When I ran the Roundwood 2 mile on 17th of June in 12:17 I thought had I set a personal worst time to stand my well into my old age. Part of me hoped it would last a lifetime as a PW.
On a cold clear evening in Greystones such I gallantly managed to prove myself wrong by setting adding another 9 seconds to my worst for a time of 12:26. Or in other words: I managed to run the 2 mile 4 seconds per mile SLOWER than my personal best for the half-marathon distance!
A quick call out to the Glen AC crowd as well: Angus Tyner who was first of our men on the day, followed by me and then Claire (who took 3rd woman after Rachel Wisdom and Aisling Kirwan) and then Colm Kenna. Also thanks to men’s captain Barry Murray who supported us on the bike throughout.
I could list off a whole heap of complicated excuses (always classy!): sprained ankle on Saturday, Cillian and Aoife’s cold trying to knock on the door of my immune system, Sunday’s cross-country race etc. etc. But truth is I felt pretty energetic during the day – so much so I went for a few sprints during a coffee break – clothed in jeans and all.
My darling wife always points out the obvious: you are not training! With this she means: although I run 5-7 times per week, the pace and quantity is too low. I was always a ‘hard-earner’ in sport – devoid of any natural talents. I see this in my movement practice – I am not a natural so any skill I have took lots of repetition. I see this in my running – I lack natural speed and power and as a child was feeble and weak with muscle tone bordering on the atrophied.
So I did not particularly mind the time although it was not encouraging – because the cause is not something complicated but the obvious: lack of proper specific training. Tactically I did get caught out cold on the early downhill where I went off much too slow – I was still in the 8 km race mode from Sunday. This left a gap to the runners in front that I could not close at the end but on the plus side I felt comfortable for a good part of the race which means less impact on training. My heart rate on average was 177 and snuck up to 187. Something I always like to see: once the day comes when I can no longer push up into the high eighties in a race I know I have truly gotten old or lost all competitive spirit.
The glorious Lydiard days
With my mother’s recent passing the upward curve in my performance level which was rapid, I should add) was knocked back by 1-2 months. Over the last years I have laid a foundation to try and enable the lifestyle necessary to get back to the regular 100-120 km weeks I was doing. For those who have not followed my blog for a long time, in order to run the personal bests I have (out on the right) I had to undertake the following regime (right out of Lydiard’s books):
- Sunday: usually 28 km @ 4:50 min/km pace
- Monday: usually 40 minutes easy (5:10-30 min km pace)
- Tuesday: medium long run of 17 to 21 km @ 4:40 min /km pace
- Wednesday: 60-70 minutes hard Fartlek – usually 15-30 minutes ‘STEADY to HARD’ reps of 2-6 minutes with equal active recovery
- Thursday: medium long run of 19-23 km @ 4:35-4:40 min /km pcae
- Friday: easy run of 30 minutes
- Saturday: 16 to 18 km ‘steady’ up tough roads (4:00-4:30 min /km pace)
The important caveat was that at the time my life – and my body – were in a position where they could recover from all of these workouts within 24-36 hours. That meant – I would do the half-marathon on a Tuesday morning and feel fully recovered to do the Fartlek well etc. So the hard part is not executing a schedule like the above (in fact I was loving it – I felt like a million dollars and looked forward to most every run). The hard part is creating the environment, lifestyle and preparatory training to absorb that level of work in a seven day period.
Via Negativa – add by removing
This is part of the reason for the Primal3 project – at least from an athletic perspective. the volumes above was once thought of as pretty standard – and it is certainly low by elite standards. So something has changed – and one of these things is the environment around us – our work environment but also our home environments. Since our environments dictate the signals that get sent to our cells and how our genetic switches get ‘flicked’, it is the most important thing. I learned a lot in three frustrating years of juggling multiple professions, family crises and also many positive projects. when you put all those things into a blender you end up spending far too much time in 1) cars and 2) office chairs. I saw first-hand the cost of high-stress partnership and off working from early morning to late evening in front of blue screens. Of topping up with too much stimulants (coffee and tea mind you!).
Once I got knee-deep into that and began to claw my way out it was Nassim Taleb’s principle of ‘Via Negativa’ (add to your life by removing things) that came to the rescue. Our entire plan for the coming years is not focused around questions such as ‘how can we earn more to pay for xyz’ but ‘how can we spend less’. When looking at work the question is always ‘ Just a word of warning: do not apply this logic to personal relationships or your hobbies and volunteering duties. Trying to manage them through efficiencies will have a very negative backlash! Hobbies and personal relationships is what life is really about – if you try to remove them then you are left only with the work part – even if you are very efficient in that domain. I see a worrying trend among the so-called ‘life hackers’ where everything becomes about ‘more time for me’. this forgets that humanity is a social species and our value – as individuals – is entirely tied into the value we provide to others and to our society. A person who frees up time simply ‘for their own indulgence’ is not a very valuable member of that society – and will, over time, not be rewarded by that society.
Anyway, enough digression from the original race report, happy Friday…