Thursday 31 July 2014

Hard work

On the way to circuits last night I was concerned about my left patellar tendon but by this morning the right was the sore one! It can't have been anything serious as it was fine by the time I reached work and didn't trouble me during the day. I worked out that I have run 23km, my week's quota, in 4 days. I ould do with reallocating my sessions somewhat.

Late in the afternoon I went for a swim. Today I was focussing as usual on the exit of my hand but also trying to exhale for a greater percentage of the time and look a little backwards when inhaling. I didn't worry about taking slightly longer rests between each length. Some lengths felt to go very well, others were a bit scrappy. After 38 lengths I was clearly tired as I was losing form and finding breathing harder to accomplish so it was time to stop.

Finally, although I have mentioned that I must be cautious of aiming for Strava gongs I am pleased to reach one as it shows that I must be getting back on track.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Discomfort recurs

As I approached the end of this evening's run my left patellar tendon and the lateral part of my knee were a little sore. I suppose it has been a heavy day - I've been up and down stairs at work more than usual. It has also been a heavy few days as I had a longish run on Sunday morning and with today's run that's 18km in 3 days.

Monday 28 July 2014

Ongoing swim

More of the same really. Still struggling with the end of stroke, entry is reportedly good. Much as I hate the idea I'm focussing on technique and endurance will have to follow. That seems to be the preference of the teachers. It also means that I must be careful on my Goodwin swims to maintain form and not get carried away with distance.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Early morning run

For the past month or so my Sunday run has been in the evening but today we were going to be at a family party and so the run had to be this morning. Rather than dither I went soon after the alarm sounded and ran a slightly shortened version of my Dore road loop. All of it was run gently. The downhill sections to avoid load and the hills to keep my heart rate below my recently self-imposed threshold of 135.

It is clear that when I've done this loop making a bit of effort that my heart rate will have been far higher. The heart rate itself isn't too much of an issue it's more that it is a proxy for effort and repeated high effort leads to overtraining - I think that's where I've been. I think I'm starting to understand the difference between training and race pace and how this fits into long runs and interval runs. It's not all that complex but I've not been doing it well for 18 months. I was following the ethos that I should make an effort on every run and a lot of effort at some points to reach a particular target. That's too much on a regular basis and to a degree I blame Strava for feeding the human need for gold stars. Maybe this is all part of learning to run and the need for many months to become a solid marathon runner.

If it's just this simple it's a pity that I couldn't have learnt this a year ago which would probably have enabled me to reach my 100km goal. Now, with care, I might achieve it in my 50th year.


It's almost impossible to keep IT kit for some years. I'm using a Garmin 110 that's still working fine and a 32bit Intel Macbook that after installation of a SSD is pretty good. It has OSX 10.6 installed as that seems a fair point to stop; it's debatable if 10.8 will work and 10.7 was a weak version.

But today:

which means that I can't upload my GPS onto its manufacturer's page! Luckily Strava is still OK but there's a fear that their plugin will follow Garmin's lead.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Metric mile

There wasn't a children's class at the Goodwin pool this morning so there were 4 lanes available. However there appeared to be more adult swimmers than usual so it was just as choppy. I made my usual stiff start and gradually relaxed, especially after about 40 minutes as people started to leave. That made the water a little flatter and it gave me the impetus to do a few more lengths. As I reached 35 lengths I thought that it would be a great idea to swim for the hour and maybe reach 1500m (spot the slow speed!) I managed to do the 1500m just under the hour and decided to stop at that point. As before, there were gaps between lengths although they felt to reduce as I went along.

Plot of duration of length (including gaps) for consecutive lengths

This chart does suggest that my pace does have a trend to increase during the session. I think that as I get tired I don't even try to push on and so I don't feel that I need a break. It was probably helped by other swimmers leaving and the water flattening.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Over a barrel in the swell

I practiced the over the barrel approach at the Goodwin but found it very hard work to keep it tidy whilst coping with the swell. As swimmers left, the water became a little steadier and I managed to relax into the swim and managed a few tidy lengths before tiredness set in. I didn't make much effort to join the lengths together as there was plenty to challenge me. I feel that if I try to be comfortable I'll lose the entry and exit components of the stroke and I'll be back where I was a month ago.

On a positive note my knees have recovered during the day suggesting that no serious damage was done yesterday.

Wednesday 23 July 2014


I ran to circuits very gently trying to keep my heart rate below 135bpm - not easy on the ascent to Banner Cross. I included the descents so arrived with a bit of fatigue in my legs. The session was typical and included some squats and lunges but took those fairly easy. Then I returned home running most of the level section. At this point I knew that I'd given my knees a hard time as they were both a little delicate and the left quite tender.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Heart rate

The physio would like me to get my lactate threshold tested once I'm strong enough to run on a treadmill to that intensity. Her belief is that I've been running too close to my 'race pace' during training and that this has put too much stress on my body; perhaps even to the extent of some overtraining.

Today I took the train to London and in a running magazine found an article containing the following phrases:
" runners...often push themselves too hard..."
"Most runners don't work on this easy aerobic base enough."
"...runners also tend to have a very narrow pace window..."
This all sounded very familiar so I rummaged around and found the hart rate strap for my Garmin 110. I expected the battery to be flat but it worked!

I was surprised to find that even on easy sections, that is shallow descents, my heart rate didn't drop below 120bpm and on the shorter ascents it exceeded 150bpm. This is a little shocking as although I haven't had any laboratory investigations it would seem likely that my aerobic heart rate should not exceed 135bpm and that 150bpm is going into lactate threshold territory (tables in 'The Lore of Running' and see below).
Typical heart rate estimation from
The take home message from this seems to be GO SLOWLY.

Monday 21 July 2014

1 hour swim

This evening was my longest swim, a few seconds over an hour. Even though it was a KES class I still did my longest distance too at 1.3km. Most of the class was looking at entry and catch element of the stroke. As I wrote a while ago it seems that I was over-reaching so that my elbow was often entering the water with my hand rather than after. This is all part of the 'over the barrel' action I keep hearing about. If I lead with my little finger it seems that I achieve the sort of entry required. Notably it does make the reach shorter after these weeks of being encouraged to go long. It's not easy to know where I'm going sometimes.

Additionally I've been trying to be a little taller, looking up the pool a bit and trying to integrate a shoulder roll to each stroke as well as into the breathing stroke. Some of the lengths went very well, but as I've noted before, that is associated with more muscle power and more fatigue.

I made an effort to finish with 3 lengths separated by only brief pauses although I was aware that they were getting progressively more scrappy!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Rest week

This is the 4th week in what I hope will become a routine cycle of 4 weeks. I had increased by 10% for 3 weeks up to 23km and this week was to drop back 20% to 18km. Anyway, I won't have time to do a few more km this evening so I'll have to  make do with 15km. I have cut the grass (push lawnmower) and been for a 7km walk so it's not been an idle day. I am aware of the left knee a little but nothing marked. Tomorrow is a swimming day so there's still 48 hours of recovery before the next run.

Over the coming week the plan is to aim for a weekly total somewhere around 23km and then to step up 10% over 3 weeks. I must make sure that my 'long' run doesn't start to get more than 1.5x greater than other runs during the week. I have to make an effort not to bother about pace (whilst maintaining cadence) and feel free to walk descents and possibly even include programmed walks on the longer runs. My putative plan is thus:

Tue: 7km
Wed: 5km - gym trip
Sun: 11km

Tue: 8km
Wed: 5km - gym trip
Sun: 12km

Tue: 9km
Wed: 5km - gym trip
Sun: 13km

If that all goes well then there will be a 4th rest week with 21km max.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Slow swim

This morning I was working on my stroke (as usual to a degree) rather than continuity and ended up with a rather slow result. My records don't take account of 'rests' so I've no idea of the proportion of movement although  do know that I found the session hard work and did take longer rests. Part of the reason for the effort was that I was trying to exert more force with my arms and use a little more leg action to raise my feet. I suspect that the isolated lengths were a little faster than usual although I've no evidence for that! Something must have been an effort as my arms are tired now! I suspect that I do over-reach a little in my search for a full stroke and that maybe I'd improve my catch with a little less reach - but probably only very little. I'm more sure that I'm not getting enough roll on non-breathing strokes too. So much to think about and try to control.

Friday 18 July 2014

Week 11; a new beginning

Spot the difference. Really the previous 10 weeks should have been labelled as recovery X.X but I'm not going to revise almost 70 entries. This week I have decided to mark what appears to be a real step forwards by ditching the numbers.

Today has been a rather lazy day at work but that has avoided load on my knees. On the walk home they felt good apart from a very mild sensation of inflammation in the left. I don't know if it's possible to feel excess tissue fluid when it's not under pressure (calor, dolor, rubor et tumor)  but I've had this feeling more than once in my knees.

This is programmed to be a rest week so I took a short road run this evening to try to break out of the lethargy. Maybe it worked. I've only a couple of km to do to complete this week's quota.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Exercise 10.7

Two consecutive days of running and I am well aware of it. I felt that I walked rather slowly to work but didn't notice and problems whilst there. On the way home my knees were distinctly tired but the biggest sensation was from the right patellar tendon.

Apart from the walks today was a rest day. I need the recovery.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Exercise 10.6

After yesterday's 7km without a pause I was expecting to feel a little delicate and I wasn't disappointed. However it was only mild tiredness in my legs and I was able to run slowly most of the way to circuits. In the class I was able to do a fair number of small squats but close to the end I did feel a little twinge from the left quadriceps.

I walked most of the way home.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Exercise 10.5

I'm almost in the habit of doing the step-ups as I arrive at work. I did remember to do them this morning and all was well.

This evening I did my usual basic run around the woods, and for the first time in many weeks, ran the descents too. The whole route was done relatively gently although I did make a bit of an effort on the 3 ascents. On the descents I tried to think about gait, especially not trying to slow myself, perhaps trying to run into the fall where it was shallow. On some of the slightly steeper bits that didn't feel right and I was conscious of being a little heavy on my heels.

Tomorrow, or even Thursday, will show how things are going.

Monday 14 July 2014

Exercise 10.4

Not a lot to take away from the session with the physio this evening except that she feels the knees are improving. We agreed to take a step back to 18km this week with a 3 week step forwards to perhaps 25km thereafter. Also to not make an effort to be faster. We had a short discussion about how to integrate strength exercises - the same as a running day or inbetween? When does the rest day occur?

At swimming I focussed on technique again and the issue was a flick on my left hand when completing the stroke. I think I'd started doing that to ensure that I did complete it! With a bit of concentration I was able to complete tidily with both arms and then enter the water smoothly. The instructors made a point of praising this success. As I've noted before, the first lengths are stiff, then I relax and things go well and then I'm tired as the end of the class approaches. Hopefully if I've managed to achieve some good lengths I can work on making them more frequent.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Exercise 10.3

This is the end of my third week with a goal of 20km per week. This evening I went a little further than intended at 10.1km. I'd aimed for a road run of 8km but hadn't checked the route before setting off. It was a shortcut of a 12km loop and so I suppose that it came as I should have expected. I had planned  a road loop as a change from the woods; although they are picturesque I've done the same loop 4 times a week for the last few weeks. Road is less forgiving from an impact perspective but there aren't as many obstacles underfoot to negotiate. More important than the 10km threshold is that I ran the first 6km without a stop. I probably could have gone a bit further but I was on a descent that was longer than I'd anticipated so thought it wise to walk.

I've done my rollering but need to do a few stretches before bed. Tomorrow will be the test of how well I'm recovering. If all is well, that will have been an increase of around 10% each of the last 3 weeks which is probably a fair limit. I think next week should be a stop back, perhaps 15km with maybe a little bit of faster work. I'll see what the physio recommends tomorrow.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Exercise 10.2

This morning's swim plan was to make an effort to do pairs of lengths with as little delay in the turn around as possible; but allowing rest between pairs. It felt to go quite well although  I was still counting to 5 rather than heading straight back.

I thought that I had done some good times on lengths but the figures once home don't support that. The only clear factor that I can grasp is that I don't experience the tingling fingers that used to affect me after double lengths. I never worked out if it was caused by hyper or hypo ventilation but it must be better to not have it! Maybe if I eliminate the counting pause or strive for triple lengths it will return. A task for Monday perhaps.

Friday 11 July 2014

Exercise 10.1

Almost nada. One set of step ups on each leg and as yesterday a general positive trend through the day.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Exercise 9.7

Today had to be a rest day after the preceding exercise days.  Apart from the daily commute the only exercise today was 1 set of step ups on each leg. There were a few little niggles from both legs, both from patellar tendons and quadriceps insertions. The positive thing is that they settled during the day rather than became worse. Although there was a rough start I have to hope that the day's trend shows an underlying improvement.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Exercise 9.6

Both legs were distinctly tired as I walked into work this morning. I was a little worried that this showed problems from yesterday but during the day I wasn't aware of any problems which is a positive sign.

I ran very gently to the circuit class and there did the squats, lunges and jumps of my strengthening programme in addition to the normal core and upper body work. Walking back home my knees didn't feel painful although both felt 'tired'. I've a few days of rest now before my next run which will be valuable.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Exercise 9.5

During today by knees felt pretty good in that I was barely aware of them. On this evening's run I was well aware of the left by the time I'd finished. I did the same loop as last week but backwards so that it gave a slightly different loading. Perhaps it was that change, placing descents in different places but for some reason my left knee suffered. I tried a little descent near the end and it was uncomfortable running, although fine while walking. I don't think my pace was any faster than usual but I don't really know down to a few minutes as the battery went flat on my GPS.

To wrap up there was rollering and stretches. The calf muscles are feeling rather knotted once again. I hope I've not exceeded the invisible limit of adaptation.

Monday 7 July 2014

Exercise 9.4

Swimming went fairly well. I started with fair form but very stiff apparently; I was concentrating. As I relaxed bits of technique started to fade but eventually I managed a reasonable combination of being not too tight and fairly tidy. I'm still having to take short breaks. I must start a better training programme to banish that!

Sunday 6 July 2014

Exercise 9.3

This is my second week at 20km, just a little bit over actually, with a 'long' run of 9.7km. As I was completing today's run I became aware of the lateral part of my left patellar tendon, but no more than that. I also did my physio exercises without tweaking it at all prior to the usual rollering and stretching.

The run felt a little hard work, I think there were many reasons for this. Probably most significant is cadence, I'm sure that cadence of 180 steps per minute is harder work than going at a lower rate, even if the steps are small. This study was focussed on the POSE method  and showed a decrease in efficiency in contrast to the advertised outcomes. A rummage around PubMed hasn't revealed any other papers relating cadence to efficiency. However, I've been advised to adopt a higher cadence to avoid overstriding and facilitate healing so efficiency may be the cost I have to pay; it does seem that load is reduced with increased cadence (see here and here although the evidence quality is very low and this is probably where it all comes from!).

Second, I think I'm out of practice. Apart from a few walks I've not been doing aerobic exercise for longer than an hour - either running or swimming.

And third, I did some unaccustomed gardening yesterday.

Overall I'm starting to feel a little more positive and believe that some recovery is discernible.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Exercise 9.2

This morning's swim was much as before although I feel that a fair quality style is becoming more habitual now. Unfortunately I'm still taking 5s breathers between lengths. I really must make an effort to break that.

I walked home via a few camping shops to look into simple stoves. I've used a MSR Whisperlite for years, mostly because it makes sense to use a petrol stove when your camping with a motorbike, but my wife isn't keen on the lighting procedure. A high output gas burner looks like a good bet. It even seems that the ISO screw versus Camping Gaz clip-on issue is readily solved by a simple adapter. Anyway, the detour added some walking and standing around to my usual saturday routine and both left and right knees complained quietly at different times in the journey. As the irritation was transient from both I can't think it was much.

After some gardening this afternoon they are both feeling a little tired. Overall things are looking OK and a run still looks to be reasonable tomorrow.

Friday 4 July 2014

Exercise 9.1

It was a busy day at work but I managed to leave promptly and arrived home without niggly knees. As soon as I got home I worked through my exercises and all was well.

Thursday 3 July 2014

Exercise 8.7

When I arrived at work I went upstairs doing single leg step-ups thus completing my basic strength routine from yesterday. I left work a little early and went for a swim. The pool was very quiet and so there was no excuse for my slow progress. I do believe that I kept my form reasonably tidy throughout the 1.2km and was aware of time when quality slipped.

Until leaving for home I'd had little awareness of knee pain but during the walk home the left knee especially felt tired and with a little soreness. This can't have been anything severe as it wasn't obvious during a short walk in the evening.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Exercise 8.6

I wondered how this evening's circuit class would go after yesterday's slightly longer run. Luckily the normal leader was working so the session wasn't too 'bouncy'. So I had a gentle run there and during the class I did my squats and lunges - both to quite small levels but done nonetheless. They were fine and no knee pain resulted. I got a lift home and so saved myself a walk.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Exercise 8.5

Walking around work I have been a little aware of tenderness in the left patellar tendon but at a very low effort. With lovely evening weather I decided to do a slightly longer run and to just leave the woods; that became a loop of 9.5km. I too kit slowly and walked the clear descents.

Descent at dusk

By the end of the hour the left knee was obvious to me but not painful. Once home I had my hemp protein (I'm endeavouring to have that soon after key activities) and did rollering and stretches. There were a few knots, the left calf is becoming a bit of a trouble spot.