Saturday, April 2, 2016

Less will have to be more

It's been a few months since the last post. That is because of recurring neural/muscle issues that negatively affect one's running. Efforts to amp up distance or pace consistently trigger the problem. While some people get back pain, I get extreme muscle tightness that is coming from irritated nerves, which get irritated as I try to run faster or if I try to run further. So essentially any of the things one needs to do to be a better runner are the very things that lead to becoming a worse runner! The question remains, how can this be managed so that it will allow some progression? Running form (when fatigued or trying too hard) is one consideration. Lex Anderson is trying to assist by providing some cues that are intended to reduce an exaggerated right to left thoracic twist evident when I run. It's not a dramatic twist, but with a rickety old back, it is probably enough to contribute to the problem. I've also already been through an array of exercise and stretching programmes that have not markedly assisted (focus was building gluteal strength was well as some specific running strength). This is being revisited looking at what can be done to reduce the stress on the nerves. It is a work in progress. That said running may well be THE stress, a reality that may have to be faced sooner rather than later.
What can be done training wise while working on running form and nerve stress? An article about veteran runners racing well with less mileage popped up in my Facebook news feed. It's about getting the right balance in the limited running you do. Don't do long runs every week. Be selective about the type of intervals you do. Don't get caught up in using weekly 5k races as part of your training. My programme has been pretty low mileage for a long time now. But I am guilty of doing intervals and parkruns and long runs all in the same week. I see others thriving on this type of programme. I also see others thriving on lots of long distance, like I once did (for a brief period). Time to play around with things. Slow down the intervals, space the hard sessions well apart and be more patient. There could be the right balance in there somewhere.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 - what now?

2015 is done and dusted. The IRONic jogger continued to jog for most of the year bar some minor injuries and illness. Total distance run was 1940km, which included approximately 29600 metres of climbing. Best 5km time was 22:31 and it wasn't long after that best time (run in April) that things went backwards and never really improved. A similar theme to previous years, but probably slightly better overall in 2015. The start of 2016 has included my longest run since 2010, a slow lap of 25km around the Cotter. Some dodgy navigation made for a slightly longer run than planned.
Wading through Vanitys crossing on the Cotter loop
Current goal is to work on 5km times with some interval training, providing the neural/muscle problems are manageable.  Long runs (of over 15 km) will be less frequent for now, having achieved the 25km. Once the weather cools down new goals will be set depending on how well interval training has been tolerated. Intervals (1km reps or 400m reps) have been in the programme for the last 5 weeks and so far so good. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Touring some of Canberra's ridges

There have been lots of events on my wish list this year that have passed me by due to injury and illness. The final one in the calendar for 2016 was Tour de Ridges - a half marathon that covers several ridges in Canberra's south including Farrer Ridge, Mount Wanniassa and Isaccs Ridge. All up somewhere between 550 and 650m of climbing, depending on who's Garmin you believe. The weather report for this weekend was for super hot conditions, and with a history of poor heat tolerance I was rather anxious about whether it would be wise to attempt this run. Therefore a back up plan was in place that included switching to the 15km event if I was struggling at the 10km mark and having Gregg out on the course with ice water and high power water sprayer in his Bob trailer. As it turned out the early start made for a pleasant temperature for most of the run and there was much more shade than expected. The water spray and ice water were much appreciated, but ended up not being critical for staying cool on course. The legs don't have a lot of training for this distance, so it was always going to be a long run at a comfortable pace rather than an attempt to race.

Jen Bright doing it easy out on the course

Finish line in sight!
Given the conditions, all the water stations were frequented and many steep sections on the course were walked. I made it to the finish line in pretty good shape (feeling much better than in the Bush Capital HM), but it was at a pretty casual pace. Happy to finish feeling pretty fresh. Also grateful the ankle roll in the first 500m was only minor so I could keep running! Time to plan the wish list for 2016, hopefully sneaking in parkrun #50 before the end of 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dogged in December

Things are moving along in the right direction on the Kikka front. She has showed up for the last couple of runs as promised and she is starting to really enjoy the routine, yay! I am fortunate to have some inside help to enable me to stay ahead in 'the Kikka challenge'. That help is in the form of a 'ball of fluff' on four legs. Kikka's venture to Gungahlin parkrun, where a sub 42 should have been a piece of cake, was all too exciting for Yogi Bear (aka ball of fluff number 1). Yogi managed to slip his halter at the start and as I was starting the run with all the other runners, I spotted this massive ball of fluff out of the corner of my right eye running along side. This was quickly followed by a loud yell of "Yogi!" as Kikka quickly controlled the situation. A good thing he is an obedient ball of fluff! However, this meant Kikka had a delayed start. I ran super tired and did not have a good run. But with the ball of fluff shenanigans it meant my jog back to Kikka had a good head start and our meet up point was around the 3.5 km point. That would have been a win for me if at Gindy. Instead another target has been set for the 'Kikka challenge'.  Our next run was back on the Gindy course. I was not feeling at all confident given my run the previous week. However, a new ball of fluff entered the equation. Nala (aka ball of fluff number 2) was to tag along with Yogi bear, Kikka and Leah. Nala had some 'equipment issues' just before the start, so another head start for me. As it turns out I did not need the head start as my run was much better than last week. Jogging back to Kikka she was a few hundred metres behind the previously set mark, a win for me! Woot!
Kikka, Leah and my secret helpers - balls of fluff 1 and 2

Kikka now has the opportunity to set herself up for a 'Kikka challenge' win. I have work travel coming up and will miss the next parkrun. She has the opportunity get in some secret training while I'm away. I wonder if I will be able to continue to count on 'ball of fluff' assistance? The plot thickens.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Moving forward

We are making some progress with Kikka, but it isn't always easy. She didn't get to parkrun last week and was without any good reason for not being there. She still isn't at the 'newly formed habit' phase, so it takes a much bigger effort. However, after another pep talk she made the effort to get to parkrun on Saturday, with faithful Yogi Bear by her side. Lou and Gregg also joined us to form Team Kikka for the morning. I am leading the 'Kikka challenge' due to her defaulting last week. However, this time around it was a draw, with Kikka making it to about the 3.5km mark around the same time as my jog back (with Lou) to run with her to the finish. We all made an improvement on our recent performances, with Lou really smashing her Gindy PB to finish in 19:03, oh so close to a sub 19. I managed a sub 24 - 23:43 and Kikka finished in 42:17 a 1:38 improvement on her run 2 weeks ago. Gregg is not a runner, but still managed a respectable 46:22 for his first ever 'park walk'. Kikka now has the challenge to get up a bit earlier next week so she can make it in time for Gunners parkrun.
Team Kikka and the faithful Yogi Bear
No sign of my purple patch yet, but things are moving in the right direction. Lou is in her own purple patch setting PBs in the Mt Ainslie run up, the Black Mountain run up, Gindy parkrun, as well as some pretty impressive running in the Triple Tri. I have managed a couple of 1km interval sessions in the last couple of weeks, trying to improve fitness and pace. The positive is that there have been no neural/muscle problems. Long runs are pretty slow and hills are harder work at the moment. But distance is back up to 19km, so hopefully pace and hills will improve with better fitness. Here's hoping Kikka easily cracks the 42:00 at Gunners next week.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Motivating Kikka

It's proving to be a slow painful comeback from the yellow patch. A good thing there is the distraction of 'motivating Kikka'. Back in 2013, Kikka started running and was part of my GCC team. She was awesome and made tremendous progress, including losing something like 30kg and improving her 5K time by 16 minutes! Unfortunately at the end of 2013 her wheels fell off and she was away for an extended period. Over the next 18 months she made the odd appearance at parkrun, but then it all stopped. Finally she is back and we are trying to get her focused and motivated. It is very hard as she has regained all the weight she lost and this is hard on her knees and back. So it is one step at a time. So far I have joined her for 2 parkruns at Gindy with her trusty furry friend 'Yogi Bear'. I power walked with her for the first one. We took it easy so she didn't end up super sore and disheartened. For her second one back she managed to power walk/jog and cut a couple of minutes off her previous time, yay! I ran and then jogged back to meet her and encourage her to the finish. She has been set the goal to be ahead of where I met her (at about the 3.5km mark) next time she does parkrun. She didn't make it to parkrun today due to other commitments and a sore knee. Phew, as my performance was shocking today and she would have likely won the challenge! I'm struggling at the moment (but no neural/muscle problems), I hope things get better soon!
Kikka and Yogi Bear
Fingers crossed we can keep Kikka motivated!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A yellow patch

I'm having the opposite of a purple patch, so based on the colour wheel, that would be a yellow patch. Since the end of August I have had a sprained right ankle and wrist, a torn left soleus muscle, a strained right gastrocnemius muscle, a nasty case of tonsillitis and the icing on the cake - a thrombosed right great saphenous vein extending from the foot to the upper thigh. Fortunately the latter is NOT a DVT, it is a superficial vein. But there is a risk of it becoming a DVT should it so choose to. Understandably this series of events has been reeking havoc on one's running. It was a fluke to get to the start line for the final QOM at the handicap at the end of September. It was only a few days later that I was hit with the tonsillitis, which was closely followed by the thrombosed vein. This means I missed  competing in 'Run with the Wind' and 'Two Peaks', both of which were on my wish list. The loss of fitness and ongoing necessary conservative training means there are others on my wish list that I may yet again miss out on as I have in previous years. Seriously isn't it time for a purple patch?! The focus this year has been to try and be consistent and manage the 'muscle issues' that have been a problem over the last few years. It's been slightly better this year, but a long way from what one had hoped for. And then all this garbage happened!
Thrombosed dorsal arch of the saphenous vein
Gungahlin parkrun  had its 2nd birthday on Saturday. Although racing was out of the question, a trot around the course was within one's current capacity. It was a pleasure to catch up with Ruth, Margaret and Gary as well as the hoards of other runners out there just 'doing it'. The birthday cake was a yummy moist chocolate cake with icing depicting a lovely park scene, capturing images of the ever present magpies. We all ran well within ourselves on a very warm morning. It's hard to know when I will be able to up the intensity again. In the meantime, it's good to be able to enjoy the amazing Spring weather on display in Canberra.
Great cake!
Beautiful smiling Ruth.