Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tinkering with training

I continue to be amazed by my recovery from the Lakeland 100 and feel that I am now well back into normal training. Having made some kind of commitment to the West Highland Way race next year during a podcast interview, I have been giving my plans some thought already.

Obviously, I am generally very happy with my training routine but that doesn't mean that there is not any room for improvement. What I do not want to do is make wholesale changes during this next winter in case things don't work out, so what I have decided to do is race the Round Rotherham 50 mile race in October and try out some ideas during these next couple of months, then I can evaluate my training during my rest period in November, ready to hit the ground running in December. If things don't work particularly well in the build up to Rotherham, I have not lost out on a major target for the year and I should be in a better position to plan next year's training.

I am confident in my ability to keep plodding for a 100 mile race but if I want to get under 20 hours and set a new pb on the WHW race next year, I need to slightly raise the cruising speed which I can maintain for hour after hour. To this end, I have already started to add a couple of tempo runs to my weekly training. In pure minutes/mile, these are not particularly fast as I am running off road (often on technical terrain) but I am putting in "tempo effort". As ever, I am running smooth and really enjoying turning up the gas a bit. I have reduced the amount of climb that I am doing as I feel comfortable on the hills (up and down) after the Lakeland 100. What I still need to do is decide at what length of run will I draw the line between tempo and long; I do not want to do 3 hour tempo runs (= injury/fatigue/overtraining!!)

During my rehabilitation after the operation, I got into a routine of doing some strength (particularly core conditioning) exercises. Like many runners, as soon as I was able to run again, I got out of the habit and lost interest. Recently, I read a great blog report from Andy Mouncey entitled "You can't fire a cannon from a canoe" stating the importance of core strength so I have put together a 30 minute routine that I hope to complete 3 times a week. I still have the resistance bands my physio gave me, so I am making use of them and also including some other, simple upper body exercises, some calf strengthening work and use of a wobble cushion.

On the subject of calf strengthening, my left calf is still significantly smaller than my right. This has been the case for many years, probably the result of compensation for the injury to my left Achilles. I really want to improve the condition of my calfs, so in addition to my strengthening exercises, I have been doing some minimalist running on the grass in the park. I am naturally a forefoot runner and have really been enjoying the freedom this style of running gives me. I am being really careful with this, limiting myself to about 15 minutes each time and leaving a couple of days between each session. I have got a pair of zero drop shoes from New Balance and love just doing an easy jog (10 minute/mile) around the park as a bit of a recovery on my normal rest days.
I tried something new today. For the first time ever I went for a run with a mp3 player. During the last 5 hours or so of the Lakeland 100 when I was running on my own, I actually wished I had some music with me; something I have never felt before so I thought I would try it out on some of my longer training runs and have it as an option for the long races. (How fast can you go with Town Called Malice blasting in you ears? FAST!!)

As I stated before, I am not necessarily going to adopt all these tweeks, I just thought I would try them out in the build up to Rotherham, see how I feel and I'll report back later in the year.

Last week, Tracey and I stayed in the campervan in St Andrews and had a great time, catching the better weather in the UK. I had a few nice training runs, including a coastal path, some minimalist running and a blast round the Old Course. For the runners guide to The Old Course have a look at the video and enjoy the most famous golf course in the world!

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