Saturday 28 February 2015

Recovery 2.3 and vitamin D

The knee is feeling somewhat better today although yesterday I had  few jarring pains from it when I caught my foot on uneven pavement. I am aware of the patellar tendon but that's not painful, just niggly.

This morning I completed a 1000m swim  trying got be a bit more relaxed with my stroke and also not to pause so long at each end of a length. This approach was successful as my average pace improved to 3:41min/100m which is as good as I've done for many months. A relaxed stroke may mean scruffy but what use is tidiness if it doesn't yield forward motion?

I've had a letter about my recent hospital review which included the advice, in response to various blood analyses, to take a vitamin D supplement. The comment is unsupported by a rationale and not helped by the fact that I've been taking a multivitamin with 100% RDA for a few years. The current tablets are supposedly 200% RDA. I suppose a question is whether the RDA is enough for me?

This industry briefing is quite a nice overview of vitamin D stating that the EU RDA is 5micrograms/day (1microgram is 40 International Units) with a long term safe limit of 50micrograms/day. Notably the US raised its advised intake to 15micrograms/day in 2010 on the recommendation of an expert panel and publications, although cynics might see the hand of the supplement industry behind this as they underwrite some of the principal researchers. In terms of my ongoing medication, despite internet chatter it seems likely that Omeprazole does not disturb vitamin D although there are weak links with osteoporosis. So I can't lay the blame there.

Generally vitamin D2 and D3 are considered equivalent but recent research is casting doubt on that. Oversimplification of vitamin metabolism and the role of bioassays is commonplace and has been especially clear in the case of B12 where certain forms that are active in bacteria or inactive in humans. Nonetheless, D2 is biologically active in primates, probably just less so. I have ordered some of this lichen-derived D3:

Image from Cytoplan of 62.5 microgram tablets
...and the science seems valid.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Recovery 2.1

The knee seems far better today with wearing the red shoes. I'm now pretty confident that a worn heel is irritating my already sore knee. I won't say that was the cause, but it's not helping it currently.

As running is off limits I went for a swim and gained a key milestone once again: 4min/100m in a 33.3m pool (of course, no drill were involved) for over 1000m. I did have to pause between lengths and went for an asymmetric approach, 5s at the deep end and 30s at the shallow. As I became tired and slowed by stroke I got more consistent and could make the pauses more symmetrical. This gave me 3:40min/100m for the last 200m. It would be really nice to be able to maintain that for 1000m. Part of it seemed psychological  - other swimmers were at the lane ends and I didn't want to crowd them so set off fairly soon. Part was trying got be steady along the length.

I must try the 'catch-up' drill next time I'm in the pool as I tend to windmill and don't have as pronounced front quadrant stroke as shown here.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Recovery 1.7

A step backwards today. On Monday when I saw the physio I felt there had been some improvement and she was quite upbeat about a potential recovery. After her massage my legs felt looser but the muscles a little sore. As might be expected I suppose.

Today I walked in and out of work in the rebuilt Roclite 315s as I was fed up of wearing red shoes and my knee hurts. Is this a cause and effect or coincidence? I even wondered if I'd been wearing my worn shoes on the Round Walk last weekend but I hadn't. Nonetheless, even my intermediate pair are now at best part of 400km. They don't look too uneven though.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Recovery 1.4

On saturday I committed to a swim instead of a run. I think it was Christmas that I last went to the pool so I was pleasantly surprised by how I got on. Even doing a few lengths of very slow only leg kicks my timing was much as usual. Just before finishing I also found a relaxed pace that felt as though I could do a few lengths together. Unfortunately at that point the pool lanes were being reconfigured for classes and so I had to move around ropes and lost the rhythm. Better still, my arms don't ache today.

After the swim I walked into town and did a bit of shopping before heading for home. My knee did fine through that. Today it feels fairly good too, perhaps the quick decisive action to rest is reaping benefits?

After dull weather this morning it's now snow/sleet and so we may well not bother with an afternoon woods walk. that might be a prompt to do some of the exercises I've neglected for a while.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Recovery 1.1

A day at work with too much quadriceps effort on the stairs. A new tube of gel bought...

How annoying!

It almost seems unbelievable that a few weeks after committing to an event and feeling physically capable I'm injured. This pattern is becoming a habit. After saturday's run I felt fine but on Tuesday I had a few twinges just after leaving home. I nearly turned back but the problem went away so I put it down to a bit of stiffness and carried on. I was quite happy with my performance.

On Wednesday I was a bit stiff walking to work but when I tried to run to circuits the twinge reappeared. I went by car an it was fine for squats and small lunges. This morning I was fine going into work but by the time I'd been up and down stairs many times it was sore.

So what is 'it'? It seems very similar to last year (indeed very close to a calendar year!) in that threes soreness in the insertion of the left quadriceps in a spot that is especially sensitive to running. Perhaps the slightly longer week was too much, but oddly it was a week where I tried really hard to do a gently long run.

Unlike last year I'm going to lay off running totally until the knee feels a lot better. Last time there was a 2 month period between the upset and really committing to recovery. Indeed during that time I was pushing on and achieved a 5 minute/km 15km run one month after having to stop.

As well as rest I'll put Ibuprofen gel on the knee when I remember and I've a physio appointment booked for early next week. That was in my diary already as a regular maintenance visit. I've only a few weeks to the event and it seems unlikely I'll be OK. The focus will have to be on recovery rather than training. Perhaps it is achievable in view of last year's interrupted recovery?

Saturday 14 February 2015

Round walk again

I was keen to do just over 25km today before I start a slow taper into the 50km ultra. I haven't been above 25km since last November although there have been a number of runs over 20km. As much as anything I needed mentally to do it. However I was very aware that I mustn't overdo it as my knees are delicate (I think the combination of runs and using them in circuits) and I don't want an injury to develop. So I disciplined myself to monitor my heart rate carefully and stay below 140bpm. A proper long sow run. I left the house very gently, but as I've seen before, the first easy run, especially if it's downhill, set my heart racing. I had hoped to do this and take walk breaks over5 to 6 minutes but I couldn't cope with the thinking, and I would have had to think, as my Garmin 110 doesn't display heart rate and time together. Of course, to limit my heart rate I was walking any obvious ascents anyway.

It does appear though that I achieved my goal for 90% of the time and I can account for a few minutes of the intense activity as 'settling down time'. Even though today was a slow training run it puts me on course to do the 50km in under 6 hours which is a key goal. I certainly could have worked harder and did have more to give when I got home. Moreover the Round Walk 'and a bit' has 600m of ascent and descent. The strange thing is that the run didn't feel especially easy whilst out, or now, a few hours later. Hopefully it won't have been too stressful to my body.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Be seen

Unlike some runners I don't usually wear fluor-everything when I go out. After all, I don't when I walk home, so why would I when running? I've lost a few snap-on reflective ankle bands over the years and a while ago made a cycle lamp into a running light. That hasn't had much use recently as I've stopped using a waist bag as I thought it irritated my stomach and it won't fit my ultraist very well.

Today I got a Nathan strobe in the post, it's not as bright as I'd thought it might be but the clip system looks as though it'll hold the lamp in place.

Image from Nathan

The battery (two coin cells) is supposed to have a 100hour life but as it was flashing as I opened the post bag it might be half dead already!

So far, so good

Well, as yet, my entry to an event hasn't jinxed my progress. In the previous 2 years my entry, or even  the thought of one, sent my legs into a state of failure. Now they are just not quite right all the time and now I'm hoping they'll stay that way!

On Tuesday I ran a typical road loop and made a bit of effort. It was clearly slower than  a year ago when I felt strong. Now I know of course that was an illusion as I had to cut back dramatically a little later. There is progress in my year-long (gosh, so long?) recovery as at yesterday's circuit I was fine doing some squats, lunges and even a few single leg squats. They weren't an option 6 months ago. I'm shocked how slow recovery has been. Would it have been quicker if I'd rested more?

I've stumped up the cash for Strava Premium too. I'm not sure it's good value but so far I have liked the heart rate and pace summary data as that is showing that I'm not really taking things as easy as I have thought. Nor am I doing much that is intense. Too much in the middle as considered a year ago. In fairness, I'm probably only just regaining the strength around my knees to push hard but that will have to come soon. Not until after my event though.

I have risked a trip to the chiropodist today as some spots of hard skin were cracking or pushing into my foot. It felt advisable to get rid of those but I have a slight fear that my feet my now be a little too soft. I've a few weeks for them to settle in yet.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Run and cake

This morning's short and thus not long run went fine. There was still some ice at low levels and snow above Houndkirk Road which added difficulty so I was pleased to just pull in a 6 minute/km pace. As last weekend, there were more runners out than usual, perhaps the snow attracts people?

In the afternoon I set to baking and made another batch of beetroot cakes. It's a little fiddly and results in may parts of the food processor needing to be washed, but they are a great colour.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Circuit success

Yesterday evening's circuit was quite a success. Some squats, lunges and even some single leg squats with fitball. I can even walk today without pain so things are clearly improving. The left knee isn't perfect, especially with loads slightly lateral, and there's a spot of patellar soreness. Definite progress.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

A bit idle

This is a relative rest week but that doesn't mean do nothing. This evening though I came home with the best of intentions but didn't manage to get back outside. The ice and general slipperiness of the pavements on this side of the city seemed too hazardous. At least I'd walked up 17 floors of the Royal Hallmashire Hospital this morning on my way to a job.