Transvulcania Preview

It’s the day before the trip begins and I write to you from Bristol. My first blog from my new home. It has been a busy few weeks moving and getting settled in. I look forward to the race on Saturday with great excitement and some nerves as always.

Transvulcania is one of the most popular trail races in Europe and will attract a pro and elite field from around the world. Experiencing the event and giving it my all is my goal for Saturday and you can follow me here. I’m lucky enough to know Shaun Stewart, Owen Boyhan and Paul Tierney also taking part. There is a big Irish contingent heading over so local rivalries will be evident even on the island of La Palma.

The lead up to this race has seen my training and racing take me all over Ireland since 2018 began and the last few weeks have really been about maintenance and staying in good shape rather than killing myself training. I threw in some speed session with the club and even managed a PB in a 5k near Galway last week to give me some confidence that I’m still doing things right! It might not seem like race specific training but speed and strength are just as important once you have the endurance in the legs heading into a race of this magnitude. The basic breakdown is 74km with 4500 metres of elevation gain and loss. This will be a tough day out before you stop to think about possible hot conditions and unknown terrain. These are the factors that increase the challenge and the reason I love it.

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Crossing the line in 17.12 for a 5k PB with Sean Mcdermott.

I have tried using poles, training with my pack, different shoe choice etc over the last few weeks of training. I am going with my salomon s-lab ultra sense shoes, salomon pack and carbon poles and hopefully just shorts, tshirt and a small amount of mandatory kit. I hope to fuel off Tailwind throughout and see little need to have much more than a few jellies to add to my nutritional plans on the day. This has been my strategy on long runs all year and I have had little or no stomach problems so far. Hydration, hydration, hydration is key throughout. Fingers and toes crossed there. I continue to have toe pains, most likely linked to arch or ankle issues but I will run through this and continue to do the strength work needed on the toe post race.

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A trail near Bristol, Blagdon lake.

I have been lucky the last week to run in a few new places and this will continue on my new adventure in Bristol. There seem to be endless areas to explore and I look forward to training all summer leading up to the CCC. For now I will concentrate on Saturday. I am not going to look at times too much or start predicting how I will do. This is a learning experience and I will chat to you post race. The start line is my first goal and from there I will have lots of mini targets before crossing the finish.

I took this one on a recent run in Derroura, soaking up that West of Ireland air before I came east, to the South West of England! If your not from this part of the world that last sentence is gonna be a little tricky to understand. I will miss these fantastic training grounds but I will make new ones here and can look forward to returning home to play in the hills once more.

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Great Castlegar Club teammates at recent road relays in Dublin.

Donadea 50km, round and round we go

I arrived in Donadea Forest Park at 8am on Saturday morning. There was a heavy mist but spirits were high. Sinead arrived shortly after but her chest infection meant she was a non runner today. I registered and met a few friendly faces along the way. This was once again a run into the unknown for me. The race consisted of 10 laps around a reasonably flat 5km course. The ground was wet but hard with mostly gravel through the forest walking trail.

There were approximately 230 runners signed up and thanks to the race director we had 5 hours to become a Donadea 50km finisher. Anyone after this goes down as dnf (did not finish). The race kicked off bang on ten o clock and straight away the pace was high. Irish champion Gary O Hanlon took off at 17 minute per 5km pace and would hold this throughout. Off with ya, but fair play to ya! I decided soon into the first lap that pacing was impossible due to the GPS dropping continuously in the forest. I would run the whole race on heart rate. Around 150 to 155 throughout, my max being 172. This method was a first as well.

My plan was to run 4.45 min per/km pace for as long as possible but as often happens I changed my plans a lap in. I had to run off feel and heart rate and decided to try run a reasonably fast marathon and then see what was left. Sinead was a terrific help waiting at the start of each loop with water containing Tailwind and a few bits of fruit.

The course started at Donadea castle and once through the finishing shoot, which we would run through 10 times, it looped it’s way around the small forest for 5km. The first kilometre brought us passed a small lake before turning right into the forest, jumping over or running through what became known as the water jump. Just before the 2km mark we had two small gradual hills to run up and over. These were my favourite part, even though they got harder every time around. The course from 2km on scurried it’s way through the forest with nothing too exciting to report. I soon got to know each marshall’s face and I used them as my markers rather than the kilometre marks. I looked forward to seeing them for the last time even though they were such friendly people throughout.

I ran the first 5 loops all in about 22 minutes a piece. This was a nice pace but way faster than I had intended. I decided that this wasn’t really a ‘goal’ race but more a fact finding mission. Could I run on the flat? How long could I maintain this pace following no specific training? Was I mentally prepared for a looped course for the first time ever?

I think I found all my answers and realise I have potential to be good at this but am undecided if it floats my boat like the mountains do!

As the race progressed I slowed down, in fairness I knew this would happen. At about 33km, in my 7th loop I started to feel it. The backs of my legs tightened and my toe issues were annoying me on and off. This all said I went through the marathon in 3 hours and 15 minutes or there abouts. The 5 kilometres after the marathon were horrendous as I dropped a good few positions and slowed to a crap pace. I ran through to start my last lap and said to myself to suck things up and finish strong. To blow up at that stage would of been a sickener.

I ran over the finish line in 3 hours and 55 minutes, 5 minutes faster than my target but also knowing I ran a silly race by anyone’s standards. I went out too fast, almost blew up and had planned yo rely on pacing off watch too much. This all said I still reckon these early season races are a time to try new things, experiment and test yourself like you normally wouldn’t. I learnt that presently I have the ability to run a fast marathon, I can run on the flat and could specially train for it and that loops are manageable mentally. Now all I have to do is recover in the next four days before Galeforce Dublin on Saturday !!

https://www.movescount.com/moves/move200537805

https://www.popupraces.ie/donadea-50k-irish-national-championships-live-blog/#1_94D641

As you can see above I  finished 24th overall, 7th in my category of senior male but of course I should of been in over 35 age group and then would of finished 2nd in that category! None of this matters too much but it’s always nice to know you did well.

Is Nutrition a key 

Well this really is a question we could spend an eternity on. Everyone is talking about nutrition these days. I have always had a decent diet but I did, for the most part, make a big effort in the last year and a half. It has paid off in my times and progress but how much really is this due to diet? The honest answer is I really can’t prove one way or the other. What I can say, however, is that my recovery time is way down and my energy levels are good.

So what have I changed in the last year that is working ? 

My diet is now roughly 60% vegetarian, 30% fish and 10% meat. To many this seems crazy for someone training 6 times and 10 hours a week but why not? I get all the nutrients and energy from the veg and fish and probably a lot more than I previously got eating more meat. 

Next up is the additions and subtractions to my old ways! I have stopped eating pasta, potatoes, chicken, red meat (small portions and odd steak every now and then) and replaced these with more fish, halloumi cheese, quinoa, buckwheat and lentils. Instead of just porridge I add two eggs, chia seeds, sesame seeds, peanut butter and honey. Instead of eating bread/ sandwiches I eat rivita, crackers, cheese and have leftover dinners and avocado for lunch. I will be honest I still love bread but now I eat seeded and brown and rarely white. I love chocolate but now I eat dark chocolate in orange or sea salt flavours. 

These are only a few examples of changes but they actually are tastier. I enjoy my food more now and the processed foods are becoming a thing of the past. 

Nutrition is not my area of expertise but I have learnt from others and I really believe anyone can improve their health and fitness by tweaking even one or two meals a day. 

Next week I want to throw in some thoughts on race nutrition pre and post events. It may be very different to what you have heard. For a start carb loading is a load of … 

Race week and Two rules

Two Simply Rules For Better Health

by Man Bicep

I get asked diet and exercise questions all day, every day…And I love it.

And what I’ve seen with these questions is that we love to overcomplicate things and focus on the details when the overall picture is still fuzzy and incomplete.

It is almost easier for us to hone in on one piece of the puzzle instead of first outlining all the basics.

We skip starting with the two most important rules and jump right into micromanaging a few very specific things.

I think we do this because it is EASY.

It is easier to focus on a few little details than it is to get the big picture in order.

For some reason it is easier to make dieting and exercising overly complicated than it is to focus on the basics.

Why this is the case?

Honestly I have no idea. It baffles me.

Because the truth of the matter is – being healthy is pretty simple.

But most likely we get stuck on the details because we want a quick fix. A simply fix. Or maybe it is because we want something to blame when we lose motivation and fail to reach our goals.

No matter what the reasoning is…We need to stop doing it.

Because really there are only two things out there you need to do to be healthy:

1. Eat whole natural foods.

2. BE ACTIVE.

Yup…two things. And really two very easy things.

You don’t need to starve yourself or deprive yourself. And you don’t need to spend hours in the gym.

You just need to eat whole natural foods and move around!

You don’t need to worry about macros, or types of protein or meal timing if your basic diet isn’t even in line.

Start with a focus on whole natural foods and then hash out the details.

Seriously….you aren’t going to draw a face starting with detailing out the nostril before you even know where the nostril fits on the face are you!?! I mean…I’m not artist but that just seems ridiculous!

Same goes for exercise. People claim all they don’t have time to workout, but what they are really saying is  “I don’t have time to spend hours in the gym like it seems I need to do to get into shape.”

And maybe that is simply their excuse to not workout because they don’t want to.

Because it is simply not the case.

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or even go to a gym to be healthy.

You just need to be active!

Heck if you even get up and stretch and move around for 5 minutes every hour or so you are off to a good start!

If you even take your puppy for a walk in the mornings and afternoons, you are being more active than most.

Just first get moving than improve your activity so that it is helping you to reach your specific goals.

Don’t feel you have to jump right into an hour-long workout 6 days a week if you aren’t even currently moving for at least 15 minutes every day.

STOP OVERCOMPLICATING THINGS AND MAKING EXCUSES!

Start with the basics…Create an outline, a solid foundation and then, once that becomes habit, start working on the details.

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I read this article and felt it was worth posting on my blog. It is a simple way of starting a healthy lifestyle that in time can lead to whatever you want it to.

As I prepare for another race and think of all the logistics, my diet, final training sessions and the race itself, I realise that all the hard work is mostly over before this one and I can now look forward to enjoying a new race (as long as I don’t trip on a root and twist ankle again!).

So this week will involve 2 gym sessions and today I did a 22k on bike and 5k on road pretty much at race pace. Nothing too time consuming and good to keep up speed race week. I will post a link of race below and a link to my spin and run today also.

http://connect.garmin.com/dashboard?cid=3477436

http://www.connemararoughdiamond.com/