Sunday, July 31, 2016

Setbacks

It’s a lonely walk back home after pulling something.

You usually have you runs organised that they start and finish from the door so walking through the town for more than a kilometre in full training gear just doesn’t feel right. It also doesn’t look right. Who dresses up in running gear to walk around the town, that’s what clothes are for!

But then my left leg doesn’t feel right so I don’t have many options.

It seems like “New Way of Dealing with Injuries” was only a slightly less crappy version of the “Old Ronan Moore School of Dealing with Injuries”. Having stayed off the running for a couple of days following a calf strain I decided I would go on a slow long run. So the plan – meet the friends at our local town ‘park’ the Porchfields - run a lap there and if all feels fine go a little longer – and take it from there.

Deep down I kind of already knew it was the wrong option. If indeed it was a calf strain, which to my non-medical-but-reasonably-informed-due-to-past-injury mind is basically a small bleed or worse still, a tear, then rest and proper recovery is the only solution. But like all runners I have a training schedule to keep to, miles to cover, races in my head, etc, etc.

So after 12 slow kilometres of careful optimism just as we were about to discuss the last chunk of today’s run it gave way. A sharp pain deep in the calf that brought me to an immediate halt.

We are still months off the marathon but when you get injured all you can think of is the training that you won’t now be able to do. The races you will have to pull out from. The effort you’ve already put in that you might now lose as you lay-off running. It is a hard thing to admit to – setbacks, because they set you back. However sometimes you have to endure them to come out stronger.

So I’m going to try and stay positive. Rather than wallow in the frustration of not doing a warm-up and injuring myself last Tuesday I have to think that it’s good that it happened now, so I won’t allow it to happen closer to race-day. Instead of being angry that I decided to attempt a run so soon after such an obvious injury I need to be glad that I finally have woken up to the fact that the only way to deal with injuries is the “Proper Way”, which is what I’m going to start doing now. And rather than feel out of place walking back through town with running gear on, I’m glad that it didn’t happen 10 kilometres from home in the rain.

Still, what a load of b…….!

Yesterday’s Training – 12 k Slow Run

It was meant to be longer but then injury and setback as a short sharp pain hit the same left calf I hurt last Tuesday. Training came to an in end immediately and I limped home. Disaster!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

‘Moore, you’re a gobshite, and you’ll always be a gobshite!’

I wasn’t a great runner growing up. I remember a village sports day 600 metre race where I took off exceptionally fast to lead the field at the 200 metre mark and a full lap to go. Then a flood of competitors engulfed me on the back straight leaving me to jog in close to last. I feigned ignorance that it was a lap and a half race, and friends told me that had I paced myself I could have won. Of course I knew, had I paced myself, I would still have come last but I wouldn’t have had any excuses.

The following year I passed on a head-start to run with everyone else only to jog at the back of the field explaining sagely that it is the taking part that counts. Feck that. I was small for my age and knew my little legs wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere near the front-markers. At least I could guarantee coming in with the back-markers, which I did comfortably.

It wasn’t until I was probably 16 or 17 that I finally showed some promise that I might actually make a half-decent runner. It was in a Christian Brothers secondary school and I, along with more than a dozen and a half other fellow school-mates had all opted out of double Biology, Accountancy or Physics to take part in the annual school cross-country race. Of course, in order to get out of class you had to put on a pair of shorts, runner and be prepared to at least line out in the miserable January weather. But that was far more inviting to teenage boys than the life-cycle of a liver fluke, checking accounts and refraction. Our deputy principal was in charge of the event and knew very well what the vast majority of us were up to. However, for some strange reason he let us line out, perhaps with the vague hope that maybe we’d actually make a race of it. While I didn’t ‘not’ get on with him, he had once told me that “Moore you’re a gob-shite and you’ll always be a gob-shite” so it must have come as a surprise to him that when half the field cried off in the middle of lap one with an array of calf, ankle, thigh, groin and elbow injuries I wasn’t among them. I was pretty surprised too.

I forget how long the actual race was, probably closer to three than the ten kilometres I’d like to believe it was. However, I do remember just latching onto the ankles of the school’s midfielders, Colm whose football fitness saw him lead from start to finish. After the first lap I realised that if I could keep going I could finish top 5. After the second I felt that with a local club runner well back in 4th I might actually get a medal. And by the middle of the third and final lap, despite feeling horrid, I knew that while I wasn’t gaining on Colm, I wasn’t being gained on myself. In the cold January mud I came home second!

Two things happened in the immediate aftermath. First, I threw up, so exhausted was I from the run. Secondly, the Deputy Principal commandeered the junior first prize trophy and gave it to me, so shocked was he that this ‘gobshite’ had actually come in second.

For years after a photo hung above the small geography room in the school building we affectionately called the Bogside (named after the Derry riots). In the photo was Colm smiling in the centre and to his right, with a trophy of the same size to his, but with a face that looked like it had just been fished out of the North Sea, stood me.
 
Yesterday’s run

Didn’t happen as I continue to rest my calf strain. A part of me keeps wanting to begin jogging but I will wait one more day before I attempt a long slow run at the weekend. If that doesn’t go to plan then it will be a trip to the physio, which is possibly someone I should have gone to days ago.

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Run where you’re at, not where you want to be

The May Bank Holiday

The wind is at my back. I’m running downhill. And it’s my first race of the year. I want to take off but the handbrake is on.

The Meath Sports Partnership 10 K in Kells, and despite it being a Bank Holiday there is a small but decent sized crowd who have come out for the spin. As I head out of town and into open country I watch almost a dozen runners start to stretch ahead of me at a pace that isn’t that faster than what I know I would have ran last year or the year before that. I can’t help but feel that I want to set off after them. Like a bull held inside all winter and with the wind and the downhill whispering me on, I’m dying to tear away. Except at the back of my mind I know if I do, I will be dying coming back.

The truth is I have yet to put in any real training. So while I would love to be motoring along and chasing a sub 38 time I managed a few years back I’m quite a distance off that, at least for the moment. So if I chase down that time, it will only be for the first few kilometres before inevitably the wheels come off and I spend the final 5 kilometres existing in my own private world of Kells countryside hell. I know this because I have done it on countless other occasions when too impatient to get to old levels I go off too quick.

Instead, I have a new motto, run where you’re at, not where you want to be. And in doing so runners who I might like to run with or ahead of later in the year disappear into the distance and I get to enjoy the country environs of north county Meath without the desire to throw up!

In the end I overtake a few in the final 5 k to finish 5th in a respectable time of 42.01. On the one hand it is only 30 seconds faster than what I would hope to cover the same distance in a marathon, something that is a little disconcerting when I realise I’d have to add three more 10k and then some! But on the other, it is only May, it didn’t rain and there is a long time left to go before October.

 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

And the first injury of the year is…

…a calf strain.

Injuries, strains and niggles are often part and parcel of marathon training and when you think about it, it is easy to understand why.

I mean, marathon training can be anything from 20 to 12 weeks of pushing yourself more than you ever have before in an effort to prepare your body to run 26.2 miles. And once your body found out what you were doing, you hardly thought it was going to go easy without a fight?

However, it is important to first stress the difference between a niggle and an injury or strain.

A niggle is what I would call a general soreness that during marathon training migrates around the body to various areas in much the same way a Korean tourist might sight-see Europe. One day they’re in Athens, the next Lisbon; the day after that they’re up in Paris before getting to Berlin by the weekend. That’s a niggle. One run you’re feeling a little discomfort around your right hip. A few days later it’s your left shoulder. Then it disappears and turns up in your right shin before migrating across to your lower left buttock. Niggles you can live with and are your body’s way of grudgingly getting used to being conditioned for long-distance running. The niggle is the type of discomfort you might wish upon your neighbour because it is not really that bad and usually passes either a few kilometres into the run or by the next day. If it continues in the same spot for a few runs then best to lay off a couple of days, do some core work and ring the brother in Australia to catch-up.

Injuries or strains, which are effectively the same thing, are quite different indeed. They are painful and make you grimace. You are either unable to begin running with them or It takes several kilometres for enough endorphins to hide them, which only lasts until the end of the run before the pain comes back twice-fold or worse.

For me my first injury of the year is a calf strain, most likely caused because…

a.       I didn’t warm up before a tough running session last Tuesday. I could say I didn’t warm up properly but it would be a discredit to all the other half-arsed warm-ups to call what I did a warm up.

b.       I then continued to push myself throughout the whole session even at the end when the calf was starting to get a little sore.

However, while my first injury of the year is a calf-strain I could also have said my first injury of the year was inevitable. Now while this might sound a little pessimistic it is not a bad idea to accept that you will get some of strain or injury during 4 months of training. Because if you do accept this then you will be much better placed to deal with it. And I would say there are three distinct ways to deal with injury.

 1.       The Old Ronan Moore School of Dealing with Injuries.

This is where you completely deny you have gotten an injury at all. If the injury happens mid-run, continue running, faster even, to kid yourself into thinking that you couldn’t be injured at all. After all you can’t afford to be injured, you have a tight training schedule to keep to! Resist the urge to put your feet up, apply ice or do anything that might acknowledge the strain and continue training up the point where your fellow runners are asking you if everything is alright, because you are running like a sinking ship. Eventually, when you begin suggesting to a loved one you should sleep on the couch so incapable are you of climbing the stairs do you finally accept you are injured. Then go to the doctor/physio and hear that you are fecked and that your running season is over for this year.

2.       The Proper Way of Dealing with Injuries

If it happens mid-run, slow down or stop entirely. Realise that injuries do happen and get home and rest. Put the feet up. Apply ice intermittently for the first two days until the ‘heat comes out of the injury’ and then apply heat to encourage blood flow. Park the training schedule and catch up with some friends, file your tax returns (if you’re American) or watch Netflix safe in the knowledge that by dealing with the strain in such a smart efficient manner you will be back out again running so quickly that your training partners won’t even notice that you sat out the last few days.

3.       My New Way of Dealing with Injuries (which is not as good as #2 but a lot better than #1)

Realise that I have probably strained by calf muscle but hope that sleep will help. Then the next day check to see if it is really strained by seeing how it reacts to a light 20-minute jog at very light pace because you know, ‘it might be an injury’. Then when you get back home believe it is fine and book a 6 kilometre race for tomorrow with the worst-case scenario, ‘I’ll just jog it if it is bad’. Wake up the next morning and realise that it's not going away and accept the fact that you have a small calf strain and that you are going to do nothing but rest it for the next few days.

Today’s training  - Rest and not the 6 k race

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The First Long Run of the Year


(The Sunday before last.)


Dropping the car over at the folks before jogging down the lane to meet up with two friends for the first long run of the year on a bright Sunday morning. What could be nicer?* I mean we even turned up wearing three complimenting running technical tops - red, blue and orange!


Long runs are best run with friends. 35k feels like a 5, and with good conversation and some laughs you’re home and hosed before you know it.

I’m acutely aware that a marathon programme will have its fair share of niggles; with the risk of small doses of cough and colds; and times when the thought of going out for a run is as inviting as a slow puncture. And then there are the days when the rain is relentless, or the sun bores down on you or the wind is always in your face regardless of the fact that you are running a loop! But not today.

Today, it’s warm, it’s friendly and we’re done by midday.

While this might not be the official start of my 100 days of training, coming a week before it, it does feel like the first proper day of my marathon prep and if it is all this easy (and I know it won’t) then happy days.

*Birth of your first child, your wedding day, a promotion, the county winning the All-Ireland, breakfast in bed, finding €20 on the ground in the car park, passing the NCT when you didn’t expect to, a sun holiday, waking up early and then realising it is the weekend, etc.
Still a run on a bright Sunday morning is still pretty feckin good!

 Slow run - 20 mins
Had intended a longer one but with left calf a little tight from last night's training I decided to cut this short.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Blowing out the cobwebs

At this stage of the year most Dublin marathon runners will have already gone out for their first ‘real’ run of the season, the one that most least look forward to.

The thing is, when you get back into the running after a long lay-off sometimes caused by injury, office-work or alcohol related weekend fun it is not that difficult to get the slow runs back up to speed. A slow 5 k one day. Another the next. A few extra kilometres over the weekend and before you know it, throwing on a pair of shorts and an old race technical top from a 10 k you ran last year is a habit once again.

However, at some stage you need to ‘blow out the cobwebs’ and push it if you have any desire to get back to last year’s level. Only after this will the training really begin. And it doesn’t seem to matter what level you will be aiming for, the first time you blow out, it’s rarely fun.

For me it came in April. Having tipped along from the end of March and beginning of April on slow 5 to 8 k runs not far from home I thought I’d run 2.5 kilometres in 4 mins, take a breather and then 2.5 k on the way back and go sub 20 mins. After all I had ran a full 2 minutes quicker than this in a 5 k race last summer so how hard could it be?

I soon found out. It was absolutely awful. After just 500 metres I realised that this was far from fun. After a kilometre it felt like the silliest idea I’d had all April! After a kilometre and a half the only solace I had was the spit I was pushing around in my mouth, while by 2 k I was trying to cloud out every conceivable reason why I should just stop and jog for home.

In hindsight, a warm-up would have been good. So to would a summer’s sun glowing on my back on the way in, instead of a cold April wind that actually greeted me. A few fellow sufferers running alongside could have also helped. However, I was on my own and I just had to grit the teeth and keep… on… moving.

Some old men chatting having been cocking hay for an approaching festival met me at the half-way point where I stopped to draw breath. While it was not ‘Al Pacino - Every Given Sunday speech – inspiring’ it made for a nice sight and I was amazed how much it cheered the soul. After that the coming back, was at least, coming back.

I came in around 20 mins and 30 seconds. Slower than expected but lacking the cobwebs. The season could now begin.

If you haven’t yet blown out the cobwebs for this year, I’d suggest tonight is as good an evening to start. Enjoy.

Tough Run - 10 x 2 minutes at 5k pace with 1 minute recovery running in between
Despite the deluge beforehand, joined up with the club, who were out in big numbers. Just as well for this hard run. Paced myself along the club's strongest runner, just about holding on for a really tough but rewarding session. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

That Photo

So that photo and what really happened.

It is important to view my version of events through an eight-year lens and having occurred at 26 miles, when your recollection would never stand up to the scrutiny of a court a law.

In my version it was the 2008 Dublin Marathon and I was running just one month after my first “proper” marathon in Berlin. No need to digress into the reasons for this but suffice it to say, because I was only a month past my last 26.2 jaunt I took it much easier in Dublin and as a result, come 26 miles, I actually felt pretty good (for ‘pretty good’ read ‘I wasn’t dying on my feet’). As I closed in on the finish I could see a figure in front of me visibly slowing.

So, for the first and only time in my running career, I roared encouragement and egged him on for the final few moments. He seemed to respond and together we kicked for home. Unfortunately, I kind of under-estimated how far home really was! We were on Nassau Street coming up to the bottom of Kildare Street and a 100 metres later we were still on Nassau St and for another 100 metres after that too!

Then as we finally rounded the final bend in the corner of my eye I could see the outline of my new found running friend just fall away to my right. Literally fall away! As his legs seemed to slump from under him!

Having felt responsible for getting him to kick a half kilometre out I now felt I owed it to him to help him up. As I bent down a Spanish looking figure came alongside and together we made it the final ‘proper’ 100 metres and there our paths diverged. A year later we all appeared in the 2009 Marathon Guide and I discovered the guy who came to our aid was not Spanish but from Tyrone (naturally) and the guy who I encouraged to kick a long way from home was a Dub.

For a while if you Googled my name the first image that came up was this one, which would have been great had I been applying for a new job. After a while that marathon faded away, other marathons came up, I didn’t cause anyone else to fall over and the first Ronan Moore on Google became a 6 year-old boxer.

I’d ran Dublin once before 2008 and once since. This will be by 4th ‘Friendly Marathon’, I don’t plan on encouraging anyone to kick a mile from home and I will definitely not be wearing what looks like lycra!
 

 
Slow run - 30 mins - with 10 x 100 to finish.
 
Today ahead of the forecast rain a slow 30 minute run around the town fields with 10 x 100 metre strides to finish. It should have been just 8 but I forgot the plan and did 10. I also forgot to get milk but that was just the shopping and not part of the training.

 

 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Bread and Butter of Marathon Training

If you have ever talked to anyone who has ran long distance or if you understand the basic powers of the Google you will have probably come across every assortment of training programme out there. There are as many ways to ready yourself for a marathon as there are to cook an egg (and yes that does include cooking an egg badly, breaking the egg before it even gets near the frying pan and ending up with one that’s gone off). It is enough to say that at the earliest opportunity you should come up with some sort of a training plan, whether it be a detailed day-by-day guide to what distance, speed and type of run you should do or a more general idea of who you’re meeting up with at the weekend to jog with.

No matter what programme you may end up with, there are basically three key ingredients to the types training you should include - short runs, long runs and tough runs.

Short runs: The salad in the sandwich of training, that everyone can do. These are the short runs that fit most neatly into a working week, where you get out and do anywhere from 5 to 15 k at a nice easy pace. They help build up the miles and get your legs and lungs accustomed to what’s to come.
·         Nothing really important to remember for these except not to forget your house key, which is easily done.

 Long runs: The bread and butter of marathon training. This is how every week you incrementally (fancy word for slowly) build up a long run from 8, 10, 12 all the way to 22 miles if you can. For first time runners, the longest run should come about a month before the marathon.
·         Important to remember for long runs is that you should generally run these a good deal slower than what you would expect to run in a marathon; that you should never do long runs in a brand new pair of runners; having some refreshments lined up along the way for the longest distances is good; and the more company you have while running these the quicker they seem to go by. Of course having someone who is intent on explaining to you non-formal linear equations, technological developments in quick-drying concrete or Turkish torture techniques from the early 20th century for the entire run may have the opposite effect.

Tough runs: The meat in the sandwich (or tofu for our vegetarian marathon running friends). These runs generally last less than an hour but are often the hardest sessions. Tough runs add pace to your overall run, helping you take minutes off last year’s time. There are many types of tough run you can do and you will know them by the following:
·         You come across a lot more sweat/spit/phlegm and all the stuff that will derail any first date.
·         You find yourself cursing towards the end of it, either in general, at yourself to keep yourself motivated or at your soul-mate because it was their idea to do the tough run in the first place. (Don’t mind the latter, they will understand).
·         You will deeply appreciate the company of a club doing it because on your own it can be hellish.

Other runs that you may come across over the course of your marathon training, which may have no or little relation to it:
·         Dawn runs – Nice morning runs, which mean you have the whole day in front of you, not to be mixed up with the legendary Irish thoroughbred race-horse from the 1980’s.
·         Home runs – More likely in baseball but may metaphorically end up in your marathon training when everything works out.
·         School runs – Occasional reasons why you might have to cut that long run short when you realise you have forgotten it’s your turn to pick up the kids.
·         The runs – Can happen at the end of a long period of training when feeling run down and slightly ill. Not good.

Today’s run – Tough Run - Hill Session 8 x 150 metre runs sandwiched by slow 10-20 minute run either side.

 Of course I forgot if it was 8 or 6 x 150. With the nearby hill up a cul de sac is closer to 200 I decided that 6 was a safe bet and any extra energy I could use later on core work. It worked out because I arrived home just as some friends arrived for Sunday lunch. Glad it was my turn cooking yesterday.

 


 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sub 3 & Marathon Ambitions

Marathon ambitions fall into three categories:

The “I just hope I can finish” category:

While this category to those unfamiliar with running might at first appear strangely under-ambitious, when you consider the first person to run a marathon actually died (while that blog entry will come later, for the moment don’t worry - he hadn’t done any training, didn’t hydrate and went off too fast) then finishing a marathon is an exceptional achievement in itself.

You will know those who fall into this category from comments such as: ‘Jesus!’ ‘26.2 miles!’ ‘What was I thinking?!’, ‘Do many people die running these things?’, ‘I just hope I finish’ and an internet search history that includes ‘how long is a marathon?’, ‘marathon deaths 2010 - 2016’ and ‘marathons gone wrong’.

The “enjoying the event/city” category:

26.2 miles and some people run it just to ‘enjoy’ the event and scenery!? The answer is yes. These individuals tend to have already ran several marathons and due to either age, injury or an absence of hard training this time around, are not chasing a personal best time. Instead, they are happy to take it easier than they might normally do and enjoy what is a wonderfully amiable occasion, except for the final few miles because no matter how easy you take it, the final few miles always sting.

You will know those who fall into this category from comments such as: ‘What am I doing this weekend? Oh, just heading to Rome. Want to see the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum and run a marathon’, ‘I’ll just take it easy’, ‘I wonder what Athens is like in November?’, ‘that’s a beautiful bridge’, and an internet search history that includes ‘aerlingus.com’, ‘Helsinki weather July’ and ‘restaurants in Dublin’.

The “personal best” category: While there is an overlap with the first category to create a special “I hope I finish and under 4 and a half hours” category of first or second time runners, the “personal best” category generally consists of people who have ran at least one marathon and are chasing a time. It doesn’t matter where on the spectrum that time is from a world record 2 hours 2 minutes to somewhere slightly over 5, the desire, dreams, hopes and fears are all very similar.

This is the category I fall under and my ambition is sub 3. I wrote 2.59.59 on a runner’s board in Berlin back in 2008 in my second marathon and fell short at 3.15. I’ve (usually) gotten closer in the half dozen marathons I’ve ran since but at 3.03.20 I am still 200 seconds short of it. This year though I am going to break it. At least that’s the plan. That’s always the plan.

You will know those who fall into this category from comments such as: ‘I’ve just done three days on so it’s a rest day tomorrow’, ‘Sorry, I can’t make it out this weekend, I’m breaking my new runners in’, ‘I heard that beetroot juice is good with couscous?’, ‘Ice with a dash of water please’, and an internet search history that includes ‘kale and quinoa recipes’, ‘carb loading’ and ‘how long should you spend in an ice-bath before you can forget ever having children’.

 20.4 K - 1 hr 42 - Long Run
 
With Tom & James we did a long leisurely loop around the Trim 10 mile course with the town field to finish. Weather ideal, weren’t slaves to the watch and I came across the nicest athletic neighbour who leaves water out for runners-by! Class.
 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

And we’re off!

That’s me.

On the left.

No, the other left.

I’m the guy wearing the black spandex tights and matching top, looking like a cat burglar out for a jog.

The man on my far side is Robert Gallagher from Tyrone and between us is a Dub, Donal Cashin, who we are both helping across the finishing line. I look great in it, well aside from the silly running gear that is. What I mean is, I look great helping Donal. So much so, the year after, they put this photo in the Dublin Marathon Programme for 2009 showcasing what is the "Friendly Marathon", and Dublin really is a friendly marathon. But the truth is I felt I was kind of responsible for Donal being on the ground and needing a helping hand in the first place and if anyone was a ‘hero’ it was Robert, but more on that later. Let me explain the blog first.

This blog is going to be about my journey over the next 100 days as I get ready to run this year’s Dublin Marathon.

But it is also going to be a little more than that. It hopes to be a companion for anyone who has ever pinned a number to their vest and got running and particularly for those who are about to begin training for this year’s great event. Every day I will post a running-related entry that will cover the full range from “fartlek” and “funny things I’ve heard happen to friends during marathons” to “hill sessions and “how you know you have become dangerously dehydrated”.

At the blogs heart however it will try to stay light-hearted, upbeat and funny. Why funny? Well if you are going to spend the next 100 days training with the real prospect of a fair share of blood, sweat and tears you’d want to have reading material that is not the running equivalent of War and Peace as company.

So this is where this blog comes in. The first ten entries will be some general reading. At the bottom of each entry, will be the type of running I did and distance covered. I would suggest that if you haven’t yet decided to enter Dublin (or any other marathon for that matter) go out for small spins to get the body back up to speed, to dust off the cobwebs or to just to see what it is like to breathe oxygen outside. By Day 10, July 31st, you will probably have decided and if the answer is yes, then book it and let’s run.

Rest Day :)