Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feeling Old

They, whoever they are, say that the one major thing about aging runners is the recovery times from tough workouts. Older runners just take longer to recover. According to my legs, I have been an older runner since Sunday.

The first things I felt as I got up at 5:30 on Monday morning were my very sore hamstrings. This is quite unusual; if my legs ache it's normally the quads, but not always. I briefly wondered if running 15 miles over very hilly terrain was a good idea, but, as always, pushed those thoughts aside and got ready. The run wasn't as bad as I feared. The first 11 miles, the hilly part, went reasonably well. Then I started on my "strong finish" stretch, where I had managed at average pace of 6:48 only a fortnight ago – just before getting sick. I knew that pace was well out of reach, and all I could tease out of my tired and very achy legs was 7:10 pace. Still, that's better than on the same run 3 weeks earlier, so things aren't all bad. It confirmed what I already knew, that the sickness had set me back a bit, but not by too much.

However, for the rest of the day I felt twice my age, moaning every time I had to get in or out of a chair, and it wasn't pretty. I particularly cursed the fact that we lived 5 miles out of town, because cycling that distance wasn't fun at all. I hoped that a good night's sleep would do wonders, but things weren't helped by the fact that I was on call for technical support from work and promptly got a call at 4 am, which lasted for about half an hour (Niamh wasn't overly pleased either). It took me a while to get back to sleep, and the alarm at 6 o'clock sounded far too early. I was still groggy by the time I hit the road, ran 10 miles easily, was surprised that I managed sub-8 pace with my tired legs, was equally surprised at the high HR, and subsequently had a hard time staying awake at all times during office hours. Somehow I made it through.

There were no emergency support requests last night and I slept reasonably well, but somehow the legs were still sore, but by now the quads had overtaken the hamstrings in that regard. I wasn't too sure how I would make it through today's hill workout, but decided to go ahead anyway. I was dreading the tempo run part all through my warm-up. Of course, if you don't expect to run well you never will, and I subsequently ran my slowest "tempo run" in a while, clocking the less-than-three-miles segment at 6:53 pace (slower than marathon pace!!) though the HR confirms that it wasn't down to me slacking off. As soon as that particular torture was over I started dreading the oncoming hill repeats in equals measure. I had done previous hill sprints in 45 seconds; this time I resolved to keep going for 60 seconds each. However, maximum effort they were not. I have no idea if it's better to run 45 seconds all out or 60 seconds at a slightly more measured effort. Interestingly, the HR at the top of the 60 seconds was the same as I had reached during previous 45 seconds efforts. In any case, I had thought the legs were heavy at the start, but it was nothing in comparison how they felt at the end of the workout. It's a different kind of sore today, though. If there is a difference between acute soreness from today's run and chronic soreness from a run several days ago then that's what I can feel right now. If that's good (cause I'm working hard) or bad (cause I'm working too hard) is anyone's guess. So far, I have another hill workout planned for Friday. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but I just have to keep the faith that those torture sessions might enable me to run Boston in less than 3 hours.
16 Feb
15 miles, 1:58:12, 7:53 pace, HR 153
last 4 @ 7:10 pace
17 Feb
10 miles, 1:19:10, 7:55 pace, HR 148
18 Feb
10.5 miles, 1:28:20, 8:25 pace, HR 150
incl. 2.75 miles @ 6:53 (HR 163) and 8x60 secs hill sprints


  1. Look on the bright side - with all these early morning runs you'll have no problem with adjusting to the time zone in Boston!! Looking good to Ballycotton too!!

  2. Your determination is amazing and yor mental toughness will stand you in good stead in Boston. Several of your runs this week have been pretty good for a person who has just recovered from a serious respiratory tract infection, followed by an episode that might have been acute post-viral arthrits. The fact that your knees appear to have recovered is great news. However, I think you are in danger of overdoing the hard sessions at present. With all the solid work of the past year, I suspect that if you allow yourself another week of easier sessions, you will quickly recover your former fitness. However if you continue to drive yourself to exhaustion there is a risk that you will gradually but steadily lose your strength.

  3. That is some solid training, keep with it but be smart listen to your body (allow it to recover). Happy roads!

  4. Two hill repeat sessions in the same week is a very tall order. If you're not feeling close to 100% come Friday, you might want to consider pushing that out.

    Just my opinion - good luck.

  5. Thomas, don't push too hard. Remember an early short recovery is better that a late enforced one.

    I put off a hill session this morning as I wasn't feeling 100%. If I do it tomorrow or even canel it for this week I haven't lost anything and perhaps avoided a longer layoff.

    I have the same thoughts on the hill sessions. I am currently doing 30 second hills at close on 6 minute pace and am debating with myself as to whether or not I should extend the time out to the scheduled 45, 60, 75 & 90 seconds as I know my pace will suffer - which is better hill training?

  6. With your perseverance you can do anything! Stay smart.

  7. Your mileage and stamina both physical and mental is extremely impressive! It's bound to pay off in a big way in the not too distant future.

  8. your aches and pains could be because the virus might still be in your body!

  9. I'm tending to side with Canute and Rick - the old feeling is just a carry-over from the virus. Your too young to be feeling old!

    As a general observation, I'd be advising you to take your easy/recovery days very easy indeed (especially if there's only one easy day between hard days). For instance, the 10 miler on 17 Feb to me seems like a bit of a nothing run. 7:55 pace probably feels easy, but it might be better to make these runs VERY easy - just jogging. 8 miles if you haven't got time for 10 slow ones. For aerobic support and recovery there's no pace that's too slow.

    As for two hill sessions per week - maybe. I'd be inclined to make one of them the very short (10-12 second) hill repeats that Hudson recommends for neuromuscular development.

    I just invented the 'worlds fastest running shoe', the sole is filled with helium gas![ WEIGHT MINUS 10 oz]
    Once I get them off the ceiling I'm going to give them a test run!