Lactic Acid or Rather Lactic Build Up

Lactate/Lactic Acid

Most of us who run have felt that burning sensation in our legs during the end of a heavy tempo session, or a few repeats from finishing a session of 400’s. You’re urging your legs to keep going despite the very obvious slow down in pace. The session finishes and you walk off the track. The talk about the session as you gather for your cool down is how tough but good the session was. Your mind is screaming, “well it wasn’t good for me”. You chip in your two cents worth about how difficult the last few reps were. “I was fine, then all of a sudden my legs began to burn and I couldn’t keep the pace up”. Club mates nod in knowing agreement. “That’s the lactic acid in your legs” It slows you down when you go above your lactic threshold. You’ll probably be a bit sore tomorrow”.

This conversation is very common among athletes across the world. Its basis comes from and early 19th century chemist, named Jacob Berzelius. He measured lactic, in animal tissue. He found high levels of lactate in a hunted animal and thus concluded that as the animal tired its lactic and the acidity in the muscle increased.

We know that lactate plays a role in muscle fatigue as a result of increased acidity in the muscle, which affects the signalling to convert lactate to energy.

How Lactate Works

Exercise at a moderate or easy intensity allows us to get our energy aerobically (with oxygen). As the intensity increases the body requires a quicker energy production. It does this by producing energy anaerobically (without oxygen). This occurs when glucose (sugars/carbohydrates) are broken down into a substance called pyruvate. When working anaerobically, pyruvate is converted into lactate which allows for energy production. After around 1-3 minutes lactate levels rise. This leads to an increase in the acidity of the muscle cell, which slows down muscle contraction. Thus, we slow down and begin to derive most of our energy requirements aerobically again.


The muscle soreness is sometimes referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This occurs as tiny tears occur within the muscle after bouts of intense exercise. It is usually felt within the first 24 hours but may only peak at 48-72 hours.

Ways to reduce the effect of DOMS

  • Go for an easy run or bike session to ease the muscles
  • Foam rolling has shown to have a positive effect on DOMS
  • Ice baths – ancedotal
  • Massage

Running – Older But Faster!

Running – Older But Faster!


Running began for me as a young child. I fell into it, I was a boxer first, but through my training I discovered that I was a fairly good runner too. I was one of those athletes of decent ability who fell through the cracks during college, which led to a long time out of the sport. Although I never lost my love of fitness and endurance sports. I tried my hand at triathlons for a few years, but the love of pure running never left me. I’m back running five years now, after a ten year sabbatical.

Some would consider this year a modest breakthrough year for me. I have put in some good performances across a range of distances and keep getting faster despite getting older. I have new personal bests in the 5k, 10k, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon this year. I’ve had great success in various cross country races also, with the latest in Abbotstown Dublin, where I placed just outside the top six in the O35’s which would have secured a selection to the national team.

I’m at a point in my running that my 39 year old self would show a “clean set of heels” to my 19 year old self. It’s very satisfying and not uncommon for older athletes to keep progressing. Only last year Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers set a marathon Pb of 2:18.53 at the age of 43. This is just one example, there are many more out there. It is great to know that a consistent approach to training, encompassing all its elements can lead to improvement.

As a self-coached athlete I have to be able to read myself and my body very well. The training methods I have put in place have worked perfectly for me, as they have for others that I have helped to reach their goals. In my eyes improvement is about continually adapting and changing things to get a better response.

When I took up running again 5 years ago, I was in no rush. Being a Physical Therapist I constantly looked at research papers related to my field to get the best evidenced approach to any condition. I took this approach to my running as well.

What I came to understand is that to see improvement you need to view running as a long term endeavour. Don’t be in a panic to see positive results too soon. Enjoy the journey and the experience of training your body and mind. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with good training partners and a knowledgeable coach that takes the time to understand your individual goals.

Five years ago, I knew that I would be at this point in my running. And, I know where I will be in another five years. Continually adapting and layering different elements (strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, etc) efficiently has led to greater progress. Each year that has passed I have added in something different to my training. Elements that I have added into my routine and provide for others are, Strength/personal training, Massage, and individualised Training programmes. 

Understanding the event you are training for and what attributes you need to allow for improvement are key. I have a bunch of other ideas to put into my training over the next few years, so I will keep changing and adapting and see how far it will take me.


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Marathon Tips – Do’s & Don’ts

Marathon tips – Do’s & Don’ts

The Dublin City Marathon is happening this week. Thousands are expected to take the the streets of Dublin, some hoping to make a certain time, while others will just want to finish. No matter which camp you belong to these Marathon Top Tips will help you keep on track and make the most out of the big day.


  1. Keep running with a small amount of race pace work.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Eat normally.
  5. Stay relaxed and focused.
  6. Believe in yourself.
  7. Acknowledge all you have done to get to this point – go through your training diary.
  8. Plan your route to the marathon.
  9. Set out your gear the night before.
  10. Enjoy the experience!



  1. Stuff yourself with carbs for 3-4 days before the marathon.
  2. Do anything different from any other week.
  3. Try new runners/gear.
  4. Over think the marathon.
  5. Forget your nutrition plan.
  6. Deviate from your plan.
  7. Get carried away with the excitement of a quick start.

For those who not running this year, if you’d like to train for the marathon next year or even take on a 10k or 5k in the near future, check out my Marathon Training Plan service or Personal Training Service to support you to achieve your goals.


Good luck to everyone running the Dublin City Marathon this week!

Marathon Week

Marathon Week – How to manage your thoughts & feelings


Marathon week is probably the hardest week of all the weeks leading up to the race. This is the time when you starting doubting yourself, feel niggles, thinking  your legs are heavy and have a general lack of energy. The upshot of this is, its normal to feel this way. In fact if you aren’t feeling a little off-centre, I would question if you are truly switched on for what is about to come.

These feeling are a result of nervous energy. If you let them get on top of you they can rule you and potentially lead to a poor performance. However, if you can turn them into a positive, it can enhance your performance. You can do this by banishing the negative comments from the internal dialogue going on in your head and replacing it with some positive self talk. In a recent study (source) the effects of positive self talk has shown to significantly reduces perceived exertion and enhances endurance performance.

This is the time I ask athletes to leaf back through their training diary and see all the training they have completed, prep races run and, splits achieved. You can get so much positive reinforcement from your training diary, so much so, it is an essential tool in your marathon success.

If your legs are feeling tired and heavy, this can be simply your body adjusting from a higher mileage back to a lower mileage as you taper. This is why it is good to keep a bit of snap in them with some race pace intensity, even if it’s just some strides. The marathon is a long and hard race but getting to the start line fit and healthy is half the battle. If you have done the miles (which is the cornerstone of marathon training) and prepared well, be confident in your ability and go after it. If negative thoughts creep in, banish them and tell yourself your strong and able.

Best of luck to you on your journey and I hope you all achieve your own personal goals.

Build Your Aerobic Base!

Aerobic base

An aerobic base is the cornerstone of any running related sport. You cannot build a sound physical condition without a sound aerobic base. The natural progression of movement from birth is to roll, crawl, walk, run. Endurance sports are no different. Weather you play football, soccer, hurling, running, triathlon, tennis, it is irrelevant. The basis for achieving your potential is grounded in a solid aerobic base. Only then should you engage in anaerobic training. Continue reading “Build Your Aerobic Base!”

My Toil With Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles TendinopathyAchilles Tendinopathy

Anyone who runs knows a little bit about or has heard of Achilles tendinopathy. It is a frustrating over-load induced injury. Different factors contribute to tendinopathy. The site of irritation may be a clue, as insertional tendinopathy is commonly viewed as a compressive overload injury where midportion is viewed as a tensile overload injury. Although there is some evidence to suggest plantaris may have a compressive effect in mid portion Achilles tendinopathy (source). Traditionally both midportion and insertional were treated the same way. New research has highlighted the possible differences (source). With that come different loading strategies.

Continue reading “My Toil With Achilles Tendinopathy”

Junk Miles – Running

There is no such thing as junk miles.

Junk miles have been talked about for years with various perspectives on them. Often junk miles are viewed as running for the sake of running, with no particular target or goal in mind for that run. They are the fillers around the speed sessions and long run. For me those fillers are not junk. They provide and important function by adding to your aerobic base, if carried out correctly. Continue reading “Junk Miles – Running”

Core Stability For Runners

Core Stability, What is it?


Core stability, why do runners need a good core? Mention core work to most people, and they think of crunchers/sit ups and planks. How do we define our core? These should be easy questions to answer as core stability is everywhere, from GAA training to pilates to boot camps. However defining what your core is and how it works is more difficult than you might think. The most common location of the core encompasses from your sternum down to creases under your buttocks. Therefore supposedly, all the muscles in this area make up your core. Continue reading “Core Stability For Runners”