Project Sub 2:45 v.2 – 123 Days to Go…

As the last post correctly predicted, December has consisted almost entirely of sessions on the elliptical trainer interspersed with the odd bike ride and even the occasional brisk walk when all other options were exhausted. The elliptical trainer in particular became an exercise in extreme base training, with one a total of 28 hours completed on it, with last week seeing five two hour sessions in as many days – topped off with a couple of bike rides over the weekend.

Effort wise I think this exceeds what I’ve attempted when running. It seemed to help with the cycling – a club ride saw me strong on any hills we faced, then a ride to the In-Laws (Albeit wind assisted) saw me break my average speed record for a 2 hour plus ride, grimly attempting to keep in excess of 20mph when the final ten miles saw me hit a head wind. That headwind I had in spades yesterday when I cycled home for Christmas. Feeling grim anyway because of a tummy bug, the headwind or sometimes crosswind on the Lincolnshire fens made the going ridiculously hard and not a little dangerous, especially when lorries passed at great speed -seeing me blown all over the place and perilously close to the ditches looming by the side of the road. Totally lacking in energy the ride was pretty miserable and I couldn’t wait for it to end, which it finally did three hours after I set off.

Ideally I would have started running last week, but literally at the eleventh hour my long awaited physiotherapy appointment was cancelled until today (Christmas Eve). I had my bone density scan though last week and was awaiting the results. Fortunately I was able to get both when I saw the physiotherapist this morning (She has access to on-line records the GP seemingly has not). It showed that there is nothing wrong with my bone density, which came as a great relief. She put the fracture down to ‘One of those things’ and after some checks and some more core stability exercises to perform, gave me the all clear to commence running once again.

Not wishing to look to keen, I gave it an hour before I donned the running kit and prepared to head out for a run for the first time in over two months. The reality is it took longer for the Garmin to get a satellite lock than the duration of the run –  which I chose to keep at just one minute (Hopefully tomorrow I will run for 2:30, then 5 minutes, 10, 15. 20 then 30 and 10 minute increments up to an hour).

The minute went pretty quick, not really long enough to get into my running. Things felt stiff (more from the efforts of yesterday’s ride than anything) but fundamentally there was no discomfort in the sacrum area, so I could breathe a sigh of relief when the minute came to an end. I would have done a session the elliptical trainer but my body really needs a few days rest so a minute’s running will suffice.

The moment I’ve been waiting for for months had passed without fanfare or incident. There is 123 days until the 2015 London Marathon. The road to Sub 2:45 starts here!

Keeping Those Fitness Level Up

Short of being given the green light to commence running again – which may or may not happen when I see the NHS Physio in a couple of weeks time – the final stage of my recovery from the sacral ala fracture occurred yesterday when I was able to, unaided by a wall to prop me up, put my trousers on whilst standing up. This had either been physically impossible or too painful from the moment of the breakdown seven weeks ago. so I’d always needed a chair handy when putting on clothes or shoes – a fairly tedious state of affairs.

This simple act completed the rehabilitation that saw me six weeks ago wondering if I’d ever walk properly again without intense pain, to being able to cycle, to being able to use the elliptical trainer, to being able to walk fairly pain free, to being able to walk normally and forget that I’ve still an ailment that prevents me from running. From what I’ve read I believe it takes 6-8 weeks for the fracture to heal, so in theory, eight weeks is next Monday – six days away. I’m not going to push it though and will seek advice from the Physio first. Ideally I’d like X-Rays to prove the bone is 100% back to how it should be, but I’m pessimistic the NHS will allow me this luxury.

November has, in terms of days when I’ve exercised, been highly productive, with just two days where I’ve neither been on the elliptical trainer nor out on the bike. Those two days rest came just after I last posted on here and were thanks to working on the last F1 race of 2014 at Abu Dhabi. The day after that finale I was out on the bike, finally tackling the Witham Wheelers inspired ’13 Hills of Belvoir’ ride that I’d intended to ride on at least two earlier occasions. With an extra hill to take me out of Grantham in the opening miles, it was a challenging but enjoyable ride of 65 miles, tackled, without a stop (Despite what the erroneous Garmin Edge 810 data may imply), in a whisper over 17 mph average. The hardest part of the ride was getting some feeling into my fingers for it was a cold morning – the feet remained numb for most of the day. I wasn’t feeling in fantastic shape but enjoyed the challenge of the hills, one of which at least – Terrace Hill – appears in the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs bible of hills to climb in the British Isles. It’s not a hugely difficult climb, but as a resident of Lincolnshire, I am very grateful for any vertical challenges in the vicinity of where I live.

The next five days were spent on the elliptical trainer: just an hour on the Tuesday when I was covering the final F1 test of the year (Again in Abu Dhabi); Wednesday I doubled up and fitted in two 45 minute sessions around the demands of work and family. Thursday saw an old favourite from the early years of the 21st Century – the high resistance pyramids session, which reminded the quads that they are still fairly weak. Two hours on the machine on Friday was followed by a late evening hour on the Saturday – the whole week’s effort brought to me courtesy of the 1998 Tour de France and the torrid tale of EPO abuse and rider strikes that afflicted the Festina Tour.

Sunday morning saw me ride for the first time as a paid up member of Witham Wheelers (At least I assume I am – the application was put in the post some days earlier). I’d planned to go out in the same group as last time but a mis-reading of the rides going out on their website meant I found myself in the slightly slower Intermediate group. I wasn’t too upset at this as they were planning a longer ride of around 65 miles, the group was fairly small, which meant I was better able to get to know each of the riders, and I was rapidly going downhill with a cold, so a fairly sedate pace (Save for the couple of hills where I couldn’t resist pushing on the pedals) was just what the doctor ordered (Well (s)he’d probably suggest rest, but (s)he isn’t living in the real world of an exercise addict…) A thoroughly pleasant ride was made all the better by some unseasonably warm, sunny, weather for the last day of Autumn.

The first day of Winter saw an unplanned day off thanks to the cold which rendered me largely useless. Bringing this up to date, today I ignored the streaming nose, aching legs, and tight chest, to put 90 more minutes on the elliptical trainer. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do, but I felt no worse after than I did beforehand, so hopefully no damage done.

Weather depending it will be more of the same for the next couple of weeks – mostly elliptical trainer with the odd bike ride thrown in. Hopefully the Physio will give me that green light to commence running. If they do, it’s going to be a slow, drawn out affair, but I’d love to be running before Christmas, even if it is just for a handful of minutes.