DIARY: Uphill epiphanies and late night phone calls with Melbourne!

My thirty-third name day came and went on Friday with a big treat at the Strawberry Tree restaurant in Macreddin. After five courses of organic and/or wild food and a few glasses of my favourite wine (Montepulciano!), I entered the weekend a bit tired and barely had it shook off by the time the WMRA World Youth Cup arrived in Glendalough.

World Youth Cup in Glendalough

It was great to meet my old coaching tutor, Bashir Hussein, from UKA, who was team manager for the English squad and whom I always seem to meet at these events as well as at Snowdon. As I’ve been appointed team manager again for the development squad this year, I may see him again in a few weeks. Bashir was a mean contender himself, running 62-minutes for the half-marathon in a time when it was not as unusual as it is today.

I spend the race itself sprinting between the start line and the Poulanass Waterfall to capture video footage which Jason and I will edit up over the next days and get on to Gerry Brady who had put together a really impressive show which looked and felt the part of an international mountain running event. I particularly enjoyed the celebrations of the Italian winner, who toyed with the field for the first two laps before breaking away from the lead group comprehensively on the third lap. A good balance of cool cocky confidence that is just right for a champion. Hopefully he’ll keep a strong mentality in situations were the pressure is on until the last minute as well.

Afterwards I ran with a big bunch of runners out over a “new route” following the high trail parallel to the Green Road in Glendalough into the valley behind Derrybawn before using the old Glenmalure Road, now a largely unused grassy trail as a “backdoor” to Cullentragh and the Derrybawn Ridge.

Pulling epiphany!

This was my longest run since the marathon and my first true mountain run in the VivoBarefoot Breathos. I had an ephiphany about four days ago when I finally got rid of my last major obstacle with my stride – my inability to “pull” (no jokes please).

Since then the pieces have really been falling together and on the uphill I feel much better now than previously even with the four easy weeks. My heart rate goes up a bit higher, because I am not as conditioned for the natural technique as for the old incorrect one yet, but I was delighted to hold it together for so long on several ascends and descends. I noted that once I got this part of the natural running stride right, all pain and tightness goes out of the calf area and the Achilles. Likewise the quadriceps are not really taxed either. My hamstrings and glutes were very fatigued when I first began to get this right earlier in the week and fatigued quite slowly. Only towards the end did I feel tiredness in the core muscles, glutes and hamstrings, but that’s exactly where I want to be fatigued, so I consider this my third major breakthrough in running style. The first was adopting a better posture after the November session in London and the second was the regular squatting and other natural movement drills changing my physical abilities and motor skills to a level where I no longer needed stretching and other symptomatic relief after running. With those three things in place, the foundation is getting really solid to build towards Dublin.

Late night phone calls

I’m also making a habit of late night phone calls. Sunday, a had a good old chat with Tony about all the plans for the coming period. The bigger ones have to stay under wraps for now, but Tony and Ben are looking set to give talks in 53 Degrees North in Dublin and Cork ahead of our workshop in Castleisland where we will also have John Lenihan in attendance. Then we have to look to the next workshop in Wicklow in August which we have now been able to expand to sixteen athletes capacity.

This evening I had the great pleasure of talking to one of my “heroes”, Keith Livingstone, who wrote the modern Lydiard-bible “Healthy Intelligent Training”. Coached by Barry Magee, he’s a direct line successor to Lydiard in many ways and I am currently planning to get Keith over for a series of smaller workshops and talks in early September which will hopefully help bring the healthy intelligent training system to the masses and create some excitement about the fact that anyone really can go on to greatness. He’s got hundreds of stories to prove it and I’m looking forward to hearing them here.

He’ll hopefully be able to stay a few weeks which leaves us time to discuss some mutual ideas we have for the future about how to help educate coaches and athletes on the healthy intelligent training system and the Lydiard-principles that underpin it.

If that was not enough, we’re hoping to organise a joint hill-running/navigation workshop with Cork Orienteers in October and we’ve put together a pretty exciting itinerary for the two days already, so this should be good. There won’t be many dull weekends coming up, that’s for sure…