DIARY: Towards Dungarvan

With 'number 2' arriving in a few weeks and not knowing exactly how life will look in 2017, I decided to seek familiar pastures and began the year by copying my exact training diary from 2012 as close to the letter as the change in time and space allows.

More trouble in my foreseeable future...

One exception had crept in: last year I had signed up for the John Treacy Dungarvan 10 miler. I have a great relationship with organising club West Waterford - having worked with them on several occasions through ChampionsEverywhere and with a strong start to the 2016 cross-country season, it appeared a nice start to the new year.

As the Autumn peaked, my (vaunted) Garmin VO2max score had risen to 54 - only 4 points off my best level and with 3 months to go it looked realistic to be back in personal best shape. I only competed in the 10 mile distance once - running 60:28 at Ballycotton in 2012 and the Dungarvan course is allegedly faster.

Ballycotton 10 mile 2012

Unfortunately, I caught a smaller cold in November and before I had regained momentum our whole family went down with a bad flu (known as the 'Laragh Plague') meaning literally no training in December at all. When I slowly restarted between Xmas and New Year's Eve my VO2max had plummeted to 46 and the body did not like running at all for a few weeks. Thankfully, I worked my way into the year and have not missed a day's training for the last 36 days. Yet my optimism and goals have been tempered - instead of pushing for 54 performance and upwards I am now  at 50-51 according to recent training performances. A miraculous performance would see me run 66 minutes on the day with 68 or slower more likely. As it is, I'll train right through the event as a personal best is out of the question so I will use the trip as an experience and to scout out the race for future years. Another reason I opted to go is that a few more Glendalough AC runners are trying their hand at it and it should be a great club trip away.

We have a lot coming up apart from the arrival of 'number 2' (gender as yet unrevealed) - Jason and I are travelling to the North to teach a group of NIMRA Youth Internationals and then we are preparing for our talk at the Athletics Ireland Endurance Conference in April. I also have half an eye on my exams end of March and early April and then several family visitors from Denmark are expected to behold the 'new wonder'. Despite all this I intend to try to try and stick to my 2012 schedule with the exception of how it ended - the Copenhagen Marathon 2012. I don't intend to try my hand at any marathon distance event until my 5 km time is back below 17:30 so once I get further into the plan I will pick a new goal.

Ballycotton 10 mile 2012

This weekend, 5 years ago I did not do the Dungarvan 10 mile, so I have been in two minds about how exactly to include it. In the end I opted to just copy the Ballycotton week and move this week further ahead in the 2017 schedule. Is this the best way to train? Almost surely not but I'm on a personal journey here - I am walking the exact foot-steps of my best year because I want to understand the sequence of events that year better. It's not a training plan in the traditional sense as much as a voyage of self-discovery. It has been challenging as some of the things that happened in 2012 were not planned:

  • Our Hollywood to Glendalough run was planned for 28 km but due to a flooded bridge ended up being 37.5 km and taking us 3 hours 21 minutes. In the end here I could not quite copy it and instead did a run out and back to Glenmalure in 3 hours 15 minutes.
  • Our Dune sessions were just a 'cool idea' to test the session in January 2012. I could only do one sessions as I was already committed to the Glendalough Steady Steate League and/or my regular weekend work activities. 
  • Our UCD Fartlek sessions had a fantastic inter-personal dynamic - with a group of evenly matched athletes in the evenings. This time I have no company as I run around and replicate the sessions on the trails in Wicklow
  • I did a long run in January in the Glen of Aherlow a we had been invited by Tom Blackburn to do a hill session for the runners there. This year there was no such trip
And so on - and this is before the fact that I cannot run on the exact same routes anymore for the most part nor can I run at the same paces I did then. I also did not use a heart rate monitor that year so have no idea what intensities my runs were done at. That's part of the fun - these small differences help understand a little bit better what was the 'secret juice'.

Ironically because I am currently slower I ran more this January - 36 hours of running versus 33 hours in 2012. It's an improvement on the start to 2016 which featured only 24 hours running in the same month. The real trick will be to ensure it is sustainable. I am currently 3 kilos above my best racing weight at just over 69 kilos - dropping those 3 before the late Spring would make an enormous difference on average paces so I have a very low-hanging piece of fruit to pluck there.