Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time poor

A quick run home from work - a 1km warm-up, then straight into a tempo run (I don't have a heart rate monitor (yet) so I only had pace from my watch to rely upon). Not a good start as after about a minute I had to stop at a level crossing for a few minutes to allow a train to pass....

Back into it and I didn't feel great - I was running into a diagonal cross wind and the first half of the run felt like it was all uphill. I checked my watch after about 10 minutes and I was pleasantly surprised by my pace which was shown at 3:22/km (it felt much slower). I continued on until I hit a big climb about a mile from home so I took the opportunity to stop my tempo effort (5.66km in 19:09 at 3:23/km).

A nice easy jog home for 8.4kms all up. A session done in just over 30 minutes. That's training on a budget. Happy enough with that. A big run planned for tomorrow to finish the week off.

More lab testing

An early morning drive to Athlone. A couple of kms warm-up on the treadmill and then it was straight into the first test.

My weight had dropped by 1.6kgs compared to my previous visit (no Dad around so less Guinness consumption). Feeling a lot better generally I was looking forward to putting in an improved performance. The first part was a 6.5 minute run at my tempo run pace which had been calculated at 17.6km/hour. This test was devised to monitor your Vo2 slow component - don't ask me to explain what that is in any detail. Anyway, this run was relatively easy and after my heart rate had quickly climbed to around 140 after a minute or so, once I had settled into the run it never climbed above 148 for the remainder of the effort. This again shows I have a good running economy and would be more suited to the longer stuff.

After a 10 minute break it was time for the lung-buster. The test was to run no more than 4 minutes and the pace was to be around 1,500m pace. That's a difficult one for me as I've only dabbled in the distance on rare occasions - but it was decided that 21.5kms/hour (2:47/km pace) should see me max out before the 4 minutes was up. The start of the test is tricky as to jump on the treadmill at that pace is somewhat tricky, but once I was going I felt good. Through the first minute and I still felt in control and you had to commit to a further 30 seconds after each segment. I got to 2 minutes and still felt okay, then 2:30 and 3 minutes. By this stage I thought I'd last the full 4 minutes but then in the space of a few seconds I was in the hurt locker. At 3:30 I had to pull the pin...

The good news is that I hit my Vo2 max - this time calculated at over 64 (I'd say most of this improvement was due to my drop in weight which is part of the calculation). My heart rate maxed out at 168 which wasn't quite as high as the last visit.

A good chat after the test about what all the data means in terms of training. I'll go into a lot more detail about this when I get the full results but the good news is that at my current lactate threshold level, I'm at about 85% of my Vo2 max. So with some smarter training, if I can improve my lactate threshold, I still have significant room for improvement. The target would be to get that ratio up to nearer 90% (with some elite runners close to the 95% level).

All up around 8.2kms with warm-up and down. Not a huge distance but that last test really knocked me. A big thank you for having the opportunity to be part of this study which I really enjoyed and I'm looking forward to putting the results data to good use in the coming months by adding more science to my training.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Early and slow

Miserable conditions but despite that I felt like I was ticking along nicely. My watch wasn't of the same opinion - I clocked 42:51 for my 9.5kms (4:31/km). Not sure what happened there - perhaps the test yesterday took a fair bit out of me. Or perhaps I was still half asleep. Anyway, nice to get the run out of the way.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The darkness

A late night run in the cold and rain. Total 9.3kms in 40:54 (4:24's).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maree 5km

Super weather again - nice and warm and only a slight breeze. Good memories of this course where I set my 5km PB of 15:33 back in 2011. You wouldn't say it's the flattest course on the circuit, but there are sections you can really attack.

A certain Mr Shannon was in attendance. We had a brief chat at the start and I mentioned I wanted to go sub 16. The race started and me and Michael hit the front, and it was like a carbon copy of Claregalway where we started racing side-by-side (thanks to Francis at Eirefoto):

The first few kms were run into the breeze. There are a few drags on this section, especially the climb up to the first left turn at the t-intersection, then as you get to halfway, there is a lovely downhill section where you really start to pick up speed. At this stage Michael and I were still sharing the lead, with another runner - Keith from Clare - still hanging in behind us. Through 3km and the next km is run down by the water. A couple of times I thought we had dropped Keith but he kept coming back at us. These 2 Clare men were all over me like a cheap suit.

I was still feeling okay at this point and as we approached 4km Michael started to lift the pace. I did the same but the problem was that my quicker pace wasn't as quick as his. I ran on gamely for the last 1,200m, breaking away from Keith to secure second, but I simply wasn't strong enough to really put in a super quick finish. I crossed the line in second place in 15:56 with Michael 7 seconds in front of me (again thanks to Eirefoto) - yes that's a climb up to the finish line:

Another improved performance. That's 31 seconds quicker than last Wednesday's 5km so gotta be happy with that. If I keep improving at this rate and I'll be breaking 13 minutes come October...

All up 9kms with the couple of kms warm-up and down. And a lovely Galway crystal fruit bowl to show for my efforts which sorts out my grandparents Christmas present!

Here are the splits:

1km 3:12
2km 3:19
3km 3:08
4km 3:10
5km 3:07

Total 15:56

Monday, August 26, 2013

New plan

A lovely evening for a run. The legs were sore after the long run - nice to have that feeling again and shows that I'm getting back into it. I felt pretty good and rattled around my 9.5km route in 39:35 (4:10's).

I've arranged for my next bout of VO2 testing on Thursday morning so looking forward to that. And a spot of Tuesday evening racing - my new plan is to race myself fit and so I'll be doing as much racing as possible.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Long Run

I've agreed to run in the Round Norfolk Relay again on Sep 14/15 and being desperately short of long runs I need to get some 2 hour efforts on the board to give me some hope of performing well.

Pace wasn't important today - I just wanted some time on the feet. I ran up to Carnmore, round the back of the airport, then along the Coast Road, then ran towards Galway, before turning right at the N17 for the long run home. All up 25.1kms in 1:52:11 (4:28's). Pretty shot at the end - especially so due to the quick turnaround from the race the previous evening.

That's 83.2kms for the week. Pretty good going - a couple of races plus the testing on the treadmill. If I can stay healthy than I should be back to where I was fairly quickly.

A great day on the final days of the Ashes this summer. Ruined by the ICC though and the daft rules that the umpires have to adhere to. Still, I'll take a 3-0 series win.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Claregalway 10km

The rain had just about stopped before the race started. I had run a short-ish warm-up of about a mile as I was running a bit late. A crowd of around 200 at the start including Michael Shannon and Jason Broderick who is returning to great form after a couple of years in the wilderness.

At 6pm we were underway - starting from the school which you can see from our kitchen window (where the kids were both waving away!). I hit the front with Jason and Michael tucked in behind me. I continued to lead until about 1km when Jason also joined me and we continued to run side-by-side. That's how it remained for the next few kms and at 3km I tried a little surge just to see how the others would respond. It was captured nicely in this photo:

By the time we'd hit 4km, Jason had fallen off the back of the group leaving me and Michael running together. As mentioned previously, this is one of my favourite training loops and I know it very well so I hugged the racing line as best I could. At 5km I had a quick look at the watch and with a split of 16:19 (quicker than than Wedneday's 5km) I was thinking that a sub 33 was definitely on the cards.

I knew that at any time Michael was going to put in a surge but the kms continued to tick by and there was no move from him. At 7km we made a left hand turn onto the main road for the long run back into the village. This part of the run was a lot tougher as we were now running into the breeze and I switched to running from the path to the bus lane as that felt more comfortable. That said, I knew the pace had slowed.

By the time we had reached the church in the village we were still together but I knew that at any moment Michael was going to pull the trigger and I'd have nothing in response. Sure enough, after rounding the church, and then back past the school, Michael dropped the hammer and the last 500m I watched as he disappeared up the road! I enjoyed the run down the finishing chute crossing the line in a time of 33:16 for second place.

Pleased with the run - a much improved performance compared to Wednesday. I think I've lost a bit of speed endurance as the last few kms were tough but that's something I can work on. I'm just happy to be back racing again and turning in some half decent performances.

All up 14.8kms with a couple of miles warm-down with Michael, Jason and Brian. Then back home for some Thai fish cakes and a few beers.

Here are the splits:

1km 3:11
2km 3:17
3km 3:16
4km 3:16
5km 3:19 (16:19)
6km 3:24
7km 3:27
8km 3:25
9km 3:27
10km 3:14 (16:57)

Total 33:16

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rest day

I'm going to give the Claregalway 10km a crack tomorrow so hence a rest day. Not expecting much but I can't resist the temptation to run when I can see the start line out of the back window...

The final test match of the current series and England are plugging away at the Aussies who scored the best part of 500 runs in their first innings. I can only see 2 results from here - a draw or an England win! All the pressure is on the shackle draggers!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An early one

Just me today - I ran 11.1kms in 48:50 (4:25's). Legs a little sore after the 5km and the pace was pretty ordinary. Nice to be out there though.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oranmore 5km

I was desperate to have a hit-out and this race was just down the road from work so thought I'd give it a go. The weather wasn't great - wet and blowy but I just wanted to try and run quickly again to see exactly where I'm at.

After registration I ran a 2.6km warm-up with Michael Shannon. This man races for fun and can post super-quick times on consecutive days (10km PB 31:01) so I wasn't expecting to give him much to worry about. We lined up with over 400 at the start and we were off. I sat in behind Michael for the first km but as soon as we hit a long drag in the second km I was going backwards. We were running directly into the wind which made it tough but I knew that once we reached the turnaround point at 2.5km, the run back to the start would be a lot easier.

At the turnaround I'd say I'd lost 15 seconds on Michael but I at least looked to have second place sewn up. With the wind on the back the pace immediately lifted and I started to feel a lot more comfortable. I pushed as hard as I could back to the finish but was making no inroads on the leader, Lots of support from the other runners who were passing the other way and I really enjoyed the run home crossing the line in 16:27 for second place. Michael ran 15:53 and I don't think he really got out of second gear!

That'll do - not a great time but it was a tough first half of the race, I hope to improve from here on in. A quick run back to the car to give me around 8.6kms for the day.

Here are the splits:

1km 3:14
2km 3:26
3km 3:25
4km 3:08
5km 3:14

Total 16:27

A great race and hopefully lots of money raised for the Alzheimer's association.

Here's a photo of me and Micheal at the start:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wet slog

Quite wet and windy today. A total of 9.6kms in 41:02 (4:16's). Didn't feel great - it's about time I got myself some new runners. I think I'm in the right job.

Monday, August 19, 2013

VO2 Max / Lactate threshold

I was at the sports science lab today for 2 tests which were both conducted on the treadmill. After a 15 minute warm-up, I was then tested firstly to determine my lactate threshold.

The format of this test was 3 minute runs, with one minute recovery during which your blood lactate level was measured. Starting at 12km/hour, the pace was increased by 1km/hour for each 3 minute rep. I ended up running 8 x 3 minutes finishing at 19/km hour. During the last effort my heart rate had reached 159.

Then a short break and it was time for the VO2 test. This was a continuous test starting at 15km/hour and then the pace was increased by 0.5km/hour every 30 seconds. After 4 minutes the treadmill was elevated at 1 degree along with the continuing increase in speed every 30 seconds. I'm not sure how long I lasted but having pulled the pin I immediately regretted it thinking I could have lasted one more 30 second blast. That said, by the end of this session I was fairly toasted.

I did manage to get the heart rate up to 171 which is my maximum. My VO2 was also reached and was recorded at 62.6. Nothing too spectacular but the results of both tests combined showed that I was a very efficient runner and would certainly be suited to the longer distance.

I await the detailed results which should benefit my training (training zones and the like). A great experience though I did struggle a little with the mask that you have to wear - especially during the VO2 test. I had a good chat with the guy running the test after and he had a very interesting viewpoint on speed sessions and how that many distance runners tend to run their speed sessions at a pace that is too quick to benefit there training (a view also shared by one of the top running coaches in Ireland). For example, I have been guilty in the past of running my 400's well under 70 seconds. If you continue to do these sessions you will certainly improve your speed at running 400's and whilst you may be able to run 65-66 seconds per lap for short bursts where you turn anaerobic, the benefits of this type of session don't necassarily transfer to 5km and 10km racing where you're running in a different state. I know I haven't explained that well and I'll try and follow-up with some articles on this in future posts.

All up around 15kms with warm-down. I'm back again next week for 2 more tests which I'm already looking forward to,

Sunday, August 18, 2013


My third run of the week today - a total of 17.3kms in 1:13:11 (4:14's). Felt much better today - long may that continue. Great to be out there on a bright and blustery day.

A total of 41.8kms for the week.

I was planning to run a bit longer but I wanted to keep the powder dry for tomorrow as I've been invited to take part in a sports science study. This will involve VO2 max testing which I've never had done before so I'm looking forward to that. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow so watch this space. Hopefully I'll be armed with a whole rake of data that promises to be very useful for future training.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Managed to squeeze in a quick run after work (9.5kms in 40:15 @ 4:14/km). Started to feel a bit better but still far from easy.

Out in the evening for more darts. Played well for the first half of the night (missed double 8 for a 12 darter but did finish the leg in 13 darts - 100, 125, 140, 120, 16). Then the darts standard started to fade as the arm became too loose.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Mo Double

Another rest day on the running front. It was a day of work, then home for tea, then out for a couple of pints with the old man with an accompanying game of darts. I won 10-8.

I've only seen bits and pieces of the World Athletics Champs. From what I've seen it has been pretty good, but the coverage in the media has been pretty ordinary. You wouldn't have known it was on here in Ireland until Rob Heffernan popped up and won gold in the 50km walk (well deserved). Mo is still at his brilliant best and it seems that the other African runners keep playing right into his hands every race tactics-wise.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Myself, Conor and Fintan for the Thursday 7am jaunt around Claregalway. The pace was slow but that suited me as I didn't have much in the tank. This tonsillitis has really knocked my energy levels. A total of 15.0kms in 1:09:48 (4:39's).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

3 days of nowt

Still no running. Still not feeling great but will probably try a run tomorrow. No beers either.

Other than that all is going well in the new job. Still lots to learn but getting there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No track

Obviously a perfect evening for running but it was rest, rest, rest. Instead I'm eating a lot more with my head in the fridge every 2 minutes. Return of the Fat Matt.

The throat feels a bit better but I'm generally feeling far from great. Not much sport to watch with the cricket finishing a day early. Another early night in preparation for work tomorrow.

Perhaps I need to start watching the final few episodes of Breaking Bad which have just started to air in the US...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Time to listen to the doctor

Back to the doctor with the sore throat. I'm now on a 10 day course of antibiotics and I've been told to give the running a miss for a while to give the body a chance to fully recover. Time to give the booze a rest also...

When I'm better I may go back for some blood tests to make sure my iron levels are all okay as my running of late has been very hit and miss (and that's hit with a silent s).

In better news England win the Ashes. I thought the Aussies were in cruise control at the tea interval but after that they collapsed with Stuart Broad bowling brilliantly. Nine wickets in a session and now an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series. That scoreline flatters England a little but they are definitely the better side.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Welcome back

Awoke with another sore throat from hell. The tonsillitis has made a return. Breakfast and then the drive back to Galway.

I did a run in the afternoon to burn off some of the million calories I had consumed the day before. I felt pretty good all things considered. A total of 17.7kms in 1:16:15 (4:18's).

Total 81.5kms for the week.

Out in the evening for a meal with family and friends followed by a few quiet beers in the Crane bar.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Out in the morning for a tempo run. A 2km warm-up, then 10kms in 35:10. Finishing up with a 4.3km warm-down to give me 16.3kms for the day.

Despite very good conditions I didn't run well today. I started off around 3:25/km pace and the pace slowly dropped as the kms ticked by. I was ready to stop by 8km but managed to battle on and finish the full 10km. It's a good job I'm not doing the Streets today as based on that form I would have had a Barry.

The drive to Cavan in the evening. Upon arrival it was straight into the beers and food. A great spread and in bed by 3am...

Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday rest day

No run today. I'll have to be a bit more organised to fit my running in now I'm working!

Out in the evening for a few beers and a game of darts. A few of the lads from the darts teams were there and it was winner stays on. I won a lot more than I lost. The old darts are going well.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Only Gearoid and myself today for the 7am jaunt. Super conditions and lots of chat and the run was over before you know it. 14.8kms in 1:05:09 (4:24's).

The Streets of Galway 8km is on this Saturday and for the first time in moving here I won't be running. Instead I'm Cavan bound with the family for a night away. I thought Cavan was near Sligo and after looking at the map I was a little wayward. 0 out of 10. Must do better. Anyway, the race itself promises to be a belter. Mark Kennealy may be running and he is in decent nick after what looked like a 29:22 10,000m jog to me the other week (I was lapped twice...). But there may be a runner from the Tipton Harriers who could give him a nudge...

And good luck to anyone running the City to Surf on the weekend in Sydney. I think it's the biggest foot race in the world? From my experience it was always the biggest drink on the calendar...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


9.5kms in 40:41. Slower than Monday but always so due to the track session yesterday.

Darts in the evening with the old man. I lost 15-13. A really decent standard. My Dad hit a 167 checkout being the highlight. I was never in front and missed a few darts at a double to force the decider. No bottle.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

5 x (1km / 1 min / 400m / 2 mins)

Back to the track. About 3kms around the pitches then a further 4 laps of the track whilst the main group were doing their dynamic stretches and strides (which I always avoid - not sure why).

The session tonight was kms and 400's. I decided on 5 sets (as opposed to 4) as I'm taking a break from racing and I thought I'd take it nice and steady. It was a very damp evening - persistent rain and the track was very damp and covered in small puddles around the bends. But hardly any breeze which at least was something.

My times were:

3:12 / 71
3:05 / 72
3:08 / 71
3:09 / 70
3:08 / 69

Nothing to set the world on fire but I'm happy with that after last week. I finished with a 2.1km warm-down to give me 13.7kms for the evening. Absolutely drenched come the end.

Then into town to pick up my Dad who'd been in the pub whilst I was out training. I think next time we should swap places...

Monday, August 05, 2013

A bit better

9.5kms in 39:43 (4:11's).

A lot better today. I had some drive in my stride and was ticking over much better. A nice afternoon for running being warm and sunny but with very little breeze. I could be back...

Sunday, August 04, 2013


Been a bit of a mad week - trying to recover from feeling generally under the weather and also starting a new job! Yes you read that correctly, after 4 years looking after the kids it was time to get back into the workforce!

Here's a quick re-cap of last week. On the running front:

Tuesday - nothing
Wednesday - 9.5kms in 42:06 (4:26's)
Thursday - 9.5kms in 41:38 (4:23's)
Friday - nothing
Saturday - 11.1kms in 49:00 (4:25's)
Sunday - 15.0kms in 1:05:45 (4:23's)

Total for the week 45.1kms

Basically all very slow and steady. I must have been really run down as I was running at my normal effort level for easy runs but my pace had slipped between 10 to 20 seconds per km. Whilst it was a good time to have an easy week, it didn't really feel that easy as the running was such a struggle. Hopefully I'll come good again soon.

On the socialising front I had a big night at the Galway races on Friday night. No winners but a great time was had. My old man had 2 winners and I don't think I've ever seen him so happy (he hasn't stopped gloating since). Another visit to the local pub on Sunday for a game of darts - my first proper game in yonks. After trailing 10-7 I started to come good and eventually ran out winning 20-13. That's a shellacking in my book.

And the new job - I've landed a few days at Amphibian King, a specialist running store in Oranmore. Lots to learn and a new challenge and so far so good! More on that in coming posts I'd say so watch this space.