DIARY: Busy weekend in action and thought

Some weekend on the Irish hills both in terms of fixtures and weather. Three races lined up for race-hungry competitors and gorgeous sunshine gracing us Friday and Sunday with a benignly cool Saturday sandwiched in between.

I will be busy writing up race reports from what I watched during my stint as a photographer and first Crone and then Glencullen as I drove along the Wicklow Way Trail and Ultra course yesterday with my leg still not running ready. At the same time, just behind our house, the college runners went head to head on one of my favourite slopes – the grassy highway leading off Camaderry, the scenic hulk that greats Glendalough visitors on their right as they enter the valley.

More laser

In the meantime, I can look forward to another laser treatment tomorrow. John has written up a note to Dr. Leahy explaining the exact nature and location of the crepitus causing the problems under my tibia. He’s optimistic the treatment may help us push the injury over the edge finally as he admitted we had underestimated the seriousness and brought me back running too quickly when it probably needed another week.

“Bad bike”

The Sunday bike ride aggravated the injury because my ankle cannot be in a locked position while this condition remains. Despite the setback, my symptoms where much improved Thursday compared to the week before.

Apart from gym-work, I spend my “spare” time planning the future and while I won’t bore the readers with too much detail just now I can clearly see that some severe changes need to be imposed to reduce my injury-rate. You need to risk things in your training to be competitive but the risk level needs to be acceptable. The greatest threat to an athlete is not arriving over-trained or unfit at a race start (that’s 2nd and 3rd) but not arriving at the race start at all and on that count the period 2008-2010 has been a failure on my part.

Strength coaching

So after consultations with John we have decided that for the next two seasons I will never run more than six times per week and will start working more closely with strength and conditioning coach Barry Solan to help better prepare me for the rigorous decade ahead. Barry has fantastic credentials training athletes in Arizona so looking forward to what he can do for me.

I’ll spend the seventh day investing in this strength and conditioning among other things. Secondly, I have realised that despite good progress on the weight I (and many like me) are simply not as lean and mean as our forebears in the 60s to 80s, so I have identified my two favourite foods (bread and cheese!) and they will now be put under strict rules limiting their consumption to the absolute minimum going forward.

Pragmatic joy

The third wheel of my plan is a curious combination of joy and pragmatism. To learn how to run properly I need to move down in distance. I know this and every expert would agree with this. So from the 2012 season I will step down to middle-distance and focus on that for at least a season. This is the pragmatism.

The “joy” part also needs to be catered for so I will allow myself one crazy event each year under the strict condition that I treat it as an easy day out. I have a very nice ultra-challenge lined up for the summer which, if treated as an extended hike should not leave me groaning or wrecked for the cross-country season. As they say, it is not distance that kills, it is speed, so if done easily I’ll get a chance to enjoy these challenges without them impacting my immediate athletics goals.