Friday, February 28, 2014

Lucky 7

Easy run of 7km in 30:25  (4:21's). Still not feeling great.

Race tomorrow. I ran 32:57 on the course last year so more of the same would be nice.

The snooker is getting good. I can't see anyone beating Ronnie - he is in a different league at the moment.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not dark

Early morning run with Fintan and Peter. It's getting a lot lighter now so we can just about see where we are going. Which is nice. All up 14.6kms in 1:05:01 (4:27's).

Not feeling great today - this may be the body saying I don't like those back-to-back LT sessions. Or it could just be something else. Umm.

I'm going to race again on Saturday out at Kinvara in the 10km. That will be 2 races and 2 sessions in 7 days.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Session #2

Exact same session as yesterday. This time it felt tougher - especially the last 5 minutes where I was hanging on for dear life. All up 14.0kms for the day.

I watched a bit of the Welsh Open snooker today - a great 4-3 win for Mark Williams against Neil Robertson. Willo is one of my favourite players and great to see him doing well in his home event. And he had his mate Justin Pipe (a top PDC dart player) watching in the crowd!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Session #1

A 2.5km warm-up, then 30 minutes threshold running (9kms at 3:20/km), then a 2.5km warm-down. All up 14.0kms. I'll be doing similar to this a lot in the coming weeks so it's going to be like Groundhog Day.

The heart rate had just reached 150 in the last 5 minutes of the session keeping the pace constant throughout. Over time as your aerobic fitness improves the pace you're running at should gradually improve whilst still running at the same heart rate. Basically more bang for your buck.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New regime

A long run with Fintan discussing all the gory details about the XC from the day before. Conditions were good and we were ticking over nicely - the legs felt good though the quads/buttocks were a bit sore so I must have used some new muscles yesterday. All up 21.8kms in 1:30:46 (4:10's).

Well it's time to start a new training regime. In a nutshell I've gone a bit stale the last couple of years and I've clearly plateaued. So in an effort to try and make some improvements this year I'm following a new plan that is clearly quite radical when you compare it to my current training. To start with it's going to be threshold, threshold and more threshold. I plan to run 6 to 8 weeks of just threshold running and during that time I will be doing no specific speed sessions.

Threshold pace is defined as your maximum steady state pace of running. It's a hard pace that you can maintain for one hour so for many people it would be close to 10 mile race pace. I had this pace calculated for me recently and when I reach a heart rate of 151 I'm at my lactate threshold. Run quicker than that and I start to use the anaerobic system which then generates higher levels of lactic acid; run at or below that heart rate and I am training the aerobic system which keeps the lactate level in check, thus reducing the need for recovery.

This type of training will help to develop stamina and strength - which is required to sustain running high speeds for long periods of time. To start with I plan to run 2 to 3 of these sessions a week - starting at 30 minutes, and gradually building these up to 45 minutes. By that time I'll be ready for the Craughwell 10 miler at the end of March which will be the first gauge of how things are progressing. I'll then adjust the training after that with the view of increasing the duration and quantity of these threshold sessions further. Well that's the plan all being well!

So lets see how this goes. I have a threshold session planned for tomorrow to get the ball rolling...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

National Masters XC

I arrived in Dunboyne about an hour before the race and after meeting up with the team, I ran down to the start area with Fintan and we ran some of the course together (approx 3km). A windy day and just about dry, but the course was cutting up nicely and there were already some very muddy patches from the earlier races so conditions were tricky enough.

I spoke with John Byrne after the race and he said that if you can get in the top 20 runners after the start, you'll finish top 20. Well my first error was to start conservatively and settle mid-pack - probably around 80th - and for the remainder of the first mini-lap there was nowhere to run as there was traffic everywhere and I was boxed in nicely...

The start of the 2nd (big) lap and I started to pick people off. I was slip sliding all over the place in the muddy sections and wasn't gaining any ground, but I could pull out some overtaking on the firmer parts of the course where it at least felt like I had a bit of speed. This was to be the pattern for the rest of the race - try not to lose my shoes in the mud, and then up the speed the minute I felt like the feet weren't sinking. The pace was up and down like a fiddlers elbow...

After lap 2 we had 2 big laps left. More of the same gaining around 20 places next lap. The breathing felt good but the legs were getting a real workout. I think someone called out at the conclusion of the lap that I was in 38th and with the number of runners ahead of me thinning out I had little room for improvement.

The last lap was another tough slog. I closed in on a few more runners and saved myself for the last 800m where I knew the ground was better. I ended up having a sprint finish passing 2 more people in the finishing chute to end up in 32nd in a time of 26:14 (3:45/km).

Clearly my lack of experience showed today. If I'd run a bit smarter with a better start I may have finished a few places higher but that said, I'd still be outside the top 20. I'd sum it up by saying it was good fun, but frustrating when you can't dial into the speed you normally have on the road.

Some great runs by my Galway team mates - notably Peter who finished 8th and Fintan in 10th. They were well over a minute in front of me and close to the winner who clocked a very solid 24:10 (Declan Reed). Looking through the results one of the runs of the day has to be Pauric McKinney who is in the M3 category and ended up in 2nd place in a time of 24:30. Great going. And an excellent run by John Byrne who finished 4th. Clearly he is in great form as he prepares for Rotterdam.

A warm-down of 1.7kms with a few of the lads to give me 11.7kms for the day and 87.1kms for the week. Not my greatest work today but great to be part of a big team event. Thanks must go to Peter and Brian for the lifts there and back and to the other Brian for organising the team.

And to finish with here's a photo that sums it up nicely:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

T -1

An easy 7.5kms before the fun tomorrow. Time 32:15 (4:18's). I feel like I'm in good nick so I await to see how that relates to XC running.

A few beers in the evening and that's about that.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More threshold

Weather dodgy so on the tready again. Warm-up of 2.5kms, then 30 minutes at threshold, then a 2.5km warm-down. I tried to keep the heart rate in the 145 to 151 range but it takes a good 5 minutes to get up there, and then it gradually rises throughout the session. I felt pretty good up to about 25 minutes, and then it was a struggle the last 5 minutes. I covered 8.96kms in the 30 minutes so that's an average of 3:21/km pace (or 33:30 10km pace). Swimming in sweat come the end and also developed a bit of a blister on the ball of my right foot (wearing cheap socks). That's the problem with the treadmill - you are landing on exactly the same part of your foot every time and that coupled with the sweat and dodgy socks...equals blister.

All up 14.0kms with 2.5kms of warm-down.

Darts in the evening. Away in Abbeyknockmoy. I won both my singles and pairs and played a lot steadier. Overall we won 6-3 so that's another win to keep us in the top 3.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Early morning run with Fintan and Owen. It's starting to get a bit brighter now but still basically pitch black when we start the run. All up 14.7kms in 1:06:42 (4:32's). A very sedate pace which was nice.

A few photos from Gort last Sunday (courtesy of Gordon Thomson) that I'd like to share. This great shot just after the start - I particularly like the tractor parked on the side of the road!

And this one just as I took the lead:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6 x 1km off 85 seconds

Another treadmill session. I don't mind doing the longer reps on the hamster wheel - conditions aren't a factor and I can wear my HR strap and monitor my progress very accurately.

The usual 3km warm-up and then into 6 x 1km off 85 seconds. I was running them in 3:05 and hence the 85 seconds recovery to keep the maths nice and easy (starting each rep every 4 mins 30 secs). I felt good today and interesting to note how the HR slowly creeps up at the end of the rep each time (it was high 140's for the first couple but up over 150 by the end of the session).

And then a 3km warm-down to give me 12 clicks on the knocker.

More snooker in the evening. In the first frame I resumed from where I left off 2 weeks ago - I was on a break of 64 with 3 reds still on but ran slightly out of position and left myself nothing. Shame as all the balls were on for a biggie. Played okay in the remaining frames with a further break of 35. I'd be a much slower player now than when I used to play as a young lad - I used to get down and crash the balls in but now think about it a lot more - especially the positional side of the game which is what's all about to be honest. The plan is to have my own table before I turn 50 - I just need to win the lottery first...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Asics GT 2000 2

A 40 minute trot on the treadmill today (9.6km @ 4:10's). Will run a session tomorrow and on Friday before the XC on Sunday.

I picked up a new pair of Asics GT 2000 2 - the 2 at the end indicates the second release in this current series. I liked them a lot and they felt very comfy - and I even went up half a size to a UK11. You'd think after nearly 15 years of running I'd get to know my size...

Monday, February 17, 2014


A longish recovery run today (solo). I did a few of the local loops and covered 17.6kms in 1:13:19 (4:10's). Lovely cool conditions for running and it felt very relaxed and comfortable. I think I've finally cleared my cold, cough and splutters that I've had the last few months and the breathing seems a lot quieter.

Galway are sending a huge number of athletes to the National Masters XC on Sunday which is great to see. I'm going to make up the numbers and I'm not expecting much - especially if it's a mud-bath which is more than likely given all the recent rain and flooding. The location is called Cow Park in Co Meath and that doesn't conjure up images of nice, flat, firm meadows for running. I had a conversation with Owen on the weekend where I made the point that in my mind, XC running is so far removed from road running that I see it almost like a different sport (at which I'm no good). As you can see I'm getting my excuses in very early doors...perhaps all this negativity stems from those cold, wet, wintry runs we were forced to do as a junior in school (which everybody hated). Perhaps I need some form of counselling?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gorgeous Gort 8km

The knee had been behaving, I'd lost a few kilos, I felt like I was coming into form and the conditions looked pretty good. So no excuses at hand. I'd not raced in Gort before so I was looking forward to covering some new ground and there was certainly a nice friendly vibe at the registration. A 3km warm-up with Owen where we encountered a few tough hills (more on that later), and it was almost time to line up. Michael Shannon was running and we had a quick chat and it turns out he has been struggling with injury the last couple of months so it looked like I may give him a decent race for a change!

The race started in town and we had a nice downhill start where a guy from Ennis track took the lead and I settled in behind him. After about 400m I decided to push on and took the lead with the rest of the field in pursuit. We took a left turn and then hit the first km marker and whilst this section of the course was flat enough, we were running into the breeze. I was feeling good and had a quick glance at my watch at the 2km marker and the split was a little disappointing but I was still leading with Michael right behind me.

I don't recall the detail of the course but mid-way through the 3rd km we took another left turn. I was still plugging away but not surging and upon reaching the 3km point I was starting to think that Michael was going to stick with me until the last few minutes and then put in his customary quick finish. That didn't happen and at about 3.5km I started to open up a gap as we took another left turn onto a busier road. At this point it was foot down with wind on the back and it was soon apparent that I was out in the lead by myself.

At around 5km we were back in town and there was some great support from Fintan and his kids. Then the fun started - I was directed up the section of road I'd covered during my warm-up so knew straight away this wasn't going to be fun. I lost a lot of momentum going up the first hill and in the space of a minute I'd gone from feeling great to feeling very ordinary. At the top of the hill I had nothing left to push on and had to take a further 5-10 seconds of recovery before attacking the downhill section. Then another climb before a left turn and then the 6km marker arrived and having missed the 5km split the time for the last 2km seemed decent considering the hills (6:36 - I'd guess 3:10/3:26).

This gave me a bit of a lift and the old thought of "keep this going for 6+ minutes and you'll be home and hosed". The 7th km was certainly flatter and I'd convinced myself that the last km was going to be a quick one. Not on your Nelly - it was a very nasty climb up past the 7km marker and again on reaching the top and making a left turn, I had to recover again before lifting the pace for the run home. This section still felt tough - perhaps into the breeze and then a few more turns and another drag before the run down the finishing chute.

I crossed the line in 26:04 for the win with my team-mate Owen coming in second. It turns out that Mike had pulled out of the race around 3.5km and I hope that he didn't aggravate his injury and wish him a speedy recovery. I'm delighted with that result - especially the time which was 42 seconds quicker than last week. The course and conditions were certainly better than Maree but I wouldn't say the course was an easy one - some very testing hills between 5km and 7km which left me thinking that I still have more to come. My "race yourself fit" strategy seems to be working...

A warm-down with Owen and we ran those nasty hills for a 3rd time. A total of 3.3km to give me 14.3kms for the day.

Here's a photo of me on the course courtesy of South Galway AC. As you can see I'm wearing my away strip for a change:

All in all a very enjoyable day. Great organisation from South Galway AC and they must have been delighted with how the day panned out. It certainly got a big thumbs up from all the people I spoke to so credit to the organisers.

That's 93.9kms for the week. Very happy with how things are progressing at the moment.

Here are the splits from the race:

3:10 / 3:21 / 3:17 / 3:14 (13:02) / 6:36 / 3:10 / 3:16 (13:02)

Total 26:04 (note even splits - pleasing given the tougher second half)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lego Movie

An easy 7.2kms in 31:59 (4:27's). Race tomorrow. Conditions were superb today so hoping for more of the same on Sunday.

I watched the Lego Movie in the afternoon with the wife and kids. I enjoyed it! I consumed my own body weight in popcorn in the process. Good carb loading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Threshold run

Again terrible conditions outside so it was back on the treadmill. A 3km warm-up, and then a 25 minute threshold run, and then a 3.0km warm-down. All up 13.4kms.

I started my threshold run at 3:24/km pace but the heart rate wasn't getting high enough, so I eventually had to get up to 3:19/km pace before I was in the correct zone (no higher than 151). I ran 7.44kms during the 25 minutes so that's an average of 3:22/km. Felt great again today and I feel like I could be coming into a bit of form. Fingers crossed.

I will probably race again this weekend so will be hoping for better conditions. And I've also signed up for the Masters XC the following weekend (yes you've read that correctly). Galway will hopefully have a strong team so we are going in search of some vets medals at the national champs.

I cooked a curry in the evening from scratch. The recipe called for grated tomatoes as one of the ingredients. Well I'd never grated tomatoes before and for good reason - what a mess. I made a lovely red mush on the chopping board which I then forgot to add to the main dish. In my defence it did still taste very nice...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Storm dodging

6:35am start with Fintan and Owen. Somehow we managed to avoid the storm though we did spend most of the run trying to avoid all the puddles whilst running in the dark. Owen had the right idea with his head torch. Good fun and nice to get the run out of the way whilst most normal people were still in bed.

All up 14.7kms in 1:03:55 (4:21's). Pace was a bit quicker than last week though it felt the same!

Darts match in the evening (re-arranged due to Valentines day - the darts crowd are obviously hopeless romantics). I was first up and lost comfortably. Very poor! We then went on to win our next 8 games to run out 8-1 winners (I did win my pairs - though I didn't play much better!)...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

6 x 1km

Wet and windy outside so the speed session was to be done on the treadmill. I settled on some kms starting at 3:10, and then reducing the pace by a second per km each time. After 6 I was done for finishing with a 3:05. I was starting every 4 mins 30 so I was getting around 80 seconds recovery between each effort. All up 12.0kms with the warm-up and down. Felt fairly comfortable and worked up the customary indoor sweat that you rarely get outside.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

White Stuff

I decided to take an easy day and delay the normal Tuesday speed session until tomorrow. I started at around 9:30am and within 10 minutes of me running I was caught in a snow storm. Quite novel to run in and made for a pleasant change from the rain! Another 10 minutes and the snow had stopped and I was left to finish my run. All up 9.5kms in 39:48 (4:11's).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oranmore and back

A long run with Fintan. We both agreed to take it easy but we were both ticking over nicely right from the off. At one point the average pace was 4:15 but with a quick last half an hour we got that down to 4:09's - with the benefit of a few sub 4 minute kms as we ran back into Claregalway. All up 22.2kms in 1:32:18.

Not wishing to jinx myself (which I invariably will) but my left knee has been good the last few days. The massage must have helped so I just need to keep on top of it now with regular massage.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Maree 8km

My first road race of 2014. Conditions were dry and windy and during my 2km warm-up with Owen it was obvious it was going to be a tough run.

The race started just as a shower was threatening and I settled into the lead group. The first 3.5km of the course were straight into the wind, with a tough climb up to 2km, and during the climb I slipped into second position. Once at the top of the hill the pace picked up as we began a descent and I closed back in behind the leader as we worked our way up to the turnaround point. This section of the course was very slow and boy was I glad to finally make the turn at around 3.5km. I was then a different runner - I put the foot down and hit the lead with the wind on the back. I pushed the next flat mile running behind the lead motorbike who was doing a good job of clearing the flow of runners coming in the opposite direction for which I received many shouts of encouragement!

Round by the waters edge and then a tough climb just through 5km. I'd opened up a decent gap so I wasn't going to kill myself on the climbs, instead leaving some in the tank to hammer the flatter sections. One final short sharp climb just past 6km and then a fairly flat run home. I finished the race strongly and had a sprint finish with a young spectator who was trying to beat me to the line. That helped keep the pace honest and I crossed the line in 26:46 for the win (for the 4th year on the trot!!!).

I was pleasantly surprised by the time as it felt slower than that but looking at the splits the first half wasn't as slow as it felt:

3:26 / 3:24 / 3:21 / 3:35 (13:46) / 3:12 / 3:24 / 3:16 / 3:08 (13:00)

Total 26:46

Here's a photo me at the finish courtesy of Maree AC (don't let those blue skies fool you - it was bloody freezing as you can see from the nancy boy wearing the gloves):

A warm-down of 4.8kms with Owen and Conor to give me 14.8kms for the day. I'm taking some positives out of this race as I ran well for the last 4km - albeit with the benefit of the wind - and it was good to feel like I am getting back to where I was in the lead up to Christmas.

That's 93.9kms for the week. Happy with that given that it included today's race. A big well done to Maree AC who always host a great race - and judging by the turnout of well over 300 runners it certainly is a special event to which all involved should be proud of.

I got home just in time to see Spurs beat Everton 1-0. And then to see Murphy win the snooker. A perfect sporting day really so a few beers in the evening just for old times sake.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Just about a run

Not feeling the best today. Ouch. I decided to do a light run as I was planning on racing tomorrow. And to get some fresh air in the lungs. Only 6.7kms in 30:50 (4:36's).

I watched a bit of the snooker from Poland. Shaun Murphy was playing well. A shadow of his former self after shifting 3 stone and his new healthy lifestyle seems to be paying dividends. He hit a maximum today - the third in his playing career after hitting another one last month. I'd say he'll have a good run in the worlds...

Friday, February 07, 2014

6 x 800 off a rolling 4 minutes

A late afternoon treadmill session. A 3km warm-up, then 6 x 800 running them in 2:25 (3:02/km pace), (so a recovery of 65 seconds), then a warm-down of 3km. All up 10.8kms.

I wore the HR monitor for this session. Here is a link which shows the HR peaking at 159 during the last effort.


Then darts in the evening. A few beers to lubricate the arm and then it was game on. I won both my singles and pairs and we ran out 5-4 winners. Then a few more beers...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Drought continues

More running in the dark with Fintan and Owen. Conditions were a touch on the cold side, and upon completion of the run the times showed it was a slow one - a total of 14.6kms in 1:05:41 (4:30's). It felt a lot quicker than that but just can't seem to get going first thing in the morning.

Still no drinking - I plan to change that tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Run, Rub and Rolling back the years

Easy run to see how the new niggle was. Could feel it for the first 5 minutes and then it went, and then the spotlight was back on the knee. All up 9.5kms in 41:25 (4:22's).

Another massage to try and take some pressure off the knee. The focus was again on the quad, plus a very tight base of the hamstring on the same side. Could be linked so hopefully some improvement when I next run.

Out in the evening for snooker. I can't recall playing that well for a long time. I played 5 frames and in the first frame I hit a 66 break. That set the tone and I had further breaks of 45, 34, 38 and 73! I missed an easy enough green off the spot whilst on the 73 with the remaining 4 colours on the spots so the 98 clearance went begging. Still compared to how I've been playing lately that was a massive improvement and took me back to how I could play 20 years ago. Maybe still time to get that elusive 100 (my highest ever break is 99)...

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

6 x 5 off 60 secs

The old 5 minute repeats with Fintan. Weather was bloody freezing but dry and a tricky breeze when running straight into it. A 2.2km warm-up and then game on. The first 5 minutes were tough and this seems to be the pattern for this session. The next couple we had the benefit of the wind, then doubled back for a couple of tough ones - and then a nice downhill stretch to finish with. Here are the paces:


A little better than last week but again I was having to work a lot harder than you'd like. Certainly nothing cruisey about it. I guess I still have a bit of a cold so hoping things will pick up once that clears.

During the warm-down it was apparent that I'd pulled something at the top of my right quad. Noticeable this evening but I'm going to try and run it out in the next few days. At least it has taken my attention from the left knee...

All up 15.3kms for the day.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Long run with Fintan. We were very lucky with the weather as it had been absolutely juicing down all night but it cleared just as we headed out the door. Lots of puddles to avoid but great conditions for running. All up 22.2kms in 1:31:46 (4:08's). Our 2 Garmins never give the same distances and mine tends to give a higher reading for distance. I'll take anything that's going that makes my running look a little better...

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Room 101

Another treadmill run. I'm a bit nervous about running on the treadmill as it seems to be harsher on my knee compared to the road (that may be contrary to what I've said previously but you live and learn). I started at around 4:30/km pace and gradually worked down to 4 minute clicks. All up 13.0kms in 54:43 (4:13's).

That's 101.3kms for the week. Another steady week in the bag without setting the world on fire. Hopefully I start to feel good soon and this will give me some confidence to get back to road racing.

Ding beat Judd in the snooker. Ding was the deserved winner and keeps winning lots of tournaments. I still can't see him beating an in-form Ronnie mind....

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Tempo time

A treadmill run  - 3.5km warm-up, 20 minutes at 3:24/km pace, 3.5kms warm-down. All up 12.9kms. Felt pretty good today despite a heavy sweat.

Watched some snooker in the evening. Judd Trump was on fire and was playing the best snooker I've seen from him since he reached the World final in 2011. He will play Ding tomorrow in the final.

Still no beer - I went to the fridge and I'd forgot to put some beers in. That's what happens when you're out of practice. Schoolboy error.