13 days my achilles seemed mended enough to play ball until finally succumbing to the workload on Saturday morning. It was a great pity as training has been going fantastic: Splits executed to target, good energy levels throughout the week and very acceptable recovery levels in terms of muscle soreness.
My intensive treatment meant I woke up on Friday feeling not a thing in the Achilles and decided to go ahead with the fastest session of the week: 40 minutes @ 4:58min/km followed directly by 25 minutes @ 3:59min/km. For good measure I threw in about 1k of warm-up and cooldown as well as several dynamics.
The session proved tough and challenging as tired legs in heavy training weeks can easily struggle to provide what is, on paper, a very manageable half-marathon pace (after all I ran almost 85 minutes at 4:00min/km just this September) but the toughness is the point: The ability to generate effective speed and keep up good form even in a severely fatigued state, just as you would have to in longer races.
Again execution was perfect: 40 minutes were run in 4:54min/km (4 secs/km fast) and 25 minutes at 4:00min/km (1 sec/km slow). During the cooldown I noticed the achilles was not happy, though, unfortunately there had not been any previous warning signs. I was hopeful it would let itself be mend back again as previously but the following days recovery run at Crone proved it hadn't.
This led to a very dissatisfying end to the week having to cancel my 27km long run: The most important run of the week no less. I had hoped to do 95km (59 miles) this week and managed 74km (46 miles) all run at an average pace above 12kph. Given the way the day has progressed, I probably carry a grade 1 Achilles injury, which (according to www.achillestendon.com) should take a week of relative rest to heal.
So ends the chances of racing competitively at the Wicklow Way Trail for me. This week's mileage may more or less maintain my fitness but the loss of the long run and potentially another week or two of training is fatal for any early season targets.
I may still contest the Wicklow Way Trail, but should treat it as just another long run, and instead refocus my plan on the Summer season once the achilles is clear. Having lost end of November, December, parts of January and now parts of February, its safe to say I once again enter a season with a winter preparation lying in utter ruin. Its unsatisfying and demoralising, but hopefully I will run out of injuries to pick up as I address them one by one as they arise.
What this means for this seasons hopes, we'll have to see, for now I'll turn my attention to some heavy strength training and I'll be writing on Lydiard's take on that next...