Learning – of the slow type.

I’m sure there’s an ancient culture somewhere (or a fortune cookie) that has the maxim Once you stop learning you stop living writ large.

On the basis of such a maxim I’m truly alive.

Smarter than an week ago? Wiser than a week ago?

I wouldn’t be betting my house on it.

The first think I’ve learned is to ignore the common sense voice in my head telling me that I am woefully under prepared for next weekend (back2back marathons in Clonakilty). Instead I’ve bought a bag full of energy gels and a few tins of creamed rice pudding in the hope that they will  haul me over the line next Sunday.

The second thing I’ve learned is that I can do a very good impression of a new born giraffe.

I was in Kilkenny for a few days with work last week and had a few hours to put down on Thursday afternoon.

I decided to go for a long slow run.

Slow? Yes. Long and run? Not by my definition.

I’d decided to ditch the normal running around the ring road in a high-viz vest routine and after a bit of internet searching I discovered that they had a 10k river side walk between Kilkenny and Bennettsbridge along the bank of the Nore. I looked pretty straightforward on the map and I though about 30k on this would be the solution to my problems.

If you’re reading this from somewhere outside of Kilkenny you won’t have the foggiest notion of what the river path would be like. I’d describe it as lush rolling countryside. Similar to the River Ayr below Failford.

If you’re still lost as to the description then I took a photo.


Looks like a sort of Springer Spaniel, Loved One, Woolly Jumper, Pint-by-the-fire sort of scene doesn’t it?

It was like an ice rink for foals.

Where it wasn’t over-the-ankles-in-ice-cold-muck it was that sort of sheen of mud that clogs the tread on you shoes and causes you to slide sideways on anything above a 5 degree slope (basically all the time). If you’re an optimist this could be seen as useful proprioception training. If you’re me it’s just the chance of hurting yourself. The every-300m aluminium stiles  with their shin skinning ladder rungs weren’t helping my appreciation for the run one bit either.

It hadn’t helped that I’d opted for the road shoes (despite having the trail shoes in the car) but I doubt that they’d have faired much better after the first kilometre or so. From what I can see most trail shoes are designed with the trails and gravel roads (fire roads?) of the continental United States in mind and not the mud-bath of the British Isles.

When I finally emerged in Bennettsbridge I went straight to the tourist map and realised that there was a back road to Kilkenny. One look at my feet and the aches from my hips and knees from all the emergency braking and the decision was made to head back on the road.

10k later I arrived back at the hotel. The first bit of sense shone through and I decided to head for the shower rather than trudge back out for another 10k.

While power washing my shoes in the hotel shower I realised that the outer rubber on the toes of both shoes was coming away badly. This equipment failure was a bit of a worry as I have 52 miles of running next week on shoes that have decided that they want to embrace the minimalist philosophy more than I do.

Dirty filthy things

Dirty filthy things

These shoes have less than 300 miles in them so I started composing a strongly worded letter in my head to New Balance about how they had let me down. Then I realised that my asymmetric love affair with New Balance would not result in a new pair of shoes on my feet for next weekend so I just ordered a replacement pair from the Ether and made a note to get them glued by the local cobbler.

The cobbler sorted them for €5.00 (good enough to get through next weekend anyway). After that I can post them to Anton Krupicka.

The last thing I learned this week past?

Children eventually pay off.

After my 10k of sliding on Thursday I could feel the familiar signs that my Iliosacral joint was tightening up. This shows itself with aching pains down the quads.

Normally the solution to this problem (if left go too far) is to head to the physio to get a grown man to stretch out the joint.

My recession busting solution is to lie flat on your stomach and to get a 5 year old boy to stand on the base of your back – where the dimples are on the curve of the back as it transitions to the buttocks- while he watches cartoons. Lucky for me I had one lying around.

50 cent and I was cured.

To life long learning.


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