My achilles keeps making some sounds but Saturday's rest and the reduction of my mileage last week seems to have stabilised the problem. The cost was 2h20min of training missed which I'll try to recoup by spreading it evenly over the remaining weeks once I am satisfied the problem has let off completely.
On the plus side I got a terrific snow run done up Trooperstown Hill from Croneybyrne, keeping a strong pace even through thick snow I felt like a fish that had discovered water for the first time and I feel like I'm climbing better than ever before. So despite the overall disappointments of last week, the Sunday workout was terrific for my leg muscles and hopefully the first of many quality uphill sessions to prepare me for the Pike.
On the topic of snow-running its about as much fun as you can have. Skipping full speed down a thick snow gully with my arms flapping around in circles and with a dearly suppressed urge to scream "eagle" was the highlight of several wonderfully smooth flydowns the white descents.
This week seems to see me gather momentum, 31km are completed in three days and my pace is increasing every day in my base runs. I started out with averages at 5:00min/km then 4:51 and today 4:35 at the same effort. My stride keeps improving becoming faster, more fluent, and this transfers positively to my injuries as this barefoot technique puts less stress on my lower legs.
Tomorrow I'll treat myself to another 10k base run. If I feel good I'll do it as as fartlek, if the body seems tired, I'll back off a little in preparation for the weekend's work. All in all, my base pace doesn't drop anywhere near as low as it did last year on most runs. Its clear that I had gotten over-cautious last year and was probably doing a lot of my training at much too low intensity even for aerobic efforts.
Friday and SAturday will see two hill runs where I will do all my uphill work for the week. If things work out well I should record a week of around 80km which will be the toughest week of my first four-week cycle. AFter this I'll back down to around 74km and then start a new cycle which will peak at 94km. The following two cycles should take me to 99km and then 115km. This being the ideal, of course, I will err on the side of caution despite my ambitions as the heartbreak of another injury could prove too much to take.
The first 2 weeks yielded a 115km (72 miles) against the planned 132km (82 miles) so I am banking on my progressive system to bring me back closer to the volume that will be needed to sustain the season ahead. Impatience as always is the runners great adversary and I try and imprint this in my mind to avoid yet another repeat of past mistakes. I am currently like an army that rarely makes it to the battlefield in one piece and with at least 29 races planned for the coming season, I must adopt a balance that allows me to improve my training while also being fresh enough to actually race.