Monday, January 27, 2020

Ouchy

Last Saturday I headed down to Shanganagh Park for the weekly parkrun. I'm not entirely sure why, I think it was that I felt good on Tuesday when I did a couple of faster miles and decided I may as well do the same with company, so off I went on Saturday morning.

It was a freezing cold day, there was frost all over the place, including the road, and there was a big patch of solid ice where usually the puddle is in park (and you do cross that patch 3 times in the parkrun, so definitely one to be careful). Obviously I have been around here for long enough to know that these things never start on time but that day they were a whopping 13 minutes late to get things going, which is almost Kerry-levels of timekeeping, or lack of it. If I had known about the delay I would have done a few little runs to keep warm but as it was I, and everyone else, was just standing around in the freezing cold, and when we finally got going I immediately noticed that my calves felt very stiff.

That feeling went away, and I did the parkun at about 85% of effort, enough to feel the muscles working but low enough not to feel wiped out, though I still tied up badly in the last k, and obviously I posted my slowest ever parkrun time but that's ok, there will be worse to come. However, as soon as I started my jog back home my calves were hurting straight away, and things didn't improve.

In fact, on Sunday there were so sore that I binned my morning run, and I changed my plan to go cycling instead when Niamh suggested to do a swim, so that was my workout for the day, imitating a lead balloon, and a particularly uncoordinated one at that. I survived; barely.

Anyway, the caves were still sore for about 3 more days. It felt very much like DOMS, but since it started straight after the parkun there was no delay involved, but I have no real idea what exactly was wrong, except that it did sort itself out eventually, no lasting harm done.

Parkrun is a fantastic institution and I would never complain about the volunteers who keep it going, they are delivering a fantastic service to so many people, but whatever the problem was on Saturday, they came damn close to do me in.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Quiet Time

There's not much to report, apart from the fact that I have indeed managed to stick to my new resolution of running less so far. I'm not cutting down entirely; I ran on Tuesday lunchtime with some work colleagues and then twice on the weekend, though my weekly mileage of about 15 miles is the lowest in a long time, and I have no intention of changing that approach any time soon.

I got a bit of a surprise on Saturday when I set a PB on a Strava segment, entirely by accident - I thought I was running at an easy effort, genuinely, honestly! Obviously it was on a stretch of road where I had never run anything approaching fast pace before but it still caught me completely off guard. Maybe the rest that comes with such a low mileage is really working. I guess that's what tapering is all about.

I still intent to run in Donadea in less than 4 weeks; it's probably not a great idea but it sure won't be the dumbest thing I have ever done, I have gotten away with way worse in the past. I try and think of it as an extreme taper - well, actually I don't, not really. I have no illusions about my chances of posting a decent time, I expect to finish in around 4:30, and just to keep that in context, I have never finished above 4 hours before. There will actually be a 4:30 pace group but I have no idea if I will try and go out with them or not, I will probably decide only on the day.

Actually, I do enjoy the fact that my legs are not hurting every day. Maybe I could get used to that. if that's such a good thing I'm not sure, though. A bit of discomfort is a good thing after all.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Resolution

To say that I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions would be quite the understatement but this year I'm going against my own beliefs and came up with a resolution, albeit a few days late:

Run less

Yup, pretty much the opposite of what most people would resolve, which is why I'm pretty happy with it after all.

It didn't come quite out of the blue. For the last 4 years I have been feeling less and less like a runner almost with each passing day - well, obviously there are better days sprinkled in between, but overall the decline has been rather alarming, not just in my performances but in the way running has felt. I just can't run properly any more, and it is getting worse.

I took 3 days off over Christmas because I had a slight head cold, nothing serious, and I did a few miles when I got back on my feet, and I felt absolutely awful. It hasn't gotten much better since. I ran 10 miles at some point, very slowly, and still felt beaten up for a day or two afterwards. I tried a long-ish run on Sunday, still nothing amazing at maybe 15 miles, and at mile 5 I was already struggling and had to cut it short.

It feels like overtraining, though where from I'm not sure because I swear I haven't done much training in the last few weeks and months - I used to do twice that and felt good! Anyway, it had been nagging at me for quite some time anyway, I need a break from running.

It's not as easy as it seems. I use running for mental health benefits at least as much as for physical improvement and I need my exercise, literally. I'll try and do more cycling and see if that does the trick, and the odd run every now and then hopefully won't do any harm.

Ah fuck, I have a 50k in 5 weeks. I even skipped a trip to Seattle for it!

Ah well. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Seven Seconds

Twas the night before Christmas ... actually, it was Christmas morning, and the creatures in the house had already been stirring and gone through the presents, which their behaviour throughout the year definitely had not really merrited - Santa, you sucker!

But at 9:30 I was standing on the start line of the annual GOAL mile in Shanganagh park. I had learned my lesson from last year, namely that it's a bad idea to start at the 9:40 slot if you want to run (relatively) fast because you run into the tail end of the 9:30 field, so this time I had made sure to leave early enough to still being able to easily jog down to the park on time.

There was a guy who was apparently pacing someone else to a 6-minute mile, which I thought was very handy and I would try and stay with him, but as soon as we started he tore down the road at what was definitely not 6-minute pace. In fact, looking at the GPS track later on I was actually pacing myself pretty well, so he must have done faster than 5:30 pace. I mean, obviously everyone is entitled to run at whatever pace they want, but surely if you announce that you're going to run at 6-minute pace ... ah well.

I lost a few places halfway through the mile as I started to get tired and there was just that old fella - no, not me, the OTHER old fella I mean! - and I tried to keep at his coat tails, and we did push each other along pretty well, and I'm sure he felt the acid burn in the legs just as badly as I did. I knew there was a reason why I had opted for ultra running. I would never have made a great miler, neither my muscle fibre composition nor my mental attitude would have been suitable. Anyway, I tried to give it wellies on the finish straight, as did the other guy, obviously, and try as you might my old legs just would not turn any faster and I finished in 6:05.

Seven seconds. Seven seconds slower than last year!

Now I have a measure how much I have slowed down over the last 12 months. And that was while actually feeling better than at the end of last year, when that 24 hours race still somehow had a grip on my legs muscles.

Seven seconds. Actually, that's not even a bad deterioration, considering that I have lost closer to a minute per mile since 2014, so that's actually a decreasing rate of deterioration if you can look at it like that.

And then I spent the next three days being sick.

It wasn't that GOAL mile, I already had a sore throat that morning but no, I'm absolutely sure it had no impact on my time in Shanganagh park at all, no excuses.

And how do the legs feel after three days of no running? Fresh and bouncy after a good recovery? Do they f*ck!!! I feel like I just spent half a year de-training on the couch, the hamstrings almost felt tingly from being overworked at 9:30 pace. Crikey. This getting old business really is a tough one!

Oh, and Happy New Year! Hope you had a nice break over Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2019

All I want for Christmas

... is a new pair of glutes/hamstrings that don't feel stiff and tired as soon as I get going. And maybe a new pair of calf muscles, you know, that kind that doesn't start cramping at 50% of my goal races. I'm not even asking for fast twitch muscles, I was always comfortable with my diesel engine and could live with the fact that I keep getting caught on the line because I simply don't have the speed to hold off anyone.

By the way, that happened again on Thursday. We were having a GOAL mile event on Thursday at work, with lots of companies in the Leopardstown / Central Park are taking part. To be honest, it could have been better - a bunch of walkers starting right at the front, of course all walking abreast, the majority of the course on a wet grass, the fact that it was two laps which meant you had almost the entire field blocking you way in the second lap, and most of all the fact that it was significantly short (0.92 miles on my GPS) ... I know, I know, it's not meant to be race, certainly not a serious one, but even if your main focus is charity just should not count as an excuse to not give a fuck about everything else, at least in my opinion.

Oh, and there was one guy who was significantly faster than everyone else and won with plenty to spare, and then there was a whole bunch of us finishing very closely together, me of course right at the back of them because, as already mentioned, I was caught by the guy behind me and while I was able to close the gap on the guys right in front of me, there were still just in front of me at the end, and I was in about seventh place and just a couple of seconds faster would have meant second or third but, like said, wasn't a real race anyway.

I was stiff and tired for the next two days. My legs can't even take less than a mile of fast-ish running without suffering afterwards. Mind, the 80 miles I did last week probably were a bit much. I'll take it a bit easier this week. After all, it's Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Frozen, Too

On Saturday I went out for my usual run, as I do virtually every day, but as I tend to ignore the weather forecast the freezing cold temperatures kind of caught my out. I mean, I managed just fine but running though icy cold winds and sleet in t-shirt and shorts was a bit on the cold side, so I resolved to change my wardrobe choice for Sunday's longer run. It all seemed perfectly sensible - tights, long sleeve t-shirt, warmer gloves, and I ignored Niamh's usual unnecessary comment about a man, in tights, in public.

Well, it didn't go particularly well. After five miles I was struggling to keep going, which is just ridiculous. Eventually I managed to figure out that despite being frozen to an ice block yesterday, today I was actually overheating. Luckily my top had a zip at the front, so I opened that, and wouldn't you know it, within a couple of minutes I stared feeling a lot better!

It wasn't a particularly great week, to be honest. I felt really good on Wednesday evening but then suffered through a couple of really bad runs on Thursday and Friday, so I binned the workout on Saturday and just did a very easy jog through town and the Sunday "long" run was only to half-marathon distance.

I am thinking I might be on the brink of overtraining yet again, despite me trying not to do too much, always stepping back a little whenever I feel tired, and running at a very easy effort at least 6 times a week. Getting old sucks, basically - my recovery sure isn't what it used to be, and I still haven't quite figured it out yet (and ensuring sufficient recovery was never my strong point to start with!).

Well, with Christmas just around the corner I think things will improve - no more work stress, and hopefully a few peaceful days amongst the family, what more could you want?

Monday, December 09, 2019

parkrun, once again

I bit the bullet on Saturday morning and headed for Shanganagh Park; instead of doing a loop in my neighborhood for a time trial a parkrun it was. I have avoided these up to now because I didn't want to race every week but I guess I wanted some company for the fast bit, and I tried to get myself into non-race mode so that I wouldn't quite run myself into the ground.

In fact, my preparation was nit exactly ideal, with a family breakfast coming first (family breakfasts are so rare I really didn't want to miss out), and I really felt that food in my stomach when jogging towards the park. In fact, I was afraid it was going to come back up when running at higher effort but seemingly the five minutes break between me arriving at the park an the start of the parkrun was exactly what I needed to get the stomach settled.

Once it started I managed to keep a lid on my effort, and it wasn't quite race effort. In case your wondering why I was insisting so much about not putting in a race effort, I don't want to get overtrained again and I tend to sharpen very quickly when doing fast workouts, so I want to limit this. At the same time I feel a few faster runs are important, especially with me having lost what little speed I ever had in the last few years, which is why I have been doing those time trials in the first place.

Anyway, I managed to run at about 95% of race effort until the last k when the effort started to creep up and the last 4, 5 minutes were definitely at race effort. That would explain why the last mile was faster than the second one, which would normally be highly unusual in a 5k, at least for me.

I had expected to finish somewhere between 21 and 22 minutes, and in the end I was exactly at 21:00 on the spot, so just about remained within expectations. It was my slowest ever run in that particular park but that will undoubtedly be broken again many times in years to come.

On Sunday I was just about to head out when the heavens opened and I just could not get myself out of the door, so I stepped on the treadmill instead. I have an excuse, apart from being old and soft that is, as it was Cian's birthday and I didn't want to be out of the house when it was time for his presents, but reality is I really didn't fancy a run in those miserable conditions and an hour on the treadmill it was, basically binning my long run this week (which you really are not supposed to do, I know).