So the calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015 and what’s changed? Well not a lot really. My goals are still the same, my hunger to succeed as high as always and I still have that scar on my chin. Ok, maybe I had a few too many quality street but that can be remedied. As the Rotterdam marathon (April) menacingly creeps onto my radar, the focus now switches from building a solid base over the last 2 months to upping the intensity and working back in the club sessions. I feel very strong now having gradually built back up the milage since the Dublin marathon using a Lydiard styled structure. I’m up to about 75 miles a week now having racked up plenty of aerobic based running performed at various paces. The general weekly structure was 3 easy/recovery days, 1 moderate effort, 2 long runs and a hard tempo effort to prevent (or at least reduce) the loss of speed.
There’s a huge wealth of talent from Leevale making the trip to Rotterdam, the majority already sub 2:40 runners making me one of the slowest. I think this is a great thing from my perspective. Training with athletes faster than you is a big advantage. Even if you can’t keep up in sessions, you can see them ahead of you, they’re there and that’s the level you need to get to. My target is simply to crack 2:40 so by surrounding myself with these guys and training with them I’m giving myself the best opportunity to do so. When you think about it, applied to any scenario, when you work with a group of positive, likeminded individuals who support each other and have a single common goal, you generally increase your chances of success…generally.
Stay tuned as I’ll be documenting my Rotterdam journey once again, but this time we’ll get it right (not the blog, the result). The next race on my calendar is the John Tracey 10 miler in Dungarvan on February 1st. Though I’ve not been doing many intense sessions recently, I still think the base training could yield a decent result but we’ll see how the next few weeks ago.
Some other news comes in the form of a partnership with Amphibian King, the running shoe specialists located current in 3 stores throughout the country. I’ll be trying out a few of their products and reviewing here from time to time. The key difference between these guys and other running stores is that they are all runners (or dare I say triathletes) themselves with actual knowledge of what they are talking about. The lads will always give you upfront and honest advice on the best shoe to choose for you, not the most expensive. Contrary to belief, the HD-ready super shoe with 4 meter gel soles, lined with gold, ultra breathable mesh fibres made out of goat beard and WIFI enabled are not always necessarily the best…though I must admit, a HD-ready pair of runners would be pretty useful.
And finally, a copy and paste job from my boards.ie training log where I recently posted a summary of my 2014 year.
2014 – Year in Review
Well, what a year. To say I exceeded expectations is an understatement. I had put my running on hold for most of 2013 to go travelling but I came back with my hunger intact and without really thinking I jumped right into a marathon plan which set the ball rolling for 2014. Here’s my summary…
January saw me just gradually build milage back up and I surprisingly adapted quite quickly. I ran a 5k to see where I was at, 18:44 at the Westport parkrun (and my only win to date). I’d obviously lost some sharpness as expected but it was a starting point. I was working off a custom plan from my Donore coach which was fairly gruelling in hindsight given my lack of fitness. A couple of niggles here and there but I managed the miles quite well and up to 18 miles long run by the end of the month.
February saw no racing but just consistent training with a couple of 20+ milers and clocking about 65 miles a week and getting stronger week by week. Going a little insane living at home with the parents so the job hunt intensifies.
March saw me move to Cork to live and work. It also saw me run my first proper race of the year and I was delighted with a 1:21:40 in the Bohermeen 1/2 which was a 3 minute PB and I felt the training was really working. Ran my highest volume week ever (80 miles) and followed that with probably my favourite race of the year at the Mallow 10. My first 10 miler and not sure what to aim for but completely surprised myself and my coach with a 58:43, a huge improvement on the 1/2 marathon and feeling in great shape for the marathon.
April arrives and it’s marathon time. I picked up an achilles injury in late March which mean the taper weeks saw no sessions and only easy running. Still I went into the race confident but it all went wrong on the day and I limped home in 2:59:09, a long way off the sub 2:50 target. I made a few mistakes during the race in terms of strategy and hydration but looking back it was a poor decision to train for a marathon so soon without any sort of aerobic base to work off. I raced a good 10 miler but the endurance was simply not there for a marathon. Positives were still taken, good training bagged, injury free, pride intact and lessons learned. Decided to join local club Leevale having had a chat with the coach and ran my first session with them 2 weeks after the marathon.
In May I trained well with the club for a few weeks before running my first 4 miler in Fota Island coming home 8th in 22:40 and confidence coming back. Milage was low enough but speed was the focus as I targeted a 5k PB over the summer months. I ran a 5k in the last week of May to see where I was at. 16:54 was the result and overwhelmed with the improvement in such a short time. I now knew joining the club was a very important decision.
I continued the good form in June running 1:18:40 in the Cork 1/2 Marathon on the 2nd. I had full confidence in the coach, was flying in sessions and I seemed to thrive on the energy from other runners around the club, there’s an incredible breadth of talent and the motivation to improve was high. 2 more 5k’s followed, a 17:02 in blistering heat (6th place) followed by a 16:44 good enough for 3rd place. Weekly milage up to 65 but still the focus was mainly on speed and getting that 5k time down.
July would see me start the transition to marathon training as DCM in October crept onto my radar. Still plenty of time for racing and I ran my final and best 5k of the year, an extremely satisfying 16:27 and I was happy to part with that particular distance for the remainder of the year. Next it was off to Killarney where I came 2nd in the 1/2 marathon in 1:16:17, another very enjoyable race and a big confidence booster before jumping into some marathon specific sessions while upping the milage.
I look back over the year and see August and September as my strongest months. I started working up to 35 mins tempo efforts on the track, coupled with 2 long runs and a hard Saturday session. Milage was up to around 80 and the month culminated with a good run at the Frank Duffy 10 miler clocking 56:57.
September was my highest month in terms of volume and probably the performance of the year too with the Charleville half marathon running another PB of 1:15:40, a long way from the 1:21 I ran back in March. I spent the first week warm weather training in Portugal and maybe the best session of the year, a 10/9/8/7/6 min track effort in heat, on my own. Highest milage week of the year too clocking an 89, bloody hell wasn’t September just wonderful.
I started October in great spirit but picked up an achilles injury 3 weeks out (only dawned on my now,very same as Rotterdam hmm) so I missed a couple of days and then spent a week running no sessions. This didn’t dramatically affect me, I recovered and ran the county intermediates XC race coming 8th and winning the team gold a week before the main event. I went into the Dublin marathon feeling confident and capable of running in the low 2:40’s. The race went very well, despite extremely windy and humid weather conditions out of my control, I came home in 2:46:59 and 66th overall and I reckon worth a couple of minutes quicker in better conditions. Very satisfying outcome to a brilliant training block and really at that stage I had achieved everything I wanted for the year.
November was all about recovery. I gradually built back up the miles and restricted myself to 1 tempo session a week but getting good volume in. The focus is now on Rotterdam in April 2015 and building a solid foundation for that over the next 10-12 weeks is the plan.
I ran my last race of the year in early December, my 5th half marathon of the year in Waterford. I was well recovered from Dublin but didn’t PB, I ran a 1:16:40 which was ok but mentally I didn’t really believe I would PB. I continued the rest of December working up the milage again focussing on a good aerobic base for when I hit the marathon specific sessions in early 2015. Solid month and finished the year feeling strong and hungry, no starving for more improvements in 2015.
What went well?
– PB’s all over the shop
– Only 6 days out due to injury
– Consistency, and more consistency
– Joined a great club with a great coach
– Enjoying my running more than ever
– Nutrition was overhauled, fuelling smartly after sessions
What can be improved?
– More variety of races, no 5 milers, 10ks or track of any sort
– Core/Strength work wasn’t consistent enough though I’m back to 3 times a week for Nov/Dec
– Less sitting with the pack in sessions, don’t be afraid to take it on
– Be less concerned with stats, run more without the watch and focus on feel
– Stop making milage a distinctive metric of my progress. Recovery weeks and backing off is ok.
Goals for 2015
They’re lofty no doubt about it but goals shouldn’t be easy. Looking at last year, I had most of my goals achieved before 6 months so while I want to keep them somewhat realistic, I want them to be well outside my current abilities. This way I will have to work even harder to achieve them and I really have to believe I can.
Ok that’s a good short and concise summary, we’ll leave it there.
Farewell 2014, you’ve been great. Now 2015, let me have it!