Thursday 31 December 2015

End of week 9 swimming

In view of the dodgy ankle and a bank holiday tomorrow, today's exercise had to be a swim. From the outset I was clear that I'd be slow, my arms were still tired from yesterday. The sets of 66m fast/slow alternation went well and the data show that I did achieve my goal, but only by a few seconds per length. As usual, I got progressively slower after an early-on peak. My best result was a pair of lengths at 42s each although some of the 'slow' were over 50s. I'm trying not to be too idle on the slow phase to artificially introduce a step and I think that is shown by there being a relatively consistent 3s differential between the fast and slow lengths.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

October 2015 Week 9 Session 2

Overall I don't enjoy my swim sessions. I always get somewhat cold and I don't find much excitement in 60-plus lengths of the pool. However it is good non-impact upper body exercise and is ideal when I've an injury. It seems presently that I always have something not quite right in my lower limbs!

Session requires progressive increase in intensity and once again I found that difficult to achieve. In the first superset I managed well, the second tailed off and by the third I was too tired to keep up any decent pace at all. There are several things I've noted here:
  1. I don't think my endurance and power are increasing as fast as Julian might have though from the plan he's given
  2. I know when I am tired as I lose feel for the water and my arms just seem to pass through
  3. There's an optimum pace above which more effort yields little reward
My walk to the pool and then into town wasn't a problem for my ankle although I kept a slow pace and have been very careful when stepping down stairs. I've iced and applied gel twice. I'm hopeful that the sprain is mild and I can start strengthening soon - I've asked the physio for advice.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Stanage sprain

Today's weather forecast was superb and the reality didn't disappoint. I headed up Porter Clough and Long Causeway to the edge.

Although there was plenty of water running off the fells I chose this route as most is solid underfoot and it affords excellent views.

My pace was generally gentle with a goal to keep my HR below 140bpm as I've set previously for long runs. This naturally set me to walking some of the inclines and on my way to the edge I was interested in taking photographs.

Unfortunately early on whilst negotiating the uneven stones on the edge, not aided by having the sun in my eyes, I twisted my left ankle. Initially it was pretty painful and I was reduced to a stroll. After a few minutes I managed to pick up the pace into a fair walk but didn't want to risk upsetting it further. Naturally I was at the farthest point  from home and taxis etc when this occurred!

The sudden slowing shows the occurrence
Once I reached the road I tried a gentle jog and found that it wasn't painful so long as I kept a short, fast gait. So that set my plan to return directly home on the road, which is the shortest route anyway. I had planned to go a little further via various tracks but that didn't seem wise and nor did I feel in the mood to do more than I was committed to.

Judging from 'Dr Google' I have only a Grade 1 sprain since I can walk readily with only minimal stiffness. There's no clear swelling although there is localised tenderness.

As soon as I done my essential shoe cleaning and protein drink duties I applied an ice pack whilst drinking coffee. During the afternoon I've had ibuprofen gel on it and I'm icing it again as I write. I'd had high hopes for getting some mileage done during these holiday days but now it looks as though gentle walks will be my limit for the next few weeks. I'll have no excuse not to go swimming!

Sunday 27 December 2015

Damp but not flooded

Longnor is just beyond Derbyshire putting it off the winter tourist trail. It used to be a significant market town and has the remnants of 4 public houses to substantiate the claim. Now only one is open and the post office looks derelict.  Luckily there is a well-stocked convenience store.

It's a good base for hikes onto adjacent moors, which are low but lush and verdant. The grassy fields this year are saturated, with every footstep squeezing out a pool of water.  This isn't good terrain for keeping dry feet in running shoes even when wearing socks that were once waterproof.
I've run 10km and walked a little more. The wetness is actually rather unpleasant but nothing as compared to the flooding further north. It is noteworthy that the farms tend not to be in the base of valleys and a fair proportion of the roads are along the ridges.

I passed Chrome Hill which is looks so distinctive from Hollinsclough and must arrange to come back and climb it.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Recovering from sore neck

I've managed 2 swims since Monday when my neck started to settle down properly. I feel I've got back on form reasonably after my Spanish break. The warm-up 200m sets have been around the 3:00min/100m pace which is fine. Due to messing up the week 8 sequence I have done the Session 1 for weeks 8 and 9 after each other. In each one I've slowed markedly from first to last sets but stayed under 2:30min/100m average. My best length was 2:04min/100m pace, if only I could lose a second of so per length to achieve the magic (at the moment) 2:00min/100m!

Today I managed two lengths with fewer than 20 strokes and at good pace so I wasn't 'over-gliding'. They must have been good powerful strokes; I could do with knowing which lengths they were and aim to capitalise on whatever I did wit my arms.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Too little heel drop

There's been a fair bit of rain in the Peak District, although nothing like as much as in the Lake District. The paths are muddy so for this afternoon's run I thought the ASICS shoes would be best. I planned to run very steadily up to Oxstones for the sunset but after about 40 minutes (6km) of ascent it was clear that my left ankle was being irritated as I found last time I wore the shoes.

I had been unsure whether this problem was due to the reduced heel drop of these shoes or simple friction from the neoprene cuff. Well now I'm fairly confident it's to do with heel drop because as soon as I set off downhill the problem largely went away. The heel drop is not publicised by ASICS as far as I can tell but a few reviews put it at just under 6mm.

There's quite a good article here relating peroneus injuries to forefoot striking and minimal shoes. A low heel drop shoe is simply a mild version of that - basically encouraging the muscle and tendons to work at a longer length than they are used to.

So now I know that the shoes should currently only be used for 5km or so and that I need to transition into them for longer runs. It is perhaps noteworthy that the shoes are marketed for obstacle race use, not ultras although the manufacturer's blurb says "You can take on half-marathon distances...". Ultimately I think that I do want to be comfortable in lower shoes as many trail and fell shoes are going that way so I need to persevere.

Saturday 19 December 2015

It was hard work

I'm still finding my neck to be stiff even after a physiotherapy session and a massage a few days after that. It is improving but I'm waking up with it tight and noticing it by the end of the day. Tuesday's swim irritated it so I cut that short and have avoided going again as I really want it to settle own.

This morning I ran my Blacka Moor 20km route, missing out Oxstones. The run was hard going from the outset. Within the first km my right ankle was being rubbed under the lateral malleolus by the size 9.5 RocLite 315s. Throughout the run I felt lethargic, with stiff legs and a lack of energy. My left knee niggled when I walked so I restarted running. I aimed to keep my heart rate below 140 which I managed fairly well. I've realised that the first 15 minutes or so always have a high rate unless I'm walking. I had put it down to worn-out, cold batteries or dry contacts on the sensor, but really I think it is more to do with my body settling down. Usually I set off on long runs after an early breakfast and I imagine that it's hard to know where to direct blood flow or estimate physiological demands. So the heart goes a little mad to make sure all 'clients' are satisfied. After a while I have settled in ('warmed-up' I suppose) and the heart rate matches effort more sensibly.

Overall the pace came in under 7mins/km which is OK but in terms of perceived effort the run was tough! I'm now wondering if this is a sign of overtraining or whether it was just a day when I didn't perform especially well.

Friday 11 December 2015

Benidorm nights

Although we talked miles around Benidorm and Alicante I wanted to keep up some sort of routine and ran to the northern end of the promenade before dinner on two evenings. The loop is around 5km but I didn't mange to make a record as the Holux GPS was misbehaving. Later I did persuade it to be more helpful by removing the batter and doing a cold restart. I think it had collected false data due to the plentiful tall building. The inner parts of the town are just concrete canyons!

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Altea municipal pool

With the power of Google I track down the municipal swimming pool in Altea and found an opening time that fitted in with the day's activities. It was a clean and tidy 25m pool arranged in lanes with few swimmers. The only drawback was that lockers were not available. Swimmers either left bags in the changing room or took them poolside.

I didn't have the Big Buoy with me and  found the supplied pull buoys to be worse than useless so most of my 1200m was done with  leg kicks. My legs really do act as anchors but with some effort I managed 100m sets in 2:40min and 2:35min which I was satisfied with. It's clear that I am finding the sizeable pull buoy to be a 'crutch', as is so often stated online, but equally my endurance and stroke style and power is improving through being able to maintain an effort for an hour without a rest. I'll have to discuss this further with Julian at my next session,

Monday 7 December 2015

Inland of Altea

After a day strolling from Altea to Albir on a pleasant day I needed to exert myself a bit more. I scanned OpenCycleMap and found some tracks inland of the A7 towards the Riu Algar. I did my best to memorise the route beyond the urban streets and set off at a gentle run.

The first route was obvious but after taking a few forks that path had gone from a a well-made dirt road to true 'single track'.

I was working from memory and could also tell that the paths on the ground were more plentiful than those mapped. Basically I didn't know which way was my chosen route. After reaching a gated dead end I turned back and completed the route clockwise instead of my hoped for anti-clockwise. There wasn't really anything wrong with this choice, just that I'd hoped to go the other way.

On my return I reviewed the route (just under 9km) and spotted my error and route options that I could have taken. That's fine as now I can plan runs for our next trip to Altea.

Saturday 5 December 2015

A quiet week

The pressures of work and general lethargy have made this a slack week. I've only managed 2 short runs and two runs. My resting heart rate has been raised 8% for weeks and I think this show a background of both physiological and emotional stress. In that regard a less intense week isn't a bad thing.

At the beginning of the week I made an effort to ice around my left ankle and I think I have recovered from that little irritation. Circuits was hard on my knees as usual and I persist in my hope that squats and lunges will eventually strengthen it.

Swimming early in the week was laborious and was a disappointment after the previous week's great pace. Today I worked to increase the effort within 400m sets and in the first few I mostly succeeded although by the 4th I was clearly tiring. My best consecutive lengths resulted in a sub-2:10min/100m for 100m including a single length at 2:02min/100m. Between weeks 5 and 8 I've taken over 20s off the 400m set time. That's not bad going for me. A sub-8minute 400m still seems a way off, although that is my goal for the next time trial with Julian.