Had a nice few weeks off there taking it easy as regards running and a weeks holiday there too, I’ve a couple of extra pounds and feel ready to start back. I’ve been tipping round this week, got in 22 miles nice and easy although it was tough going. All the bounce, rhythm and ease of movement that was present earlier in the year has been replaced with plodding, puffing and pain!
On holiers I read a great book called “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, could not put it down and when I did, just wanted to go off running. It’s written by a journalist on his quest to discover a better way of running and in the end finds out a lot more. The part I really liked about the book is about getting back to that place of really enjoying running, I’ve lost that in the last couple of months chasing faster times.
That said I will aim to break 3 hours in Dublin this year, I feel it’s a very reachable goal and am going to really focus on enjoying the journey more so than the result. I’ve talked to Kevin Murphy, my trainer about it and he has a 12 week programme for the marathon, in the mean time he said to put in some easy miles. The idea behind a 12 week programme is that I’ve been running a lot all year and and then to focus on specifics for the race. I’ll document the journey over the next couple of months, it will be interesting. I’ve changed a lot as regards my diet and attitude to running over the last year and will probably do so again:)
I’ve set myself 20 minutes to write this piece and why? Because of something that I recently discovered…
Parkinson’ s Law -”Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”
This law although more of an observation, was made by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian and author of the book “Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress”
Parkinson had first hand experience working in the British Civil Service, and saw first hand how bureaucracy works. He noticed a limiting belief of working harder was somehow better than working faster and smarter. That even though the same amount of work was present each year, more employees were hired, spreading the workload wider and wider.
Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fill the time available for its completion – means that if you give yourself a week to complete a two hour task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week. It may not even fill the extra time with more work, but just stress and tension about having to get it done. By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.
I have first hand experience myself working in the IT business of having to get certain servers up and running by a certain time and doing so many times. I’ve also experienced afternoons of taking 3 hours to fill in my expenses, particularly on a Friday!! That was working for someone else, but now being self employed, I find my time most valuable and would like to use it more effectively. So by setting a time and focusing on getting a task done such as this post(1 minute left!), I find it’s much easier to focus and almost enjoy the challenge of meeting that deadline. Done:)
For years while playing soccer and running, I’ve gone through a mindless warm up routine of stretching. An odd hamstring stretch here, a quick jog on the spot and then off I’d go, I thought sure only Olympians need to stretch properly. Ignorance was bliss. Strangely enough, this routine made me feel better, as if I’d covered myself against any future injury. As I roll into my thirties, my body is letting me know this belief is not the case.
From hanging around runners who I can see are improving, as well as chatting to sports therapist, I now know that stretching is not only important and vital in order to stay healthy but is also essential for improvement.
One fact that really struck me about stretching was that it is vital to hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Any stretch below this time is not effective as the body has “load detectors” (Golgi tendon organ, where muscle meet tendons) and these load detectors need time to be overridden in a sense.So my old 3 or 4 second stretches were not effective at all, anything less than 30 seconds will not make a significant difference in lengthening muscle fibers and tissue. On doing some research on the web I can see there are other theories on how to stretch. But I’ve tested this 30 second stretch for the last week and discovered a noticeable difference during recovery, it’s not as sore and I’m moving easier, especially after speed sessions.
Stretching before you run can increase flexibility, and that can improve performance by helping your joints move through an increased range of motion. The main stretches I focus on are:
1. Hamstring 2. Glutes 3. Quads 4. Calves
Below is a video which runs through each of these stretches and it also includes an IT band stretch which I get by way of massage each week.
Stretching should always be done when your muscles are warmed up for at least five to 10 minutes, preferably right after you have run. Avoid waiting too long after running or else your muscles will cool down and won’t be as flexible. Stretch your muscles to the point of their greatest range of motion without overextending them, holding the stretch for 30 seconds. You should feel the muscles pulling but not to the point of feeling pain. Avoid bouncing up and down as you stretch. Stretch both legs evenly, one after the other.
Boom, 4 hours broken and by a good bit! Had a tough aul day round Dublin but absolutely delighted to get home in 3.15.31. I suppose there’s no such thing as an easy day when doing a marathon:) The crowds were amazing and great support all the way round, it helped so much, especially over the last 6 miles when the legs start to complain.
The weather was good, nice and cool and no wind really. I went up early with some of the folks from Slaney Olympic and we had our breakfast when we arrived in Dublin. It was good to relax and soak up the atmosphere rather than screeching to the line like last year.
This year I was running on my own, there was no one I knew running at the same pace but I didn’t mind. I had a plan and wanted to stick to it. Unfortunately I dropped a gel at the start but I had eaten so much porridge, I didn’t feel I needed it at mile 5 or 6. The first 4 miles flew by and before I knew it we were in Phoneix Park where the monkeys cheered us on from their home in the zoo.
I followed the 3.15 pacers for the first few miles, they were flying along much faster than the 7.24 pace I expected, they were probably taking the future hills into consideration. I did take a toilet break and prob lost about 20 seconds there, never saw the pacers again after that! I just felt really heavy out there, prob a mixture of nerves and eating too much breakfast, also a bath the night before didn’t help the legs. Even at mile 13 I was wondering if I could maintain my pace to the end and crossed the half at 1.38.11, 11 seconds behind my plan.
This was confusing at the time as my Garmin watch had me bang on time, after the race I realised the Garmin distance was off, by about 300 meters in the end. I know now the best reading is using your race time and the on-course markers. The difference in the distance reading was probably due to me deviating from the exact racing line. I really didn’t know if I could maintain my distance at around mile 14 but then at mile 15, a friends welcome support boosted my spirits and I started feeling good all the way round to mile 20.
I got to this point 20 seconds earlier than planned which was great and this was when the race really started. Even though I was going downhill at Fosters Avenue it didn’t feel like it, I pushed the next couple of miles and really start to hurt, in fact below is a picture of me trying to smile at that stage!
It felt like I was running really hard at mile 23 and 24 but my pace was still 7.27. There was a constant battle with myself at this stage, part of my screamed to slow down and take a rest but another part of me actually did scream as I roared at myself to “come on!” I reminded myself that I had worked too hard to rest now and that pain is temporary, suck it up and get on with doing your best. I thought I was still on to break 3.15 at this stage due to the mis read on my watch and I was bit confused when I got to the home stretch. I didn’t mind really as I was happy that I pushed hard all the way round. I had one little spurt as I went to the line, the energy from the crowd is fantastic and over the line.
Almost instantly my legs started cramping but after a little sit down it was off to the pub to catch up with everyone else. It was just one of those good days, nearly everyone in the club achieved a pb and the weather and atmosphere was terrific. My younger brother did a sub 3 hour marathon which is amazing and as I write there’s still a buzz running through me. I feel great, the body is tired alright but I’m delighted having come back after last years race and improved so much. I’ll join the dots later on how exactly that happed but right now I’m just going to enjoy the moment!!
For any techies, my Garmin details are HERE
Below is a website link and app download links that allow friends and family to track you as you run in real time, simply type in name or bib number and track away!
Check out website here – http://track.rtrt.me/e/TDL-DBMAR-2012
Itunes Dublin Marathon app – https://itunes.apple.com/app/id552022487
Well that’s all the training done, in fact I did only 2 sessions this week, a 5 miler on Monday with Kevin and 3 miles on Thursday with 6 x 20m strides in between. A total of 8 miles this week! Like Kevin said, there’s not a thing you can do to help your endurance at this stage bar a good rest, I enjoyed this week! I’ve had a few niggles with the hip but I think it’s because I heard and read about people experiencing phantom pains during the taper weeks. I’ve banished those shadowy negative thoughts and reminded myself there’s always a light behind a shadow!
Kevin gave me my plan for the marathon which is below and it’s aiming at a 3.15 marathon which is exciting! The plan is to go close with the 3.15 paces, get to 20 miles and then do progressively faster miles to finish. I know from experience it’s very hard to work out your pace as your run along. If I learned one thing from last year, it was to have a plan in place and pace myself properly. To help with the pacing I’ll wear a 3.15 pacing bracelet and use the Garmin watch for overall pace and lap pace readings.
It’s funny when I started this running year I was aiming for a sub 4 marathon, then in June a sub 3.30 and now I’m aiming at 3.15. I’ve made a lot of mistakes to get to this stage but training has gone well and a big thanks to Kevin who has helped me train more effectively. Again I’m very grateful for being healthy at this stage and best of luck to everyone tomorrow, all you can do is your best:)