Day 74–Batteries Charged

If anyone is under any illusion that a GPS watch is the last word in accuracy and decries a race long! or short!  based on the findings of a bit of plastic on their wrist, they should carry out the following experiment:

In determining whether my replacement Garmin Forerunner 910XT was sent complete with a duff battery, my watch took part in a two hour run where it went no further than sit on my study windowsill. Despite not moving an inch (unless it sneakily did a runner whilst I went to make a cup of tea) the watch claimed to cover a third of a mile when all it did was relax looking out of the window watching the clouds pass by.

If its ability to capture totally accurate data is compromised when standing perfectly still, imagine the challenge it faces when constantly on the move, turning sharp corners, speeding up and slowing down, often passing under bridges and the like. It’s a mini miracle these devices come up with a distance half realistic at all.

The fun of a motionless run done and relieved that the alarming battery drain of yesterday appeared to be an anomaly, several hours passed looking at pictures of racing cars in Bahrain before I headed out a little before 5pm for an easy paced recovery run. The first mile was a torrid affair – the legs just didn’t want to know.

Thankfully things improved so that my regular recovery run to Dysart Park became just that – perfectly regular. I found a better alternative route to the park now that the footbridge is temporarily closed – a dead straight road that runs alongside the River Witham. There was little in the way of pain – the right groin ached a touch. The main issue was I was a touch overdressed wearing tights and cycling shorts underneath, feeling uncomfortably warm.

By the end of the run and with the Garmin on for around an hour, the battery showed 94% remaining, which is just about spot on for a watch that has a claimed life of 20 hours. Whether the replacement fixes the issues I had is another, as yet, unanswered question.

Day 73–Service Resumed

After the body’s capitulation during Tuesday evening’s intervals session, the effects of which rumbled on into the evening, Wednesday saw a well earned rest after two weeks of running without a day off. Thursday was an early start with the resumption of F1 testing in Bahrain, but during the day I could tell the legs, body, and mind were distinctly fresher than they were two days ago.

The day’s work was nearly done when I headed out for my pre-run at around 5:45pm – 3.4 miles or so up to Harrowby and back. The legs felt pretty good – the pain in the right shin from Tuesday night was gone, the right calf though was feeling tight. It was therefore a blessing that I had 20 minutes before heading off to the club, to massage the calf, finding some distinctly tender spots up near the knee.

Massage done, and new replacement Garmin 910XT on (Which may or may not be with me for much longer, depending on how rapidly the battery continues to drain…) I headed to the club. The route was the same as we’d done two weeks in a row a couple of weeks ago – heading to Belton House, before running along the road I now know to be Five Gates, into Londonthorpe and back to Grantham. I cannot wait until the clocks go forward and we can hopefully explore some other roads and paths in the area.

The first whole mile with the group will go down as one of the slowest I’ve done in many a year – 9:10. Thankfully I was not the only one who found this a touch too sedate and a group of three, with a further three not too far behind pushed on, albeit barely breaking eight minute miles. The pace slowly picked up over the course of the run, I even found two or three sections where I’d really pick up the pace, all in the name of chasing Strava segments, some of which were yet to be created. This new session is apparently called Stravalek – far more entertaining than Fartlek, which had you chasing lamp posts or something like that. The final Stravalek  was around two thirds of a mile at sub six minute per mile, which felt pleasantly easy – the body drain of Tuesday was seemingly an anomaly.

A couple of miles later and the run was done – tired after sixteen miles, but in a good state except the right hip, which was a bit achy after a slip early in the run. Hopefully a bit of TLC during Friday will see that right.

Day 71–Body Says ‘No’

The morning run was a routine affair, up to Great Gonerby, narrowly missing out on the Strava segment for the hill by one second (one day I’ll hit that hill later on in the run when I’m warmed up), then looping around and back down. Nothing amiss, nothing to indicate how my body would feel later in the day. I even missed a downpour by around 20 seconds which made me feel pretty good.

The evening run was scheduled to be intervals with the club – 3×2 miles with a 1 mile jog recovery. I’d intended to try and run them at something close to half marathon pace, which in theory should have been attainable as that is around 15 seconds or so slower per mile than the last set of mile reps I did on the same stretch of A52.

Things didn’t bode too well when we shuffled from the Railway Club to the Muddle roundabout. We were crawling, but it felt like hard work, my tummy in particular not feeling great. I certainly didn’t have much enthusiasm for what I was about to subject my body to – an attempt at picking up the pace for a few hundred meters left me under no illusions that this was going to be tough.

I set off first for the first rep. It would be on an evening like this when having a training partner of similar pace would have been a godsend, someone to keep your motivation and effort up when you are flagging. Tonight, I was out front, alone, and the master of my own destiny. Unfortunately the body was quite quickly starting to say no! 

The first mile was 5:56, the second was the best of the evening 5:46 and hitting the kind of heart rate I was expecting to attain. The recovery mile was a trial, the tummy showing every intention of giving trouble and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, or as Sean Kelly would say fateeeg. Within a minute of beginning the second rep I knew something was amiss, as hard as I’d try I just couldn’t break six minute mile pace and the HR was dropping the harder I was trying. By the end of the first of two miles I carried on and ducked into the Muddle for an emergency pit stop. I hoped that would cure my ills, but alas recommencing the rep it was clear things were not going my way.

I completed those two miles in 6:05 and 6:01 which, when looking at the HR they were ran at weren’t too bad, but this wasn’t the session I was planning to run. Worse struck on the recovery mile as my right shin began aching somewhat alarmingly from seemingly out of the blue. There was little I could do but try and pretend the pain wasn’t happening.

Maybe it was the shin pain, the fatigue of two weeks running without a day off, the Stamford 30k, the 22 mile run on Sunday, one too many stock cubes in the soup I made for lunch (Very, very salty), the breeze, the cold, maybe it was even missing my buddy the 910XT. Whatever it was, the third and final two mile rep was a miserable mess. The splits were a little skewed but the mile out was run in around 6:27, the mile back was 6:21. Okay so these aren’t calamitous and if I applied a little spin and note that the heart rate average was at my long run HR – the splits aren’t half bad and the session was a success.

As it stands running along watching the HR drop uncontrollably and with it the pace was not a pleasant experience. The mile or so home was an equally slow affair. The evening was spent being very, very tired, wondering what on earth was causing the shin pain (which, incidentally, all but disappeared the following morning). A day off for Wednesday was booked. Rest is required, rest is what the body will get.

Not hitting targets in sessions is inevitable for a runner, this is by no means the first and it won’t be the last. I think what has unsettled me is this is the first bad session in months and it left more questions than answers. Hopefully I’ll bounce back stronger and faster with a bit of rest!

Day 70–Little to Report

This was a run to get up early and get out of the way to tackle the rest of the day. An early, for me, depart meant the first mile had legs that just didn’t want to work. They didn’t work that well for the rest of the run either but at least they ticked over, which they weren’t doing for the first ten minutes.

Other than being stiff and tired there was little of excitement on this run. The usual out and back to Dysart Park has been temporarily spoilt – a footbridge has been closed for repair, forcing a fiddly diversion that may see me try another route for the next few weeks.

It turned out to be the last run for my current Garmin Forerunner 910XT. After finally getting through to Garmin Customer Care (A mere hour and five minutes on hold) the man on the other end assured me that the problems I have with my watch are not typical of the model, despite what I might read on the internet, and suggested I send mine to Garmin for a replacement. So my Garmin is currently in the post and the old faithful 305 has been brought out of the cupboard and charged ready for a a return to service.

Day 69–A Little Frustration But Pleased With The Run

I set out for the run a little later than planned, watching the bobsleigh on TV and reading about the controversy over in America with Nike/USADA disqualifying a Brooks athlete in the ladies 3000m in frankly ridiculous circumstances. If I moaned a couple of days ago about short track speed skating not having an appeal process and some baffling decisions, then athletics took it to a new level with Alberto Salazar appealing the appeal of an appeal and eventually getting his way when some Nike people had a closed door meeting with USADA officials.

I thought briefly about burning my seven or so pairs of Nike trainers in protest, but thought the better of it for when push comes to shove, for my feet anyway, they make the best trainers on the market. I just wish they didn’t, allegedly, have such a questionable influence on the outcome of elite sport.

With that injustice out of the way I drove out to Somerby to follow a route known as the Old Somerby 19  based on a Strava upload from a club mate which I downloaded and eventually managed to get it uploaded to my watch (a process that took way longer than it should have). As the title of the run suggests it was 19 miles and I wanted to run something closer to 22 miles, so I began the run with a loop of Somerby, stopping to return to the car and discarding the gloves which, despite the strong wind, were not necessary as the temperature was a balmy 12C.

The first mile was 7:09, which is quick for me for an opening mile. The second was 6:42, then 6:43, and the fourth in 6:28. Regardless of whether the wind was helping me this was swift stuff so early in a run. It was reminiscent of an 18 mile run I did back in October when, similarly to today, I hit 6:38 after the second mile and was pretty much able to hold that fairly comfortably for the rest of the run. The next four miles confirmed I was in that kind of form: 6:37; 6:23; 6:39; and 6:37.

Then things briefly went awry. My Garmin 910XT has a known issue where, when following a course, it is horribly prone to repeatedly telling me I am off course and then back on course (When I never left the course in the first place), delays in refreshing the course line and, worse still, random power offs. Ever since that happened mid run last November I now make a point of checking the watch frequently to the point of paranoia. That was justified today as somewhere around 8.2 miles the unit powered off randomly. It turned back on, took a while to find satellites and I continued running, but something wasn’t right – the distance didn’t appear to be increasing and the route I was taking on the course map bared little relation to what I was actually running.

I made the decision to stop and stop the following of the course. This had the effect of resetting the mileage and elapsed time to zero, something it doesn’t usually do. I powered the watch off and on again, was relieved to see at least my run was stored in the history rather than disappearing into the ether, and recommenced the run. It was ultimately no more than an annoyance, but for flagship watch it is unacceptable and Garmin will be receiving a phone call in the morning. At the end of the day my old 305 could handle courses near perfectly and this more expensive watch handles them badly to the point of it being nearly broken.

The rest of the run went fairly quickly as my mind mulled over exactly what I would be saying to Garmin in the morning. There were a few tough miles when I turned to face the head wind, which almost at times had me stopping in my tracks. By and large though the pace was relatively consistent and the legs remained good, albeit with a little tiring in the closing legs, which is only to be expected. At 7.6 miles on the new run the watch powered itself off again. I kept cool, gave it a few seconds and turned the watch back on. This time I was able to recommence without having to create a third leg to this long run.

As I returned to Somerby the watch was showing around 12.5 miles on the second leg of the run. The maths wasn’t too great at this point of the run, but I reckoned I should do another lap of Somerby to ensure the run was over twenty miles and hopefully nearer 22. It ended at 13.3 (Half marathon completed in 1:28) which mean a total of 21.7 miles, both segments averaging 6:41. The pace was unarguably consistent

This also meant a new record mileage week of 86.5 miles, which came as something of a unplanned surprise. There were very few quick miles as I spent most of the week recovering from Stamford, but today’s run left me in no doubt that things are coming together very nicely – as long as I stay fit and healthy!