Monday, February 28, 2011

Making plans for Norwich

Less than 2 weeks to go. I'm just in the process of finalising my training schedule this week which will involve some shorter intervals and one more tempo session. I just need to juggle the sessions with travel to and from Spain.

Tonight I ran my 11km "night run". More glorious conditions for running and although taking it easy I knocked off the 11kms in 43:47. That's a shade under 4 minutes per km so probably a bit too quick for an easy session.

So why Norwich? It may surprise you that's where I am from (no I am not an Aussie or Kiwi). Look it up and you'll find out all about Colman's mustard, Delia Smith, Carrow (Carrot) Road and Alan Partridge...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kilconieron 5 Miler

About 30 minute drive to this race. I surprised myself by not getting lost and arriving in plenty of time for registration and a 4km warm-up. A bit of confusion as to whether this was an 8km race or a 5 miler (not that it makes much difference), but after the warm-up I could see the course was marked in miles so 5 miles it was to be.

The weather was glorious. A little breeze but we were bathed in spring sunshine (11 degrees). I listened to the course description over the loudspeaker and headed back to the car to change into my racing flats. It sounded basically flat with nothing to worry about. I'd forgotten my GCH race singlet so I had to make due with another top. No problem.

The countdown was soon underway and we were racing. A good crowd of over 200 I'd say and I went out quickly following the lead car. A slight uphill section at the start, but the course soon flattened out followed by some gradual downhill. The mile markers take their time arriving when you are used to kms but I was pleased to tick off the first mile in 5:01 - time in the bank. No other runners around me and I was soon taking a left turn into a more exposed section. At this point it felt quite breezy but I focused on the lead car and after a few twists and turns over a very flat section the second mile marker was passed with a 5:10 split. Again ahead of schedule and so far so good.

The third mile was a bit of a slog. Again there was some turns and there may have been a slight uphill section into the breeze but nothing too daunting. I certainly did not back off and after another left turn the third mile was passed with a 5:18. Slowing a little but 15:29 with 2 miles to go and I was confident I could find something for the finish.

The fourth mile and I was back on track. A more sheltered part of the course and again predominantly flat and straight with the breeze on the back. This suits my style of running and I had soon knocked off another mile in 5:09. One final push required. The start of the last mile was bloody tough. A long uphill drag that I estimate must have went on for a good 600m. It felt like I was slowing but thankfully the course levelled off and there was a good downhill section to the finish where I really picked up the pace to cross the line in first place in 25:46 (a 5:08 last mile).

Very happy with the time (5:09 per mile or 3:12 per km). According to McM that's equivalent to a 32:18 10km (a big PB) but not where I want to be for the half (1:11:52). But what does he know!

A great day out - well organised and hopefully lots of money raised for charity. I finished up running another lap of the course as a warm-down so all up 20km for the day.

That's 86.9km for the week. Only 2 weeks now until the half so I'll do a few decent sessions next week before a one week taper. I'm off to Barcelona this week for 4 nights for some R&R with the wife and zero kids in tow. Which is nice.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rest Day

No running today. The body is feeling good at the moment - no excuses at hand. I'm guaranteed a PB tomorrow as I've never run a 5 mile race. I think that's 47m (rounded) more than 8km so about 9 seconds more than an 8km race if you want to compare times. Sub 26 would be a very solid run.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Longer than normal

I decided that tomorrow was to be a freshener upper (today being 20 days of running with no rest). So to compensate I decided to do a longer run to get the weekly miles up.

Same route as Jan 9th. A double loop in Claregalway. I started running at 5pm and there was still plenty of daylight rays by 6:12 and 50 seconds. Distance of 17.6kms (11 miles) at a pace of 4:08/km. Feeling good at the moment.

A few beers tonight. Maybe 10...

Thursday, February 24, 2011


An easy run on the treadmill - 10km in 41:48 so a carbon copy of last week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The dreaded 4 lappers

A 6.4km warm-up before some drills and strides. Conditions a little windy around the final bend and finishing straight but not too bad. I wasn't looking forward to this - the plan was to run them at the same pace as my 800's from 2 weeks previous so that meant 5 minutes per effort (round numbers). I had the luxury of 90 seconds recovery which was plenty to start with, but much needed come the business end.

As always with this type of session, I use the first one as a barometer. Run it at a very honest pace and hope that's enough to get you somewhere near the target. If you hit the first one it's a good sign that the session will go well. Miss it and it's going to be a struggle.

Well tonight I had a very good night. Times went as follows:


That's my quickest set of 1600's by a long chalk. See below - note all of these were done off 60 seconds recovery so maybe that makes a big difference:

Jun 30th 2010 - 5:19,5:14,5:15,5:10,5:06
Aug 4th 2010 - 5:13,5:12,5:11,5:11,5:09,5:07
Aug 17th 2010 - 5:10,5:10,5:09,5:08,5:08,5:01
Sep 30th 2010 - 5:08,5:07,5:06,4:59
Nov 17th 2010 - 5:34,5:22,5:20,5:20,5:21,5:23
Jan 12th 2011 - 5:22,5:16,5:14,5:14,5:08

Tonight I was running a quick first lap (approx 72 seconds). Then cruising the middle 2 laps before cranking up the pace again the last lap. Not sure if you are supposed to run them at even pace for maximum training benefit - who knows? Anyway, I felt good throughout and always felt like I had another gear.

I finished up with 11 laps warm-down. All up 18.8km for the night.

Hopefully this form translates into a good time on Sunday. Assuming it's a flat course I would like to break 26 minutes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


My local 9.5km route. Time 39:24. Grey and wet with lots of puddles to dodge.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I wish I was on the N17

Well tonight I was. Up and down, up and down. A late night run covering 11km in 44:48 (4:04/km). The run felt really easy. Perfect running conditions helped.

This week I'll do mile reps at the track on Wednesday. Then race on Sunday (a 5 miler - a new distance for me!) and this will double up as a long run. Easy running around those sessions with maybe a rest day thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Long Run

Started at 8:30am at Dangan. We did a bit around the football fields before heading into town for the Cathedral run. Very blustery and it felt like you were copping the wind all the way round. Finished by running back to Dangan and tagging a bit more on to get the 2 hours done.

Nice pace - it felt really easy and the time goes so much quicker when you are running with a group. The exact time was 2:04:10 and I was told we covered 16.54 miles. That's 26.6km at a pace of 4:40/km.

A total of 104.9km for the week. Another couple of weeks like this would be nice before a mini-taper for the half.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

5km Time Trial

Great conditions in Dangan. I arrived early and ran for a 27 minute warm-up. Then a quick change into my racing flats and it was soon time to line up at the start.

I was targeting 76 second laps which would give me a 15:50. I was hoping that pace would feel manageable and I could put a few seconds in the bank along the journey. There were 7 runners at the start - me, the 2 Brians, Paul, Enda, Barry and Owen. After a bit of banter we were off.

I went straight to the front and settled into a pace that felt comfortable. The first lap was a 74 and I was feeling good. A little headwind as you came off the final bend and along the home straight but nothing to worry about. From then on it's all about keeping your head - concentrating on each lap and trying to keep the pace constant. The first km was a 3:08 so a few seconds in the bag.

The next couple of kms passed without incident. Counting down the laps and feeling like you are running at the same pace only to lose the odd second here and there. The km splits were 3:11 and 3:12 respectively so slowing slightly. Not feeling particularly great at this point - working very hard to try and get close to the 76 second laps. Bloody hell, still 5 laps to go. That suddenly felt like a very long way...

The 4th km was another 3:12. Nothing left in the tank but I managed to find a little turn of speed in the last lap to cross the line in 15:49 (according to the timekeeper although my watch showed 15:50 - always happy to take the quicker time!) So a 3:06 km to finish with.

That pace was certainly not as friendly as I had hoped and had me blowing like a you know what. My initial thought was how the hell did I ran over 30 seconds quicker last year? Perhaps I'm not drinking enough. A great hit-out nonetheless.

I finished up with a 40 minute warm-down run. All up I estimate 19km for the day.

Later on in the day I visited the excellent Amphibian King store in Oranmore to pick up some new Asics DS racers (my prize from last Sunday). Here is the website:

Very friendly staff and some great product that would only be available in a specialist running store. If you need to be fitted out for some new runners get yourself down there and they will provide video gait analysis to ensure you get the best fitting shoe.

Junk food and beer to finish off the day.

Friday, February 18, 2011


More of the same. My local 9.5km loop in 38:52 (3 seconds slower than Tuesday). Weather was cold and raining quite hard. You tell yourself it will be alright once you get out there but to be honest it wasn't pleasant.

No rest before tomorrow's 5km time trial. If I was going for a time then I would have taken a rest day but I think it's important when you are training to do some sessions on tired legs to simulate the end of races. I ran 15:51 on Jan 1st when I was in a very shabby state so I should beat that on the track. Dry and no wind would be nice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello Ireland

I seem to have had a big spike in Irish visitors the last few days! Search engines have a lot to answer for. I can't imagine that anyone would be interested in my daily dose of drivel but I guess time will tell. Anyway, hello to any new readers!

Back to the was a trip to the gym. After paying for my membership I feel obliged to go even though I would much prefer to be running outdoors. Moving on, I did an easy 10km on the treadmill in 41:48 (4:11 per km or 6:44 per mile).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pyramid Session

A long warm-up of nearly 40 minutes around the various football pitches (estimate 8.5km). Then a few stretches and strides before the pyramid session.

The session was 400/600/800/1000/1200/1000/800/600/400. We were to get 60 seconds between efforts and run them at 3km race pace for the shorter efforts, up to 5km race pace for the longer ones. Perfect conditions on the track - mild with only a slight breeze.

Feeling tired during the warm-up, I was keen to see the back of this. As I like to do in this type of session, I would start a little conservatively and hope to get quicker in the second half. That's pretty much how it panned out but interestingly, I started to feel stronger/more comfortable as I cranked up the pace. Actual times were:

400 - 1:14
600 - 1:49
800 - 2:27
1000 - 3:07
1200 - 3:45
1000 - 3:06
800 - 2:26
600 - 1:48
400 - 1:03

The last 400 was an eyeballs out lap. I ran the first 100m bend in lane 3 so I'm sure it would have been quicker if all in lane 1. That's the quickest I have run in a long time.

I finished up with 10 laps warm-down. All up 19.3km for the night. Easy running the next 2 days before the 5km time trial on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Staying local

My 9.5km loop today in 38:49 (4:05's).

How good are Spurs at the moment?!?!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recovery Run

An easy night run of 11km in 45:51. Same run as last week but 8 seconds quicker. That's 4:10/km pace.

This week's main sessions will be intervals on Wednesday at the track. Then a 5km time trial/race on Saturday morning - again at the track. Not sure yet if I'll run flat-out and go for sub 15:30, or use it as a hit-out for target 10km pace which is just under 16.

Long run planned for Sunday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Maree 8km

Blessed again with great running conditions. Nice and cool with only a slight breeze. I arrived at the race and was impressed with the set-up. Chip timing, a hat for all competitors, all for the price of 18 Euros.

I did my 4km warm-up running the first 2km of the course then doubling back to the start. There was a hill at 1.5km that lasted for 500m, but that's about as much as I knew. I really should make an effort to look at the course maps before these races rather than running blind each time.

No obvious guns at the start so I was favourite to win. I lined up on the second row which was a schoolboy error. The gun sounded and I was boxed in so had to run the first 400m or so in about 6th or 7th spot. Then the road widened and I took an outside line to close down the leader before moving to the front. Feeling good at this stage and I managed to open up a gap as I crossed the first km in 3:03. I was warned before the race that the km markers were a bit dodgy and it certainly didn't feel like a 3:03. So I ignored it and raced on.

As mentioned, the second km had the 500m climb and I was running strongly and I was surprised to reach the top of the climb with a 3:14 km. Nice, now there was a good downhill section. Pushing on I was starting to really hit my straps. I was following the lead motorbike and although it levelled out a bit, I had knocked off the 3rd km in 3:04. So 9:21 for the first 3km - that's not a bad 3km time.

The next section was very flat with beautiful water views. The sun was out and there was a touch of spring in the air. The motorbike upfront had pulled over which confused me a little but as I ran past him he pointed up the ride. It was at this point I realised it must have been an out-and-back course. So I expected the turnaround to be at the 4km point but no - it came much sooner. After a sharp u-turn I was then running in reverse with all the chasing runners in view. I guess I was about 15 seconds in the lead by this point.

It was immediately apparent that I must have had a slight tailwind on the outward section and after the turn it suddenly felt a lot harder. I was trying to run strong but the legs weren't responding. From feeling great to ordinary in a matter of seconds. Anyway, I was still trying to work out how the course was going to make up the 8km....then the 4th km passed with a 3:26. Not good.

About one km of running against the traffic (with several people blocking the road) I was then directed down a side-road. So it was a different finishing section of sorts. The road at this point was very rough (grass/potholes) and straight away there were several hills when you least wanted them. The 5th km was a 3:19 and I was now hanging on for the finish. More hills and I went into blinker mode wishing to fast forward the next few minutes. Little recollection of the race at this point but it seemed more up than down with kms 6 and 7 passing in 3:26 and 3:21 respectively.

The last km was marked each 200m. Not sure if that was good or not. It felt like an eternity - with 400m to go I kicked and another uphill drag to the finish crossing the line in 26:03 (3:10 last km). Big crowd at the finishing chute for a change!

That's a good time on a tough course. Much more to come on fresh legs. In summary a really good first 3.5km, then I started to struggle. But you can't be too disappointed especially when you are winning races. Over 300 in the race so a decent sized field.

I finished up running the course again with a few of the other runners. I was absolutely shot after this and couldn't wait to get back to the start for some coffee and biscuits (6 chocolate digestives - standard size before you ask). I was presented with my prize envelope which contained a bag of charlie. Well a voucher for a free pair of Asics if I am to be honest.

All up 20km for the day and 94.4km for the week. My only gripe is a slightly sore left hip - I think it's finally time for a massage.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another local run

My 9.5km route covered in 39:43. Always nice to keep this run under 40 minutes. Windy and cold today - I hope the weather is a bit better tomorrow for the 8km race.

Talking of which, people say there are a few hills and drags but from my experience, in Irish terms that isn't comparable to say the LCNP 10km so should offer up a decent enough chance to run a good time. Anything sub 26:30 I'll be happy enough with. The aim is to get somewhere near 20km done in total by doing a decent warm-up/warm-down.

Friday, February 11, 2011

2 x 12 minutes

I don't like or look forward to these longer sessions. But I believe they are the reason why my running has improved in the last 9 months.

I ran close to 17 minutes warm-up as I ran from the out-laws to the start of my course. The outward section is more uphill (not steep - but some gradual drags) and I started running at a pace that felt quicker than 10km race pace. My first checkpoint (bridge) showed I was running well and I went on to pass the 3.6km mark in 11:41 and I continued running until the 12 minutes was up (so close to 3.7km). I've just had a quick look at other times I have done this session and I'm confident this was my quickest.

I then had a 3 minute walk recovery before the return journey. I was feeling confident that I could go a bit quicker but as soon as I started I realised I must have had the benefit of a slight tailwind on the outward section. I battled on and again at the bridge I was on for a quick time but I didn't have it in the legs to really nail the finishing section crossing the start point in 11:52 (11 seconds slower) before running on for the full 12 minutes.

A difficult session to do by yourself but a good one nonetheless to get under the belt. As mentioned, I ran this session if running at race pace but for whatever reason you seem to be a few seconds slower than you would be if racing. Perhaps the Adrenalin of race day makes the difference and gives you that extra one per cent.

I finished by running back to home. All up 14.4km for the day. Happy enough as the legs didn't feel too fresh today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gym Night

I missed my daylight running window so decided to do a later run in the gym. I ran for 12km in 50:33 and gradually wound the pace up each km finishing in close to 4 minute per km pace.

I then had a jacuzzi and sauna. Not sure I enjoy the sauna - can't really see the point of it. Just a good way to become even more dehydrated. Still it gave me an excuse to replace fluids when I got home.

More darts started last night - the Premier League. Reminds me I need to put some more practice in.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wet Track

Mild weather but persistent rain. After a 6.4km warm-up and a few drills I was straight into the 800's. I was to run the first 6 with Matt, then 4 more by myself. Matt wanted to push the recovery out to 90 seconds (200m very slow jog) which felt far too much at the start of the session, but by the end was about right.

I felt completely in control whilst the times were around 2:30. But towards the end when I started to push them by a few seconds I was red-lining. Times were as follows:

2:34, 2:31, 2:31, 2:29, 2:30, 2:29, 2:30, 2:28, 2:27, 2:24

That's a decent enough session and at least gives me some confidence that I can run fast again after last weekend's baptism of mud.

I spoke to Matt about what shape he was in for 10km when he broke 70 minutes for the half. He was running 32 low. So I'm certainly not there at the moment - but I live in hope.

I finished with 4.5 laps warm-down. All up 18.0km for the night.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Easy Running

I ran my 9.5km loop in 39:03 (4:07/km). Feeling good at the moment.

The plan for this week is:

Wed - track 10 x 800m off 75 secs
Thu - easy 10km
Fri - 2 x 12 minutes tempo
Sat - easy 10km
Sun - 8km race with 8km warm-up/4km warm-down (long run of sorts)

That should give me just over 90kms for the week.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Back on dry land

Well almost dry. I ran in the evening - very mild for this time of year and excellent for running. I ran my 11km nighttime route in 45:59 (4:11's). I was 23:29 at halfway so a little bit quicker in the second half of the run.

I picked up a nice bruise yesterday on the inside of my left knee. Nothing serious, just a little sore whilst running. That aside, I was feeling as fresh as a daisy.

Here's a video from the start of the XC yesterday. This was taken at one of the good sections:

Apparently Dublin have won the title the last 6 years so it was good to knock them off their perch.

I forgot to mention yesterday that my weekly tally was 71.4kms. I'll try and get that nearer triple figures for the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Intermediate XC Champs - 45:31 for 10km

That's not a typo. I ran my ring out and managed four and a half minute kms. It was a Barry...

The weather was brutal. Raining all weekend and when we arrived at the course in Dublin we were greeted with juniors covered in mud head to foot wrapped up in bakofoil. I was ready to feign an injury.

So we were 14th on. The course had cut-up beyond recognition. I attempted a warm-up with about 30 minutes to go before the start of the race and within 10m of running my runners were completely waterlogged. After a couple of slow kms it was then apparent that the races were running at least 20 minutes behind schedule so it was going to be a case of hanging around and getting cold.

The masters race was on before us. They looked like they were limping round. I just wanted to fast forward the next at about 3:40pm after changing into my spikes we lined up in our pens and were off. I decided to start conservatively and see what happened. The start was an absolute bun fight. The racing line was ankle deep mud and any attempt to run wide was just as bad. I slipped into a void-like state thinking this was a nightmare and after 1 small 1km loop and a bigger 1.5km loop I finally woke up realising this nightmare was for real.

There was about 500m of good running in the 1.5km loop. By good I mean very, very, muddy. The rest of the lap was ankle deep mud. No chance of any rhythm, just slipping and sliding. I was way down on the field and it was a case of grinding out the laps to the finish.

By the 3rd lap I had caught one of my teammates. He was shocked to see me and he told me afterwards that he thought I was lapping him. If only. I then concentrated on pegging a few people back each lap. I had a better idea of the course by this stage and with 3 laps to go I managed to catch another teammate.

I felt stronger the race went on but I don't think I was running any quicker - I was simply maintaining my pace whilst others slowed. The next couple of laps passed by and as I was finishing the penultimate lap I was lapped by the lead runner. He was flying - not a bother on him. On the last 1.5km lap I pegged a few more places back. As I approached the finish I was directed onto a new part of the course which was almost firm under foot and I found myself in a sprint finish with another guy who I just managed to pip. Every place counts and all that.

No warm-down - too cold and wet. Everyone simply left the course and headed back to the clubhouse for a (cold) shower.

After about 2 hours the men's results were finally announced. Most people had gone home. Galway were an outside chance of a medal by by some miracle we had won a gold medal in the national intermediate champs. I was 3rd scorer out of 6 in our team - I finished 26th overall.

I would have to say that XC is a great leveller. Guys I would beat on the road were taking 2+ minutes out of me. This was my Achilles heel but great fun looking back. I say that now after supping a few pints of the black stuff...

So about 12km all up for the day. I am now ineligible to run any more novice or intermediate XC by virtue of the gold medal - so at least some good came out of the race.

I think that's my second slowest 10km ever. So not quite a PW but close. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger and all that. Until next time...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Rest Day

No running today. Just a trip into town to buy some new spikes.

Here's a photo I find of me winning the Castledaly 10km last weekend. As you can see another massive crowd at the finishing line:

I just had a look at the results from the Sydney Striders race on the weekend. On current form I would have won it! Well probably not actually - the weather was completley offensive according to a few of the race reports. Still, maybe I would have got that top 3 that I was so close to in the start of 2010.

Friday, February 04, 2011


The weather is still very bad - completely inadvisable to run outside as the wind is that strong it could literally blow you over. So decided to run from home to the gym, do a bit on the treadmill and then jog back.

It took me 3 mins 34 secs to run to the gym with the benefit of the wind. I then ran 8km on the treadmill in 32:33. I ran 2 x 1km cruise intervals @ 3:25 pace midway through this to get the legs moving and the heart-rate up. I then ran home in 4 mins 15 secs and in parts it felt like I wasn't moving. Onlookers in their cars must have thought I was mad.

All up 9.7km for the day. Rest tomorrow in preparation for the XC on Sunday. I think my loathing of XC started at school. But that was over 20 years ago. Surely it can't be that bad? The course itself is 1 x 1km followed by 6 x 1.5km (total 10km). So 7 laps in total and we are race 14 of 14. The course will be nice and cut up by then. My aim is not to get lapped...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

More of the same

Atrocious weather here at the moment. Howling wind and rain so back to the gym for 10km in 41:33.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Track Night

Another longish warm-up of 7.6km running with Matt, Gary, Rory and the 2 Brians. All good runners and we slipped and slided around the university fields. If it's like this on Sunday it will be a mud bath.

The session was something a bit different: 4 x 400m, 3 x 1600m, 4 x 400m. We were to get 60 seconds recovery between the 400's and 90 seconds between the 1600's with 2 minutes in between each set.

It was windy tonight but funnily enough you seemed to have the benefit of the wind for well over three quarters of the lap. The only tough section was part of the final bend. Very odd.

I was totally in control tonight. The breathing was great and I always felt like I had another gear. Times were as follows:

400s - 74,69,69,71
1600s - 5:11,5:08,5:07
400s - 73,70,68,68

The recovery was a bit too long to be honest. Both in between efforts and sets. But on this occasion I decided to take it!

I finished up with 2km warm-down. All up 17.6km for the night.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I ran 12.1km easy in 49:20 (4:05/km).

There could be a bus laid on for the trip to Dublin on Sunday. That could open up all sorts of post race drinking options. Which is nice.