Day 92 – Trying Things Out

The Tuesday run, for a variety of reasons, never materialised. Family illness played a big part, the bigger part though was the left hip and thigh which was painful through much of the day and begged to be rested for an evening which had hill reps planned. They are always a test on the body at the best of times, for once I thought of the bigger picture and kept myself indoors.

The leg felt a little better on Wednesday, but still far from perfect. I headed out for a run which I had no firm idea over its duration or intensity – the theme being very much play it by ear. The opening mile wasn’t too bad, the left thigh took around half a mile before it began aching, similar to intensity to how it was on Sunday – not enough to slow me but enough to make running a not entirely pleasurable affair.

Running the usual park route, at around three miles I decided I was going to run further, originally thinking I could manage ten miles then, when the thigh began to ache a bit more, maybe eight then, a bit further along perhaps just back to six. Back in the town centre I thought I could maybe run seven so I headed back to the park. What was I doing? I couldn’t decide.

Then in the park the body decided to launch itself into a full on mile rep type effort. Not entirely sure why – perhaps frustration, perhaps a desire to see if the heavy mileage had killed my pace or not – but it did, and, somewhat surprisingly, there was no pain at all in the hip nor thigh. I slowed briefly at the crossing then, into Queen Elizabeth Park, I ran the entirety at pace, enjoying running pain free and fairly quickly.

Once out of the park I slowed the pace again and the pain in the thigh returned. This makes me think a part of the problem is coming from the IT Band (I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that the pain can be less when running at pace). Pleasingly too the final stages were run at around 6:20 pace and it felt like I was jogging. If I can shake this problem the things are looking encouraging indeed.

Day 91 – New Trainers, Same Old Problems

Nike Fly Knit Lunar 1+

After the 100+ mile exploits of last week, the plan for the coming week is to lower the mileage considerably ahead of giving the Coventry Half Marathon on Sunday a fair crack. This mileage will be very low if the left thigh and hip continues to give me this much trouble.

I thought with a short run on the plan, today would be a good day to try out the trainers I plan to trial on Sunday with the intention to wear them at Rotterdam should they prove successful. They are certainly very light and judging by the first mile, which was pretty quick for a first recovery run mile, especially with very stiff legs. However I’m not convinced yet whether they are quite as quick as my ageing Lunar Racers, we shall see when they are hopefully used in anger.

The run was a routine affair but the left thigh was still aching like I had a dead leg. My massage on Thursday cannot come quick enough for although it’s not slowing me hugely yet, I think it will only be a matter of time before it does. There are tender spots all over the hip, leg and back, all of which will need attention and soon.

167.7 KM Means Little To Me

To the majority of the world, running 167 km would be hardly any more significant than had you run 155 km or 175 km. However, to members of the imperial world, of whom I am one, any distance over 160.93 km is hugely symbolic and for the first time ever this week I covered more than that distance in one seven day period.

The 100 mile + training week is something I’ve always been wanting to run but lack of talent and time has seen me fall well short. Until recently anything over 70 miles was big mileage. In recent months, the record mileage week has crept up to over 80 – 82, then 84, then 86. Thanks to being unwell over the previous weekend it meant my 24 mile long run was delayed until Monday. The cold continuing to hamper me on high speed running and working night shifts taking away any desire to do speed work, the shift fell quite naturally to easy paced long runs day after day.

By Saturday I’d covered 87 miles, already a personal record. It meant that with my planned 16 mile run on the Sunday I was going to shatter that best and jump into a pantheon of the serious runners club. Ignoring any pain in my legs on Sunday I went out and ran those 16 miles, allowing a little metaphorical tear of joy (or was it beads of sweat?) to fall when 12.2 miles was covered – the moment I past 100 miles. It may be considered ironic that 12.2 miles was at the exact steepest point of the hill on Casthorpe Road, meaning I was closer to walking than running. But I was still moving and I continued to move on for another 4.2 miles past 100.

I doubt I’ll ever run this kind of mileage again – not unless I see my race times magically improve by minutes because the body breached the mythical 100 miles a week barrier. It may be that this excess of miles may come to bite me down the road. But, honestly, I’ll take the pain. It was one of those goals I thought I’d never attain and I have. And it felt hard….

The goal has been reached!
The goal has been reached!
Proof of mileage!
Proof of mileage!
The reason behind the high mileage - no long run  last Sunday
The reason behind the high mileage – no long run last Sunday

Day 90 – The Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon (Five Hours Too Late)

It was quite a race day.  With something of a lie-in, not needing to be up until 4am to cover the Australian GP, it meant that I was thrown right in – working flat out non-stop until just a few minutes before 3pm. If you want to know how the race went, I’m probably not the best person to ask. Head down, working away, only really know the skeleton details of what went on.

No sooner had the work ended then I was donning the running kit ready for the last run of a long old week. To my chagrin working on the Australian GP meant I was unable to take part in the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon, which is Grantham’s main (maybe its only) road race of the year. In 2013 I took part on a bitterly cold, windy, snowy day. I had a bad race, hampered with injury, but ended up finishing sixth. Had I taken part this year, looking at the results I would have surely finished second and, who knows, depending on how this year’s training has gone, maybe come within a sniff of victory.

In stark contrast to the conditions in 2013, the weather today was simply gorgeous, sunny, pleasantly warm with only a relatively stiff breeze spoiling the idyll. From the off the legs felt better than yesterday. Stiff, but the calves much less tight. Whether that was helped by the decision to wear compression socks we’ll never know as I refused to take part in a one leg long sock, one leg short placebo experiment.

What was continuing to ache though was the left hip / left upper thigh. I’m sure this is stemming from the back but the net result is discomfort in the upper thigh that feels a little like a dead leg. It’s not really slowing – indeed after the opening uphill miles, I was comfortably into sub seven minute miles, but it is annoying and not the kind of problem I want to be racing with.

The scenery over the half marathon course is in places simply gorgeous, especially the run on the canal path towards Woolsthorpe.  A quick pit stop at the pub and I was back into my running. The first of two steep hills I made relatively swift work of and I was running faster as the headwind became a tailwind for much of the remainder of the run.  The miles went by quickly enough as the sun began to slowly set. The second hill into Barrowby was a killer, but I knew that once tackled it was all gently downhill back to home.

I  went though 13.1 miles in 1:31, not a bad effort considering by then I’d already covered 100 miles for the week. The am I losing my pace doubts are in full swing at the moment; I should look at the facts that I am running just outside 3 hour marathon pace after a 100 mile week covered when I have been getting up to work, on average, at 2:30am. With proper tapering and the smoothing away of any niggles, hopefully I will fly.

The run was over after 16.4 miles. Shattered and stiff, at least I could relax for the rest of the evening safe in the knowledge there should be no early wake up call for Monday morning.

Day 89 – Somebody Hit Me With The Stiff Stick

Now into day five of getting up in the middle of the night to cover the Australian GP and the body is finding familiarity in the routine. I managed four hours sleep during the night and then nearly three over lunchtime. I’m not what you would call wide awake and alert, but at least the soporific effects of enforced early middle-of-the-night shifts are a little less than in previous days.

I would have liked, then, for my run to feel a little easier than it did. From the off the legs felt really stiff and sore. The calves in particular, which have felt remarkably resilient in recent times, felt suddenly as though they had done eighty odd miles in the past six days. The first mile was a wince and shuffle affair, at least the sun was shining, albeit with a stiff breeze blowing.

I aimed to run ten miles; the main challenge of the run the climb at around three miles up Somerby Hill, which was greatly aided by having the wind firmly at my back. From then on, down to Little Ponton and then back into Grantham, it was a case of knocking out the miles, the relatively swift mile splits belying the lethargy dominating the legs.

I ended the run feeling as stiff as when I started, but comforted in the knowledge that, with one day of the week still remaining, I’e already, at 87.8 miles, knocked out a record mileage week. With a belated running of the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon course planned for tomorrow, a century of miles for the first time ever looks a distinct possibility!