Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Under the Weather

The bad news is that I’m definitely not quite right at the moment. The good news is that the worst seems to be behind me. I guess I caught whatever had been affecting Cian since the weekend. He’s better now, though still not entirely recovered, and I think I’m improving as well. For the past few days I could tell that something wasn’t right, but never enough to justify staying off work or cancelling workouts. Having said that, I definitely was not at my best, neither in the office nor on the road.

From that point of view it was probably a good thing that yesterday was a recovery day. The weather was absolutely appalling, the remnants of tropical storm Grace passed right over us and the country was almost flooded. While running in those conditions when already suffering from a cold might not be most people’s idea of a clever move, I didn’t have any symptoms below the neck, which would have kept me indoors. I checked my HR data before leaving the house, and that seemed ok. Having said that, when I came hone I was surprised both by the slow pace and the high HR. An elevated heart rate reading during my slow runs is always a sign that I’m not at my best. That day it was a sign that my body was too busy fighting off whatever germs were circulating inside me to give the running its full attention.

I did question if today’s interval workout should go ahead, but since I could definitely sense an improvement last night I decided to proceed. In fact, the morning HR was lower than normal, which I took as a good sign. The weather was in stark contrast to the day before, the sky was almost completely clear with an almost Full Moon, but it felt bitterly cold. 2C/35F were definitely the coldest temperatures I’ve had to deal with in a long time; in fact, most Irish winter mornings are warmer than that. While these conditions are not ideal for an interval workout, in the end I don’t think it mattered. My body just wasn’t up for it today.

I had pondered on the exact nature of the workout for some time, and settled for a repeat of last week’s 8x800 with 2 minutes rest. Obviously I was hoping for an improvement, but last week’s workout had been before I had gotten sick. The first interval, at 3:10, already told me plenty. The next on at 3:01 was better, just like last week, but then I settled into a fairly consistent pace of about 3:08. I also noticed that the HR never went above 175, significantly lower than last week, no matter how hard I was trying to push. As a reader of Canute’s blog I was well aware of his essays on the parasympathetic nervous system; but I wondered if I would be able to run faster had I not been reading them. In the end I decided to call it a day after 7 repeats. I clearly was not getting any faster, and I didn’t want to incur the wrath of Mike for overdoing it while sick (I could already sense the Evil Eye on me). For some reason I thought I had been 10 seconds per repeat slower than last week, but the actual figure was closer to 3.

It’s funny how the HR can be elevated for a slow run and lowered for a fast one, and yet it still seems to make sense. In one case some energy is diverted away from running, and in the other a threshold is imposed on the maximum level of exertion. I hope 19 day will be enough to purge all those germs out of my system. I don’t really fancy running another marathon while not being entirely healthy. I’ve done that last in 2006, and it wasn’t all that much fun.
6 Oct
8 miles, 1:06:18, 8:17 pace, HR 140
7 Oct
8 miles, 1:02:00, 7:45 pace, HR 151
7x800: 3:10, 01, 07, 08, 11, 07, 08 (3:08 avg)


  1. Fingers crossed for you. Hope the cold clears up. Great blog.

  2. Evil eye, no, concerned that you'll tip things in the wrong direction. HR can be truly weird sometimes but the low resting one seems to be the key. Wash your hands now.

  3. You know your body best - back off a tad just prior to the first signs of pneumonia ;)

    I can't shed any light on the reasons for the HR readings. I think in general, the average heart-beats per km/mile comes down the faster one moves. For example, a brisk walk might be at an ave HR of 100, or 900 beats per km at 9 minute pace per km, whereas an easy run might be at an ave HR of 130, or 715 beats per km at 5:30 minute pace per km.

  4. Youe take on the HR issue appears to make sense. Don't unnecessarily over exert yourself at this stage.

    I never knew that "no symptoms below the neck" was a green light for running.

  5. You must have passed it on to me through the web...... colds are the pits!!