Monthly Archives: August 2010

One month

Looking through my stats, it appears August marks my return to running proper.

9 runs, 13.5 miles and gradually ascending individual mileage all seems good in the scheme of things. If only it was all as easy as a couple of years ago when I’d go out and do 5 runs a month, double the distance, quicker overall and not even break a sweat doing it.

But then that was before I began to get broken. Before I tore my calf, before I fractured my shin. Up until then the biggest problem I had was preparing for the Hastings half when I had to rest for 7 weeks before the run due to shin splints (couldn’t get rid of them but wasn’t feeling competitive, so just stopped. Sensible approach with hindsight) but then went out in the race, eased my way through the first 5 miles (all uphill) at steady 9 minute miles, felt good at 10 miles so did the last 3.2 from the timeclock along the seafront in 21 minutes dead. Overall time was rubbish, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed every minute of it.

I think I’d like to get back to those feelings and just let go of any preconceptions in my running and maybe this injury is the launchpad for that.

When I worked in London I’d go from site to Hyde Park for a lap, throwing in some jumps on and off the memorials in a Parkour style along the way. I’d run the tops of the concrete jersey blocks outside the American Embassy on the way back to site, leaping the gaps left for pedestrians to pass, as I did so.

When I was running in preparation for the earlier Stelling Minnis 10k’s with Geoff, I’d go off route, run up some berms, sprint off to pull some flowers or anything to mix it up. He hated it since he was putting his all in and I was seemingly taking the piss – I wasn’t, I was just enjoying the fun of it all for that’s what it was. Fun.

Hastings seafront runs included some bench gap jumping as I strode along.

In simple terms, I’m not getting enough out of the runs to justify my injuries so, in an attempt to enjoy things through the winter I’m going to endeavour to go back to fun running and forget the stats.

Every run will have something odd thrown in. It might be a simple loop of something, a break of stride to take in a ditch, a sprint up or down a hill or simply a stop for some press ups or something, but I’m promising to take it back to fun times.

Today was 1.5 miles averaging 7.48. Next outing will be slower on average, quicker in at least one part but, hopefully, with something silly to remember it by.

Urban Gym for myself in a countryside setting if Sean from Audiofuel’s Juneathon inspiration can be stretched that far. I used to do it. I stopped. I forgot to enjoy my running. I’ve remembered. I’m going to get the fun back.

And if nothing else it’ll prepare me well for Grim!

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Yesterday..

I’ve just read my draft blog and have to confess it’s possibly the worst piece of prose anyone (even Alan Titchmarsh) has written.

So I’ve binned it.

Suffice to say, I did stuff yesterday, ran in the afternoon, did 2.6 miles (still maintaining my half a mile increase over two runs to increase my total by 1 mile per week and see if I remain pain free) and got home feeling overly warm (still need a haircut. Haven’t decided which one) but generally satisfied.

My focus remains the Ashford 10k in October. I’m looking forward to it, despite being resigned to being slower than I was two years ago. But I think I’ve built up a fairly good excuse reserve for such matters – all that remains is to see how deep into the bag I’ll have to delve in 6 weeks…

The 6.50

Having been encouraged to leave the office on time this evening (too much to do to leave early, really, having had an unproductive day of frustrations), I got in reasonably early and went food gathering.

A chilli and an aubergine later meant dinner was picked and I decided I’d nip out for my promised mile early so that I could enjoy my exercise without tiredness creeping in.

But the drudgery of a lonely, single mile meant I wanted to get it out of the way reasonably swiftly so, using the excuse of two runners heading towards me as soon as I turned the corner by the pub, I set off at a rapid tempo (for me at the moment, still in recovery mode) and decided to hold things there as long as I felt comfortable.

Which, as it turned out, was 1.09 miles.

My middle splits were the quickest but the average was 6.50 for the mile. Which, at this stage, I’m happy with. I wasn’t unable to go faster, wasn’t unable to go further and didn’t feel any grief at all so I feel I have a target for tempo running as the mileage builds, the leg strengthens and my confidence increases.

A ray of sunshine after a gloomy day, a depressed summer and some missed running opportunities.

If my recovery continues like this, I’ll be under the 1 hour 30 for the half marathon before I’m 40!

Black

I understand that, as I type this, up to several members of the population will be tuned into Channel 4 watching the end of the freak show that has become a summer programme schedule over the past 10 years.

I don’t find myself in that particular category but, each being very much to their own, I can achieve freakishness in my own fashion.

And tonight, Matthew, I couldn’t be arsed to change my socks for my 8 minute outing, so ran in the same black numbers I wore all day at work.

How very wrong. It seems odd that I’ve somehow decided that white socks outside running are wrong but black are wrong for running. For a mile it hardly matters – only 4 people saw me and they probably wondered why a long haired oddity would be running in the first place more than why his socks were dark and not athletic white, but the very act of not changing made me nervous that somehow my body wouldn’t take the run seriously and thus get injured again.

Well.

Nothing untoward happened. I ran away from the house for just over half a mile, turned around and ran back. 7.47 pace out, 7.46 pace back. Comfortably easy, no stresses, nicely balanced on my forefoot, just jogging along.

In black socks and silver trainers.

Yes, my old Saucony ProGrid Triumph 4’s are being aired as I recover. I’m not risking going out in the trainers that I broke myself in – I’m not superstitious, I just fucking hate them and resent the fact they ruined my spring, summer and marathon. Bastards. The pairs I trained in are well and truly knackered. My old Pegasus’s are long beyond gardening duties. My New Balances are for short races. I don’t want to buy a new pair until I can run properly since I don’t want a pair ideal for recovery only to have to leave them aside when I’m good again (if I ever get good again. If I ever was good in the first place.). So the Saucony pair seem ideal. Just about fresh enough to run comfortably (I pensioned them off about 200 miles into their life due to their immense cushioning making them so slow I feel like easing into an armchair), cushioned but stable ish.

But silver.

I’ll invest in a new pair as soon as I go over 4 miles (honest!) and can do a bit of steady jogging for a running analyst to ascertain if my injury has left anything that needs correction.

Or else I’ll get some Vibram Five Fingers and go for the barefoot idea to recovery. Just concerned they’ll be a bit cold through the winter snow, that’s all!

Gradually

I’m forcing myself to keep doing this thing slowly and last week gave me encouragement that it’s for good reason.

After Wednesday’s plod, Thursday saw me with a very sore leg. Not just the bone bit but the ligament and soft tissue around it. Very odd. Not the sort of sore to stop me doing anything; just enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. Friday left a residual ache in all the same places, Saturday a return to painlessness with the bonus of a forced leisurely day at a friend’s wedding.

So today was again pain free. With the promise of 2 miles on the cards. Which I completed around 4 o’clock with no drama and a lot less pain than before. A little twinge was apparent, but keeping the pace slower prevented it getting worse and now, a good few hours later, no out of place sensations are apparent anywhere. My pace was back down to 7.57 per mile average, but no pain makes that worthwhile so I’ll stick with it until things sort themselves out for good.

I’ve developed a plan to increase my weekly “long” run by half a mile each time until I get to 6 and, having matched my weekend run in the week for the last two weeks, I’m going to drop from 1.5 miles to one mile this week but do it Tuesday and Thursday to increase my overall weekly distance by a mile. Next week I’m planning 2.5 then two runs at 1.5 miles and so on to see if things stay good. I can easily stop, cut for home or slow things up from here, I feel, and it’ll get me to a reasonable consistency without pushing things in one big go I reckon so, if it can be called that, I have a plan.

And when I get bored I’ll swap one of the midweek runs for some pace work to liven things up.

I’ve adjusted my targets again and think I’ll leave my next half for a while, instead thinking I’ll aim for a 5 mile or 10k at a pace well into the 6 minute miles. Shorter training blasts, close to home with less time commitment appeal at the moment and I want to see if I can get fast for once before I get too old. Seeing Richard at the wedding yesterday brought home just how old I must be getting if he’s younger than me and looked that mature, so maybe it’s time to stop fooling around and simply sprint for a change. Maybe there won’t be too much time to go for it after all!

Pace

In my continuing recuperation running programme I seem to have come up short on one or two items.

1) The formulation of a structured programme to measure progress.

2) Patience.

I want to be able to run cleanly and happily all over again but know it will be a massively long task. But Jogblog forwarded me a 5k race to enter in Rye (where I’m currently working) and, looking at the results from the last one, I instantly started looking at the 21 minute finisher mark for where I’d place. Which is probably about 3 minutes ahead of a realistic time even assuming I get as far as 3 mile runs by early September. I’m hoping, but if everything gets uncomfortable again, I fear I’ll take aeons to recover let alone get back on it.

Today I ran my 1.5 mile route again and I’m planning to try 3 small runs next week to keep a steady increase in running without the high stress of longer runs. About a mile per week increase seems good – I’m not hurting at all with it at the moment, my muscles are recovering well (so they should with a poxy mile and a half run each time but I’m aware that tired muscles will make me lazy with bounciness which might increase impact and lead to bone problems again, so call me paranoid but I’m not up for another fracture!) so I think I’ll continue.

My best goal is to get to the Ashford 10k on the same day as the Royal Parks Half. I had planned to storm it and try for a stupid quick (for me) time, but I just hope now to be able to compete and sneak under 50 minutes if possible – 6 miles of sub 8 minute mile will be a nice idea, I reckon, after 8 weeks of running.

I’ll see how it goes. I’ve challenged all the young pups at work to make it a bit of a works outing in the knowledge that they’ve got up to 20 years youth on me, haven’t been knackered through the summer and think themselves a bit tasty – all in a bid to give me a goal to aim for even if I get frustrated that I’m not back on form. Don’t know if many will take me up on it at this stage but it might prove fun, will keep me focused as long as I don’t get carried away and hurt myself (which won’t happen!) and should provide a fine social afterwards.

Fingers crossed.

1.5

Since I’m not entirely sure what my goals are at the moment, I’m thinking a very slow, very caution increase in running is about right.

In this style and following a successful standing up experience after my mid week run (I didn’t collapse, twang, ping, snap, hurt or anything…miracle!), I was wondering what distance to attempt today when I thought long and hard about how crap it’s been without running and decided on caution and slow progress. For all progress is better than regression.

So one and a half of your English miles it was. Up Church Hill, around past the church, onto the gravelly footpath until turnaround point and back for home.

After a day racing dragonboats yesterday (only to win all our heats, including the one against the eventual winners, only for our timing and efforts to fall apart in the final and come home second by less than half a second) in Dover harbour I felt a bit lethargic, to be honest, which shows how pathetic I’ve become after 3 months without running. So the current run was satisfying for no pain and a pleasant outing, but a test of discipline in not turning for home despite it not ever going to break any records for either interest, speed, challenge or entertainment.

The first of many testing runs, I guess. But without injury, long may they continue. At least I’m back out there. After a fashion.