Stop playing with your food!

I’m being deliberately facetious with the Food Pyramid image.

I’m not a dietitian or nutritionist but I do love my food and the odd pint.

While I’m training to try and produce a decent account of myself at events, I am also exercising to get my body weight and composition to a place where I am happy with it.

While I’ve always been active and previously had a very physical working environment, my diet would have been quite ‘convenient’. Eating on the go, quick snacks & coffee through the day and a meal at night. All added up to giving me a decent ‘jiggle factor’. At one stage touching 98.2kg which for a 6′ man is disguisable but not comfortable. I didn’t like the ‘overcoat’ I was wearing.

5/6 years later and a systematic format of run, bike & swim training as well as a healthier diet has made changes, and I’m now more comfortable in my ‘jacket’ but still looking for more subtle changes.

This season I made a change in my overall eating plan. Using body weight and mirror image as a guiding hand, I had a way of establishing an approximate metric on my progress. I was deliberately more structured in my training and when I got to a point where I found there was no change in my metric, I changed my diet.

I read alot and one of the books that has been on my bedside locker is ‘Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance’ by Matt Fitzgerald.

Simple concept, you need fuel in the engine to make the engine go. But you need to be cute about how you fuel the engine to make the most out of the fuel and to stop your body stockpilling fat as a stress reaction to the training and demands on the fuel sources.

Matt gives a lot of background information, explains nutrition hows and whys and how to help it work in your body.

One of the stand out ideas was by fuelling with sugars while training you would replenise glycogen stores with post-session feeding in preference to replenishing diminished fat stores. Your body would be ‘tricked’ into overlooking the fat depletion as there would be less metabolic stress by glusose fuelling.

All of this has been in the back of my mind while training this year.

Around June / July I changed my diet to primarily protein and vegetables. All breads, rice, pasta etc went out the window. The only carbs I allowed myself was porridge as breakfast and that was only after my morning training session which was always fasted and usually about an hour long.

Nutrition goes hand in hand with training and as I was principally training long and mid-effort I found I didn’t need gels or energy drinks, I could just chug away at a nice steady pace.

This notion came to light from reading Barry Murray’s articles and blog based on his own on-going experiments with his body. In essence Barry advocates fat adaptation over a period of time and shows how the body is capable of being trained to burn fat in preference to glycogen thus allowing must more sustainable performance in long endurance events.

With these two, I think opposing concepts in mind, I set out to find out which suited me, my training and my events best of all. Would it be one or the other or a combination of the two?

More to follow….

Race week -5 Recovery week

Not a good sign when I start a recovery week with a sore throat.

This was something that always seemed to happen when I started a taper or just took the foot off the gas, the body breaks down a little.

Home from work and started into some Lemsips to try and avoid the inevitable.


Planned day off from running. Day off training full stop!!


Tempo Run – 15mins easy, 30mins @ 4.45km pace, 10mins easy.
I took my usual route, out and back, felt a bit lethargic, probably down to being generally tired and a bit run down of late. Have been eating well, just broken sleep and busy in work.

Tuesday: 12.03km, 00:59:30, AHR 153bpm, MxHR 168bpm, APace 04:57/km


Recovery run easy – didn’t happen. Kids totally unsettled at night and just not getting rest. Kids seem to have an uncanny knack of falling asleep just at the point when they are aware that daddy is fully awake and precisely at the time when they know he won’t get back to sleep.


Interval Session – Run as 10mins easy effort, throw in 5x5mins at 4.20km pace with 3mins jog recovery in between and 10mins easy

This week seems to be getting to be just a ‘ticking the boxes’ kind of week. Did the session. Put in the work and did it but without the exhuberance of previous sessions.

Managed to pace it nicely too, keeping all the intervals around or under 04:20/km, so one positive to take from the week so far.

Thursday: 11.91km, 00:58:48, AHR 157bpm, MxHR 175bpm, APace 04:55/km


45min – run at easy effort.

Emmm, nope, didn’t.


2 hours – Just run easy and do not worry about pace.

Didn’t happen either another exhausting night and a busy day expected in work. Hope to switch tomorrows easy run to this evening and do the long run tomorrow. That didn’t happen either so just long run tomorrow.


Moved yesterday’s long easy run to this morning and just got up and out for it. Had a decent breakfast and went off with a waterbottle with HIgh 5 4:1 and a single gel for company. Well that and a good shuffle of Ozzy on the iPod. I felt that Ozzy would put a fullstop at the end of this week for me.

Sunday: 24.03km, 01:59:22, AHR 151bom, MxHR 189bpm, APace 04:57/km

Weekly totals:
Duration: 03:57:41 (hh:mm:ss)
Distance: 48km
Calories: 4365kcal
Sessions: 3

Race Week -5.5 Catchup & Wrap

With my tail firmly between my legs after the disappointing performance last night it was time to have a look at things and address my training priorities.

I had been tinkering with my diet and training purposes. I was brought to ground very quickly last night on account of these factors and woke to the realisation this morning that I need to focus on the marathon first. I will explain what I’d been up to in another post.

For now, on with the week.


Was a nice easy run at easy effort (4:55 to 5:30km pace) for 45 minutes. Just about turning over the legs, the interval session had been tough so no need for speed today.

I felt good, the morning was beautiful, and ran out to get closer to an hour.

Friday: 10.71km, 53:14, AHR 144bpm, APace 04:57/km


I’ve no idea what synchronicity is going on with the kids, but same as last week, awake at 1, 3 & 6 with a young man who is not being his usual self at the moment. Struggled to get up but did  have a proper breakfast this morning, porridge. Gathered the gear, made up the High 5 4:1 and packed a couple of gels into the pouch to get on the road for 8:30.

While getting the GPS lock on, I decided a hat & gloves were appropriate & nipped back in for them.

45 mins @5:20/km, 50mins @5:00/km and 50mins @4:45/km. Route was planned based on the LPR route from last week with a few extra loops along the way.

I was very happy with the pacing. I was drinking and fueling steadily along the way and despite the brain trying to convince the legs that they were tired and wanting to stop early the angel (or demon) on my shoulder made me run loops near my house just to harden up the mental resolve.

It worked!!

Run done, recovery drink, shower, change, 2XU recovery leggings and into work for the rest of the day. (Busy day in the shop too, thank God!)

Saturday: 30.02km, 02:30:35, AHR 147bpm, APace 5:00/km

Saturday 23/09/12 – Training File


Travelling to Sligo after work yesterday meant disguising the car with Mayo flags going from Galway. It also meant a cracking mornings’ run along the coast line from Rosses Point into town and back out again.

Just a nice steady, enjoyable run. Plenty of people out and about too which is great to see.

Sunday: 12.40km, 01:04:11, AHR 138bpm, APace 05:10/km

If you’d told me 4 weeks ago that I would be considering running 100km per week in the build up to my marathon I would have said your head was cracked. Having done 95km last week and 101km this week I feel great. Its a huge milestone for a chap who hated running in school, it bored me to tears.

Now look at me. Loving it!! 😀

Weekly totals:
Duration: 08:25:26 (hh:mm:ss)
Distance: 101.45km
Calories: 8703kcal
Sessions: 6

Race Week -6 – Volume going up!

This is my first full week officially following a training program. I spent a little bit of time transferring the program into my Polar Personal Trainer so that the sessions could be uploaded to the RCX5 ready for me to hit the roads.

Despite a long training week last week, and a busy day on my feet I still felt ready for the sessions that this week was lining up for me.

Started out right. In from work, small bite to eat, kids to bed, changed and out the door for 8:30. Mistake I made was picking the wrong tool for the job. Normally I use my X-Trail headlamp but for some (still unknown reason) I grabbed my Silva Ninox as I went out the door.

Silva Ninox – 70lumen, not to be sniffed at.

I think what happened was in the planning I had picked a running route that would feature some hilly bits and I also knew it would be better lit than my normal route, having houses along the road, and that I could sacrifice the weight of the X-Trail battery pack for this session.


I’d no sooner started into the session and had reached the first of the houses than I realised that the amount of light ‘leaking’ from the houses, lit driveways, passing cars meant that I was effectively ‘blinded’ by the passing light. As I had previously used the Ninox in the woods where there was Zero environmental light (or light pollution as I now consider it ) the lamp was perfectly suited. Just not for damp busy roads, where you need to be able to see the surface properly.

Anyway, hit the session which called for a warmup and then x5 hill runs keeping steady pace and recovery back down again. The section I found near the house was reasonably rolling with a kick up of 6m over the last 500m.

I made a hash of the first phase, but got the repeats spot on, so each one started and finished in the same place each time. I put an extra dig into the last ‘work’ effort too.

Monday: 13.13km, 01:05:52, AHR 147bpm, MxHR 174bpm, APace 5:00/km

Monday 17/09/12 – Training File


Silva X-Trail your only man!

Still Tempo Tuesday.

I keep using the same stretch of the road as a feature of my tempo runs and I think it’s going to be the backbone of my winter FTP testing. Roughly 12k total for out and back and easily to add a bit on either end to make up distance.

Didn’t make any mistake this evening and made sure I had the Silva X-Trail with me. The lamp part is not heavy, its just the awkwardness of the battery pack on the waist strap that can annoy me when running with effort.

Plan was 10 mins warmup, 60 mins at 4:45 / km followed by 10 mins at 4:30 / km with 5 mins cooldown. no Zonal training going on hear anymore. Its all about time on feet at pace.

Seemed to pace it close getting an APace of 4:43 /km and 4:33/km for the two work phases again on a windy wet night.

Tuesday: 17.65km, 01:25:22, AHR 152bpm, MxHR 167bpm, APace 4:50/km

Tuesday 18/09/12 – Training File

Similar to last week I didn’t get to run Wednesday, had planned a 9k easy run. Absolutely no consideration of a double day on Thursday as it was going to be tough!


Its like Groundhog week here. Again a rubbish night of sleep meant I was getting up knackered, late but knackered.

I’d time for a quick pancake with peanut butter before dropping my daughter off at school. Can’t even remember if I’d a coffee, that’s how bad it was this morning.  Dropped her off, back home for a swift change and out the door for an interval session.

There’s my mistake, its an elementary mistake, but I made it none-the-less. No breakfast of any description before going to do a hard session. Didn’t even bring a gel or anything to drink!

15mins warmup and then x6 (work phases of 9mins at tempo pace with 2 mins recovery) followed by 1km at 3:45 and 5mins cool-down.

Thurday Torture – intervals with a struggle

As you can see I was aiming for 4:30 on the intervals but struggled in vain. The recovery just got slower and slower. Within 5k I was going home. I couldn’t loosen up (no stretching or Griding done this week) and had nothing in the tank to feel lively.

In the end I didn’t make much of the 3:45km or the 5mins cool-down and rambled home for a wee lie-down

Thursday: 17.51km, 01:26:10, AHR 153bpm, APace 4:55/km

Thursday 20th September – Training File

 I’m learning my lessons this week!! Hopefully there’ll be a better second half, starting tomorrow.

Race Week -7 Wrap up & Review

Sunday (cont’d)

Got a lovely little run in this afternoon. It was short and sweet, down through the woods and back. Nice to run the trail again, its been a while and the change of surface was actually quite a welcome break. The surface is relatively rough (relative to the road) but due to the recent rain quite ‘squishy’ underfoot so glad the old shoes came out.

All I wanted to do was turn over the legs so no main pace or time , goals, just a run to enjoy.

Sunday: 6.11km, 32:59, AHR 138bpm, APace 05:24/km

Sunday 16/09/12 – Training File

All in all, this was a great week of running / training for me. I have never put as much focused effort into my run training and hooking up with a proper training plan has given me a major kick in the backside.

Weekly totals:
Duration: 08:04 (hh:mm)
Distance: 95.1km
Calories: 8414kcal

Race Week -6.5

The second half of the week brought drier weather and a tendency to train more in the morning that at night. It doesn’t matter much to me when I get out and don’t mind running early or late.


A nice clear morning with a call for an easy recovery run (still working off my Polar plan) of 01:15 run. The new plan was a 45min run, easy, so I was happy enough with the overlap.

Felt really good and relaxed. Struggled a little with holding an easy pace at first, just seem to want to slot into a steadier 5:00/km pace.

Friday: 12.02km, 01:05:51, AHR 133bpm, APace 5:27/km

Friday 14/09/12 – Training File


First official “Fran’s Plan” session which was involving the Dublin City Half Marathon today for most of the group. I modified my session by recalling one of the previous weeks long runs.

What I like about this plan is the lack of traditional LSR (Long Slow Runs). I have the aerobic fitness and am working on specific race fitness and pacing. These are Long Progression Runs (LPR) and involve doing a little more work on tired legs.

So this LPR called for 30mins @5:20/km, 40mins @5:00/km and 3 x 15mins @4:45/km with 5mins easy in between. Great plans to be up and on the road by 06:30 but thanks to the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival & kids there was not a whole lot of sleepage, so late start, but I’d cover in work for the morning so not a complete disaster.

To the DJ playing music 3k away after midnight, it’s not dollars you need, it’s the belt of a hurl! Try it again tonight, I dare you.
Hitting the road, I’d plotted a nice route with some drags & exposed to wind too, again I found the easy pace awkward to run steadily to, but it worked out nicely. I wasn’t using gels but did carry 600ml of High 5 4:1 (Carbohydrate : Protein) which I sipped at throughout.
In the review it turned out the pacing was spot on! 30mins @ 5:17, 40mins @4:55 and 3x 15mins each at 4:45, 4:45 & 4:41 all with 5mins recovery at bang on 5:00.

Saturday: 26.51km, 02:12:53, AHR 152bpm, APace 5:00/km

Saturday 15/09/12 – Training File


Up early with the kids, Edel going out for her LSR. So doing a bit of active recovery, bobbing around doing housework to the tunz of David Guetta. Kids loving the action and dancing along with their spinning umbrellas.

A bit of stretching to loosen the hamstrings and hip flexors. Other than a little bit of tightness there are (thankfully!) no ill effects of a big week of running. I have a short, easy run to do this afternoon but first we are going swimming with the kids.

Full week review coming up later.

Race Week -7

Starting the week following my Polar program meant runs every day. Its only at the end of this week that I start to integrate Fran’s plan into the greater scheme of things.

Night run in the lashing rain. I’ve an approximate 8k loop that is mostly off main roads so I decided to tackle this tonight to give me the added mental push of being cool, wet and having to pass the house before starting loop 2.

Loop 1 I bumped into a neighbour, Barry, who normally runs a Functional Fitness group on Monday evenings (I did a lot of Winter / Spring stuff with him earlier in the year). As there was just two of them they decided to run the first section with me & Barry came on and finished the first loop. Dropping him at his door, I’d pushed on, did my second loop, finishing with a km of extra push and home to dry off.

Monday: 16.05km, 01:20:07, AHR 152bpm, APace 5:00/km

Monday 10/09/12 – Training File


Tempo Tuesday has been a regular feature of my run this season. Expecting a 16-17k run in the planned time of 01:29 I reckoned on a few loops of a quiet section of road, to avoid any traffic & disruption to the runs.

Only thing bugging me was I forgot to clear the watch memory so after 15 mins ‘Memory 0%’ flashed up. Bugger!! So the plan stayed visible and I could monitor the sessions but I thought I needed to momorise the phase results. Not so! The clever people in Polar factored in silly people like me and the full workout was available. (Not all the HR data, but the summary and pace average for the whole thing was there)

Plan was 15 mins warmup, x3 of 15 mins (Zone 4) followed by 8 mins (Zone 3) with 5 mins cooldown.

Held 4:30-4:35/km for the intervals and 5:30 for the recovery on a windy wet night, happy days!

Tuesday: 18.01km, 01:29:22, AHR 151bpm, APace 4:57/km

Tuesday 11/09/12 – Training File

Didn’t get to run Wednesday, had planned a light 8-9k easy run so considered a double day Thursday.


Sleep would be nice! Early morning run. Set out with 15k intentions (01:15) and a short evening run. Made a complete hash of the turnaround figuring continuing on and taking a left would get me back round. Ended up going in a big circle (see the map) but with so many twists & turns I got befuddled when I hit my regular road again.

Only for a plastic bag in the ditch that I spotted on the way out, I was well & truly going the wrong way. Add a time pressure to get back & daughter to school & you can see why the HR & pace went up!

Anyway a steady / recovery / easy run, legs felt a bit tired but loosened out quickly.

Thursday: 16:39km, 01:23:05, AHR 146bpm, APace 5:05/km

Thursday 13th September – Training File

35,167 Steps – my road to DCM

My training, proper, for DCM ’12 started in earnest this week.

I’m happy with my base aerobic fitness, its been a long busy year of training and racing. I’m happy to start building to my race goals.
I’m going to document the run specific training that I’m doing here in my blog and you can follow by using the tag labels below of ‘DCM 2012‘.

Little bit of background to date, as I say, my base fitness is there, my running has been fairly consistent 35-45km per week (give or take a bit) through the past year with most run sessions being in excess of 1 hour and longest run to date 26km.

My shoes are relatively new Mizuno Inspire 8 with 78km on them, rotating  out my previous pair with 439km and a pair of Mizuno Elixir (lighter tempo, interval & long distance racing shoe) with 98km on them.

I’ve been following the endurance training program set by Polar Personal Trainer in conjunction with my Polar RCX5 (with GPS) and worked through the levels set by this and mixed my own thing in with it.

I’ve just started integrating a purpose specific program from one of the guys on and have set my sights on a 3:30 (technically sub 3:30) marathon PB. Do follow my progression both here and on Twitter @amphkingwest. If you need more specific information on HR training or have questions that may arise in the writing of this please just ask, either in the comments option or by email.


Sean 🙂