Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Great Restoration

When you look back and realize your body barely responded to your last taper, you know you loaded it with more training than it could take.

There's no use crying over spilt seconds. Dealing with disappointment works best when channeled into deep, reflective contemplation of how to improve your training for next time. Ooohhhmm. 
Repair, restore, regenerate
First things first, and the need to regenerate. A bit like Doctor Who, but keeping the same face. The list of niggles in full: slightly tight plantar fascia on my right foot (the sole), knotted and slightly weak right hamstring and tight hip flexor. On the other side of the political spectrum - aka the left - a touch of achilles tendonitis from a tight calf, and also tight hip flexor. Try putting that on an Amazon "Listmania!"
None of the above stops me from running altogether. There was a time I used to keep going until I'd be literally limping. 
Given that race season is finished - although I'd have entered an extra one or two if I were in better shape - now is the time to truly back off and fix everything. That has meant taking days off, stretching and walks around the indoor track. I'm shocked at the whole idea even while doing it.
Stretches at home in my "bamboo green" basement have loosened up more than just my eyeballs. 
Still running
While everyone gets in a few more pre-winter races, I am still doing a few easy runs, thus avoiding the furniture-chewing frustration of being confined to the gym or home. 
I am now transitioning into the new (to me) training philosophy of "Run Less, Run Faster". Gone are the easy runs, replaced by 3 key runs, 2 days of cross training and 2 weight sessions. At the moment I'm doing 2 easy runs and one rest day before building up to 3. Tuesdays will be very fast short intervals, Thursdays fast tempos, Sundays the long run. The marathon schedule will make the long run increase in both distance and pace over the weeks. 
The cross training is either bike or the rowing machine, doing interval workouts for both, with the bonus of it being non-impact. Half an hour on such hard seats can make your bum "go to sleep" however. Once done and standing, the "waking up" can manifest itself in a specific way for men, so wear loose shorts. 
In contrast to other books, there's a passage on strength training too, although the timing is left up to you. The routine is also designed to be done in a specific order. One exercise I can barely do, so progress will be easy to spot. I replace the rather ineffectual clamshells with side-lying hip abduction, lifting a straight leg up and slightly back. 

The Masterplan
If the weather's not too bad, I might first of all talk myself into the final MEC race in Calgary on November 22. It's a 5, a 10, or a 15k. If I did the 15, it'd be a guaranteed PB. Otherwise, I will do the 5, and go for another sub-20. PB is currently 19:18, which I don't anticipate being able to get near.
As a buildup to the 16 week marathon training plan, I'm going to follow the 12 week 10k training plan. That means starting in mid-November. On the way, there's Christmas turkeyfication and the Resolution Run on New Year's Eve. A month into the marathon training plan itself, there'll be the Saint Patrick's race. I didn't do it this year, and missed the atmosphere. The 5k will give me a good race fix even if the weather is a lottery. The faster ones might fall over and let me win too.

After that, it's the Calgary Marathon build up. I'm curious to see how well this new program works, otherwise I'd be doing the Half this time round. That 3:10 barrier is still standing, along with the fact that I've had to stop and stretch in all 4 of the marathons I've done. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Harvest Half Marathon. Ow.

There are times when that sneaky feeling that all is not well in the engine room is accurate. Starting to read a book about a different training program a couple of weeks before a race is a bit of a clue too. 
I'm reading the book that always seems to have Rich (above left) race ready, Run Less Run Faster. A second training cycle in a year of Hanson's 6 days a week is not for me, now I've learned. Left achilles, right hamstring, and in the past few days, right groin had all been stiff or sore or both. Not in a good way either. 
Still, race day is race day and what a beautiful day it was. At least there would be some nice images from the camera. 
The start was delayed as quite a few were still waiting for the portapotties. People were, er, backed up. 
This has happened the past few years, and I'm starting to think that the runners leaving it to the last minute are more to blame than any shortage of facilities. How's "start late or nip it!" for a slogan? 
Camera on backwards for the 1st k, got some great shots.

There I am, trailing foot sideways again. 
Just after the first turn, my right groin started to tighten. "Sh!t, is my race over?" Form check, a few more minutes and it settled down. 
At and just after the first hill at 2.5k, I could tell I didn't have the power to get anywhere close to a PB. Just enjoy the show, as I've done every year since 2009. 
Just before one of the best parts of the course, the roller coaster entry into Fish Creek Park, I put the camera on backwards for some more excellent views. Perhaps I should do the entire race like that? Or 2 cameras? Or a drone camera following me?

At the bottom hairpin, Rich looked up to see me already quite far behind him and gave me a wave to encourage me to catch up. Ok, I'll try to gradually close the gap.

Does the Brit run in the woods?
An open meadow between pine and birch sections, then another exciting plunge. My descents were rather uncontrolled, another bad sign. 

I felt a distinct lack of power on inclines too. How was this race going to finish? I changed my goal to 1:30 or under. I was 2 minutes ahead of that at the halfway point, and tried to enjoy the elegance of the autumn colours and sunrise. And the birds and the trees. 
Having closed the gap to Rich, I backed off at about the 12k mark. No exciting battle today. 
This race gets few spectators, though one was a cyclist fixing a flat (above), and there were 3 hi-fiving kids (below). Just make sure not to make it an adult-strength hi-five. 

Sikome Hill, at 17.5k. I felt pretty lethargic here, and was passed by 2 runners. I held my pace back, trying to keep some energy for the end. 
Nice and slow, but by the 20k sign I was at zero seconds to spare, I'd have to finish at exactly 90 minute pace. 
The inside of my head sounded just like one of the lesser known exchanges in Hunt For Red October: "Captain, engine room reports 110% on the reactor possible, but not recommended." 
"Go to 110% on the reactor." 
4:15/km is usually no problem at all, but risky this time. A minor twinge of the right hamstring about 500 metres out, so I slowed, then sped up again as I figured I was close enough that I might be able to swan-dive over the line to avoid a 90+ finish time. 

Rich, who may have done some rodeo in the past, had been at the finish for over a minute and a half and gave me some flamboyant encouragement. 

The finish line clock display wasn't working, so I was relieved and amused that my watch said 1:30:00. More laughter when the official result confirmed it. Destiny? 
A guy on a bike (I think the course bike) and a volunteer said how nice the park must've been for a race. "Oh, it is glorious, that's why my streak is up to 6."
Looking back, I most likely had a case of overtraining syndrome and had probably been losing energy, speed and strength for a couple of months. 
Another side of running I love though: analysis, recovery, adjustment and the comeback. There's a half on November 9, and if the weather's good, "to run or not to run" won't even be a question.