Barry Minnock

Barry Minnock is an international mountain runner and member of the Irish Marathon Mission with a PB of 2:17 for the distance.

It’s been a great week – 2 races, 2 PBs, 1 victory, 1 course record & some pocket money. I’m only 6 weeks into my Lydiard training programme from Rene Borg and it’s already starting to pay dividends. Most athletes know about Lydiard’s principles, but what Rene has done for me via Lydiard Foundation is to design a programme to exactly meet my needs, peaking for 2 key races in 2011 – National 10k on the track on 6th Aug and Dublin marathon. The most valuable item on the plan is the pace range for runs. I was the type to just run by feel, which typically meant this lazy git was running too slow. Now, running 4 min kms is commonplace in training and it’s beginning to feel comfortable. Rene’s Lydiard plans also have a priority and purpose to all runs, so no more junk miles 🙂

The Lydiard system goes through different phases – Aerobic, Hills, Anaerobic, Coordination, Taper, Race. I knew all this before & probably could have designed a similar plan, but now I know there is value in a listening to advice from another. I’ve been self-coached for a while now and occasionally have the required discipline, but it’s good to have someone properly watching over what you’re doing. Rene is not your typical coach – he’s not there for sessions, nor does he need to be – I’m a big boy J He’s a scientist/mathematician – I give him dates & numbers (e.g. PBs, VO2 Max, Lactate) and he churns it up with the help of the Lydiard Foundation system to give me a plan. I occasionally send him back plan vs actual data and he provides feedback. That’s all I want. I still rely on experienced athletes/coaches like Adam Jones, Dick Hooper & Eamonn Tierney for advice and general direction, but Rene has added an extra dimension to my training.

So far I’ve had 4 weeks of Aerobic work and 2 weeks of hill sessions. The first few weeks were tough as I started from a relatively poor base after injury and I definitely struggled with the pace for a while. It was just about manageable as recovery was possible with no typical ‘interval’ sessions. The hill weeks move into session territory, but not typical sessions – bounding uphill reps, fast descents & strides – not what I’m used to, but it has helped me get back in the game. With my Wicklow Way Relay run I knew I was making progress, but couldn’t wait to test my new legs against true road benchmarks.

My two races this week were not on my original plan, but I was getting itchy & Rene conceded by tweaking my schedule to fit the races in as ‘sessions’. Perhaps this was indiscipline on my part, but all work and no play makes Barry a frustrated boy. First up was the Docklands 8km. Typically this is a relatively weak field and I saw it was an ideal way to break myself gently back into the road scene. Alas, with Vinny Mulvey, Alan McCormack & Gary O’Hanlon on the start line it was more a baptism of fire. The race itself started with Vinny in control about 50m clear after only 400m. I knew I’d be doing well to stick with Gary & Alan given my fitness level, but still it didn’t feel right to let Vinny away so easily. I put in a huge push to catch & it paid off – I was in complete oxygen debt on catching Vinny, but eventually regained composure. Through km 4 & 5 I possibly had Vinny on the ropes, but he demonstrated his pedigree by putting in a surge on the 6th which I couldn’t handle. I finished strongly with a 3min last km, but it wasn’t enough to challenge. The course was a little long, so I’m taking it as a 5 miles PB J It’s my first 8km, so PB either way. Two good scalps for me in Alan & Gary, but something tells me they were off form. Either way, given that I haven’t run faster than 3:30/km in training recently I was delighted with the performance.

Next up was the Strawberry half marathon. A completely different proposition, but one I felt more prepared for given my strength training. I knew there was going to be serious opposition in reigning champion Sergiu Ciobanu, but this was a training ‘progress calibration’ run & so I there was nothing to fear. I had the pre-prepared excuse of a hard hill session on Friday to blame if it didn’t go to plan. My performance on the day even surprised myself! This is not an easy course, so to run a PB & course record (68:04) and get victory was beyond my expectations. I had offered pace sharing with Sergiu during race warm-up, but he seemed a little hesitant. We did share the pacing for the first 8km, but I felt particularly strong on the hills and edged out a gap by the 10th km. Once I had the lead I never looked back, pushing as best I could all the way to the finish. A lesser man than Sergiu would have strolled home, but he kept up the pressure and was ready to pounce on any weakness. Thankfully, I was able to maintain pace finishing with a 3:03 last km. A great day and one of my best performances to date. Beating the legend Sergiu is a nice scalp, but it is only 3 weeks since he won the Cork marathon so no way he was in top form. Time to build on this experience to challenge for the bigger prizes. Congrats to Jane & Graham Porter for hosting this fantastic race experience – highly recommended – not fast, but you never know when a PB is on the cards …

This information was first published on Barry Minnock’s blog.

Training with Rene Borg was a valuable learning experience, trying several new training techniques. In particular I’ve new knowledge, appreciation, and confidence in how to approach endurance training. I also have a strong belief in the focused hill bounding and striding intervals. (excerpt from Barry’s 2011 Athletic Review)