TRAINING: Polishing off the form...

I'm almost ready for my third showdown with Snowdon and have looked at my programmes over the last few years' for clues to the best preparation. It's clear the I respond best to a short but very sharp taper.

Last year's training featured much too many hills in the final run-up, so I made Camaderry my last longer climb this Saturday (feeling really easy I ran up with Eamonn and Aoife in a very good 58 minutes for the 8k only two minutes off my harder effort).

I had hoped to help Crusaders out in the league with the 5000m this Sunday but couldn't as my hip-flexors are troubling me and I instead opted for another one of those short and very sharp sessions that really rev up the engine: 30/30s. Going to the Upper Lake Park (such luxury to train in a place as scenic as that!) I sprinted into the slight inclines at full lung-busting effort for thirty seconds and then ran easier for 30 seconds. I set myself a goal of ten minutes which is what I used to be able to handle and what seemed on the safe side with a week to the race.

Coming out of it, I was reminded just how painful this session is, lungs burn and as you suck in all oxygen around you, it feels like they are about to burst. At times, I was just waiting for passers-by to drop dead and birds to fall from the sky as I greedily took air from the atmosphere.

Result-wise it was another confidence booster, my pace was strong and in the ten minutes I just could not kill off my legs (as was the intention) but I did stagger around like a punch-drunk fighter for a few minutes after before jogging home.

Max Intensity Sessions
The great thing about max intensity sessions is that they really work your pain threshold and your ability to tolerate a very abrupt spike of intensity. These spikes occur a lot in hill races due to the nature of the terrain. My session gives me hope that I'm now ready to take an injection of maximal effort on the slopes of Snowdon for about 10-15 minutes and still come out able to run on the other side.

These sessions have always really brought me to the next level in the past but unfortunately can only be done effectively at the very end of training once all other pieces are in place, so the benefits of them are not their to be enjoyed year-round.

Assault on the Mile
I have but one more sharpening tool in the box: My final assault on the mile this summer and I'm going for broke in an attempt to lower my record from 5:11 to 4:59. This would be a remarkable performance and everything has to go right, but I'll attempt it and if it fails I'll hopefully still be celebrating a new PB.

If I do it, it'll rank as my best running performance to date, so there'll be pressure on when I ready my shoes at Irishtown this evening. The attempt also serves as another Max Intensity training session after which I am going to have three very easy relaxed days.

To me this defines the meaning of coming to a race "sharp and fresh" and I'm hopeful this will prove my best Snowdon taper yet.