Up the airy mountain

There are many elements to training for a big race that are counter-intuitive.

Run slow in training to run fast in a race; if in doubt take a break; stick to a plan (maybe that’s not counter-intuitive unless your me).

What you’ll never see in the list of training tips is if you’re going to run across a load of mountains then you should do all your training on pancake flat roads and paved paths.

There’s a really good reason for this – it’s a stupid idea.

If you’re into running then it’s a stupid idea because you will not have trained the correct muscle groups and the cardiovascular system to cope with the long hard climbs. The ground conditions and off-road shoes you’ll have to wear on the day will also not have been tested.

If you’re not into running the it’s a stupid idea because running up muddy hills is harder than running on the flat roads of Cork.

Why is this sudden interest in running sticking it’s nose into my blog?

Well, as part of my training for any race I try to read other runners’ race reports of the race. If you can place the runners relative to your ability it gives you  a good idea of how tough the race is. So, an elite of top 5 finisher who says that things were ‘tricky’ means that it was a living hell comparable to a forced Siberian death march.  I’m sure you get the picture.

The race I’m talking about here is the Wicklow Way Ultra at the end of March. 52km across the Wicklow Mountains. These are the mountains just south of Dublin City where the main activities are rearing sheep, running and hill walking and bold men burying the bodies of their victims.

Now, I intend this race to be nothing but a ‘long training run’ but as anybody who knows what it is like to pin a race number to your chest will attest this may not be possible.

So, I spent yesterday lunchtime reading reports on the race and I suddenly realised that if the race elites have to ‘power walk’ some of the hills I’d better start learning to crawl on my hands and knees.

I need some hills, some mud and some off-road shoes.

When training to run up a hill the general maxim is the best hills are the one closest to your house.

In the real world this could be described as the ‘you can only piss with the cock you’ve got’ theory.

When it comes to hills close to my house I’ve got a very small cock.

At this stage many of you might be thinking: What would Jesus do?

Would he magic up some hills or get in his car and drive to some muddy hills and get himself in shape?

Or would he sit back, look skyward and say: Don’t worry, dad’ll sort it out?

I mean, what’s the worst that’ll happen to me? I’ll make a tit out of myself? Hardly a new experience and like the men over at extreme trifle would say:

It’s not the taking part, it’s the breaking down that counts!

A race report full of mishaps always reads better than one that went perfectly so I think I’ll put my trust in God (that is a metaphor for not doing anything in case you’re lost by my re-enunciated christianity).

If you’re still reading this blog post here’s a bit of trivia for you:

The title of the blog comes from a great poem by William Allingham from the 19th Century called The Fairies.

It was always recited to us when we were kids (back in the days of candlelight and no internet) and gives you a good insight into the pre-christian superstisions that surrounded mysticism, magic and fairies.

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4 responses to “Up the airy mountain

  1. Execellent.. I look forward to reading the Wicklow Way report. I was gonna run this year too but thought otherwise after looking at the race reports.. Good luck to you.

  2. Hi Richard
    The IMRA hill races start this weekend, why not try some of the routes with company? There is a broad spectrum of runners in the 50 or so that show up, and dispite thinking NEVER again half way up the buzz you get from running down hill always makes up for the hardship! I did wicklow last year all I can say is its the number one ultra in Ireland without the frills…

  3. Sounds a bit like the 6′ track. Practise walking!

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