Monday, 18 June 2018

Rest Days

How important are rest days?  Probably just as important if not more important than the training days.  How we get stronger is breaking down muscle and having it rebuilt.  If we don't give the muscle time to recover and rebuild we risk injury.  I found my old skins compression pants which I am going to wear after training to hopefully aid the recovery process.

If you have read other posts from me you might have gathered that I have never followed a training plan.  In the past my rest days where more than my training days so the one or maybe two rest days a week now are a nice break.  I have already done more mileage this year than all of my other Marathons put together.  The structure is good but I can sometimes see myself looking ahead thinking I have x,y or z to do this evening but I also have a run.  I start work too early to get morning runs in so it is a balance of time.  As I write this I am thinking of tomorrows run not tonights rest day.  That has to be a good thing..  Progress

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Sundays long run

When I say long run it is long for me 13.44miles.  I am not into the bigger mileage yet.  Started out really slow straight into a long 2 mile climb.  Down the other side gets steep so it was a bit of work trying to reign myself in and not up the pace.
The purpose of this run was slow and steady to remain comfortable throughout.  A route with plenty of ups and downs.  When you are comfortable the tendancy is to speed up on the descents.  Thankfully I didn't fall into that trap by constantly reminding myself.  Talking to myself as I run is a good way of keeping my mind off any potential aches or pains.  When I say talking to myself I mean into myself.  I can go over things like whats coming next if I know the route. With a couple of miles to home I lifted the pace a bit.  I still felt comfortable and didnt push to a full race pace but felt I still had loads left.  No tired feeling and the heart rate didn't rise much in the injection of pace.  Strava says PB but I know I have run the same distance faster in training and in races.  Back when I started running I was using a £10 wrist watch mainly to tell the time.  I never looked at pace speed or distance back then.  Jesus I sound like an old man.  That wasn't that long ago I just choose not to buy a gps back then. 

I finished with an 8.5 mile road bike ride to cool down.  Don't think I will do it again because the bike isn't a great fit and the knees didnt feel good at all. Sunday Morning with a half marathon and a small bike ride done and it is only 10am. 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Strength and Conditioning

As a cross training day I have tried to add in some strength and conditioning.  I started this during the 46 day Challenge I set myself.  The good thing about the internet is the amount of videos, manuals and tips you can get on anything and everything these days. Youtube can be a fantastic tool for videos on all things fitness.  I was well versed in the above during my junior days as an amateur boxer.  Having said that I needed something that will benefit both fitness and endurance.  I wanted to find strength and conditioning for Ultra Marathon running.  With Youtube Pro's also comes the Con's.  Information and advice may not always suit what you are trying to achieve.  You need to find what you suits your end goals and tailor that information into a programme that suits you.  What I try and do is go to others that are currently doing what you want to do.  Ask questions and find references and links that way.  It is amazing the amount of information you can gather.  Not only the good references but the bad.  The "I wish I had found this before..." stories also can be used for your benefit.  What works for some people may not work for you.  So don't always go on the first thing you find.
So with the runs I am also using a garage gym.  Comprising of dumbbells, medicine ball, spin bike, punch bag and cross training push-up wheels designed for ab and oblique exercises.  The Dumbbell routine I am currently working on consists of the below:

  • Power and strength complex
  • Hypertrophy series
  • Core series
  • Conditioning complex 
Power and strength complex 
  1. Dumbbell Clean (5 Sets of 3 Reps)
  2. Push-press (5 Sets of 3 Reps)
  3. Front squat (5 Sets of 3 Reps)
Hypertrophy series 
  1. Dumbbell crush press (4 sets of 10 reps)
  2. Bent over rows (4 sets of 10 reps)
  3. Reverse lunge (4 sets of 10 reps) 10 on one side 10 on the other leg per set
Core series
Doing 4 Exercises on the right side then 4 exercises on the left side.
  1. Dumbbell Snatch (2 sets of 10 reps)
  2. Farmers Carry (2 sets of 10 reps)
  3. Get-up sit-ups (2 sets of 10 reps)
  4. Renegade row (2 sets of 10 reps) 
Conditioning complex
  1. Split stance alternating hammer curl (2 Sets of 10 reps per arm)
  2. Split stance alternating shoulder press (2 Sets of 10 reps per arm)
  3. Split switch (2 Sets of 20 reps)
  4. Squat curl to press (2 Sets of 10 reps)
Youtube Reference:

In addition to the above I use a Medicine Ball Work.  Most of these I have taken from my boxing days. No reference these are just things I have either been coached or picked up at different training camps. 

Medicine Ball work out (Sets depend on what I have planned the next day)
  1. Under leg cross overs in a seated position
  2. Wall cross overs in a seated or squat position
  3. Sitted V shape sit-up
  4. Laying on my Back L shape sit-up or stretch.  (Using a wall initially to find form)
These are the 4 I would use mainly.  I also add in things like side crunches from time to time.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Food and Nutrition

I love my food!  Maybe a little too much at times.  My portion sizes could feed a small family.  You would think eating more would give me more energy.  I have found that eating right is the key.  A balanced diet and foods at the right time.  Being tired after eating is a key sign of 1/ the wrong type of foods 2/ Too much on the plate. A lot of these things I know but slip back into the bad habits of loading a plate.  I am very lucky in the position I am in to have good food at my finger tips.  I have definitely changed my eating habits the older I get.  I would say I eat healthy most of the time.  Dont get me wrong I still get a take away meal from time to time. I usually regret it after, unless it is a good Indian with fresh produce.  Sweets, Chocolate and Crisps can slip in from time to time but I am trying hard to ditch them for good.  I have ditched fizzy drinks and soo glad I have.  As I sit here now I have a bowl of fresh fruit.

The flavours are amazing and to compare them with sweets, Chocolate or Crisps is just a no contest.  Yet we still find ourselves craving such foods and getting nothing from them.  Try as I do to completely stay away from them.  I find myself falling back into the bar of chocolate and a coffee twice maybe three times a day.  If I could even limit it to a bar a day.  This week I have had none and so far no major craving.  Maybe it is because I am back on porridge in the mornings.

Another way I take fruit is blended with water.

Breakfast... The most important meal of the day I was always taught.  Yet I wasn't a breakfast person and have had to almost force myself to eat breakfast.  What worked for me was to start with a glass of Orange.  When I got used to that I turned to Toast, pancakes or a toasted soda.  I then found myself having bread every day.  I have got myself back on porridge and try to take it every morning.  If not porridge I take scrambled eggs and brown bread toasted or wheaten bread toasted.

Snacks, comfort food or just addiction.  As mentioned I can eat a lot in one sitting.  You would think being full up would stop me eating snacks after a meal.  I found myself eating straight after and between meals.  No need or reason for it except addiction.  Part of me getting fit again was trying to train my brain that I dont need this.  I have found myself having to stop on the way to pick up a snack saying into myself "You don't need it"  Training the brain is as important as fitness training if not more important.  It is so easy to give in and say sure I enjoy it.  Do you enjoy it? I find the more I take the less I enjoy junk food but get hooked time and time again.  I done the whole of lent 46 Days when I didnt eat sweets, crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks, take away foods etc.  Completely off them not just cut down.  Then comes easter and I say I deserve a bit of chocolate for lasting 46 days.  Deserve it!  It is like calling it a treat.  It is so far from being a treat but we have been taught to believe these are treats.  Back to the fruit and that is really a treat.  Yes you have to wash sometimes peel and deseed it but isn't that part of it? Like opening that bar of chocolate.

Suppliments are something I have taken from time to time.  Cod liver oil capsuals, Whey Protein, Creatine (When I was gym training)  Do they work?  Well science say they do when taken properly along with a balanced diet.  Why then is running times slower now than in the past.  My Father and others who ran for Ballinascreen have recorded better Marathon times than most at the peak of their performance at the same level in today's terms.  I am not aware of any of them taking suppliments before, during or after training.  A balanced diet and maybe extra eggs for protein.  I am no where near my Dads best times.  Maybe over shorter races but his best Marathon time is in the 2h 50 area.  I am nowhere near that but I blame my laid back attitude in the past.  He was committed and had a good group of Irish Champions around him.  I am not making excuses just saying how it was.  Could that change.. I think if I keep going the way I am going.  Keep the positive attitude and STRUCTURE my damn training I could get close or beat his time.  Is it something I am trying to do?  Not at the minute, my goal is the Ultra Marathon.  Not something to be taken lightly and definitely not something to be looking for a fast time.  Put it this way when I finish it, I will have set a personal best so thats my long term goal for now.  So back to the suppliments and I am giving them a go again.  Whey Protein from a local company. 
Been a long time since this glass seen a Harp

If the owner Paul's results are anything to go by then with a bit of hard work it certainly won't do any harm.  I have only started taking it this week. First impressions are great for flavour and texture.  I remember one I used to take and was nice on drinking but it left a seriously bad after taste.  Glad to say this is super nice.  To early to feel any benefit yet but I will keep you posted.   Keep who posted is anyone still reading this.  Is this blog for anyone other than a way for me to track my progress.  If you are reading it and take anything from it then happy days thanks for sticking with it.  I will admit that these are my experiences, feelings and ways to do things.  They might not work for you but maybe reading this is enough for you to think I need a goal in my life.  Or I would like to challenge myself somehow.  Things I have done from being inspired by someone or something have shocked me at times.  If I can do it anyone can do it.

Before finishing the ultra I have to break down the goals into daily and weekly targets.  Eat right, STRUCTURE the training, follow the right training plan for my needs.  It is a work in progress and should finish with another achievement.  Positive attitude and hard work.....

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Wet and Windy

Finishing a 12 hour day and driving 40 mins home.  I stood looking at the trees sway and the sideways rain hit the kitchen window.  Welcome to our Irish summer!  We have been blessed with the recent weather dry, warm and calm.  I hate to say it but maybe too warm for running at times (I am not complaining though)  So when you are in the process of ramping up training and are faced with an evening like tonight what do you do??  You get the gear on and go running of course.  The worst part of the weather is looking at it.  I will admit the feeling of "what am I doing?" when I first step out in the rain.  Less than a mile in and the rhythm takes over.  The body heats up and the rain feels warm.  I was running at a slower pace to up the miles.  Not looking at a watch and a route that I had guessed was close to 10 miles.  It turned out a mile and a bit shy of 10 but I was so comfortable I could have kept running.  I think I read somewhere not to go more than you had planned even if you are feeling good.  I finished comfortably with a slow jog to walk as a warm down. 

I am in the process of finding a training plan and tweaking it for my conditions.  In the mean time I plan to just keep running with a cross training day (Mountain biking)  Also a strength and conditioning day.  This will be the first training plan I have ever looked at.  I ran two Marathons without training plans or structured training.  I struggled and my finish time was not too hot.  I NEED to get more structured to improve.  I have had some great hints and tips from fellow runners and some great references for books and plans.  One of which is "Relentless Forward Progress" By Bryon Powell. (Thanks to Gary Cullinan for the reference to this book).  I have been listening to the audio book and the paperback arrives tomorrow.  Structure in progress....

Monday, 11 June 2018

Running... Its been a while

I have always been a fairly active person, with the exception of certain times of my life for one reason or another.  The past few years I have become less and less active and the weight started to creep on.  I needed to get myself on track again and during lent I set myself a challenge.  Some form of exercise every day for the whole of lent.  Lent lasted on the calendar for 46 days?  I thought it was 40 days and 40 nights but I was in for the long haul. So some form of exercise every day from Ash wednesday to Easter Saturday. 

14th February Weight 93kg
I set out a plan, watch what I eat and control the portion sizes.  No junk foods and no eating between meals unless for healthy snack foods.  I had no set fitness plan for this challenge, or a specific diet that I would stick to.  I like most sports can run, bike, swim and most things in between.  My garage is equipped with a punch bag, spin bike and free weights I had no excuses.  I have attached a log of what I done and what I ate (See below Screenshots).  I am not a structured person when it comes to training or eating so keeping this log helped me keep doing the challenge. Seing the progress on paper and filling it in every day was a way of keeping me moving. I work Monday to Saturday on average 12 hour days so my number one excuse was I didn't have time.  When I started this it wasn't easy and coming home after 12 hours with a 40min drive home. I did feel tired and felt like saying I will start tomorrow.  Once I was out there on the spin bike or out for a run I was loving it.  I had the option of walking but ran, biked or boxed.   My running improved and on St Patricks day 17th March I ran a 10k race finishing time 45mins.

I will admit it wasn't always easy to go and train but when I was doing it I really enjoyed it.  I started to feel better, mentally and physically. Then you ask yourself why did I not do this sooner.

I was into the last few days of the challenge.  Some aches and pains mainly from running but nothing major. On 28th March day 43 I was doing sprints and I pulled a hamstring.  At the time it felt like a complete snap.  I have never had an injury like this but knew I wouldn't be training the next day.  Rather than make it worse I decided to completely rest.  Two days complete rest with the exception of being on my feet all day in work.  Three days after injury I had a long walk in the evening.  Easter sunday 4 days after injury I ran a 4 mile beach run.

I was on day 47 and I had lost slightly over 10kg in weight.  The leg felt ok but the challenge was finished.  It is so easy to fall back into the old habits and I will admit I started to miss training days and the eating habbits fell to the bigger portions and the odd bit of junk food.

I need a goal to keep me going and signed up for a 100km 5 peak cycle challenge.  A very hilly course and with very little bike time.  I tend to aim high rather than building up to something and it seems to be working. The cycle went well and I completed it fairly comfortably allbeit slowly.  Next was a 9 mile trail run on Divis mountain.  I finished in 16th place and has really got my love for trail running back. 
Run DMC 9miler 16th Place

What next as I am starting to slip again.....

On my Birthday I seen an advert for a Marathon.  The Causeway Coast Marathon.  A course I love and an area I spent summers of my childhood. I have done this event on two occassions.  In 2010 I done the Causeway Half Marathon.  The year before I had done the full Marathon distance.  So would it be the Half or the Full this time.  Well this event is in September and in addition to the 10k, Half and Full Marathon distances there is an Ultra Distance. 40 Miles

I told you I aim high and had considered this race before. I know my lack of scheduled training and laid back attitude might not get me through this like other events.  So my goal has been set and now some hard work HAS to take place.

Portstewart to the carrick a rede rope bridge and back to portballintray.  40 miles along some of the worlds most stunning coast lines exciting times ahead.

47 Day Challenge log

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Davagh Enduro Night Rider 2015

Davagh Enduro Night Rider
Davagh Forest Trails
7th November 2015

This is the second edition of the Davagh Enduro Night Rider.  Unlike last year the weather was fantastic.  With the majority of the prep work done it was all down to on the day setup.  Entries this year where low in the lead up to the event. A last minute surge in entries seen numbers slightly bigger than last year.
Lunch time Saturday we headed into the forest to mark out stages.  Although Davagh Forest trails has way marker points. The direction we take as a race sometimes deviates from the trail centre direction.  We taped off junctions and used arrows to indicate the direction.  After marking the junctions next was to set up the timing system on each stage.  We switched the system on and used our test card to ensure it was working.  We got back to the carpark and set up the registration area.  Registration was due to open at 5pm.  There were many riders already at Davagh.  The Northwest MTB Club had come over from Sligo.  They done a training day with Rosco Lines and stayed on for the Night rider.  Some had already signed up others signed up on the night.  Already there was a steady flow of riders coming through the registration area. I give the marshals their instructions and sent them out into the forest to get their position.  Riders started out on the climb to the top and stage 1.  The stage was set, marshals in place, medics roving the forest and riders on their way to the start.  I would also be roving between the stages.
 The night enduro follows a similar route to the day enduro with some small changes.  All trail centre based to make this event accessible to most riders.  There was a good atmosphere and a dry night really helped.  Trails had some puddles from the rain earlier in the day.  Despite this, the trails have more grip with a bit of moisture. 

Riders lit up the forest with bike lights and head lights.  The flicker of the lights and rattle from bikes resembled an 80's style video game.  Despite the riders coming through the forest at 30second intervals there was an eerie silence.  Watching riders finish each stage with smiles always helps ease the nervs.  With the event well underway I drove between stages making sure all riders and marshals were ok.  Updating the medics when a stage had been closed with our sweeper riders.  Our medical team have good knowledge of the area. They move between stages setting up at the most central location.  As stages complete they reposition, always staying as close to the action as possible.  Some of our marshals were also riding the event.  When the stages closed they then completed the stage. Riding around behind the main group completing the stages.  

The majority of the field had completed the stages.  While waiting on the marshals to complete the course.  I took a drive around and started taking in the tape and signs.  As I done a complete loop I drove back towards stage 5.  All riders had got through and our marshals were getting ready to go back to the main carpark.  Medics stood down with no actions always makes a good event.  There was a great buzz from the riders, as I got back to the cabin.  Comparing times and reliving each stage through animated stories.  Riders spoke about how it went right and wrong time wise for each stage.  Riders were getting warmed with soup, sandwiches and sausage rolls.  Others gathered at the screen comparing times.  When the final marshals got back we got straight into the prize giving.  

Kings and Queens of Darkness
 1st Female Molly Stack
 2nd Female Tricia Kelly

 1st Male Sport Conor McQuillan
 2nd Male Sport David Burns
  3rd Male Sport Kenny Graham

1st Male Intermediate Scott Nelson 
2nd Male Intermediate Bryan Conlon
3rd Male Intermediate Peter Wilson

Spirit of the Enduro
Alex Vibornijs & Dylan Harpur
Young 16 year olds mixing it with the adults and placing very highly in the overall results.

Thanks to all our Sponsors who help make the event happen.  Signal Signs have been a fantastic help this year.  Steelweld Fabrications for making our trophies.  Blackthorn Design for the artwork and trophy design.  The Shepherds Rest for the food and drink after the event.  Sperrin Bakery Draperstown for the rolls and sausage rolls.  Barry McGuigan for sweeper duties and the Photographs.

I also can't thank enough the team of marshals and helpers. They come up and make the event run like clock work.  Joan who puts on a great spread of food for everyone at the end.  S.T.E.P.S. Mental health girls who always get stuck in and help us in registration and catering.  Last but not least the Competitors.  I have said it before, We create the platform and the riders make the atmosphere.  You are all legends.     

Until next time.......