Sunday 31 May 2015

Back to Back

I've just completed a 4km road run which is nothing in itself but as it's after yesterday's long run it does feel slightly important. On Wednesdays I 'jog' to circuits after the Tuesday run but usually i don't run on consecutive days. There is an issue of needing rest days but there's the conflicting argument that long runs shouldn't make up too much of the weekly load. Sometimes these aspects seem impossible to square with each other.

I also changed the battery in my heart rate strap beforehand. I've wondered if there was an issue for a few months and bought a packet of CR2032 coin cells fro eBay but hadn't fitted a new one. I think it did help as the recording in the early part of the run was far more stable than it has been for a while.

Let's hope all OK tomorrow. I'm entering 'tiger country'...

Saturday 30 May 2015

Cattle on Hondkirk Road

After the essential task of getting a load of washing on the line I ran my half-marathon length route up though Blacka Moor to Oxytones via Houndkirk Road. On the verge of Byway there were some new residents chomping away at the spare vegetation.

I suspect these are dun-coated Highland cattle but would welcome correction. I only saw four but there might be others free on the moor. They make a change from sheep but might be a bit scary if one crept up on you.

Anyway, the run was Ok. I didn't really notice my ankle until the 12km mark and on the descent through Limb valley I became aware of my left knee. Things weren't too bad when I got home and I easily managed to pop to the shops and cut the grass so no real problems. However this was my first run over 20km since the Canalathon so inevitably there is a bit of effort and retraining involved.

At the start of the run my heart rate data were all over the show - sometimes ridiculously high. Often this is due to the contacts being dry but that wasn't the case as I repeatedly moistened them. For the latter two thirds, or perhaps even four fifths the readings were fine. Maybe the level of sweat had built up enough to maintain the pick up. Might be worth swapping the battery to see if that helps.

Friday 29 May 2015

10 day swimming break

It's been nearly a fortnight since I last went swimming and it shows. I went along after work today and found my usual 32 lengths to be very hard work and slightly slower than usual. At first I was trying to exhale more deeply but I have to say that at the pace I'm working it feels too much. As time progressed and my pace settled a gentler breathing pattern felt more natural.

Earlier this week I saw an online article commenting that whilst technique is important in swimming one mustn't forget strength and fitness. Today I really felt that both of those were lacking.

Throughout this week I've felt weak even though last week was a nominal rest week. Circuits on Wednesday felt tough - although I did the run there and back a little faster than usual. before that, I could barely face going out on Tuesday for a run and eventually cut it a bit short.

Monday 25 May 2015

Gurnell Dubs

This weekend we visited friends in Kendal. It was suggested that I might enter the 30th Hutton Roof fell race but as it was a rest week and my ankle is still troubling me it didn't seem wise. From what I heard the terrain is a bit rough underfoot and not ideal for delicate ankles and feet.

On Sunday we did a hike up to the strangely named Gurnell Dubs which from Kendal via Garnett Bridge and returning through Staveley was a reasonable 23km.

Throughout the walk I was aware of trying to trend carefully and couldn't decide how to put my right foot down. This is hard work and very irritating until I managed to forget about it for a few km at a time. Really it was no trouble nor painful just not entirely trustworthy.

This morning I received a very thorough leg massage from one of the friends who is training as a Sport Therapist and at that stage of competence and confidence where you get good work executed very conscientiously. It's a pity he doesn't live a lot closer. All the usual suspects were tight, and now some hours later a bit tender, but I'm sure they'll be improved in the long run.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Ankle and foot

I've had three weeks of progressive increase in distance with the background of a slightly odd ankle and toes. Really, now, it would be excessive to call it even a niggle just something slightly odd. Every so often I'm aware of the ankle around the peroneus ligaments but the most noticeable thing currently are my middle toes feeling slight odd. This is sometimes related to a feeling of excessive eversion and more often to a distinct feeling that I don't know quite how best to put my foot down. There doesn't feel to be  'natural' position either lateral to medial or heel to forefoot.

The physio looked at my feet and decided that they were very tight and rigid, an issue I've been aware of for many years. She was able to loosen them up a little which eased tension on the dorm of my right foot, possibly around Extensor Digitorum Brevis. I've been given some exercises in an attempt to educate the intrinsic muscles of my feet to be more dynamic, both in contraction and importantly, in relaxing. An interesting observation is that I am happiest with my feet walking around barefoot at home, Ok with them in lowish running shoes and find a new pair of trail walking shoes (quite rigid with 12mm heel drop) the worst. Perhaps I've become used to less than 10mm of drop?

Sunday 17 May 2015

Swimming lesson

In my quest for a swimming coach I found Swim121 near Chesterfield. The first problem was in locating it but that was due to my carelessness rather than any error in the company's location map. I was disappointed to find that the pool was only 10m long. As my major issue is fatigue it is hard to induce that in very short lengths. Also the pool lacks any internal markings so you have to keep quite a check on how many strokes you'v done per length to avoid hitting the end.

The teacher gave me some tips about my stroke, in particular that I probably wasn't exhaling sufficiently for the effort I was making. This was also linked to a rushed arm stroke that gives a short window for inspiration. Having said that, I didn't feel I'd settled into my stroke at all in the half hour due to the short pool length.

He also thought that I should adopt a thumb-first entry style to reduce air capture on hand entry which some online 'experts' feel is bad practice nowadays. Here's an example but there are others! This is probably trivia but anything with a risk of injury isn't ideal for a stiff 50 year old.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Jacket on & off

This morning was one of those days with a hot sun and a cold wind. This dependent on my exposure to the wind and my effort I varied between too hot and too cold and put my jacket on and off a fair few times. The run took me via Devil's Elbow to Oxstones and was just under 20km. This is my third week of long runs so next week will have to be a bit gentler. As usual (now!) I tried to keep my heart rate below 140bpm and so walked the key ascents and didn't rush the descents either. After all I still have the dodgy knees and a slightly troublesome ankle.

Fresh spring leaves at Whirlow
It is hard to say that there is a major problem with my ankle as I've only felt the odd niggle but it is annoying me. Every so often I feel the show digging in around the ligaments of the peroneus muscles, my foot feels stiff and I find it hard to know how to place my foot. The toes feel slightly odd and I'm not sure where the neutral position is. I've had this feeling previously after catching a rock in my instep but on that occasion the effect on my gait caused contralateral knee pain. That's not a sequence of events I wish to repeat.

Now, some hours later the ankle feels 'tired' but is fully mobile and nowhere does it feel tender.

Friday 15 May 2015

Carry on Swimming

My resting heart rate was nearly back to normal this morning after being raised by around 20% for the first half of the week. I'm assuming that the strain came from the sequence of Saturday run, Monday swim, Tuesday run and Wednesday run and circuits. At least a clear day made a major impact on reseting it.

After finishing a little early at work I went for a swim with the goal being to do sets of two lengths. That worked fairly well although I took longish rests between them. After 10 or so sets I put my mind to doing a set of 3 lengths and actually did a block of 5 or 6; it's not all that clear from my data. A key result though was managing the final 3 lengths in just under 3 minutes. My goal is to improve my technique and fitness to achieve 1km in a 30 minutes total so this is a step in the right direction.

Monday 11 May 2015

Aiming for continuous lengths ... again

I've got a swimming lesson booked for next Sunday so thought I needed to keep up my poor technique! Also I'd read that the ability to do continuous lengths takes practice and a will to push on. So after work that was my plan. I did a dozen warm-up lengths at a mediocre pace and then set out to do joined-up-lengths.

I agreed with myself that I'd let form slip a bit to focus on not taking a break. Naturally I didn't aim for 1000m non-stop, I started with 2 lengths, that's 66m. I paused my timer whilst resting between pairs to get an idea of my pace. Or that was the theory, indeed I did pause the timer but hadn't realised that a pause didn't make a length mark as well. So really I've little idea of how many I did, I'd say at least 10 of these. After that I did 3 sets of 3 lengths (a whole 100m!). The 3rd lengths were rather scrappy but the main thing is that they happened. Moreover I felt myself regulating breathing during the 3 lengths, sometimes more exhaling, sometimes less; almost as if I was adjusting to to the load. Perhaps with single lengths your body can't get a clear idea of what it needs to do?

Sunday 10 May 2015

Looking at HRV

By last Friday day my morning heart rate was raised by nearly 20%, presumably due to the sequence of long run; another run, circuits and a late night (with too much wine). Saturday's run felt tougher than I'd hoped so this morning I was surprised that my waking heart rate had dropped back halfway.

Midmorning I found time to chill for a few minutes and popped on the monitoring strap. I was pleased to see my heart rate was further reduced at its normal rest rate and the standardised HRV was 73 which is pretty average for me.

I doubt that the extra few hours had much of a recovery effect or that breakfast had been beneficial to that extent. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be starting afresh on a week and will be strong enough to do a 10% mileage increase rather than the step-back I'd thought looked inevitable on Friday/Saturday.

Saturday 9 May 2015

Slow to Oxstones

I'm in the second week of a block and wanted to have a week's total over 30km which needed me to go over 15km this morning. That's not much but I felt tired when I set off, possibly due to a tiring week at work including one late night working dinner. On that basis I committed to a run/walk programme but not focussing on heart rate. Just steady progress with 1 minute walks every 6 minutes and walking the ascents.

The weather forecast was poor so it seemed ideal to stay in the valleys or most of the time, just making the high point of Oxytones for a few minutes. I set off through the the parks from Endcliffe up to Forge Dam.

From the dam Porter Clough was as tough as usual and I was glad that I'd already allowed myself to walk. Once I emerged on the moors the headwind was ever so strong and made the stretch  to Oxstones fairly unpleasant. From the trig point though the wind was on my back and most of the journey was downhill.

I was satisfied to be under  7min/km including several photo stops and that my ankle hadn't been  a problem. Every so often I was aware of it, but nothing that made me think I was over stressing it.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Niggles from the ankle

Today we went for a really short walk and at first there was the ankle irritation; I was wearing my hiking boots which have quite a different wear pattern to my running shoes. Gradually it faded but it did remind me that things aren't right. During some roller work this evening I even thought I could feel the peroneus longus tendon issue in the other leg! I suspect I was imagining that a little.

A little more online reading suggests that forefoot and midfoot strike is more likely to irritate the muscle than heel strike, which makes sense, so perhaps there's a bit of that to blame? I've also spotted a few hints linking peroneus longus tension to first ray metatarsalgia (i.e. pain on the ball of foot) so my observation of that is nothing unusual. Importantly, if that is present it's more likely that the muscle is tight and making things worse. I need to find some good literature to support these aspects!

Saturday 2 May 2015

Go east!

As a prelude to today's long run I went out for an easy 4km yesterday evening to see how my ankle/peroneus coped. My conclusion was that they were OK, and that I'd wear the Ultra 290 shoes as they have a low(ish) drop and that seems to suit me currently.

Today I planned to do 18km to achieve a week's total of 30km and to ring the changes I did the eastern part of the Sheffield Round Walk. This is a deceptively hard loop and has highlighted weaknesses in the past. In several of the woods the bluebells are in bloom and I thought the best area was Lady Spring Wood which has the perfect combination of dappled sunlight and ancient woodland.

Slightly tweaked in GIMP
Bluebells are a beautiful start to summer and whilst being a feast for the eyes are incredibly hard to capture by camera effectively.

Within the first few km I wondered how the run would develop as I had niggles from the right ankle but these settled quickly and I committed to carry on. Hopefully this won't prove to be a mistake. I kept the pace very gentle with a slowish target heart rate and walked on both ascents and descents. My goal was to be little faster than what is becoming my target 'race pace' of 7min/km. During the run I felt calf muscles, ITB tension, peroneus tension, patellar tendons, sore quad insertions but as the irritation moved around I hoped that each was trivial and would pass; which they did.

The roller and food at home made things feel better but now, early afternoon, I feel to be stiffening up  and I think more roller work and stretching is called for.