Thursday, July 31, 2008

London's gone...

Training's taken a back seat for the most part this week as I've been packing stuff, shipping stuff and moving home from London. That and the poor race performance at the weekend which left me somewhat subdued have made it easy not to put my runners on for a few days. More than likely it's exactly what I needed and should clear my head somewhat.

This morning I got out for an 8 mile jog in the pissings of rain and felt completely fresh again. The race is now definitely out of my legs so I can start focusing on what's coming up next. I may have to put that focus on hold somewhat as I'm not totally sure what is next... but I'll find out in the coming weeks when I hear more on races in my area.

The athletics structure in the UK is definitely something I'm going to miss now that I've left. I arrived to London having never raced on anything other than a road... I left ten months later having taken part in Cross Country and Track and Field leagues as well as the odd road race. If you ever wanted to find a race of a certain distance on a given week you'd more than likely be able to find it. A 10km race in 2 weeks? No bother, there'll be one in some park near by. It's bizarre to think that I thought going to London would have an adverse affect on my running and then it turned out to be the complete opposite. Besides the fact I haven't been racing well of late I know I've come back a stronger runner for all the work I've put in since January.

Part of me thinks I'll head back that way in the new year. Find a new place, in a new area, new job and a new club (I could stay with the same one). But at the moment various unexpected changes have seen me arrive back in Dublin, and for how long I don't know. After 5 years living away it hasn't really sunk in yet that this is day one of Private living in Dublin... this time I'm not on holiday!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Race Report #11 - 10km on a scorcher! (36m 40s)

Bah! Trust my luck, I moan repeatedly about too much wind and then I get a day with no wind but it's roasting hot - in the high 20s. What were the odds after a summer of crap weather?

I'm fed up now saying "I could have got x if there was no wind, if there was no sun, if the race was downhill....". The fact is I didn't get a time anywhere near what I expected. The last 10km race was back around March I think and I ran a comfortable 35.30 or so. This time or around I naturally expected an improvement on that, not a run over a minute slower! Granted I finished in the top 5, but if I'd finished any lower I'd be fierce angry with myself as there was no one anywhere close to me at the end... which leads me to wonder why the steward at the finish line was asked me to move along up the line quicker... the next person to finish wouldn't have even been in sight so why try to move this guy along faster?!

Like so many races before it that race is being forgotten about and I'm moving on. I haven't got anything pencilled in for next up, but it won't be for at least two weeks. The legs are getting a bit of time to recover over the next few days. I'll head out later for a gentle 4 miles and then probably a bit longer tomorrow. The next speed work session won't take place until Friday so this week is going to feel quite cushie, which is nice considering I'm in the middle of my big move home at the moment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just one more

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to hear the inner monologue that goes through my head when I'm running played back to me. At one stage last night it turned into a debate when I was struggling through my eighth rep. I tried to convince myself to keep pushing it and it'd be the last one. All the while I could hear myself also retorting with "You know you're going to do another afterwards".

Last nights session wasn't as good as the week before in terms of times but in some respects I'm happier with it. The times were coming in at around 69/70 seconds per 400m with a decent recovery. By the seventh however I was absolutely shattered and hence got to the above scenario during the eighth - Call it quits on eight instead of trying to push out ten. When I finished the eighth I decided that I may as well go once more, even though it was more than likely going to be a slow one, at least that way I'd know I pushed it as much as I possibly could. The ninth started and was absolute hell, it properly hurt for the final 200m. As I glanced at the watch afterwards I was shocked, I barely felt like I was moving between 200 and 300 yet somehow, somehow I did another 69 second lap. After that I decided I may as well push out the tenth because I managed 69 seconds when hurting I may as well try ten, even if it turned out to be a slow one... The tenth hurt as much and was 70 seconds if I remember correctly. At that point there was no thoughts of "maybe 11", no chance. I moved onto the grass and lay out for a few minutes until my heart settled down a bit before gathering my stuff and jogging home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Into the breeze, I'm running

Wahey! We have a week of summerish weather in London... hopefully by the end of it my white shaven dome will have a closer colour to the rest of my head.

Even better than this sun lark is the fact that today the wind is minimal. Finally I'll be doing a track session without a pesky wind against me on one of the straights. At stages on both of last weeks track sessions I felt as if I was barely moving thanks to the force of the breeze pushing me back. I'll be hitting the track, equipped with an attitude, this evening to take on my last 10 x 400m session for a few weeks. Like last week I'll be doing them by myself so it's going to get tough from about the sixth one on... even more so if I'm going faster than last week because of the lack of wind!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Strong, Silent Type

At the moment I'm reading Elmore Leonard's Hombre. It's my third Leonard book in recent months and I can't get enough of them. As I was finishing my chapter with this morning's coffee a sentence jumped out at me, that sums up the way I'm feeling about races that haven't gone the way I'd hoped over recent months.
He was not the kind of man who would stew over something finished and past fixing

The last two races are behind me and there's nothing I can do about them now. I'll use them as experiences to get stronger for the remainder of the season but really analysing them... what's the point? I can't change anything and I don't know if I did would anything better have resulted from them. They're behind me now, I just have to move on.

With that moving on I hit the track last night for a session of 10 x 400m with 90 seconds rest. I was hoping to find a group at the track that were doing the same session but no such luck. Everyone was doing longer stuff or pyramid sessions. I did manage to jump in with a crowd for my last 400 however and let them drag me around instead of doing all the work myself like in the previous 9.

The shocking thing about last night was that I finally did the 400s in the time that my coach had been saying I would eventually get. Each one was either 68 or 69 seconds. I felt like death afterwards mind but then I felt like death last year when I was doing the same session with the times in or around 74 seconds. My coach now reckons 65 seconds isn't far off but for the moment I'm just delighted to have got down to under 70 seconds for 10 reps. What I now know is that I need to find people doing the same session as me for the 400s. The last one, where I was doing it with 5 other lads, was by far and away more comfortable than the preceding three on my todd.

After a tough session like last night the next two evenings involve easy runs. All I have to do is tip around putting miles on the legs. Friday though sees me return to the track where I have to stick on the spikes and do some 300s... strong. Start strong and carry it on around the track. This time however I won't be running against a clock as I've been instructed to leave the watch at home. I'll know when I'm running strong so the watch doesn't matter and for the recovery I've been told to wait until I feel ready to go again. Likewise I should know when I'm ready for another one... not taking the piss with the length of time I wait obviously. That'll be followed by a day off Saturday and I plan on completely and utterly chilling out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Race Report #10 - 5000m (17m 13s)

Race number ten of 2008! There's certainly plenty of them this year. Last year I think I raced in about 13 races overall, so 10 races by the second weekend in July is fairly good going. Last year the shortest distance I covered was in or around the 7km mark whereas this year I've had plenty of track races at 5,000m and 3,000m so recovery time has been a lot shorter.

I'm content with this last showing. Nothing more really. I don't know what it is about this year but every time I've been on the track there's been a strong wind and this time was no different. I did however manage to run faster than the last outing and run at the pace I covered my last 5km on the road in. Why I'm struggling to get a faster pace or maintain a pace on the track like on the road is a source of bewilderment to me. Maybe I'm starting too conservatively. No matter what pace you do a 5k in it's going to hurt eventually so maybe this even pace I'm trying to run just isn't working for me. I'm sure I'll figure it out soon enough. This is only my fifth race on the track after all.

My coach has told me before it's all about rhythm on the track and this was the first time I felt a rhythm to my running. My first 7 laps were fairly comfortable but the final 5 were a struggle. The last person I overtook was at lap 6. I could feel myself reeling him in for a few laps and when I past him I made sure there was no way he would hang on to me for even a hundred metres. Thereafter however there was no one in front of me that I was realistically going to catch so I had to run the final few laps with only my will power for company and seeing how I struggled over the remaining few laps I think my will power buggered off and all.

For now I can stop thinking track races, for a few weeks anyway. The next race I'm aiming for is a 10km back on the good old roads in a few weeks time. Hills are allegedly on the cards for it but we'll worry about all that on the day. Now it's back to two weeks of solid training before that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pre-race day

The past 3 weeks have seen me miss training days due to going away on holidays or people taking holidays and coming to me. This week it was the turn of the brother and his girlfriend coming to London for a few days that had me a) drinking and b) missing training. In fairness to them the missing the day of training was more to do with the fact that it pissed rain all day when we were traipsing around London. So much so that on the tube back home I knew there wasn't a hope of me changing out of wet clothes to put on shorts and head out in the rain again. A trip to the pub seemed like a better option. London is still a few months behind on the seasons... we had snow in the middle of April and now torrential rain without a hint of sun in July! Roll on the October heat wave!

When I did train this week it was quite successful. My coach has me instructed to not bother hitting the track if its really windy outside. The logic being you can't run fast if you're running into a wind. It makes sense really, so when I looked out and saw the trees shaking on Tuesday I knew the spikes were going to be left at home. The session that took its place was the good old 8 mile fartlek with 14 x 1 minute bursts. I felt quite good throughout and shocked myself a bit at how fast I seemed to be going (there was a lot of wind so that kind of played a large part in the speed).

Wednesday then was the washout day that I couldn't face going out on and as I'm racing tomorrow (another 5,000m) Thursday and Friday's sessions have been scaled back. On Thursday the session was simply 4 miles with bursts of 150m every now and again and today I'm heading out for a 4 mile run at an easy pace.

I don't know how I feel about this race tomorrow to be honest. The one two weeks ago wasn't the greatest by any stretch of the imagination but that's behind me now and I'm fully focused on tomorrow's track meet. The legs are in decent shape, the Achilles is nearly back to normal so there'll be no excuses for a poor performance tomorrow. The works been put in over the past few months so I've got to get it out of the legs, really it's time to deliver!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another reason why I miss France

I'm back into hecticness now after returning from my long weekend in France. I decided against a full weekend off training as I'm smack bang in the middle of races at the moment but I did need to get away for some kind of break.

In the end I took Thursday off training as I was shattered from a 6am flight, returned to the track I spent 3 years training on on the Friday for some 400s (way hotter than I was used to so I was dying - also forgot my watch and have no idea what my splits or recoveries were like... probably a good thing!) and then did a run of some description on the Sunday. The rest of my time was filled with beach times and alcohol fueled madness with people I hadn't seen in the guts of a year. Good times!

Going from London to France I was amazed at how friendly people were. They were always like that when I was there but I reckon I took it as a given when I was living there and only really noticed it due to the fact that you won't even get a "Good morning" when you walk into the same coffee shop in London every morning... at least I don't get it anyway!

Pretty much just off the bus from the airport and I bumped into the owner of the local running shop who came over shook my hand and asked how I was getting on. The girls in the local boulangeries were full of chat, even though I was stumbling trying to remember how to speak in French. At the running track there was one guy there that used to run with the club that I trained with who came over to say he'd heard how I got on in the last marathon and congratulated me which was fierce nice. I've no idea how he knew.

I suppose these are people that know and recognise me so it's not that weird that they should be saying hello when they see me. What was nice though was when I was doing my Sunday run (which was cut short due to the fact that I didn't wake in the morning and it was 30+ degrees when I was doing it) a lady started cycling beside me and having a chat about running. She'd just ran a 10km race that morning and was telling me about it. That has never happened to me in London! After a few minutes she cycled off and then a group of lads from the old running club cycled by me in the other direction and a huge shout of "Come on Irish" came up as they passed me by.

Between seeing all my friends again, bumping into randomers, speaking French for the first time in ages (it's still there!), even just hearing people speak French and eating well in so many nice restaurants I don't think I've felt so at home in a long time. It definitely drilled into me what I've thought for a long time, London is not home and it's time to move on. Next stop will be the real home I think. Back to Dublin with me to live for the first time in nearly 5 years. Once I'm there for a while I can figure out what I want to do next.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Je voudrais un croissant

The weekend's race performance is being left there. Excuses and everything are also being left there. It's a new week, new aims, new training, new shoes....

On the aims front I've set two races for this month. First off I'm going to tackle another 5000m in a two weeks and hopefully put in a performance I'm happy with on the track. The last weekend of the month will see a 10km where I'm hoping we'll see a positive result after the two months of speed work on the track.

For the next few weeks the training plan is also being modified. Good bye the speed endurance work on the track... no more 1200s, 1000s or 800s. Hello just speed... welcome 400s and lots of them. That's right it's reps of 400m twice weekly for the next few weeks to try get a bit of a kick into the legs. This started last night with 10 x 400m at about 72 secs with a decent breeze into my face in final 100. Hopefully over the next few weeks the reps will be up and the time will be down. The rest of the training stays as is - long run Sundays, easy runs most other days of the week.

After advice from my physio that my Achilles problem is more than likely linked to my shoes I've jumped back into my old style. There was also a suggestion from the physio I saw here last week that my casual shoes aren't doing me any favours either. Because of this I've now been wearing my training shoes when training and while plodding around in my own time this week. I'll have to wear the casual shoes at the weekend, otherwise I'll look like a right eejit down the pub. I have to say that I've noticed a huge improvement in the Achilles in the past few days. No longer is it sore in the morning, slightly stiff but alright. No pain at the beginning of the run, again slightly stiff but alright. And I can comfortably go up and down a stairs again. Although when I do under step going down and hit my heel off the step that I should be going past it does still send a sharp pain as the Achilles is obviously getting stretched and not gradually either. Surprisingly this hitting my heel on the stairs when I'm walking down it happens more than you'd think. I'd have thought that after 26 years of navigating steps I'd be more accomplished at it but evidently not.

Right so, I'm off to France this weekend to catch up with people. Thankfully my friend has agreed to my plan of hitting the track before the pub on Friday night so training shouldn't be too affected this time. It will be a bit but hopefully not a lot.