Sunday, June 11, 2017

On our marks...

So, the final week before our annual charge.

There’s a time in the film Braveheart where Mel Gibson a.k.a. William Wallace a.k.a. Son of Scotland is holding the line as a wave of English soldiers on horseback bear down on him and his men. He has done the preparation ahead of the battle and is lying in wait with big sharp feck off 10 foot wooden poles that at the very last moment he’ll call his men to pull up and impale the English cavalry. As they get closer and closer at alarming pace he starts to shout ‘Hold!!! Hold!!! Hold!!!’ That’s kind of like this week.

Of course, I am not referring to the impaling of your enemies at the last moment but the ‘holding’ part where in the final few days before race day you take it as easy as you can and do as little running as your nerves allows. Do that and you should be fresh as a daisy come Friday.

‘Hold’ could also refer to the ‘hold’ as the race begins where you don’t take off all guns blazing. 5k for some is a long distance, for others it is as short a competition they will race. For both, nothing makes it longer than taking off too fast in the opening k.

So on that, a few final tips:
·         Try not to be on your feet all day. Easier said than done in some jobs like hair-dressing, shop-keeping, on the beat Garda or tight-rope walking. Still the more you can rest, the better for the legs.
·         Don’t worry about hydrating in the hour or two before. That’s for the days before. You won’t dehydrate in 5 kilometres.
·         Leave the beef casserole till after.
·         When sticking on your race number avoid the sensitive parts. 5k of abrasion will leave for an irritating night’s sleep.
·         Try to be early down so you can get out for a proper warm up. Running down to the start line because you are late is not a warm-up. Trust me.
·         This year we will have a timing mat at the start so your actual time begins when you cross the mat. So, there is no need to bunch up the front at the beginning.
·         And then finally there will come a stage towards the end of the race, before the mind knows the race is almost over and the adrenalin kicks in, where you will think this is getting hard. And for the next few hundred metres it will be. But hang in there. You will be glad you did come the end.

Good luck on Friday.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Getting closer


This week I’ve had a bit of a dose and a leg complaint. I guess that must mean we’re getting closer to race day!

It seems to be always like that. When you train for a particular event in mind then Murphy’s Law ensures that something will come out of the woodwork and almost scupper your best laid plans. However – almost – is the operative word. Have faith. The dose you had will clear up. And that little calf strain will resolve itself. Come race day after a warm up you’ll be good to go.

I am not complaining. I’ve still been able to get out and do a reasonable amount of training. In fact, going by the times I’ve ran these last few months I’m in the best condition of my life! This seems strange. I mean, at 38 it’s not like I jump out of bed like I once did when I was er… much younger and I do enjoy an afternoon nap, when work or home-life allows. And it’s not like, two years off forty, is considered the peak of adult fitness. When I look at Championship weekends on the RTÉ all the footballers and hurlers are the right side of thirty. Still at 38 I’ve had personal bests in several distances in the last few months. Maybe that’s what switching from cornflakes to porridge for breakfast does to you!

Anyway, as we get ready for the final run in, just a few thoughts on what you might need for your run. Before I do that though, remember, if you have yet to enter you can click here and we will still be taking entries the evening before (recommended) and on the day (less recommended but fine nonetheless:),

Running Watches

To wear a running watch or not to wear a running watch, that is the question.

The arguments for good:
·         They can tell you how fast you are running, which is especially great for preventing you from taking off too quick at the start of races.
·         They can tell you how far you have ran, excellent for record-keeping.
·         They are handy in how they store your fastest 1k, 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon times.
·         They can tell you your heart-beat, which not only helps you identify if you are technically dead can be exceptionally useful in getting you to train at your most optimal level. This is done by getting you to run in a heart zone, which is important on days when you are tired and days when you could perhaps push yourself a little bit more.
·         Some of them are so advanced they can receive text alerts, which is really good if you’re wife is expecting.

The arguments for evil (okay, maybe evil is a little strong, bad so):
·         They can tell you how fast you are running, which is depressing when you are going backwards with still a couple of kilometres to go.
·         They can tell you how far you have ran, which is not always fun when you just want to go out for the sheer hell of it.
·         They are not fun in how they store the fastest 1k, 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon of your older brother or sister who borrowed it because they couldn’t find their own and now owns all your PB’s!
·         They can tell you your heart-beat, but if you have hairy arms and/or sweat gets in the way they can be far from reliable telling you that anything from that you are technically dead to you are working way too hard and this still your warm-up!
·         They can receive text alerts. I mean seriously, why would you want anyone to contact you while you’re out running.

Runners

Obvious one really. Everyone needs runners. There’s a plethora of brands runners put there that basically do the same thing – they help you get from Point A (the start) to Point B (the finish). If you are thinking of changing you runners because your current pair:

·         Have holes in them.
·         Have half a sole hanging off them.
·         Are going to clash with your chosen race top.
·         Have utterly lost their bounce because you’ve ran more than a few hundred miles in them.
·         Have been last seen in the mouth of your neighbour’s dog.

...then I’d suggest you buy a pair as soon as possible because if you don’t have them broke in over the next few weeks, you may forget about wearing them come race-day.

Finally, the nice thing about buying runners is that it usually leaves you with a still fairly decent pair that can retire to become your walking around town footwear, your working around the house footwear and your just too lazy to get anything to match footwear.

Shorts

When it comes to shorts there are really just three choices:

1. A nice pair of light running shorts that in rain, wind or shine will always feel perfect.
2. Thigh hugging running shorts. They are like bicycle shorts stretching down your thighs but tend to be a little bit more solid. Some of these have a little pocket to put a car key or energy gel, although you wouldn’t want to stand there talking to people wearing these for any great length because frankly they look a little weird!
3. O’Neill’s GAA shorts. A real classic and crowd pleaser. Wearing these will make people think you are going to much slower than your expected time. A real throw-back to the time we ran laps as a warm-up in the Junior C. Underwear with these is essential.

Socks

Four options here:

1. Running socks that you have trained in, meaning they have gone through at least one wash and can be trusted.
2. Running socks that still have the silky-smooth texture because you have only taken them out of the packet. They feel great on the bus up and the walk down to the line but no guarantee they won’t let your foot slip around for half the race, crushing your toes like a 1980’s back seat of children in a saloon car driving the Ring of Kerry without seatbelts.
3. Ordinary socks because your running socks are in the wash or down the back of the couch.
4. GAA socks because feck it, you love your club! (Although admiral, I’d urge against)

Bras

Okay so, for a start, this is primarily aimed at women.

And secondly, I am not a woman. Consequently, treat my remarks in the same vein as if I were commenting on how to speak Swahili.

However, based on the fact that half or close to half of those who are running will be women I thought I should at least proffer the smallest crumbs of advice that have been proffered to me from a female runner.

First, make sure you have a sports bra.

Second, whatever bra you are wearing make sure it isn’t the first time you are wearing it. Like new runners and socks you should have at least brought it out for a few practice runs before you decide to take it along for something much longer. That said you should just about get away with 5k of continuous movement.

And finally, a second bra can work wonders in that it can enable you to put/store/stash everything from keys to gels. That this gives you a more buxom look for those early race photographs is only an added bonus.

Other final female related tips I’ve been told include:
·         Fake tan and sweat don’t generally mix, something especially relevant to those planning on going to a wedding the next day.
·         Shaving legs should take place at least a day before so not to affect a good night’s sleep.
·         When it comes to using the toilet all bets are off – a free toilet is a free toilet no matter what gender is put over the door.

Tops


Unless the marathon is up and down the Copacabana you’ll need a top. Four more ideas:

1. A favourite technical top from a previous race, either one that looks cool or from a race you ran well.
2. Your club top, which for me is my personal favourite, so you can pick up support from your fellow club-mates or those who simply recognise the colours.
3. A charity top (as long as it a proper one that you can run with and not a t-shirt three sizes too large and made of a substance that reacts badly with sweat).
4. Go wild and pick the most ridiculously retro or wild shirt you have like a ‘Feile ’91’, ‘Engineers do it better’ or ‘Almost Handsome’ because it might just draw people’s focus away from your face of pure contorted pain come 23 miles.