‘When is the right time to pull the plug’ on an on-going training schedule? I haven’t written much about training for the last few months – after my second-place finish in the Glendalough Trail 6k, I suffered a mild strain in my ankle and shortly after was confirmed to have ‘adrenal gland fatigue’ (that modern ailment). Close to three years of working two jobs had taken their toll and in hindsight the results where obvious as my paces plummeted despite regular training, good food and plenty of sleep.
I had no problem with the strain. At recent course in London, expert running coach Lee Saxby used a memorable quote to which I fully subscribe: ‘Getting injured in racing is acceptable, getting injured in training is not.”
So I have refocused things a bit the last 8 weeks – honing in on some areas of lifestyle and training in need of attention and the body and mind have responded splendidly. I even managed to get into habit of daily meditation in recent weeks – I have found using different YouTube videos very effective– both for variety and learning different approaches. Add to this myusual strategy of mega-dosing vitamins (the biggest bang for my buck came from going up to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 and 1000 mcg of a Vitamin K2 mix but I could write an article on this alone, so will let that topic hang here). Suffice it to say the body suddenly began to heal again where it had seemingly stop recovering – from anything.
I should like to thank both a reflexologist I worked within relation to the adrenals situation and to Lee Saxby whose concise pointers allowed me to work on some parts of my running skills in better and simpler ways with huge results. Of the running coaches I have had the pleasure of meeting in my life so far, he had a rare skill of achieving most with least.
I will post more about the experience in London at some later stage as it would be a bit detour for this post but as a general comment I have no doubt VivoBarefoot possess the gold standard in running technique coaching today. We also had the pleasure of doing the course with the guys from Barefoot Northern Ireland – Simon and Andy were unmatched for enthusiasm and ‘just-do-it’ attitude, and great to meet them and the other colourful characters on the course.
‘Along came a spider’
On to the topic at hand: a run in the sun today and a story of Relays (past and future). Jason and I had had our hands full organising the Wicklow Way Relay the other weekend. During the event I ran into an old friend – Joe Lalor – the original inceptor of both the Wicklow Way Relay, the Wicklow Round, The Dublin Mountain Peaks and many other IMRA events. Later that evening, while celebrating the 50th birthday of long-term mountain-runner Philip Brennan, we discussed the proposed ‘Spider Relay’ which was an idea proposed by Joe in 2008 after the IMRA website won the ‘Golden Spider Awards’.
- (left) A much younger self with Aoife and Joe Lalor at the Golden Spider Awards 2008
Joe was kind enough to send me on the rough concept as well as the eight routes. There are a few different proposals in the draft on how to run the event, how to score, and where to start etc. It’s an event that can only happen if all runners run with the same start time as you cannot linger in the National Park for 5-8 hours. It is also an event that should take the place of something else in the calendar if ever proposed and where permission from the National Parks may be the most difficult obstacle (and perhaps insurmountable). None of those details limit my enthusiasm for the concept – which is beautiful, bold and perhaps the ultimate ‘mountain relay’ possible in Wicklow. Unlike the Wicklow Way Relay, it would be slightly more targeted at purely the IMRA ‘heartland’ with less appeal beyond it. Also unlike the WWR, it would feature much more climb and much more open mountain – if not exactly being ‘a fell relay’ (and there’s scant need for one with the Wicklow Glacier Lakes and Stone Cross to Lug relays filling that niche to full satisfaction).
Clockwise around the Vale
Thus inspired, I set out Friday to recce each of the eight legs in a clockwise position. Each are measured from the central tree in the Upper Lake car park where Gerry Brady setup the finish line for the World Youth Challenge two years past, for consistency purposes. I use the short trot from my house (3 km back and forth) as warm-up and then set off with Garmin at high alert. Friday’s run was ‘solo’ whereas Saturday was done in the company of Des Kennedy before sneaking in the final run before the first client arrived on Sunday morning.
The weekend has been much like most Bank Holiday weekend for me – with athletes calling in from Dublin, Wicklow – or sometimes abroad – to have their running assessed in the cottage here in the scenic Vale of Glendasan. We cannot offer the shiny halls of the medical strongholds but like to think the wooden floors and natural surroundings are more in touch with the philosophy taught in each session.
After one or two sessions, it is nice to venture into the hills and as most of my runs are on my own, having Des along provided a nice novelty – at least until he screwed up the pace a bit on the ascent and found myself boiling in the heat and the steep gradients of Camaderry. Tea and Aoife’s home-baked cake was the reward for our efforts. For the reader here is a look at Leg 1, Leg 2 and Leg 3 of the ‘long-hidden project’ – the ‘Spider Relay’, I hope to complete the remaining five by the end of next week:
- Leg 1: Glenealo Bridge (8.3 km with 292m ascent)
- Leg 2: Camaderry East (10 km with 576m ascent)
- Leg 3: Brockagh East (11.7 km with 570m ascent)
It so happens this is ideal practice for my next event. Once I realised that my ‘adrenal setback’ had doomed my possibility of a summer season, I knew summer would be about resetting and intelligent training. So when I saw the advert for the Mourne Mountain SkyLine run on 18th of October, I knew I had a race that caught my passions. Whether it was the 35 km or the 3300m ascent that sold it on me, I do not know, but I had signed up before I had a chance to think about it. Always a good sign.
By end of June I am attending the workshop of the movement legend ‘Ido Portal’ in Dublin and I have been ‘hitting the rings’, floor and paralettes in preparation – teaching myself basic gymnastics through the online programmes of the guys from GMB. This is stuff every kid should know and it’s a pity I have to learn it now but it makes it no less enjoyable.
I combine this with Olympic lifting in my kitchen where a bar is permanently parked behind the dining table and plyometric jumping in my yard. As Lee Saxby reminded us in London and Percy Cerutty wrote about almost 60 years ago, there is nothing novel in this – Soviet runners trained like this, and every athlete who spend time at Portsea with Percy did this. Today we can simple refer our experiences with their proven method to point out their efficacy to future generations. When I have more time I will try to share more details about why and how I use this and how I feel it relates to running when so many modern types of ‘cross-training’ fall utterly short of doing anything of the sort. But essentially I currently run, jump, lift fast and heavy and teach myself basic gymnastic skills such as pull-ups, hand-stands and l-sits. That’s it.
So concludes my report of recent comings and goings. I hope readers found something of use and if not I can at least rest assured that I will have another diary entry to pour over should the mood strike me 30 or 40 years from now when looking back at the folly and ignorance of my youth (this must, by the way, be the ultimate curse of aging – to always have to look back at yesterday’s self knowing he was less wise than today’s.)