The IMRA Yearbook 2012 is almost upon us and going by this snippet it looks like we’ll have another fabulous collection of articles, pictures and memories from the season past on our hands. Both Jason and René have contributed articles to the Yearbook so we are delighted to have been allowed to provide a preview here of one of our articles “A mid-packers journey to the top” detailing Jason’s journey from fledgling mountain runner to Carrauntoohil winner. Hope you enjoy it.
A mid-packers journey to the top (preview from IMRA Year Book 2012)
You could say I have been following Jason’s career “from the start”. We first battled it out at Carrick Mountain in 2008, a feud that continued until injury stopped my season late that summer. When I would next line up against him in the mountains, things had changed. In fact, they had changed quite a lot.
Known both for a battling uphill and sure feet, drilled by a life-time of hockey, on the descent, Jason dueled in the mid pack during his first years, like most starting out. After savouring the atmosphere of the 2009 World Trial race in Crone, he decided to focus solely on running asking Gerry Brady for a training plan. Gerry began his work by instilling the right mindset: “One day rest is one day too many!” Three short months of labour passed and the first signs showed: Jason kept up with the leaders and finished fifth at Powerscourt Ridge. He had joined us at Crusaders at this point and I watched from the back of the field as the Dublin Senior cross-country dealt him one of those brutal reality checks that not all athletes bounce back from.
But Jason did. 2010 saw Gerry Brady’s tutelage take him even further gaining his first podium spot in the Wicklow Way Trail race before putting himself in contention for the Irish and Leinster Championships. He didn’t know it then, but falls would become part of his trademark, and a nasty variety on Croagh Patrick and one more at the European Trial left him aiming for the KoM title. His joint victory with Peter O’Farrell was the first of its kind. As a reward, a trip to the prestigious Snowdon race beckoned and here he used his descending to lead home the Irish team in 24th position.
We had been team-mates for a while when Jason came to me asking whether I could help take his training up a notch and construct a hill-running plan based on my specialty: the teachings of Arthur Lydiard. He knew this meant “upping his training and reducing the Guinness” but pushed ahead anyway. I relished the challenge and was convinced he had the mindset to persevere through this type of training. Less than a year later this chance decision led him to meet such great athletes as Peter Snell, Rod Dixon and Steve Jones and to become a Lydiard coach in his own right as we travelled abroad.
But he trained to win not to meet celebrities and his time came before most of us had expected: at the 25th Anniversary of the Carrauntoohil race. Later, he would tell me no one was more surprised than he how quickly things moved. Despite surprise, he strung me along on the phone afterwards, refusing to give away the true result, as he sat in hospital after his knee-splitting fall on the final mile, the chasing Bernard Fortune on his neck. Clearly, champions are not marked by whether they fall, but whether they get back up.
The victory proved slightly pyrrhic when the fall sidelined him for four weeks costing him the European Trial. His old nemesis Brian Furey seemed now back in peak form and the Irish Championship could not be wrested from his grasp. Jason earned the KoM as a consolation focusing his full effort on the uphill to Lugnacoille.
To me this tale serves as an inspiration to anyone from mid-pack with aspirations, but Jason views it as a beginning only. Lydiard’s training builds runners over years and the reigning King of the Mountains does not plan to rest on his mountain top but looks for drastic improvement and to compete effectively in the classical fell races of England and mountain races of mainland Europe. What will 2012 bring? Lydiard said: “There will be improvement in the first year and even greater improvement in the second but the third year’s results are likely to be quite marked.” Exciting battles awaits the hills, should he be proven right again.
Sample training leading into Carrauntoohil win
Aerobic phase (week 7)
- Sun: Long Aerobic Run (2 hours 30 minutes @ 4:42min/km)
- Mon: Easy fartlek (48-62 minutes @ 4:56-4:18min/km)
- Tue: Aerobic run (112 minutes @ 4:35min/km)
- Wed: Easy fartlek (53-69 minutes @ 5:05-4:25min/km)
- Thu: Aerobic run (2 hours 4 minutes @ 4:35min/km)
- Fri: Strides (10x100m in 20 seconds)
- Sat: Out and back (66 minutes @ 4:21min/km)
Anaerobic phase (week 13)
- Sun: Long Aerobic Run (2 hours 18 minutes @ 4:56min/km)
- Mon: Rest
- Tue: Intervals (long: 3-4 x 1 mile on grass in 5:56-5:39)
- Wed: Aerobic run (89 minutes @ 4:55min/km)
- Thu: Intervals (short: 12-15x 400m in 78-82 secs)
- Fri: Strides (10x100m in 19 seconds)
- Sat: Progress Calibration Run (44 minutes @ 4:22-3:50min/km)
Coordination/sharpening (week 19)
- Sun: Long jog (99 minutes @ 5:31-4:48min/km)
- Mon: 12×100/100m windsprints (sprint 14 secs/float 17 secs)
- Tue: Easy fartlek (48-67 minutes @ 05:05-4:29min/km)
- Wed: 1500m time trial (05:03 target)
- Thu: Aerobic run (74 minutes @ 4:44min/km)
- Fri: Cut-Downs (2 sets of 3x100m @ 18/18/17 seconds)
- Sat: Jog (26-36 minutes @ 05:35-4:53min/km)
- Sun: CARRAUNTOOHIL!!!