Thursday 31 October 2013

The end of October

October has been a little disappointing as I had hoped to complete a marathon distance and could not. Perhaps I could have, with resulting discomfort and slowed healing, but I've been advised to restrict myself to runs under 20km until the hamstring issue is distinctly improving. Presently the irritation ebbs and flows but the muscle is clearly upset once the half-marathon distance is exceeded. However I have tried to do more short runs and although this hasn't been a great success I still managed to do 160km this month. That puts me on a par with previous months although the pace hasn't been great.

Another positive outcome is that I have done an 8km run in the low heel drop Brooks road shoes without problems in my lower legs, so that has rewarded my very slow increments in distance with those shoes.

Sunday 27 October 2013

A few little updates

Over the weekend I finally found time to collate the photos I'd taken on my last run of 'The Round Walk' into a YouTube video. I've embedded that with the text retrospectively.

Additionally I've updated the 'Pace of the longest run a given month' image to reflect this weekend's run as I won't be doing anything longer and I've added colour for the years of data and given it a hyperlink to a larger image. Now it's quite clear that my pace is broadly the same for much longer distances than previously and that I'm doing a greater variety (unfortunately an injured month is quite evident) of runs now. For 2011 and 2012 I was not doing much different month after month. A similar chart for all of my runs could illustrate pace very well.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Blacka Moor 'half marathon'

As last week's saturday run combined with Parkrun hadn't irritated my legs I'd decided earlier in the week to do one of my informal race-length loops. A few weeks ago I had hoped that I might be doing a  marathon this weekend but with  the ongoing leg-ache that wouldn't have been wise, or perhaps even possible.

It was only just light as I set off with the street lamps adding to illumination. By the time I reached the woods there was a little more light and the colours of autumn were apparent.

Autumn leaves are just falling

My plan was to keep running, that is not do my 5:1 cycle and see what effect it had on my average pace. Initially it looked like a really bad idea as I was only achieving 6:30min/km but that was uphill! Also I was getting too hot as I'd got my jacket on as it was raining. eventually the jacket came off and that made me feel better and faster even if I wasn't. In just over the hour I reached a notional halfway point where I turned homewards at Houndkirk Road.

At Oxstones with a dreary view
Although it wasn't raining the clouds were hanging over the fells removing any chance of a view across the valleys of Sheffield. From Oxstones the trend is downhill although there are a few uphill sections to impede the weary runner. As the descent progressed it was obvious that my pace had improved and the average gradually wound back towards 6:20 and then 6:10. Perhaps I could just get under 6 minutes/km?

As is so often the case, the final few km through the woods were hard work and I was doubtful that I'd manage the magical '6'. With a final push on the tarmac, some of which is markedly uphill I made it home, and yes, the average was 5:54! Hoorary! Even this didn't get me a half-marathon badge on Strava as it seems I've done better a number of times before, especially around 6 months ago when I seemed to be at my strongest. Nonetheless it was a fair effort and doesn't feel to have inflicted damage on the hamstring.

Friday 18 October 2013

Swimming backwards

This evening I had to take a step back from my bilateral breathing to re-focus upon a  good stroke action. It had even slipped a little on my slow single-sided breathing. It's quite an effort keeping all the technique in place. I think I was probably tired after a long week in work too.

Monday 14 October 2013

Two swimming milestones

Whilst my legs seem fragile I'm making an effort at the swimming to try to maintain or even build fitness. How much is transferable between the disciplines is very debatable but at least I'm keeping busy.

This evening I've passed two milestones. First, I've been able to swim 3 continuous lengths, a grand total of 100 yards. Not a great deal I admit, but it is a step up from last weeks 2 lengths. The instructor had been encouraging me to go slowly and today I set off with a very stable, slow stroke and a goal. I managed this a few times and thought I could have managed a bit more so hopefully I'll be able to progressively increase the continuous distance now.

Second, I wanted to start on bilateral breathing so as to make my stroke more symmetrical (I have potential shoulder problems as indicated by previous events) and as a base for any future open water swimming; should I ever want to do that. The instructor encouraged me to just try it. After all, I can touch the bottom of the pool anywhere if I don't manage. First time I managed a fair first breath and a gulp of water for the second; a good job it's all the shallow end at this pool! Then I achieved a few lengths with a nice 3 stroke cycle. The left breath feels more awkward than the right and I don't think it was as effective but that's how my breathing was on the right just a few months ago. Many websites suggest all sorts of drills to introduce this technique but after all the nervousness it didn't seem too bad!

I didn't quite manage 2 continuous lengths of this pattern but I was tired by then. That can be next week's goal. Of course, a 3 stroke cycle risks more gas transport problems (oxygen debt or carbon dioxide buildup) but I think I can cope with that at my new-found cautious speed.

Sunday 13 October 2013

More new shoes

My old road shoes are Saucony Rides; the version 6 is currently for sale but mine must be 2 or 3. They show some wear but not all that much as I moved on to Inov-8 trail shoes as my distance increased. Perhaps more importantly, the pattern isn't how I currently wear shoes as I used to use them with orthotics. Combined with my ongoing adaptation to low-drop shoes it seemed best to retire these and go for some new road shoes.

The local shop had a special deal on a pair of Brooks Green Silence and I came away with those. Subsequently finding online comments relating these to racing flats put me off a little but the eco-friendly and broad fit aspects remained attractive. It appears that they are now discontinued but have a loyal following of runners; some of whom do large mileages so they should be OK for my relatively short road hops.

Note the marked asymmetry in the design

This evening I took them for a sub-3km spin and they felt comfortable and fast despite the slightly tired legs. An easy 15 minutes but at least they didn't induce any new strains.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Not the routine

Today I was unable to do the normal, routine, Saturday morning run as I was on a course. Not work related either. I'd been bought a day's introduction to pole lathe turning in the local woods as a birthday present. Over the morning our little group converted half a large log into a piece of wood each that would be suitable for turning. This involved a fair bit of axe work and then shaving the roughly hewn lump into an approximate cylinder. During the afternoon I turned a garden dibber. We were all satisfied with our work and had needed only minimal hand-on intervention from the tutor. An entertaining and educational day.
My handiwork
As we finished late afternoon I had the opportunity for an early evening run and did a pleasant 15km. I'd hoped the ascent would have been faster than it was but the descent was as fast as it felt resulting in a best time for 15km.  I was happy with that especially as both legs were playing up. The left has the ongoing hamstring tension (worse downhill it seems) whilst the right had a hint of ITB tenderness (worse uphill). I wonder if the latter was a result of lathe work?

Both improved with stretching and roller work and I'll be seeing the physio on Monday anyway.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Nano biathalon

Today I swam at lunchtime for just over half an hour and then ran this evening, also for just over half an hour. That's a first. Also I misjudged the time so came back through the woods just after dusk; so a first on a nearly dark trail run too. Finally, I was wearing new shoes as the ones that I bought in May which seemed to cause problems are now showing quite a lot of wear. The physio recommended starting to wear-in a new pair before the old ones are worn-out so that there is a less sudden transition when they've finally had enough. With even quite modest mileage shoes don't last long!

Monday 7 October 2013

A whole two lengths

At long last I've managed to do lengths of front crawl consecutively! The second had pretty scrappy technique but it was one. Then I repeated this twice more to make sure I could do it.

I'm surprised how long it's taken me to achieve this but really I've been finding 1 length quite tiring which is odd as I consider myself to have fairly good aerobic fitness. I suppose that swimming has far more restricted opportunities for breathing which puts demands upon tidal volume. Although I feel to be out of breath I suspect that there are regulatory issues from 'the central governor' perhaps initiated by fatigue of  upper body muscles engaged in anaerobic metabolism which cannot be sustained for long. I wonder how many years it takes to get 'aerobic arms'? Perhaps only 10 weeks if you train 3 times per week according to this article.

Just to close, there are some interesting comments in here that relate fatigue to carbon dioxide build-up rather than oxygen deficit (increased blood carbon dioxide is a potent stimulus for breathing, oxygen lack is not) and ideas for bilateral breathing. That's something I need to introduce as the right is a preferred side already.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Ongoing hamstring issues

After the Strava 20 mile run I had knots in my left hamstring, similar to earlier pain in The Knee but not so bad. Clearly I'd overdone it again! Whilst in Spain it had been niggling and a massage at the hotel hadn't helped very much. On my return I'd seen the physio (well a new associate) and he had worked hard at some trigger points and managed to get a lot of relaxation along my left leg. Now I need to keep up on the stretches and not re-irritate them by overload.

The physio recommended looking at 'Becoming a Supple Leopard' and some of Kelly Starratt's videos although the book gets some criticism here for being rather outdated in its view of musculoskeletal pain.

But back to practice rather than theory: Today's run was a standard saturday run with no extra elements at all! So far the left leg feels fairly good with no sign of an adverse effect. I'd hoped to achieve a marathon this month but that is looking to be too much; I'm not being progressive enough!

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Return to Sheffield but not to form

This evening's run was very slow and uncomfortable throughout its meagre 11 km. Both legs felt stiff and achy and it was all hard going. Perhaps the slight cold that I have doesn't help or perhaps the change from holiday shoes back to work shoes has upset my equilibrium?