Archive for the ‘January’ Category

Run Fatboy Run

Posted: January 18, 2013 in 2013, January
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Having been told in no uncertain terms by the weighing scales that it was time to get off my arse I set off this morning to do my first run of any decent distance in 2013. A new running group has sprung up in my hometown Run Monasterevin Run, who can be found on Facebook so Brid and I went down to meet them for their regular Sunday run. I’ve been out with the group, usually three or four strong, a couple of times before but this morning there was about ten lycra and neon clad runners all milling about at Super Valu waiting for the off.

I know New Year’s resolutions and all that must have played a part in the size of the group but a large part also has to be the burgeoning popularity of running in Ireland. When I started running first, almost two years ago now, the only other person I’d see out running regularly was Paul Molloy (the guy who started up the group). Now most evenings there’s people out running individually, in pairs, in all sorts of weather too, so it makes sense to get a group together. It’s much safer as a group on these dark, dirty evenings, it’s a great motivator to go out when you’ve already arranged to meet up and you don’t want to let anyone down, plus it’s much easier to run as a group.

The other great thing about it is the social aspect of it. I’m not from Monasterevin originally, I’m only a blow-in, despite being here over ten years now. I did know some people from the town when I moved here, due to my brother and I doing a little carousing over in this direction in our younger years, and most of the other people I know is through coaching my son’s soccer and gaelic football teams for years. That and the fact that Brid’s an incredibly social, community minded person and is on every team and committee going, and therefore I meet people by proxy. If like a lot of people however, you’re not from the area at all and moved here during the housing boom, commute to a job miles away, and have no kids, it can be a bit tricky to meet people so a group like this serves a great social purpose.

So you can meet new people, it’ll help you get fit and healthy, and on top of all that, it’s free. What more could you want?

Anyway, we did 7km as a larger group at a nice, relaxed pace before people began to splinter off, having done enough for them. The smaller group that was left kept going, picking up the pace to about 5:30 mins/km initially, then for the last couple of kilometres kept gradually increasing it to about 4:45mins/km at the end. It felt fanbloodytastic to get out and blow the cobwebs off and get the legs actually working again.

13.77km in 1:21:32


Hello 2013

Posted: January 15, 2013 in 2013, January
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85.5* – that was the number staring back at me from the scales. 85.5kg! Jesus H. Christ. This is the heaviest I’ve been in about eighteen months, definitely the heaviest I’ve been since my initial training and weight loss. I knew I’d been piggy over Christmas, who doesn’t indulge over the festive period, but the pigginess combined with the lack of proper training over the last couple of months meant I’d taken “comfy” and “winter insulation” to a whole new level.

Proper training has to recommence. Eating like a pig has to stop. No more late nights which lead to snacking and lack of sleep which leads to tiredness which leads to excuses for not training. I have a 50k to do in less than a month for God’s sake and right now I’m a moustache away from being Paul Blart: Mall Cop.


2013 starts here (just a little bit late).




It was actually 85.9 but that was fully clothed, shoes and all. Come on, you can give me that.

Simple session tonight. Turbo trainer. Pyramid session – up through the gears, five minutes in each one with the last minute going hard, then work my way back down. It’s getting a little easier but I’m still pretty close to the bottom of the ladder in terms of how far up this can go in totrureosityness.

That’s January complete though. One month of training (or racing) every day, no booze and generally eating well. There’s still a long way to go, and despite the fact that most days I have some sort of stiffness, dull ache or slight pain I feel great (if that doesn’t sound like too much of a contradiction). I’m really eager to get some more races in but I definitely feel I’m building a good base.

Roll on February.


Day 30 – Stars of Track and Field

Posted: February 6, 2012 in January
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Monday so that means track session with the club. I was kind of hoping it might be some more hill repeats but it was an actual track session tonight. A few easy laps were followed by a pretty technical warm up where we worked on different techniques, steps and muscles. Next up was three laps – an easy one in under two minutes, one in under 1:30 and then a third easy one in under two minutes. Having no clue how to pace myself I set off after the guy in front who, as it turned out, was apparently part greyhound. He disappeared into the darkness and I was left to run alone. I was wondering why there was no one else ahead of me but didn’t want to be looking around in case anyone construed it as me being cocky or competitive.

I should have known something was up when I was up at the top of the field and sure enough when we started our ‘quick’ lap everyone came flying past. Ten seconds in I realised what was up and that everyone on the easy lap had been doing just that, taking it easy, unlike muggins here who ended up running the two laps at virtually the same pace. I learned my lesson though and on our second set of three I ran the first lap at the same relaxed pace as everyone else.

In between the two sets we did two different sets of skill and strength drills, working on technique and the movements to fatigue and strengthen specific muscles. Not as aerobically taxing a workout as the hill repeats of the week before but one that made you think about what you were doing at the same time as physically testing you.


Day 29 – A Close Escape

Posted: February 4, 2012 in January
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It’s been so far so good in my attempts to train or race every day, but today was definitely the closest I’ve come to missing a day. I had a late night last night watching UFC, so another day of getting up at six to go for an early run or cycle wasn’t an option. I couldn’t get over to Portlaoise either for my club cycle as we had a friend of my youngest son’s staying over and I was on child minding duties. I had a college assignment (over)due so spent most of the day at the computer, and before I knew it it was six in the evening.

I had put a joint of pork on early this morning as I was making pulled pork for dinner, and invited Benny in from next door to partake of it, but what started off as some civilised snacking soon turned into a filthy, debauched pork and bread orgy. We had sandwich after sandwich, experimenting with toppings and embellishments, gorging ourselves on the tasty piggy goodness, but somehow it wasn’t enough and Benny was off to the shop for three different kinds of dessert. By the time Top Gear was over I must have put on about four kilos, unlike Benny who’s one of those sickening creatures who have to eat constantly to maintain weight. He trundled back into his own house leaving me looking like a considerably less bouffant Adam Richman and feeling  even worse.

It was at that point that I remembered I hadn’t really done any exercise today. Sure I’d cycled to the shop but regardless of what Brid tried to say that just wouldn’t count. It was almost ten o’clock before the churning of my stomach stopped but I knew there was no way I’d be able to run, so turbo trainer it was. I had to drag myself across the room to it and the first ten minutes or so were terrible. Every time one of my legs came up near my stomach it compressed the contents and then pushed it back up my intestinal tract. I tried desperately to keep my movements smooth and controlled, avoiding any unnecessary bouncing and slowly but surely everything settled down and I got into my rhythm, even managing to put in a few sprints toward the end.

When I climbed off I was as relieved, and probably as happy, as if I’d just completed a race. The easy thing to do tonight would definitely have been to say that my trip down to the shop counted as my cycle for today, and maybe embellish the distance I’d done, but if I do that once what’s to stop me doing it again. I’d only be fooling myself anyway. I’m doing this for a reason, in fact I’m doing this for lots of reasons, none of which involve lying about how much I’ve done just to make myself look or feel better. There’s going to be lots of days when it’s legitimately hard to get some training done, days when I’m tired, aching, maybe sick, maybe injured, and if I start taking shortcuts now just because I’ve stuffed my face with pork sandwiches and hobnobs I’ve got absolutely no chance of getting through it then.


Faith No More – War Pigs

Saturday rolled around and with it the session I’d been looking forward to all week, my long run. I had to leave for our soccer match at half nine, and after that the Liverpool/Utd match was on, and on top of that I had college assignments due so the only way to fit in my long run was to get up at six and be out of the house by about half past. Stepping out into the pitch dark street I was slightly surprised to see everything covered in a heavy frost, and to find that the footpath was very slippery. As I was headed up to the woods though I wasn’t that bothered about the conditions underfoot.

Conditions in general, though very cold and foggy, weren’t much of an issue as I was very well kitted out – my trusty Brooks trail runners, running tights, three layers on top (nicely high-vis Brooks running jacket on top), gloves, hat, headtorch and backpack with water bladder. By the time I got to the end of the road I was pretty much warmed up and enjoying being the only person out and about. Only person I may have been but I wasn’t entirely alone as on the way up to the woods I did have a couple of dogs come rushing to their respective gates to voice their displeasure at me disturbing their peace. To tell you the truth I was quite glad the gates were there as they were quite large canines, and with the light from my headtorch glowing green off their eyes they looked an awful lot like the demon dogs from Ghostbusters.

Displaying the sort of bravery more normally associated with men more luxuriantly moustachioed than myself I pressed on regardless,  and a minute or two later found myself turning up into the woods. For reasons of, er, safety, I decided to forgo my headphones and started off on the first of my four laps. Despite having clocked countless laps here over the last year and knowing the place like the back of my hand, or at least so I thought, within a couple of hundred yards I had gone astray. The fog was so thick that even with my headtorch I could only see a few feet in front of me, and all I could see in those few feet was thick, swirling, freezing fog rushing towards my face, so I turned around and retraced my steps, and then another hundred metres or so did exactly the same again. After a couple more twirls I was completely disorientated and ended up just making my way back to the start of the trail. It’s crazy how different everything looked and felt, the trail seemed narrower, the stones, the dirt, the feel of everything underfoot was completely different but after a bit more effort I managed to figure out where I was and set off.

That first lap was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had running – no visibility to speak of, no points of reference, the only sound the sloshing of the water in my backpack. It’s something I was eager to do though as I really want to try a night race of some sort, but it made me really think how hard trail ultras that go through the night must be. I was running around an easy trail that I was familiar with and I struggled to keep going in the right direction, even when I was fresh and rested. What must it be like when you’re seventy or eighty kilometres in to a race, on your feet for ten or twelve hours at that point, and on a strange mountain somewhere with only the vaguest idea of where you are or where you should be going? Hopefully at some stage in the future I’ll get a chance to find out (and come out the other side to talk about it).

After the first lap it didn’t exactly get bright, but the gloom did start to lift a bit, and I started to really enjoy the run. The air was so thick and cold it smelled like ice cream and birds and small animals were starting to wake up and scurry around the woods.Three laps in and although it was meant to be my long slow run I was feeling great and having trouble keeping my pace down, so I decided that on the fourth lap I’d up the pace a bit. I had done my first three laps at between 23:30 and 23:50 a lap, pushing on but still keeping a steady pace I did the last lap in 20:30 before leaving the woods and heading for home. I was so happy with my run and felt really satisfied on the way home. I remember doing three laps round there just before I did Gaelforce last year and even at a slower pace than today’s the final hill on the last lap caused me to slow down quite a lot and was a bit of a struggle. Today felt really easy and was the surest sign so far that I’m getting a lot fitter now than I’ve ever been.


Best Coast – When I’m With You

Day 27 – Bill

Posted: January 31, 2012 in January
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As I didn’t make my club swim session last night, and have therefore received no further lessons or pointers, today’s solo trip to the pool very much resembled last week’s. And the week before’s. Some swimming. Some splashing. Some spluttering and a smattering of false dawns.

Even with the minimal distance I’m covering I’m still finding it very tiring, which caused me to spend the majority of the drive home wondering how exactly I’m going to manage an 80km cycle and then a 20km run after (eventually) getting out of the water.

I was knackered going round Aldi afterwards for God’s sake.


Day 26 – So, So Sleepy

Posted: January 30, 2012 in January
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The last couple of days I’ve been really tired both driving to and home from work. You really, really do not want to be tired and sleepy when you’re just beginning a 130km drive of dead straight motorway with practically no traffic on it. Trust me.

I just can’t face the thought of getting back into the car and driving anywhere so skip the pool session over in Portlaoise and just turbo it instead.

That thing is a bloody godsend.


Radiohead – Morning Bell (Amnesiac)

Day 25 – Nice and Steady

Posted: January 30, 2012 in January
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I should be doing the majority of my running at ‘easy pace’, which for me is about 6:15 mins/km, but it’s actually quite hard to keep it down to that pace. The temptation is always there to push on a little bit more. Tonight I went out to do a minimum of ten kilometres and for the first kilometre or two could feel a variety of aches and pains. My left calf felt a little tight, which since I tore it last April always worries me, but slightly more worrying than that was a dull pain in my shins which I hadn’t felt before. Some runners I know really suffer with various shin ailments (hi Spunder!) and it seems to be incredibly frustrating as it’s something that can come and go without warning. Three or four kilometres in though I had warmed up sufficiently and the pain had disappeared so I just settled into a nice rhythm and began to enjoy my run.

I managed to find a route that runs from one end of town to the other and out to the services on the motorway that’s all lit up so I just kept running, still working my way through the back catalogue of Mondo Movies podcasts along the way, and as I turned round and headed back into town I had about seven kilometres done. Although I probably shouldn’t have I upped the pace then, unintentionally at first, but after working my way up a hill and back I was feeling pretty good so started going quicker and quicker. I really pushed on then and did the last three k’s at about 4 mins/km. I definitely felt it when I arrived home though as I was coughing and spluttering for a few minutes but all in all it was a really satisfying run. 14.5km in 1:20:25, a good night’s work.


Nirvana – Territorial Pissings

Back to the pool again tonight and much to my dismay it was jammed. Lots of people doing lengths in the main section, despite the two lanes reserved for such activities being almost empty.

The session followed much the same routine as before, with me alternating doing lengths using ‘my’ stroke and then spending time relaxing, getting comfortable in the water. Almost every article or piece I’ve read on swimming has stressed the importance of slowing everything down so I try to do just that, making sure to extend my arms, my legs, try to be smooth and efficient. In truth I’m probably just flailing more slowly but it does feel better and every now and again I feel like I’m making some sort of progress.

That is until I attempt to get some air, which invariably sees me ingesting water, bolting upright and splashing and spluttering like a drunken hippo. Thursday night is swimming night with the club and it can’t come soon enough.