Tuesday, August 21, 2012

injury update....August 21

Does having Achilles Tendinitis once at some point in your running career make you more likely to have it a second or third time? This is something I think I'll look into.

So I went to River Valley Health last night and they noticed that my calves are really tight. So they worked on them and then when I got home I worked on them a little bit more with the foam roller and a tennis ball.

What I've been noticing is with myself is that when the right combination of tight calves, sore feet and dehydration come together my Achilles starts to get painful. Which made me think about what led to this weeks soreness in that tendon.

I mean my calves are pretty tight all the time so that is nothing new. My feet have been sore for almost as long as my calves have been tight. So that leaves me to believe that its dehydration that is the cause this time, which when you think about it sounds right as its been very hot lately and to be honest I sweat quite a bit all the time in this heat and most of the time I can only get out to run at the hottest part of the day. I don't weigh myself before or after running in order to determine how how weight I've lost due to sweating, but maybe its something that I should start doing.

That and bunch of other things such as yoga classes and or massage more often. I'm thinking that I should do more of both every month, but its incorporating them into my schedule that will be a problem. But not one I'm going to worry about for a week or two as I'm taking the next week or so off running and training as we are heading to the Centre of the universe (if your from Toronto) for a few days to visit friends and a family wedding.

All's good in the land of Niall (for the moment)

Monday, August 20, 2012


And so it ends…. Tragically, after the results I had gotten in my last four races…. I think my season is done!! I managed a whopping four races this summer and always in the back of my mind is the issue with my left Achilles. For most of the summer it was good, I felt a couple of niggles here and there but a quick visit to the chiro and I was good to go. Yesterday my Achilles was hurting all day two weeks into a fall running plan. I didn't have any marathons planned but I wanted to get in a couple of races before we went in to winter slow down.

The thing is I wasn’t increasing my running totals (time or distance wise) by that much nor was I running any more intervals per week than I have since my marathon on January. I have been running in a pair or two of older shoes which may have made the problem worse.  I wanted to get in a good solid run base throughout the fall and winter as I believe it has been the training I did for the marathon in January that really helped me in the summer.

There are two major areas that I always seem to be hurting from and they are my right Hip and left Achilles, Now I'm not sure if they are connected but when it comes to the body what happens in one area tends to have a knock on effect in another area either further up or down on the kinetic chain. The problem with my hip is mostly due to working in a job that requires a lot of sitting, which as an athlete you'd think that sitting most of the day is better than standing all day... and it is but at the same time it isn't.

I think I may have to start concentrating on riding my bike swimming and core work until the injury is resolved. I’ll be heading to River Valley health tonight to see if they can help me out. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why I train alone a lot of the time

Today I overheard people at the office here saying that they can't run outside as it’s going to be too windy. These are the same people who have an excuse for all weather conditions like not to going in the in winter it’s too cold or in the summer as its too hot, even though you can dress for all seasons and whatever mother nature, old man winter are going to throw at you. If you are athlete it can never be too windy/sunny/hot/cold/wet or grey - Because as hard as you are training, there is always someone training harder.

Living in Canada in general and more specifically Alberta means you have to develop a thick skin as you never know what the weather is going to do. Sure there a couple of givens such as those parts of the year when the thermometer goes way north of zero (not enough of them for my liking) and on the flip side there are times when it goes way south of zero (you guessed - it too many of those days). But as a runner or an athlete you have to think of the US Marine Corp motto "Improvise, Modify, Adapt and Overcome" anything that the weather throws at you. Once you realize that if you want to get ahead in any sport then you have to go out and work at it  regardless of what is going on outside. No one has made it to the Olympics lying on the couch four - six months of every year waiting for the perfect day to come along. It makes getting out there a lot easier.

Which brings me to why I train alone a lot of the time - First of training for me is a great way to get outside see what’s going on with the land/environment around me. In the fall I get to see the leaves change colour and then ‘fall’, in the winter I see the land covered in snow and see how it sparkles when the sun is reflected off of it, in the summer I get to feel the warm air on my skin, get a bit of a colour and get to see all of the hard work that I did in the winter start to pay off.

Secondly I never have to wait for anyone - I go when I can, want, there is no waiting around, no time wasted wondering who is going to show up and then trying to figure out a route or what sort of intervals we are going to do. I can recall waiting outside of coffee and bike shops for almost an hour to see if anyone is going to turn up so I'd have someone to train with, that doesn't happen anymore. Nor do I have to re arrange my training schedule to fit a workout in or around someone else. I know how hard I can push myself and sometimes it’s too hard and sometimes it’s not hard enough.

Thirdly - once you have a family they sort of tell you when you can go training. Such as when a baby goes down for a nap or when they go to sleep at night or if your kids are in organised sport you can sneak in a workout while they are doing theirs. On the weekend I run or bike when our youngest one goes down for a nap. We're not at a point yet where we can leave our eldest by himself and I'm not sure that I want too as this is usually the time of the week that I get to spend any quality time with him. This can make it hard to organise with friends training sessions, its a lot easier if you are training with the same goals in mind. It also makes for a lot of either late nights or early mornings, as my mother would tell me "You can't burn the candle at both ends!!" meaning you can't train late one night and then expect to train early the next morning.

Yes training alone can be monotonous and get boring after awhile but then again training over a long period of time is in itself an inherently monotonous task. You train hard week in week out over a number of months or years with a goal in mind only to come up with a new goal once the first one is completed and you start over again. That is why I believe that you should change up what you are doing every so often, rather than the same type and number of workouts per week every week not only is it mentally refreshing but it confuses the body because on race day you don't know what’s going to happen every minute of the race. 

Some of the success of East African athletes can be partially attributed to training as a group, I bet if you are in Eldorat, Kenya you'll rarely if ever see Kenyans running by themselves. There is a group mentality when it comes to training, helped by the fact that there are lots of people at the same level and going after the same goals.

Training with a group in some ways would be nice, but I have yet to find a group of people (and I define a group as being more than three people - relax guys :)) that has the same goals as you and is at or near the same level of fitness as you. I love training with my friends when I can and for awhile there we would meet every Saturday morning and do our long runs together or the hardest workout of the week together as we had a common goal. But now that we have different goals in mind for most of the season it makes it harder to catch up. I know that once they have reached their spring goals and they start to think about the rest of the year training together will get easier.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Training can be Frustating

Arrgh the frustation of it all - not sure if its because my training isn't going well or it is going well and I'm frustrated that I don't think I'm doing enough of it nor do I feel like I'm getting any faster!!! I can't seem to get beyond the 10 to 12 workouts a week that I've been doing for the past couple of weeks. I was hoping to move up to 15 workouts a week but it hasn't happened yet. Why? because I'm usually knackered, toast, done by the time Sunday rolls around. I know, I know 12 - 15 workouts a week what the hell!!! most people would be happy with 3 or 4. I guess I have to start living more like a parent of two than a guy with no family responsiblities and a full time job that seems to be taking up more and more of my time. I guess part of my problem hence the frustation is I don't like entering races which I've hardly prepared for. I think it might be that runners mentality of not wanting to comprise on training as that leads to comprismising elsewhere in life. But I have too (at least a little bit) I don't make a living from running or sport so it should be lower on the my list of priorites than it is.

Training for races is supposed to be enjoyable, its supposed to be fun, that's why we took up these sports to begin with, its not supposed to be something you start to hate. Yes some workouts are tough and you dread doing them, but when they are done you think that was good - and the body tells you that it was good or not. 

With that in mind I have decided that I'm going to spent one day on the weekend being a father and not do any training or think about sport unless its on the TV. Rather than take a rest day/night during the week I'm going to take either a Saturday or a Sunday as the rest day and then an easier long run or bike day before or after. My thinking behind this is if you take a week day as a rest day you don't rest as mch as you should. Why because during the week you are at work and lets just say sometimes work can be tiring (to say the least). It's also easier for me to train at lunchtime during the week than it is on the weekends. I have also given up on the idea of training 3 times a day every day - realistically its not doable just due to the times that I would have to start the first training session (around 6:00am and then 8:00 - 8:30pm when I start the third session). Twice a day is enough, if I can't get enough training in with two sessions then I can't get it done and I'll continue with that, depending on my work schedule it's possible that the times of the sessions will change.

As an Athlete you have to remember that recovery is as important as the workout - Too many workouts and not enough recovery lead to injury and illness. After all what is the point of all that training if yo don't get to the start line of the race in one piece?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Advice - What do you do with it?

Over the last couple of weeks I have been seeking asking different people for advice on how they train for triathlons and each of them had a slightly different answer. Two of the best triathletes in Ireland who happen to be on the ITU circuit answered all three sports a day everyday or four workouts a day if you're not working. If doing three workouts a day you'd give one a higher priority than the other two,so on Monday you might choose the swim as your A workout of the day and on Tuesday the bike then on Wednesday the run and so on.

While the Age Group world champion at the 70.3 and a sub 9 hour at the Hawaiian Ironman suggested that one workout a day would be enough if you train for qaulity rather than quantity. Also since I have a full time job and a family I don't have the time to be training three or four times a day without it effecting either or both of the things that should be my top priorities. But a couple of things he mentioned I had to pass on as I wanted to keep my running at least five days a week and do running races.

Up until last week I was managing to fit in two workouts a day with an eye to doing three a couple of days a week (commuting to work by bike). So this is how I saw in my mind training would go. I broke it down into clumps of two weeks. I can always train when the little ones are gone to sleep, but come summer time I have to be done either before they start their sports or after.

When not on call
Monday - Run in the morning (easy)/Swim at Lunch/Bike (tempo)
Tuesday - Run at lunch (hard)/Ride my bike (easy)
Wednesday - Run in the morning (easy)/Swim at Lunch/Bike (repeats)
Thursday - Run at lunch (hard)/Bike (easy)
Friday - Run in the morning (easy)/Swim at Lunch
Saturday - Run or Cycle (long easy)
Sunday - Cycle or Run (long easy)

Saturday and Sunday are interchangeable days as I'm not sure what my weekend schedule looks like right now.

When on Call
Monday - Bike(easy)/Swim at Lunch/Run (easy)
Tuesday - Run at lunch (hard)/Bike
Wednesday - Bike(easy)/Swim at Lunch/Run 
Thursday - Run at lunch (hard)/Bike
Friday - Bike(easy)/Swim at Lunch
Saturday - Run or Cycle
Sunday - Cycle or Run

All of this training depend on how tired I am. Lately I've been feeling very worn out. I'm not sure if that is due to work and trying to train or not. But I never seem to be able to get enough sleep, so much so that on the weekends I've been getting between 10 and 12 hours of sleep per night only to wake up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep.

Maybe what I'm trying to do is a too ambitious with all of the other things that are going on with outside of training.

Friday, February 10, 2012

In a training funk

What is it about February? This month always seems to bring on the training funk or ennui. January not so much, maybe because its a new year with new possibilities, new challenges to meet. But February for all of the promise of January is like the hour or two after you've drank a can of coke - a bit of a let down once the sugar rush is gone.Winter is still here and never looks like it is going away, at least in Edmonton. Can a city bring on ennui or do people that are living in warm parts of the world have these feelings. I think not - think about how happy people are in summer - the sun is shining and its warm (there is a lot of sunshine in Edmonton... its not always warm though).

It must be something to do with the fact that winter is not over yet, even though the days are starting to get longer its still dark when I get up and its dark when I head home from work. There's always a part of me that just can't be bothered in February thinking that I have until May/June to get a good level of Fitness so there is no point in pushing it now, but there's also the part that of that says that fitness gained now will come in handy further down the road.

Part of what brings on the funk is constantly training alone I guess, Running, Cycling and Triathlon are individual sports but there is a social aspect that you don't get when you train by yourself, when with a group its easier to push yourself in each interval/set that you can let slide when doing everything solo. Part of it is the fact that I can't stand (for too long) training in the basement.The monotony, the boredom, the same DVD's that you've watched over the course of the winter.

But whats funny is that once March rolls in the funk is gone and its full on training regardless of being with a group or not.


  [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; Fr. ahn-nwee]  Show IPA
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satietyor lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced anunbearable ennui.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going forward in 2012

Hi There,
As you may know by now I've run my first race of 2012 and came out of it in two mindsets. First was I wasn't very happy with myself as I didn't do as well as I would've liked and swore that I was done with marathons for good. The second was within a couple of hours of finishing I knew that wasn't the case anymore, I just need to correct a couple of things in training and I know that I'll start running the times I know I'm capable of. 

It’s not about proving anything to anyone. It’s about running the best race that I have in me, which I don't believe I have done yet and definitely didn't happen in Phoenix. I've gotten close a few times - Dublin 2009 was the first race I felt I was in control of the entire distance, Calgary 2010 was the second race where I had this feeling only it was better than Dublin and then the half marathon at the Edmonton marathon weekend in 2010 was the last time where I felt I was finally running around what I'm capable of.

When I go to a race I plan on finishing no matter how badly it goes. No one likes either a DNS or DNF beside their name. Finishing in one piece is one of the lowest expectation I have of myself when I'm on the start line, the lowest is finishing injured. The other thing I have in my mind that would make a race finish acceptable to me is finishing better than my last race. These goals were achieved in Phoenix. The best outcome is that I finish with a new PB.

I do however have to be smart in how I train from now on. I can't just run mile after mile because A) I have family to spent time with and B) my history of injuries are forcing me to think of ways to supplement my lack of running mileage with other ways to train. I'm still going to run as much as I can but I won't a high mileage guy, I believe that my best training comes in around 100 - 115K per week. Anything after that and I tend to break down if it’s sustained over a period of time, such as in a build up to a marathon and C) I do have a job that I love and sometimes requires me to work late or on weekends.

So how do you supplement running mileage? For me it’s going to be adding more time on the bike commuting to work and back and spending time in the pool. Of course more running is really the only thing that will give you the running fitness required to run fast times. But for me that is not going to work. If I cut back on my car usage I could easily rack up 200K a week on the bike by just commuting and then add a day or two in the pool for recovery and I should still be able to maintain 100K a week running. That is why I've signed up for a half Ironman.

I’m going to try this approach this season and see how it works out. If I find that I’m breaking down I’ll cut back on cycling and swimming.

So what happened?

So what happened? How come you didn't run as well as you wanted at the marathon? To answer that I could go in one or two directions, with either a super technical BS reason or a super simple reason that would cut right through the BS and give you the bottom line. If you know me you’ll know that I'm not much of a bull shitter and so by keeping it simple and direct is most often the best way. What happened was I wasn't fit enough to run at the speed that I wanted - that's the bottom line!! I wanted to run a sub a 2:40 marathon but truth be told I never got into that kind of pace. I think at most I was around 2:43 - 245 pace which I would've been happy with but it didn't happen.

Yes I could blame the weather on the day as it was probably 20'C hotter than the weather I was training in but other people from Alberta ran faster than me and they also trained in the same conditions I did so that's not an excuse.

Yes I could say that I hit the wall around the 20 mile mark but then everyone hits the wall around that time, only what separates those that have prepared properly for the race and the rest of us are the degrees to which they slow down. For example I was trailing a runner (no names...Marc) by between 10  - 30 seconds until approx. mile 21 and then all hell broke loose (for me) I started to slowly get slower and slower. The 5k Split from 35K to 40K was the slowest split in the race by a good two minutes. The last 2K was pretty much a sloggfest for me as could hardly put my feet on the ground due to the pain I was experiencing in my left foot.

Yes I could blame the hydration stations for giving out water/Gatorade that tasted like they just got the water from swimming pools but that was the case for everyone. But that was the worst drinking water I’ve ever had.

Yes I could blame the gels I took on board but I won’t as I had used them previously.

Yes I could blame the fact that the start was delayed 30 minutes and so by the time we got going I was cold, but I won’t as it was the same for everyone.

I want to say I hit the wall but I don’t think that is what happened entirely. I most likely hit the wall somewhere in the last 4 – 5 miles and then I gave up mentally and allowed the pain that I was feeling creep into my head and subconsciously sabotaged my race. Yes my left foot hurt really bad, so bad in fact that it was painful to put weight on it. At the end of the race I had a blister going from the base of my toes all the way back to the ball of my foot and about a finger width across. The worst part about this is the blister was causing me to change my gait a little bit with each stride and that was enough to start my Achilles hurting. In the last mile I got a side stitch...a mile to go and I’ve got a stitch!! Funnily enough my Plantar Fasciitis didn’t really bother me that much in the race or in the days after.

Why I don’t think it was the wall that got me entirely. Within an hour of finishing I was feeling pretty normal again. I’ve hit the wall before and each time it resulted in eating everything I could put my hands on. That didn’t happen this time. My legs didn’t have that beat up feeling that I’ve come to expect after a hard race. In 2008 I ran Boston and my legs felt like they had gone through a meat grinder, I could hardly walk properly for days afterward there was none of that in Phoenix. Now that may be due to spending time in the pool afterwards. But the next day I was walking properly, a little slower than normal but properly.

Why I believe it was fitness or the lack of that was my undoing – I remember certain sections of the race pretty clearly, at a turn around the 19 mile marker the road dripped slightly down hill – I didn’t make any time on Marc. I did pass one or two guys but I also got passed. Somewhere around the 23 mile marker there was a couple of hills, one down and then one up. The up section felt like I was going up the side of a mountain. With about a mile or two to go there was an on ramp just before the bridge that take you back into Tempe this felt like the side of Everest, it took me all I had not to start walking there.

Once you understand what went wrong you can correct it for the next race. It’s taken me just over a week to get it right in my head as to what actually happened. But I believe that it was a combination of not doing enough long runs (35K+) and not enough time spent at the paces I needed to be hitting. I don’t have any marathons planned for the moment as it’s a little too soon to commit to another one.