Sunday, July 25, 2010


The Spartathlon route is quite hilly and includes a mountainous climb of 980M after checkpoint 47 at 153K and with this in mind I decided to hit the mountains for a run and start working on a suitable training route to simulate the climb as much as possible.  The end result was a 22.5K run with 860M of ascent compared with 980M over 13K for the Spartathlon.  It's close but the shorter distance of 13K means the climbs are steeper and that usually means a steeper descent and less recovery time.  For the moment I'll settle for this route because of the short travel time to and from but I will try to get at least 2 other mountain runs completed with a bit more climbing and maybe even try today's route at night.

Apart from the very enoyable end to the week it didn't all go to plan and included 1 forced rest day at a cost of 24 K and a shortened semi long run at the weekend.  On the plus side I did manage to run 6 good quality sessions and gave myself a good benchmark to measure future weeks against.

Some of my race kit arrived this weeks thanks to Salomon and the testing has begun.  I've also gone Metric so my distance for this week is 120K.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Waterworks Route.

One of the advantages of living in Leixlip for a runner is the hills and every run that starts from my house includes at least four climbs so there's no escaping them. One of our regular runs we call the Waterworks loop because it passes a water treatment plant and reservoir and this particular run is quite undulating with terrain that varies from road to forest trail.   It's quite an interesting route with some tough climbs but also includes plenty of opportunity for recovery.
When running this route last night I decided that I'd use this session as a benchmark of my current condition and the plan from now is to run it every monday and monitor my progress.  Total distance was 10 mile and more importantly I ran it within a heart rate zone of 146-153 bpm which equates to 75-80% of my heart rate reserve HRR.  To get your HRR you subtract your resting heart rate from your heart rate max and you then get the percentage (75% and 80%) of that figure and then you add your resting heart rate to get the required zone.  The advantage of using an exact zone makes it easier to monitor progression and in theory I should start to cover the route slightly faster within the same operating heart rate range.
If you look at the above picture you will notice the running index of 66, this is a polar measurement of the run quality and it shows how easily you can run at a given pace.  A higher number or an increase from your current result shows that you require less effort to run at the same pace which of course is improvement.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Let the training begin!

Two days after receiving my acceptance letter I started a weeks holiday and an immediate interruption to my race preparation but that's life.  I made some quick changes to my packing to optimistically  have a spare set of kit for everyday just in case I had the opportunity to train without the chance to get the gear washed and dried.
The week started with a 10 mile run before leaving home and ended with a 21 mile run just after arriving home and included a run every day of at least 9 miles.

The plan from now is to run roughly 100 miles per week which will include a back to back long run on Saturday and Sunday.  Mid week runs will average 10 miles alternating between an easy and slightly harder pace but still aerobic (comfortably hard).  I'll run double days as often as I can by fitting in a short easy lunchtime run of less than 5 miles and won't be planning rest days as they usually happen for some unplanned reason.  I've found that I can do without rest days when I make sure to vary the intensity of sessions.
I'll be using my heart rate to determine effort rather than running at a set pace and my planned session might change depending on my recovery from the previous session.  I'll post more on this in a few days time.  Train hard but train smart..

Spartathlon 2010

A Brief History
In 490 BC the Persians landed at the city of Marathon to battle with the Greeks, and the city leaders realising that they would be overpowered without a lot more soldiers sent their best foot messenger, Pheidippides, to run the 246Km to Sparta to get re-enforcements from the Spartan army.  According to the ancient Greek writer Herodotus, Phidippides managed to get to Sparta in around 36 hours!!  Then, in 1982 RAF wing commander John Foden was reading about the legendary journey of Pheidippides, and wondered if it was possible to run the same 153 mile route today.  After lots of research, he presented the most historically accurate route, which involved crossing five mountain ranges with the highest pass at Sangas of over 4000ft.
Then in 1982 Mr. Foden and two off his RAF friends decided to try and tackle the course for themselves, and stunned the world media when they managed to complete the course in less than two days.

This became the basis of the Spartathalon race as it is known today. It’s a 153 mile race from the Acropolis in Athens, along the Greek coastline and across several mountain ranges to the base of King Leonidas statue at Sparta. All of which must be completed within a strict 36 hour time limit, with intermediate cut off times! To finish this race is a dream to most, some of whom return year after year to try and complete the course. Within the distance running community it is the ultimate purest running achievement.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Back to business and just in time

The Anglo Celtic plate didn't go according to plan but I was happy with my finish time of 9hrs13min seeing as I went into it unrecovered from Brive with tired and cranky legs. I went through the first 50K on schedule in 4hr08min at an almost even 8 min mile pace but then my hamstring started to tighten up yet again and that meant a few too many stops to stretch and try loosen it out. Running the second half of the race was a good test of mental strength and because the mind plays a very important part in Ultra Running it's good to get these opportunities to train it.

As an Ultra Runner it's good to know that those distances are in my legs and on the plus side I have now confirmed my hamstring as being a weak link and have since done a few personal training sessions with John Belton of

Training volume is almost back where I want it to be and it's just in time because yesterday I received my acceptance letter for The Spartathlon. I was excited yesterday and now I'm nervous, there's only 10 training weeks between now and what will without doubt be my toughest race yet.

Over the coming weeks I will log a brief description of my training and maybe I'll get round to writing up that race report for the 24-hr World Championships and the Anglo Celtic Plate.