DIARY: Longest, long, longer

“Another day, another half-marathon,” that pretty much seems to be my new creed as I have finished day 3 of the seventh week of base training. Now all I need to do is survive another three and a half!

Despite the niggling worries about what is going on in my foot (thankfully stable as it seems), week seven has been good to me. I finished week six on a strong note knocking another two seconds off my kilometre pace on the Out and Back workout. The week had reduced volume compared to the five previous but still ended up over one hundred kilometres which shows just how much the goal-posts move year on year.

A lot of work remains to be done, I keep working with Medfit and John and our goal is simple: “Strengthen my body until it can survive one hundred mile weeks on a regular basis far into the future.” For now, the goal is simply to take all of the intermediate steps in between while becoming a better racer.

My Sunday was brightened by same company as I joined Jason and Richie, my fellow Crusaders, for the Sunday long run. This meant travelling North to Tymon Park but it was well worth it as time breezed away. Despite our chatter, the run was both longer and faster than any long run so far, so progress continued on this front too.

Monday I had to scale back a bit as my extensor seemed a bit more sore, so I split my aerobic run into two relatively short runs and stayed on plan without irritating the foot.

I know the Tuesday and Thursday medium-long runs are more valuable so my priority was to be in fighting shape for each of them. The Tuesday run is always slightly shorter than the Tuesday run, yet I am always a bit faster on Thursdays because I have had more days to recover from the long run. This bodes well for Thursday for this time I took four full seconds off the last Tuesday workouts pace and passed by the half-marathon distance a good thirty seconds clear of my Achill Half-Marathon time from 2007.

Afterwards my lower shin felt like there was a big swollen bulb in it, something that occurred after one long run as well (it went away in two days). There’s definitely a bit of inflammation moving around the left leg, but so far my efforts seem to manage it and with an easy fartlek tomorrow I hope to be ready for another good 23-24km on Thursday.

I remain grateful that I had the foresight to book myself back into the Laser Clinic for March, though, as I think a few blasts of the laser will be welcome after these challenging but enjoyable weeks. They are the toughest ten weeks of the entire Lydiard program but once they are done you are very close to arriving on the safe shores of the competitive season unscathed.


Colm O'Cnoic said…
You appear to be training on the edge. Higher and higher mileage may be a big adrenaline rush, but you have to allow the body a chance to recover is well.

A bheith cúramach!
Renny said…
Hi Colm,

Appreciate the comment. I am certainly edging closer to the edge but don't expect to cross it before the ten weeks are over (the progression is too gradual).

The left leg problem seems to be a freak incident as I felt something "go" striding down a hill fast during one of the fartleks. This seems to be what is getting irritated after the longer harder runs.

I will get a proper diagnosis on Friday but expect John's usual laconic response when I come to him with injuries of this scope: "You can't do the mileage you do and not expect to be sore in certain places."

So the strategy for now is to contain and control will attempting to build the foundation to the full extent envisioned by the ten week training if possible. Week 8 will be eaiser before the final charge for week 9 and 10.

On the positive side, I have no symptoms of overtraining. I sleep and eat well, my muscles recover almost fully within each 24-hour period, and my pace keeps dropping both on average during the week and from workout to workout without my having to run harder to achieve them.

The objective of following the plan is not born out by any emotional attachment to do so but rather a risk/benefit analysis. The impact of not completing this critical stage of training is high, the current risk of long-term injury is low (to be revised after professional opinion on Friday). With my athletes I am slightly more conservative because I cannot factor in their experience with their own injury history. What I do see so far, however, is a great maturity of decision-making.

I had planned to do a bit more running on hilly terrain during the aerobic phase, but that irritates the leg more, so I will probably save it for later (since I ran too much on the hills last year, it may even be beneficial).

Training capacity has obviously increased notably and the goal now is to keep working with Medfit over the next decade. John believes it is feasible to build my strength to a level that will sustain 100 mile weeks repeatedly, but it does require a lot of financial and time investment as well as a firm pattern of living (every day for me practically consists of doing the exact same rituals). You could say that I try to compensate for the lack of a professional lifestyle through funnelling my resources into injury prevention and treatment.