Sunday, February 15, 2009


First things first, I'm glad to report that the knees are 98% back to normal. I still don't know what exactly had been wrong and most likely never will, but won't spend any time worrying about it.

I learned quite a bit about my present state on each of the last three runs. They were all very different, but the information I gleaned from each of them was quite revealing.

On Friday I inserted a long stretch at marathon effort into my run. I had done exactly the same workout 2 weeks earlier, before I had gotten sick, and it was a helpful comparator. In short, I managed to cover the 8.5 miles at an average pace of 7:09, six seconds per mile slower than a fortnight ago, and a very similar pace to a workout three weeks prior. It shows how much fitness I have lost in the meantime; and to be honest I’m happy enough with those figures. I can and will make that up again. What wasn’t quite so good was the feeling I had halfway through the run. I had just covered a short uphill segment at pace, and all of a sudden my legs turned to jelly, my HR jumped up and I felt pretty bad. I slowed down a little bit to get my HR and breathing back under control, but it took about half a mile to get back into the groove again. I’m not sure why I felt so bad pretty much out of the blue.

Saturday was an easy run. I had toyed with the idea of running a bit longer to boost my pathetically low mileage figure for this week, but sanity prevailed and I just ran an easy short effort. Mileage totals mean diddly squat on their own, and it’s not worth compromising your real workouts by running to exhaustion on what should be an easy day. Having said that, despite all the goodwill I could muster to run easily, my HR on that run was way too high. I was left scratching my head when I saw the figures on the Garmin. Sure, I had run a bit faster than I probably should have on an easy day, but I would not have expected the average HR to be in the 150s. I presume it means that I’m still not entirely over whatever illness had struck me last week. This actually ties in with the kids’ recovery from the same infection. Even after recovering from the worst they weren’t quite right for at least a week afterwards, and I’m apparently following the same pattern. On the plus side, they seem right as rain by now, and I expect to feel a lot better a week from now. If I don’t, I’ll seriously have to think about resting for a few days, like it or not.

After Saturday’s HR reading I wasn’t sure if I would be able to survive a 30/30 workout today. I programmed the Garmin for 25 repeats, but gave myself permission to bail out at any time. During the warm-up my fears seemed the get confirmed, as soon as I tried to increase the effort above a certain base level my HR would jump by a much higher margin than normal, even though my legs and lungs felt fine. After a bit of hesitation I started into the first 30 seconds sprint after all, taking it a bit easier for the first few repeats and hanging on for dear life from the halfway point. During the repeats it seems to help to count my breaths. This passes the time and it seems to ensure that I inhale deeply rather than hyperventilating my way through the workout. But there is no denying that it is a tough workout. I hung on towards the end, the 30 seconds rest breaks seemingly getting shorter and shorter; I was still gasping for air when the watch’s merciless beeps commenced for the next time. I survived to tell the tale and managed all 25 repeats at an average pace of 5:49. That’s marginally slower than a fortnight ago, but faster than expected in my compromised state. The average HR had gone over 180 on the last few intervals, and I couldn’t have done much more.

Looking at the training schedule, this should have been the last week of my hills phase. Since I have basically lost 2 weeks to illness I decided to extend that phase by a week before moving on to the anaerobic phase. Most of all, I hope to be over the after effects of that sickness by then. Ballycotton is in 3 weeks, and Grellan will humiliate me if I’m not in shape.
13 Feb
10.5 miles, 1:17:56, 7:25 pace, HR 159
incl. 8.5 miles @ 7:09 pace (HR 163)
14 Feb
8.3 miles, 1:05:31, 7:54 pace, HR 151
15 Feb
8.2 miles, 1:02:24, 7:36 pace, HR 162
incl 25x30/30 (5:49 avg)

Weekly Mileage: 55+


  1. Remember Thomas there's no point in killing yourself in training. I'd say the HR will improve over the coming days. It's not lost fitness just recovering illness.

    No fear of me humiliating you at Ballycotton - although i'll do my best.

  2. Way to push through Thomas. Your elevated HR (especially when it's higher but you still feel fine) is probably just due to the short layoff.

    My coach said something to me when I came back from my ITB injury (sorry I forget the details). She had some scientific explanation as to why the HR is so much higher than normal for a given effort when you first come back.

    The end result however was to just forget about the HR and run on feel for the first couple of weeks when the HR would right itself.

    As an example - when I first came back I was pushing the effort towards the end of some runs that at the time I'd have expected the HR to jump to about 168 - but it jumped up to almost 180! I would just laugh because I felt like the same, the number was just higher.

    Anyway - long story short - I wouldn't read too much into the HR for the first 2-3 weeks.

    Really nice job on those 30/30s.

  3. I think Mike's on the right track. After any training down time more than a few days, a higher HR for any sort of workout is to be expected, whether marathon-pace or speedwork.

    Ballycotton will be interesting. I'm still undecided. Centrebet has you both on equal odds.

  4. Thomas, I had not had time to keep up with your blog recently. I am sorry to hear about your missed a week or two of training, but in the long term a few missed weeks matter very little. I very pleased to hear that your knees are recovering. It sounds a bit of a mystery. There is a condition known as post viral arthritis, and maybe that what you had. It consists of joint pain accompanied by swelling and other signs of inflammation around the joints, following a flu-like illness. It is probably due to an over-reactive immune system attacking tissues of your own body. It usually resolves spontaneously without any long term effects. It doesn’t sound as if the inflammation was too bad in your case. If you are on the mend, that is great, but if it does not resolve completely fairly quickly, I would be inclined to be fairly cautious and take things easy. Very occasionally an immune over-reaction to an infection can affect the heart. From what you have described I think this is very unlikely, but it is reason to be cautious. If it flares up again, it would be worth a trip to your GP, even if only for re-assurance

  5. Hey Thomas, have you or your other running blogger mates ever tried this training routine from PeakFitness? I noted you refer to Galloway a lot during your various marathon preparation routines, the advise here seems to make a lot of sense and pretty much rubbishes Galloway: