Monday 30 May 2016

Red shoes retired

I bought a pair of size 44 RocLite 295s in the hope that they wouldn't aggravate my right ankle as much as the size 45 pair. After 76km I came to the conclusion that really they were too tight and were squeezing the bones of my foot together on the right and hitting my toe nail on the left. Although Inov-8 claim that they are the same fitting as the obsolete 315s I believe that they are narrower as I was satisfied with 315s in a size 44.

After seeing that used running shoes struggle to reach £5 on eBay it seemed wise to give them to the local charity shop so someone can get use from them.

I think I have to accept that my already-wide feet are getting wider... and that red shoes don't suit me!

Sunday 29 May 2016

April 2016 Week 4 Session 1

I arrived at the pool feeling slightly overfill from breakfast and rather lethargic as I'd driven there rather than walked (I had a parcel to collect...). The warm-up was the slowest in ages which isn't all that surprising and each length felt hard work I could feel the tiredness in my legs from yesterday's run and they seemed more 'sink' than usual.

Anyway, once I got started on the main routine with the pull buoy things felt better. The watch and I managed to lose count a few times so I ended up doing a few extra lengths. My pacing was good although it is surprising how varied my strokes per length figures are in view of the regular pace.

Some of the higher stroke counts are related to adjusting to other swimmers in the pool and also just moving my arms differently to ease muscle tiredness. I can tell I've improved since week 1 as the first time I did this set I struggled to finish whereas today I pulled out some extra power to overtake someone - that was recorded at a sub 2:00min/100m pace!

Generally a satisfactory outcome considering that this has been a hard week of swimming (and running).

Four swims this week, a record distance

Saturday 28 May 2016

Stanage edge of control

The last time that I ran along Stanage Edge I twisted my ankle which fortunately healed uneventfully. I'm still having trouble with my right ankle which is now an issue that's persisted over a year and I think that this makes me a bit unsteady, this raising the prospect of damage elsewhere. Anyway, with a bit of care today's run was uneventful.

The new Stanage pole  has been set into a cast iron base which is very impressive and worthy of Sheffield's industrial heritage.

As this was a long slow run I was very cautious with my heart rate and the data show that I controlled that very well.

Towards the end of the run I tired quite noticeably and even a Chocolate Chip Clif Bar was unable to give me more energy. This is the longest run I've done in many months so it was bound to be hard work especially as Stanage and Burbage edges are both hard work due to the uneven terrain. My pacing was therefore nothing like as well controlled with marked decline through the run!

It must have been hot weather too. I tend to put between 500m and 750ml in the drinking bladder with an electrolyte tablet and even after a number of sips I return wit most of it. Today I don't recall being  especially thirsty but noticed near home that I'd run out of water, either that or the pipe was kinked.  As I tidied up my kit it was evident that I'd drunk the volume I'd taken.

My right ankle was also rather tiresome as there is distinct soreness in the peroneus longus. I feel its the lower end of the muscle rather than the tendon so hopefully nothing too serious. It's a few weeks until my next physio appointment so I'll have to see if a combination of rollering, massage and ankle loosening exercises can do something to it.

Thursday 26 May 2016

April 2016 Week 3 Session 3

I couldn't expect any records today after 2 hours exercise yesterday. The Spike set is hard work and I faded through the session so that my last 'fast' set was at th average pace for the whole session. However the first two 'fast' sets were at a pace of 1:57min/100m and 2:01min/100m respectively so the 2:00min threshold is being chipped away.

Short sets of high effort are clearly at a faster pace
On the whole I managed to be 8s/100m faster on the 'fast' sets than 'slow' throughout the session which shows that I was making an effort. Reviewing the data I noticed that I'd missed a couple of the sets...

Wednesday 25 May 2016

April 2016 Week 3 Session 2

I managed to keep count of the sets today and so completed session 2 correctly. I'd hoped that the 'fast' lengths would be faster than 2:00min/100m but the best I managed was 2:01min/100m pace for a single length. Really I couldn't have expected more as it's quite a long routine and I have to keep going for over an hour. This isn't an 8 minute time trial! Even on the last fast length I managed 2:06min/100m pace which is a few seconds better than last week - and after greater distance.

SWOLF against swims
Just to look at longitudinal gains I've plotted SWOLF for the last 100 swims and there's a clear downwards gradient. The early sessions had fins and all sorts of things to disturb consistency and there are short pools and other oddments that I've not bothered to edit out.  Certainly over the last 50 events almost all swims have been with the pull buoy and if anything this is where the pattern is clearest.

Monday 23 May 2016

Are you training for an ironman?

This was surprise question for me as I left the pool feeling very weary. The questioner was half my age and a little bit faster although he seemed to take more breaks. He claimed to have done 100 lengths but I'd only done a few more than that and was going more consistently. Anyway I assured him that I wasn't, just learning really.

The long session was hard today and although I'd hoped to go a bit faster I ended on the same average speed for the last set that I did in Week 2. I was clearly faster throughout than in Week 1 with a good warm up pace. Perhaps only managing one swim last week has spoilt my consistency? I was thinking that a few months (28th January 2016) ago I was thrilled to beat the 5:30min barrier for the warm up 200m whereas now I'm eyeing up 5:00min. The last few sessions have been less than 5:10min so it's looking feasible to be broken within this 12 week programme.

Reasonably consistent pacing

Saturday 21 May 2016

Going slow

This morning's run brings the week's total to just over 30km which is still feeling a struggle after my enforced break early in 2016. I focussed on a gentle approach and watched my heart rate quite closely which is shown by the data.

 I was succesful in my plan to have maximum heart rate of around 140bpm and walked a number of the steeper ascents. Of course the result of this attention was a slow run, actually the slowest I've ever done this particular loop.

It's notable that in 2013 I was quite a bit faster. I don't think this was due to being 3 years younger or better fitness, more that I wasn't so aware training zone. I'll bet that I worked hard on that run, it was the first time I'd done the 'Blacka half' and I took a day off work to do it. I wasn't wearing the heart rate monitor, and didn't document how I felt, so we'll never know!

Friday 20 May 2016

April 2016 Week 2 Session 3

This was a hard spike set!

The pool was very nearly empty so I can't blame anyone else for poor pacing. The warm-up was, I think, a personal best at 5:06min for 200m. On the first 2 'fast' sets I clearly beat 2:00min/100m across 66m which is great. After that I started to tire and by the time I reached the alternate slow/fast superset I was slowing even in the 'slow' sets. The final 4 'fast' sets averaged around 2:20min/100m and my arms felt thoroughly fatigued although I did my best to maintain form and keep a good 'feel' which was fairly successful as I averaged 22strokes/length.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Short hill runs

I was able to leave work a little early and had to get out into the sunshine. I didn't have long so I had the choice of a quiet run (junk miles?) or a short hill session. I chose the latter!

Heart rate in pink
It's only a little hill but a pyramid set amounted to around 2km. I was surprised that my heart rate peaked at 160bpm as I felt there wasn't much more I could give. Perhaps that was due to limited leg power too?

Sunday 15 May 2016

Plug in connector fails (again)

In December 2014 I wrote that the male section of the Hydrapak detachable bladder hose of my Ultraspire pac had snapped. Well this morning I noticed the female part attached to the bladder had fallen apart. As I suspected 18months ago it was difficult to remove the  residual parts from the 'rubber' point on the bladder  as they are hard plastic. With careful use of wire cutters and small pliers I managed to crack pieces out without unduly loading the soft parts, or at least I hope so!

Having tracked down the spare part it slotted right in. Looking closely at it the problem seems to have been that a small patch 'cage' for the spring had cracked. This is similar to the issue I had with the hose where a thin plastic section was the weakest link. Really I don't think the design is robust enough for even occasional use, incidentally I reckon to be very careful with kit! Perhaps the manufacturers, or UK retailers, have come to that conclusion as well?

April 2016 Week 2 Session2

I'm not used to Sunday swims and sometimes the pool isn't conducive to a good training session. Today I had no excuses except that I forgot what I should have been doing, or rather, how much I had to do. The routine was fairly simple; 6 easy and then 2 fast lengths.

I managed that fairly well, especially earlier in the session, but of course I faded towards the end. Importantly on my first 2 seats I achieved 2:00min/100m pace for the last fast lengths although I'd dropped to 2:12min/100m for the last set.

Saturday 14 May 2016

Too fast, too soon, too tired

I've not been up Porter Clough in months and that's a pity as it's lovely and a good training ascent. The descent to Hunter's Bar and ascent on the path to Forge Dam can be a bit dull but today I chanced upon a work colleague so I had company through the park.

Grade adjusted pace
I didn't focus enough on my pace and/or heart rate and worked too hard on the climb to Ringinglow. Although I wanted a training effect I didn't intend to tire myself out. That is what seemed to happen as the run felt very hard work by the time I was nearly back home and that's shown by the gradual loss of pace.

The descent off Blackamoor was hard under foot. On the ascent the stones aren't so irritating but with tired legs landing on them they felt hazardous. Also my right ankle became a bit sensitive during the run. Actually it had felt a but stiff when I set off from home but during the first half of the run it improved, only becoming a nuisance on the descent. On Blackamoor I spotted 2 deer which might have been the one pictured here.

The weather was lovely for running, cool and sunny
Looking back at my data, today's run was 300m more than last week's although a little less ascent. That really surprises me as I'd expected that including the climb from Hunter's Bar would add to the ascent considerably.

Thursday 12 May 2016

April 2016 Week 2 Session 1

Session 1 has been the long routine in my SwimSmooth programmes and continues to be. Today I managed to loose count, and took the turns at the end of lengths so gently that the Garmin Swim failed to register a handful of lengths. Mentally I felt as though I'd done enough and had been in the water nearly an hour and a half so called it a day. My suspicions were right in that I had done 2 lengths over target. A longest ever swim of 3600m, admittedly nearly all with the pull buoy. In fairness though, the warm up was under 5:20min so working with legs is improving.

I  did try to pace myself well and set off gently, even too slowly I thought, but even so there's a clear drop off in pace with time. From the second half of the middle set I made an effort to work harder and by the end of the fifth set I was 'digging deep'. The fatigue is also apparent in strokes/length, as I've noted before, in that for the first set I averaged 18 strokes per length which progressively increased 19, 20, 21 until the final set again averaged 21 strokes per length. I'm not sure if it's worth noting but in my arm up with legs I was at 22 strokes per length.

Looking back at my data it is clear that since January I can document that I'm now going further and faster with fewer strokes per length.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

A sign of recovery?

Over the last few weeks, as I've felt able to run again I've noticed  that my knees and ankles giving the impression that they are improving. At circuits the lunges and squats have been tiring but not unpleasant. There's been the odd awareness of irritation but nothing more and only transient. Likewise my right ankle is clearly not 100% but it's coped with fast runs, long runs and gym work without being worse at the end than it was at the outset. Both of these behaviours are signs of improvement.

On the run to circuits I've felt able to go a little  faster with a bit more power and this has been helped by the lighter evenings making it easier to avoid potholes in the pavements. The Strava data above show that I have been achieving better pace for the last few weeks and indeed this evening was my fastest ever.

Now I must be careful not to do too much...

Monday 9 May 2016

April 2016 Week 1 Session 3

For this block the third session is a 'Spike Set' more or less as described on the SwimSmooth website. I've not been given any timed parameters for it so there's not as much to think about. When I was given the scheme on paper it looked very hard to follow but in the end it wasn't too hard to execute. The basis is to progressively shorten the slower sets between fast lengths from 200m to zero. In this screen dump part of the session is shown at the point where the slower sets shortened.

At this stage in the session I was able to pick up a little pace on the fast sets although not to the degree I'd hoped; just one length better than 2:00min/100m pace. Equally as the session approached an hour I found it hard to find extra power.  Incidentally the 'gradient' in the pool is quite evident from the steps.

I'm glad that I've done Week 1 as now I'll be able to settle into the sessions more comfortably and work on progress rather than being over-awed by either complexity or extent.

Sunday 8 May 2016

April 2016 Week 1 Session 2

After a week of not swimming today's session felt rather unfamiliar. The warm-up set was over 5:30min, the first time this has happened in weeks, mainly due to the lane being blocked.

The main session comprised sets of 6 lengths slow and then 2 fast, being repeated 10 times; potentially with a rest every 2 sets. Despite starting slowly my early fast sets weren't any better paced but as I settled in (read tired?) there was more distinction. I managed lengths at paces of 2:05 and 2:01min/100m in the middle. By the end I was slower but managed to set up my pace by 10s for the 'fast' pair. Initially the lane was fine but towards the end it became busy and that stopped me doing as well as I could have and spoilt the data recording.

The first week on one of Julian's programmes is always physically demanding and a bit confusing as I'm not sure what is needed and how fatigued I'll be. By the end of the 12 week block I feel in need of a change. This reminds me of the very old fashioned 'Muscle Confusion Principle' from the Weider training programme!

Naturally some sort of scheme is needed too to make sure that overload is progressive and focussed o weak spots. This isn't an excuse to be totally random...

Saturday 7 May 2016

A decent long run at last

I've been able to build on last week's 20km and today managed to do 23km and thus exceed a half marathon distance comfortably. Of course the pace was slow as I was working on limiting my heart rate but it felt great to be out for over 2 hours.

The route was my Blacka Moor half marathon as described in the (almost 3 year old) video above. The day started a little cool but with the ascent onto the moor the sun came out and I was plenty warm enough for the rest of the trip.

Last week I complained of feeling tired as soon as I left the house and today it was apparent that I was on the cusp of being ill last time. Today I was negligibly faster but found the run far less 'work'. It's also been an easier week physically as I've not done a swim at all.

A rather sparse week due to feeling lousy

Monday 2 May 2016

Review of Alcatel Pop D1 for navigation: 2. ViewRanger in use

Part 1 of this review is available here and outlines my budget setup.

I've been trialling ViewRanger for a few weeks now and have gradually refined its use on Android.  The ActiveGPS seems pivotal in keeping the GPS running during sleep. Aeroplane mode is worth activating to disable WiFi and 3G which both enhances battery life and removes interruptions from the outdoor experience.

As can be seen in the image recording of a track is as good as can be expected from a consumer 12 channel device. For most of the track the trace overlies the mapping whilst on other occasions it runs parallel within 50m or so. Note that the marked deviation from the Right of Way to the north of the 'Bird Sanctuary' accurately represents additional paths not shown on the map. The woods are mixed woodland and at this time of year the leaf cover is is slight so not an especially tough GPS environment. I have carried the phone in the front pocket of a rucsac so it is reasonable to assume the antenna is vertical, and thus probably sub-optimally orientated, but well exposed to the sky.

Track recording shown in red overlayed on OS 1:50000 
I've found this degree of accuracy consistently now and will monitor different areas (valleys, leaf coverage) to see how well it is maintained.

Route following is an important feature of ViewRanger and a leap beyond the limitation of 20 points on my old GPS12XL as there appears to be no limit to the number of waypoints on a route. I'm sure that there is a technical limit but it's considerable, not indicated in the product documentation and certainly exceeds anything likely to be needed. Online route planning is very easy with access to any premium maps that have been purchased. Route making on the small screen Android interface is possible but a little bit fiddly. If the phone is online it's an easy task to synchronise routes between the website and the phone or vice versa in a matter of moments.

The manner in which ViewRanger follows a route is quite complicated and only clear once the documentation is studied.  I don't think that I have the parameters optimised just yet for the arrival and arrived distances and certainly the cross track distance must be adjusted to suit likely GPS errors. If the cross track error is set too narrow the alarm sounds frequently and the software replays the route which might cause confusion. I discovered problems here before I installed ActiveGPS as the sleeping GPS generated off-track data when it was polled by ViewRanger.

The major problem so far is the limited brightness of the screen which makes it hard to read on sunny days. As I've only tested the setup during an English springtime to date it is possible that the device will be useless in Spanish sunshine.