TRAINING: The trail goes on…

My running the last three days has been good, not quite reaching the lofty height’s of Thursday night’s euphoria, but certainly staying at a higher level. On Friday afternoon, I finished work and went for multiple laps around the Stillorgan Heath park. This is a perfect training round as it’s a big (750m) circle of fairly even tarmac with just a few gnarly bits and both a bit of uphill and downhill.

7km bare foot

I warmed up with a mile in my Aqua Lites running from the office to the park and then ran 7km barefoot on the tarmac generally keeping the pace under 8 minute/miles. It represents a new high-mark for me both in terms of time “on my bare feet” and the pace I could generate. When I first began this the soles of my feet obviously got tender quite quickly but now the skin is noticeable rougher and while my feet has not grown muscular as quickly as some of the other runners in this programme, the size of the foot is definitely changing. The more I run bare foot on tarmac, the more I can see how running bare foot on grass would slow down your progress. “Tarmac is the teacher” for me now. It gives you a few rap over the knuckles if you’re too cheeky but you remember the lessons.

More natural movement circuits

Saturday was busy with clients coming down for the Natural Movement Circuit and we had a fairly intense workout with some warm-up including jumping from rocks and benches and on and off a ring-fort (all bare foot, of course).

You feel alive with the cold wet ground and while it would be bragging to say it’s “comfortable” it gives a lovely warm tingle in the feet for the rest of the day! The toughest part of the session was 10 natural movements done for 1 minute in a continuous circuit, three times. Then we ran another mile bare foot on the tarmac together before running back to the start on the I then had a one-to-one session for the afternoon before I took a snooze and then went out for a short run on the trails in the afternoon.

Avondale – conditioning on the run

Sunday beckoned with the beginning of Aoife and my preparations for the upcoming season. We’re both looking towards the same target so began with an 80-minute “bumpy” run on the Avondale trails timed so that we could support Tony Collins in his first cross-country race of the season – the Wicklow Intermediate. Tony finished fourth and was not far behind the leaders, so this beckons well. He’s been back in training after his summer break for six weeks, so the focus at the moment is to restore conditioning and slowly introduce more and more cross-country race specific work. The race itself today was part of the latter type of training.

The Avondale paths are great trails for providing a very varied workout and especially scenic in Autumn with the colours changing. We both ran in our VivoBarefoot Breathos who continue to do a great job on this type of terrain. I’m still struck by how much more of a workout you get once you run with the natural style. My glutes, hamstrings and stomach muscles are as sore as after a weight training session.

To me this just confirms that in general I was always a very de-conditioned athlete, strong engine for sure, but little else, and this is doing wonders in developing proper full-body strength. We pushed it up all the hills and I noted to Aoife “I feel nothing in my calves at all”. This is one of the biggest effects I’ve seen since taking the last big step forward with Tony Riddle’s training – even on the climb, I must now have eliminated the incorrect contribution of the calves. In me, and many others, this is perceived as being a very vulnerable area that often get’s riddled with trigger points and cause soreness down into the posterior tendons. There’s none of that now, so long may it continue.