TRAINING: The final countdown…

Normally, when I begin counting down the days shortly after the Ides of March, it means a big race is in sight. This year is a little different – for the days I am counting down to is Aoife and my impending wedding on the 5th of April, a date that, for both of us, informs how we currently train and how we are planning our running careers “post-marriage”.

Kerry weekend 2008Kerry weekend anniversary

The Kerry Weekend 2008, when I was still a “young man”

Today is the our unofficial anniversary, another date that is linked to running as it was the Mondayafter the Kerry Mountain Running weekend of 2008 organised then by Barry Minnock. This year, with us having moved the event both geographically (to Dingle from Killarney and later Kenmare) and time-wise (from Easter to Paddy’s Day), this anniversary fell a week after our exploits on the Dingle peninsula.

These weekends do me a world of good, both mentally and physically. Being away from laptops for 4 solid days is a start, the second is doing two daily workouts which I always respond well too. I’ve said it before and will say it again – my body is only ever fully happy and healthy when it’s running more than roughly 100km per week. Below that and it is simply muddling along in a half-dormant state.

Anyway, with the countdown to the wedding beginning I find myself newly contented to have regained more or less full health and I’m seeing an improvement in my training volume again. The Dingle weekend was no problem to me at all despite four solid runs in four days (a short hill run, the long Mt. Brandon traverse, the even longer Connor Pass to Annascual run over rough terrain and finally a 5 mile beach run), so the first signs of my physiological endurance coming back are there.

Simple and long

Aoife and I wanted an uncomplicated 2 hour run today and we found one – by running from our cottage in Wicklow to the junction of the Wicklow Way below Brockagh we continued straight on instead of heading upwards. This meant a gradual 10km of mainly ascent before this very long fire-road “runs out of itself” and we have to turn back. In the end we completed a good 20.7km of trail running. The views were spectacular even if the fire-road was rather dull. The simplicity and undisturbed nature of the route makes it a real keeper, however, every time I need a quick and dry 2 hour run where we don’t have to hack our way through tourists as is sometimes the case when you run on the Green Road at the wrong time of day.

Kerry weekend 2013 –>

My plan now is to ramp up my training gently until the wedding and then we hope to keep a good level of activity during our 13 days in Vancouver, Canada, where the trail running is known to be top-class. We’d hoped to experience the Vancouver “Sun Run” 10k, one of the largest in North America, but will be missing it by a day. Instead I’m contemplating getting us into one of two trail runs: a 13k run from Squamish (65km north of Vancouver) or the option of a flatter 5k or 10k trail run not far away in Port Coquitlam. We both love our food and an active holiday, so the honeymoon will be about both!

When we come back a busy summer lies ahead but I’m expecting to be back in shape to do some racing around late June or July. I’ve no firm goals in my mind right now (never a good thing) as I just focus on the short-term goal of perfecting my technique and rebuilding my aerobic fitness by training only at Max Aerobic Function paces as taught by Phil Maffetone. Once you get over this pace, the physiological stress causes a loss of running form, so combining this intensity with technical training is ideal.

Finishing with some nerdery

I also did a quick analysis of my average mileage per day by year since 2009(nevermind for the moment that this does not factor in quality) and noticed that while my average this year is so far (83 days in) is lower than for any of the years 2009-2012 but it will not take me much effort to better them as I have 282 days left.

So before I set myself any goals I decided to set myself a simple one – run more miles this year than ever before utilising the new barefoot style of running. This will require no more than an average of 9.5km per day. Going forward I will monitor how I am doing day by day.