DIARY: Wexford half–course, tactics and a cure of grass

The title of this post doesn’t refer to medical marijuana (one of the few injury cures I have not attempted in my time) but rather a very special recovery run I did today in Marlay Park. At least it started out as recovery and then morphed into something else. As a Dane I have a bit of an aversion to words such as “beautiful”, “love”, “amazing” and other superlatives and endearments, to Aoife’s chagrin I’m sure, but today’s experience would have warranted a few of those tags. But first, let’s have a look at how Wexford compared to the other half-marathon courses I have done.

Half-marathon course comparisons

I thought I’d begin by reviewing the Wexford half marathon course as part of my “morning after reflections”. This is how the course compares to the other half-marathons I have run:

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The Wexford half-marathon comes out as the third fastest course which sounds about right based on the experience. You will find more climbing than the straight-up 75m calculated based on the uphill stretch from the start to the highest point at around 6km. There are several “small bumps” dispersed throughout the course which does not show up in the simplified topography. Waterford remains a super-fast course compared to any other I have tried so far and stays pencilled in for my September schedule.

A grass miracle?

I started out doing a few drills in the car park and started out feeling lightly tortured running in the VivoBarefoot Breatho shoes again. After having done a few slow kilometres, feeling stiff and sore, in 5:40 and 6:00min/km (!), I decided to find a nice quiet grassy spot in the sun and do my drills until the body began to feel bouncy again. It took less time than expected and as I began running again every step felt better, only I realised the shoes were getting in my way, so I took them off and ran entirely barefoot for the next 9km on the grass of Marlay, my pace suddenly dropping to 4:34-4:45min/km, with no pain and ease of breathing.

At this point I thought to myself “physiotherapy, anti-inflammatories, icing, stretches, cross-training, resistance training, orthotics, etc., you’ve tried it all, but this really works” and it was a magical moment to feel the body healing itself as I breezed through the kilometres. As regular readers will know I’ve been convinced this method is “the thing” for a while now, but I was still hit with a stroke of conviction that my long search for a solution to my constant injury problems is finally over.

When I decided to head back at 11km, I suddenly had a change of heart on the way out and ended up doing 18.5km in just over 90 minutes. It was too enjoyable to stop. A week after the Wicklow Way Trail, I was still not running right and while it is a much more punishing race, being able to do this 48 hours after a PB half-marathon performance, paints a remarkable contrast, and is exactly where I want to take my training: to be able to use the Lydiard system to maximise the aerobic machine but without breakdown and my work on improving technique is now unlocking that door.

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