Tuesday 31 December 2013

Total immersion

I'm feeling substantially better in myself and decided to get out for a swim. My usual pool and the local council pool are closed for the holiday. Ponds Forge was open and going for a swim fitted in nicely with a trip into the city.

Stolen from the SIV website
On first appearance the 50m length wasn't too terrifying but on jumping in I was shocked to find that the end of the pool was 2m deep and the water was cool. Both fine for active lengths but not great if you need a rest. My first length was very rough as I was in a mild panic and going too quickly but gradually I paced myself. Mostly I managed complete lengths with bilateral breathing but occasionally I had to stop short and do a few lazy breaststrokes. Both ends of the pool were 'shallow' at 2m and the central portion was significantly deeper. No opportunities to stand up then!

As I crept towards a mere 14 lengths (still 700m) my arms were struggling to keep me progressing as they weakened during the course of a length. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I don't have aerobic arms.

It was a good practice session and has given me an insight into the 'next level' of longer lengths and a need to keep active to maintain body warmth. Open water swimming would be a vast leap beyond this!

Saturday 28 December 2013

Ongoing ache

Yesterday morning I felt as if I was improving a little but by lunchtime I knew that wasn't true and so took 10mg Omeprazole. Same again today and with little recovery in sight I've recently taken 20mg more. Let's hope that breaks the cycle, it has worked previously. I really hope so.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Return of the ache

Today I've been attacked by an abdominal ache once again. I'm never sure when I get these pains if it's the 'functional gastritis' first occurring in May 2012 or whether it's something else; such as an off chip! However, we've been eating and drinking very sensibly (especially in view of the traditional seasonal excesses) and mostly food of our own preparation so it's hard to blame an external agent.  It seems harder still though to blame my epigastric pain on stress as the week has been very relaxed with no transport or travel issues so common in the 'holiday season'. Yesterday's run was easy too, a very usual length for me and taken at a leisurely pace so it's hard to ascribe the pain to abdominal muscle effort.

I've just slept for 2 hours in the early evening and intend to go straight back to sleep until a goodly hour tomorrow morning. How can I be tired? I must be ill to a degree.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Christmas day around the block

With nothing much going on, a dry sunny morning and an empty apartment it seemed the ideal time to do a 10km run around the local countryside. We'd walked to east and west so I set a route to the south. The paths and bridleways weren't as wet as I'd feared and I made fair time although I had to stop at each junction to check with the map.
The ford in Shilton was too wet to cross
At Shilton though, the centre of the village was flooded  and as I didn't want to get cold by wading I had to detour along the road thereby missing out Mount Zion Bottom. That was probably no bad thing as  I expect that the valley would have been flooded as it holds the same beck that was flooding Shilton.

Descending on the bridleway to Widford

As I'd missed a little distance and ascent I extended the route to the north through Widford. Luckily there is a bridge there! Swinbrook looked as though it could flood very easily as water lapped across very minor side roads but the main thorough, if one can call it that, was dry.

Monday 23 December 2013

Cabin fever

The pre-Christmas weather has been foul. We've not been travelling which is a good thing but the wind and rain have kept us indoors.

Stolen from BBC news website
With only an hour of daylight remaining we decided to don the waterproofs and set out. I can't say it was pleasant but it was helpful to move beyond the building.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Still affected by the cold

It's amazing the difference that a few days makes. On Wednesday I was glad to be off work but on Thursday and Friday I got on OK although I was looking forward to the weekend. Today I felt able to go out for the Saturday morning run.

However, despite a good start, as the ascent started I could tell that I  wasn't really right.  I made it to the top of Porter Clough but needed a few walking rests and decided that I must 'listen to my body' and take a direct route home. My breathing was strained and the aches of earlier in the week had reappeared.

At least I went out and covered a relatively easy 12km and know that I need a bit more recovery time.

This afternoon I was in the car for a few hours and found that pretty uncomfortable. The roller came out as soon as practicable!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Horrid cold

This isn't an entry about the weather which is mostly acceptable, but about the common cold virus. Last Sunday I knew a cold was on the way and by Tuesday afternoon I'd decided that I'd be off work at least on Wednesday and that a run and circuits were inappropriate. Today, Thursday I feel a fair bit better even after a day in work and so hopefully I'm on the mend.

It's no wonder that I got an infection as colleagues at work and other circuit participants were suffering from it and I've probably passed it on too.

Its' a pity as I'd hoped to have another good mileage week but I suppose it has been a rest for my legs, even though many joints have had a feverish ache. I just have to remember that's it's only a week.

Monday 16 December 2013

At the physiotherapist again

Another session after a 2 week gap but things actually going well. A bit of tension in the left calf but nothing extreme (last week a similar know went with copious use of the roller) and not much else. I'm starting to believe that I am getting strength in the flexors of my left leg and they are up to the demands currently placed upon them - that is less than 30km.

We also discussed potential coaches and there's a list of 3 to try, including the circuits coach so that's something to follow-up in 2014 if I'm serious about the 100km.

Saturday 14 December 2013

50 mile training plan

I found this whilst googling. In theory quite doable but is a lot of time, whatever they say!

Round walk (3rd attempt)

Today was my third attempt at the Round Walk route and my third saturday run over 20km in a row. I feel if I want to achieve an ultramarathon distance reliably I have to make my long runs more regular and with a more gradual increase in difficulty. Last spring I went form 20km to 30km to 40km in rapid succession and that didn't work out well. Likewise in September I achieved an over 30km distance but it was very hard going and I can still feel the consequences now. My plan is to do at least 4 weeks for each stage before going up; even if, as this month I approach the next block.

The Christmas tree in Porter Valley

The Round Walk today was much harder than last week's Blacka Moor run. I thought that it might be due to a greater elevation component but on Strava there is basically no difference in total height gain. It might be that the ascent occurs throughout the run whilst moor runs tend to be up outbound and down on the return. This could show that I'm struggling with lactate buildup; do we believe it this theory?

Overall though I'm happy with the pace as it seems to be my fastest attempt:

  • April 2013; gaining lots of speed and strength, 2:25
  • September 2013; not as strong as I thought I was, 2:34
  • December 2013; improving again, 2:22

Monday 9 December 2013

Stretch & swim

The tender calf has been responding well to the roller in that the spasmed zone has relaxed; or maybe time would have healed it whatever. The important thing is that it's recovering.

Today's swim was no great advance. Three consecutive lengths with bilateral breathing are still a struggle but can be done with careful pacing. When my stroke is at its best I can feel how I'm pulling against the water at the deepest reach but maintaining form is a challenge. In general though it seems I am able to keep form more than I was a few weeks ago.

This is an interesting blog entry about how inefficient human swimmers are. So now I know why I can run so much further than I can swim. It looks as though I'm around the 3% mark.

Sunday 8 December 2013


I woke in the middle of the night with cramp in my calf muscles. This isn't all that unusual and seems to have as much to do with genes as running as my mother suffers from leg cramps and I don't think she has ever run 10km, and certainly not in the last 30 years. This time the pain was a little higher than usual and the muscles were reluctant to relax. I had to get the roller on them for 10 minutes before I dared do much stretching.

During the day I've used the roller and stretched a few times and now it's only mildly irritating. Hamstring and behind the knee seems OK. All the same chain of muscles though. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with wearing my more worn (>500km) shoes. I don't know, but it's logged here now.

I'd best go and do more rolling.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Half marathon PB set

I've not done much distance this week for a variety of reasons but that meant that I felt able to achieve something this morning. I decided to aim for a good time on my Blacka Moor half marathon. I set off in drizzle and as that eased and the sun rose I became a little warm. On the uphill section the pace was looking good and I arrived at Oxstones only a little behind 6min/km. During the descent to home it occurred to me that a sub-2 hour time might be achievable, I estimated that I needed a pace of 5:40 (having calculated it at home I have found it's nearer 5:38). Of course, to pull down to that I'd have to be going close to a 5 minute pace for the last third.

An atmospheric sky
I made a real effort; the descents I kept steady but I tried hard to keep going on the few gentle and not-so-gentle rises close to home. Anyway, I achieved it just, with a time of 1:58:48. That was very close!

Pace (lower) and grade adjusted pace (upper) show very good consistency during the run

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Hard work on the circuits

Observations from the last 2 weeks lead me to believe that the circuit class is hard on the delicate hamstring. Of course, they are supposed to be strengthening sessions and that requires an element of overload. During Monday and Tuesday the irritation eases but then exercises such as single leg squats (using TRX for balance) reactivate it. When you're doing day-to-day activities and exercises there is usually some compensation between legs but in this sort of isolation exercise the weaker one can't be helped out. Hopefully as it strengthens the problem will fade...