Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back from the cold

Well, hello again.

Firstly, profound apologies to the limited number of running Websters who may be following my blog. I've been on a bit of an unplanned break from blogging and the same has been true of my running. Looking back over my diary since my last post I've been averaging a 'massive' 1 or 2 runs per fortnight which really was nothing to write home about. It has also caused my to rethink my short term goals...

The reason... real world demands which I won't detail here but I'm sure you can guess... work, family, fatigue and the well 'documented' Irish weather.

The result... I haven't raced recently and my fitness level has dropped significantly (the Christmas over indulgences haven't helped either!!)

The future... as of this week I'm back. You could call it an early New Year's resolution but really I realised that unless I get some running in I won't be able to 'complete' never mind run a semi-respectable time in Mallow on the 10th January!! And since I found out today that my entry into the Ballycotton 10 has been successful I really do need to get my arse in gear!!

So I started my comeback on Sunday with a 'traditional' long run. Given my current fitness I could have legitimately claimed anything longer than 3 miles as a 'long' run. But I wanted to test the boundaries and I went for 8 miles at an average of 7:29. It felt surprising good but the heart was beating a bit fast (avg 165bpm) and from 6 miles onwards I really wished I'd set the bar a bit lower!! To compound my misery, when I arrived at my sister-in-laws house (where we were headed for brunch) my clothes etc were still enroute (Pamela was bring them by car) and I decided to tag on a 2 mile warm down.

As I mentioned I felt surprisingly good until 8am on Monday when I went for a 6.5 mile recovery. I could blame the slippy roads but to be honest even if the conditions were perfect I couldn't have gone any quicker than the 7:50 pace that I averaged.

Today I went for a 5.5mile steady/tempo pace run. Overall I averaged 7:07 pace with mile splits being in the range of 6:40 to 6:55. Hopefully I won't be too stiff tomorrow!!

If this continues December may not become the total wipe out that it could have been!!

When I get some time I'll put together a bit of a review of 2009 which overall was a mixed but good running year.

Happy New Year to all and hopefully 2010 will bring nothing but joy and happiness to you and your families. And....hopefully the economy will recover too!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pot luck

That's what it feels like at the moment. If it's not raining when it's time for a run you're extremely lucky.

Nice fartlek on Monday started the week off well. Overall 5.36 miles in 34:13. That's an average of 6:23 for the run including the recoveries at 7:00 to 7:30. It felt comfortable too - that's a good sign - isn't it??

On Tuesday I planned on taking it easy. But the 5.72 miles ended up being at 6:42 min/mile (159bpm) - it didn't feel that quick!

I was brought back to ground when I stumbled across this clip staring David McCarthy at Providence College. It puts my 5 mile tempo runs in perspective - 5:00min/mile - wow - I've still some work to do!!......

Friday, November 13, 2009

Child minding...

I'm playing lone parent this weekend while my wife enjoys a break to Iceland with some girlfriends. So it looks like my running is finished for the week as it would be frowned upon to leave the 3 kids home alone so that I could fit in a run (even a quick one!!) - or would it ?? :)

This week I'll have to be content with a fartlek and a long run as being the quality sessions. Hopefully next week I'll be able to fit in the third quality session.

While the kids were at school / child minder this morning I took the opportunity to go for my long run. Since the Cork to Cobh race my long run have been a maximum of 12 miles. Today I wanted to push it out to 15+ miles.

It went well enough. It was cold - the first time since last winter that I resorted to wearing gloves but it was dry (for a change!!). I wanted to run in the 7:15 to 7:45 pace overall. The first half was typically faster than the second half. Some day I'll manage an even paced run. I think mental fatigue was beginning to creep in today as from 7 miles onwards my mind certainly drifted from the job at hand. Still though I completed the 15.60 miles in 1:55:48. That's an average pace of 7:25 min/mile and 158 bpm. My first half pace was approx. 7:15 min/mile. It was nice to put in a real long run and hopefully some more of these will stand me in good stead later in the year.

Today's run..

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On the right track - hopefully!!

My plan over the next few weeks is to make sure that I get in 2 good workouts, e.g. tempo, interval or long progression runs, per week with a steady long (i.e. 10+ miles) run over the weekend with some easier recovery runs also thrown into the mix. I think that this will plan set me up well for the half marathon in early December and give a good base for the new year.

So the quick session this week was a 5+ mile fartlek. I hadn't run one of these in ages and it felt good. No pressure to hit particular mile splits and the freedom to increase/decrease the pace as I saw fit. The quicker bits of the session generally ranged from 5:50 - 6:30 min/mile pace for durations of 1 to 4 minutes. Recoveries were 7:00 to 7:30 pace. Overall, I averaged 6:44min/mile for 5.25miles and it felt easier than some of my progression runs which tend to have a similar overall average pace.

I went for my long run yesterday and I decided to repeat last weeks 11.62 mile run - just a bit quicker. This week I passed through 10 miles in 69:32min with an average of 159bpm and an average cadence of 78.6rpm. I felt pretty good and fresher than last week and I was a minute quicker! From 10 miles onwards I took it a bit easier and overall I completed the run in 1:22 (over 2 minutes quicker than last week). Hopefully that progress will continue!!

Also, recently I've been playing around with some of the "Evolution Running" techniques (thanks to an introduction by Rick) so it was nice to see the cadence during yesterday's run increase without any increased effort - maybe I'm perfecting a 'slightly' more efficient technique!!

Yesterday's run..

An easy 6.25 run today nicely rounded off the week.... 5 weeks to go to Waterford.

Have a good week everyone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let's start again

Unintentionally, I've been a bit more stop/start with my running of late which isn't too much of an issue as I'm only just starting a new training phase. My next targeted race will be the half marathon in Waterford on December 12 but really it's the Munster 10 mile series next spring which is the focus.

This week I started back in earnest with some easy runs and 2No. good sessions. On Wednesday I ran a nice steady/tempo progression 5.66mile lunchtime run increasing from 6:52min/mile / 142bpm (mile 1) to 6:28min/mile / 178bpm (mile 5) and 6:09/183 for the last 0.66miles to the end. My heart rate was a bit higher than normal. In fact, it has been that way since last Sunday morning's 12 mile run. Not sure of the reason so I'll have to keep an eye on it.

Today, I decided to skip the local 4-mile race in favour of a long run. I had planned on taking it 'easy', i.e. >7:15 min/mile, but over the first few miles I found my instantaneous pace being consistently less than 7 min/mile. So I revised the plan and aimed for 7:00 min pace for the first 10 miles with a 1.5 mile very easy finish. I passed through 10 miles 70:30 min (163bpm) feeling a bit tired and certainly more tired than I was a couple of weeks ago when I ran 65mins for the first 10 miles of the Cork to Cobh race. How can that be??!! Overall 11.62 miles in 85mins.

I've also developed a few niggles - tenderness at the bottom of both achilles tendons, left hamstring tightness and some lower back pain.... I must be getting old!! I can only imagine how I'd be feeling if I'd run the Dublin Marathon!! Hopefully the niggles will easy over the coming weeks and not develop into something more serious!!

Also I think I'll introduce some core strengthening exercises into the programme. I used do a lot of this type of work but in recent years I've been a bit neglectful and unfortunately I've gone a bit 'soft in the centre' just like an eclair!! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In between runs

I just realised that it's nearly three weeks since I updated this log but there hasn't been too much to report. I've been running (on and off) but it's mostly easy (low 7min/mile) with some progression runs thrown in for good measure but nothing too exciting. Runs have been generally in the 5 to 7 mile bracket.

Since my last post the final results of the Cork to Cobh race were published. For those who may be interested the results are uploaded here.

Since I missed my window for running the Dublin marathon this year I started to look for an alternative marathon this side of Christmas and I came across this helpful website. I thought about running the Lisbon Marathon in early December but Aer Lingus, in their wisdom, have cancelled the direct flight from Cork and I don't fancy battling Dublin Airport for a weekend away. There's a marathon in a place called Alesund in Norway on the 29th December but given that it would be an epic journey to get there and back and the official website is in Norwegian only (!!) I decided to give that one a miss too. Likewise, I don't fancy running 26miles around Luton in early December either (although the fact that the course consists of three 8+ mile laps was an interesting twist for any 'supporters' who may travel). So it looks like any marathon plans I have will have to wait until 2010.
So what now? Well there's a half marathon in Waterford City on December 12th and that may well be my next short term goal. I say 'may' because I've a ticket for the Munster v Perpignan game on the night of the 11th December which 'may' affect my ability to run a quick 13.1miles!! :) We'll see.... Otherwise it will be the 10-mile series starting with the Mallow 10 in January. I wonder how close to 60-mins I can get??
It's time to start training properly...
Good luck to all those running Dublin. I'm sure it will be a great day and PB's will tumble for all!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Steady does it...

Since my last post I've been busy on a number of fronts but not as busy as I'd have liked on the running front. What this means is that I've not put in enough long runs to justify my attempt at my first marathon, so I won't be going to Dublin this year. On the other hand it also means that I could run today's Cork to Cobh (15-mile) race as a true race and not have to restrain myself to MP miles like many others did (well done Grellan - a very controlled run!).

Since Blarney, I managed a total of 32 miles during the week 14/09 to 20/09 and 19miles during the week 21/09 to 28/09. Only one of the runs was more than 12 miles long and the majority were in the 5 to 8 miles range at 6:30 to 7:30 pace. As I said, not enough for marathon training.

On top of that our baby Joe is teething and, just like last night, he has taken to waking at 3am and screaming the house down!! So when the alarm went off at 6:30 today (timed to give me enough time to have a breakfast and get to the start line in fine and early for the 9:30 start) I simply turned over and went back to sleep. Not a good start.... and when I eventually awoke at 7:55am all I could do was grab some toast and rush out of the house. Just enough time to get to race HQ, register, go for a 1 mile warm up and get to the start and try to relax.

The Plan....The Blarney 'blip' combined with the erratic training regime had put some doubts into my mind about my current shape. So I decided that the plan for today would be to head out at 6:45 min/mile and depending on how I felt try to push the pace towards 6:30 over the second half and hopefully finish in the low 1:40's.

The race went to plan and to be honest, despite how I look in the photo below (thanks Paudie) taken near the finish line, it was probably the first time ever that I finished a race thinking that I could have gone further!!

As I said the plan was to start out at 6:45min/mile and see how it went. Well, it went well! But, a 15 mile race is a long way to report on so here is the very much abridged version..

Mile splits were...

Mile 1 - 6:43 - 154bpm (on target)
Mile 2 -6:37 - 164bpm (settling in and feeling good)
Mile 3 - 6:33 - 165bpm (good to see Pam and the kids)
Mile 4 - 6:34 - 166bpm (yippee the water stations give bottles!!)
Mile 5 - 6:32 - 167bpm (steady goes it - concentrate on catching the group ahead)
Mile 6 - 6:29 - 169bpm (Sunday Mass brings out good roadside support!!)
Mile 7 - 6:29 - 170bpm (another 6:30 mile - going well!)
Mile 8 - 6:33 - 170bpm (time to start working here's where it went to crap in Blarney)
Mile 9 - 6:23 - 172bpm (the group ahead is getting away - push on..)
Mile 10 - 6:22 - 173bpm (keep going....much better than Blarney)
Mile 11 - 6:28 - 174bpm (here's the start of the long drag to the finish)
Mile 12 - 6:27 - 175bpm (focus of the guy in front; steep downhill & left hamstring cramps)
Mile 13 - 6:46 - 174bpm (uphill, minding hamstring fortunately can't hear anyone behind)
Mile 14 - 6:46 - 177bpm (when will this 'hill' end??)
Mile 15 - 6:22 - 178bpm (nice downhill 1/4 to the finish but didn't catch the guy in front!!)

The not-so-painful truth...

On crossing the line I stopped my watch on 1:38:11 .... a PB (although as this was my first time to race over 15 miles I suppose it doesn't really count!!). I think that I was in the top 50 finishers but a long way behind the winner (1:16+).

Yet another finish line photo of me looking at my watch...Of more note was that I passed the HM marker (feeling fresh) in 1:25:44 which is a HM PB. Pity I couldn't have done that in Blarney!! :)

This was my first Cork to Cobh run and I can see why it has become a firm fixture in the Cork road running scene. A nice course, well organised with plenty of bottled water. I understand that over 800 ran today that's a big jump from the 670 last year.

So what now... before the race today Grellan asked me if this was the end of my 'season'. Given that my 'season' never really started (only 3 races since last March) it may just be the start but I'll have to see what races come up. Maybe a pre-Christmas marathon?? or maybe just some hard training for the Munster 10-mile series in the New Year?

Time will tell....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Blarney to forget...

Firstly, sorry but this is going to be a 'negative' post but I've been kind of frustrated all day.

Today's race in Blarney is certainly one for me to forget! It started well enough. The sun was shining, I got up early, parked near race HQ registered and went for a 3 mile warmup. All good so far....
Then the race started. My plan was to head out at 6:20 to 6:30 pace for the first half and assuming that I'd have something left in the tank push on to the finish hopefully finishing 1:24 or better. That was the plan anyway....unfortunately things didn't quite work out as I'd planned.
I was on target for the first 8 miles or so but then it all seemed to fall apart. My splits up to mile 8 were 6:12, 6:19, 6:25, 6:29, 6:45 (big uphill), 7:18 (beast of an uphill section!!), 6:33 and 6:33. All OK so far...
I don't know if it was the heat (it was very hot 20+degC); the fact that the first 6+ miles were uphill; my lack of endurance training; a hangover from last weeks virus or the lack of sleep during the past week but suddenly if there was a shortcut to the finish I'd have taken it. The rest of my 'journey to the finish' (it could no longer be called a 'race') was decidedly ugly comprising jelly legs, lack of motivation and bouts of walking. Uncharateristically, I even got frustrated (annoyed) by the suporters encouraging calls of "it's all downhill to the finish" and "only just one mile to go" etc...
I could do nothing as runner after runner seemed to cruise past. I think I must have lost 50+ places over the last 5 miles. If it hadn't been for the fact that Pamela and the kids were at the finish I'd have been quite happy to record a DNF but the thought that they might see me struggling pushed my to run most of the last mile at sub 6:10 pace. Unfortunately, the damage was done and I eventually crossed the finish line in 1:31:30 (102nd place out of 550 runners). The official results are here.

Although the time was disappointing I was more frustrated with the manner in which I gave in to the pain. But now that I've had a few hours to compose myself, rehydrate and take on some salts I think that I was 'probably' suffering from dehydration. Although I tried to take on water at each waterstop (2 mile intervals) I think that I spilt much more from the plastic water cups than I drank until I eventually I walked through the last couple of water stations (too little too late!). I also underestimated the impact of the initial uphill section - last year I was much more conservative during the initial miles and I then had reserve energy for the later miles.
I guess I'll just have to put today's 'effort' down to experience...

One last dash to the finish....

The painful truth...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I was still a bit wiped yesterday so I took another day off running but I'm glad to report that the trials of the weekend have now passed and it was business as usual today.

I wasn't too sure how to approach today's run. I wanted to do a bit more than an 'easy' run as I feel that I haven't really tested my current fitness ahead of Sunday's race. I probably should have taken it easy just to make sure that there were now carryover effects from the weekend but alas I didn't. Instead I choose to go for 2 mile intervals over my usual 5.5mile route at sub 7 minute pace. At least that was the plan anyway....

The first mile was steady enough at 6:56 pace (150bpm) over a combination of grass and track in Ballincollig park. On target I was feeling good so I picked up the pace over the second mile 6:36 min (162bpm). At this stage I was still feeling OK, albeit a bit heavy legged (probably from a sleepless night last night) and I thought to myself maybe I should change my original plan and keep this pace going over 5 miles instead of breaking it into intervals. And that's just what I did. The third mile was an uphill one which I covered in a relaxed 6:42min (165bpm). I was still not stressing so I increased the pace over the last 2 miles taking advantage of the downhill terrain 6:14min (173bpm) and 6:03min (177bpm). In all I passed through 5 miles in 32:29 (average 6:29min) which is respectable enough as I wasn't really trying too hard (although I must admit I did work a bit over the last mile!!) and that a couple of seasons ago I was happy with that time in a race!! After a 0.66mile recover I made it back to the office after 5.66miles in 38:02mins. A nice blow out run!!

So what did today's run tell me? Probably not much except that there don't appear to be any ill effects from last Sundays illness and I'm in reasonable shape over 5 miles. Just before this HM race last year I did the same run completing the 5 miles in 32:16 and splits of 6:57(150bpm), 6:40(163bpm), 6:37(166bpm), 6:06(174bpm) and 5:57(178bpm). I actually remember that run last year and despite what the numbers say I don't think I was working as hard today. So I think I'm probably in a similar shape to where I was at this time last year put not yet back to where I was last March.

But what I haven't been able to gauge is whether I have the endurance required to keep a sub 6:45min pace going for 13+ miles. I suppose I'll find out on Sunday!!

Today's run...

ps... I just realised that today is the anniversary of my first ever blog post. Where has that year gone and how things have changed!!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Lately I've realised that I'm getting into a bit of a rut in running terms. Looking back though my diary it seems that I think I'm too regularly running about 5.5 miles at lunchtime at 6:30 to 7:10min/mile pace. This programme has served my quite well this year but I think that it's time for a change. I plan to introduce some longer 'easy' runs as well as some long intervals to compliment my regular progression 'tempo' runs and maybe some double sessions also.

So, last Tuesday I thought I'd break the cycle and extend my midday run. I've found that 8 miles is about as much as I can get in during a 'slightly' extended one hour lunch break. So that was the target. As it turned out it was 8.06miles @ 7:00min/mile (160bpm) in 56:21mins. The plan was to run at an even 'steady' pace which worked out quite well (fastest 6:43; slowest 7:09) given the terrain etc.

Surprisingly though my legs were a bit on the tired side on Wednesday so an easy 5.63 miles at 7:08 was all that I had the appetite for - rut firmly established again!! :)

On Thursday and Friday I had to take an early lunch to pick the girls up from school. So no time for running. If only I was as dedicated as some others I could mention and could get up at 5am for a run!!

On Saturday all three kids got sick so nursing duties prevented me from running. It seemed to be a 24 hour thing and by Sunday they were physically exhausted but feeling much better. I wasn't feeling great either on Sunday morning but I put that down to lack of sleep. The forecasted 'sunny day' never materialised (typical!!) so by 4pm I headed out for my long run. This week I decided to take the route around Monkstown - I thought that the run along the waters edge would help take my mind off the relentless rain!! It's a 12.5mile route and the plan was to cover the first 10 miles in 70-71mins and keep it steady to the end. But..... I was feeling good until I got to the 8 mile mark 57:02 at Passage West. Then my body gave in.... I wasn't sick but from that point onwards every step was like hell. My first thought was my lack of fitness and that if I felt like this after 8 miles at 7min pace how will I feel during next weeks half marathon where I'm hoping to run much faster. By mile 12 I was practically crawling all I wanted to do was for it to end and get home. In all I completed 12.63miles in 1:38:05. That's an overall average of 7:46 min/mile @ 158bpm (first 10 miles in 72:09min).

Once home it was clear to my that something else was happening. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say that I spent much of the evening praying at the toilet bowl. Obviously what the children got was contagious and I didn't avoid it. Now, I'm sure that my work colleagues wouldn't appreciate getting what I got so I'm staying at home today (first sick day in 10 years I think)!! And besides I feel like a train rolled over me so concentration would be nil. As for running I think I'll take today off too!! Hopefully I'll recover before the race next weekend....

Week Total (31/08/09 to 06/09/09) - 4 runs
31.96 miles - 3:53:51 - avg 7:19min/mile - 158bpm - 75.4rpm

Monday, August 31, 2009

New School New Routine

Our two girls started school last Thursday and became mini celebrities along the way!! I suppose it helps being identical twins on the opening day of a new school.... Our mornings won't ever be the same with the school run, school lunches, uniforms etc etc. I'm sure it'll be an interesting and enjoyable journey and you never know this recession might even be over by the time they'll be looking for a job!!

After last Monday's run, as promised, I took it easy on Tuesday with a 7:20min/mile 5.6mile run. But on Wednesday I took it really easy and didn't run at all!! Looking back through my diary Wednesday is my most consistent 'day off' having run on only 6 of the 17 Wednesdays since the start of May!! The start of school for the girls meant that Thursday and Friday were no running days also!!

On Saturday I wasn't too confident (correctly as it turned out) that I'd fit in my long run on Sunday so while Joe took his morning nap I snuck out for an 11.33mile steady progression run.

The first 4 miles were uphill from Ardmore to Kiely's Cross so I took them handy enough at an average of 7:25min/mile pace. Once I reached the main road and the 7 mile 'downhill' home stretch I picked up the pace to under 7min/mile and progressed from there!! By the 10 mile mark I was at 6:30min/mile (166bpm). I had covered the first 10 miles in 70:39 minutes and at this point I thought I'd done enough so I contemplated easing off which I did for about 10 seconds before I continued to the end at a steady 6:40 pace. In all 11.33 miles 1:19:31 (7:01min/mile @ 161bpm & 77.4rpm). It was an encouraging run before the half marathon on the 13th Sept. and given that the first 6 miles of the HM are uphill I suppose Saturdays run also counts as a dress rehearsal!! With only one race all summer, in fact only one race since last March, the Half Marathon on 13th September will be a bit of a journey into the unknown...

Week Total (24/08/09 to 30/08/09) - 3 runs
22.54miles - 2:39:37 - 7:05min/mile - 158bpm - 76.6rpm

Today my legs were recovered so after I couple of easy miles (7:15-7:30 min/mile) I upped the tempo to 6:40, 6:26 and 6:08 pace. In all covering the 5.64 miles in a 'comfortable' 39:16 (6:58min/mile).

Although I'm happy with my current condition, on reflection, I don't think I'm back to where I was last March (probably roughly equivalent to mid January) but if I do decide to take the plunge and loose my virginity at the Dublin Marathon at the end of October things are probably right where they should be... I'll reassess my plans in a few weeks..

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recovery week

Last weeks 'recovery' run certainly did the trick. My legs weren't too sore on during the week. I don't think that the 20+ run was 'suicidal' as suggested by Grellan but it certainly has taken longer to recover than from a more normal 15+ mile long run.

On Tuesday with still 'heavy legs' I attempted a progression run over my usual 5.66mile route around Ballincollig. The mile splits pace ranged from 7:16 to 6:42 with a 'sprint' at 6:26min/mile pace for the last 0.66miles!! It all felt a bit too hard really. After the first mile my heartrate was in the mid 170's and I was only just breaking the 7 minute barrier. In all 5.66miles @6:58min/mile (39:24mins @ 169bpm avg).

So, on Wednesday I decided to take a proper 'recovery' and not run.

A lunchtime out of the office meeting on Thursday meant that if I wanted to run it had to be early in the morning. So I set the alarm from 5:30am but ignored it and got up at 6:15am instead!! It almost felt like a lie in!! At least the early start gave me another excuse for having heavy legs (still recovering from last Sunday). I headed into town at a steady 7:05min/mile pace reaching the turn around point in 24:58min and a low average heartrate of 144bpm. The overall 77m elevation drop may have been a factor but I was feeling good so on the return leg I decided to 'up' the pace. In general the average pace was less than 6:45min/mile and including the climb up Maryborough Hill I made it home in an average of 7:01 giving an overall of 49:24 (155bpm) for the 7.04mile early morning jaunt.

I spent the weekend in Ardmore so on Friday afternoon I ran the beach and cliff route. An overall distance of 7.47miles at an average of 7:29min/mile (160bpm) - 55:54 minutes. Interestingly, although the last couple of months have been a bit erratic in running terms they appear to be showing some dividends - when I ran this route at the start of June my average pace was 7:50+ and 164bpm.

My wife's family had a clan gathering on Saturday so time for running was out of the question - replaced by time on beach and in the pub.

Unfortunately, the rain came in during the night on Saturday so when the alarm went off I turned over. The extra couple of hours sleep helped clear the Guinness out of my system and when I eventually arose I deferred my run until the afternoon. I also changed the plan and instead of the 'easy' 13+ mile run I went for a 2x4mile progression run (Ardmore to Kiely's cross and back). The first 4 miles were 'steady' uphill at 7:11min/mile (158bpm). After a 2 minute recovery I headed back downhill starting out at 6:22 pace increasing steadily to 5:48min/mile (overall average 165bpm). Although the pace was helped by the downhill it felt good to let loose and put in some fast miles.

Week Total (17/08/09 - 23/08/09) - 5 sessions
33.96miles - 4:06:13 - 7:15min/mile - 159bpm - 77rpm

Summer is now officially over, the family is back from Ardmore and the girls start school on Thursday. So today I was back on the roads around Ballincollig for a 5.66mile run. The pace progressed from 7:10min/mile (143bpm) to 6:24min/mile (171bpm) - it was supposed to be an 'easy' run but I think I overcooked it a bit!! I blame the new running shoes...... Tomorrow will be better.....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back on track and new found respect

Well the first week of work after the holidays is over and I think it's time to update this blog...

The holidays were great plenty of relaxation, family time and some running too. Probably not as much running as I'd hoped for, opting instead for more time with the family and some extra hours of sleep. Afterall holidays are supposed to give you a chance to recharge the batteries, aren't they??

During the first week of my holidays (27th July to 2nd August) I managed 5 runs each ranging from 7 to 9.5miles. The runs were generally steady and averaging in the low to mid 7min/mile range over a mixture of trails, beach and road. However, I let off the breaks and put in a few low 6min miles towards the end of a few of the runs - just to loosen out the legs!! In all I covered 42.87 miles.

The second week wasn't as productive fitting in just a single 10.58mile beach, cliff top, road run.

So back to work last week and I hoped for a more regular routine conducive to running. On Monday I went for a 5.65mile tempo run at a average 6:52 pace. I started out at 6:38min/mile and finished at 6:34min/mile but the middle was harder than it should have been. Maybe I was paying the price for only 1 run the previous week? True to form Tuesday and Wednesday were no run days (I'm sure I had a 'good' excuse at the time - just can't remember it right now). I made up for it on Thursday and Friday by going for 5.64 and 6.51mile steady runs at an average of 7:00 and 7:01 min/mile. Still though the runs felt tougher than they should. So I took Saturday off.

On Sunday I went for my first 'long' run in a few weeks. This time I decided to push out the boat in terms of distance and go for a very 'easy' 20+ miler!! Afterall I need to start logging some decent weekly mileage!! This would be my longest run EVER. Pamela and the kids went back to Cork so I had a few free hours (and I needed all of them!!) so I left Ardmore and headed for Dungarvan along the N25. My Garmin wouldn't start so I had to rely on my old reliable Casio stopwatch - 15 years old and I've yet to change the battery!! It was nice, if a bit unfamiliar, to run without constant pace feedback. I had run a 15miler last June (Ardmore to the Marine Bar - 28th June) along this route so I had an idea of the terrain i.e. 4 miles uphill (160m climb) followed by 4 miles undulating, followed by a steep 160m drop over 2 miles, turn around and repeat in reverse!! Tough!! I took it easy over the first half reaching the turn around (approx 10 miles) in 78mins (7:35 pace). The next 2 miles uphill were 'hell' as I realised that I'd been running with a tailwind for the first half. No wonder I felt so relaxed!! The picture didn't improve for the rest of the run. It was humid, I was tired and my legs hurt (left hamsting) but my breathing was fine. I must admit (shame on me) that I 'gave in' on a few occassions and walked for my water breaks. By 16miles I took the last of my water and having run for more than 2 hours at that stage fatigue set in and motivation dropped. I just wanted it to be over even the last 4 downhill miles did nothing to help ease the fatigue! I eventually made it back to the caravan park in Ardmore after 2:50:23. Measuring the route on Map My Run I think that I covered approx 20.5miles at an average of 8:19min/mile. I'll have to repeat the run with my Garmin just to be sure!! Although it wasn't my prettiest run ever it was my longest and I've now got a new respect for all marathon runners!! Running for more than 2 hours is hard and not just physically hard. It's mentally hard too.

The long run on Sunday did help my weekly mileage though 38.30miles in 4:54:26 i.e. 7:41min/mile average.

I went for a recovery run today. 5.77 miles in 46:36 (8:05 min/miles average pace). It hurt too!! Mile splits were 8:43, 8:36, 8:15, 7:51, 7:31 and 7:24. Even if I wanted to I couldn't have gone any faster - hopefully tomorrow will feel better.

By the way my Garmin footpod arrived while I was on holidays so I now have lots more numbers to tell me how badly I'm running!! Based on my first few runs it appears that my average cadence is in fact 76-78rpm and if I try and increase my leg speed I just run faster!! When I've recorded a cadence >80rpm on a flat road it seems like my pace is in the low 6min/mile, 77rpm roughly equates to 7:00min/mile pace. Interesting!! I'll monitor the trends over the coming weeks / months and see what happens.

As for races I've decided not to run the Great North Run this year. My 'training' hasn't been focused enough and although my race number came in the post last week I've not booked any flights or accomodation yet so I think that I'll defer my entry until next year. I'll probably opt instead to run the local half marathon here in Cork on Sept 13th instead and hopefully I'll be able to run something similar to last year (i.e. sub 1:27).

More anon....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Holidays are coming...

Yesterday's 6.5 mile (6:55min/mile avg) was a lot harder than it should have been!! Remind me never to take a 5 day break from running again. (no reason for the break just didn't manage to fit any runs in).

Still though, I'm on 2 weeks holidays from tomorrow so plenty running is planned!!

Today I was due to run a 5-mile race in Churchtown South but since I missed the best part of a weeks training and yesterday's run took a bit out of me so instead I decided to go for a long easy/steady run tonight. In all I covered 15.7miles in 2:01 or an overall average of 7:45 min/mile. The first 13.5miles were at 7:13 min/mile pace (i.e. faster than my first HM race pace!!) with a 2 mile cool down. The good news is that the run went well avg heartrate 157bpm but the bad news is that summer is certainly over it was cold tonight - so cold that my legs began to cramp over the cool down!! Bring back the sun!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's time to count...

I've learned more about cadence and it's role in distance running over the last few days than I ever thought I would thanks to all the advice, links etc after my last post. All really appreciated.

So I spent today's tempo run (5.61miles @ 6:40min/mile [37:25] 161/181bpm) counting my foot strikes!! My mile split pace was 6:48, 6:51, 7:07 (uphill), 6:26, 6:21, 6:20. It felt reasonably comfortable. Next week I'm planning on increasing the length of these runs to approx 6.5 miles.

Today's run...

On cadence I'm told that the target is 90+ but I've never monitored it before today. So today's run established a baseline. Approx once per mile I counted my foot strikes for 30 seconds. Initially I was hitting 78rpm but over the last 2 miles I counted 82 and 84rpm respectively. I noticed that as I concentrated on counting that my speed tended to increase - poor multitasking abilities!! :). I seem to fall short of the target 90+ so I'll try and introduce some regular drills aimed at increasing cadence and maybe that will translate into quicker times!! I'll repeat today's baseline check in a few weeks and see if there's any benefit.

Counting foot strikes every mile is good but wouldn't it be better to use a foot pod for my Garmin 305? Yes it would - lots more numbers to monitor!! Yippee.... Once I finish this post I'm off to try and source a cheap foot pod on the web.....

By the way Monday's lunchtime run (same course as today) was a steady progression with mile pace varying from 7:12 to 6:26 over 5.64miles (avg 6:58min/mile 158 /170 bpm). It went well - nothing too exciting apart from the fact that the elements conspired against me - it stopped raining just long enough for me to get my gear and change and get a half mile into the run.

I'm off shopping.....

.... just back from shopping .... Does anyone know if the foot pod for the Forerunner 305 is suitable for outdoor use and actually measures cadence.... it seems to be marketed as an indoor accessory and I haven't been able to find info on cadence (as this is principally targeted at cyclists?? At approx €70 I want to be sure before I purchase and the Garmin website is no help!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Corkbeg...

800m to go...I'm in the background....

Thanks for all the comments after my last post. I think that the 'irregular' training I've been doing has been showing some limited dividends but I'll have to knuckle down to some proper training if I'm to make any real improvements!! Ohh.... Thomas you'll be able to beat me over a marathon / ultra for a long time to come (don't worry!!)

Also, courtesy of John Desmond's blog I see that there are 2 videos of the Corkbeg race uploaded to YouTube. Thanks to Rob Patterson.

Corkbeg near start (@23sec...)

Corkbeg near finish (@3:40)...

Video footage can be very enlightening... I hadn't realised until now how 'loping' my stride is. Maybe if I can increase my leg turnover I can also increase my speed??

Yesterday there was so much rain I thought that I'd moved to the tropics so - no running. As an aside some family members are in Kenya on voluntary work at the moment and they're praying for the rainy season maybe we can tanker the rainwater and ship it to Kenya!!

In between the showers today I managed to fit in an 8 mile steady run (7.87miles in 55:00 i.e. 6:58 min/mile (160/174bpm). The run was a bit of a progression run starting out at 7:16 pace for the first mile and progressing to 6:41 pace for the last).

This week was a fast but low mileage week. Hopefully I'll fit in some longer runs and more sessions next week ...

Week Total 6/7/09 to 12/7/09 (3 sessions)

22.77miles - 2:42:26 - avg 7:08min/mile - 162bpm

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Corkbeg 5mile

I was a bit unsure about how I'd run tonight. In fact, tonight's race was my first real test since the 4 mile race in Carrignavar last March (which in hindsight I probably should have skipped as I'm now sure that it added to my ITB issues!!). But hindsight is great isn't it!!

Although I've had a few good runs recently I haven't put in any really hard workouts and my training has generally been a bit... erratic. So pre-race I convinced myself that a solid sub-32 would suffice.

The Corkbeg 5 is organised by my club East Cork AC so, since I started running again a few years ago I've always wanted to run in this race but until tonight I didn't get the chance. Also I grew up in the area and I've always thought that it would be nice to run a race there. Thinking back, the last run I raced in the area was a "Milk Run" in the early 80's.... remember those anyone??

The course is generally an out-n-back which starts on a downhill (never good!!) but is mostly flat with a bit of a climb up to the 2 mile mark followed by a short steep descent. Unfortunately, being an out-n-back the start and finish are near each other so the downhill start becomes an uphill finish (also never good!!).

After an early check in, a 3 mile warm up and some chat with those I knew (and some I met for the first time) it was time to line up. The weather was perfect, warm, no wind and there was a good enough crowd (probably 100 or so) which was a reasonable turnout as there was a popular BHAA 5k race in Cork last night which attracted more than 400 runners!!

Despite my resignation that a solid sub-32 would do I intended on going out at 6min pace and hanging on for as long as I could. The downhill start helped me and I passed Mile 1 in 5:45mins a bit quicker than I'd planned. At this stage the field was quite strung out and I was in danger of being lost in no-mans-land so I fixed my eyes on a clubmate (David) who was one or two places ahead.

The climb up to Mile 2 was tough but manageable and cost me a couple of seconds and one place!! Note to self....I must do some more strength work!! I reached the Mile 2 marker in 6:08min still ahead of my average 6min pace target - OK!

Now came the sharp downhill. Should I push hard downhill and pull back lost seconds or maintain my pace and recover from the climb. I could hear footsteps and breathing not too far behind so I sort of did a bit of both. Pushed hard enough not to loose any placing but used the downhill to recover a bit also. Spot the dip in the heart rate in the chart below. I passed the Mile 3 in 6:02min.

I began to falter during the initial stages of mile 4 and my pace dropped to 6:16min for a bit. I could have done with another downhill to help me recover!! I was joined from behind by another runner (unfortunately I couldn't draw enough breath the ask him his name!!) and we ran side by side for a while. I thought to myself he came alongside but he didn't pass me so after about half a mile I began to feel better and I upped the tempo and put some daylight between us. I reached the Mile 4 marker in 6:05mins... that initial dip in form cost me!!

At this stage I could smell the finish line (or was it my sweat!!). My first thought was that I can jog now and still make the sub-32 target...oh how tempting was that when my heart was beating at 187bpm. I didn't give in though, put temptation to the back of my head and started to think of a sub-31 finish!

The last mile was initially flat but the last half was uphill - how cruel!! I concentrated on the runner about 15m ahead determined not to let him get away and also determined not to be passed. I wasn't, but unfortunately, and despite a 1:27 last quarter, I didn't have enough to catch the guy ahead. I crossed the line and stopped my watch a 5:58min last mile giving a total of 30:00min for the race!! A solid PB by almost 30 seconds - happy days!! I only lost 3 places after the first mile and I think I finished in 19th place.

It would have been nice to have made sub-30 (McMillan says I can!!) especially when the guy who finished behind said "well done - did you make sub-30". "No, just 30 flat", I replied. To be honest with my training being so up and down I don't think I deserved a sub-30 tonight and it's good to have something to aim for!! Next time (assuming a fast course!!)

A 1 mile warm down and back to home to my mothers for a nice home cooked dinner!! Happy days!!

My achilles are sore now - I can only imagine what they'll be like in the morning!!!


The official results are here. 19th place is confirmed (157 competitors) but look at the pace per mile 5:59.9min/ I did break 30mins!! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Running free

I'm house sitting at the moment Pamela and the gang are enjoying the beach while I stay at home and work. What did I do wrong :(

I rested my heel/achilles yesterday so no running.

Tonight my Garmin battery was low so for a moment I actually thought I'd put off the run until the battery charged. But... I knew that once I sat down on the couch I wouldn't get up again. So I put my need for GPS data to one side and put on my old stopwatch and went for a run. I can't remember the last time I ran without the constant pace and heartrate feedback. It felt good tonight - it felt free.

I felt so good my 'easy' run turned into a 'steady' run. 6.25miles in 44:23 (7:06min/mile). Maybe I should run without the Garmin more often!! Not the quickest I've run the course but it was about a 1:20min faster than the last time I ran the same route in May and only 40seconds slower than the time in March. A sign of some progress but still more to do!! The achilles area was a bit sore to begin with but it seemed to ease out after a few miles and it isn't too sore now.

A real 'easy' run is planned for tomorrow and hopefully the Corkbeg-5 on Thursday....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another week down..

So I come to the end of yet another mixed week. On the plus side I managed to fit in four workouts on the negative side none of them were anything to write about (but here I go anyway!!).

The easy run on Monday was a planned 'recovery' run. 5.64 miles at lunchtime in 41:23 mins i.e. 7:23 min/mile average pace (155/171 bpm).

On Tuesday my legs were really heavy after the run on Monday and probably a hangover from Sundays run too. Maybe too much over the weekend. After all, it's been a while since I've run a 15 miler! So I rested...

Likewise on Wednesday.

On Thursday evening I tried to make up for not running on Wednesday and ran twice the planned distance. 11.62 miles in 1:24:54, an average of 7:19min/mile (161/179bpm). The run felt really relaxed from a heartrate point of view but my left calf was very tight. In fact both calves were tight and the pain in my heels at the base of my achilles which usually goes away after a warmup lasted for the full run. I hope it's nothing serious (??) but I rested on Friday anyway.

On Saturday I was torn. Time was limited and I wanted to watch the last test of the Lions v South Africa, go to the Cork City Sports and go for a run. I managed to go to the sports and fit in a quick / short run but unfortunately the Lions had to be recorded and watched later!! The run was 4.33 miles in total. Not having put in any quick runs all week I pushed the pace over the first 3 miles at 6:29 pace. But my legs were like lead, left calf was sore and to be honest I don't think I could have kept the pace going for much longer. All in all it was an 'off day'!!

By the way, the Cork City Sports were great. Some good performances including Rob Heffernan's national record in the 3k Walk (11:14.09) and Paul Hession's 20.45s 200m. It never ceases to amaze me how the 'pros' can make sub-8min 3k pace look like a Sunday morning jog!! It was also nice to see so many of Irelands 'current' and former Olympians were in attendance both as spectators and competitors. Though it was disappointing that more of the Corks public didn't turn up to watch - I reckon a max of 1000 or so spectators. That's a far cry from the heady days of the 1980's when I remember sell out crowds to watch great athletes like Johnny Grey, Steve Ovett, Sydney Maree, Yuri Sedykh (who set a world record at the meet in 1984), Mary Slaney etc etc.

Give the problems with my heel area after last weeks long run I decided that today a steady 8 mile run instead of the planned 15+ miles would be prudent. The run profile was a 4 mile (160m climb) out and back (see below). 7:25 on the way out and 6:34 min/mile average on the way back - running downhill is great for the stats but in my defence there was a strong headwind all the way home so I had to work harder than planned to keep the pace in the mid 6's. Overall 7.92 miles (55:25mins, 7:00min/mile, 162/178bpm)

Week Total (26/06/09 to 05/07/09) - 4 runs
29.51miles - 3:31:55 - 7:11min/mile - 160bpm

Sunday, June 28, 2009

End of week update

As reported previously I started the week well but having logged 5 days in row by Tuesday I decided to give Wednesday a miss and allow some measure of 'recovery'. Unfortunately, Thursday also became a DNS for work reasons. So by Friday it is fair to say that I was fully refreshed and raring to go for a steady/tempo progression type run. The lunchtime run ended up being 5.62 miles at 6:42 min/mile (162/182 bpm). The mile pace splits were 6:57 min/mile (143bpm), 6:43 (158), 7:05 (162), 6:47 (168), 6:24 (172bpm) and 5:59 (179) for the last 0.62miles. It was a nice run and allowing for the uphill mile 3 it was on target. But the ITB injury certainly has set me back a bit and my legs didn't feel as 'free' as they would have back in March but I can't really complain as I'm making progress.

Saturday's run was put on ice (Bulmers cider and ice actually) when I used up all my 'free' time in the pub watching the Lions loose to South Africa...... not a good afternoon.

So, in lieu of yesterdays non-event I extended todays planned long run by a few miles. I was tempted to break the bank and go for a 20 mile run but some sense prevailed and I 'curtailed' the run to 15 miles. The course was an out and back from Ardmore heading towards Dungarvan and consisted of 4 miles uphill, 7 miles gently undulating and 4 miles downhill as shown below.

I took it easy starting out at 8minute pace but gradually increasing to 7:30min/mile approx and eventually ending up at 7:15 approx. In all 15.08 miles (1:54:55) 7:37 min/mile 155 bpm (max 167bpm).

Week Total (22/06/09 to 28/06/08) - 4 sessions

31.97miles - 3:38:03 - avg 7:27min/mile (155/182bpm)

What was most encouraging about this run today was the average heartrate. I know that I wasn't pushing it 'hard' but any run for me that has an average heartrate in the mid 150's is good.

Hopefully I can continue the recent trend so I've also decided on my general plan for the next few months.... The target race will be a half marathon in September, probably the Great North Run. My weekly training will comprise of a mix of tempo/progression runs with easy/steady distance runs. This mix of speed and endurance seemed to work well for the 10 mile runs in January to March so hopefully it will work again!! I'd like to include 2 runs per week of 10 miles or more and 2 'speed' sessions with any other days comprising some easy / recovery runs. These sessions will make the weeks slightly harder than the equivalent weeks at the start of the year but as the target race is now a HM and not a 10 mile I think I'll need to increase the workouts to get me though the last 3 miles!! Time will tell if I'll be successful or not....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Consistently inconsistent

Hello there. I'm back....
The weather has been fine and life has been too hectic over the past few weeks to make the time for posting but at least I've been fitting in runs when I can - not as regularly as I'd like but I'm making some progress.

Here are some more views of the headland in Ardmore. As I'm sure you'll agree running along this route at 7am in weather like this and with no one else around is just great for the soul....

The 'cup and saucer'...

The "Samson"...

St. Declan's Oratory...

Also my daughters celebrated their 5th birthday on the 14th June...
by dressing up like Hannah Montana....
and Joe too...

(He has a tough life ahead of him!!)

Anyway on to the running which has been a bit inconsistent...

Week (8/6/09 to 14/6/09) - 3 Sessions (25.54miles) including 5.63 miles @ 6:45 min/mile (165/185 bpm), 5.61miles @ 6:53min/mile (164/180bpm) and 14.30miles @ 7:57 min/mile (162/175bpm). The long run was a bit unplanned. We intended on going to the beach (Ardmore) so there wasn't going to be enough time for a run. So Pamela says "why don't you run from Killeagh to Ardmore" i.e the last few miles of the journey. I say "why not" thinking that it only about 10 miles.. unfortunately it wasn't and with the temperature approx 25 degC, no water and the fact that I headed out too fast.... I suffered.. my own stupidity but at least I got to do my Sunday long run.

Week (15/6/09 to 21/6/09) - 4 sessions (31.92miles) including 4.74 miles @ 7:09 (155/169bpm), 6.46 mile progression 7:01 to 6:02 min/mile (162/184bpm), 6.55miles @ 7:46 (cliff run, avg 154bpm) and 11.32miles @ 7:25 min/mile (161/174bpm)

So far this week I've taken it relatively 'easy' running approx 5.6 miles on both Monday (7:17min/mile 155/170bpm) and Tuesday 7:53min/mile (150/173bpm).

On the injury front my achilles are still sore (hopefully regular stretching will eventually be of some benefit) and a strange pain has appeared in my left hip (hopefully a temporary hiccup).

I had planned on running a 5 mile race tomorrow night but I think I'll defer my 'comeback' until the Corkbeg 5 on July 9th - no point in rushing things now is there.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Holiday runs

Since my last post on 21st May things have been a bit mixed. Other commitments meant that I only fitted in 2 runs during the week of 18th to 24th May. A total of 11.9 easy/steady miles at an average of 7:02min/mile.

My next run was almost a week later on the 29th May, a lunchtime 5.6 miles at 6:56min/mile pace and the day I started a weeks holiday at the beach.....the good weather was due too so shorts packed and off we go.....yippee!!

Not only did the holiday give me the chance for some quality family time it also gave me enough free time (mostly early morning!!) to get in some quality runs. Typically, on my runs I headed out across the beach towards Ardmore village approx 1 mile away and completed a couple of loops of the Cliff Walk; a 2.5 mile long historic and scenic route that initially skirts a Round Tower (circa 12th century) and then takes me along a headland with breathtaking scenery and an undulating rough path which is not conducive to fast running! Probably just what I need... :)

So with the help of a Friday, Saturday and Sunday run I logged 18.81 miles for the week of 25th to 31st May. The average pace took a bit of a hit though - I averaged 8:30min/mile for the Saturday and Sunday runs in Ardmore. Interestingly (for me anyway), my heartrate on Saturday was 162bpm but on Sunday it was 151bpm for the same overall average pace. Not sure of the reason why.
Holidays are great....this week I improved on my recent run frequency managing to get out on 5 days, walked one the beach and collected shells with the kids, swam in the sea, cooked on the BBQ, avoided all news reports and had a generally relaxing time. Runs around the cliff varied between 5.7 and 10.1 miles - all easy (7:45 to 8:17 min/mile pace). Average heartrates were typically 146 to 151bpm. Today, I'm back home and my 7 miles on city roads were a bit quicker 7:03 pace (161bpm). That gave a weekly total of 38.32miles in 4:57:56 (average 7:47min/mile 154bpm) - my first week over 38miles since the middle of February last! Hopefully this trend will continue.
On the injury front despite some rubbing of the IT band on a run last Wednesday that problem seems to be 99% cleared (at last!). My left achilles is still very tight and weak so I'll have to work on that one over the coming month or so - regular stretching and strengthening to be done!!

10mile cliff route (6/6/09) including 2 laps of the Cliff Walk (miles 1 to 6)...
Run 6/6/09...

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Haven't been too successful at fitting in time for running earlier this week so I made a point to run today. My IT band held up reasonably well during Sunday's run and I'd put on the recommended "compeed" so I was ready to go for a progression run. In all I ran 5.64 miles in 38:06 i.e. 6:45 min/mile and 165 bpm. The progression went OK too with splits of 7:06, 6:58, 6:58 (uphill), 6:39, 6:29 and 6:05 for the last 0.64miles helped by one of the worst rain showers I've run in in years!!

My legs were very heavy and my left achilles was very tight (I've decided that I'm not as rubbery as I used to be i.e. middle age is coming on fast!!) and I was a bit tired over the first couple of miles. But all in all not too bad and I felt OK too. My IT band only niggled at about 3.75miles so I think that it's largely in the past (fingers crossed). I'm now thinking that maybe I should have run the Cheetah Run 4 miles race tonight after all. It's not too often you get a chance to run through a wildlife park!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

End of week update

Four days in a row this week and a long run today gave a total of 35.90 miles (4:26:16 -avg 7:25min/mile) this week and 'touch wood' my IT Band issue appears to be settling.

On Thursday I ran 5.6 miles @7:13 pace (40:23 mins) and on Friday it was an easy 5.67 miles with Grellan in 44:56mins (7:56 min/mile) - thanks for Grellan for making sure I stuck to my 'easy' plan!!

I decided not to push my luck and rested on Saturday. But...this morning a 6:30am feed for Joe and by 7am my running shoes were on. The sun was shining and the form reasonably good. I think that I must have been still asleep 'cause I decided to start on the Monkstown loop which although it would be a nice run by the waterfront it meant that I would have to complete at least 12 miles - whether my IT band held up or not!! And despite a niggle at around 4 miles (which lasted for the remainder) the run was largely trouble free from the IT band point of view. But.... by 7 miles I could feel a blister growing on my left heel (obviously I haven't run enough lately and my feet have gone soft!!). By mile 10 it had burst (ouch) and was now sore so I took it very easy for the rest of the run. In all an 'easy' 12.64 miles in 1:37:08. That's an average of 7:41mins/mile (the first 10 miles averaged 7:33min/mile). The blister issue is a worry - last time it took 2 weeks of no running to clear it up!! We'll see how next week goes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slowly getting there...

Three steps forward and one step back - That's how things feel right now. But at least it all appears to be going in the right direction!!

I've now been discharged by physio. Not sure how much good it actually did as I never felt that she properly diagnosed the problem. But at least I'm running a bit now and largely without pain too so it must have done some good. I now feel that it is an IT band injury principally because my symptoms are exactly as described on this website. Interestingly the IT band was never mentioned by the physio but I suppose the IT could be symptomatic of a general weakness in the upper thigh area, as diagnosed by the physio.

Anyway, I managed three days in a row last week which contributed to a massive weekly total of 22.70 miles over 4 days. Almost my total mileage for April!! I tried these runs without my orthotics to test a theory posed following one one my previous posts. It seemed to be working until yesterday....

My three-in-row runs were on Wed, Thurs and Friday. I took Sat, Sun and Mon off. So I was fully rested for yesterday's run. Again without orthotics but as if by clockwork the outside of my right knee became sore at the 2 mile mark. Conclusion - my current condition is unaffected by the use or otherwise of my orthotics. So I put them back in today and went for a 'planned' easy run at lunchtime.

This is the summary of my runs over the past week or so...

Despite having nearly a month off I'm finding that anything around 7:30min/mile is a bit pedestrian so I figure that I may have not lost too much fitness.

Looking at the mile by mile splits there is an apparent trend.... I don't know how to run slowly!!

I felt very good today (almost like a runner again!!) so by mile 2 the 'easy' plan was forgotten. All was going well until my knee (ITB) started to get sore at the 2.5 mile mark. I kept the pace going and it appeared to clear up, well at least the pain became more bearable, as the run progressed. Maybe that's why I tend to accelerate - just to get to the end quicker!! :)

Unfortunately I'll miss a few nice races but the plan now is not to do anything too tough, i.e. fast, for the next few weeks just to build mileage and strength. Lots of stretching too. Hopefully, that together with some ice will keep me on the right road to recovery....

Monday, May 4, 2009

April roundup

Injuries can really kill those monthly stats. For the first time in over a month I uploaded my Garmin data today and it's grim reading...

1-30 April - 8 runs - approx 26 miles!!

I suppose that's not too bad all things considered. I recorded zero miles for the first week of the month. The second week saw 1No. run (3+ miles), the third saw 2No. runs (4+ miles total). During week 3 I managed 3No. runs i.e. 9+ miles and in week 4 (27/4 to 3/5) another 3 runs and 13 miles in total. A progression of sorts....

The first week in May has started out a bit better. I managed 6.42 miles today at an average of 7:40min/mile (49:20min, 160bpm). The first 3 miles were at about 7:20 pace and felt good but my leg gave out at the 3 mile mark and the pace dropped accordingly into the 8+ min/mile category. Running around 'left' corners was a particular issue for my leg (consistent with the pain being on the outside of my right leg) but interestingly running on my toes seemed to relieve the pain?? On the plus side, the sun was shining so I got to try out my new shades and it was warm so I got to use my 'bottle belt' for the first time. Hopefully it won't be the last!!! Physio tomorrow so I'll see how the rest of the week goes.

Rick posted an interesting link on his blog relating to weight. I know that I'm carrying a few too many pounds and even more following the sedentary last month!! but using this calculator together with McMillan it appears that if I was to loose approx 8 pounds it may get me into the sub 1:20 half marathon territory based on my 10 mile PB. Interesting.... but I think I like food too much - maybe I could train harder instead!! Also 8 pounds would put me back to the weight I was when I was 18!! Achievable.... hmmm.... some 'food' for thought.. (apologies for the bad pun!!)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some more recovery needed

A brief update...

Physio on Tuesday ... more of the same only one session left (I think).

No time for running but tried to donate blood on Wednesday and found out that acupuncture is an issue. After queuing up for an hour I was told that I had to get a form signed by my physio saying that she only used sterile needles etc. Would have been nice to know this beforehand but I will for next time!!!

On Thursday I was feeling good and optimistic heading out for my lunchtime run. The sun was even shining!! At the 2 mile mark there was no sign of the ache that was apparent on previous runs. In fact, it only started to appear at 4.5 miles. So I managed to complete a pain free 5.25miles over a flat course at an average of 7:10 min/mile (avg 156 bpm). It was great to have completed my first decent run in almost a month but my lack of quality runs has certainly caused my fitness to drop. Hopefully I'll be able to address this over the coming weeks!!

Since Thursday's run was so successful I thought that I was fully cured (??) until my run on Friday. After 2 miles at 7:10 pace the pain was back. A brief stretching break and off I went again at 7:45+ pace in all only completing 4.25 miles and in some pain. Obviously I'm not fully cured yet but (hopefully) nearly....

Now, I'm looking forward to the big rugby game this evening Munster v Leinster in the Heineken Cup Semi Final. Come on Munster!!

Monday, April 27, 2009


It's hard to write about nothing. At least that's what I feel like I'm doing right now. Almost a month since my last real run and progress is slow but I think I may finally be on the long road to recovery.

Last Thursday I had an early morning physio session which involved the usual massage, acupuncture, ultra sound, recommendation to strengthen my abductors etc. I felt good afterwards so at lunchtime I went for a run. My previous runs were less than 3 miles long (at 8+ min pace) and in truth after 2 miles I was essentially walking. So I limited the run to 3 miles but I thought that I'd push the pace a bit. In all I averaged 7:20+ pace and largely without pain too. I wonder will I end up needing physio before every run - maybe...:)

Last weekend was spent at the beach with the family and despite some walks and stretching there was no running.

Today I was feeling good and the sun came out so as I togged off for my run I thought of going longer than 3 miles if there was no pain (obviously!!). Things went well. The ache that started before the 1 mile mark last week didn't come on until after the 2 mile mark and the soreness didn't start until 3.5miles. That's progress. In all I completed 4.25miles @ 7:25+ pace. No records but progress....

More physio tomorrow and hopefully another run beforehand.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No gain without pain...

...or so they say.

That's what I thought on Friday morning after Thursday's physio session. I had no pain before the visit to the physio but my leg was certainly sore afterwards!! 'That's what sticking needles and an electric current into your leg will do Brendan - serves you right', or so I thought.

I went for my easy run on Friday as planned. A very slow (8:30 pace) 2.86miles. Neither the distance or the pace will set any records but at least I made it to the end, almost in one piece. My knee area was generally OK although pain did begin on the few occasions I ventured into 7:xx pace and when I ran uphill. In particular, the last uphill 200m was particularly painful. :(

Saturday and Sunday were busy at home and to be honest I thought that a bit of recovery after my 'long run' :) on Friday would be good! I did some stretching though.

Today was a lovely sunny day and I felt like a run. Again completion of my almost 3 mile route was the plan but I decided to push the pace into the 7:3x zone just to see if the onset of soreness was a function of distance or speed. Mile 1 was OK - a good start - no pain in my right leg/knee but my left quad, hip, calf and achilles were all sore for some reason (over compensation or maybe I did some damage working in the garden over the weekend??) The pain in my left leg continued for Mile 2 until...... the back of my right knee (top of right calf area) become sore followed by a sudden sharp pain at the top of my knee cap...Ouch - time to slow down. So I hobbled home at 10 minute pace. Walking down stairs later in the afternoon also proved painful.

Right now I've no pain in either leg so I think another 3 miles tomorrow is on the cards.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Physio update

I went to the physio, handed over €45 and got the good news that the problem doesn't appear to be joint related!! But as I feared the fact that it's been two days since my last attempt at a run and nine days since my last half serious run, there was no obvious evidence of injury so the physio had to work for her money to make a diagnosis.

After much pushing and prodding of my legs the working diagnosis is that it's more than likely related to my (very) tight 'vastus lateralis' muscle which has overstressed the area around the knee. I need to do more stretching and yes, mea culpa, I've been neglecting this muscle group probably for the last 18 years or so!!

So after some massage, ultra sound, and acupuncture (including some tens stimulation) I was told to keep running (very easy and not to the point of pain) and come back next Thursday morning for another consultation.
'Keep Running', I repeated in surprise for confirmation!! 'Yes', I was told, apparently there's nothing more to be gained by more rest. Usually after an injury the advice is 'no running and lots of massage etc for at least 4 to 6 weeks' or something similar so being told I could run (even slowly) was a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure how far I'll get but I think I'll start with my 'treatment' tomorrow....
Oh, in case I forget, good luck to all those running the 113th Boston Marathon; relax and enjoy the weekend and race well on Monday. I'm looking forward to those race reports...who'll be the first to get their post up?? My money is on Thomas...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On my knee...

Well after last weeks post I've ground to a halt...literally. Last Tuesday I went for the few easy (7:30+) miles as planned but there it ended!! After about 1 mile my knee was a bit uncomfortable, best described as a stiffness not unlike a twisted ankle feeling (if you know what I mean). By mile 2 with every extension and impact on the knee causing pain I had already turned for home. From the 3 mile mark I was resolved to walking home!! Work related travelling on Wednesday and Thursday and the Easter holiday weekend meant that I decided to defer making any physio appointments until today.

Since last Thursday I've had no pain and at this stage I'd find it difficult to explain the symptoms accurately to a physio so today I attempted another run. My naive optimism hoped that a further weeks rest would be enough to right the problem! Unfortunately rest alone will not solve this one. After about 0.5miles of feeling very good a tightness returned initially on the back outside of my right knee. Quickly, I decided to abandon the run and book a physio appointment. The tightness soon turned to soreness on the side and front of my knee and once again I was walking home.

So, 2 weeks later than I should have I've finally come to my senses and I'm seeing the physio on Thursday PM. More anon....

On the plus side I spent last weekend stuffing my face with chocolate and I've probably gained half a stone!! A good incentive to get back out running sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Zero running

....that's what I've been doing for the past week!! So I can report

Week 30/03/09 to 05/04/09 - 0 sessions
0 miles - 0:00 mins - 0bpm

Coincidentally looking back through my diary the last Monday to Sunday week when I did absolutely no running was the first week of April 2008. Maybe this is becoming my annual holiday?? Although.... as far as I can recall the reason for my running holiday in 2008 was work related!!

Despite some soreness early on in the week my knee seems to be progressing well and I think I may go for a few very easy miles tomorrow to check - 8 full days recovery should be enough - shouldn't it??

By the way I thought that I'd have a lot of spare time now that I'm not running 4 or 5 hours a week but guess what - I've never been busier. I think I'll need to go for a run just for a rest!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

4 mile in Carrignavar

Despite my comment on the last post I decided not to 'test' my knee yesterday in favour of leaving the 'test' to the pre-race warmup. So I did run in the 4 mile race today.

The last time I was in Carrignavar was when I ran schools cross country races i.e. not yesterday!! Carrignavar is a small village just north of Cork City and not too well signposted so I ended up taking the scenic route which ended in me inadvertently driving the race route. In hindsight this may not have been an advantage. The course seemed to be essentially 2.5miles uphill followed by 1.5 mile downhill -ouch!

I went for a 2 mile warmup and my knee felt fine for the first 1.5 miles, but... it started to ache when I ran the 0.5 miles to the start line. Nothing too serious and afterall I made it to the start line so I had to run - didn't I!!

The start was downhill which is never the best from a pacing point of view particularly if you know that a long uphill follows. I tried to take it steady but my instantaneous pace dipped into the low 5:xx over this section. As the route entered the village we took a right hand turn and the uphill began. The pace dropped to more than 6 mins/min on this section. Overall I passed the Mile 1 mark in 5:53mins (169bpm).

A slight downhill allowed the pace to quicken into to 5:4x range but I was struggling to keep pace with those around me and I dropped a couple of places. The next uphill section quickly came around shortly before the 2 mile mark. Mile 2 lasted 6:03mins (177bpm) - a sign of the uphill struggle!!

I ended up in a bit of no-mans-land and at this stage of the race I felt like I was running hard but not racing. Mile 3 was even slower @ 6:16min (182bpm).

Over the latter part of mile 3 I began to slowly close the gap on the runner ahead so as I crossed the mile marker I felt like was beginning to 'race'. With about 1200m to go I caught him and I pushed hard to pass. The finish was steeply downhill so I just left gravity to the work ('cause I couldn't and there was a headwind!!). Mile 4 ended up being the quickest of the race at 5:44min (183bpm).

I stopped my watch at 23:58min (avg 178bpm). My race.....

The results show that I came 24 out of 68 competitors (i.e. top 35%!!) in an official time of 23:59 mins. East Cork AC won the O35 team prize but I was 5th club runner home so I didn't count!! Well done to the guys Frank Hayes (5th), Eric Meade (7th), Denis McCarthy (16th) and David O'Dwyer (18th).

Shortly after the race my knee began to stiffen up. I tried to go for a warm down but within 30sec later I had to call a halt.

Although I was knackered afterwards I now feel that I didn't put myself as hard as I could have today. I don't think my head was right. Interestingly comparing my last 4 mile race where I ran 23:15 I averaged 179bpm and 167, 178, 183 and 188 bpm for each of the miles (generally higher than today). Although I appreciate that there are other variables I wonder is this a sign that I didn't push it today? Maybe my knee issue was in the back of my mind, maybe the cough which is still lingering from the cold last week was a factor, maybe something else... Whatever the reason REST / RECOVERY is now certainly on the cards!! I reckon I'll not run for at least a week or 10 days and hopefully regroup for the summer season targeting a quick autumn half marathon.

Week Total (23-03-09 to 29-03-09) - 3 sessions
12.51 miles - 1:25:45 - 6:51min/mile - 162bpm

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Potential disaster...

.. but hopefully not.

The pain I felt in my knee yesterday evening could only be described as a 'stiffness'. Strange how during the run I was fine and the pain only appeared 8 hours later!!

So today I tried to go for an easy run at lunchtime. But I was only 100m in when I knew something was wrong. By quarter of a mile I decided to bail. So today I recorded a huge 0.5mile @ 8min/mile pace!!

Sitting here now I've no pain so I think I'll take it easy and rest for a couple of days and hopefully things will settle!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update ..

Although I'd planned a 12 mile easy run on Sunday I forgot that it was Mother's Day....hence, my available time was severely curtailed!! So my long easy run turned into a shorter faster run early in the morning. Overall it was 6.26miles at 7.00 min/mile average (158bpm). The first 5 miles were steady(ish) 6:59, 6:59, 6:51, 6:40 and 6:41 with a 1+ mile easy. My legs felt heavy - maybe it was the early hour or maybe I was still a bit run down from last weeks head cold. Otherwise the run was uneventful.

The rest of the day was spent on the beach with the family. Almost felt like summer!! So that brought the weeks running total to a 'not so high' mileage of 25 miles!!

Week Total (16/03/09 to 22/03/09) - 4 sessions
25.53miles - 3:04:44 - 7:14min/mile - 156bpm

Monday and Tuesday were write-offs so no running. So today, the sun was shining (even if the wind was a bit strong) and I made sure to run at lunchtime. I joined a colleague Tony for the first 2 miles which I used as a bit of a warmup which was followed by 4 miles at 'tempo' pace. The mile splits were 7:49, 8:10, 6:56, 6:16, 6:03 and 6:11 which gave a total of 6.06miles in 41:51min, an average of 6:54min/mile with 161bpm. I found it tough running into the wind and the pace certainly felt a bit harder than it should have. Still though it was good to get a 'quick' run in ahead of next weekends 4 mile race. On the down side my right knee is very stiff tonight. I hope it turns out to be a thing of nothing but it may also be a sign that I should take it easy for a couple of weeks and maybe go back into a base training phase.

Today's run...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Under the weather...

Thanks for all the comments after my last post. Yeah I was happy with the time particularly on the hilly course. I was even happier when I plugged the time in to the 'age grader' and it said that 23:15 for a 37 year old is equivalent to 22:28min run if I was in my prime!! That's faster than the PB I ran back in 1994!! Not sure I fully agree with the science but it does give me a smile !! :)

After the race the sore throat that I had the night before came back (i.e. a bad head cold was brewing) with a vengeance and also a strange darting pain in my left hip/groin area turned up (particularly noticeable when I'm walking down stairs but seems to be settling now). So on Wednesday I went for a 'kill me or cure me' type recovery run. Not necessary at recovery pace but at a relatively even easy pace - 5.64miles in 39:50, i.e. 7:04min/mile avg @ 158bpm.

That run didn't quite kill me but on Thursday the head cold was certainly worse but the sore throat now replaced by coughs / sneezes etc so I thought the better of running and rested with lots of paracetamol, fluids etc.

I took Friday off work but I didn't run. At that stage the coughing had stopped by the sniffles were still bad.

Having skipped 2 days running and with my next race planned for the 29th I was getting a bit anxious about my training. So when I woke up early today with only a slight sniffle I decided to head out and test the water and try a 4 mile 'easy' run. It ended up being 5.08 miles in 37:13mins i.e. 7:20 min/mile @ 151bpm. Maybe it was the fact that I was running at 7:30am or maybe the head cold has taken something out of me but my legs felt a bit too heavy during the run but my breathing was fine and the heartrate doesn't seem to be elevated. On that basis I'll assume nothing too serious and I think I'll try and fit in an 'easy' 12mile run tomorrow.

After this mornings run it was up to my sister-in-laws for a big brunch followed by a trip to the pub to see France hammer Italy and England struggle with (but beat) Scotland in the Six Nations Rugby Championship. 3 hours plus in the pub was more than enough for the children which meant that I got to watch the Ireland v Wales game here at home. What a game (my nails will never be as long again and my children think that I will never be calm again!!) and what a result (17-15 to Ireland) giving Ireland not only the Six Nations Championship title but also a Grand Slam - the first since 1948. How sweet to win the Grand Slam in the last game of the Championship in Cardiff. Ireland is a great place to be tonight - no recession here!!