TRAINING: 4 of 10

Another week finished with steady progression, while running for only 1.8% longer time-wise, I managed to increase pace by 2% and distance by 4% and arrived right on target running exactly the expected duration at exactly the predicted pace.

It sounds like very little progress, but over just four weeks this is actually a volume increase of 15% in terms of mileage alone. In all of 2010, I managed eight 100km plus weeks (the natural barrier my brain works with until 100 miles becomes common-fare), this year has already brought four.

This time, though, the numbers somewhat belie reality. I was quicker and ran longer and my average heart rate fell by five beats compared to the previous week but I had to really earn my due this week, no plain sailing this time around.

I caught a sore throat and a bit of lethargy and what seemed like a weak return of the recurrent stomach problems that marred many performances from late 2008 to my two antibiotics treatments in September 2010. Come Wednesday my legs were feeling a bit tired for the first time but I still managed a cracking fartlek with some great hill efforts.

Thursday’s longer run was a battle as I woke up Wed-Fri mornings feeling like a ton of bricks. Yet, I kept last week’s pace and ran a bit longer. I lost precious time as my stomach constrained my breathing on the climbs but overall I could pace out the workout to regain control of my goals.

By Friday’s jog I felt I was crawling, but even my jogging pace was improved, so once I woke up Saturday refreshed, it seemed another hurdle had been surmounted. I had run week 4’s workout by accident in week 3, so decided to give myself some respite by doing simple the 68-minute out-and-back.

Aoife and had the same duration to do, but as each of us goes off at our own pace, we always look like the most asocial running buddies ever, separating from the start and meeting only for the last few hundred metres!

My quad was stiff and lacked power on the crunching upward slope towards Glenmacnass where the road climbs 100m more than it drops, something that bites much more when the pace is high.

This was a valuable grind, though, and my legs finally found some spark around the sixth kilometre and ignited around the twelfth leading me to hammer out the two fastest kilometres this year before allowing myself to switch to cruise control for the final section back to Glendalough. One second knocked off last week’s pace and mission accomplished, chapter four successfully closed.

Afterwards, I asked Aoife “what does that remind you off”, and she read my mind “a hill race”. Despite being on roads, the strong continuous grind of the “out” followed by the fast motoring of the “back” works on so many skills needed by a mountain runner that its hard to underestimate the importance of it. I am delighted to have it in my repertoire and would never eschew it again. It also stretched out my legs which is good news as week 5 starts tomorrow with the longest and fastest run yet on the schedule. Lydiard clearly did not like the wicked and there will be no rest for us!