Sunday, April 6, 2014

All in the head ......

Could all the glute pain/tightening that keeps recurring be all in the head? There has been no evidence of pathology of any kind. The original symptoms were consistent with iron deficiency and there was initially a good response to iron supplementation. However, since that time it's all been about tight uncomfortable muscles (predominantly the glutes) that make running hard work. Where is that coming from? The brain is capable of much, could the brain be the source of these strange symptoms? Certainly the signs are consistent with neural dysfunction. Final diagnosis - head case. Treatment - try and retrain the brain.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mulligan's in March

The plan has been to stick with building base and so far all is going according to plan. Weekdays usually include a lap of the central basin (LBG) on alternating days. Weekends include one long run and a bike ride (if the weather and/or body agree). It is safe to say that at this point more runs feel good than bad. Indeed there have been plenty of 3/3 runs in the kitty. That said, there are still those days when it's a long hard slog. I have a great little 'test' for what a run will be like. At work I have to walk up some stairs from the basement. On 'bad run' days that stair walk (all of one flight) is somewhat hard work. On the good days, it's an easy climb to my destination.

Most long runs have been pretty good and the time/distance is building. Last weekend, within the first 2km it was obvious it was going to be a horrid run (no stairs at home, but I had an inkling just walking around the house). That whole run was a mental battle, with the need to constantly remind the body that it was low intensity and perfectly doable. Despite that hard slog, the following weekday runs were mostly great. This weekend (Sunday March 9) I managed a big 18km, woo hoo! Made all the easier by being in a favourite running location - my local Mulligan's Flat. BUT I am feeling just a bit guilty as I have gone from the sound-free runner enjoying nature, to one of those 'ipod types'. Somehow the music acts as a distraction from the negative messages from body to brain. So for now, the ipod wins out. This does detract from the wonders of Mulligan's. Hopefully this will not last forever!

The loop through Mulligan's Flat and the Border track

The muscles were a bit niggly post-run, so some compression garments and the mighty roll recovery were called upon. Monday I was greeted with happy muscles and managed a gentle 34km bike ride as recovery. Running pace does seem to be ever so slowly increasing for a given heart rate, but the variation in running temperature makes it hard to be sure.

It's more of the same for March, all 'aerobic' zone training, working on building a solid base. But I remain cautiously optimistic, as previous attempts have shown promise only to see muscle rebellion as the training load increases. I should follow the adage of CJ - One day at a time :-)

February Summary:
Running: 13 hours and 25 minutes
Cycling: only 283 km

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Base building

It's been back to the basics over the last few weeks in an attempt to redevelop a running base. The goal has been to stay in the aerobic zone, the challenge has been getting that zone right. There is the famous 180 formula that has worked well for many successful athletes. However, there will always be those people that fall outside the bell curve. I started with the 180 formula, which was a good place to start. The challenge was to see if I could boost the duration of my runs. I succeeded and managed a gentle 1 hr 50 min trail run (plenty of weaving up the small hills and walking the steeper ones). However, running pace has been really going backwards. The other option involves determining heart rate at lactate threshold and then using that to set heart rate training zones. The simplest approach is do a 30 minute time trail and use the average heart rate over the last 20 mins. I did that on Friday and the time trial confirmed I've been running at too slow a heart rate in recent times. My pace has indeed really slowed for a given heart rate and my lactate threshold hasn't changed much from my healthier days. To build an aerobic base, I need to run at a slightly higher heart rate. I put this to the test today and did another long trail run. I went further than last week, it still felt pretty easy, it didn't take as long, minimal weaving was required up the smaller hills and only a couple of really steep ones were walked. A much more satisfying experience!

Experiment and build and yes it is beautiful!
The next test will be to see how the body holds up to the slight increase in intensity (and volume). There haven't been any real indications of fatigue over the last few weeks and the runs have been pleasant (although frustratingly slow). I've also just moved from 3 days/week of running to 7 days/fortnight (i.e. every other day).  So that's making some slow and steady progress on the duration front! Here's hoping it all keeps heading in the right direction. Once there's a good solid base and no symptoms of training intolerance, then some focus can go towards getting quicker. It's all been said/done before, but at this stage it's all holding together. March will be another month of 100% base building.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The January summary

It's been a somewhat gentle start back. However, there has been a definite set back on the running front. Parkrun went from 23:20 to 24:00 for pretty much the same RPE. That is not surprising given the limited amount of running time/kms since the 'roadless travelled' recommenced. It is probably unreasonable to except THIS body to cope with just 2 short runs (walk/runs) and a hard run each parkrun and expect continual improvement on no running base. The time has come to try and build a base. Sadly I have failed at this before in the land of training intolerance, but this time around it makes sense to persevere and to stick with true 'easy', at least for the next 8 weeks. It's time to develop an aerobic base using some low HR training. I've already shown myself that if I run slowly enough, it isn't necessarily as 'tough' as it has been before! Indeed, even when it's in the mid 30s C temperature wise, if you go slow enough, the heat just doesn't matter! Previously I have struggled trying to run slow, but recent efforts show it can indeed be done! Maybe that has something to do with rock bottom and lots of time off.

Time to keep that heart rate LOW!
January was a relatively easy month on both the cycling and running front. Here's hoping the goal of getting over 60 mins for a run doesn't prove too challenging (a recent 54 min run does bring hope)! For the next little while, it is less of a mental 'blah' if the cycling is documented as distance and the running as time. That way cycling doesn't become all about pace and running is not all about distance! Bring it on.

Summary for January:
Cycling - only 590 km
Running - 9:39 hours/mins (that's on 3 days/week of running)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tricks of the runner's mind

One of the toughest things about this training intolerance is the frequent lack of ‘easy’ even when doing an ‘easy run’. Mentally one has to push the body to keep going, this is despite a slow pace, low heart rate and no overtraining fatigue. I can easily understand why people give up on running when they first start. It is demoralising when it feels hard each time. For me, it is the memory of how good it used to be that keeps me going. I live in hope of that ‘feel good’ run. Coz when they feel good, there really isn’t anything better!

Remove those pins!
Wednesday’s session started as most have in recent times, a hard slog to do an easy run. I have progressed to 30 mins of continual running with some strides thrown in just before the finish of the run. This week the strides were interesting. The first two were same ol’, same ol’. BUT at the end of 2nd set I pulled up feeling a bit giddy and odd. As I slowly walked back to the start for the 3rd set of strides the giddiness lifted and for lack of a better description, it felt like some evil spirit departing (a lifting fog...?) and the body suddenly felt light and relaxed. The remaining strides felt pretty good, fast legs and no dizziness. Even better, the jog back to work was truly ‘easy’, it felt like floating back up the little hill through the ANU. Of course, this was probably due to a drop of blood flow to the brain, but it felt like a hex had been lifted, a voodoo curse reversed (because I have so much knowledge of how that feels ...... not ;-) ). Could it be someone has cursed me from afar causing the running woes of the last few years and the hex is over? My runner’s brain would love that to be the case, anything to get back to how it was before! Ah well, we shall see. This theory could well be shattered on my very next run. JKK reporting

Friday, January 3, 2014

The numbers for 2013

Running stats:
Total running kms were: 989 km
Longest run in 2013: 14 km
Biggest weekly mileage: 51 km
Fasted 5km: 22:38 at Ginninderra parkrun
Total number of weeks taken off running in 2013: 18 weeks (8 + 7 + 3) (does not include rest days when actually running)

Cycling stats:
Total cycling kms were: 5350 km
Longest bike ride in 2013: 135 km
Biggest weekly mileage: 433 km
Total number of weeks not cycling in 2013: 26 weeks (similarly, does not include rest days)

It's pretty clear that there wasn't a lot of running happening in 2013. Here's hoping that 2014 is more positive on the running front.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A couple more parkruns

There was a special farewell parkrun (with a Xmas theme) at Ginninderra last weekend to wish Gindy parkrun founders, Russ and Jess, all the very best before they headed to steamy Brisvegas for new opportunities. This was to be a 'secret parkrun' as I left my barcode in the car, after opting to use pedal power to get to the start. No barcode means no official result/time. However, with appropriate Xmas antlers and trusty watch, my run time was 24:42, with Burkie sneaking past me in the last 50 metres to finish in 24:39. Gindy is a tougher course and it sure felt like it!
Burkie sprinting in just ahead of me at Gindy parkrun
The Xmas theme was also in play for this week's Gungahlin parkrun. This time I remembered the barcode, but forgot the antlers. Mr B was back after returning from an overseas sojourn that included plenty of fine food and relaxation. This meant there was the potential to 'chick' him as his running was somewhat neglected during said OS sojourn! However, conditions were warm and it didn't feel like it was going to yield a quickish time. As always, Mr B was quick off the blocks and grabbed a decent sized lead. As any parkruns are my 'long run' at present, the first km is always the warm up (no pre-run warm up) and the body likes to grumble. At about 2km into the run it was apparent that Mr B was slowing and the grumbling had stopped as I started to find some rhythm. I caught him at the half way point and slipped past. From there on I was convinced all the foot steps coming up from behind were Mr B, argghh I was running scared ;-). As it turned out, those few extra kilograms were enough to slow him down and I crossed the line 20 or so seconds ahead, phew. In the process I knocked another 42 seconds off my Gungahlin time to finish in 23:42 - not bad off 5 weeks of not very much running! Seriously though, it's hard to imagine much more improvement given the current running volume. Last week running included 3 x (10 min easy with 2 min walk recovery) on Monday, 4 x (8 min easy with 1 min walk recovery) on Wednesday and then parkrun on Saturday. That's pretty well the overall training plan for the next few weeks. However, as part of a GCC Sprint event, there was also 930km of cycling in just 16 days (finished last Wed). No doubt taking Thurs and Fri off to recover from the GCC (and avoid the super hot conditions) helped with the run on Saturday. Cycling will continue, but not at that volume!

Friends results at Gungahlin parkrun (21 December 2014):

12       Louise SHARP             21:00                          70.56 %
14       Trevor JACOBS            21:21                          75.80 %
24       Vanessa HAVERD       23:38                          63.47 %
25       Janene KINGSTON     23:42                          69.90 %
27       David BAUSSMANN   24:05                          68.37 %
46       Amanda COOK            25:50                          58.06 %