I had decided to begin my “step-back” week with a hill run I would enjoy and opted for the “Trooperstown Circuit/Paddock Hill” circuit starting in Glendalough which we hosted a group run for about 4 weeks ago. The first time I ran the course with Aoife I struggled through in after completely bonking on the last climb on the Wicklow Way at Brockagh. The second time, everyone in our group was running well and we set a fair pace finishing the course in just a shade over 2 hours. I had dropped back to ensure two runners took the right turn and the group ahead did the route in some minutes below 2 hours and I made that my “target of progress” for the day but only if the legs would cooperate without too much fuss.
The day had started with the realisation I hadn’t gotten away Scot-free form Altidore after all: one of my toes had turned purple under the nail and was throbbing. I cut off a bit of the nail and then squashed the thing, with the expected trapped blood pouring out as water from a broken dam. A few seconds later the toe had its normal colour back but the toe kept throbbing for an hour. Using a cold foot-bath with Dettol took out the swelling and hopefully stopped any low risk of infection.
Anyway, after my usual routine, including another got at my new “lunge matrix”, I found the quadriceps and hamstrings were sore after all but not badly so. I set into my usual rhythmical pace just over jogging pace and once again the first split hit 4:41min/km. That is the fourth time this week that happens! Clearly seems to be my new current “default pace”.
The Trooperstown/Paddock Hill circuit: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/150844734
There’s 680m climb on the route and you hit the hardest climb (276m in 3km or a 9% gradient) just as you exit Laragh and run up Ballard towards the shoulder of Trooperstown Hill. I had started to late to catch the hill racers, but from the moment I hit the hill I could see the sloppy wonderland left behind by hundreds of feet. I stayed in the heather a good bit! Interestingly, I did not climb as well as last time on this but made much faster progress on the flats and descents. Once I hit the second major climb at 13km (200m in 2.6km or a 7.6% gradient), my splits began to improve and this continued until the end, perhaps something indicating the larger aerobic resources now at my disposal.
Days like these are the best Wicklow have to offer: clear views, no precipitation and marginal wind. I was in a determined mood and didn’t stop much during the run, but I did allow myself a few seconds on each top to take it all in. When I reached the last climb (70m climb in 1.4 km or a 5% gradient), there was no repeat of the walking/crawling/slogging experience from the 18th of December when I recorded a 9:33min/km split here! Today, I kept my elbows close like a boxer and worked slowly but with determination up in 5:41. Bonking costs minutes!
Calibrating the progress…
I returned to Glendalough and the house in 1:54:48, taking a six minutes off my best time for the course. Since this was less than two hours, I did a 10 minute jog on Kevin’s Way. A step-back week is important but you can step-back too aggressively and anything less than two hours would have been a waste of a Sunday. In the evening, the strange cramps at the back of right knee socket reappeared a few times. Last year these came an went in the early phases of aerobic training and I noted them as training load becoming too overwhelming. These symptoms were much milder than last years, so seems my too easy days come at the right time.
Wednesday is the moment of truth as I have both a Lactate and VO2max test with our new partners at UCD Sports and Performance as well as a consultation with their sports nutritionist.