Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Easy Miles

23 miles into the London Marathon I felt some discomfort in my left knee which gradually got worse and shortly after finishing the race it felt very sore and as I cooled down it became uncomfortable to walk.  I self diagnosed it as being iliotibial band syndrome (IT band) a very common running complaint but one I had so far managed to avoid.  First thing on Monday morning I booked a lunchtime massage and it's only now 3 days after the race that I was able to walk without any pain so I decided to try an easy run.  Went out for an easy 3 miles and although I know I could have gone longer I thought it best to err on the side of caution and gradually get back into it.  My plan for this weekend is to spend as much time as possible in the mountains and concentrate on climbing and descending rather than distance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Flora London Marathon 09

I arrived into London on Friday evening and shortly after booking into my hotel I started my carbo loading routine with a Pasta & Pizza meal before having an early night.  Remembering how busy the Marathon expo was last year I decided it best to head out to collect my race number and timing chip early on Saturday rather than rushing later on in the day.  Met up with Steven Seaton at the Runner's World stand and chatted for a bit before I did my numerous laps checking out all the stands at least twice which is one of my favourite things about Marathon running.

After an hour or so at the expo I headed back to my hotel via Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory where at last I finally had my chance to stand on the Prime Meridian.  This has been one of my things to do since I stood at the geographic North Pole and the point where all the earths lines of longitude meet so that's another job done.

Race Day can be quite busy and because the Pacing team were meeting quite early my day started at 6am to allow for breakfast in my room, a quick shower and time to check out of the hotel before heading for the first train to Greenwich at 7am.  Met as planned with the Pacing team at 8:30am and following a quick chat we were assigned to our starting areas and I then made my way over to the Blue Start and Pen 3 at Blackheath.  

With this pace and distance I can manage with a minimum amount of fluid and my pre race plan was to drink only a mouthful of Lucozade at each aid station spaced 5K apart to keep my carbohydrate stores topped up and not bother with the water at the 1 mile intervals but that plan was based on the original weather forecast which mentioned clouds and showers.  The day couldn't have been more different and as I made my way to the start line I was thinking on my feet and the original plan changed.

The day was a lot hotter than I expected and this is when experience pays off as I knew in advance how much fluid I would need based on the air temperature and after meeting a few of the runners that would be using my services I assigned one to supply me with Lucozade Sport at every aid station and another to get my water if required. 

The first mile was to be our slowest at 8:33 min pace and over the next 5-6 miles I made up the lost seconds by running at times of between 7:50 - 8min with the occasional slower mile of no more than 10 seconds over.  After the half way mark we had established a good steady pace following the race line and i was drinking at every aid station and sweating it out as quickly.  Some of the group were starting to suffer but at mile 20 there were still a few familiar faces and a few more runners that we had passed decided to join up with us.  We talked our way up to mile 23 and then dug in for the final push.

The support all along the course has to be seen to be believed but on the approach to mile 25 the crowds seemed to get bigger and louder and although I've done this race a few times I was still distracted by the crowd and I missed the 26 mile mark.  I was looking around and double checking my watch and then I heard the BBC announcer calling for a big cheer to welcome in the Runner's World Pacer and I then crossed the line in 3hr 29min 30sec which overall was 29 seconds ahead of time.  My average Pace for the race was 7min 59 seconds and you won't get much closer than that..

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meet the Pacers

Well its that time again and tomorrow I head to London to take part in the London Marathon as part of the Runner's World Pacing Team.  My mileage this week was relatively low with one short Tempo run of 5 miles at 6min30 pace.  I felt that I needed this short fast run to loosen my legs up and make up for not fitting in my usual long and semi long runs.  You will maintain endurance with some speed work but you won't build speed from endurance work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Spink / Glendalough

My training so far this year hasn't included much hill work and because 'The North Face 100' will include 4500M of Ascent / Descent it's important that I prepare my hill climbing muscles as much as possible over the next few weeks.
With that in mind I finished off last week with a short run in Glendalough taking in a circuit of  a classic route called The Spink and added a few extra climbs concentrating on ascent & descent rather than distance.  The attached photo was taken during my run which started at the Glendalough Hotel next to the small lake which is visible in the middle of the Photo.

I'll take it easy enough this week and treat it as a rest week but as soon as I return from London it'll be back to business and I'll be training in the hills with every available opportunity.  Having completed 100K fairly recently I'm confident that I can cover the distance and having ran non stop up the Empire State Building I know I can climb.  Running London and finishing as planned will prove I can hold a steady pace and I'm injury free unlike this time last year when I was out of action for almost a month with a back injury before the Inca Trail Marathon.  It's all coming together......

I'll be running at a set pace of 8 min mile during the London Marathon using the mile markers and clock to determine my effort and in Australia I'll be using my Heart Rate to determine my effort and pace.  This will mean slowing down on the climbs and speeding up on the descents and flat.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Keepak 8 Miler

All the long slow runs have made me a bit lazy so I was really looking forward to racing the BHAA Keepak 8 Miler yesterday but instead I ended up watching the race and was left wondering would I have set a new PB (Personal Best) on the familiar course?  Pictured at the race yesterday were Tony & Dave representing Le Cheile.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sports Massage

I always wondered why my wife insisted on using the same hairdresser all the time as do most of the girls I know but yesterday I was getting a massage with the same guy I've been going to for the last 3 years and after the massage he said 'I've seen you a lot worse'.  He knows what I've done over the last few years and has helped me recover from injury and prepare for races so he knows a lot about me and it was then it dawned on me that when you find someone you trust and that knows their job you should stick with them.  

Anyway, not a lot happening at the moment as I'm between races and although not Tapering for London I'm taking it a bit easier.  Took most of the Easter weekend off apart from an early morning 15 mile run with Tony last Friday.  We started out at 07:00 am and ran for 2 hrs at 8 min mile pace without a pre planned route which made for a very enjoyable start to the day and end of my training week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fitness Testing

If you decide on taking up running or some other form of exercise for whatever reason it's always a good idea to carry out some form of test to determine your current level of fitness and retesting to monitor your progress.  If the results improve you know what you are doing is working and if they show no improvements you know that some adjustments are needed.
What is a fitness test? This can be something as simple as timing yourself over a measured course, noting the results and re doing the exact same procedure after 3 to 4 weeks of regular exercise.
If you are training a bit more seriously you could follow a standardised test such as the Cooper Test.  The person doing this test runs at a steady pace which should be as fast as they can comfortably manage for 12 minutes and the distance they covered is recorded and compare with a set of results related to their age group.  Today we carried out this test on Tony during our usual Saturday Morning session on the Grass Track.  Over the 12 minutes Tony covered 3130 M which according to the results he's at the top end of the scale for Athletes which makes me think he should be graded using the experienced athletes chart and this puts him in just inside the average range.  Only average?? Using the experienced athletes chart a person that can comfortably run a 6 min mile for 2 miles is average.
Another simple way of testing your training progress is to take part in a fun run and compare this time with future races.  Check out the Leixlip 5K on Saturday May 09th 2009.

Flora London Marathon 09

Today I went for an easy run on the track keeping my heart rate below 140 bpm while checking the associated pace every 200M and pressing the lap button on my stopwatch after every complete 400M lap.   My pace was an even 7:30 min mile over 4 miles and my legs feel as if they've recovered but rather than overdo it I kept the run short.  This heart rate and pace is more or less normal for me and at that pace I could expect to finish a Marathon comfortably in 3hrs 15min.  So what? this means that my 8 min mile pacing job in London will be well within my comfort zone so the signs are good for a quick recovery and a successful race.  Reading this you may think that running the London Marathon so soon after the 100K would be either impossible or foolish and how can I do it?   Well there's a big difference between just running and racing and because the London Marathon will be slower than my easy / recovery pace it will be just another training run.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sport, Sweat & Science.

Today as a guest athlete I took part in an incremental treadmill test in 'The Science Gallery"', Trinity College as part of an experiment to show the difference in fitness levels amongst athletes.   As part of the demonstration I ran on a treadmill beside Fiona Friel (one of the best sprinters in the country) in full view of  visitors and our test data was displayed on a screen for all to see.  The test started out with us running at 10 kph with the speed increased by 1 kph every 3 minutes until we had to stop.  Two minutes into every kph increase a small sample of blood was taken and this was analysed for lactate content.  This result along with speed and heart rate was plotted on a graph and the result shows essential information for maximising performance and making improvements in your chosen sport.
If this test was carried out in a lab we would also be wearing face masks to work out how much oxygen our lungs can absorb from each breath and this would then give us another important reading which is our VO2 Max.  
Tomorrow I start thinking about the London Marathon which is now only 24 days until I stand behind the start line.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Well my recovery period was short and sweet and today I went for my first run since the 100K.  Took it nice and easy and covered around 4 miles in 32 minutes keeping my heart rate under 130 bpm.  My legs are still feeling a little bit heavy but the muscle pain has gone which is a good thing because tomorrow I'm a guest in the Science Block of Trinity College and will be taking part in a fitness related experiment.  This involves going head to head with the captain of the Kilkenny Hurling team to see if the GAA player is fitter than a long distance runner.