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The Longest Minute


from Diary of a “Rubbish Marathon Runner” My training had been going exceedingly well until I got sick 2 weeks ago. This cost me a few days of lost running, another few days of slowly re-building my mileage, and another week of slightly compromised running. However, since about Thursday or Friday I feel I’m finally heading somewhere again. The legs were a bit sore yesterday, especially the hip flexors, which was definitely a reminder of the hill repeats. You really have to lift the knees during those sprints, and it showed. The other thing I had to contend with was the wind. While it wasn’t exactly storm force it was stronger than what I had been used to over the past couple of weeks, and it was a factor. So I headed out along Caragh Lake on my easy run, and since I had to fight the headwind straight on I ran a tiny little bit harder than on my usual long run, just a percent of extra effort – or so I thought.

It wasn’t until the turnaround point that I realised I was doing 7:45 pace, a good bit faster than what I usually do on easy days, especially taking into account the wind and the heavy legs. Of course I now had the wind at my back and cruised home easily without having to slow down either. Some people (actually, a lot) say you should leave the watch at home for easy runs to make sure you don’t run too fast. Maybe the opposite is true for me – I should check the Garmin more often on easy runs to make sure I don’t go too hard. Having said that, I would be lying if I denied being quite chuffed about the fact that I could run faster than 7:45 pace without pushing the effort even once.

Later on it was my turn to drive the twins to Cork for their clever little people class. Maybe I’m driving faster than Niamh, but I got there half an hour early (ok, ok, I DO drive faster than Niamh), which left me time for the weekend shopping while they had their classes. I’m not very familiar with Cork, but I did recognise a few roads of the marathon course, and the start of the Cork-to-Cobh race. After picking up the twins and driving all the way home I was completely knackered – all that driving can be worse than running.

I wondered if Saturday’s faster pace and the hours in the car would have a negative effect on today’s workout. Following Matt Fitzgerald’s advice I replaced the 30/30s with 60/60s today, which is supposed to be considerably more demanding. I programmed the Garmin for 13 repeats, but had my doubts if I would be able to hit that number. I did feel more optimistic after the first mile of my warm-up, because usually I don’t run that in 7:30 when I’m not even trying. I was still slightly apprehensive when I eventually launched into the workout. The first repeat felt awkward (and it turned out to be the slowest one by quite some margin), but after that I quickly got into the groove. It was definitely hard work, the one uphill one was pure torture and the minute rest seemed to be getting shorter and shorter, but I somehow managed to run all 13 repeats at an average pace of 5:47, which was definitely faster than expected.

I forgot to mention, I checked my resting HR today and it came up with 41, the same value I’d measured before I had gotten sick. I’m definitely bouncing back by now.

Thus ends the hill phase of my training, and the anaerobic phase is starting. However, I had to check Ron Daws’ schedules about three times before I could believe that he is seriously recommending a 20 miler AND an 18 miler each week during that phase, quite a jump in the long runs, considering that there was only one “long” run of 15 miles during the hill phase! I’ll do 20 miles tomorrow morning (I think), but I’ll wait and see about the 18. I might run a 10k in Adare on Sunday, which would give me the perfect excuse to cut the second long run short, but I haven’t decided on that race yet. One race I’ll definitely do is Ballycotton, 2 weeks from now. Looking at Grellan’s recent training I might have a hard time keeping him behind me, but I’ll try anyway.

21 Feb
8 miles, 1:01:49, 7:44 pace, HR 148
22 Feb
8 miles, 59:38, 7:28 pace, HR 160
incl. 13×60/60 (5:47 avg)

Weekly mileage: 71