Skip to content

After the Crash: Back to Basics

Doing stupid things seems to be one of my more frequent habits. I’ve already written about how I ran the Connemara 100 with totally inadequate preparation. Everything’s relative of course but even while running with the good people of the 100 Club, who run almost weekly marathons, I can somehow find a way to take things over the top.

To give some background, Pat O’Keefe (who I think has run 82 marathons) told me that when he did the Connemara 100-miler a few years, he waited six weeks until his next marathon and he still didn’t think his body felt right. In the four weeks since I finished it, I squeezed in two other sub 4.30 marathons in Longford and Dingle. Alright, so they were both slower than I’d like but 4:22 and 4:29 aren’t exactly the worst times in the world either.  Then last week, the walls finally came tumbling down.

“The walls” being a metaphor for my legs

It all started so well. My mate Frank McDermott was pacing 4.30 at the inaugural Sligo marathon and had gotten me a free entry. Sure, it was a long drive and an early-morning start but if you’ve been a regular reader, you’ll know that’s nothing unusual! We’d left at a nice handy pace (about 10.15 minutes a mile) and it looked like I was in for a relative doddle of a race. With Frank practically acting as my personal pacer, 4.30 hours would be a lot easier than it had been in Dingle, or so I hoped.

The previous week, I’d had a long and interesting conversation with Shane James Whitty about how my marathon times had recently been collapsing somewhat. He suggested focusing on my heart-rate (which I never normally do), training at 125bpm for recovery runs and doing 3-mile tempo runs at 145/150/155 bpm. For the events, he had suggested sticking to 8.30 minutes a mile for the first 15/16 miles. Above all else he had said not to let my heart-rate slip above 150bpm for the first 18 miles. This would leave something in the tank for the last 8.2 miles. The trick was to keep at a pace where you could keep running; whatever time would be lost from the beginning would be regained by avoiding a collapse in the latter stages. I wouldn’t be running at 8.30 minutes a mile, but my plan was to take the rest of this strategy for a test-run in Sligo.

The plan was going swimmingly until I had to pull a Paul Radcliffe (runner’s slang for a bathroom break) and Frank went on ahead. Continuing on, I picked up the pace, figuring I could catch Frank after maybe five miles. But despite busting myself trying to catch up with him, tearing down hills and going sub 10-minutes/mile on the level, he was nowhere to be seen. Then I fell.

Sort of like this. But even less graceful and on a road, without the helmet.

I was tearing down a hill about 16 miles in, and slipped on a loose stone on the road, coming down hard on my knees and elbows. I was up again almost straightaway but after a few steps it was pretty clear that I couldn’t continue to run. Pat O’Keefe caught up with me after a while and walked the rest of the way with me; he’d hurt his ankle further back. Then after two miles of this, Frank caught up with us! Turns out that he’d taken a wrong turn back at a village crossroads further back and wandered five miles off the course! So the whole race to catch up had been a fool’s errand from the beginning. But by that stage, the damage was done. I never saw my official time but I have it at 5:53:23

No lasting damage was done to my knees but both hamstrings were pulled and my body wasn’t recovering like it normally does; for a few days afterwards, I was having difficulty just shuffling across the street. So it was with a heavy heart that I decided not to run in the Mooathon or the October ‘West of Ireland’ series run, both of which I was really looking forward to.

I may have been looking forward to the Mooathon just a tad more though…

I can find other marathons to make up the promise of 20 in 2012 but nevertheless, I’ve had to re-evaluate my plans coming up to the Dublin marathon. The first part of the new plan is to go back to yoga tomorrow.  Secondly, I’ll be slotting in with the marathon training group at my home club in Louth and train for a ‘personal best’ in Dublin (October 29th). For me, that would mean beating the 3:56:58 I ran in Kildare last May. It’s a big ask, but I’m hoping that with the right combination of nutrition, proper training and a six-week break from eventing, I might even hit 3:45 or 3:50. It’s been such a long, tough year and it would be really sweet to pull that off in the city that has become my second home over the last few years. That’s the dream anyway.

With Brian “Forrest Gump” Ankers, 4-hour pacer at the Sligo Marathon

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh no! 😦 Please take enough time off to heal, and listen to that body. You cannot run for reachout if you cannot walk, eh?

    Good luck in your recovery, my cyberfriend! Be well soon!

    September 24, 2012
    • Thanks cyberbud! 😀 Yup, think it’s nothing but ice-baths and yoga until the weekend anyway!

      September 24, 2012
      • Sounds good to me! Keep us posted!

        September 25, 2012
  2. noordinaryjoy61 #

    That soooo sounds like something I would have done! I always seem to have to learn the hard way!! I’m sure you’ll do great from here on out!

    October 12, 2012
    • Hopefully! I’ve taken a few weeks off to recover for Dublin. Trying to be an optimistic realist as you might say yourself! 🙂

      October 17, 2012
  3. frank mc dermott #

    Yeah 5 mioles of course but i had a 40 mile ultra a couple of weeks later so it was decent training

    October 18, 2012
    • Didn’t see anything about a 40-miler Frank, where was that?

      October 24, 2012
      • frank mc dermott #

        It was up the giants causeway, off-road 40 miler very tough.

        October 24, 2012
  4. Oh man! Double pulled hamstrings? Yikes!!!
    That mooathon looks like a fantastic run. Love the idea.
    Best of luck in your recovery! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    October 18, 2012
    • More or less recovered now, nasty dose of the manflu took a week’s worth of training off me, should make Dublin a bit more interesting…. 😀

      October 24, 2012
  5. i had the most terrible run of my career this fall. didn’t take a header in the gravel, but i pulled a muscle and (not so) wisely continued to (hobble) run on it for 9 more miles. i have sincerely screwed up my leg for future running this season. i’m glad you were smart about it and decided to be kind to your body. 🙂 heal up, and get back to running.

    October 23, 2012
    • That’s pretty much what I did as well, although thankfully it was a bit shy of nine miles in my case, good luck with your next race 🙂

      October 24, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Long Hard Road to Recovery | Running for Reachout

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: