Monday, June 30, 2008

Race Report #9 - 5000m (17m 24s)

I'm going to keep this race report short and sweet as I wasn't too happy with anything from beyond the 3rd lap. Considering there were still 9 and a bit laps to go at that stage there isn't a lot I'm happy about!

Annoyingly enough on the morning I could still feel my calf muscles when I walked around as a result of the massage during the week. Not ideal to be racing with legs that already felt tired but so be it, dig in and run is all you can do. The last of my excuses is the wind and sun. Not the nicest of combinations, on the back straight we were running into it and on the home straight we had the sun beating down. Joy.

Conditions have to be put to one side though as everyone else had to deal with them and all. So finishing just under a minute behind guys I should have been finishing with was a kick in the teeth. After the first 3 laps, which were done at a nicely controlled pace, when I should have been closing in on the lads up ahead I found myself dropping off and going further and further back. That continued up until the end of the race when I crossed the lines completely shattered. I tried a one mile warm down afterwards and even that proved to be beyond me!

Rather than making the foolish mistake of having a bad race and then going hell for leather into training straight afterwards to make up for it I went with the sensible approach. I'm giving the legs a break. They're having a two day holiday to get over it it. Obviously I'm a bit tired, be it the massage or just training and life sapping my energy, either way a two day break before starting back into it all should do me no harm at all. Two weeks until race number ten of 2008!

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's all good... no need to worry!!

Phew! All is well... no mention of stopping training, cutting it back or ruptures when I was actually at the physio. Turns out he was fairly good and reasonably priced so I'm well happy. By the end he was talking about maintaining the Achilles over coming weeks rather than the horrible 'rest' word. Like my physio at home this guy was not shy in getting really deep into the muscles which means that my calf muscles currently feel like someone used them as a punching bag last night. Ah well they'll be good as new tomorrow.

And tomorrow I'm back racing again. Wahey! It's been a while since I've been on the track. It's another 5000m race and I can't wait to get stuck into it. The training over the past few weeks should be leaving me in good shape for it. I'm not expecting any miracles tomorrow. I'd hope for a strong race, a fair chunk of time off the last 5000m I took part in, simply a race and a time I'd be happy with.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The physio awaits

A while back I mentioned that my Achilles was acting the prick. While I was back in Dublin I saw my physio twice, he worked on it and made it a hell of a lot better. However last week I took on the speed session at the track. This put a lot of strain on a not yet perfect Achilles and I arrived back at square one.

The blame (I need to find something to blame) is being pointed in the direction of the asics nimbus. The last shop moved me from Kayano's to Nimbus saying it may relieve a slight issue I had with my quad. They reckoned that as I was coming down dead straight in the Kayano that there was room to roll my feet somewhat, easing pressure on the quad. Well guess what? The quad issue is still there, it doesn't concern me in the slightest, but the Achilles really don't like the nimbus. Why I didn't think of this sooner is beyond me. This weekend I'll be returning to the store and picking up a pair of my trusty injury free Kayanos.

Tonight I'm heading to a new physio in London. There are reasons why I really, really, really like my physio. Not just because he solves everything to date in a week or two but because he makes me feel like it's completely normal to have these aches and pains. As he told me before, "you can't expect to push your body as hard as you do and not expect to get niggles all the time". If that didn't happen there'd be no need for his profession!

Well the new guy didn't make me feel at ease at all at all. One phone call and he put the shits into me. The word "rupture" was used at one point. RUPTURE, he hasn't even seen it yet, what are words like that get thrown about willy nilly for?! He also mentioned reducing my training and probably stopping completely. Again he hasn't seen or heard anything of my training and he's already coming to these conclusions. My guy never tells me to stop training. Once or twice he's said to take the day after an appointment off to let my legs recover from the pounding they just received from him but never stop training or reduce the load. The guy on the phone also labelled what was wrong with me. All my physio had said to me was "ah yeah, it's a bit tight in here" and then beat the shit out of me while explaining how the soleus is tight which is pulling on the Achilles and so on. This is good as I have no idea where a soleus is or what it does and really if it's a bit tight I know it can be loosened. What's wrong with labelling it? Google is what's wrong with it people... GOOGLE!

After googling and putting the fear into myself I contacted my physio at home. He mailed me back and just said to change my shoes back to the Kayanos and I'd notice a difference in a week. At the moment I'm quite relaxed about it all again but God knows how I'll be when I see this guy in a few hours for him to put the fear back!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday Long Run

I'm a bit concerned I'm doing my long runs to fast
Are you doing them at 5.30 pace?
FIVE THIRTY?!? Jesus. No, definitely not
Good, then you're not doing them too fast

According to my coach I'm not to be afraid of going fast. In fairness, I don't think I'm going fast, just faster than I'm used to on my long slow runs.

Up until recently I've just plodded around at an easy pace for the 15 miles or so. Now I'm working that bit harder and coming home that bit more fatigued. Obviously no matter how fast you do the 15 miles you're going to hurt by the end, if it doesn't then there's something wrong! 15 miles will never be easy. The last seven Sundays have all been 15 miles runs as I haven't had any races on weekends of late and I can say one thing, they're not getting easier... I may be getting better at them but they're still pretty damn tough.

Although I do come back tired and for an hour or so afterwards my legs are shagged I do recover from it quick enough. Within the few hours my legs will be fresh again and there's no need to take a day off afterwards. I'm comfortably able to do an 8 or 9 mile easy run the following day.

I suppose the key to the long run is not racing it. That's why you always hear that you should run them one minute slower than your goal race pace. If your legs are overly tired in the days following the long run then it's time to look at the pace you're doing them. Like all training, the more you do the fitter you'll get and the better you'll be able to do them. Thankfully the strength and fitness I've built up in the past six months seems to be allowing me to push myself a little bit harder on the Sunday mornings.

Friday, June 20, 2008

There's one born every minute

Sometimes I surprise myself by how much I fall into gimmicks that will make a super duper, uber-fast running machine. Ones that I can think of in recent times include...

  • The Powerbreathe thing. Dumbbells for my lungs, improve performance by stupid percent in weeks... count me in!! I still use this almost daily. Placebo or not I don't care.
  • Some foam roller to self massage my quads. Uhm... this didn't last too long as it didn't seem to do much for me. It now sits in a drawer in a different country to where I am now.
  • Rudy Project sunglasses. I was living in the south of France at the time and needed something for the blasted sun. A totally justified expense! I feel like a bit of a spa wearing them but twice in recent weeks I've had a fly in my eye when not wearing them so they're here to stay for the rest of the summer
  • My Under Armour gear. About 12 months ago I was running about without this stuff and now a year on I've got multiple cold tops, hot weather tops, shorts and all. I don't know where I'd be without them... My nipples still thank me daily for them
  • This is a bad one now.... I read a while back about this Phiten necklace thing that Paula Radcliffe wears. Apparently it's good for preventing injuries, keeps you relaxed, yada yada yada. I know she gets paid for wearing it but I couldn't resist... I didn't get the necklace but I do own a Phiten bracelet!
  • A few weeks back for my dodgy achilles I bought an Active Wrap thing for my ankle. Put the pack in the freezer and then strap it on. No more towels and bags of ice for this guy! It must be better for the environment and all....
They're the ones I can think of... before today's new addition. I was reading Ryan Hall's blog over on flotrack and noticed that there were a few product placements in the middle of it. My first thought was obviously how much is he getting paid for this? The product in there was his new Oakley's that will repel water that he pours on himself when running. I'm not jumping on that, one pair of over priced sun glasses is enough for me. Then he mentioned the drink he drinks when racing. Again I thought, product placement, before the other thought of If it's good enough for Ryan Hall, it's good enough for me!

To Google with me and in goes 'Cytomax'. Two days later and my giant 2 kilo container of the stuff has arrived. That's right, I didn't even decide to try a smaller quantity of it, nope I got me a summer's supply of the stuff!

If it does half the stuff it says on the box I'm not surprised Ryan is running 2:06 marathons. Lowers lactic acid during and after trainging by 40%, stabilizes power output, reduces perceived excertion, reduces oxygen consumption (it's a drink for crying out loud, how does it do this?!), increases recuperation. There you have it, I bought myself magic powder. Training should be piss easy from here on in!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Now it starts

For the past while I've been telling myself that the work I've been putting in at the track isn't speed work but a preperation for the speedwork that is about to take place. Well, tomorrow the speedwork starts!

Tomorrow it's spikes on, watch off and start fast. All the 800s, 1200s and what not on the track ove the past month and a bit were to get my speed endurance on the track up to scratch for the real speed work. The session should be around 8-10 x 300m with enough recovery to be recovered. It could take 90 seconds to recover or it could take 2 minutes, it's not important. What's important is that I accelerate fast for each one, get the legs moving fast and hold it for 300 metres.

It should be interesting to see how I get on. I've put in a few good sessions of 300m on the grass of late which would be more strong than fast. They should stand to me and all over the next few weeks.

This week has been a very good week so far so hopefully it'll continue into tomorrow. On Tuesday I jumped in with a new crowd for a track session. We did a pyramid program, starting at 1200m and working down to 400m, getting faster the closer to 400m we got. I have to say that after feeling like I cheated myself last week with an easy session this was anything but! Throughout the whole session I was running strong and even surprised myself at the end by somehow managing a 1:10 on the last 400m of the night. Even more surprising was my willingness to take to move to the front of the group when I noticed the pace seemed to be slackening off. Usually when I'm training with a group I'm the lad dying at the back! My coach reckons that this shows an increase in my fitness but also an increase in my confidence in my fitness. There's no point going past someone if you're going to burn out 20 metres later, if you're going to go ahead of someone you want to be sure that you'll be able to carry the pace for whatever is left, be it 300m, 400m or 500m.

Touch wood, the way things are going now I should be racing well by the end of this month half way through the next. My coach has told me I should be happy with how things are going by then but not flabergasted. I've set high standards for myself to reach this year, high enough that I think they're slightly unreachable, so I reckon he's right, I won't be flabergasted just yet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Out of the blue update

I've arrived back in London now after my recent trip home. Between gigs, meeting clients, catching up with friends and family, I managed to somehow fit in some running.

On Tuesday last I jumped in on a session with a group of lads who were doing some 1kms in the park. I've no idea who they were, I saw them warming up and just asked them what their session was and if it was alright if I could tag along. Sometimes this running can be a nice way of meeting people. They invited me along for another session that weekend but it didn't really fit in with the fact that I was off boozing on the Friday night!

Then on the Friday I took on what should have been 10 x 300m on the grass. The plan was to go out hard for the first 100, go steady for the second before pushing it home. I gave myself about a minute recovery between each one but probably could have done with a bit more. They started fine but after the forth or fifth I could feel the struggle. The reason I say that it 'should have been 10 x 300m' is because the last 2 were so piss poor that I can't count them. I barely felt like I was moving for the last one with heavy feet plodding along every step. The legs must have well and truly been full of lactic acid at that point.

The last session of the week was the Sunday long run. Again I took this on solo (I'm really going to have to find someone to keep me company on these) and was quite happy with it. I've definitely upped the pace I'm doing these at now and the good thing is that although I'm tired immediately afterwards my legs are always fine the next morning. There is always the fear that I am going to fast for them but I think (hope) for the moment I'm pacing them right. The last thing I want to be doing is racing my training and leaving fast times out on the training routes.

This week the plan pretty much involves the same idea as last week although instead of jumping in with a load of people I don't know in Dublin, I'll be attempting the same thing with random people at the track in London tonight!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dublin Bound

I travelled back to Dublin on Thursday night. The flight was delayed which meant I technically didn't get in until Friday but still. The following 48 hours proved to be fairly hectic but it seems to have calmed down now.

- Friday morning - Training - 10 x 300 metres in the local park
- Physio appointment to sort out my poxy achilles. If I had one word to describe this it'd be "painful". I asked at one stage if anyone ever pulls their leg away in the middle of a session. No one has to date but I wouldn't put it past someone soon.
- Dinner with the parents and sister who is also back home for the weekend
- 8am Saturday - To the local pub to watch the New Zealand v Ireland game. Thankfully no alcohol was on the menu at that crazy hour for sport watching but there was a fry on the cards.
- 10.30am Saturday - Headed into town with my older sister to faff around for a while. By far and away the earliest I think I've ever made it into town on a Saturday.
- Lunch at my younger sisters house
- Radiohead gig in Malahide castle. Great gig, great day, nightmare commute home
- 1.30am Home, bed.
- Sunday morning - 15 mile run
- Falling in and out of sleep during Dublin v Louth, Croatia v Austria and Germany v Poland

I'm spending the rest of the week here in Dublin. I don't have too many plans for during the week. Maybe go to a gig, hit the cinema, prepare my liver for a big weekend, and train of course....

Friday, June 6, 2008

Race Report #8 - 3000m (9m 46s)

These races are certainly coming quick and fast now. There's not much to really report on these sub ten minute races, they're over so quick that I barely remember them.

The difference between this race and the last 3000m is that I set out fast and tried to stay with the front runners for as long as possible. That meant that the first lap went off at 1:12/1:13. From then I just had to had to try maintain a constant pace. Unfortunately that constant pace wasn't the same as the first lap but closer to 1:18 a lap.

Pro: Faster than the last 3000m by 4 seconds.
Con: Still a fair whack off where I'd like to be

Pro: I felt stronger and more controlled in this race and believe I could maintain very close to that pace for a 5000m race
Con: No good talking about what I think I can do, I have to do it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Balls to the wall

My flatmate was asking me the other day what I hope to do in this up coming 3000m race.

"Balls to the wall, get the first mile out of the way and fast and try to hang on in for the rest.... Balls to the wall? uhm... is that right?? it doesn't really make sense..."

He reckoned it sounded good, but the more we thought about it the more ridiculous it sounded. It was decided that as long as I used it in a running sense and he doesn't arrive home to find me in any bizarre position we'll be alright!

Thankfully the Internet came to my rescue and it appears that it does make sense and a perfectly reasonable explanation follows. It originates from pilots pushing the gear stick (ball) as far forward as possible to the wall in front to go at full power. Why this phrase is in my head for going fast I have no idea but at least I was using it in the right context... well kind of... I'm not a jet... yet!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Run, run, run... I was running all day long

Sunday's long run was arguably the best 15 mile training run I've ever done. Whenever I go out at a slow pace for the 15 miler it will hurt at the end. You're going to feel the last few miles one way or the other - it's 15 miles and not easy!

Yesterday I was strangely proved wrong.

The pace I set out at was just above an easy tempo, each step was strong through out, each step was purposeful. After 10 miles I felt good, 14 miles and at the end I still felt like I could have gone on for a few miles more. My training program doesn't say to do a few miles more so I headed home.

The odd thing about it was that it was my least organised long run in months. My plans the night before had fallen through I ended up staying in. Staying in sounds like it was the ideal scenario before a long run. I changed the 'idealness' of it by talking myself into opening a bottle of wine and then preceding to finish said bottle before going to my bed in the wee hours of the morning. The odd thing about this is that if I had have gone out with my friends I'd have limited the amount I drank, I probably would have stayed off the booze, and I'd more than likely have headed home early. So what the hell was going through my head to convince me to get drunk in front of a DVD and stay up till all hours?!

Adding to my unpreparedness was the fact that I had no carbogels in the house and with it being a Sunday the chances of getting any was slim. I tried though... but I failed. What I settled for was a Lucozade Sport drink that boasts a caffeine boost. It seemed to work though as my energy levels were great through out the run.

I may have taken away some of the work though yesterday evening as I called my flat mate and arranged to meet him in Kings Cross. I was weak though and instead of going for the soft drink option I took a pint. We were only going to be there for a while so one pint, at most two couldn't hurt. Before we finished the second another friend had popped by that we hadn't seen in an age and the drinking started properly then. My one or two drinks at 5 o'clock saw we arrive home with a Chinese take away and a few more cans of beer at 11.30 last night!