Saturday, September 26, 2009

24 hour Track Race

In 3 weeks time i'll be taking part in my first 24 hour race in Tooting Bec, London and at the moment I'm feeling slightly underprepared. After reading various race reports from Ultra Marathon Runners there would seem to be a lot of gifted runners that can run these events at the drop of a hat and in some case without any training, well that's not me so for the next 3 weeks I've some serious training to do.

Since returning from Dingle my training has been event specific focusing on spending more time on my feet and running at my planned race pace to prepare for the slower pace during the race. During these training runs I've also been experimenting with different food types and trying to work out a feeding plan and race day strategy.

My new regime as prescribed by Bernard Donne in Trinity College consists of 4-5 runs of 1-4+ hours in a heart rate zone of 120-128bpm (which will also be my race day zone) and 1 interval session of 4*2K with a heart rate of 165-170bpm.

The Long Run zone has me walking at times when faced with hills and the Interval pace has me running faster than I would ever run. I'm struggling with the interval session but I'm noticing improvements already and expect my Long Run zone to be ideal on race day over the flat course.

My training so far this week included:
Sunday: 4hr at 120-128bpm.
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 2hr at 120-128bpm.
Wednesday: Interval Session.
Thursday: 2hr at 120-128bpm.
Friday: 3hr at 120-128bpm.
Saturday: 2hr 120-128bpm.

Most of the above runs were done either early morning or late at night to prepare my body in some way for the stress of running in darkness and during unsociable hours. I expect my longest run to be less than 5 hours and this will be at least 10 days before the race.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back to business

The Dingle half Marathon went well and apart from some slight muscle soreness I recovered almost immediately and was back running by Monday. Followed that with another easy session on Tuesday of less than 3 miles and on Wednesday I had an Incremental Treadmill Test in the Human Performance Lab in Trinity College.

The test involves running on a treadmill at a set pace for 3 minute intervals with the speed increased every 3 minutes. Heart Rate is taken every minute and a blood sample taken from a finger tip halfway through each interval to test and compare lactate levels at different speeds relative to heart rate. During the test a face mask is worn to measure the exchange of gasses measuring the amount of oxygen in expelled air to work out the amount of oxygen that your lungs can absorb from inhaled air and this gives a measure of VO2 max again in relation to speed / heart rate.

My test started at an easy 10Kph and by 18Kph I had passed my lactate threshold which is the speed / hr beyond which your body can't buffer the lactic acid and this is what gradually slows you down.
My reason for doing the test is because I was doing so many slow miles and running at pace that I was starting to get lazy and finding it hard to get out of the comfort zone.

Today I got official confirmation of a place in a 24hr race in Tooting Bec, London on Sat 16th / Sun 17th October.
A 24hr race is very different to any other race in that the objective is to cover as much distance as possible in a set time rather than running a set distance in the shortest possible time. It's hard to know how to train for this type of event and I'd even say you can't really train for a 24hr race as my thinking is it's more about what you've done and your current condition.
Having said that I will train as recommended by Bernard Donne of the HPL in Trinity and run 4-5 runs per week of 2-4 hrs or more and also do one interval session of 4*2k just to ensure I keep some speed in my legs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dingle Half Marathon

The Dingle Half Marathon has come and gone and although I was disappointed over having to switch from the Full to Half Marathon I was never as happy to see a finish line as I was on Saturday. As prescribed by my Sports Doctor (Nick Mahony) I let my heart rate dictate the effort rather than running at a set pace as I would if chasing a time. The plan was to keep my HR between 153-162bpm (85-90% of HR max) and apart from a short spike to 172bpm during the sprint finish I managed to stay within my zone, slowing on the hills and picking it up on the flat and downhill.

I arrived in Kerry 2 days before the race and and felt a lot more relaxed than I usually would so close to a race and I'm guessing it's because I wasn't chasing a PB (Personal Best) and was running according to how I was feeling and keeping an eye on my rev counter (HR monitor) rather than worrying about staying on pace. It was nice being able to slow on the hills to stay in the zone rather than pushing harder trying not to lose valuable seconds and trying to recalculate how to make up lost time.

Minutes before the race started I lined up in the Sub 3hr Full / Sub 1:30 Half Marathon Pen which seemed to be extra quiet. It was strange not having to fight for a good starting position and it was hard to believe that there were 2000 competitors lined up mostly behind me. I met briefly with Thomas Bubendorfer which was slightly pre planned and I had originally planned on running with Thomas as we were both running similar times and I'm guessing our pace would be more or less the same. Moments later the gun went off and we parted company as the Half Marathon pace is slightly faster than Marathon pace and before mile 1 I was on my own. I was constantly checking my HR monitor to ensure I was staying in my zone and passed the first mile in 6:10 with my HR staying below 158. A good start but I wasn't sure if I had the leg strength to maintain that pace because of my recent unplanned break from training.

The course was very undulating and it wasn't long before my pace was dropping which I knew because I was checking the lap times on my watch but today pace didn't matter and it was almost enjoyable knowing that although I was taking it somewhat easier I was still working as planned.

My HR rarely went above 164bpm and when it did I quickly got it back into the zone. Approaching the village of Dunquin I could see the long line of busses to bring us back into town so I knew it was almost over. Based on my previous splits I knew my mile time was under 7 minutes so 3 minutes after passing mile 12 I upped the pace. My sprint finish is usually around 400M but I felt good and could see 2 other runners up ahead so thought why not?

I made up 2 places with my sprint and crossed the finish line in 1hr27min57, I had just made it inside the top 10 finishing in 9th place out of 1600 competitors. A good day with a good result and although I didn't achieve a new PB (Personal Best) I was happy that I had the discipline to run as prescribed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week 11

A random photo from the Dingle Marathon course.

I got the all clear to start back training last Tuesday but with one thing or another it was Thursday before I got out and that didn't go too well. I had arranged to meet up with Tony after Athletics training which meant dropping the kids home and then running towards Tony's house but I ended up running directly from the running track forgetting that I was wearing my old running shoes. Usually I wear my old retired running shoes on the track when coaching and save my proper shoes for the actual running.
Finishing the run 8 miles later I felt some discomfort in my left shin and thought 'here I go again', got out the foam roller and spent 30 minutes massaging my calf muscles and was right as rain the next morning.

I finished off the week with an easy 10 mile run along the Royal Canal keeping my heart rate below 148 bpm and running out and back for 5 miles each way. The difference between the out and back leg was 4 seconds which I was happy with. I was told to keep my heart rate at this intensity and because the canal is flat and easier underfoot than concrete it made an ideal route for a return to training.

Plan for next week is an easy / recovery run on Monday of less than 50 minutes with my heart rate below 138 bpm. Not sure about Tuesday yet but will do an easy 40-50 mins on Wednesday with the Le Cheile meet & train group. Travelling to Kerry on Thursday but hope to do an easy run beforehand and Friday will be a relaxing day starting with a lie in (I hope).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The Science Gallery, Trinity College.

Had my follow up appointment with Dr Nick Mahony in Trinity today and to cut a long story short he gave me the go ahead to start back training. Between now and Dingle I've to train close to how I would normally train during a Taper and ensure my efforts are low in intensity with nothing more than a few easy runs. Today also included a blood test which didn't show up any problems and the next step in my recovery is a full incremental treadmill test in the Human Performance Lab with Bernard Donne the week after the Dingle half Marathon.

Over the last week my weight has increased by over 1Kg because of the inbalance between my input and output. 1Kg (2.2lbs) is quite a lot over a short period of time but suprisingly enough nobody has noticed or commented on my increase in weight, that's because rather than an increase in body fat the weight gain is caused by my muscles restocking their glycogen (carbohydrate) stores.

I have a race planned for mid October so I'm guessing the extra Kg will come in quite handy.