished, Pancake Tuesday is just around the corner after all.
Both quads and hamstrings are now iced so time to hit the hay.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Upping the Tempo

I was a little apprehensive as I headed out on a warm up for my Tempo run. I hadn't been making massive progress and had only managed 6.08minute/mile on my previous effort 2 weeks earlier. I had been at about 5.45per mile at the 10k mark during Sunday’s race (slipping to 5.49 by the end) which gave me some confidence but was also aware that the race would still be in my legs. On this week last year I managed a steady state run of 8 miles @ 5.59 pace so that put me under a little bit of pressure as well.
Did n’t feel great during the warmup, but once I got going I felt reasonable and went through the first mile in 6.01. Slipped back a bit on the second, but pulled it back on the 3rd as usual happens due to the gradient with a 6.07 and a 5.53. The 4th went well with a 5.56, so far so good. The last few outings brought a real drop off over the last 2 and a quarter miles so I was determined to keep it going for at least one of them. Half way through mile 5 I could see I was still averaging 6min/miling so thought at least I wouldn't be too far off at the end. At this point the course goes into darkness so I was running purely on feel. Felt my pace had dropped off a bit so was delighted when I saw 6 flat at 5 miles! Just kept pushing and was even happier to see 5.59 for the 6th. Pushed hard for the last quarter which is predominantly downhill and averaged 5.30 pace bringing me under the 6 minute/miling and unofficially what I consider OK shape.  
warmup 2.25 10k Tempo @5.59 HR164 cooldown 4.6
The plan for Thursday was a long run. For some reason or perhaps due to rose tinted glasses I seem to be dreading them a lot more than last year, when I almost looked forward to my jaunt into the west Zealand countryside. It’s possibly because my cycle is 2 weeks earlier in the year than for Limerick and also I started doing 20 milers a little earlier in the cycle. The first few miles went ok and I was under 7 minute/miling until about the 5 mile mark. I definitely felt a bit better than last week, but that's not saying much! By the time I got to 8 miles I just told myself to stick with it and tried to remember that the more I did now the less I’d have to do at the weekend (in Ireland). Got through it, but it certainly wasn't fun.
20.6 @7.19 HR136
As I was flying home on Friday at 10am I got up early to bang out a few slow miles. The plan was to do 6.3 (to bring me to 70miles for the week so far) and anything else would be bonus territory. This seemed to work and I managed a total of 10 albeit very slowly! My quads were quite sore but in a tired rather than niggly way which is fine. Did a small bit of foam rolling after breakfast before heading for the airport, smiling at the knowledge that tomorrow could be another recovery day.
10 @7.53 HR125

Weight was down to 63.8kg (pre run) so nice progress there, but as always trips to Ireland tend to fraught with excess - you can't beat mammy's cooking!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Double Trouble

Ran home again clocking up just under 8 miles, a little faster than the morning (7.75 @7.07min/miles HR136bpm)
On Tuesday morning I made a conscious decision to run a little slower, or a slightly lower effort moreso. Felt grand, but as the day went on I was absolutely knackered. Hadn’t slept well – again! So was glad I only had a few miles to do in the PM. Left work earlyish and was able to complete my run in daylight, which was both a novelty and allowed me to take a slightly more interesting route home, off the tarmac and around a lake. This time the decision to run slower was n’t conscious, but just couldn’t have gone any faster!
AM 8.2miles @7.21 min/mi HR130bpm PM 5.3 @7.24 min/mi HR130bpm.

I was glad not to run this morning but will attempt a Tempo run this evening. I’m sure Sunday is still in my legs so will take it as it comes.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Recovering to Race

For once I have to say I quite enjoyed my recovery week. After my aqua jogging on Monday I did my only planned session of the week on Tuesday. When I got back to Denmark on Monday night there was a pretty thick covering of snow on the ground and as there was no real sign of the temperatures creeping above 0deg C, it was going to stick around for a few days. As a result I didn’t even attempt to make it to a running track so instead found a stretch of cycle path that had been salted. This being Denmark wasn’t difficult. Did 8x400m with 2 minutes recovery. As there was a slight gradient the uphill ones went from 82 to 80 while the downhill ones went from 77 down to 73. Total 8 miles. Followed the session up with well, a session of a different nature. After starting with a glass of water (I was at a gig) I managed to rack up a fair few pints followed by a trip to McDonalds while I waited for my train home which never showed up!
Despite my ropiness on Wednesday I managed another easy 8 miles (@7:22 HR135bpm).
I was back to full cylinders Thursday and did an AM run (8.4miles @7:05 HR136bpm). It was nice to be back running close to 7min miles. Did 5 miles on both Friday (PM) and Saturday (AM) to give myself a real rest before a race on Sunday. (5miles @7:05 HR134bpm and 5miles @7:20 HR133bpm)
Might have ran faster had I known I was being chased by a Ninja

So onto the race, which was a metric 10miler, or 15K in other numbers. Felt pretty confident and set myself a target of worst case 55 minutes and best case below 54. The snow disappeared on Saturday but unfortunately it was replaced by a biting wind. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the route changed direction quite often so we wouldn’t be running into it for too long at any one time. Did a very easy 2 mile warm up with a few strides. Once the race got started I settled into a group and felt comfortable going through the first mile in 5.42, just under my target of 5.45 (but we had a tailwind/downhill). The next few miles all felt comfortable but the wind was quite strong at times and I was expending a little more energy than planned, splits were 5:48, 5:48, 5:43, 5:46, 5:49. Unfortunately I went from pushing the pace one minute to letting the group I was in go. I lost concentration and was expecting to be going with the wind but found ourselves heading into the wind again – I shouldn’t have let it affect me but it did. Despite this the next mile was in 5:44. I was alone but there was a guy just behind me. I used him to push me on but try as I might to drop him, I couldn’t, which was actually great as he really was pushing me. We were now heading into the wind for pretty much the next two miles and had a slight drag to boot. At one stage we went through a section of dirt and the dust was blinding. My pace had dropped right off and I had a 6.00 followed by a 6:05. Finally we turned for home with about a Km to go and I just dug as deep as I could not to get caught by any fast finishers including my buddy who was still there. It was hard to judge exactly how far was left when I saw a guy up ahead going left instead of to the finish which I knew to be on the right. Oh no!! (although the words I used weren’t as polite) I thought as it dawned on me there was another little loop before the finish. It was only another 200m’s if even but still. I managed to keep the hammer down and as I rounded the ultimate bend I felt fairly confident that my 3 pursuers wouldn’t catch me. I could see the clock ticking towards 55 minutes and did my best to get under it but had to make do with 55:03 for 24th overall. Despite not being ecstatic, it was definitely progress but still a long way short of where I want to be for Ballycotton (McMillian gave a 10 mile equivalent of 59.23). Will hopefully be able to bear this in mind for the next 3 weeks.

Ran to work this morning and felt reasonably well. A little slower than of late but still fine: 8.6miles @ 7:13 HR135bpm  

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Ready for recovery

Had a pretty busy day Saturday and only got home at 8pm so the notion of a run was never really on th e cards. 
I discovered I had things to do in East Cork on both Sunday evening and Monday morning so decided to stay over. When deciding where to stay exactly I was thinking of near the mardyke in Cork so I could go to the track but then thought there was a good chance it would be frozen.
I then had the brain wave that I could make a return to my old stomping or rather splashing ground at garryvoe hotel where I used to aqua jog before moving to Denmark. With this in mind and too much food in my belly I headed off for my run on Sunday. I did 4 miles at 6.30 pace to see where the legs were (in bits as it turned out) so just ambled to another 4. This brought my weekly total to 81.5 so I decided 30 minutes aqua jogging could round me up to my target of 85.
8miles @7.08 HR 142

The plan was to do 60 minutes Monday morning and not run at all making a good start to my recovery week. I managed to achieve this despite not making it back to the hotel until 2.20am and having to wait 15 minutes for the unapologetic night porter to let me. Still 60 minutes in the water was easier than 60 minutes out in the cold so I was happy enough to take a load off before heading to Dublin for a flight back to Copenhagen.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

More miles...

I continued my habit of following the Tempo run with a double the next day. My legs were a little tired in the morning, but in the evening I found myself going at a fair old clip. While it was enjoyable I had a feeling I'd pay for it Wednesday morning.
AM 8.2miles @ 7.18 HR 139
PM 8.4miles @ 7.15 HR 138
 Sure enough Wednesday's AM run was a little slower but I think it was more to do with the headwind than fatigue. By Wednesday evening there was a storm blowing so what little temptation there was for another double quickly dissipated.
AM 10 miles @ 7.29 HR 135 
Thursday was track time again, the weather was still far from ideal with strong winds and flurries of snow. My hope had been to be close to 5.40 for 6 mile repeats since last week had gone so well. I didn't get off to a great start and my legs felt tired from the off. I decided there was no point in trying to force it on the first repeat so struggled to a 5.45. The second was even worse, partly due to absent mindedly doing too short a recovery so I ended up with 5.51. By now I resigned myself to the fact that if I managed to stay under 6minutes I'd be ok, just finish it out. After a more sensible recovery I managed to get down to 5.49. Sort of miraculously and with the help of some extra long recoveries I managed to bang out two 5.39's and a 5.36 to finish which was great considering how the session had started. Not sure if it was the weather changing slightly , the longer recovery or the GPS playing tricks (I take the distance from my watch rather than the track) but I didn't complain. Finishing out the session was the important thing. Warm up 3miles, 6x1 3miles warm down.
Felt pretty crappy on Friday, not sure if it was because I had a long run hanging over me all day or what. My sleep is still pretty bad but probably got my best nights sleep of the week on Thursday night. Anyway the hope was to do another 20 miles but so that I didn't feel under too much pressure told myself that anything more than 13 would suffice. It's still early days. Felt rubbish from the off but my pace was fast, hovering just over 7min /miling - I think I just wanted to get it over with!
By 6 miles I had slowed up though and really felt like stopping but decided another 6 miles feeling awful would be good for mental strength. By the time I got back to the start I had 13 miles done and said I'd do another half mile and once that was done was able to struggle on for another mile. Never strayed far from the office and continued like this, thinking about every mile being one less to do at the weekend. Once I got to 18.5, decided there was no way I was going to get this far and not do 20 and sure enough I did exactly that. Toughest run in a long time, but definitely a good tactic to stay close to base when knackered and only having to worry about each 1/2mile at a time.
20 miles @ 7.21 HR 139

Another brutal nights sleep but this time it was due to having to be up at 3.30 for a flight home. Nice to know I can take today off but will decide later if I want to go for a nice easy run. Weighed myself when I got up and am down to 64.8 kgs which is nice, considering I seemed to be stuck on 68 only a few weeks ago. Haven't been starving myself at all but funny how cutting out the little things like hot chocolate are making all the difference. No doubt I'll spring back up a bit as always on weekends at home but managed to resist the pastries in the lounge at Copenhagen airport earlier so there's hope for me yet! 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

After last Monday’s bad start I was filled with trepidation for Tuesday’s tempo run. My trepidation was well placed, after glancing at my watch during the warm up I noticed I was doing slower than 8 minute miling. Once I got started I did however do the first mile in 6.07 so was thinking maybe I was in for a pleasant surprise. The second was a little slower but I felt awful. I really wanted to stop but knew I’d regret it and pushed on. After holding it together as far as mile 4 the wheels really came off and the last two miles were both slower than 6.30. But to be honest I was just happy that I finished it. Looking at my HR, my average was only 160 and looking back at my HR for the 3K race it was also lower, only peaking at 170 whereas I would have expected to max out (around 178ish). I interpret this as fatigue, which is understandable considering my high mileage of late. Warmup 2miles Tempo run 6.25miles @6.18 HR 160 Warmdown 4.75miles
Thankfully the rest of the week showed a major improvement, Wednesday an easy 8miles AM followed by 5PM with 10miles AM on Thursday.
On Friday it was time to hit the track again and I did a session of 6x1mile. I had it in my head that the first one should be no faster than 6.00 or 5.50 if I was going really well. Completely surprised myself with a 5.41 but felt grand. Decided to see if I could make sure I was under 5.50 for the remainder and I was with (5.47,5.45,5.46,5.47 & 5.46) . Only really felt under pressure towards the end of the 5th and for most of the 6th but overall a good session.
I planned a long run Saturday, but as I had a few hours work to do, I was little undecided which to do first. After seeing there was a good chance of snow later in the day I said best get the run out of the way (It started snowing heavily almost as soon as I finished!). After Monday’s disaster I was hoping things would go a little better & in fairness they did. Got in my first 20 miler and at 7.10 pace to boot. Felt fine though and the last few miles were only a shade over 7 minute miling giving  20miles @7.10 HR141. This gave me a weekly total of 86miles (highest ever) and afforded me my first day off, of the year on Sunday. Decided that I deserved a few beers which I thoroughly enjoyed and even managed to resist hitting the Pizzeria afterwards. Had a very lazy Sunday.   

Yesterday was Tempo time again and even though I was still a little shook after Saturday night I was hopeful of being close to 6 minute miling. Again my first mile was 6.07 and after the second I was at an average of 6.10per mile. However after a 3rd mile in 5.54 I was down to 6.03 average by mile 4. Alas once more the wheels came off & I ended up with a 6.15 & 6.16 for the last 2 miles giving an average of 6.07 @165bpm. Better than last week but still a bit off. I have an easy week planned for next week & I think it is well needed at this stage. Still, not there yet.

Monday, 19 January 2015

a bad day out of office

Today was a bad day, and it was entirely my own fault although I'm not sure if it was entirely physical or mental or a combination of both. After returning from Nenagh I had some food, a little too much as I had promised Olan I'd take him for Pizza. When we got to the pizza restaurant I foolishly picked one with lots of salty and fatty bacon. As a result of this and ahem dessert I found myself gasping with the thirst when I woke during the night. 
My plan was to do my first 20 miler today but from the first step I felt off. I struggled on hoping that it would improve as the run progressed. Managed a decent enough clip for the first few miles and was down at around 7.05 pace but started to really struggle at the first major hill at mile 8. This was also the end of the first loop so it did cross my mind to call it a day.
Soldiered on and felt a little better for a while but on approaching the hill for the second time I felt awful. The only thing that stopped me from stopping was shame juxtaposed with the fear of freezing. Eventually fatigue outweighed pride and I adopted a run walk strategy for about half a mile before managing to amble the last mile home.
A very sobering experience which will hopefully stick with me next time I'm thinking of stuffing myself with junk food.

16.3 miles @ 7.43 HR 137