Monthly Archives: May 2009

Heart rate fun

After a week that seemed to go on forever, yesterday wasn’t a particularly good day, at least as moods go. I don’t know why, the day just wasn’t good. Despite mowing the lawn, clipping the hedges, taking the bits I can’t compost to the dump as well as clearing a bit more space for  a new log store that hasn’t started yet because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that and hoover, change beds, wash, go out and everything else I want to do, I just felt I wasn’t achieving anything. Shelves, roof boarding and other essentials just aren’t happening.

Can I win the premium bonds and retire, please?

Still, today I promised a ride, possible skydive and run. But it’s too windy for a jump (they’ve been taking lifts up this morning but I don’t fancy it on a large canopy). So the motorbike went well this morning instead.

And I fancied a bit of a change. With Juneathon starting tomorrow and that, i’ve been thinking about alternative activities, one of which might be a play on Cathy’s new  rowing machine. Only to do so and make a proper job of it, I fancy trying the heart rate settings. But i’ve not a proper knowledge of my peak heart rate, only knowing it races along at rest as though i’m about to arrest. The pain is, I didn’t think i’d ever do heart rate training, so my Garmin 405 hasn’t got the bits to measure me. But I know a 301 that has. So I talked Cathy into lending me it, cycled with her to Ulcombe (a relatively quiet, bloody steep and long hill), strapped myself up and started running.

My starting rate was about 135. My first relatively gentle ascent (getting the 4 mile ride there out of my legs in the process) got my rate up to 165bpm, but turned out to be about 0.25 miles, so a bit far according to the book i’d read on the subject last night (well, 3 pages of a book, anyway…I feel an expert now!), so after a slow jog down, the next climb was a bit more vigorous, got 172 bpm, and was 0.17 miles. The next got 176bpm so for the final sprint, I raced on up to my first marker and carried on a bit.

I don’t think I quite got things right; despite feeling i’d blown up, 3 paces after I stopped, I felt ok so gave another sprint until again I felt things were over. Clearly I shouldn’t reach a false plateau so must learn to drive through it next time to see where I end up, but as a base I seem to have a peak of 187bpm, achieved just after stopping the second sprint. Which might be about right, I guess, but i’ll confirm it the next convenient weekend after June to see how the month changes me.

My blogs will be shorter, for sure. I’m going to run out of time each day, I fear. My plan is to cycle to work every day for the month (well, apart from when i’m in Brentford on a course!) which is 8 hilly miles each way, run as much as I can (hopefully at least a mile each day, plus the Crisis run, the Staplehurst 10k, a bit of training for it if I can but I don’t know how a run and the riding will leave me, energy wise, and I can’t afford to get massively over-tired). I’ll try to keep up the weights on Sundays and Tuesdays, will add some sit-up-type-crunch-type odd things i’ve developed each day and keep a running total of them, as well as doing more press-ups than normal (well, not more quantity than normal, just more frequent. Might try for a fast set as the month ends, see how many I can do in 30 seconds.)

Basically, just co-ordinate everything into a month of intensity and try not to get ill doing it.

But again, can I have some more time please? I hope Cathy’s ok baking the mince pies, I think I might struggle with that one!

So, roll on Juneathon. Hopefully everyone’s ready; good luck whatever you’re doing, have fun, and record it. I’ll struggle with that bit on the 4th and the 12th so will catch up the following days.

Exciting, innit?

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Showers

After the deluge that assisted my run on Monday, I half hoped today would be a touch finer for my evening outing, but having sacked off the cycle to work due to the forecast high winds in favour of a run tonight, I guess I might have expected worse.

So as the latest rainfall was landing (albeit only a heavy drizzle), I set out from work to do my latest 4 mile route backwards. This means a flat start, sharp downhill then a sharpish up followed by a slow climb. The total uphill is 0.6 miles, which is a bit daunting after a day at work, but since it’s new, I fancied a go. And at least there’s an equal downhill half a mile later.

After Monday and my quest for speed, I knocked 10 seconds off my virtual partner in an attempt to still offer a reasonable pace but allow a stretching of the legs without making the numbers meaningless. Basically, I want to chase 8 minute miles on the uphills without having to all out sprint on the downs to make the average pace work. And to be fair, today was a bit more of a struggle, my legs feeling heavy after the last effort, with a twinge in my right calf and the left still feeling tight.

So it was surprising to not haemorrhage any time over any sector of the first part of the run, all of it being below 8 minute pace. The downside to this was wishing for a shortcut home with increasing heat build up coinciding with a drying up of the atmosphere. The last hill home and the last mile were, erm, not very nice. I kept my pace up but felt very fatigued, to the point of stopping running at the site boundary to ensure I stretched my legs and cooled off for a minute before stopping and driving.

As I sit here, having built up Cathy’s bike (a white, ’80’s Raleigh Shopper…nice!), my legs feel ready for a sleep, which they’re going to need before their 8 mile ride in the morning, but i’m happy to be almost pain free and getting back into it. Almost as happy as I am to read that Joggerblogger seems to be back; hopefully not ruining himself, but back nonetheless.

Hooray for Juneathon and all that it promises.

Rain man

So the bank holiday has come, gone and is all but forgotten already. Still, I set a mark for a) my recovery success and b) measurement in the effectiveness of Juneathon.

This afternoon, in the heat that built up, a very pleasant walk was had, mainly trying to photo dragon/damsell flies (no, despite reading about them less than a week ago, I can’t begin to remember how to identify the difference. Sorry!) with varying degrees of success. But i’d promised myself a Monday run, so it was with joy and delight that a storm developed and, at 5.45 ish it started to rain. And at 6.15 ish, I set off in it for what turned out to be a bit of a pacey run.

3.5 miles was planned. I set off with the Garmin virtual partner at 8.10 pace but rapidly realised that while keeping my hip square (don’t know why it’s been sore lately but it has), my calf relaxed and attempting to regain some running posture lost in the recovery process, my pace was high. But I felt comfortable and more importantly my calf felt good, so decided to keep it going unless something twinged, twanged or snapped. After half a mile, I eased off a touch, resulting in my second slowest split of the run, but kept the pace higher than normal without knowing exactly how I was doing since the rain was making my glasses useless and thus causing me to concentrate on the road ahead.

Incidentally, i’ve read reports of Garmin 405’s going haywire between screens when they get heavily damp – the rain was pouring down my arms, the face and bezel were saturated and dripping, but the readout was working perfectly with no flipping. I only changed screen once i’d got home, but the unit was still wringing wet and worked fine. It was a bit slow to respond to the conversion to normal clock face once i’d read the data, but that didn’t affect the run performance, so again I only have praise for the little thing.

Still, the run went on. The rain clearly made everyone stay at home since the road was all but deserted, but I was the happiest i’ve been running for ages, possibly since Christmas, and this was fully reflected in my time. I’m still not fully running fit, I don’t think, my legs not working at full efficiency, but my breathing and general fitness seems good. And my time was very pleasant. A mark of 24.53 for just over 3.5 miles gives an average pace of 7.02 min/mile. The Santathon in Dagenham (dead flat, 3 miles) was 6.58 pace in December, so maybe i’m back to that mark. I’m going to see how Juneathon goes, try to find a coolish day 5 or so days after it’s over (recovery time!) and go for it again – if I can go under 7 minute miles, it’ll be amazing, but I think the heat will be the key.

Right; i’ve shirts to iron, a girlfriend to not ignore, and a job to get stressed over again. Roll on the 1st of June so 30 days of torture can begin! Hopefully a ride to work and another run in the meantime and i’ll be ready.

I think Jogblog may have an unfair advantage for the month this year, though. Maybe she’ll struggle on the 12th/13th weekend, eh? I know I will.

A new loop

Today was sunny, warm and pleasant in a true “it’s nice to live in Kent” way. Distractions conspired to disrupt my plan to cycle to work (i’ll be doing that tomorrow), so I lobbed my running kit into the car and promised a jog instead.

Now the weather was superb and working on a 16 hectare site (according to the architect yesterday) surrounded by fields and trees made it feel like summer’s here, backed up by the need to drink loads more than usual and rue the idiots who insist we can’t build without covering ourselves in layers of protective clothing to make work as nasty as possible. But it’s a touch warm for running, really, especially at 5 o’clock in the pm.

Still, knowing i’ve a 10k planned for a month’s time and the Crisis run in a fortnight (anyone else want to join us for a pizza after? 5 so far, Cathy selecting the venue so the pizza should be fine…), heat is no barrier to training and i’ll be running through the summer for the Royal Parks Half, I guess, so may as well get used to it. And it is nice to be able to worry about the heat and not my leg, after all. Which is still sore, incidentally, but in a way that doesn’t scare me for future health and if I want to run, I reckon that’s better than climbing walls and being a grouch. So i’ve promised to keep the pace down until it feels perfect and just enjoy the runs.

Which wasn’t happening today for some reason.

I felt heavy, dead on my feet (no spring in my step, no surge, no push) and weary. The first mile was easy enough but after that, even on the downhills, I had no drive or spirit in the run. Maybe because of the race on Sunday and my lack of preparation, maybe just a bit tired but whatever it was, I seemed to trudge along the road. Even running a new route didn’t lift me but it was nice to see new things, evidenced by my taking a road too early, causing a detour to regain a road I recognised to take me back to site.

Still, generally it was fair enough. With hills everywhere, or so it seemed, averaging 8.07 doesn’t seem too bad. My leg feels sore at the moment and thinking back, it wasn’t very comfortable in the middle part of the run, so care is still needed, I reckon. I don’t know when i’ll be fully through it, but hopefully soon enough to enjoy a sprint or two again before I get too old!

Just got to hope Cathy gets better soon, then Juneathon will be a challenge. Hopefully though, fitness won’t coincide with her new computer, else i’ll have to start making my own mince pies again, and that would just be pain unlucky!

Busy

So busy, in fact, that yesterday I half forgot and half ran out of time to blog (in a remembered at about half past ten and couldn’t be arsed way).

But that’s ok occasionally, I reckon. Busy is good.

Still, yesterday (just) I took part in the Stelling Minnis 10k. In an attempt to see how my leg is coping style fashion, I wanted to up the mileage but keep the pace down and knew the only way was to pace myself with Geoff. That’s not to be demeaning to Geoff, but he’s a rugby player by build, a curry eater and drinker by habit and likes to run but not train properly. To the point of being removed from the Canterbury half three years ago in the back of an ambulance after mile 9 with fits, blackouts and all sorts following a night of beer and no sleep before a hot race. Whoops. Still, he does like to blame his wife for that for washing his dark shorts, forcing him to wear a dark top to not look silly with his light shorts. Quality.

So, checking that he was looking for a 51 minute pace, I set my Garmin and promised i’d stay with him. Promise being the word, knowing that as soon as I saw Dean and Francis (marathon finishers two years running, previously quicker than me but now a bit slower, nice people to see at a run as well as enjoy a beer with) i’d fancy a pacey run to see who’s better on the day.

So, we set off, Dean ran away just as the serious rain started and I kept Geoff up to date with pace info as we went. The first part of the course is undulating, twisty and thoroughly pleasant, if tempered a touch in niceness by the rain and wind. Nasty, nasty rain, a bit chilly, oddly running over my palms loads, coupled to a wind that made the car seem the best choice for 6 miles. Still the trees offered some cover, 8 minute 10 pace was roughly adhered to so at the halfway point, Geoff stopped for a water which settled the pace to bang on target. My leg felt superb, having had a good massage before the off to relieve most of the ache type hurt it seems to be suffering, but it was certainly not deteriorating as i’d feared, so I was happy to plough on.

The next bit of the run is slightly downhill, so a few seconds were made up, but with the hill at 4 miles looming, Geoff was quiet and I was wondering if we’d get in on target. Which is fantastic, considering it was a trepidatory recovery run. So, the hill came, Geoff slipped back, we lost about 35 seconds on target, over the top and time slipped a touch more until Geoff could pick up the pace, but at 4.5 miles, all speed went from him and my Garmin went over a minute behind and a good chat decided Geoff didn’t fancy falling over or anything, so I decided i’d stretch my legs for the last kilometer. So I set off. I upped the pace to a comfortably high level for what must be said is a horrible straight, right into the face of the wind. As I passed the 9km mark, I had 55 seconds to make up for an 8.10 average speed, but felt comfortable in my leg, so focused on that as a target. Plenty of runners ahead gave a good focus for progress and with 400 metres to go, 13 seconds to make up seemed easy, so I kept the same pace, finishing 6.23 miles in 50.48, leg very much in tact and happy.

The wind made it a bit of a trial, the rain was nasty, the course was excellent as ever, the lack of medal or shirt or anything means many people will never run it, but what a pity. A fantastic race, a good morning out and a happy leg.

I guess the advantage of blogging late is the ability to say that both legs feel a bit tired today, but with three big mileage hikes in a week, i’d anticipate that despite keeping the pace sensible, so with plenty of walking around site, i’m going to wait for them to feel fresh before running again, this time in preparation for the Crisis run then the Staplehurst 10k at the end of June. Target for that one? Well, let’s see how hot it is, first.

Yippee, I think i’m getting back on it.

Hot

Yep, it’s reached that time of year when it’s getting too hot for me. And having been moaning about how cold the winter was for so long, it seems a touch wrong.

Today was a day for change. On my road to recovery, my left leg has felt pretty good over the last 2 days but somehow on Tuesday I managed to tweak my right calf and it’s been a bit sore since. Probably carrying my left leg a bit, I guess. So despite stretching loads, it still felt tight as I set off this evening for my intended 4.5 miles, which was shortened to 4.17 because, I guess, I was feeling a touch tired, weary and dry after the day at work.

It was a weird run, mainly thinking about my New Balance 903’s as much as the running itself. Possibly not the most sensible thing to do, I guess, but i’ve got to move on sometime and now should be it, I reckon. After all, the run was to see if i’d be good for the Stelling Minnis 10k on Sunday as much as anything and these are the trainers I intend setting a fast time in for my future runs (not Sunday, though, that’ll still be recovery running. I’m not that stupid. I don’t think.) if the descriptions are to be believed.

So, how were they? Damned good, I reckon. I focused on staying neutral and not pushing, so the average time of 7.44/mile was surprising (including a 20 second stop at the 2 mile mark for a calf stretch) on knackered legs. I probably should be going slower still, but that’s not my style. But then nor is injury, so maybe soon!

They’re very light, it must be said, and their lack of cushion made the first half mile seem odd, feeling very low in the heel despite me being slightly front foot biased and not planting my heel fully in normal running. They felt as though the heel was just skimming the road each step to start with, but they soon felt neutral and just there, really. Nice. Then I crossed a bit of tactile paving (the raised nobbles on the slabs at pedestrian crossings) and was amazed how hard they were on my forefoot. As though nothing was there. Which, I guess, is how the speed was so easy – little cushioning to absorb and waste my energy.

No real ill effects from the run either – a slight rub on the inside of my left heel (no mark to see, though) and a reasonable, if hot, feeling of contentedness when I got back.

I’ll see how I feel in the next 2 days before committing to Stelling Minnis, i’m not fully confident I won’t hurt myself by entering and can’t face that again, and then don’t know which trainers to go for. Maybe ill compromise if I do go for it and run with Geoff to keep my pace sensible, go for a safe trainer (the NB’s can have their day in Staplehurst in 5 weeks or so) and focus on a happy run rather than test myself.

So, all fair really, but all made better by Joggerblogger rising from the ashes for his rightful place as head of Juneathon to keep us all honest for another year. Head to his blog, pester him to get back in the saddle (even if he can’t run still), agree to the challenge, join the inevitable Facebook group and fill your boots. It’s nearly time to be exhausted for a month (and that’s just keeping up with the blogging every day!)

Oh, and thanks to Jogblog for this week’s mince pies. I’ve been too weary to bake so she’s kept me in good supply. A true hero. With a huge, black and nasty ankle. Which currently smells of vinegar. It’s a good look which i’m sure she’ll thank me for letting you in on!

Getting there

And i’d like to think that stands for everything. From my ordering of “essentials” that i’ve quite successfully done without for my tenure on the planet (wall cupboards, dishwashers etc) to my ability to run, life seems to be coming together.

No running was achieved over the weekend, my priorities falling on moving my marvellous girlfriend from her nasty city residence to the gorgeous garden of England to spend the rest of her life with little old me. Even if it does mean being cold, putting up with my quirks (what’s wrong with drinks being arranged by temperature profile and using space accordingly? Apparently, lots. Oops.) and getting bored with sheep. But hopefully things are settling down, i’ve a million jobs still to do but it’s happening. The house is clean, most things are finding their place and running has resumed.

Cramming everything into the day seems to be the hardest thing. Today, I stole half an hour from work to run, averaged out with my locking up late, but it seemed to work. It’s my first ever run around north Maidstone, it involved a hill (Loose) and a card purchase (brother birthday) and went both quickly and easily.

A tentative start on mixed surfaces (tarmac, grass, rough verges) developed into the worst footpath ever, but it was all downhill and my pace was quicker than I imagined. I’ve been avoiding the virtual partner in an effort to stay slow and run comfortably, but my demons got the better of me and I switched screens today and just ran. I can’t pretend there’s not a bit of tightness there still, identified when I stopped as an ache right on my tear, but while running it felt fine and a good massage and stretch seemed to cure it.  I reckon the cycling has done a great job of maintaining fitness and speed while i’ve been healing, so more of that is to come.

I’m intending a 4.5 miler on Thursday to see if I can take part in the Stelling Minnis 10k on Sunday (favourite race of all) and will take it sensibly to avoid a setback, but i’m hopeful it must be said.

Fingers crossed, and maybe new trainers to be worn with a review to boot. Who knows? Does anyone care?!