Sunday, November 23, 2014

Norwich Half Marathon 2014

Well it was very wet as expected. I delayed my warm-up for as long as possible and got out there about 25 minutes before the race was due to start. A 10 minute gentle run, and then a 3 minute hard effort to lift that heart rate into race mode. Then a quick change of shoes and lined up at the start. Hardly anyone warming up - that's how bad it was...

The race started and 2 sponsored athletes took it out, with 3 others chasing (that includes me), So a nice lead group of 5 as we made our way around the showground. A horrible muddy wet section with ankle deep water in the first mile where I lost about 5m, and then had to work to get back onto the group.

As we exited the showground we passed the first mile marker and the pace was on. I stuck at the back of the group getting some shelter from the wind and was running strongly. I knew the pace was quick but that was okay as long as the HR stayed in my threshold zone. Through the second mile and then a long uphill drag up to mile 3. As we passed a drinks station I checked the HR and it was too high so I had to pull back, If it was a 10km you'd just get on with it but I had to be sensible as there were still 10 miles to go. I watched as the other 4 slowly drift up the road. I had a decent gap on any chasers so it was time-trial mode for which I'm well used to.

Miles 4 and 5 were great. Some lovely long downhills and I was moving well. The course was slightly different this year - in previous years there was a long uphill drag back into the showground. This year it was still the same climb but a much shorter sharper hill - around 500m of lung-busting effort. That pegged me back but I got going again and as I ran into the showground again we had a new section to cover where you were running on long wet grass for what seemed like 400m. Back onto a path and good to get running again but miles 6 and 7 were slow and that wasn't due to lack of effort.

Exiting the showground again for the start of lap 2 and it was tougher now as I had no protection from the elements. I knew 8 and 9 would be tricky but there was the good section to look forward to for miles 10 and 11. I pushed on and felt strong but knew the pace wasn't as quick as the first lap. The splits for 8 and 9 were good and then I made a big effort on the quick part of the course. Through 10 miles in 53:11 (a new PB)  and managed to keep it going well until mile 11, Then it got a lot tougher. Lots of backmarkers to lap by this stage (I reckon I passed 200) and the lanes are quite narrow and with either side of the road flanked by water everyone was running in the middle of the road. When people run 2 a breast it blocks the dry line so you either shout to move people out of the way or run in the water. I tried to shout but not easy when you don't have much spare oxygen.

The sharp climb back into the showground and I was really feeling it. I was passing people but not going that much quicker than those 6 miles behind me. Still plenty of shouts of encouragement which was great. Into the showground at mile 12 and it was all about hanging on. Another section of water/mud with around 1km to go and this time I slipped and went down - I grabbed the fence which prevented a full face dunk but I lost a good bit of momentum and somehow managed to keep it going. The last stretch was tough - there was nobody on the course just one volunteer and I had to ask what the route was. Then just get on with it - a couple more turns and I could see the finish and just ran as hard as I could to cross the line in 1:10:31 for a new PB and 5th position overall.

Happy with the run in those conditions - but I know I can do better. Putting the weather aside it's still a tough enough course so I think I need to find something flatter and faster to have another dig on.

Here are the splits. You can see the tough miles 6, 7 and 12, 13 which cost me the sub 70.

Split       Time      Pace      Avg HR  Max HR
1              05:07.3  03:12     142         152
2              05:05.7  03:11     149         152
3              05:10.6  03:12     160         182
4              05:05.5  03:11     165         186
5              05:18.4  03:16     153         174
6              05:40.5  03:32     147         154
7              05:38.8  03:28     144         157
8              05:26.1  03:23     160         167
9              05:24.9  03:21     148         162
10            05:13.7  03:12     144         146
11            05:20.2  03:19     144         147
12            05:46.8  03:35     146         148
13.1         06:13.8  03:29     146         151
Sum        1:10:32   03:20     150         186

Here's some photos to give you an idea of what it was like:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Travel and gentle 20 minutes

Long trip to Norwich, Then a gentle 20 minute run just to turn the legs over. Out in the pub with a few mates to watch the Arsenal v Man Utd game whilst drinking water. Than an early night. The forecast for tomorrow looks pretty bad - very wet and some wind...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rest day 2

Another rest day. A couple of lactate tests to do which kept me busy and were good fun. And one beer in the evening just before I went to bed. Up early tomorrow for the trip to Norwich.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mini session

Treadmill as weather not good. A 3km warm-up then 10 x 30 seconds off 30 seconds. Then a 3km warm-down to finish.

I was running the 30 second efforts at sub 3:10 pace and it felt very comfortable. The heart rate wasn't even getting into my recovery zone during the 30 second effort. Feeling good.

All up 7.6kms.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

All good

Tentative start to the run. After 2km there was no reaction so wound up the pace to get into that recovery zone. All up 11.1kms in 40:55 (3:41's).

Can still feel it slightly but no problem me running - probably just a slight strain or nerves as the coach calls it. Bullet dodged.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rest day 1

No running. Just the drugs and some icing. Can feel it in the Achilles but it's not pulling so think I'll be fine. Will try a run tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Recovery run. Felt a sharp pain in my lower calf/top of Achilles not long into the run. Pulled back the pace and jogged the rest of the lap as could feel something wasn't right.

All up 11.1kms in 43:29 (3:55's).

Luckily had a massage booked. Had a rub and some dry needling for the first time and don't think it's nothing serious. Just need to rest for a few days and ice and take the old anti-inflams. Frustrating but remain confident.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

That's me done

Outside recovery run for 11.1kms in 41:06 (3:42's) - a perfect day for running.

Felt mighty today. A slow first km (4:05) and then into the groove. Running sub 3:40 for a good while and a couple of 3:26's in there on the downhill sections. Feeling really strong and really looking forward to the race now.

That's 106.2kms for the week. Just looking at average pace for the week - and putting in 16kms of warm-up/warm-down running at 4:10/km pace (it's probably quicker) - it works out to 3:34/km for the week. That's pretty solid.

All set now for my nice easy taper week. Just hope the weather gods are kind next Sunday...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Three down

Legs tired and with little mojo it was back on the treadmill to complete the third threshold run. Same drill that I do every time - 2 up, 45:16 zone 2 (13.6kms at 3:20 pace), 2 down. All up 17.6kms.

Didn't feel great throughout and looking at the clock every nano-second didn't help. Glad to see this one through and certainly another good sweat. Legs in bits after so hopefully a nice easy taper week next week to look forward to (hint, hint, coach!).

That's 150 minutes of threshold running in 3 days (45.3kms). No wonder my legs are gawne. I've never trained as hard for any race I've ever done and that includes numerous marathons.

Not much planned for the rest of the day. A homemade chicken vindaloo and maybe a couple of beers. A good recovery diet.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Watching the clock for 60 minutes

More of the same - this time a longer 60 minute threshold run....

2km up, threshold 18.0kms in 60:06 (3:20/km pace), 2km down. Today I hit the bad patch just on 45 minutes so I had 15 minutes to battle through. I was being a bit of a cellar dweller zone-wise today (right at the bottom of the zone) so I took the easy option and lowered the incline to 0.5% for the last 15 minutes which made it a good bit easier.

Still through 10km in 32:59, and 10 miles in 53:40 so not a bad hit-out. Two down, one to go...

Darts in the evening. I won both my pairs and singles but playing pretty average. Just haven't put the practise in this year and it shows...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Run Hold Thresh

A hat-trick of threshold runs and then my training is just about done. Faced with the quandary of should I run outside and not fully hit my zone, or run on the treadmill and get in the zone but have to go through the mind-numbing experience of watching a clock for 45 minutes.....well the latter won.

Why do I find it easier to get in the zone on the treadmill? A few reasons I think - firstly you have to keep up with the belt if not I'd end up on the driveway. Secondly it's a lot warmer indoors and it has you working that bit harder. Plus I wear my normal runners so again I think that makes it a bit tougher. Or it could all be in my head....but boy do I find it hard to get into that threshold zone outside.

2km up, 45 minutes threshold, 2km down. I covered 13.7kms in 45:01 (3:17 pace). Again on 1% incline for the guts of the run. I've noticed that I hit a bad patch on these runs - anywhere between 35 and 45 minutes. It goes from feeling like you're ticking along nicely, then suddenly it feels like you're running really hard uphill (and the HR suddenly jumps so it's not in my head this time). Today it happened on 36 minutes and it was a really tough last 9 minutes.

One down, two to go...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's all about the knee

Outside for a recovery run. Felt good today and was in zone. Running sub 3:40's for the middle section and it felt like I was jogging. All up 14.8kms in 55:17 (3:44's).

You'll notice I haven't blogged about the knee lately. That's because I don't want to jinx it but it's a lot better. And I mean a big improvement. Still a little bit of pain when I run but almost to the point where you don't notice it. So what fixed it? After focusing all my attention initially on tight quads, then perhaps hip alignment, I've come to the conclusion that it may have been due to tight calves. I now stretch my calves after every run and it seems to have made a world of difference. After over a year of discomfort in the knee I have definitely turned the corner...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

4 x 5 mins tempo off 3 mins

A repeat of a session from a fortnight ago. This time a longer recovery but to make up for it I was going to run quicker and using a higher incline (yes I was on the treadmill again).

A 2km warm-up and then 5 lots of strides - quick paced efforts for around 25 seconds each time to get the ticker tocking.

I always tend to be a bit soft on the first rep to gauge how the heart rate will react. I settled for 3:00/km pace on 1.5% incline but going into the last minute I still felt okay so I notched the pace up to 2:58/km. Max HR 151 so a couple of beats down on target (153+).

Second one ran at 2:56/km pace and got the HR up to 154. Same again for reps 3 and 4 (I did add an extra 0.1km/hour to the speed but that still comes in at 2:56/km pace). HR 155 and 156 respectively.

I love doing these quicker sessions on the treadmill. Really focused on nice relaxed breathing and good form and although I was working hard, I was just about in control. I'd say I'd go well on the track at the moment (if the conditions allowed). It's just nice to do some different sessions to the threshold runs (talking of which I have 3 planned this week Thu/Fri/Sat...).

A 2km warm-down for 10.8km all up.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weather bad so....

Treadmill recovery run. Gradual increase of pace and incline to get into first gear (zone 1). It took me a good 15 minutes to get there but once in it was easy to hold. All up 12.2kms in 45:11 (3:42/km pace). Running at around 3:35 pace for the guts of the run and went through 10km in just over 37 minutes.

Forgot to mention the snooker yesterday. Nice to see Ronnie pick up another title in the Champion of Champions. Fantastic standard of snooker in the final. He's still the best in the business.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Not as good today

Another threshold run to finish the week off. Outside this time and it was wet and windy but I wanted to give it a good effort.

A 2km warm-up and then straight into threshold mode. The plan was to run 17kms hard and hopefully that would see me up in zone 2. After a quick start it gradually became apparent that there was no zip in the legs today - I struggled when I hit the wind and never made the time back in the second half of the run. I clocked 58:50 for the 17kms (3:28's) so still a decent effort but zone-wise the heart rate wasn't up high enough.

A bit disappointed with that - but it could be down to a number of factors - more likely the 3 tough runs in the previous 3 days, Plus I still feel a little under the weather.

All up 107.5kms for the week. I've averaged over 100kms the last 8 weeks and 98kms per week over the last 16 weeks so some decent mileage. One more decent week next week and then it's taper time.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

3 x 10 minutes threshold

My 3rd treadmill run on the spin. Usual 2km warm-up and then into 3 long 10 minute efforts with the aim to get up into that tempo zone (next zone up from threshold). My zone target was 153 to 162.

I used incline during the efforts - starting at 1.5% and then lowering to 1.0% when that felt tough. I perhaps didn't push the first one enough and I was only at HR 152 by the end of the first 10 minutes (covering 3.24kms or 3:05/km pace).

Second one was much better - started quicker and hot the zone no problem. Clocked up 3.3kms (3:02/km pace). Max HR 154.

Last one much the same as the previous one except the heat rate went a little higher. Again 3.3kms at 3:02/km pace. Max HR 156.

Total 9.84kms in the 30 minutes. 

I was getting a massive 5 minutes recovery between efforts which helps. Felt good today - could have pumped out another one I'd say.

A 1km warm-down and that gives me 12.8kms for the day. Really enjoyed that session.

Out in the evening to Dublin to watch The Wedding Present play. Brilliant. They never disappoint. I was front and centre and even did a bit of moshing. Just like the good old days:

Friday, November 07, 2014


Same run as yesterday. Covered an extra 100m in the 45 minute threshold and that's about the only difference. Total 17.7kms. Feeling marginally better.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

45 minute threshold

Awful weather so treadmill it was. 2km up, 45 mins threshold (13.6km), 2km down. All up 17.6kms.

Despite not feeling great the run went pretty well. The heart rate was slightly higher than normal, and the pace was marginally down. Job done. More of the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Final recovery then back into it

12.6kms in 47:59 (3:48's).

Definitely not feeling myself at the moment. Backed off a little today and it was a bit out of zone-ish. I'll see how I am tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Recovery run with Fintan

Distance 14.8kms in 58:10 (3:56's). A bit slower than normal but still in my zone. Not sure how that is - maybe I'm not feeling quite right? Or it could have been all the chatting I was doing? Good to run with some company for a change!

Monday, November 03, 2014


Legs were understandably a little tender today. Recovery running for a few days. Distance 11.1kms in 42:59 (3:52's).

Here are my 5km splits from yesterday:

5km 17:01
5km 16:50 (33:51)
5km 16:29
5km 16:43 (33:12)
1.1km 03:42

Total 1:10:45

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Half PB?

Another long threshold run today - basically a replica of the run I did 2 weeks back in just over 1hr 12 minutes.

Conditions were cold, a bit damp and quite windy. I did my 2km warm-up and then straight into it. The first 4km was straight into the wind and was tough going - then as I changed direction it got a lot easier. I was consistently running sub 3:30/kms for the first 5km but then for the middle 10kms I was running consistent 3:20's and it felt effortless. The last 6km it was a bit tougher as I was hitting the wind again but the pace didn't really drop much. I felt really strong until the last couple of kms but the wheels were still ok. All up 21.1kms in 1:10:45 (3:21's). A PB which I can't really claim.

Certainly a great confidence booster 3 weeks before my target half. I'd say there is more to come effort wise as it always felt like I had an extra gear today which is nice to have when racing so you can drop in the surges.

A slow 1.6km warm-down to give me 24.7kms for the day. The sub 70 half is firmly on the radar now.

Oh yeah - 89.6kms for the week,

Saturday, November 01, 2014


A recovery run today. My first outdoor run of the week and did the old Thursday route. Legs were a little dead but nice to be outside. All up 14.8kms in 55:26 (3:45's).

Cinema in the evening to watch '71. The year I was born.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Basically a repeat of the session from yesterday - 2 up, 45 mins threshold, 2 down. I covered the same distance but around 10 seconds quicker today (3:17/km pace). Felt good for the first 10km and was then hanging on at the end. Another good sweat.

Another 17.7kms for the diary.

Darts in the evening. Away to the team that won the league last year (they beat us in the final). We had a good 6-3 win and I won both my pairs and singles. Still no confidence - just couldn't relax - but we got the job done and it was a good team performance.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Back into it

A visit to Ikea and then the drive back to Galway. Home around 5pm.

I decided it was time to get back into the training - outside was a no go as it was getting dark so it was on the treadmill. One of my bread and butter threshold sessions - 2km up, 45 minutes threshold (13.7kms), then 2km down. All up 17.7kms.

Pace was 3:18/km and the usual 1% gradient for the majority of the run (1.5% initially and then down to 1%). Sweated a good bit (read puddles on floor). Didn't feel great and the heart rate was a little higher than normal but good to get back into it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


More kids stuff - swimming and then Imaginosity. Another short run on the treadmill (7.7kms in 30 minutes) and then more pizza. This time with a few beers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


A bit of a struggle today - it felt like I'd run a marathon...

A day with the wife and kids and then a short run on the treadmill at the hotel (7kms in 28 minutes). A pizza in the evening and no beers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dublin Marathon 2014

Up early for the drive to Dublin to watch the marathon. I got myself to the start to see each of the 3 waves as they went past, Conditions didn't look great - warm and windy - with temperatures around 18 degrees it was going to be tough going.

I managed to get to the 20km mark just as the leaders came through. Already the field was strung out with lots of people running in no mans land. You could already see people starting to struggle and with the windy section to follow it must have been a real energy sapper.

A quick dash back to the finish to see the runners finish from around 2 hours 20 to 3 hours. By this stage the signs of a tough race were very visible. I counted about 5 people who had to be helped to the finish line and many others were zig-zagging up the road.

I then positioned myself a bit further back along the course at around the 41km mark. Lots of people struggling and hopefully all the support made that last stretch to the finish a bit easier. Congratulations to everyone who finished and if you got anywhere near your target time you would be amongst the minority!

Very inspiring watching this race and certainly gets the competitive juices flowing. Maybe I've got one more marathon in me!

No run for me today - instead it was a lot of drinking around Dublin.....home at 2am ish.