Western Way Galway

The highlight of last week was a training session on the Western Way with my good training buddie Sinead Keogh. Sinead is taking part in the Wicklow Way Race so no better person to talk strategies with over a long run.

20170517_202449Sinead Keogh cruising on the Westrn Way.

After a long days work, starting at 4am and finishing at lunch time, I managed an hours sleep before setting off for Oughterard. The Western Way is 179 kilometres in length and someday I may take this on. It goes from Oughterard in Co. Galway to Ballycastle, Co. Mayo. Last Wednesday was more of a “time on the legs” training session. We decided to tackle 21km of the Western Way from Oughterard to the end of the boardwalk between Maam and Maamcross. We would return on the same route to Oughterard. A total of just over 41 kilometres on my garmin in the end but I didn’t count the first 500 metres walking at the start and the finish!

The full route and stats can be seen here for those interested. The course took us along the Gleann road with Lough Corrib on our right all the way. The evening was gorgeous and the anglers, enjoying the peak of the mayfly season were staying on the water a little later than usual. We would follow the road along the shoreline for 15km before a short bog run and then a few miles on the boardwalk. We met sheep, lambs, lots of flies and the odd local wondering what we were at heading out the road this time of the evening. Everyone was really friendly although one car did stop suddenly thinking we were larger than we looked. After leaving the road the boardwalk was tricky and our pace dropped considerably. Keeping in mind we were running slowly as pace was not important on such a run. I tripped and saved my fall about three times on the boardwalk, while Sinead only had one mini tumble. We were proud of our saves rather than the expected face plants. We followed the boardwalk along the river, passed some mini waterfalls and through the forestry meeting two people and their dog at one point, as surprised to see us as we were them.

As the western way meanders around the Maam Turk’s and leaves Galway it passes through an old haunt of mine on the Erriff Fishery at Aasleagh Lodge in Leenane. The Aashleagh cottages have recently been taken over by friends of mine. Joanna and Richie are setting out on an adventure of their own as they will take care of the running of the cottages and hope to attract fishermen to stay there during the fishing season and over a longer season hikers, mountain runners and adventure enthusiasts. The place is a perfect location for setting out on day trips to the Ben’s, the Turk’s, Mweelrea and various other mountains, not to mention Killary Fjord and it’s adventure centres at Delphi and Killary. The area is so beautiful and a few days holiday here ereally does take you into the wilds.

Check out the link below for all the information needed.

Aashleagh Cottages

We reached the end of the boardwalk in around 2 hours, refilled our water bottles from a local stream and turned for home as a shower rolled in across the Maam Turk’s. The rain left a nice film of water on the boardwalk, which went from trippy to slippy in seconds!

20170517_202548Coming off the boardwalk and onto the trail leading back to the Gleann Road.

The Hill of Doon is in the background of the photo above. Some of you may remember this from my training sessions last summer before the ITERA adventure race. My kayak training took place here. It was, quite ironically, also the exact location where the race finished for us, competitively at least, during that stormy night.

We began to slow a little around the 30km mark and were amazed at the amount of hills on the way back. I never realised that a seemingly flat road going one direction would be incredibly hilly in the other. Then again we had done 30km already in the middle of a weeks training. We ran all the hills, some slowly and Sinead mentioned screaming calves once or twice, but we kept moving nicely. I ate one mars bar during the run and drank nearly three bottles of water but generally felt good. Our tactical race chats were great as well as general random stories. The time flies when you run and chat. As we both said, there is no way we would run 42km alone on a Wednesday evening without good company. The topic of racing disappeared and the idea of food and getting home began as we saw the finish wasn’t far off. I mentioned soaking the legs in the Corrib before we went home and Sinead agreed it was a good plan. We arrived at the car as the light faded and popped down to the pier for a freezing soak before heading for Galway. Not a bad Wednesday evening.

As my manager said after we got promoted on Saturday. “sure your going alright, a marathon between soccer training on a Tuesday and Thursday isn’t too bad”. A massive shout out to all involved with Maree Oranmore FC on our promotion to the Premier division. What an effort by everyone. A proud day for myself and a few of the older lads as well, we have fought long and hard to get back to the top after 5 years in the first division.

 

Connemara Adventure Challenge 2015 Race Report

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Myself and two work mates, Liam and Miko after race !

It was my 4th year in a row taking on this race and I have to say it was the most enjoyable today! A huge factor in this was of course the weather which was perfect for racing with little or no wind for the majority of the route.

The atmosphere at the start was a little quiet with most people not really knowing what lay ahead, including myself for some of race as the first run was changed. The first 4km was to be on the road before heading off trail and this would mean a really fast start. I wasn’t wrong about this as we headed off downhill from the startline and the first few kilometres were all around the 3.10 to 3.25 min/km. The views along the road were amazing of Killary fjord and apparently a few dolphins even waved as we passed by, however, being focused on running I missed that!

We turned onto the trail and the real race started. Soon I was at the front with two fellow racers and as it would turn out it would be a battle all the way to the line between the three of us. The trail joined the Western Way after some tricky ups and downs and a brief encounter with two sprinting lambs! The Lambs decided it was the best thing that had happened to them, ever, to see these guys running passed and started to race us. Unfortunately for them they forgot the number one rule in racing “look where you are going” They both managed to faceplant straight into a fence and the last I saw they were picking themselves up a little groggy!!

After a slog through some boggy ground, around the 10km mark we dibbed in and turned to climb the short but steep mountain. This was alot easier than previous years, mostly down to the training I have being doing of late, as well as the ground being somewhat dryer. I descended the mountain at a good pace and at the bikes we were all still within 100 metres of eachother. At this point one of the guys made up alot of ground on the off road section. I opted for the racer this year but I’m not sure it is of any great benefit in this race. After 9km of offroad hammering it was onto the main road for another 8km of roadbiking. At bike transition I was in second.

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A 1km sprint to the kayaks was next. This was tricky across bog with the legs refusing to change back to running muscles after the bike.

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Kayak stage, that’s me in the blue one.

I reached the kayak and set off across Killary Fjord. I was passed by guy behind me at the turning point half way and my body was starting to struggle. I hit the bank and started the last 1.5km back to the finish. At this point I encountered the guy who had been in the lead throughout and he was suffering from severe cramp. I really felt for him as he had a great race. I knew I had a chance to catch the guy ahead but in just over a kilometre I ran out of ground and crossed the line in second place. I was greeted by my parents who had so nicely come out to support and it was amazing to see them cheering me across the line. All in all 2.02 hours and 32km, so happy out.

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Almost there !

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Number one fans !!

Provisional results below and a few photos to follow.

http://gaelforceevents.com/upload/content/RESULTS/ResultsConnemaraAdventureChallenge2015.pdf

Sickness and Health

Last week was a busy one. I am not complaining at all, as busy is good, but by Saturday evening training and everything caught up a bit and I finally got hit by a cold. I must admit it was a little more than the usual man flu that goes around! It has taken a few days to get through but I hope to be fit for the IMRA (Irish Mountain Running Association) race next Saturday. A 25km run in the Wicklow mountains.

Before I got ill I had a nice training session on the hills near home with Emma.

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Check out the great weather, as spring finally arrives in Galway!

Last weeks training went well, with some physio and yoga thrown in. This week will be more a battle to get fit for Saturday, but I intend on getting there.

I am lucky enough to get advanced kayak training at work and hope to share some exciting white water videos with you later in week. Maybe a little more adventure to my recently quiet blog.  For now it is time for more lemon and ginger tea and another early night to help the body heal.

Check out this short core session I tried recently. Ali Kamenova has some really tough short yoga/core workouts that can be perfect for before or after a run.

Thoughts on Injury and more Sleet

I decided recently that it is time to once and for all sort out my ankle problems. They have been really good the last few years and I think the adventure racing has helped but I know the weakness is still there and I intend to sort that. Every little twing taken away is another chance to improve. I started going to physio once a week and after only three weeks I already feel an improvement. It also focuses the mind on sticking to particular exercises. The clip below is a great example of exercise for anyone interested in strengthening an ankle.
An up and coming physio friend of mine shared this quote with me tonight. It sums up injury quite well and relates to old injuries I have suffered.
“There’s no separation between the experience of the central nervous system and the function of memory in the body. The experience of the past has been fixed and retained by the neurons firing at that precise moment. Every muscle, nerve, and tissue participating in that experience has been affected and will ‘remember’ in its own fashion.” -Stokes and Whiteside
So I hit out for my run tonight after a few minutes reading these quotes. I find it hard not to think about injury but really appreciate that when you train the right way and do the right things, injury comes less often than before. I ran the first 8km into sleet and rain tonight, not to mention a gale force wind! Exilerating stuff but not really the most fun. The next 11 km were far more enjoyable with the conditions at my back. I maintained a steady speed and enjoyed it as much as was possible on such a crazy night. The fun of winter in the West, but then again it is great to get out.

Back to Business

Sorry for the lack of posts since Thursday but I twisted ankle on my last run before Achill race and was a little annoyed for a day or two not to mention needing a bit of time to decide where to go from here. Luckily it was only a small twist and I am recovering well. Unfortunately though I feel it is linked to my return to football and I have made the decision to quit playing the sport I love so much, for a while at least. A recurring injury can be incerdibly frustrating and I feel it is time to focus on my racing a little more. I will manage some coaching to keep in touch with football.

As of yesterday I started a new training plan focusing on cycling, running and hopefully fitting some kayaking in somewhere. I intend to increase my endurance while still working on power and speed. This will take discipline, alot of training and hopefully enjoyment too. A fun road ahead.

I started slowly yesterday with a gym session and hit the road today for a reasonably long low intensity cycle . 54km of coastal cycling. I have a link below to the stats. A basic plan is to get some low intensity training in with a long run and a long cycle during week, combining this with strength work in gym. Then a hard session on bike and hill running at the weekends. I will post a more detailed training plan soon. This may help those of you out there interested in new personal records in adventure races and similar events.

I recently started listening to a podcast, which alot of you may of heard of, called running academy. I have a link below but there are some good casts, including one by Matt Fitzgerald on 80/20 training. This is training at low intensity 80 percent of the time and high intensity for 20. I intend on giving this a shot to see how it works. My training to date has not included enough low intensity distance work. If you train at low intensity more of the time it means you can then put everything into those short hard and fast sessions. A theory at least, but I reckon it could be a good one!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/586846262

http://runneracademy.com/running-podcast/

Magic Arnica, good food, rest and a 12km run

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Sea bass, Quinoa and mix vegetables (mostly from garden).

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Tuna Steak, rice and mix vegetables.

These are two nice dishes I had this week. Really fast cooking and yet really tasty food. There is no doubt diet helps with everything, and I find now that as soon as I stray from it too much I feel it in my training.

I am never someone to jump at products or anti inflamatories and the likes for injuries but this week I needed a fast solution to my wrist injury. I turned to Arnica and I have to say I think it has helped massively. I normally find time, rest and the right physio work will fix most injuries but this Arnica seems to have worked wonders. Then again maybe it was only a small injury. I don’t think il ever know for sure !

I managed a 12km run last night which included intervals in the middle of 4x1000m runs on the track. All in all I averaged out at 3.57 min/km for the run so happy enough with that, and my wrist didn’t react much at all. The bike tomorrow will be the ultimate test along with the kayak on Tuesday. Gaelforce West, the biggest attraction for most adventure racers is next Saturday so my taper will start from Tuesday on all going well.

Lough Key Camping

A slightly more relaxed weekend camping in Lough Key Forest park to add to recovery from race last week and more importantly hang out with friends and family. We took part in Boda Borg and Zipit activities on Saturday. One is mostly a mind and maze event while zipit was some adventure fun with climbing and ziplines along with torrential downpours to keep us cool. Good old Irish camping weather with mud and midges to keep us on our toes!

I threw in a bike ride early on Sunday morning just to keep the legs ticking over. Here are a few photos from my spin and stats on garmin below with links to a little training during the week also! Training plan for next big race, Gaelforce West to be sorted in next day or two.

http://connect.garmin.com/dashboard

Activities at Lough Key adventure centre. Just hanging out !