Thursday, March 31, 2011


An easy loop of my local run. The 9.5kms was covered in 39:46. It was very windy during the last section of the loop heading towards Galway and that cost me about a minute over the last 2km. Good for strength.

Who knows what training I can squeeze in over the weekend. At the very least I'd like to get a tempo run in and a longer run.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting it done

My weekly trip to the track fell through due to other commitments so my new training window was 8:30pm. It was raining and there was a bit of wind about, plus I was going to have to try and run some intervals under street lights. Any sane person would have pulled the pin.

During a 2.2km warm-up, I decided to run some 400's. As part of the warm-up I marked out a section of the N17 that looked to be about 400m (with lampposts as my start and end point). After a few strides it was time to get this over with.

The first effort was a feeler (running towards the city into a wind). The time was 84 seconds so clearly it was more than 400m. At least that is what I was telling myself. I continued on changing direction after each effort with the luxury of one minute walk/slow shuffle recovery. Coming back I was 81 seconds (wind on the back). That pattern continued throughout the set of 16 with me running the return leg slightly quicker. The wind picked up a little throughout which made the outward section tougher. Looking at the times I averaged 82 seconds and the effort level felt like I was running at 3 minute km pace so I guess the actual distance to be closer to 450m. So clearly I have no idea how to mark out a 400m distance.

I finished up with a 5km warm-down. All up 14.4km for the session and lots of strange looks from other users of the footpath...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


A carbon copy of yesterday's 10km run. This time I was 8 seconds quicker (40:46). Lots of runners about at the moment, it must be the longer evenings.

I have my entry confirmed for the Great Ireland Run on April 10th in Dublin which doubles up as the Irish National 10km road championships. It should be a great race and I think they are expecting over 10,000 runners so it should be of a high standard. Thankfully the club runners get to start near the front. It's a quick first 5km, then a grind to the finish (so I've been told). A positive split of at least 30 seconds is to be expected...

Monday, March 28, 2011


The same 10km run as last Monday. The time was 40:54 and again felt really easy. The calf feels back to normal so I'll resume proper training with a track session on Wednesday.

With less than 2 weeks to go before the 10km in Dublin, I'm a little short on time to get in some decent speed sessions. Plus my Mum is visiting this weekend from Spain and being her first trip to Ireland will mean that there will be a spike in the local pub trade. Which is nice. The sub 32 may have to wait...excuses, excuses...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Running on

I did my local "long run" of 17.6km in 1:11:08 (4:02/km). Another glorious day for running and today it felt really easy. The calf is almost back to normal and after getting my muscles ironed out in the week I think my stride is now a few inches longer. Or perhaps it was the beer from the previous evening...

A total of 70.3km for the week.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cricket rubbish, football good

Out for a bit longer today. Another local run of 14.4km consisting of my normal loop with a smaller 5km loop added on. Time 59:46 (4:09/km).

There is a new chicane on my standard run - the Claregalway bridge is being widened to reduce the chance of flooding so there is a new temporary bridge for traffic and pedestrians (runners) whilst the work is being done. It must add at least a couple of metres to my standard route...

I'll try a longer run tomorrow. Calf still tight but on the improve.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby steps

I ran late afternoon in more glorious weather. My local 9.5km route in 38:27 (4:03/km). There was no pain in the calf but it was still a little tight. A good result.

I'll take it easy for the rest of the week before doing a 2 week crash course in speedwork in prep for the 10km in Dublin. It's the national champs so it will be a great race...time for a sub 32?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I managed to get a massage at short notice. All the muscles were screaming. But I didn't complain once.

No running today. I'll be back on the road tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Track session

Out to Dangan tonight. Another fabulous evening. Almost like being back in Sydney...

After a 10 minute warm-up, the session was 1200's off one minute recovery. The target was 8km race pace. So that was 3:48 per effort for me (3:10/km pace) but I wasn't going to be too bothered if I wan a bit slower as I was still not fully recovered from the weekend.

The times were as follows:

3:51, 3:50, 3:49, 3:49

The plan was to do 6 efforts but the left calf was becoming progressively tight/sore throughout the session so I pulled the pin after 4. Definitely time for a massage. Hopefully I haven't done any lasting damage - we shall see over the next few days.

I changed shoes and ran a slow 2km warm-down to finish with. All up 9.3km for the session.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Improving your marathon time

This is in response to a question posed by Ian on how I went about improving my marathon time from sub 3 to sub 2:30 in the past 5 years. Here goes.

Keeping things simple, the keys to my training which have led to the improvement in time would be:

1) Consistency - don't get too caught up on running massive kms. I average about 80 to 90 kms per week in the build up to a marathon. This reduces risk of injury, keeps the body fresh, and allows you to monitor progress as you repeat similar sessions. Not having to miss sessions builds confidence.

2) Get your basic sessions in each week. A big (read massive) turning point for me was starting to run track in 2007 - with the aim of improving speed through all the race distances (the quicker you can run a lap, the quicker you will run a marathon). In addition I would do regular races (failing that tempo runs) - my philosophy is that races push you much more than you will in other sessions. Plus the bread and butter long run (between 2 and 2 and a half hours with varying amounts at marathon pace). I have also done some longish mid-week runs in the past, focusing on hilly routes, to develop leg strength. Plus recovery runs when required. And don't be stupid - if you're feeling tired, take a rest day.

3) Weight. Since I've been running marathons my weight has dropped 7kgs or so. No surprise that the more weight I have lost, the quicker my times have become. I haven't taken this to the extreme, nor do I intend to, but a few kgs can make a big difference over 42.2kms.

I can't think of anything else off the top of my head but I'd say the above sums up my improvement in a nutshell.

Anyway, today I did another easy run. My 9.5km local loop in 39:06. It was a fabulous late afternoon for a run. The sun was shining and it was 16 degrees. How good is that? And my calf seems a little better. All good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recovery Run

Legs sore today. I feel like I've been stabbed in the left calf. So out for a run to try and run it off. A very easy jaunt of 10km in 46:14. No improvement post run. I'll be right after a few days...

I'll try and add a few photos over the next few days. Here's one to start with:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Craughwell Ten

Arrived in good time to pick up my race number. The whole set-up was very impressive and well organised. Lots of volunteers on hand to help out and a great finishing area that included a huge marquee full of food. For a moment I thought I had gatecrashed a wedding. Very promising.

I hadn't planned on doing much of a warm-up as I wanted to save my legs. I ran down to the start which was about 1km and then did a few strides before lining up for the start. Soon the countdown was underway and 5-4-3-2-1 we were off. Racing at Craughwell.

One guy went straight to the front leaving me in second. The start was running into the wind but you didn't notice it straight away as the adrenaline is flowing. I settled into a good rhythm and whilst the leader was quickly disappearing up front, I was running on my lonesome in second. The first mile passed in 5:09 (way too quick). Only 9 miles to go...

The course itself was an out and back section of well over a mile, with a loop stuck on the end. I haven't described that very well. It was like a lollipop. So you ran the first section twice (start and finish) with the 10 miles being made up with the big loop. Confused?

By the second mile I had slowed a lot. I could feel I was running slower as the wind was more noticeable but the mile split of 5:30 was an indication it could be a tough day. I kept plugging away and it was some way before the 3rd mile that I was joined by Paul who seemed to move up on me effortlessly. I decided to stick with him and we then preceded to have an almighty battle...

I don't recall too much of the detail mile by mile. We both took many turns running at the front. The pattern was that I would lose ground on the uphill drags, and then make up ground on the flat/downhill sections. One hill session in 9 months will do that. Anyway, the 3rd mile passed in 5:24 so at least I had picked up the pace slightly. Having someone to race with makes such a difference, it keeps you focused. The 4th mile was a 5:22 and we were still shoulder to shoulder. This continued over mile 5 and with a split of 5:28 it was halfway in a time of 26:53.

At this point I was feeling far from good. My immediate thought was that a sub 54 finish was not going to happen. The legs were very heavy, and the calves (left especially) felt like I was in the closing stages of a marathon. So what do you do in this situation? Try a big surge? So with a huge effort I dropped in a quick mile of 5:11 and I managed to open up a little gap. That was a grand plan in theory but it still meant I had 4 miles to go. At least I was now running with the benefit of the wind.

Sure enough more hills followed and within the next mile Paul had caught me again. The 7th mile was a 5:20 so still going alright despite feeling crap. I may have tried another surge in the 8th mile - a last throw of the dice - but still we were running side by side. The split was a quick 5:15 and that was me done and dusted.

Paul started to work away from me from this point leaving me in 3rd spot. At the back of my mind I still knew there was a nasty drag in the last mile so I'd all but given up on 2nd place. So 2 miles to go, that's 8 laps of the track. All of a sudden that felt like a huge distance. Why do you put yourself through this?

I think somewhere in the 9th mile I rejoined the same part of the course I had already run with a sharp left turn. The 9 mile marker slowly arrived with a split of 5:22 with Paul less than 10 seconds in front of me. The dreaded hill came and went and with 800m to go I really tried running hard but was fighting a losing battle. So I just decided to "enjoy" the final section and attempted a few smiles which probably looked like grimaces to any of the spectators in the finishing chute.

I crossed the line in 53:20 (a 5:19 last mile). That time was extremely pleasing. That's exactly 5:20 per mile with a big negative split of 26 seconds in the second 5 miles (mainly due to the wind?). According to McMillan that's a better run than my half from the previous week (1:10:50). So that's especially pleasing considering my legs were very tired in the closing stages of today's race.

I really enjoyed the day, especially the 5 miles of racing with Paul. At the finish area I had to get a massage on my left calf which had reduced me to a slight limp. I need to toughen up. I'll be okay after getting a rub in the next week and resting up for a few days.

Well done to the organisers. You couldn't really ask for more from a runner's perspective. A great course, a huge field, chip timing, t-shirts, massage, drinks, and an all you can eat buffet.

I finished up with a slow 1km hobble. All up 18km for the day and 54.9km for the week. And more beer tonight to celebrate.

I should say a special congratulations to the winner of the race. In a time of 49:12! That's a very impressive time. Well done indeed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Family Day

Today was zero running. The clan headed into Galway for a spot of shopping and I got a go faster haircut.

It should be a good race tomorrow. I'm hoping there will be half a dozen runners or so around the 54 minute mark to push each other along. I was 54:12 at the 10 mile mark last week so in an ideal world I'd be hoping to go a bit quicker than that.

Most people give up drink for Lent. I haven't had a dry day since Lent. Not that I'm worried as beer makes you run quicker. Try it.

Friday, March 18, 2011


A local 9.5km trot in 38:50. I'll rest up tomorrow in preparation for the race on Sunday. That's 3 rest days this week...

I managed to get a spot in the Galway 5km series. Looking forward to that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fitness test

Today I decided to do a longer run to see how the legs reacted. I opted for 10 miles and I wanted to cruise round in a decent enough time without pushing it.

I covered 16.4kms and my route was basically 3 loops around Claregalway. A 9km, 5km and 2km loop (round numbers). The time was 1:06:49 so 4:04/km.

Legs still a little sore, especially the calves, but I'm happy enough with that. So I've decided to race again this Sunday in the Craughwell 10 miler. I just need to enter now.

Oh yeah, happy St Patrick's Day to all. A lovely day for a Guinness...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More rest

Legs still not feeling right so took another day off. I could get used to this.

Celebrations gearing up for St Patrick's Day on Thursday. I'll see if I can get out for a jog tomorrow to at least build up a thirst.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back in the saddle

I left the run late. Absolutely no motivation to get out there, and eventually out the door at 8:30pm.

It was very cold - must have been close to freezing. Legs were still sore and heavy and I wobbled around my 11km night run in a slow 47:35 (4:20/km). If I decide to run on Sunday I'll either have a blinder or a shocker...

Monday, March 14, 2011


No running today. Too sore, tired and hungover.

A bit more time to reflect on the half. I think I could find another minute on a quicker course. Then I'm getting very close to the 70 minute mark. I plan to run 3 or 4 more halfs before the year is out so hopefully better things still to come.

Hopefully some photos to follow soon.

This week I'll do some easy running. If I feel okay towards the end of the week I may then run the Craughwell 10 mile race on Sunday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Norwich Half Marathon

Weather seemed okay. It had been raining overnight but had cleared by the morning. The temperature was around 11 degrees so all was well.

I got to the race about an hour early. After a cup of coffee, and a short warm-up with a few strides, it was time to start racing. I was standing in the second row and got a pretty good start and quickly joined the lead group. We stuck together as we did a section around the showground before exiting onto the main road. The first mile passed in 5:06 so that was way too quick and I panicked a little and let the group get away from me to leave me in 4th place.

The course itself was 2 laps so you got a good feel for the course on the first lap. The start of the lap was fairly flat, then there was a downhill section before a long gradual climb back up to the showground.

The second mile passed with me running solo in 4th place in a split of 5:15. Again too quick. I was then joined by 2 other runners who must have started conservatively and was quickly overtaken by both of them to leave me in 6th place. So I was back running by myself and the miles ticked by with splits of 5:34, 5:19 (downhill) and 5:25 (target pace). So 26:39 at the 5 mile marker. I should mention that there was a fair bit of wind on the course. The flat/downhill section seemed to be into a very stiff breeze, with the benefit of the wind on the uphill section. Not ideal for racing.

The long climb into the showground was a really tough drag. My mile split was 5:31 but it felt a good bit slower. Then we had to do a few loops through the showground running on mainly path but with a section on the grass for about 100m. I was glad to get back onto the road and whilst one of the runners who had overtaken me was a good way in the distance, I seemed to be closing in on the 5th placer runner.

The 7th mile was passed with another 5:31 mile so I was slowing a little. Sure enough I caught the 5th place runner and went in front and the runner behind me seized the opportunity to stick to me like glue leaving me doing all the work into the wind. I must have tried at least half a dozen surges to drop him but couldn't shake him off.

Miles 8,9 and 10 passed in 5:31, 5:34 and 5:26 and my shadow was still there. He was running so close he clipped my heels a few times which was frustrating but that's racing. The time on the clock at 10 miles was 54:12 so that was bang on target despite starting the race too quick.

Mile 11 was the dowhnill section and despite a really quick surge for about 200m I still couldn't drop the runner behind me. The split was 5:23 but felt a lot quicker - I still felt strong but lacked a bit of speed in the legs.

The 12th mile was the long drag back to the showground. A very tough section and I think I subconsciously slowed a little to save myself for a quick last mile. The mile split was the slowest of the race in 5:44. Time to press for home.

To my surprise after only lifting the pace a little, I had finally dropped the runner behind me. I continued to surge on for what felt like 3 minutes but was probably only half that time. The last section was twists and turns and lapping the slower runners. I was really struggling with half a mile to go but managed to keep it going to cross the line in 5th place in 1:11:15 (the last 1.1 miles covered in 5:56). The clock under the finish line was 20 seconds fast so initially I thought I had broken 71 minutes only for that joy to be short-lived after I looked at my own watch!

So very happy with the race and time. That's a 39 second PB on a challenging course with a tough wind to deal with. The winner ran 1:08:23 and the second place runner ran 1:09:02. Apparently the second place guy had run 65 minutes at the Bath half the previous week so that goes to show how tough the course was. The runner I had a duel with had run 67 before so that was a good scalp.

I finished up with a short warm-down. All up 23.1km for the day.

Total 75.3kms for the week.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


A nice and relaxing day. In the pub at 3pm for darts and cards. I had a couple of pints and lost to my Dad at darts 10-8 after being 8-7 up. Not good. Then I won at cards so that just about made up for it.

Then out for a meal in the evening before meeting a few more mates in another pub. In bed by 11pm.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Training done

My final training run. A 7km jaunt in the cold (5 degrees) and rain in a time of 30:23. Glad just to knock this run off and enjoy the rest day tomorrow.

Travel tonight and maybe a few beers en route.

I'll be offline until Monday night but the results of the half should be up on the website after Sunday's race:

The target remains at 71 minutes. Go out hard and hang on - my only race plan.

Good luck to anyone who is racing this weekend. Especially those doing the 6ft track race in the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney. This race enjoys cult status and after watching the race 3 times I must say I still have no desire to do it! Here's the website if you are interested:


Thursday, March 10, 2011


An easy run during daylight hours for a change. My 9.5km route was covered off in 39:29 (4:09/km).

Weather forecast not looking great for Sunday - rain and wind. Still, it's the same for everyone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

On track, off track, on track

Weather changeable. Clear one minute, windy and raining the next. Galway weather.

A 30 minute warm-up (estimate 6.5km). Then after a few drills and strides it was into the start of the session. It was 4 x 400's off 1 minute, followed by 15 mins tempo, finishing with 4 x 400's. The luxury of 3 minutes either side of the tempo with the 400's to be run on the track, and the tempo run around the football pitches.

Times were as follows:

1st set of 400's: 72/72/70/68

15 mins tempo - not sure of distance, I covered 3 full laps of the course in 13 minutes, plus the extra 2 mins. I'll call it 4.3km - could have been a little more.

2nd set of 400's: 70/67/66/64

Finished with a 2km warm-down - all up 16km - happy enough. The tempo was to be run at 10km race pace and it certainly wasn't (slower) - but I just can't get the legs moving on the grass/paths. Having said that, I was pushing them hard so the effort level was certainly up there. The last couple of 400's were a bit too quick but felt comfortable (ish).

So a few easy runs the next couple of days and a rest day on Saturday. Training done. Am I feeling confident? Definitely not - but that's perfectly normal. I'm certainly running well at the minute and I've trained almost as hard for this race as a full marathon so hopefully it all pays off on Sunday.

More importantly, a good win (draw) for the Spurs! Hopefully avoid Barca in the next round...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Easy running

Another local night run. Only 8.0km today in 34:23 (4:18's). Weather not great - windy and a few icy showers to deal with. Tick the session off and move on. Track tomorrow.

Here is a photo from the recent Kilconeiron race. Great work again from the photographer!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tuning up

Tonight was some running at target half marathon pace - 2 x 2.4km broken up with 1.6km of steady running. Again I was running in the dark so was forced to use the footpath along the main road - far from ideal. My course was a 1.4km out/1km back section of road which was fairly flat and obviously had a sharp switch of direction at the turnaround point.

Following a 2.6km warm-up, I went straight into the session. The first interval passed without incident in 7:51 (3:16/km pace). After the next 1.6km of steady running, I knocked out the second one in 7:54 (3:18/km pace). Both felt pretty comfortable. Finished off with a 2.7km warm-down.

Thinking about it, I ran these a little too quick. That pace is more like my current 10km pace. Whoops. So what is my half marathon target pace? I think 3:22/km would be sensible. That would have me going through 10km in 33:40 and if I could maintain that pace it would equate to 1:11:02 at the finish line. This plan is liable to change over the next few days....

Sunday, March 06, 2011

End of another week

Another late night run. More running up and down the N17 many times over. Total distance 20.3kms in 1:26:29 (4:15's).

So that's 97.1kms for the week. I missed doing some longer tempo efforts this week so I may try and squeeze that session in next week. Not a great week of training but a good time in Spain eating and drinking too much!

I checked the results of the Barcelona Marathon and the winner ran 2:07. Slow course - not. That's 3 minute clicks. Clucking bell...

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Just back from Barcelona so an update of my running whilst away:

Wed - an easy 46 minute run to find my feet. I ran up and down Diagonal Ave and did a few laps of the grounds of one of the Royal houses. Estimate 10.5kms.

Thu - the plan was to run to the Olympic Stadium. Ideally to do some intervals either on the track or a nice flat section of ground. I got hopelessly lost so decided to turn the run into an easy 70 minutes instead. By the end of the run I had at least worked out where I had gone wrong. Estimate 16kms. That's 4 days of easy running on the trot now...

Fri - visited the Olympic Stadium earlier in the day and there was no access to the track so in desperate need of some intervals I ran into the heart of the city down by the water and ran some flat reps of about 550m off one minute recovery. I did a set of 16 and had the benefit of the wind in one direction. The times were metronome like (1:43 with the wind, 1:47 against, average 1:45). I'm only guessing the distance of 550m based on the time but I was running hard so a 1:45 works out to about 3:10/km pace. All up 17.3km with the warm-up/down.

Sat - another easy run of 49 minutes (estimate 11kms).

Barcelona is a fantastic city - certainly lots to do and despite being there for 4 days, it seems like I was only scratching the surface on seeing what the city has to offer. Highly recommended.

Coincidentally, the Barcelona Marathon was on Sunday and looked very impressive. I visited the expo on Saturday to get a feel for the event but didn't get a chance to watch the actual race as my flight out was early Sunday morning...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Short and sweet

Same run as yesterday. This time a bit slower in 45:27 for the 11km.