DIARY: Playing with fire (and lent..)

Since my diet had been confirmed to be healthy, I needed to give something else up for lent and in the end. It had to be some guilty pleasure that did not contribute anything truly constructive to my everyday pursuits so in the end my choice fell on “message boards” (except IMRA which I need to communicate about my training sessions through!). Message boards are a bit like soap television, endlessly fascinating and entertaining but not the most effective use of time.

I have had a very productive spell since enforcing this, which is great as I have a lot on my plate. Training-wise the past weekend proved a close call. My “step-back” week had probably not been entirely “easy enough” with 97km logged which is still a fair bit by my current standards although well below the previous week both in pace and volume. As Romain Denis, exercise physiologist, at UCD warned me, however, the VO2max and lactate test is quite demanding and may have tired my joints a bit.

Fastest “Out and Back” to date

My Saturday-Sunday runs are always a very challenging with the fast “Out and Back” and the long steady Sunday run on consecutive days. I have to really focus on good recovery and then back off on the Monday to be set up for another week. Saturday was surprisingly strong as I ran my longest “Out and Back” up the Glenmacnass Road (76 minutes) and in five seconds faster per kilometre than any previous such workout. I felt tired both during this workout and the following day, so found it extremely encouraging that I could still produce quality running. I fitted 4 kilometres of jogging in around the workout for a total of 22km on the day. I did my prehabilitation routine twice which was just as well as I my calves were still very stiff at the outset of the Sunday run at the Vartry Reservoir.

Ankle irritation

I waited until the afternoon to try and get 24 hours in between the runs, but on the first kilometre I was concerned about my old ankle niggle acting up. Then any sign of it disappeared for a long spell before some on/off warning signals for the remainder. My general light tiredness meant I really embraced the spirit of the run as relevant to the marathon but I had to focus all my muscular strength and control into keeping good form to the very end. When I hit the prescribed 28km I did not even bother jogging on to the car, I just hit stop and walked back. Sometimes enough is enough.

My ankles were irritated after this and for a few hours I feared a full relapse but by doing my exercises no less than four times (before the run, after the run, before dinner and before bed-time) I seemed able to get the body back in proper alignment and relieve most of the inflammation. I decided then and there to take it easy Monday and Tuesday and take another easier week ahead of Ballycotton. You cannot pour more water into a bucket that is full, regardless of what the schedule says, common-sense must prevail. By Monday evening, most symptoms were gone and I could jog 20 minutes at super-easy pace without any pain or discomfort. With fitness at and all time high, 57 days of running in the bank this year and more than ninety kilometres on average despite the slow build-up in January, it would be an atrocious mistake to throw it all away as I have in previous years.

So, now for a nice hot muscle-soak and some more drills before an early night and hopefully the ankle will be back to full strength within a few days.