DIARY: Marathon days

A lot of doing and not a lot of writing recently on the blog and I just finished a spell of three days “holidays” which were very busy as I attended Keith Livingstone for his talks in Ireland and then spend two full days at the Marathon Expo before being out on the road to support some of our guys running it.

I’m a bit under the weather today as a result and looking forward to our first “real” holiday of the year when Aoife and I head three days to Mayo in November away from all computers (hopefully).

Meanwhile, it’s been a very interesting weekend as we had the chance to speak to hundreds of people and are looking forward to following up with them now on the vision for a more natural life, injury free running and old school training methods to bring back the days when 2:30 for the marathon was considered “just something club runners do”.

I had a particularly interesting chat with Frank Greally from Irish Runner about the old school principles and hopefully and will be posting some news on that “movement” shortly.

Many familiar faces

It was good to see so many faces I had just spoken to at the Expo on the roads doing well among them Barry Minnock (3rd Irishman), PJ Carroll, Martin Francis, David Leonard, Des Kennedy, Cormac O’Ceallaigh and many more.

Michael Cunningham sadly seems to have been struck down by the small injury he carried into the race and he was hobbling on and off as he passed us.

Amidou – what happened?

A few good PBs for my runners such as Tim Chapman who moved it well down to 3:06  yesterday so it should have been a happy day but it ended up slightly bitter-sweet as Amidou Dembele did not arrive at the expected time and as time grew, we got nervous. Right enough he came walking towards us struck down by what appeared at first glance to be a “calf strain”.  Unlike so many runners struck down by misfortune, he did not sulk, but rather greeted Aoife and I with a beaming smile. With a mindset like that, everything is possible.

I walked along Amidou for a mile or so and he explained he’d decided to finish the day but would not jeopardise his health and well-being for a subpar time. “I felt so easy, René,” he said, “like I have just been out for my Sunday long run but less tired.” He was on course to breaking 2:40 which was well above our estimation of 2:48. In true Lydiard style, we had asked Amidou to run the first 30 minutes very slow and get his fatty acid metabolism going.

I did not want any attacks or hard efforts until somewhere between the 26nd and 32nd kilometre mark and the injury happened just as he was about to speed up and execute the last part of the race strategy. “I felt amazing,” he said, fresh as a daisy, “it’s hard to describe how light I felt”. This is the end result of proper peaking so while the day ended in a type of defeat, we know both training and strategy were spot on. Amidou does not tolerate gels so we had planned for him to run on Orbana (2 hours energy burst, or most of the marathon) and rely on fatty metabolism instead. His backup was to sip any sports drinks available on route.

Cause of the injury

Tony needs a bit more information from me to assess exactly what happened but his initial reaction to me was very much that the injury was caused by Amidou’s last minute decision to don a pair of racing flats instead of the VivoBarefoot Aqualite he uses for roads in normal training.

When Tony first assessed Amidou the only problem he had was his modern footwear which had directly caused the toe problem he experienced. Suddenly transitioning back into a type of shoe we know messes up his naturally very strong technique, is the most likely cause. Remove that shoe again and we expect to have Amidou back running very shortly.

And speaking of, as we walked alongside each other I suggested that since his fitness is now clearly superb, we should attack an early Spring marathon. As I am eying up the Tralee International Marathon for my next one, we may well prepare for that together.