Monthly Archives: May 2011

A nice run and a sore neck

The intention for this weekend was to go for an outing of approximately 5 miles on Saturday to enable recovery for another short outing on Monday to allow a nice recovery period for Juneathon to begin.

Well between being too tired to do much at all on Friday evening, painting the shed on Saturday combined with shopping and an outing on the motorbike (trying to find some decent gloves which give the same bomb-proof feel my current ones have…they’re about 13 years old now, though, so despite having kevlar stiching and that, I’m not sure they’d be good in a fast spill. The search isn’t going well. Is it me or have bike gloves taken on a more fashionable, less robust direction of late? Why did Kushitani stop the GPR anyway?), my intention was adjusted and the run was postponed until today.

A not very early start was still good enough to allow me to have breakfast, finish painting the shed, have a cup of coffee and then get out of the door at about 10.15. The incessant wind of late is really starting to get on my tits (and being semi-retired from skydiving, god knows how annoyed I’d be if I was trying to get some jumps in) but the route I planned offered little real shelter so either the out or back section of my loop would be into it pretty much head on. And deciding I needed to loop around the unfinished bit of housing estate to bring the mileage to 5 without going miles further or creating a silly jink in the run, I opted for headwind on the return leg.

The majority of the route consisted of my favourite 6 mile outing and felt pleasant enough.

A minor tightness in my left calf gave initial surprise (I’ve been stretching lately and everything…honest!) but eased as I did the half mile or so on gravel that the local route offers and it was all I could do to remind myself that I wasn’t in a race and, as such, should keep the pace down and my breathing under control. I kept finding myself pushing on, however, and it was a bit of a battle to maintain a nice pace without striding into faster times. Running past a local getting his race car onto a trailer in readiness for an outing reminded me there is more to life than fitness, but my trainers are a touch more affordable than a shiny Honda Civic Cup car, so I balanced my envy against my need to plod on for another 4 miles.

The quiet country lane bit revealed a walker (who I passed again 2 miles later) and another runner with a lone cyclist being the only other human seen outside a tin box, of which there were only 7 in total so all in it turned out to be a quiet outing. I stopped briefly to pick up a soft-ish yellow ball which kept my spare hand busy for 2.5 miles and other than that, the run was unremarkable except for the distance. The loop around the estate brought the mileage to exactly 5 from front door to front door. No jogs around the garden or stopping at the gate, simply turn the key, stop the watch and enjoy the accuracy of the outing. Marvellous.

And a recovery followed by painting of the lounge ceiling (separate panels with multiple beams…miles of cutting in and a massively sore neck) has rounded out the week before the idiocy of my Juneathon plans can take hold of my life for 30 days.

Not a bad weekend with one more bonus day to go. Hope I make the most of that, too. Maybe a little run, maybe not. I’ll see how my legs and foot feel in the morning.

1189.28 miles to go.

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Juneathon and everything

Seems June fever is taking hold already.

Not only am I thinking about what to do if I can’t cycle to work every day (and I may buckle at the prospect in the pouring rain after wearing myself out for four previous days just as readily as I might wake up and fancy another half hour in bed, to be honest) as I promised in January but I’m even considering how many miles I should do if I decide to run everyday which, if I’m honest, isn’t wise. I’ve increased my monthly mileage gradually since I started again from my injury (12 in February while denying it was bad, zero in March while scared, 24 in April and 31 so far in May) so a massive step-change can only be foolhardy.

But the honest truth is that I fancy a small outing everyday. Mainly single miles, I think, on the back of the 31.5 mile daily commute on the bike, with outings thrown into the mix (Crisis being one such event). But the events show up their own challenges. How to cycle to work and back, then get to London for Crisis, run about 3.5 miles at a decent lick, have a pizza, get home somewhere around 1am and then get up again at 5.30 for a 16 mile jaunt to work (the Rye one-way system makes odd to and fro journey distances, in case anyone wonders). Maybe a Friday off work is the answer to that one.

Anyway, this is a running blog, not a diary of my personal organisational issues. So to business.

Today I ran.

Yesterday was a cycling commute (slower than of late but more tired, I guess) so I got home feeling ok before getting changed and wondering just when on my outing the ominous clouds would unleash their contents.

The new Adidas “best shoes yet, gloves on my feet, sleeker than slippers” Adizeros were laced up and Audiofuel “Through The Gears” was put into the MP3 for a change of running tempo.

I was a bit reticent about the music, to be fair. I haven’t been running enough to make the best of it but I was equally eager to avoid becoming stale in my runs and just considering injury recovery. So I gave it a go.

It’s my first time with Through The Gears and Jogblog loves it, hence the idea. I started slowly – not walking as instructed (what a rebel, eh?!) but jogging along towards the closed off road that saw my first go on the Pyramid 180 session before. My shoes felt good but the moisture underfoot revealed them to be a bit slick in the damp – something that disappeared in the coming rain, but more of that in a bit.

The first proper warm up interval felt odd. I seem to have lengthened my stride again with the little off-road running I’ve been doing because even 155BPM had me a) breathing harder than I thought normal for such a pace and b) going faster than I’d have liked. Especially with proper pace to come.

Still, shorter paces are available, so on I plodded.

The tunes in this session were most enjoyable for a mind such as mine, both up-beat and melodious which is perfect for an outing such as this. But then the pace picked up again and this coincided with a little up-slope (hill is too harsh a word!) and I felt all sorry for myself. But it all passed – the hill, the sorrow, the self pity, everything. 170BPM came on and I was loving it. Only for it to be just 2 minutes of intensity and then all over. Bah. Not enough. So I skipped to the beginning of Martin Yelling’s session and ran home to the warm-up and the beginning of the 160BPM bit. Warmed into the beat, this was perfect pace for easing home through the stair-rod downpour, thunder and lightning that engulfed me.

Again a shortfall in shoe came to light – about half a milli-second after the rain started, my feet were soaked. Much mesh equals wet feet. Ah, well. The odd thing was that with more water came increased grip again. Very curious.

So a lovely, injury free 3 mile session was enjoyed. Wetness was achieved (soaked to the skin by the time I was home). Juneathon planned a bit. Everything coming gradually together.

And only 1197.8 miles to go.

A new beginning

Following last week’s poor outing at Grim, Monday saw weary legs and a knowledge that new trainers were high on the agenda to allow ongoing joy and recovery in my running. The blisters from the old Asics Cumulus 11’s, along with their involvement in both the metartarsal bursitis (the marvellous woman in the shoe shop was familiar with the condition and reminded me of the name) from January and the stress fracture last year, to say nothing of their mileage being somewhere near the 500 mark, meant I promised never to run in them again. They show signs of wear in all sorts of odd places, despite still being comfortable for a short burst. And the New Balance trainers I want to use for races simply aren’t comfortable enough to increase my mileage as I want to without risking either discomfort (most likely) or injury (no reason to suspect they might but I’ll not give them the chance to!).

So, what with Jogblog demanding new shoes (hers are all low mileage but caked in mud and allsorts from her winter outings and seem all stiff and aged beyond their years so give blisters and discomfort whenever worn), we determined to pop to Sweatshop in Maidstone and pick some up. So, as soon as I got in from work, we went.

The old Asics were worn for the assistant to see how bad my equipment/running style/injuries are/were and I held an open mind as to what I’d end up wearing. Having loved several pairs of Nike Pegasus, as well as some Asics Cumulus 10’s, I’ve liked some Saucony Pro Grid Triumph 4’s, got on ok with the Cumulus 11’s but have little “brand loyalty”. If it fits, feels right and works, I’ll try it.

An outing on the treadmill in my worn Asics, however, had an odd outcome. Since April 5th (my last analysis with the podiatrist resulting in some odd insoles to help correct me), my gait seems to have recovered somewhat insofar as the assistant stated (and I quote proudly) “Your gait is beautiful”…”but”. Ah. “But”. As ever, there’s a drawback.

This but referred to me continuing with an odd left foot “shuffle”. From a stable, symmetrical upper body, my right foot does everything well and flows through the stride, footstrike (just touching the heel for balance before landing on the forefoot for a roll-through and power off) and follow through nice and smoothly, symmetrically and without incident. My left foot now does a nice strike, follow through and power off (it lifted instead of powering in April) but, just before landing, is rotated a fair way in, presenting the outer foot strongly to the ground which is corrected as it strikes, leaving and odd rotation and lack of efficiency as it goes. To say nothing of risking injury as mileage will increase.

The result was for the assistant to suggest some mildly stable shoes to try and assist the correction and recovery.

The upshot was the unveiling of the ugliest pair of trainers I have ever seen. Period. And I’ve seen Jedward with some nasty ankle boots that made those from the ’80’s look cool. They were Nike sickly sicker than a parrot, must be blind special editions, I think. Definitely Nike, though. Looked like a cross between infant school plimsoles, shiny brogues and some vomit getting into the colour factory. I never thought I’d try to dismiss functional footwear on looks (considering they’ll be filthy in 50 miles anyway), but I was close.

Until, that is, I ran on the treadmill again.

Shit is all I could say. Looking at the video, they transformed my left foot waywardness into that of the marvellous right foot. All oddness in the footfall was gone. Full efficiency recovered. Unbelievable was my astonishment. Could a pair of shoes really be so good? Well, there was a but. The heels of the shoes felt a bit odd. My feet seemed a touch “socketed in” which, while not unpleasant in itself, was a worry knowing what the Saucony’s did to me (blisters the size of planets for the first few outings) while getting used to them.

Was there an alternative, I asked?

The shop assistant said maybe. She went to get some Asics but came back with some Adidas. The shoe company responsible for shodding many a chav, fashionista and grumbot. I’d looked at their website for options and their running range includes flip flops, for goodness sake. Apart from Cathy’s Adizero limited editions, I’d not considered them much.

Still, I tried them on and…well. I think I was in lust. They felt just superb. The right shoe seemed to envelope my foot to the point where I smiled before even lacing them up. Slight padding but good evenness around the sole of both feet felt ok as I walked around the shop before an outing on the treadmill showed they were 95% as good as the Nikes at eliminating my foot rolling oddness. But I was instantly able to settle into a comfotrable stride, flowing with the rubberised roller’s surface with each stride that bit more naturally than the Nike ugly ducklings. They turned out to be Adidas Adizero Tempo shoes, are see through from the sides (doesn’t bode well for the winter!) and weigh next to nothing.

I parted with my cash before I could change my mind and think about things further.

Which made the rest of the week doubly annoying in my thwarted efforts to get out for an outing. More shopping on Tuesday, a tired lack of time on Wednesday, a puncture on the pushbike exactly half way to work on Thursday (resulting in inner tube purchase and repairs in the evening), a cycle home of Friday and massive lack of energy on Saturday (along with motorbike puncture repair and bits to steal my time), meant this lunchtime was my first running opportunity.

And well worth the wait it was.

The shoes simply slipped on and encouraged me to run. Simply getting out was nice, heading towards the fields was nicer, but every footstroke was a smile. No pain. No fuss. No worry about whether the next step will hurt. Enjoyable running.

The route was to be an approximate 4 miles (next proper outing is Crisis, so no need to  get up to half marathon distance just yet), so the Greensand Way was abused before half a mile on road mixed with the inevitable climbing over a million stiles to reutrn home rounded things off. Well, a lap of the garden fully rounded things off, but the running was all good.

A couple of hours have now passed and I feel fresh as a daisy. No leg, foot or any other pain, in fact. It’s simply remarkable. And thanks go in massive amounts to Orsi (the assistant) in Maidstone Sweatshop who put me in such shoes. Everyone else has always recommended neutral shoes so either I’ve changed or they’ve been wrong…whichever it is, it’s good to use someone so good at suggesting something I’d never have found myself. All backed up with a 30 day return guarantee should they turn out wrong when at home (be a laugh to see if they allowed Gary “Local Adventures” to return a pair after 30 days and 435 miles, though…maybe that’d be a test for them!).

So shoes that fit like a glove but work like shoes, a nice outing and something to look forward to. Just got to hold back the enthusiasm for another outing long enough for my foot to not go into damage limitation mode again.

1232.46 miles to go. And looking forward to every one of them.

Oh, and do I spy Juneathon around the corner? Yippee!

Grim?

Yesterday was Saturday and, as such, the day of the “Grim-Beast in the East” event. Having missed December’s postponed Grim event in January due to my foot I was looking forward to a social plod around Canada Heights motocross circuit with EatingTrees and Hauling my Carcass (see their links in my blogroll) and their friend Paul and, upon arrival at the venue, my anticipation was heightened while looking at the circuit and the marker tapes indicating that, indeed, we were to use the circuit proper.

A look at the organisational layout indicated a devil may care attitude to organisation which might be good and in the spirit of fun. Unfortunately it was merely disorganised. Far too few toilets, no promised changing area, a key drop that looked as secure as a wet paper bag (and upon finishing and going to get my key turned out to be true…I merely rifled through the box holding my race number group of numbers until I happened upon my keys. If I’d seen a Ferrari key, I might have helped myself!) but was the best I could hope for and trust another runner, as it were.

An absence of significant amouts of rain made the course as dry as everywhere else in the south east and the weather was spot on for a gentle amble around the countryside. Which, unfortunately, was what the event can be summarised as for me.

The social part was excellent and the event being labelled as a challenge was accurate enough but the challenge turned out to be not getting annoyed at everyone walking up the steeper ascents (right from the beginning of the first climb which was too narrow to navigate around them from the rear part of the field from where we started) before a bland lap of a featureless field inserted to increase the mileage. My frustration increased on the first lap proper of the motocross circuit, with most people around actually stopped at the top of the down slopes to have a look before trying to slow themselves up too much for the descent. Tom had a good technique for this, it should be said…simply letting himself go completely with apparent disregard for stopping before the corners at the bottom of the first few slopes was refreshing, amusing and a reminder of how we all used to do things as kids. It’s not hard but boy were people making a meal of it.

By 2.5 miles we became a bit disjointed as a group and I ran along at a comfortably slow pace to preserve my foot (which was a little uncomfortable at the start but freed up nicely as the outing wore on) and legs for the final lap of the circuit while not worrying if the others were with me or not. With few laughs or special challenges due to no streaming sand or huge puddles it felt much like a challenging cross country outing rather than a challenge proper.

A rather pathetic scrabble under a cargo net seemed a bit embarrassing for the event in the circumstances before another forced walk up a bit of singletrack behind a bunch of girls (who, incidentally, didn’t even have very pretty arses to assist the torment of not running in a running event) lead to another unispiring circuit of a field with views of motorways, the car park and some power lines before returning to the track for a lap before a loop to the finish. I found myslef urging on an antipodean chap in some silly headwear through this stage – he had surge in his legs (powering up the first bit of each climb) before his lungs had him peter out before the crests only to recover and repeat the performance. It was nice chatting but emphasised how little effort I could be arsed to put in to an event I clearly, by now, was a touch jaded with and wanted to be over. I just about put in a spirited finish but again it was a touch lacklustre and feeble in the spirit of my experience.

I guess frustration is the key to my sentiment. A challenge was the goal, not a race time or further injury or lonely outing around Ashford/Rye/wherever I happen to be for an outing. A challenge isn’t simply walking up slopes, easing down them and circuiting a field with other people. Maybe I expected too much or wanted something different but I don’t think so. Just to have made the best of what they had would have been great and I don’t think the organisers hit the mark.

I’ll feel daft when I read the other accounts of the outing, I’m sure, but my feelings towards the event are here. At 5.98 miles (even with skirting the track to make use of the berms to increase the fun/decrease the frustration) it was an odd distance using the area they had very oddly with an odd outcome in my feelings. The highlight of catching up with the others rescued the morning but that it should come to that is a shame.

Will I do another Grim event? On the back of this one then no. I think I’ll get more from a challenging/undulating/hilly traditional outing with decent organisation than a similar do to this but then maybe the frost/ice/wet of the winter version makes it worth the trek. We’ll see.

Still, on the plus side I remain uninjured (for now – I’m about to run to town to pick up JogBlog’s bike from the station so maybe I’ll knacker something then), 6 miles is again the furthest since Janathon in one outing and I have a new personal worst time for 6 (ish) miles to measure myself against as I get older and more incapable of maintaining bladder control. Be thankful for small glimmers of sunshine, eh?

1281.44 miles to go.

Weary

I think that’s the term I’m looking for.

Full of anticipation for Grim on Saturday morning I decided to front load my mileage this week and, since Monday looked best for weather I opted for that to cycle to work. And a good choice it was, too. No wind on the way in, a breeze picked up over the course of the day which blew me home and made light of the trip. So light, in fact, that I got the bit between my teeth and pushed on a bit to arrive 98 seconds outside the time I’ve targeted myself for the end of the summer when I’m fully fit and used to it – I’m looking for 20mph average which, considering the hills on the way, won’t be too shabby if I can achieve it and, since only 98 seconds are needed now, it looks possible.

This was followed by a tired day yesterday but, knowing I had plans for tomorrow (village meeting and morris dancers to watch in the pub after), I wanted to do the run and “get it out of the way”. Not quite the right phrase, but close to the sentiment.

I was tired, however. A plod was achieved but with heavy thighs and legs thumping rather than springing. My left calf even felt tight but this was a phantom tightness…it miraculously felt fine as soon as I turned for home on the off-road section of the run. The off road section that now has millions of kissing gates which, combined with heavy legs, give enough excuse to stop to go through them rather than jump over them, creating a final mile 20 seconds slower than the previous 2 slow ones.

But it was an outing. I still feel tired but less weary than yesterday. A good session preparing my next vegetable plot has cheered me up this evening but a bad day is in prospect tomorrow so the pint with the morris dancers might be enjoyed more than usual. Who knows. I will tomorrow and maybe it’s best I don’t!

And so to bed. 1288.42 miles to go.

A runner

I think I am, once again, happy to consider myself this following a decent week of outings, little pain, a few more miles than of late and a happy outlook to my outings.

Two mid-week runs were followed by my planned longer run yesterday and, while not long or fast or any other describing word that can be justifiable, at least it was more than the 4 miles I’ve been restricting myself to and slower than the rushed pace I’ve become a slave to. It was just another pleasant run but that, in itself, is the key. Just another run…if I can continue to put these in for the rest of my existence on the planet, I’ll be delighted.

It was a round 5.2 mile outing consisting of an out and back 2 miles with a loop of the lane I normally do first tacked onto the end in case foot pain started up. The timing was interrupted by running past a bloke in his drive, getting to the far end of his house (large gardens, these country properties!) and seeing his chickens wandering out off his plot and into the path and road, causing me to stop, loop back, interrupt him from his van-cleaning and tell him, before continuing on my merry way. Very good deed for the day style, if I say so myself.

The final looped on bit was a treat, too – low sun making the scenery seem softer than usual despite me wondering if I was meant to be feeling that hungry after 4 lowly miles but the time sped past and all too soon I was home, stretching my calves to make sure no niggles interrupt my coming outings before slouching out for a couple of beers and a pizza.

5.2 miles pleased me, making 12.5 miles total for the week another milestone in recovery terms – longest week since January and more than February’s mileage total already.

My Grim “Beat in the East” race number arrived yesterday, too. I’ll be going along for a happy outing and probably sacking off the Stelling Minnis 10k the day after, but will keep my options open – if I fancy both, who knows what the weekend will bring? An outing on Wednesday will be my final one before Saturday so the weekly mileage will be lower next week but 6 miles off-road in one go should be good for the soul as well as motivational for the rest of the month. I’m looking forward to it already. Even if it does rain, gale and get cold!

1323.02 miles to go.

Delayed

And so it is that, once again, I find myself blogging the day after the event. And all due to being a bit of a disorganised fool in the shopping department.

My outing yesterday combined walking with JB up to the polling station in order to exercise the privilege granted by previous generations winning wars and the like followed by JB walking home while I plodded out through the lanes to return via That Evil Source of Corruption Outlet (TESCO…see what I did there? I might try a different version each time I mention it) to purchase some milk.

The running part equalled just over 3 miles and, combined with some vegetable plot digging (still pulling up bricks and hardcore…many moons to go before I can turn it into a food ready plot), was going to be my exercise for the day.

But.

I hate “buts” and in this case it was my stupidity in imagining that I had enough butter for my packed lunch without reckoning on mashed potato for dinner. The result was a need to go and buy some more. Little after half an hour since I’d been in The Enterprise Sincere to Creating Obesity. I simply couldn’t face going back. So opted instead for a trip out to Sainsbury’s on the other side of town, a round trip of just over 7 miles, done on the road bike as a bit of a sprint and instead of cycling to work today.

It was a more memorable ride than the run, mainly due to running 9 red traffic lights over the course of the journey but was best for the fact that I passed a car that passed me a couple of hundred yards from the house on the way out as I ran the last red light about 3 miles from home. Made using the bike feel more justified than simply making me fitter and smile more, if nothing else.

But the result was not having the energy to blog when I got in, hence the catch-up now.

A longer run planned for the weekend (5 miles minimum – might go 6 if my foot continues to behave but will be a loop near home in case it does play up, rather than my favourite 6 route that takes me on a single course with no escape route) might round out my first week since Janathon with 3 runs with a smile and a weekly distance I’m happy with.

Fingers crossed.

1338.43 miles to go.