Monthly Archives: May 2012

A day late

I had a lovely plan to get up and run on Saturday morning. But plans don’t always work. And my right leg decided that a nasty pain was going to appear in the middle of the right shin on the inner side that wasn’t attributable to anything except overuse so I decided to under use it.

Or, put another way (and in a spin style of avoiding missing a run!) I opted for a 15 mile cycle on Saturday followed by a 10 mile ride Sunday with a little off-road thrown in as practice for the upcoming weekend and a trip to Wales to pedal around a forest on Friday before being ferried up a mountain before bombing back down on the Sunday. My downhilling skills are rusty. I need any time on the bike I can muster!

Tuesday and Thursday’s runs went well, though. I dodged the showers both days (hid under a tree on Tuesday at one point, mind) and the hills hurt before the sprints really hurt. The sprints included an assault on the straight route into Etchinghill which took me down a nastily steep hill during my “fast” mile. 0.4 miles of down was swiftly followed by the same back up and I think the down is what did for my shin. Trying to keep up a pace to make my chest hurt wasn’t happening…until the up, the result of which was an average “fast” mile pace a lot slower than many flat average miles. Gordon Bennet, I may as well retire. The good news is the comparable miles to last week (yep…the miles I wasn’t going to compare for a month!) were a shade quicker. But I’m talking tiny percentages, so I’ll call it quits.

Anyhow, the cycling helped my legs well enough to encourage another hilly session today. And with a new pair of trainers to abuse, I was dead keen to have a go.

I thought I bought a pair of Brooks on Friday night but I didn’t. (I merely said to the assistant I thought I was running like a special child and was experiencing odd wear in my trainers. Could I try some supporting shoes, please. He said why yes, of course, I’ll bring some out. I tried three pairs (Adidas which felt a touch narrow and high on the instep, New Balance which felt odd in the toe box and the ones I got which turned out to be Mizuno). When i popped the Mizuno Wave Inspire 7’s on they felt responsive enough in the forefoot to suit my style but comfortable everywhere else. When I proposed a jog on his treadmill and he agreed to let me it was evident they provided me a neutral enough gait, so I purchased them). It was only upon telling Facebook that I’d bought some Brooks and then looking for the model afterwards that I realised my error. Ah, well…blind purchasing and no brand favouritism must mean the best choice on the day, no?!

Reports of high ankle fit and such were backed up during my outing by me being aware they are higher than most previous shoes but by heck…I’ve never run in anything so utterly comfortable. Every other shoe that’s been so plush has rubbed or left a blister or sucked all my speed out. These seem to have removed a bit of speed but I don’t mind that if the comfort continues. They feel like I could plod to the moon. No rubbing, no movement, no overheating, nothing but a shoe doing a fine job. I’ll attempt to avoid moonshot mileage next month during Juneathon but if I can’t reign myself in, at least I’ll truly find out if they’re still as good for double digit distance runs. I hope so.

But I’m going to attempt to reign in silly mileage in order to maintain my injury free running enjoyment and hopes to regain some of my missing velocity. The same hill/sprint/longer slower run regime will be adopted…with a little extra for the month and lots more cycling, of course!

Assuming I don’t wrap myself too hard around the Welsh countryside first.

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Ups and downs

The last week has, intentionally, been one that’s difficult to measure. The attempt is stealth improvement. The worry is no improvement or, indeed, decline in ability since last year. Which, I suppose following two stale months with injury, may be inevitable and I’ll have to accept it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, I have a product to review. The lovely folk at Under Armour contacted me and invited the use of one of their t-shirts. I’ve been wondering if they’re as good as the claims since overheating at the Folkestone Half in a dark top, so leapt at the chance. And this weekend has, at last, allowed a rise in temperature enough to assess any benefit.

The shirt arrived (a fetching dark orange…bright but on the good side of hideous) and looked, upon unwrapping, to be huge. Long and wide. But by magic, when pulled on, it fits like a tailored garment. Definitely not one to be held up in a shop for assessment of sizing! And with flat seams and wicking fabric, it feels great.

The useage test is going to sound like a product endorsement, so if you like criticism, skip this bit! Somehow the shirt seems to reflect the sun just as claimed. Despite a fair stretch with the sun directly on my back and with me focusing on the shirt to assess it, I felt no warmth at all. Not from the outside, anyway! The wicking seemed to be keeping me as comfortable as my Helly Hansen tops do as well, so all in I’m delighted. The hottest June and July days are going to be interesting to see how good it is against my pure white Brooks top and I’ll update further when I know.

So to the week in runs. Tuesday saw an assault on the steepest hills from and back to site. Downhill from site to just over two miles and then back up, it seems a bit brutal. Maybe because it is. The graph says it all:

The steepest bit makes 10 minute mile pace for quarter of a mile a fair challenge and turning left to see the hill continue is upsetting for a chest burning and thighs hurting as they were. It’s good for the soul, though, so I’m told.

Thursday had me taking the opposite direction along the tops of the hills and attempting some interval training. The plan was a half mile slow warm-up, then run as hard as I felt I could without pacing music or anything to take my mind away from my chest imploring me to slow down and catch my breath. It’s a horrible thing, along with the inevitable uphill bits getting in the way. This was followed by another slow half mile which then lead into another sprint. The plan was to go for a mile again with a turn-around half way through but traffic on the lane made me turn right and scuppered things when I had to stop again for cars, so I turned at 0.25 miles and made a shorter middle leg. I slowed as planned, though, allowing a further mile back where the first one was, to allow a future assessment of pace over averaged up and down slopes. The current answer is that I’m 17 seconds slower over the second interval. And that the first one wasn’t very quick compared to last years individual mile times. The highlight was pacing past two cyclists who’d overtaken me at the bottom of one dip and run out of steam as the hill went upward…oh how nice it would have been to have the breath to take the piss!

Maybe now I’m well over 40 it’s time to slow up after all.

But then yesterday was my long run, so I popped out for a series of local loops at slower pace and enjoyed (I’m sure that’s the correct term) 9 miles of lanes and byways. A good series of splits indicate I was comfortable from start to finish but my right leg is now sore…hoping it’s not another injury coming in. It felt superb all day, then I noticed it when moving around to a superb covers band of the Sex Pistols at a gig in Ashford and it remains a sore point now.

Hopefully it’ll improve, along with my running. The plan is to mix up my routes wherever possible so I won’t know if I’m getting better or not for a while before returning to the old route for a comparison when time might have allowed a change.

Fingers crossed. It’s race season soon, after all.

Fair Weather Runner…Rachel has the most apt blog!

I’ve been thinking that, in the same way that motorcycling seems a great thing to do all year round when you’re 20 but then falling off in the ice and snow loses appeal followed by the whole getting wet thing followed by the frustration at not being able to thrash it with abandon followed by the admission that yes, I do only go out when it’s pleasant enough to do so, my running is starting to do the same.

Having been soaked countless times and had my nipples bleed in my rain coats when I’ve plodded on regardless, this week I had enough.

A sunny day on Monday should have heralded a good run. It did, to be fair. I left site at 5.25 having had the sun go in at around 4.30 so it was warm (ish…not May warm, but better than January cold) and my mind’s eye had it as bright.

Which was wrong. Clearly. For at 1.75 miles it started spotting with rain. At 2 miles it was bucketing down. And I was on a new route along the tops of the hills towards Etchinghill which, to say the least, left me a touch exposed to the rain.

I enjoyed the run though, overall. But not enough that on Wednesday when it was tipping down all afternoon I could face an outing. So I didn’t. I got the rowing machine out and cross-trained. I hate the rowing machine. The resistance is great and the workout it gives my heart is superb, with variety given by a range of programmes to alter the resistance. But the calorie, distance, stroke rate and Watts (power produced) indicators are so inaccurate it simply demoralises. For example on Wednesday I targeted a varied programme of resistance with a 30 minute goal and 900 stroke aim. The stroke rate indicator hovered between 28 and 30 but I did 910 strokes in 28 minutes; the power reads 75 watts whether the resistance is at max or middling; Apparently I burned but 78 calories and my distance was a little over a mile. But my heart was spinning out of my chest at the same rate it would at 6.45/mile running. Bah.

But a good workout.

Which explains why, when the rain stopped on Thursday evening and I headed out at 8.30, I had so little energy that I barely plodded my way around 2.75 miles without collapsing with exhaustion. I guess it proves that mixing the training up provides much better overall fitness than focusing on one activity.

Which lead to the weekend and, again, my refusal to go out yesterday and get soaked and then take advantage of the dry evening to mow the lawn. Which meant that this morning dawning dry as it did, I headed out for 8 miles of fun.

A varied route was needed, so I opted for an out and back to the motorway on the back lanes. I fancied a loop but didn’t want to stretch my legs to 10 miles to find the best one in the direction I fancied and the route was interesting enough, being ignored since my marathon training two years ago, that it felt fresh in both directions.

The out leg was excellent. A crisis of confidence at 3 miles lead to a slow mile at  the turnaround but a fresh stride was rediscovered as soon as a) I realised I’d been running into a headwind, b) I’d been going slightly uphill (only slightly mind…it’s all flatter than a pan type cake, really) and c) if I could ease 4 miles out that easily, I could simply do it again.

And I did. A few “If I walk from here it’ll take 45 minutes” calculations went on in my head, but they weren’t serious considerations, merely ticks to make sure I carried on and didn’t suffer a late lunch. In fact, the last mile was one of the freshest of the run and a fine way to finish an outing.

Next week I may well increase it to 9 miles. With a sprint session on Thursday and some hills on Tuesday. All in the dry.

And pigs might just, too.