Saturday 30 November 2013

A slack two weeks until today

During the first half of November I got a lot of kilometres under my belt and wondered if I'd achieve 200km during the month. Due to some long work days and evenings out the second half of the month was less active and I only managed to just exceed the 160km. That's my usual average though so not too bad.

After much deliberation, today I decided to do a little over the half-marathon distance and see how my leg coped. At the beginning of this week I thought I'd got it licked by avoiding a certain pair of shoes. But then during the week the niggle re-appeared even without any running. I thought that if it can recur whilst at work I might as well run on it!

SO after 6 months avoiding the area I returned to Stanage. I didn't do the descent into Hathersage but stayed high (that meant crossing the bog unfortunately and gaining shoes full of muddy, cold water) to shorten the loop and returned home via Higger Tor. The weather was lovely, indeed rather too sunny in that the early morning low sun was a distraction whilst I negotiated the rockery on the edge. 

View from the pole

Looking towards Hathersage

Looking back to Higger Tor and Carl Wark
The stones and ascent around the 15km mark took their toll on my legs and I found the return journey hard work with 'empty' feeling legs. I had been eating and drinking a little so hypoglycaemia probably wasn't the cause.

I was satisfied with the outcome though, achieving just under 27km at better than 6 minutes/km. I suspect that is one reason it was 'hard work' as I did it with few walking breaks and only walked when the gradient or terrain was too strenuous for me. Once home I ensured that I went through the various roller and stretching exercises and they'll be repeated in the evening too.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Camera choice

The images and videos on this blog have been done with two Panasonic cameras. I think I've mentioned them in the past but doing yesterday's little DIY demo highlighted that they are by no means equal.
LX5 (Image stolen from Panasonic website)
I bought the LX5 a few years ago as an upgrade from a Nikon compact due to the excellent reviews it received. It was heading to being obsolete then but I went ahead and haven't regretted the decision. It's a great little camera and takes excellent photos even in low light conditions. The replacement LX7 builds on its success with an even faster lens, better burst rate, full HD movies and improved in-camera processing and even without holding on I'd recommend one of these to take really nice pictures. However the LX range aren't waterproof and the lens assembly protrudes all of the time and extends during use. These features make it less than ideal as a runner's camera.
FT25 (Image stolen from Panasonic website)
I bought the FT25 to have a shower-resistant 'flat' camera that would withstand a little abuse on the trail. The menus have a similar feel so there isn't a steep learning curve and the little package still has a quality feel to it. The lens system is wholly integrated into the casing ('folded optics') resulting in a rather poor F3.9 maximum aperture and that is the camera's Achille's heel. In dull conditions images are rather grainy, with image noise making a mockery of the 16.1 megapixel specification. The panorama mode is very convenient to use but can create artefacts during stitching and in general the results aren't as good as using the LX5 followed by Hugin. I wonder how the LX7 performs?

So it's the age old photographer's dilemma, quality versus convenience!

Flashing running light

As the night starts earlier every day I was looking for bright things and found a DIY solution.

One question is though, why do runners feel they have to be more visible than pedestrians?

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Powered by cake

On  my way home from work I ate a slice of New Roots' Everythingless cake. Of course it can't really have nothing in it but it does have lots of dried fruit and a little wholemeal flour. I think it is responsible for a great run this evening where I gained 11 Strava achievements. Some of these are nested so the real achievements aren't so great but it does mark a good consistent turn of speed. I might also have been helped by trying to achieve a good 1km pace alongside the park and so as I eased off after that nothing felt as tough as usual. The icy weather could have been an incentive too as I needed to keep going to stay warm. Whatever the cause, the whole loop was probably my third best effort but, most importantly, under the hour. Beyond that any differences are only seconds which are irrelevant on a road circuit interrupted by junctions.

The Brooks shoes do still feel fast and even after applying a bit more effort I've not suffered from sore calves so I'm probably getting used to them at the 11km distance now.

Monday 18 November 2013

Two going on Three

Swimming progress is very slow but this evening I comfortably managed a number of double lengths with bilateral breathing and a few treble lengths. During the third length my form was weakening and I especially developed a rocking head and reduced the degree of torso twist achieved during breathing. But nonetheless, that's (slow) progress.

Saturday 16 November 2013

3 days running

Today's saturday run was hard going, in part because I was trying to keep up with triathlete R, but also I suspect due to lack of recovery from Thursday's and Friday's exertions. Whilst such overload is a bad thing as it's close to overtraining it can be helpful to go out on a run repeatedly to practice the experience of running on tired legs - as will occur in a long event.

Now a good rest is essential though, especially as the hamstring/piriformis issue has been reactivated a little.

Friday 15 November 2013

A sunny day off

I'd booked today as annual leave some months ago and as the neck, shoulder, hamstring and knee (!!!) all felt good I decided to take advantage of the pleasant autumn weather.

The ground was moist throughout with plenty of fallen leaves and rotting vegetation, all part of proper autumn.
Sunny at Oxstones today
Last time I visited Oxstones the mist limited visibility but today there were panoramic vistas. Even with the sun it was fairly cool and I kept my jacket on throughout although for a few minutes now and again I was just a little too warm.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Pain in the neck

Since returning from Birmingham I've been suffering from a painful stiff neck. This is a problem at least a decade in duration but for the last few years it has been a minor, infrequent irritation on the whole. Taking care with sitting and regular massages seems to keep it in check - mostly. I've no idea what set it off this time; thin pillow, heavy rucsac, cold air, all of these plus swimming? Who knows? Anyway, it's not pleasant although the only impact it seems to have on exercise is making it uncomfortable to lie down for floor exercises.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Low drop run goes above 11km

Previously I've worn the low-drop Brooks shoes up to 8km and today I wore them for an 11.4km road trip trough Dore village. The shoes do feel 'fast' and indeed I recorded some of my best times in months but during the last few km of descent I could feel tension in the calf muscles on both sides. That's an indicator that I must be careful about lengthening runs in these shoes. Although they are a long way from 'barefoot' the heel drop is a few mm less than my usual road shoes.

Monday 11 November 2013

Hamstring OK, but still discomfort

I've been making quite an effort with the stretches and curls over the last 2 weeks and now the left hamstring has has much movement as the right. Nonetheless, over the weekend, whilst away in Birmingham the discomfort started to build up again.
The dusk skyline from the Library of Birmingham
Luckily I had an appointment already booked with the physio and she felt that doing 'tourist' walking, stopping, photos was possibly responsible for irritating it. Now, the pattern of tension and referred pain is classic piriformis syndrome; which is an issue I'd long suspected to be within the problem. Sitting on trains and planes is definately an irritant too!

I did do some shopping and came home with a Rab AL long-sleeved shirt. (Note added later: I've worn it a few times now and it is quite warm, OK for me on cold days but too much if you're a hot runner).
Image stolen from the Rab website