Archive for January, 2014

The Week’s End

Posted: January 27, 2014 in 2014
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Having failed to make it out for a midweek jaunt, and staring down the barrel of another week with a pitiful total number of kilometres logged I did what any sensible person would do on getting home from work on Friday night, I went out for a run. I’d planned on getting in my long run on Thursday evening but I had an hour or so where I was inhabited by the spirit of Basil Fawlty and literally everything that could go wrong, did. I got more and more annoyed at my inability to find anything, my Garmin’s inability to hold a charge, the pockets of my top being the wrong size and many, many other crucially important issues so when less than a kilometre into the run my phone fell from it’s precarious perch in my silly sized pocket I packed it in, turned around and flounced home.

Friday night everything was found, charged and ready to go so off I set for twenty four slippery, swampy, mucky but thoroughly enjoyable kilometres along the canal bank, over to Vicarstown and back. I had done this route a couple of weeks ago and found it pretty tough going. I was in the first few days of post-Christmas readjusting to a low carb, high fat diet, and I’d been out the night before for a reasonably quick twelve kilometres, so the pace was glacial, and the last few kilometres a real slog. This time round I was much fresher and my body well on the way to being nicely fat adapted. I left a bottle of my own special sports drink mixture – water, orange juice, maltodextrin, BCAA and sea salt – at the four kilometre mark to pick up on the way back, apart from that I had no food or drink and nothing to carry. I don’t usually listen to anything when I’m running now, but when I do these long night time runs I do like to have something to keep me, usually podcasts and often times Joe Rogan’s, the three hour run time making it the perfect accompaniment. This time round it was Joe talking to John Hackleman, lifetime martial artist, Rocky fan and coach to Chuck Liddell, talking about montages, hardcore training and terrible 80’s action films.

The run itself was great. A really mild night, no one around (funnily enough on a canal bank in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night) and no real issues apart from the large, squishy blister on each foot that I inevitably end up with when I do any more than ten kilometres or so in my Salomons. They may be the most high end, trickest trail running shoe going but they just don’t suit my feet. I put them on and they feel like lovely big multi-coloured cushions but an hour later and they’re squeezing bits of my feet that aren’t meant to be squeezed and leaving me with ganky multi-coloured, multi-layered blisters. Fifteen minutes after my run though I felt like I had the flu – shivering, cold, not able to eat – and not even Jean Claude Van Damme and his amazing performance in Bloodsport could bring a smile to my face so I just shuffled off to bed.

Vicarstown and Back

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Flippy Floppy

Posted: January 23, 2014 in 2014
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If I was asked to describe myself with only a few words “stiff” might be an adjective I’d use. That obviously depends on a number of factors, for example, I’m not going to walk up to random strangers or schoolkids and whisper “ooh, I’m so stiff”, but given the right conditions and company it is a word I’d use. I’m not particularly fluid or flexible, I don’t flow well. I think about things a lot and can be overly analytical. Swimming has been a particular struggle for me as I actually stop moving and think about what I’m doing (wrong) as I’m doing it which invariably leads to me sinking. If I don’t manage to avoid the glare of cameras on nights out or social occasions a common accusation levelled against me when the pictures see the light of day, populated with people gambolling, laughing, dancing or falling around while I remain a pillar of austerity, is that I think I’m “too cool for school”. It’s not that, it’s just that I’m a bit, well, stiff.

This inherent stiffness has been exacerbated by me pounding the roads in recent years and when I was silly enough to not give myself sufficient recovery time I ended up picking up a lot of injuries, seeing a lot of physios and missing a lot of running.

During that time one of the best physios I saw was Reiltin Treacy, who’s based in Newbridge. When I saw her she pinpointed my lower back and glutes as the source of my problem, and  although my problems generally manifested themselves in my calf muscles, specifically my left, this didn’t come as a huge surprise as I was spending over three hours a day driving to and from work. Combine that with a desk based job and thats a lot of time compacting your lower spine. I eased back on the mileage, spent a lot of money on physio and eventually my problems went away.

This year I expect my mileage to ramp up significantly, and I really don’t want to spend too much (any) time injured so in order to mitigate that risk I’m looking at injury prevention, rather than treatment. One of the ways I intend to do that is pilates. I’ve actually been meaning to start pilates for at least two years now, but for whatever reason (cough laziness cough procrastination) haven’t. As well as the injury prevention and increase in flexibility what I’m really hoping to get out of pilates is an incease in core strength. An area where I fall down massively, especially in longer races, is a weak core. I know I’m not alone in that regard, at the end of every marathon you see people shuffling along, bent over double, and that’s in large part down to having a weak core. This also of course leads to muscle tightening, cramping and injuries. Likewise, when I’ve hauled myself up, or staggered down, Croagh Patrick or similar obstacles I’ve resembled one of the lesser hobbits making an attempt on Mount Doom. Again, not helped by a weak core.

To try and improve this undesirable state of affairs I’ve finally bitten the bullet and started pilates in Newbridge, classes led by none other than the aforementioned Reiltin Treacy, and do you know what? It’s only bloody brilliant. Admittedly I spent the first class struggling mightily with my breathing, invariably inhaling when I should have been exhaling, or even worse not breathing at all, but this week it was much better. Despite the fact that it’s only two weeks in, and therefore the positive effects I’m feeling are possibly psychosomatic, but I feel fitter and trimmer afterwards too, though it’s debatable whether I’m any more flexible just yet. What I do know for sure though is that I’m really enjoying the class. We’ll hopefully see later in the year the tangible benefits of pilates, but I know I drove home from my class on Tuesday with a smile on my face, and that’s enough for now.

I was never a fan of tubby Tony and his floppy fringed chums but they did have one thing right – write down some goals. I’m sure later on in the song they went into detail about how the goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound but I’d usually switched off by that stage. Long term goals are all well and good but I’m a little more short term than that. If I don’t have something coming up in the next few weeks I tend to forget all about what I’m supposed to be doing, procrastinate, panic before eventually deciding that it’s too late to do anything.

Case in point:

2012 – I entered a race every month, worked towards each of those and had a very, very productive year.

2013 – I had a couple of aims that were a little more nebulous, ended up doing the square root of feck all besides getting fat and lazy.

So, that said, here are my goals for the first three months of this year (or Q1 as we call it in bizness)

January:

Sub 80 minutes at the John Tracey 10 Mile in Dungarvan on the 26th of January.

February:

Twenty days of training in February

March:

Sub 2:30 at the Wicklow Way Trail race on the 22nd March

Oh and please, for anyone reading this, please hold me to these. Trying but failing is perfectly acceptable, but just faffing about, being a total mimsy and not trying at all is worthy of abuse. I expect a certain husky ex-colleague of mine to be particularly quick to let me know if I’m being a big lazy blouse.

 

Fail to prepare…..

The Dynamic Duo - And Me

The Dynamic Duo – And Me

 

……. Prepare to have a physically taxing, mentally draining and emotionally unfulfilling race. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this, as I said training has been going reasonably well and I thought I could feel myself getting a bit fitter (and lighter). However, this week, for no apparent reason, I managed only one of the three training sessions I had planned and then ate like crap on Friday night.

Saturday night I knew might have been a bit tricky as I was staying up in a friend’s house but it ended up veering from ‘tricky’ to ‘stupid’ as it involved some very late beer, pizza and a 03:30 bed time. I drove out to Howth tired, groggy and feeling like I had a compacted colon. At least Howth was, to quote myself, “mostly flat, with just the one hill in the middle of it” which suggests that I’m either showing signs of the early onset of Alzheimer’s or I don’t read my own race reports as having done it in 2012 I really should know better. Based on that and my assertion that Valentia would be a good sprint triathlon to start with (huge waves, swim cancelled to due to danger to competitors, huge hills to run/cycle) I fear that my good friend and neighbour Benny, who also ran Howth, may never listen to me again.

Start

Start

Anyway, we had a beautiful morning for the race in Howth, and huge crowds too for the first IMRA race of the season. Despite the IMRA volunteers’ best efforts everyone had turned up to register about ten minutes before the race was due to start so naturally there were some delays. A huge crowd of almost three hundred got underway  and immediately I felt I was going backwards. You know the feeling you get on a bike when you start to tire and you keep checking to see whether all the air has mysteriously disappeared from your tyres? Well I felt like someone had let the air out of my (metaphorical) tyres right from the off.

Slow and sodden, legs and chest burning, I was delighted to see the first bottle neck and a chance to get my breath back. A little climb and descent later and it was on to the forest section where there was an unusual amount of whooping and hollering going on. Apparently there was a tour of American students passing through the area at the time, who were just as surprised to see a horde of fluoro clad runners careering through the undergrowth as we were to have our very own cheerleaders.

Nearly there

Nearly there

More climbing, more descending, thankfully more bottle necks and more and more people coming past me. My chest kept burning, my stomach was now churning and I really wasn’t having a good day in the office. I tried to think positive thoughts but I’m not quite so skilled in that particular arena that I can just turn it on and off like that. Thankfully after only a little bit more climbing and descending the finish line, or at least the approach to the football pitch which meant the finish line would be coming shortly after that, hoved into sight. More trudging and slow motion churning through mud later I was across the line and walking off into the distance, desperately trying to introduce some order to my breathing and heaving before I had to go and speak to anyone.

 

Result – 36:40 and a horrendous 180th place (Benny did 27:30, I think, and a fantastic 30th).

 

Lessons learned (or at least noted):

  1. Rest well for races. I’ve gotten so blasé about this and hardly ever get a good night’s sleep before races or long runs any more and invariably either don’t do well or don’t do them at all. Cop on, get some sleep.
  2. Hydrate well for races. This was only a short race, less than 6 km, and there’d be no need for water on the course. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stay hydrated the day before, or indeed every day. Not sure that dessicated muscles operate optimally.
  3. Fuel well for races. Beer, late night pizza and then a cappuccino and ‘Very Berry’ muffin for breakfast. Yeah…….
  4. Specificity. Specificity. Specificity. The last time I did this race I was doing the majority of my running in Moore Abbey woods (by Kildare standards hilly) and one night a week in Tramore (by all but mountain dweller’s standards, hilly). This time round pretty much all my training has been on flat roads. And it showed.

The next IMRA race is in two weeks’ time, in Ticknock, so a lot of work to be done before then. Before that though I have the John Tracey 10 Mile in Dungarvan next Sunday. And a lot of work to be done in general.