DIARY: Phoenix Park–good company, bad leg

Today was meant to be the second-longest run of the build-up for the summer season as a good strong run over 30km was in the plans. Both Aoife and I had running-buddies lined up as we had stayed in Dublin after an enjoyable outing at the Crusaders Social (one of the rare times we allowed ourselves to be pulled away from the election spectacle).

My leg had handled the year’s first “Up and Down” workout well on Saturday: A 7km ascent of Mullacor with a relaxed descent following it. My energy-levels had been uncharacteristically low the last few days after one day of poor eating had unbalanced my otherwise obsessive attention to refuelling and recovery.

Yet, I had put in a very good climb but as I set off with James McFadden and Amidou for what I expected would be three laps, I quickly had to reassess my targets. Around 9km out, the pain from my sprained subtalar joint was noticeable enough to take away from the wonderful sunshine that permeated the park and banished memories of our hard winter.

Midway through lap two, I knew the leg could not take a third lap, so when James called time on his day’s workout, I gladly followed terminating after only 22.5km and 1 hour and 47 minutes of running. A few week’s back this would have been more or less a standard Tuesday/Thursday run but now it seems the weakened joint is not ready to accept more punishment. On the plus side, I felt otherwise great, little muscle soreness, good breathing and we were three seconds up on our pace per kilometre compared to my target for the day.

Alas, the aftermath has seen some limping and swelling which I am addressing now. Luckily, my intuition led me to book with the laser clinic long ago so this Wednesday I can hopefully get the desired “quick-fix” as this sort of sprain-induced swelling is a prime candidate for being blasted away and fused with the prospect of healing within 1-2 days.

At the moment, a normal completion of week nine is impossible and tomorrow I will substitute running for another Medfit Milon Circuit and then we shall see where I stand. While I had hoped to be able to reach the full height laid out in the ten weeks base training, I achieved more than I could have hoped possible in the first seven and a half weeks and if I can heal up and coast through reasonable training the next thirteen days and arrive healed for the hill phase I should still have enough aerobic fitness built to attain my immediate goals.

There will be a difference of thirty to forty seconds over the half-marathon distance from this loss, but since I am ahead of schedule I have all chances of leaving the summer season satisfied if I can navigate the tricky waters of the next few weeks.

On a less self-centred note, it was great to see James McFadden back training and focused on rebuilding. He was a revelation on most occasions between his injury patches of the last three years and if given a “free-run” will be a runner to watch across all competitions.