Saturday, 26 November 2011

Nearly there!

When I saw my physio again on Tuesday this week, I asked her about the stiffness after I do some jog/walk sessions and she said that it was to be expected, nothing to panic about. The general rule of thumb I need to use is if the stiffness/ache is still there 24 hours after a session, I've slightly overdone it and need to ease off a bit. Fortunately, I've had less of a problem this week and each morning no stiffness at all. This is a big change from the last few years and my morning ritual of hobbling for the first half an hour of the day.

So far this week I've done three sessions of about 3.5 miles each, jogging more and more each time. I am now able to actually get some work done in the sessions and today actually labelled the outing as a "steady run" in my training diary rather than a recovery session. I feel confident that I could now run for this length of session so I have set next Friday (2nd Dec) as the great comeback run. After work, starting at 4pm, I'm going to do about 5 miles on trails down to the lake shore. I'm inviting friends from work to join me and then go to the local pup after for a celebratory drink. Everyone has been so supportive over the whole injury/operation/recovery process, that I would like them to be with me at the end of the "recovery" and the start of the "beyond".

As a treat, I've brought myself a new pair of training shoes. I wanted something with supportive but soft uppers, some cushioning, but not too much. For many years I have been a Salomon man; I do most of my training in the Speedcross shoe which offers a good blend of comfort, grip and cushioning. I've probably had 7 or 8 pairs of these over the last few years. I have a relatively new pair of these, brought just before I had to stop running, so they are ready for some hard workouts. Today I brought a pair of The North Face Singletrack shoes. They felt great as soon as I put them on and if they are good enough for Jez Bragg, they will be good enough for me!!

On the topic of shoes, a friend of mine, who was part of my support crew on the 2010 WHW race, has recently purchased a pair of Hoka shoes. He has previously suffered from a stress fracture in his femur and wanted something to give maximum cushioning. He has entered the Highland Fling next year which is sponsored by Hoka and thought he would give them a go. As you can see from the picture below, they are a little radical and you can imagine the hours of fun we have had sending him emails with pictures of Herman Munster attached.
Our recent text conversation went like this;
My friend - Showaddywaddy trail shoes. I was 6 foot 2 and now 6 foot 4! For the ultimate cushioned run.
Me - Remember, at one point in the Fling you have to duck under the A82, you might not make it!
My friend - I'm going to wear an LED light on top of my hat as I believe I might be on the flight path for Glasgow Airport!

Joking aside, I can't wait to have a proper look at them. Five years from now the barefoot/minimalist approach could be passe and we are all running tall, literally!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

More run than walk

As the title suggests, I have managed to do a couple of outings where I have jogged (10-12 min/mile) more than I have walked. The first one was on Thursday night along the old railway. After, I felt a bit sore and stiff in the heel area and was worried I had done too much too soon, though, the following morning, it felt OK. Prior to the operation (and for 5 years before that) I would hobble when I first got up in the morning, so it was nice to not have that feeling despite being sore the night before.

Today I went for a lovely run/walk in Great Wood and down by the lake. I estimate I ran approx. 75% of the time and just walked on the rougher sections. It was one of those mornings that remind you of why we do this sport; incredibly mild, dry and the Lake District looking her best.

Catbells and Derwentwater Lake

Most pleasingly, I don't seem to be suffering with any pain this time. The only things that were different this time are that the trip was made in the morning, not after a full day at work and I wore a different pair of trainers today. The previous trainers have a different style of insole which may be a factor, so I think I'll swop the insoles back to the originals that came in the shoe.

I have done a couple of core stability sessions as well this week; those words are still ringing in my ears - "... more economical runner". However, I had some problems with the plyometrics (skipping). Early in the week I tried the suggested 10x30 secs and was crippled in the evening. Midweek, I dropped down to 5x30 secs and still suffered. I have decided to keep away from these until I see the physio again on Tuesday. What I really need to know is should all ths stuff hurt as it's just the process of strengthening and will ease with time OR am I doing some damage and need to hold back a bit. If it is all to be expected, then fine, I'll just zip up the man suit (maybe even roll up the sleeves) and get on with it, if I need to hold back, that will be a lot harder.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Blair Witch Project

Just a very quick post.

Thought I would see how the mini camera copes in very low light and darkness, so took it with me on a 4 mile walk/jog. With very little light it obviously struggles to get any quality, but it does give a flavour of the route. The view over the fells was stunning tonight and I'm glad some of it was picked up on the video.

Don't imagine I'll be doing much night videoing anyway; just wanted to do a bit of a test. Without the music, the video is very "Blair Witch Project" so I thought I needed to put an upbeat sound track over the top to stop anyone having nightmares!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Race plans for 2012

Seems a bit strange to be doing this post now. Last night I managed a 3 mile session, walking 2 minutes, jogging 2 minutes, repeat, along the old railway. My legs feel a bit heavy today, but this has to be expected as I have not done any running for SEVEN MONTHS. I did feel that I could have run longer, however, I don't want to overcook things yet.

In order to celebrate running for 2 minutes, I thought I'd commit to my racing plan for 2012. All this is obviously dependent on my tendon, but I'm being positive and looking forward to next year.

Those that follow John Kynaston's blog, will already have a heads-up on my number one target for next year. Even before my injury problems, I had decided that in 2012 I would do the Lakeland 100, rather than attempt a quicker time on The West Highland Way Race. I know I will return to the WHW race at some time as the race and everyone involved make it such a special occasion. Getting under 20 hours for the WHW race is still an aim I have tucked away after running 20 hours and 21 minutes in 2010. I want, however, to have a good crack at my "local" race so this will be my focus for next year, having the added bonus of being in my summer holidays so I can rest up properly beforehand.

John is also doing this race and we intend to do some significant training/recces together over the first half of the year. I might be able to run with him but I certainly can not keep up with his blog reports!

By missing the WHW race, it frees me up to have a "proper" go at running the Highland Fling at the end of April. If you have read my thoughts on training for the WHW Race you will know that I consider the Fling too close to the big race to give it my all as I know I do not have enough time to recover and train again between the two races. My two times for the Fling are around 10 hours, so an obvious target is to get that time lowered down to something like 9:30.

At some point in May or June I would like to go off the grid and spend a weekend doing the Bob Graham Round mountain marathon style over two days with a wild camp overnight. I completed the round proper in 2007 but have a hankering to do a more "pure" round without support, whether that be solo unsupported, unsupported but with a friend or two, mountain marathon style or even a winter attempt. The start is about 500 yards from my house so I can just wait for a nice weekend and go for it. Lucky git!!

Three weeks before the Lakeland 100 is Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon which is a great two day event. The elite class (called Klets) is a solo category and offers a great deal of route choice as the controls can be taken in any order. I think a personal best may be just out of reach as I hit my zenith in 2009 when coming 2nd in the event based at Coniston. I think that weekend will lead me straight into my taper for the Lakeland 100 so, although I'll give it a good shot, I will keep those following three weeks in mind. The Lakeland 100 is the priority.

I'll give myself lots of recovery time after the Lakeland 100; I think it took me two months to recover from the WHW Race! The latter part of the year will be the build up to the Original Mountain Marathon which is the biggest and most prestigious of them all. My racing partner (Simon) and I came 9th on the Elite class in 2010 on Dartmoor, so another top 10 finish is the aim.

The dress rehearsal race for the OMM will be the RAB Mountain Marathon at the start of October which is a superb event with a lovely laid back feel to it. If you are wanting to have a go at your first mountain marathon I can fully recommend it and it has that extra navigational twist, in that all classes are done as a score event (collect as many points as possible in a time limit, rather that the traditional fastest round a set course). Again, Simon and I have been the bridesmaids at this event in 2008, finishing 2nd when it was held on the Back o'Skiddaw area to the north of Keswick.

Depending on how I feel after that year, I may have a run out at the Tour de Helvellyn which takes place in the middle of December; if so, it would be as a means of kick starting the winters training for 2013. I will leave that decision to much later in the year.

As I type this, I'm smiling to myself. Last night I ran for two minutes at a time and here I sit detailing racing plans for seven events with a total running time of about 105 hours, or 15 hours per event! You've got to love the capacity of the human brain to ignore the reality and focus on the fantasy!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A good time to be snotty

For once, the winter's cold has come at the perfect time. As anyone who works in a school knows; if it's going around, you're going to get it! I usually get a cold at some point over the winter and it often arrives when I'm in full training, just got the whole rhythm sorted, weekends away planned, etc, and everything gets kiboshed as I wollow in the self pity of man-flu. This year, I seem to have done my stint early (over the last week) and will hopefully build up some immunity for the rest of the winter. I actually lost my voice completely on Thursday and Friday last week, which makes being a PE teacher a bit difficult, but we somehow got through despite my voice tone wavering like a pubescent 14 year old.

Things are moving forward again on the training front. Despite having no voice, I didn't feel particularly ill, so on Friday last week I made my most significant foray on the trails post op. Doesn't sound much, but I did 3 miles in the woods below Latrigg fell, walking for 4 minutes, jogging for 1 minute. I had running kit on and used my headtorch for the first time this winter and I can't begin to tell you how good it felt to be out there doing it again. My favorite running is at night, off-road with a headtorch. I love just being out there, total solitude, just the cone of light and the sound of my breathing and footfalls - it's about as close to a Zen thing as I get anyway. During the winter, all my mid-week training is done like this. I walk to work with my kit in a small rucksack, get changes into running kit after work, jog the mile home as a warm-up, dump the rucksack in the hallway, turn straight round without thinking about the sofa and do the training session. (Always off-road, always in the dark)

I saw the physio again this morning. She suggested that I am now at the stage where only I can tell what I should and should't be doing. Don't know whether that is a good or bad thing!? So far I have been told what to do by the experts and now she is expecting me to make rational decisions. Is she mad? Anyway, I thought I would try 3 sessions over the next week where I cover about 3 miles doing 2 mins walk, 2 mins run and see how that feels. The physio said that sounds about right but I must mix that up with some simple plyometrics (that's skipping to you) to increase the power of the calf muscle.

It has been interesting how more and more of each physio session has been about core stability. She got me to do a series of exercises whilst I held my pelvis so I could feel how much it moved about. I thought I had quite good core stability, but this illustrated some deep failings. My abdominal muscles are fine, it's what lies beneath that needs sorting. It's not called CORE stability for nothing!! I had the typical runners attitude, it was all a bit blah blah blah to me, then she said "This will make you a much more economical runner". At this point, I sat up and started listening. I'm really going to try and incorporate this into my training, even once I'm running again.

My next target has to be a proper run, something in the region of 3 miles, without any walking. Once I can do that, I think I will feel that I am then in a position of training rather than recovering. Looking at the blog title; I'll be going into the "beyond" bit! I think I'm looking at round about two weeks from now to try that, but again, there is no need to rush things.

Finally, I have been thinking about next year a lot and have decided the major races I will target. (Even entered some of them) I will reveal all in the next post.