Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I admit it, I'm not very good at being sick. This is slightly weird because as a child I used to be sick all the time, every year in school I would easily amass the highest number of absences, well ahead of even the most dedicated skiver. Things improved somewhat as I got older, but the real change only happened when I started running, not quite 10 years ago, and since then I must have gotten used to feeling super fit as well as super healthy.

I have been running a little bit the last few days. Normally I wouldn't have, feeling as I did, but as mentioned previously I've had plenty of time to read Phil Maffetone's book while being bed-bound, and his recommendation is that gentle aerobic exercise can greatly enhance recovery, and we're not just talking about recovery from injury. Actually, it does make sense to me, I have long ago discovered that any niggles I have go away much quicker when I keep running rather that rest completely, but obviously you have to make sure you do not aggravate things. Things may be well the same when recovering from sickness, but again, you need to make sure you do not aggravate things.

The legs had turned into two concrete pillars after 5 days of not running at all, so when I went out for a gentle 5 mile run on Monday morning I quickly changed my mind and cut it down to 4, even though after a mile or two there was some serious improvement already. Things felt easier on Tuesday but I was a bit alarmed by the HR readings for such a slow pace. There were mixed results this morning, the legs felt awful again for the first mile but the HR improved, albeit only slightly.

I always keep track of my pace, HR and their ratio in a very simple spreadsheet. When I'm in top shape I tend to see number above 60 (55 for races), and it's been a long time since I've had to look at figures in the low 50s for a training run. That spreadsheet is a very good thing to have in situations like this, I can easily convince myself that I'm feeling better, but cold hard figures from a HR monitor transferred into a spreadsheet can't be fooled.

At the moment, my participation as pacer in Monday's Cork City marathon is definitely under threat. There is no way running a 3:15 marathon can be described as gentle aerobic exercise, so I won't try and pull that particular excuse. I still have 5 days and right now I won't rule anything out. It is still possible that I will be standing on the start line wondering if I'm about to do the most stupid thing I have ever done in my life, but then again that would be a very familiar feeling, as experienced here and here and here and on a couple more occasions as well ( I tend to do idiotic things very well, apparently).
27 May
4 miles, 32:36, 8:09 pace, HR 141
28 May
5+ miles, 40:27, 8:01 pace, HR 145
29 May
5 miles, 40:32, 8:05 pace, HR 141


  1. I'd seriously consider DNSing the pacing gig unless there's a miraculous reversal in your health over the coming days.

    I think HR comes back to normal fairly quickly after sickness or an injury break. That's my experience with the 24 days off. First run back I was 822 h/beats per k for a 5k, yesterday that was down to 748 ('normal' for me would be 680-690).

  2. You'll make Cork!
    BTW - how do you calculate VDOT from pace and average HR?

  3. I second Anonymous' question. Do you use some online calculator, or a table, or a formula of your own? Very interesting...

    1. For the VDOT calculation I have a spreadsheet that I got from Mystery Coach when I was working with him a couple of years ago. It's tied to my own HR values, so that spreadsheet wouldn't do you any good.

      There is another, free spreadsheet available on the internet that someone else once recommended, at . I have no idea if it's any good, but might be worth having a look all the same.