Back in November, I won free entry to the 2019 Copenhagen Marathon whilst on holiday at Club La Santa. Unsure what to do I through in a drawer for 4 months. After a busy cross country and indoor track season I was in two minds about running but a few weeks back I decided to go for it. Whilst stopped at the Enfield Apple Green on the drive back from the Nationals in Athlone I got out my phone to book some flights and mapped out an 9-week training plan on the back of a napkin. It was probably down to the lack of Oxygen going to my brain after the fast 1500 M, but hey life is an adventure!

After speaking to my illustrious email newsletter writing colleagues I have decided this week to publish my training log in the weekly email up until race week. This isn’t a 9-week marathon plan, it’s a training log created to give a first-hand account of my progress towards race day and other musings on running, life, burritos and everything in between. Hopefully, newer runners will find some few useful running tips but most will probably just decide that I’m high maintenance.

A bit about the race. It takes place on May 19th. Just 9 weeks away. The marathon starts and finishes on Island Brygge. The route passes through the city’s famous attractions like the Parliament Building, the Royal Palace, and the Little Mermaid. It also goes through the city’s parks. Due to the flat surface, it is considered one of the faster courses, despite a good few twists and turns. I know a few guys running it from Danish clubs at Club La Santa.

To start off I’m gonna guess that most people who are reading this won’t know about the concept of periodization. Basically, the idea is, you can only be at 100% fitness for a short period of time so it’s best to structure training so that you can time that 100% fitness with the biggest events. I ran my fastest times of the year in the National Masters in Dundalk and again in Athlone. It’s important to take at least a week, ideally more easy running or a complete break between seasons. You clear the head, let any niggles heal and get the hunger back. That race in Athlone was on March 8th so I did a week of easy running and started training for Copenhagen on March 18th.


Race 1, no I meant Day 1 of training was the MSB 5K. I had just raced in Port Laoise the day before and was a bit dejected after blowing up at 4K. When Lucy offered a free number I couldn’t say no. I acknowledge that I’m breaking my own rules straight away. After a break, you should build up slowly but with experience comes the knowledge that you can push your body on rare occasions. Just don’t take those risks too often.


Thankfully the MSB race was on at 12 as I was out enjoying some run life balance with friends in Ranelagh on Sunday night. I wanted to get 15K done on Monday so an easy 5K before and after the race was called for. Nothing fast just some very easy kilometres at whatever feels comfortable. I like to do at least 3-4K before any distance from 10K down. You don’t need as much with longer distances as the pace is slower.

The race went off fast but I felt good, really good. My splits were 2.58, 3.03, 3.02, 3.15, 3.11. I never felt so good in a 5K as I did at 3K. I tried to push on along the canal and struggled. My advice is that in a 5K, if the person in front is slowing and you feel good then you need to pass them, don’t sit. If you can put in a small enough surge, just enough to break their spirit, then do it. Once you aren’t overdoing things then the worst that can happen is that they regroup and you can run together for longer. Always be looking to push the pace in short races. I was a bit frustrated as my watch clocked 5K in 15.29 and I ran 15.53, long course. Still a good double over two days.


I love Tuesday training. i’m wired to get a kick out of speed. I often run a morning 6k at 6.15 AM just to boost weekly mileage and loosen out. I find it sets me up for the day as well. A few gentle stretches before lacing up, but literally, this is a role out of bed job. I usually run 4.40s so nothing fancy. On Tuesday night I ran up and home from the club and did 12K recovery at 4.15s. After I get home from anything more than 10K I’ll do 10-15 minutes of stretching, rolling and lengthening. The two best things you can have in my opinion are a back baller with ridges and a lacrosse ball for self-massage.

Back Baller / No pain – No gain


Wednesdays during the Marathon block are about getting a semi-long run in. That can mean anything from 10-15 miles. On reflection after Dublin last October there were some things I needed to change next time. The main one was the longer mid-week runs. The others were getting leaner and doing more Marathon paced efforts during the Sunday run. I usually feel tired two days after a hard effort, not the next day. It was a bonus to be able to do 8K of the Wednesday night 18.8K on the grass around Bushy. I was running 4.24s but felt tired with no bounce in the legs. Even though I stretch a bit for an evening run as I’ve gotten older I cant start off quickly. It’s not uncommon for my first kilometre or two to be a slow shuffle. I’ve often thought about excluding these from Strava but never got around to it. wanted to do 20K but 18.8K is ok.


I decided not to do an early run on Thursday and put my efforts into the evening session. I was already 3K above weekly target so it wasn’t needed and I also had time to get up to training early via the scenic route along Terenure road West. The session was 3,2,1 around the Tesco lap. With most of the lads running at the weekend, I ran the 3 laps by myself. It helps allot to have a good bunch of guys to work with. My target was marathon pace or 3.35 a kilometre. I ended up running 3.31 so the session went well. My time in zone 4 was higher than I would have liked but the lap has a fairly big hill and I was pushing up it. Happy with that!

Heart rate zones


I don’t do anything on Fridays. I used to go to the gym but gave it up. I find my injury risk is reduced by taking a break and I run much fresher on the weekends.


I did my long run on Saturday after speaking to Emily. She told me to run the Waterworks. and do about 15 miles. I parked up at Super Value in Firhouse loaded up some new tunes on my Garmin and off I went. My pace for the session was steady at 4.14. It was a beautiful morning up there with no wind, a bit cold and sunshine. The first hill always hurts but I find I’m getting better at the mile-long hill on the second section.

Waterworks top Loop

The hills are steep so you would only want to do this run every 3 weeks or so. Its a lot of pounding on the downhills. I picked it up nicely to 3.45 ish after 14K as the last 10K of the run flew by. It’s important to run the long run steady during the marathon phase. Happy with that I was able to retire home and then head to Michael O’Grady for my weekly injury prevention session. I’d recommend everyone doing a marathon gets a massage at least once a month. I went into town with some friends from work. It’s important to have some balance. This marathon running can be a lonely business.

Pace Progression


Even if you go out on Saturday improvement is all about showing up consistently. That said don’t drink and drive. Sunday we were back in the Phoenix Park. I intended to run the 10-mile loop in steady 60 minutes but a few IPA’s left me feeling a bit dehydrated and I ran it in 63. The long runs during a marathon get you to a place where 10 miles seems short. A good end to the week with 121K logged. I went for coffee with MC but feeling good and ready to do 20 minutes of stretching in the evening. I usually go for a walk on a Sunday evening to clear the head and then go home and write up the next weeks training plan on the notivce board.

Running and training for endurance events invariably means we run a lot of miles by ourselves. It gives us great opportunities to be raw and vulnerable as we set goals and work our asses off to realise them. Having some great coaches and team to act as a sounding board through every step, every mile, of the process is essential. In the moments of confidence, anxiety, dismay, excitement, and the entire emotional gamut in between, the team’s got your back. It also gives us more opportunities to run a variety of paces (slower or faster than you’d usually run), which in turn actually makes us a better. Even when you’re running by yourself – because no one can run your race but you – your team’s in your back pocket.

I’m happy now that I’ve run some fast track and 5K times that I’m in good shape to take on the first of 3 marathons in 2019. I’ll peak for Berlin but Copenhagen will be interesting to experiment and learn the craft a bit. I’ll be back next week and a bit more concise.