Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm about to crack

I think I've been very good about this...
I haven't moaned or even brought it up once...
On here or the real world....
Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...
It's been doing my nut in for the past two months...
I'm about to crack though...

My right achilles has been quite sore since the beginning of March.
It really, really doesn't like stairs.
Stairs are it's nemesis.
Mainly going up them, not so much going down them.
I had the few days off running when I went on holiday but that didn't seem to do much for it.
Granted I drank copious amounts of alcohol...
Alcohol leads me to dancing...
Which helped no one...
I ice it and I stretch it but nothing.
I don't trust new physios!
Thankfully I'm going home next week and should see my own physio...
I may have mentioned before... he is a magician!
I've only missed around two days scheduled training in the past two months because of it.
I only feel it at the start of the run.
Once I'm going for a few minutes I don't notice much - it used to be "at all", now it's "as much"
I can't really bring it up with my friends as they think I run too much.
I don't want to see the "I told you so" looks on their faces.
I have one speedwork session, one long run, one race between now and when I see my physio.
It better hold out!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Finding the right rhythm

Talking with my coach over the past few days it seems that he's quite happy with how last Friday's track session went. When we first discussed track training, all them weeks back, he maintained that it's all about finding a rhythm and that this would take a good ten to sixteen sessions. As I got decent times on Friday without feeling like I had to overly push myself shows that I'm starting to get this rhythm in my legs now. It's still early days but I'm definately heading in the right direction.

The aim at the moment is for a big 5000m race at the end of June or the beginning of July. Like the training on the track taking time to come about, I've been told that the races will be the same. The first few are all about me finding this rhythm before I'll have the race that I'll be happy with. With that in mind I have to pencil in a few races before the 5000m that I'm targetting. So next week I'll take on another 3000m. Hopefully the field will be more or less the same as last weeks, so I'll know who to stick to at the start, rather than getting stuck on my own again.

Training this week so far:
Monday: 8 miles easy
Tuesday: 8 x 800m

Monday, May 26, 2008

Going up a gear

My phone was buzzing all day yesterday with different people telling me how they got in marathons or how people they know got on... it all started at 4am with a text from my mate in Australia and continued on after I woke with texts about people who had just completed the Edinburgh marathon. It's one sure fire way to make you jealous and also to put that bit of extra effort into the Sunday long run!

Recently I was advised by someone to possibly cut down my 15 mile run on Sundays to about 12 miles to allow for a bit of further zip in the legs for the midweek speed sessions. This does make perfect sense but the confidence I get from all these long runs makes me continue with them.

Yesterday for example was one of the perfect Sunday runs. The longer I was out the stronger I felt, each stride just seemed to be more powerful than the ones earlier on. Obviously from time to time I did feel a bit tired but this seemed to pass by very quickly. No matter how slow you go out at the 15 miles will always tire you by the end, so it's nice to see that when I put the extra bit of effort in that I was no more tired than I usually would be going at a slower pace.

On Friday I was down at the local track for some 400s. I was tempted not to do the session, well not "not do it" but do something different like an 8 mile easy run, as I had race two days before hand. In the end I thought I may as well do it but just not kill the 400s. Strong but not fast. The session was identical to the Friday before hand, 8 x 400m with about a minute, a minute-fifteen recovery. As I hit the stop button after the first one I was surprised to see 1:12 looking back at me.
Second one 1:10
Shit, last weeks were all 1:12s and 1:13s and they hurt... this isn't hurting... yet!
Third, 1:10, forth, 1:10, fifth, 1:10, sixth 1:10
Seventh, 1:12 - there we go, slowing down now... only one to go mind, one last push
Eighth 1:11

Granted I really should be doing ten plus repeats of 400, but finding these ones that much faster than the week before, with less effort has filled me with some confidence. There'll be another 3000m in a few weeks that I really should attack with a bit more aggression than last weeks.

I'm starting to feel that things are going in the right direction now... and there's still a long way to go in the season

Friday, May 23, 2008

Race Report #7 - 3000m (9m 49s)

Another first for me this year. So far we've had my first cross country race, first 5km race, first track race and now my first 3000m race!

As I've been fierce busy of late I haven't got around to seeing my coach so this race I had to make the race plan myself. I went with starting out at around 75 second lap pace and trying to stick with it. Considering last week I managed 8 x 400m at 72 second pace with a rest between each one, trying to replicate that with no rest was going to be damn near impossible!

As with the last race I got myself well warmed up, the idea was to arrive at the starting line sweating and I was. Everyone has their own warm up routine depending on the race. For this mine was a brisk 25 minute jog with a few strides in between. Then, once the spikes were on, a few more 50-75m bursts on the track with a run/jog back.

As I didn't want to head off to fast in the race I placed myself in the middle of the pace, but found out after 200m that this was a bit too slow as the leaders had got a 75m lead over us. The first two lads were gone like the clappers so there was no chance of ever catching them - they were a different level to where I'm at - but there were others to be caught. So unfortunately at 200m I had to make a surge to overtake the guy in front and run alone to try make up that 75m gap.

I got through the first lap in 76 seconds, so just off what I'd hoped. Over the course of the next few laps the gap stretched to 100m between myself and the next guy in front of me, my lap times had also stretched slightly to around 78 seconds where I think they stayed for the remainder. I find it odd that for once I'm able to give people an idea of my splits as I usually go on with no watch. In fairness that hasn't changed, the difference here is that there was some lad shouting the splits to us every 400m!

Overall I'm happy-ish with how it all went. It is after all only the second race on the track and there'll be plenty more. I do feel that having to run the whole race solo impacted my time somewhat. Granted there was someone 100m a head of me that I was concentrating on keeping there rather than letting him get further a head but it would have been nice to have been in the middle of a fast group at the start. Maybe I shouldn't have been so conservative about the start and just gone hell for leather and tried to stick with the pace - it is only 7 and a bit laps after all. The good thing is that after two races I know the standards of the guys I'm racing against, who I should be sticking to at the start and who I shouldn't be. So next time we should see some improvement on this outing

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Goodbye old friend!

The Asics Kayano have run their last run. After a 6 mile run on Monday I could feel it in my shins that the time had come to say goodbye. So that's that I've retired them. According to my training log they managed a whooping 548 miles which I reckon must be the most any of my shoes have managed since I found out about 4 years back that there is actually a limit to the amount you should run in a shoe. I think by cutting them back to just the shorter runs over the past few months while using another pair for my Sunday long runs has probably increased their life somewhat. From here on in I reckon I'll be alternating the runners I use for the main mileage runs each week. It could save me a pair of runners a year which'd be nice.

Tonight is race night which also means that I miss the Champions League final. I'm not too impressed with that. If I could manage to get home without knowing the score I could watch it as live at 22.30. Chances are that one of the girls in the house would say something to me if I do somehow manage to get home without hearing anything. I'm doubtful about that and all.

I gave myself an hour extra in bed today as I didn't want to be up at 6.40am, then work all day, then commute for an hour to the track, then race absolutely knackered. Hopefully the extra hour in bed will keep me somewhat more alert this evening. I'm hoping for a lung busting fast race tonight. I think the tactic is going to be head out conservatively fast for the first lap and then dig in and try to stay with the front runners. I'm feeling a bit more confident that I'll be able to hang on to a fast pace. Here's hoping my gut instincts are right.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bad Week

Chez Private everything seemed to break over the course of a few days last week. First the microwave went, then the boiler busted on Wednesday meaning no hot water or heating, then I dropped my mobile and broke the screen on it and then to top it all off the toaster called it quits on Saturday. Nothing seemed to be going right...

A bit stressed with everything going against me I headed out for my Sunday run hoping that 14 miles would make me feel better. Within 4 miles a fly decided to hitch a lift in my eye. The lazy bastard remained there for the final 10 miles and no matter how many times I tried to throw him out he seemed quite content to stand his ground and it wasn't until I got home and to a mirror that the little bugger was successfully ejected. Add to that annoying cramps and I can't say I was in a great mood returning home to my cold shower.

A new week, a new dawn and all that. Let's see. Out of all the broken devices we've got the boiler fixed as of yesterday. That's probably the most important so thankfully that's back - God knows when the rest of them will be sorted. Really it's only the phone that's up to me to fix, the others are up to the landlord. But I know me and it's going to be a while before I sort the phone out.

As I'm hitting the track tomorrow for a 3000m race there's no speedwork tonight, just a 4 mile jog around the park with the possibility of 3 or 4 bursts of around 250m. Yesterday was also a slightly shorter jog than usual, 6 miles instead of the normal Monday 8. The legs are feeling fairly decent, one or two niggles that I've been carrying for a few months are still there. I think they'll be there for another while now so I don't even count them in my evaluation of how I'm feeling.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I am still out here....

I can't believe a week has passed since we last spoke. I've been juggling work, running and socialising this week and it's been tough to say the least. Between training in a new location on a Tuesday that is miles from where I live and a few gigs I haven't been in the house one evening this week. That's meant that the minute I've finished up work I've had to train, eat and head out the door again. Quite hectic but I'm loving every minute of it. These gigs are one of the main reasons I moved from France to London so there'd be something wrong if I wasn't enjoying it all.

The world of training then... Friday saw me head to the park and throw on my spikes and have a stab at a 10 x 300m session. The recovery in between was to be between one minute and ninety seconds. After half way I had to increase the recovery from the one minute I'd started with to 75 seconds. It worked out being a much tougher session than I'd expected but I was delighted to with the effort I put in to finish it.

The parks were completely and utterly rammed with people all weekend as the weather was well and truely of the summer variety. On Sunday I joined everyone in the park, although initally I was the mad eejit doing a 15 mile run in temperatures in the high twenties! After a cold bath it was back to the park for some proper relaxation. If we get a few more weekends like last week then I'll be more than happy to spend the summer in London.

Tuesday's session was a speed endurance workout on the track. A few 5 minute intervals at 10km pace. Throw in a few easy jogs on the other days and we're up to speed on the last seven days of training. Tonight I'll be hitting the local track and either doing the same session as last Friday at the park or maybe 10 x 400m. 400s on the track last year were by far and away my favourite session so I may go for that this time.

Oddly enough though from all the dancing at Battles on Wednesday night my left calf is rock hard, completely stiff. I seriously can't get over it - I rarely suffer from my calf muscles being stiff; maybe after a race with a few hills, but after a bit of dancing?!? I probably didn't make things any better by then repeating the same antics last night at Caribou. No more gigs until Tuesday so my left calf has some form of rest over the weekend... Except for the obvious training of course...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Let me introduce you to my friends

After this lunch times quick jaunt to the running store to pick up yet more runners it's come to my attention that I know have five pairs of runners in active commission... FIVE!! Well here they are...

Front Row (From left to right)
Asics DS Racers - Mentioned on here before due to their bright, bright greenness and shiney laces. I've been using these for road races and speed sessions. They also featured on my track race debut as I hadn't got around to buying track shoes (rectivied today!)
Asics Nimbus 9 - My standard day to day training shoe. These shoes know my local park very well at this stage. Currently have a couple of hundred miles on them and know my local park very, very well.
Nike Zoom Rival D III - The new track shoe. I'll be breaking these in over the next few weeks before the next track race. I'd like to say that after trying on loads of different types these were the most suited to my foot but no... they were the only ones in the shop that fit me!
Back Row (From L to R)
New Balance 240 XC - As you can see, the cross country shoe. That's about all these guys got used for and now they're taking it easy until next winter.
Asics Kayano 14 - The old day to day training shoes that are getting very close to retirement. According to my training log they have 550 miles on them at the moment but I still take them out for a jog at least once a week to give the Nimbus a day off!

At this point I would like to point out that my room is tiny and completely taken over by all these running shoes. As far as I can tell there should be no possible way that I should ever have more than 5 on the go at any one time. So this is the max... how the hell will I pack all these when I decide to leave London?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back on track

Tuesday night so the beginning of my track training for the summer. The current focus on a Tuesday will now be on speed endurance on a track which should hopefully make the 12 laps around and around seem a bit easier. Hopefully it'll give me a bit of rhythm on the track as well, but this'll probably take a month to six weeks of training before it's developed.

The session on Tuesday was 7 x 1200m with 90-110 seconds recovery in between. As it was my first time down with this crowd I just set myself nicely into the back of the first group and on we went. I felt good through out and felt that there was always a little extra kick there if I needed it. As I don't like racing my training it's good to know that I was holding that little bit extra back. Saying that though by the end I was fairly tired with tight hamstrings and calf muscles. All in all a good session and a good start to the season.

The other speed session I'm doing this week will be 10 x 300m with about a minute recovery. I'll be doing this session tomorrow and on grass rather than at the track. I've also been given strict instructions not to time this session on the watch as it's the beginning of the speed work. I've been told to do them strong and I should be able to tell that they're strong without a watch telling me. The watch however will not be left at home as I have to time the recoveries.

The next race looks like it'll be a 3,000m in two weeks time. It coincides with the Champions League final which I'm not too happy about but I have to set my priorities.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Race Report #6 - 5000m Track Debut (17m 22s)

To be honest I didn't expect much of this race. How could I after a weeks holiday after the last race?

No speed training for almost 3 weeks, no long runs, probably only three 8 mile runs in two weeks, a 12 hour flight only 4 days previously.... I couldn't expect much from this, but I had to see where I was at.

And where was I? Well I was at the track but it appeared my legs were still on holiday. I tried to kick start them but they were having none of it. We can't always have days like the last race where by the end of it I could have kept on running, we'd like to though. Not this time I'm afraid.

Right so, the race build up.

Summer finally hit London on Saturday so the racing conditions were probably perfect. Before the race I got a good warm up in. My coach told me to be sweating at the start and that's what I did. The warm up comprised of about a half an hour jogging around with a few 50 to 100 metre bursts every now and again. I then gave myself 10 minutes in the shade before the race started.

This was probably the smallest field I'd ever raced in... there were about 10 of us! Guaranteed a top 10 finish from the start was always going to be a bonus. The plan going into this race was to not start too fast and go with it. This was always going to be interesting as I have a habit of starting like the clappers, slow off for a bit and then find my rhythm. This time I had to start controlled.

On the gun I immediately placed my behind the leading two with one lad on my shoulder. The pace for the first lap seemed very comfortable, my breathing was easy and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself at all.
This is going to be a daddle! Clearly I'm a natural.
At the end of the first lap one of the officials was calling out the times as we passed. 1 minute 15 seconds. Shit! This is the same pace I used do 15 x 400m at the height of my training last summer with 1 minute rest. There was no way in hell I was going to maintain this for 12 laps.
Stick with it... you'll be fine

After the second and third lap continued at this pace I knew I had to let the guy behind me overtake me so I could pace off him. I slowed ever so slightly to encourage him to pass. He did and I stuck with him. Unfortunately I didn't stick with him too long and from there the race was over and it was me against the lap indicator now. Every time I got onto the final 100 metres there was a huge relief to see the 7 had changed to 6, then to 5. Then it was all in the head
4 laps... it's just a mile... easy... now 3... phhh that's nothing
This continued until I reached the bell, got around one last time and crossed the line and just began gasping for air!

All in all, track racing? I loved it! Every second of it up there. I may have been a fair whack off my 5km road time and the time I hope to post by the end of July (more on this soon) but there was something about racing on the track that just seemed to work for me, that just felt right. Maybe it's having grown up watching different games, Olympics, European and World Championships; being glued to the TV like every other Irish person as Sonia O'Sullivan was racing around Barcelona track; maybe it's that connection that made me love my first outing onto this track. Or maybe it was the fact that 12 and a half laps seemed a lot shorter than when I did it on the road! Who knows?!

So it seems the arrival of May has brought about the arrival of the track season for me... and tonight sees the arrival of my first track training session of the year. After a few weeks of no real tough training sessions I have to be completely honest... I can't wait for it!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Return of the real world

What a week! The fun that was had... and apparently I can still do a fair whack of drinking. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing but there was a lot of it going on for the first four days before I cooled the jets a bit.

I stuck to the plan and didn't think about running once, didn't talk to anyone about it, certainly didn't do any and pretty much did the exact opposite of what my running brain would normally tell me not to do. The plan was to take a break from it for four days and then recommence normality somewhat over there.

I managed to get out for an hour one of the evenings I was there. Getting the chance to get out was tough as during the hours of sun light the temperatures were 30C and in the space of 10 minutes between 6 and 6.10 the sun would set and it'd be pitch black, leaving no chance of a run in the dark. In the end I had to go out and do the run in the heat. It pretty much hurt to get back to it but I have to say I was glad to get that one run in during my time there. The initial plan was for two over there but there was no hope in hell I could run the day after the wedding (free bar!) so in the end I settled for one.

I'm only back a day at this stage and already I'm getting ready for a race. Tomorrow I'm heading to the track to have my first race there. I'm not too sure what distance I'll be doing but I'm hoping to get a 5000m race in. Obviously preparation hasn't been ideal - a 12 hour flight in the middle of the week, drinking my annual supply of alcohol units in 4 nights, not a lot of running, and uhm... absolutely zero speedwork since the last race. As I said, far from ideal, but sure the break could have done me the world of good...