This weekend, the long run was no more than a repeat of last week’s challenging 18-miler. We just had to go out and do it again and if possible, do it more steadily. It wasn’t exactly a perfect week leading up to the run. Having somehow driven my back into spasm, I was off my feet for the days leading up to Saturday. My lower back was in spasm. It was incessant. My doc ultimately advised a short course of Valium to give it a chance to relax. First time in my life I’ve ever taken something like that and performance-enhancing it is not. I could sleep for 18 miles perhaps!
However, by the time Friday evening came around I decided to go ahead and join the crew in the morning for this 18-mile route and try to do it again, just like last week if possible. I did my best to expel negative thoughts from my mind, resolving to the conclusion that I would make the distance or I would not. Seriously, what was the worst that could happen? This isn’t the Hunger Games; just a long run with some marathon pace effort mixed in.
As it turned out, my back held up for the run. I did have a couple of twinges along the route. However, most were confined to moments when I went off the path onto uneven ground. Despite the lack of midweek miles, I had just about enough distance in the legs to get through this run, albeit with more effort than there should have been. Think of the week off like an enforced taper before an 18-mile race.
I was very happy with the paced sections of the run. The first 6-mile “slightly slower than marathon pace” segment was perfect. There was very little variation in splits. The next 8 miles of sub-pace effort, similarly so. The consistency of effort was a big boost and looking at the splits afterwards made for very pleasant, albeit self-indulgent, viewing. Pace variations are largely explained by elevation changes (view Garmin data).
Recovery always starts immediately after the long run with coffee and a post mortem at the nearest coffee house. Very little to pick apart from this week’s run so there was contentment amongst the crew. One cannot overestimate the benefit of a coffee-fuelled post mortem to kickstart the recovery process, even if there is little to analyse.
The next phase of recovery is our now highly questioned, 10-mile recovery runs on the day following our long run. There is nothing like it. Ten miles of very sensible running, keeping the heart rate low and giving the body a chance to warm-up properly. There are lots of differing opinions on this and I have seen some bizarre statements floating around on social media in recent times. Perhaps worth a blog post of its own at some stage. My own belief is that recovery runs are essential following a long run – that’s all I will say for now.
clonmel: let’s do it again
This week, all roads lead to the Clonmel Half Marathon. Probably one of my favourite half marathon routes and a course on which I have set successive PBs also. Hopefully this weekend I will go back and do it again. The early plan for the Oregano Project set a sub-92 for this race. When training was going very well earlier in the year, sub-90 did enter my thoughts. However, with injury, the health hiccup in June, and the week of back trouble, 90-mins will not be entertained. I have a figure of 93 in my head and we’ll see how it goes. The plan is progress not sustain and I’m hoping after the first 1.5 miles of climbing that I will be feeling strong enough to really bring it home in style.