Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Heads Up - The importance of mental strength and half marathon running!

"I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right." ~ Ben Crenshaw 
 The quote above, although about golf, is equally relevant when it comes to long distance running. How many times have we put on the running shoes and reluctantly headed out the door for that dreaded amble, preferring to be anywhere except on that godforsaken road? That is what faced me today on a 10 mile steady pace run. From the minute I took the first step to my last, I just couldn't get into any rhythm and my mind was in the opposite corner of the ring throughout. It could be lack of sleep, bad diet, overtraining or somedays just feeling flat that can lead to this mental misery. The only answer - keep battling through it and the results on the other side are far more rewarding than a run you complete any other day!
These type of mental discomfort will inevitably touch base at some point on marathon day so it's best to battle through it and dream of the warm comfort of that finish line!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Half on the Head - The Middle Section

Ok, We are on mile 4 having paced ourselves for the first 3 miles (see my previous blog) and kept some energy in our legs. Miles 4,5 and 6 give you a chance to get a nice rhythm going and to get into that race pace mode.

At this point you are running along beside the river Shannon with views of the Clare coast and loop head across the estuary. Look back and you will see sloping fields and spectacular cliffs stretching towards Ballybunion in the distance.

As we reach mile 7 there is a small but testing hill which takes you form the old forge to the next water stop where you will turn and head down into lower Dreenagh. A sharp right leads into our final climb. Its a long straight stretch which take sus into mile 8 and eventually leads to our one bit of unpaved road (don't worry, its not too rough) which takes us back to join the main road where we finally reach "the point" of Kerryhead, one of the most westerly places in Europe. A short climb here and we are finally ready to head downhill and loop back towards our starting point.

The final part of the this blog will take us through from mile 9 to the finish and a some well deserved refreshments in Flahives Beer Garden.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Appetite for Destruction - the importance of diet for the half marathon runner - by guest blogger John McCann

When I originally took up running, I used it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted as the calories I was burning, were, in my mind, allowing me that extra leeway for the added few treats! At first, it didn't seem to matter too much, as the weight dropped, with any exercise being better than none. But then I began to stagnate - my weight plateaued (having not dropped enough pounds) and my times didn't really see an increase even though the miles and training had continued at pace.
Where I really struggled was just before half marathon time where training intensity lessened but appetite most definitely did not.
The problem with running (and any exercise for that matter) is, as you burn off all those additional calories and exert energy, you are obviously going to see an increase in appetite.The real results, from a health and time/pace point of view come from how you deal with this increased appetite and what you refuel with.
"You can't out train a bad diet" maybe one of the oldest (and most annoying!) catchphrases but is indeed true.
I look back at photos of myself in years gone by at the finish line of half marathons carrying at least two stone above the required amount and that was with running 40 miles a week. Another part of that argument suggests that this behaviour can't be good for your body - putting it under that intense physical pressure if you're going to put the incorrect fuel in the engine and somehow even though you've ran 13.1 miles and completed 2 months of intense training - still look overweight and unhealthy.
It took me a long time to sort it out (I'm not the brightest bulb in the box!) but I eventually realised that it's not about dieting or refusing yourself a treat or indeed going hungry - it's more a matter of nutrition and putting the right foods into your sytem pre and post run.
The results are well worth it, as becoming healthier and lighter means that training is also more enjoyable and less daunting. You ask any runner to do a race carrying that two extra stone around with them and see how they would enjoy it?
Put simply, a conscious decision to improve nutrition and diet will inevitably assist your training resulting in a healthier and faster you!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Half on the Head - The First 3 and a half Miles

The biggest reason for runners hitting the wall or struggling to finish a race is down to pacing at the start. It is so easy to get caught up in the buzz at the start line and before your know it, the gun goes off and you have  2 miles done at a blistering pace that is way faster that you had planned. At this stage you still feel good and are even glad that you have built up a few precious seconds. However, it has been proven over and over again that this early pace will take its toll in the end.

This is especially true with the Half on the Head. The first 3 miles are primarily a gradual climb. It doesn't look too daunting but it will sap precious energy from your legs unless you pace yourself properly. From the start by the beach you will sweep down thorough Ballyheigue village before turning right onto Ladywell and making your way up a long gradual climb past the grotto. At the top of the hill you will meet the first mile marker where the road curves sharply to the right and there is a nice flat straight which takes you past the local church before you take a left turn by Booleenshere National School. From here you undulate your way along country roads gradually climbing past mile 2 and a right turn onto a long sloping straight. The 3 mile marker appears as continue along the straight until you reach a short hill with a double bend that leads you to a cross roads.

At this stage the Half Marathon runners will be taking a right turn which take them around the coast of Kerryhead while the 10k runners will be taking a left turn back towards the village of Ballyhegue.

I fully recommend keeping a comfortable steady pace until you reach this crossroads. Conserve your energy and ensure that your legs are in good shape for the next part of the Half Marathon.

Information about the next 3 miles will be coming soon .....