TRAINING: Kilcoole Track

Jimmy Synnott had made me aware that one of the best track facilities in Ireland was built at Charlesland behind Jackie Skelly's gym between Greystones and Kilcoole just a few round-abouts off the N11.

Having gotten half-day off yesterday after a marathon-shift of 16-hours with the Microsoft Year End, I decided I would finally have a look at it, as I don't manage to get to the Crusaders track sessions in Irishtown at the moment.

As its my philosophy to do most track work on my own anyway (since I'm quite religious about executing my own sessions at my own pace), this was not a bad thing and the track could prove a very useful "stopover" point every time I head from Sandyford towards Ashford and home.

The Kilcoole Stadium
This is the best track facility in Wicklow and as such is used by all of the Sli Cualann clubs: Parnell AC, Kilcoole AC, Bray Runners , Roundwood and District AC, Blessington AC, Inbhear Dee, and Greystones AC.

Despite not being a member of these the nice lady in reception told me it was free to use the track and I was impressed with the cleanliness of the area and the fabulous views you could enjoy from the top notch track.

After doing 3.2km of warmup it was then time for one of my classical 10k pace sessions or "Race Pace" as I currently label them.

The Session
Today's session was as simple as they come 5x1k repeat @ 10k pace with 1:30 floats (active recoveries). Earlier in the year I executed a similar session but started with 3 minutes and then 2 minutes of float. The idea being that the further into racing season, the less active recovery you must need to cope with to move your session closer to the actual race demands.

At this time of year, its normally recommended to do Mixed Intervals and shorter but faster intervals, but I chose to switch back to these longer intervals in preparation for Snowdon due to the length of the race. Also, my feeling is the hill races act very much like Mixed Intervals and I want the body to get a bit more exposure to steady hard running (tempos would have been another route I could have gone down, but I find the quality of the track workout better).

On Tuesday I did a very tough 30/30 session, so I had worked both speed and V02 max on that day. It wasn't necessary to include a speed session of 200s after the 1ks then.

I kept the intervals at 1k despite 2k and 3k being more race specific to keep the strain of the sesssion reasonable. My legs are somewhat weary at the moment after the latest series of races, so I opted for quality. The long 2k and 3k repeats will be important in the very hard ramp-up I've planned for the cross-country season.

The Results
The goal for today was to run the 1k repeats in 3:42 (3:42min/km pace, duh!) which is a pace of 5:57min/mile. My long absence from the track showed immediately as I struggled somewhat to find rhythm not helped by the very hot day and a strong seabreeze on the return strait of every 400m loop.

I managed alright for number 1, however, doing it in 3:44. From then on, unfortunately, I was always a bit short of a "kick" completing the next 4 in 3:51, 3:50, 3:47 and 3:50. I found consolation in the fact that my legs weren't remotely fresh, I'd eaten too much at lunch, and this was my first time doing this exercise with just 1:30 active recovery.

If nothing else, though, my session was very evenly paced throughout, always a hallmark of a quality workout. The average pace of 3:48min/km still puts me ahead of plan. I had planned to operate at Target Pace 29 at this stage of the season, and this pace equals a Target Pace of 25. My 10k two months ago, however, was a TPL of 24 and my best performances have been TPL 23.

So all in all, I'm cruising around the area of 23-25 at this stage. I'm hoping to reach a pinnacle of TPL 22 by the end of the season (equivalent of a 36:20 10k performance) and then start the new season working from the pace levels at that. This would be an increase of 12 pace levels in 12 months. Next year I should expect to gain only 3-4 and then maybe a further 2-3 before progress starts to seriously plateau.

What the figures mean currently is that I am probably only capable of a 38min 10k (+28seconds over my PB), and 18:20 5k (25 seconds faster than my PB). On the other hand it suggests a 1:24:03 half-marathon and a 2:55:50 marathon but this would take a restructuring of my current training.

So happy out, progress is stabilised, and I'll have a decent platform to start the next stage of work from once Snowdon is defeated and her head delivered...