DIARY: A new chassis?

I kicked off my informal fartlek sessions in Marlay Park yesterday again and it’s fair to say it’s my first real traditional running workout since the Copenhagen Marathon on the 20th of May. In the intertwining 2.5 months I’ve been first focusing on settling the stress fracture I almost picked up from wearing those narrow ASIC DS Racers. This happened in two to three weeks, with Tony’s help, and after that my focus has been on technical work mainly.

There was a sense of nostalgia about the small group: Jason, Richie and Rob Healy were all there, the old “mountain Cru team” re-united and then Jeff joined us who has been flying the colours most prolifically this season.

Since it was mainly grass, and a lovely day to boot, I went bare foot for the full session, even managing about 50m running on hard-packed trail before it “got a bit intense”. It was good to try it and showed me that its mainly in the mind once you have the basic technique. As long as you’re relaxed, truly, most terrains are quite manageable.

The session itself was a simple “sausage session” of 2-4-2-4-2 minutes hard with double running recovery. We ran 2 minutes at marathon intensity leading in after a set of relaxed downhill strides.

I’d feared this session as I thought it’d show that my fitness had gone to the doldrums, but I recovered very quickly between repeats and never felt like my lungs were going to explode. It was all very controlled and when I checked my watch as I came home, and looked at the last 2 minute repeat that I had led out, I couldn’t believe it said 3:15min/km pace. It had been a nice hard finish to the session, but I was sure I was running 3:30-3:45 pace, although it’s harder to estimate on the grass with the corners and slight undulations.

What I did notice is that the new posture and the “proper pull” just felt much more powerful once you hit a stride and got focused on running fast. It was like “gobbling up ground”. The temptation keeps looming to stick the head forward, tense up muscles or push off the ground with the calves, but I resisted the temptation and, clearly, as a result, pace that felt like 3:30-3:45 now comes out as 3:15. This is a little bit faster than my 3k pace, on grass, but I would have felt fairly confident I could have held this pace for 6 minutes longer if I’d had to. So hopefully a sign of things to come now that the aerobic engine has got a proper chassis to sit on.

It’s premature to judge anything, of course, but this morning soreness patterns are also different. There is no calf soreness and no quadriceps, rather soreness focuses around glute medius, core and hamstring.

Only negative: my old cut under the big toe (inflicted by a paramedic after Copenhagen) burst open again during the session and is fairly tender this morning and will be a chore to run on. I have finally followed Jason and Tony’s advice to simply super-glue it together (the dry skin has cracked open basically for the full length of the big toe, or a 1 centimetre opening). Hopefully it’ll do the trick…