Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time to dial it down and listen

As I feared, efforts to build up distance have not been viewed favourably by my body. I did a 'long run' on Sunday of 14.2K around Mt Ainslie (shhhh don't tell anyone I ignored those signs ....). It wasn't a flash pace ~6min/K and the last few Ks were a bit of a challenge.  Sleep quality wasn't good on Sunday night, so Monday was a day off. Despite that day off, I knew straight away when I started my run on Tuesday, that it wasn't going to be a good one. I wouldn't describe it as feeling like it did during my time with iron deficiency, but there was definite tiredness and fatigue. Tuesday was a scheduled intervals day, so after a 3K warm up jog I gave some 400m intervals a go. These were slower than recent weeks and I also cut the number short doing 6 instead of 8 as they were really tough going.

Bring on Thursday and it seems that listening to the body pays off. I took Wednesday off and had a great Thurs run. It was the usual Little Black Mountain Loop from work - 9.2 K. Today it was run as a LT/aerobic run and without really trying it was 2.5 mins quicker than the best time I've had for that circuit. Hence, I am optimistic that with some careful 'dialing' progress will continue to be in the forward direction.

Latest training:
Saturday - 300m hill intervals x 5; 200m x 1; 100m x 1 (the last intended 300m interval got divided up!)
Sunday - 14.2K long run at easy pace
Monday - day off
Tuesday - 6 x 400m; 99, 94, 96, 95, 95, 94 (1 -1.5 min passive recovery/rep)- aborted intended session of 8 reps
Wednesday - day off, unable to run @ lunch time and based on Tues thought another day off might be beneficial.
Thursday - 9.2K as a LT/aerobic run around the Little Black Mountain loop 6 min/K pace (15 sec/K quicker than recent efforts)

Here's a link to a video I made of the Runner's Shop 3000m Track Classic for ACT Masters Athletes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh the IRONy .....

It seems that iron supplementation has its good points - no fatigue and increased Hb levels - and its bad points - resumption of ovary action.  It is likely that I got it all the wrong way around! I was initially attributing the fatigue to a response to menopause after everything shut down 8 months ago. However, it could well be that everything shut down in response to iron deficiency. The timing sure seems to suggest this. Now that I've been supplementing my iron intake for a couple of months, my iron levels are probably good enough to promote normal ovary function. At 47,  I can't say that this particularly excites me. However, it does point to the restoration of a more appropriate body iron level. I must get me to the doctor soon just to see where things are at!

I've had some good suggestions from a couple of experienced runners in response to my pondering what to do next on the running front. I think part of my problem is a lack of patience and wanting to be where I was fitnesswise before I fell in that stupid hole in the ground in August 2010. The good news is that I have survived the first half of the track season and can look forward to extending my racing distances in 2012. The most sensible approach will be to focus on 3K and 5K in the short term, while slowly building up training distance. Maybe a half marathon mid year could be a sensible goal and then think about Melbourne marathon IF the body remains happy. Distance is still calling me and there is unfinished marathon business! I'm not sure about track nationals, it's too soon to expect to run a quick 10K, but there's still the 5K and cross country to at least think about. My approach to those kinds of events is more to do with being able to shoot for PBs.  I don't have any delusions of grandeur of being able to make massive improvements and be in the hunt for medals. If I attend it's because I think I am running well and could achieve some PBs. We will see!

I attended the last ACTVAC track event for 2011 on Thursday. Events on my list included the 2K turkey run, the Parlouf relay and anything else that I felt inclined towards. Original plans were to run the 2K as quickly as I could and shoot for a time close to 8:05. However, poor sleep and tired legs from training had my body telling me it wasn't up for a hard session. Instead I chose to run it at what I thought could be my current 5K pace - 4:20min/K. So I ran aiming to come in at 8:40. The start was a tad quick, but after that I settled into a good steady pace and managed to finish in 8:35.17. Not good enough to take the turkey prize, but a pretty well judged pace without a watch. I'm not sure I could have held that pace for a full 5K at the time, but on fresh legs I think it would be quite doable.

The lovely Margaret and Ruth getting into the festive spirit at the last ACTVAC Track and Field meet for 2011

Latest training:
Monday - another day off
Tuesday - 4 x 400m - 96, 93, 92, 93 (2 min recovery/rep); 4 x 200m - 43, 43, 44, 44 (1 min recovery/rep); 2 x 100m 20, 19 (30 sec recovery/rep). Total distance 7K with warm up and cool down
Wednesday - Run that included the Little Black Mountain loop - 9.2K @ 6:15min/K pace, I saw KT, Missie and SB while out on this run. All looking fit and fast!
Thursday - Track 2000m; 100m walk 'sprint'; Parlouf relay - 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m - always a hoot doing that relay!
Friday - easy 7K run, although my legs were seriously sore and tired from all that parlouf 'sprinting', a reminder that I so am not designed to sprint or even to run particularly fast!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Uncertain future running plans .........

I've had a pretty disrupted training plan over the last week or so, with more disruptions ahead due to it being that time of the year. The ACTVAC track and field season takes a short break over Xmas and New Year and I'll be officiating at the first meet for 2012. A bit of a gap before I get to see how things are progressing.

The most pressing issue though is what direction to head now with training. It is great to be feeling so much better after boosting tissue iron levels (although I still need to make a trip to the Doctor to get ferritin and Hb levels assessed), but I am also painfully aware of the complete lack of 'endurance' after so much time lost with fatigue and the calf injury. I am not a natural athlete and I have to work hard to develop endurance and fitness. Hence, I am a bit lost as to where to head. Pre-calf injury I wanted to run a sub 3:30 marathon and a 40 min 10K. The 3:30 was definitely achievable as I was already really close. The 40 min 10K would have been a much greater challenge. However, now that those 18 months have passed, I question if I could even get close to 3:30, let alone the 40 min 10K. I ran 12K on the road over the weekend and it was really tough going. I don't have enough years experience in my legs to be able to fall back on that. I also think that low iron for so long has really screwed with my muscle physiology and it is really like starting from scratch. Yes, I'm not feeling especially positive at this point in time.

With there only being a few months until Track and Field Nationals, it is too soon to expect to be able to run well over 5000 or 10000m? Would it be better to set myself for a half marathon mid year? I need to double my weekly mileage to improve over 5, 10 and 21.1K distances.  At 10% each week, that will take around 7-8 weeks of careful increases just to reach a decent mileage. Can I expect to be able to handle upped distances AND upped intensity to develop speed, together? In the past, it was distance first, speed later. I don't have a lot of previous experience to draw on.

Latest training:
Monday  - day off
Tuesday - 8 x 400m intervals, 1 min passive recoveries, goal was 93 x 5; 91 x 3; actual with HR data were:
102         144av    154max
92           140av    158max
94           147av    161max
92           149av    161max
94           151av    163max
90           151av    165max
91           153av    166max
89           152av    164max
Wednesday - a circuit that included the Little Black Mountain loop - 9.2K, 58 min @ 6:12 min/K pace and HRav 146bpm.
Thursday - 20 minute tempo interval with warm up and cool down, total distance 7.2K
Friday - day off, travel day for friend's 50th in Newrybar near Byron Bay
Saturday - 12K run on the road, undulating and warm and humid. Time 1:07 with 5:40min/K as av pace and HR av 144 bpm.
Sunday - contemplated some hill reps, but hot humid conditions and a yappy persistent dog on the chosen hill combined with tiredness saw me cut this session to just 2 hill reps and total distance of 3K. Another travel day, so PM training session wasn't going to happen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fun run :o)

Today was the inaugural Bungendore Fun Run. A low key event put on in the hope of creating an annual event from 2012. There were 40-50 runners in total, a good turn out with very little publicity. The course was a nice little scenic loop taking in some of the Bungendore township along with a small off road section. There were a couple of small hills that succeeded in slowing me down.  There was a good showing of ACTVAC members including Bruce Graham, Jeff Grey, Katie Forestier, Heidi Johnston, Roger Pilkington, Ken White, Jim White, myself and Carol Masters. The course was estimated to be 6K, however, all of us wearing GPS decided it was around 5.5K. We could all claim good 6K times ;o). Most of the ACTVAC gang used the run as a training session. I thought it might be nice to aim for 4:30min/K pace, but the hills put an end to that. I ended up averaging 4:47min/K pace, but with a rather low average HR (~153 bpm), that peaked around 166 bpm right at the finish. I didn't change training this week, so I really couldn't expect a fast time (26:21 for 5.5K).

The Bungendore Fun Run Course 2011
Bruce captured a bit of video at the end. Note the particularly speedy finish by Jim White!

Track on Thursday didn't go quite as planned. We had our Work Branch Xmas lunch and I ate some heavy food that just didn't want to move on by 6pm. In the 3000m I tried to run at 4:10min/K pace and was doing this until about 3 laps to go. With 2 laps to go, that food was rather troubling and I pulled out of the race. Fortunately, things were feeling better by the time we did the 7 lap spiral. I was able to run strongly, finishing first amongst those that qualify (2nd behind a new starter), my time was 12:41. My GPS claims it was 2970m, I suspect it was being 'kind'. Still, I was happy with the run even though I have now been penalised to start back another 3 groups. Who knows, that might still be good as I continue to recover from this iron deficiency anaemia and respond to training.

Latest training:
Wednesday - 7K easy
Thursday - Track 2270m in 9:29; 7 lap spiral (2970m?) in 12:41.
Friday - 'long run' 9.8K that included the Little Black Mountain Loop (apparently I just missed out on an encounter with a large brown snake!)
Saturday - hill reps 10 x 100m with jog recoveries (total ~5.5K with warm up and cool down)
Sunday - Bungendore Fun Run (5.5K) with a cool down to Heidi's house and back (3Kish??), followed by brekkie and coffee at the Woodworks cafe :o).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


As it turns out, I opted out of the Handicap on Sunday. My calf and achilles were both feeling just a bit dodgy and I was also feeling quite tired after my increased training efforts. With lots of rain I was concerned about the impact the handicap course could have on my right leg niggles. I'd rather 'give it my best shot' when I'm not nursing an injury. This sets me up for potentially a great start to 2012, when I can run that January event off my current handicap. In theory I should be even speedier by then.

As it turns out, the handicap had a very worthy winner of Jim White. Jim has run over 200 handicaps without ever winning a medal. It was great to finally see him 'break through'! Also good to see Roger win the bronze and to take out the Thomas Series point score for 2011. Roger has had a very consistent year and is a worthy winner of the point score. It was also good to see Katie score lots of loot for winning Queen of the Mountain, equal 1st in the Frylink point score and third in age%.

Jim White (centre), David Wallis (left) and Roger Pilkington (right)

Latest training:
Friday - an easy run with ~800m progression finish (7.2K total)
Saturday - tried to do an early run and really struggled, felt quite tired ~8K
Sunday - skipped the handicap and headed out for a PM 'long' trail run of 10.9K @~5:50min/K pace. Definitely feeling tired, glad to have not run the handicap
Monday - took a rest day
Tuesday - Intervals
4 x 400m 91, 89, 90, 91 - 2 min passive recovery between intervals
4 x 200m 42, 43, 42, 43 - 1 min passive recovery
4 x 100m 19, 19, 20, 20 - 30 sec passive recovery
With warm up and cool down total distance ~7K
The day off made all the difference, I felt good during the session. And no niggles to speak of.
It's also good to see me making progress by being able to do quicker intervals with each session.

Thursday at Track there is the 3000m and a 7 lap spiral. I don't have any plans other than to run by feel. If I feel strong I'll see what pace I can hold for the 3000m. I wonder if Ewen will be there to help push the pace in the 3000m? :o)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A name change .......

There has been a remarkable improvement after nearly 2 weeks of liquid iron supplementation (in addition to 1 month of iron tablets). All the muscular discomfort and fatigue I felt when running appear to have disappeared. That said, the sorbitol in the liquid iron supplement does not agree with my gut! I'm going back to tablets once I get through my supply of liquid iron!  I do still get tired, but in a more 'normal' feeling way than I have had to endure for the last 12 months or so. Yes, happy 1 year anniversary Mr Fatigue Monster, I'm sorry but this relationship seems to have finally reached its conclusion.

The track session in spikes last week has left my right calf feeling just a little suspicious. I suspect there are some microtears given the extent of the scarring from the injury in 2010. I'll steer clear of the spikes for a little while and allow the right gastocnemius time to heal and adapt.

Latest training:
Saturday - 10 x 100m hill repetitions in quite hot conditions. I completed them just fine. Total distance was 5.4K with the warm up and cool down.
Sunday - 10.4K trail run that ended up being @ 5:40 min/K pace with avHr of 138 bpm. Normally I have been averaging 6+ min/K on this loop. It was meant to be an easy run and indeed it was despite the increased pace. No muscle discomfort at all!
Monday - 8 x 400m repetitions. I was aiming for 6 @ 96 sec and then 2 @ 93 sec. Actual times were 99, 96, 94, 97, 96, 95, 92, 92. A bit better than the last time I did this session. I felt fine and did not suffer any fatigue :o). Total distance including warm up and cool down was 8.1K
Tuesday - an easy 5K that didn't feel so easy! No doubt the preceding few days left me feeling a bit tired & flat. A good thing Wed was a scheduled day off.
Wednesday - rest day.
Thursday - This track session confirmed that I am on the road to recovery. I knocked another 22 seconds off my 3000m time, managing to get that 13 min monkey off my back and finish in 12:50. I also ran in the 1500m hopeful of a sub 6 min. However, a sub 6 was not to be, I very much felt that 3000m in my legs on the last lap. Time was 6:07. I heard Ewen sitting right behind me the whole way. ET, I needed you to pass me and set the pace!! Based on the 3000m time I should be able to go under 6 min for the 1500m. I'll try and do one on fresh legs next time. I should mention the awesome Heidi Johnston who ran a PB for the 1500m in 5:14, she just flew! Well done Heids. It won't be long before she starts knocking on the 5 min door! The lovely Gary Bowen managed a speedy 5:12 after arriving thinking he was running an 800m. Great run Gaz.

The ACTVAC handicap is on Sunday. I'm on a good handicap at present. I will indeed give it my best shot!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More heart required!

After taking Wed off as a well deserved rest day, I fronted up at track on Thursday armed with new spikes and the goal to run the 800m. I jogged 1600m as a warm up and then donned new spikes for several run throughs at intended pace (22sec/100m). The spikes felt good. Alas there was a delay in the start and I probably let myself cool down too much before the race. As is always the way, the seasoned 800m runners took off at a cracking pace and I quickly slotted into last place, where I remained for the whole race. It was a race of 2 groups, the super speedy ones at the front and then the three of us bringing up the rear. I did my best to hang with the other two, but couldn't really find my rhythm. However, I did manage to sneak in under 3 min @ 2:58. That's 8 sec quicker than the 800 I ran a few weeks back. As it turns out I really didn't run that hard as my HR only got up to the low 160s. When I'm really racing I manage 170+. This is what confuses me about my anaemia! I'd be expecting to see a high HR, but as it turns out I'm not able to get to my usual racing HR Hmmmmm?!

Today Fri, I headed out for a lap around LBG. The first time I've been able to run the central basin for quite some time as I've been wanting to keep the distances down to 5-6K. The little program I'm following called for a 5-7K run today, so I thought I may as well try 7K. It was quite warm and I was expecting it to be a bit of a struggle. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to run comfortably averaging 5:20K/min pace with HRav 138bpm. It could well be that 1) the change in training approach is working and 2) the iron supplements are starting to boost body iron and Hb levels. I haven't felt that good running in heat for a very long time!

I thought I had managed to run in spikes without much musculoskeletal impact. Alas when I cooled down from my lunch time run, the calves were a bit sore and tight and I suspect I did a bit of heel striking with my left foot as my heel is mildly sore. The scarred right calf is the sorest of the two, not surprising all things considered. I think it is more a DOMS thing.  I'll see how they feel over the weekend. Hill reps on Saturday and a 'long' run on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The waiting game (or is that crying game?)

It is good to have a potential explanation for at least some of my running fatigue. However, it also opens up so many questions. Probably the most pressing is how long will it take to know if low iron has been a major factor? Treatment guidelines suggest a good 3 months of treatment with 100mg daily using a liquid iron supplement. However, there isn't much to suggest boosting iron will increase performance, other than via correcting the anaemia. I wasn't anaemic early in the year, but would have been iron deficient. I'm not able to identify any specific research that points to marked muscular fatigue associated with iron deficiency. Yes anaemia causes fatigue, but I wouldn't describe most of my symptoms as being consistent with anaemia. Of course, it is easy to over think it. That's what us academic types like to do!

In the meantime, really all I can do is treat the deficiency, keep training and keep hoping that I will shortly have to rename this blog!

Training since my last entry:
Saturday - 9.3K around Mt Ainslie @ 6 min/K pace. All okay except for the hills (I'll blame that on the anaemia ;o) ).
Sunday - Compound 800m x 3; these were 600m @ ~1500m pace and 200m @~800m pace. As they were run on grass, the effort was RPE rather than speed. 5 min passive recovery in between each one. 1.2K warm up and 800m cool down at slow jog. Total = 4.2K
Monday - easy 5K, tired + DOMS from gym session on Saturday, so this was especially slow.
Tuesday - 4 x 400m (98, 94, 93, 94) with 2 min passive recovery each interval; 4 x 200m (43, 44, 43, 44) with 1 min passive recovery; 4 x 100 m (20, 20, 20, 20) with 30 sec passive recovery. Gentle jog for warm up and cool down. Total distance 6.7K. Saw the awesome duo of Katie and Amanda doing speedy intervals while I was out doing the Tues session.

Not a lot of choice at track this coming Thursday as there are no 3000m events and there is a 1 hour run at the end of the night. I'll try the 800m and try spikes for the very first time ever, ever, ever. Could be good for a laugh!

New speedy spikes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

All ironed out?

I've done a little research on iron deficiency and am quite surprised by some of the studies that have been performed. Most interesting is the focus on plain and simple iron deficiency regardless of Hb status. Even more curious is the potential difficulty in getting a true assessment of tissue iron levels. This is not unlike some of the difficulties faced with accurately assessing intracellular ions, such as potassium and magnesium. As Ewen suggested, it is possible that this low iron thing has been around for a while. My last series of lab tests showed borderline ferritin levels (at the bottom of the range, but still deemed 'normal'). This may of in fact been an indication of poor tissue levels, since there aren't any readily available (outside of research) tests for measuring tissue levels. Inadequate tissue iron can impact on performance, most prominently in those that do endurance type endeavours. Now hasn't that been my main problem!? If you are interested in a bit of research. See: Tissue iron deficiency without anemia impairs adaptation in endurance capacity after aerobic training in previously untrained women. Thomas Brownlie IV, Virginia Utermohlen, Pamela S Hinton, and Jere D Haas. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:437–43. This article is freely available at the journal website.

As per my previous post, I will continue to supplement iron for a bit longer and then head back in for some follow up tests. I still have the mystery of why I am iron deficient in the first place. It could well be related to poor absorption given the diet is pretty good. Doing this follow up test should help give an indication of absorption capacity.

In the meantime, training has been okay this week.
Tues - Day off, friend visiting, ran out of time and couldn't squeeze in run
Wed - Gentle 6K run @ Stromlo @~5:35/K pace
Thurs - ACTVAC track - 3000m - knocked another 6 seconds off this season's best time - 13:12; 5 lap spiral 9:27 and way back in the placings this week!
Fri - an easy 5K

Track wasn't at all cruisy this week, but glad to see a few more seconds coming off that 3000m time. I  live in hope that improved tissue iron levels will help boost performance back to 2009/10 levels so I can then work on beating some of those old times! I'd prefer to be struggling to beat 12 min rather than the current 13 min battle!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Down on iron .......

Well it's taken a little while to hear back from the blood bank.  I finally have confirmation that my low haemoglobin level (109 g/L - normal 120-165 g/L) was due to a low iron (ferritin) level (7.8 ug/L - normal 15-200ug/L). This is a good thing, since I have been self treating with iron! Still the question remains as to why I became iron deficient in the first place? I donated blood just the once 3 months ago and have been on a healthy diet that contains adequate red meat. With my perimenopause/menopause I haven't been losing any iron 'that' way. So it is a bit of a mystery. Some may say that my fatigue could have been caused by this. The problem is that at the onset of my fatigue all my blood work was within normal limits. I will also add, that I don't get a racing heart with exertion which is what you would expect when suffering from anaemia. The heart works harder to get oxygen to the working muscles (trust me I'm well trained in physiology!) in anaemic patients.  Now I am a huge fan of 'Vitamin I', i.e. ibuprofen. It is good at alleviating some fatigue symptoms. However, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen) can affect iron absorption. They can also cause blood loss via the gut. Maybe a factor? Since I was rejected by the blood bank, I have been taking iron with Vitamin C (well actually OJ and a berocca) and have reduced my intake of NSAIDS. I imagine that my ferritin is on the rise as well as my haemoglobin. It can take a few months to restore things back to normal.  I've been on supplemental iron since October 12th. Hmm so does this mean that given another month or 2 I'll get a bit speedier due to better oxygen supply to those working muscles? That would be nice! It will be worth getting a follow up blood test in another month or so to look at progress.

Since I am currently blogging, an update on training.
Saturday - did a series of 8 x 100m hill reps and felt pretty good.
Sunday - felt the need to try and run long. Survived a 10K trail run, slow but NO fatigue!
Monday - 8 x 400m reps. These were supposed to be 6 @ current 1500m pace and then 2 @ goal pace. As it turned out they were a bit all over the place. 98, 94, 94, 98, 95, 99, 96, 95. However, it was nice to be able to back up after the 10K on Sunday. Here's hoping things keep moving in the right direction. It is nice to know the low Hb was due to lack of iron. Something that can be easily supplemented :o).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tracking along .......

The fatigue monster does like to keep me honest. He came out to play on Wed during a gentle slow jog. I was forced to stop and walk part of the way. I would have taken the day off, but had Friday scheduled off for a visit to Clinic 88. It does reinforce the importance of listening to the body rather than trying to stick to a rigid schedule. Ah well, not too much damage done as I was still able to do some events at track on Thursday.

Once again Track was just a 'play it by ear' approach. I did the 2000m at the start, aiming to run ~8:20. I couldn't quite hold that pace and so settled for 8:31. HR was up in the mid 160s bpm, so a decent effort. This was followed with a 3000m at the end of the night, thinking it would be nice to get close to 13:00. I even had the assistance of a Jeff Grey pacer. The pacer did a great job, but the previous day's fatigue and the 2000m were just enough to take away some vital energy and I couldn't hold the pace. The default goal was to beat the season's previous PB 13:20, which I did just manage to do by 2 seconds! I wonder how long it will take to start to see some gains? Anyone reading this with any ideas, please jump in. At this point I have just come to the end of 4 weeks of consistent targeted training. Not much change in that time from what I can tell. However, the good news has been no serious episodes of persistent fatigue. Next week is stage two of the targeted training plan with increased effort and pace in some of the planned interval sessions. As an example: Monday will be 6 x 400m @ current 1500m pace and then 2 x 400m @ goal 1500m pace. Track will continue to serve as a 'long intervals' session and also a gauge of signs of improving pace. I like running on the surface and my biorhythms do prefer running in the PM. There will also be some hill reps in the mix to build strength and focus on form. I like these as they are short!

Finally, many thanks to Mr Handicapper who left me in the same group for the ACTVAC handicap. I will give the Thomas Series another go as I am in such a good group still and the course isn't so evil at the next event!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Delusional .......?

I did end up running the Thomas series at the last ACTVAC handicap. Ouch, that was one tough course! Yes, trying to run well over 7K on a course like that and expect to be amongst the placings was indeed delusional! Once I got to the turn around I knew my race was run. This fatigue monster has me nervous and I'm wary of pushing my luck. Hence, I eased up on the way back and walked some of the hills. The positive that I can take out of this is that it was a similar pace as O'Connor Ridge where I didn't walk! Actually the numbers show me to be a bit fitter as average HR was 154 bpm and average pace was 5:30 min/km. Yes not an earth shattering pace, but it did include some walking.

That run probably knocked me around just a little bit as my easy jog on Monday felt a bit tough. The body felt weary. That said, as I am currently only doing very short recovery jogs, it's all quite manageable.  Those jogs get me out of the office and into some lovely sunshine, so the mental benefits out weigh the discomfort associated with the fatigue.

Today I repeated a session I did 2 weeks ago. 4 x 400m; 4 x 200m; 4 x 100m (total distance for the day was 8.5 km). When I was jogging to the start of the marked course I thought it was going to be a session cut short. However, once I pushed through the first 2 intervals, the body decided it could keep going. I wonder if the neural signals from pushing a bit hard override those nagging 'chronic fatigue' signals? Time will tell! Overall today's session felt productive. I also bumped into the dynamic duo of Katie Forestier and Amanda Walker out doing 5 x 400m. All I saw was Katie's dust and Amanda wasn't too far behind her, when I tagged along for one of those intervals. They are both inspiring, hard working runners!

Heidi, Katie and Ken - all inspirational runners warming up at the Arboretum pre-Frylink
I will see how things are feeling on Thursday and try a couple of events at the ACTVAC Track and Field meet. There's a 2K to start with and then a 3K at the end of the night. While I won't get ahead of myself, I remain hopeful that I'll be able to bump up my distances in the new year. Heck, depending on my new handicap, Weston Park may be a good one to go all out for a medal!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Still on track ......

It seems the fatigue monster is enjoying this new training approach and is keeping mostly in the background. It has only reared its head briefly during a 10K run last Sunday. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that it was quite warm. Those first few runs in the heat before the body develops some acclimatization can always be a bit challenging even for the normally fit. So it was no surprise that the 10K run was a bit of a struggle. It also exacerbated a slight niggle that has developed over my right ilial crest. It seems slow running is resulting in inadequate muscle recruitment.  I've had a couple of painful sessions at clinic 88 this week, including some 'dry needles' in the glutes, ouch!

This week I have continued with the shorter training sessions (except for Sunday) with 8 x 100m hill reps on Sunday and a couple of 'long' intervals (1600 and 1800m) on Tuesday at ~5K pace. Wednesday was an easy 5K run and Thursday was another go at a track and field meet. The 3000m didn't feel as cruisy as last week and was a few seconds slower. However, the 1600m I did later in the night as part of the Adler Spiral handicap felt remarkably comfortable. Nothing too dramatic, around 4:20/km pace, but it felt good. Just like last week, it was the 2nd run that felt the best. Maybe those first runs are shaking out some cobwebs?! I finished 2nd in the event on my chosen handicap, which was spot on in regards to min/km predicted pace. Alas, despite the accurate pace prediction, no doubt the handicapper won't be very forgiving for future events.

This Sunday is the ACTVAC handicap. Although I indicated I was going to switch over to the Frylink, given my recent reduction in fatigue, I will give the Thomas another go. If I am able to run as I have been at track, then I could finish high up in the placings. So it is worth just giving it a go even though trying to maintain a decent pace over 7km may still be beyond my means.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A night at the track

The fatigue monster has been hiding this week and I've been able to stick to a reasonable little training plan culminating in running a couple of events at the ACTVAC Track and Field Meet on Thursday. Tuesday included an interval session of 4 x 400m @ current 1500m pace, then 4 x 200m @ current 800m pace, then 4 x 100m @ sprint pace. As per previous sessions, I don't know any of my 'race' paces so those intervals were performed using RPE. It was a solid session that I was able to complete and still feel okay. Wednesday was a rest day.

Thursday I headed over to track and had an unusual warm up that included racing around to various 'electrical shops' looking for a hot water urn to allow us to have tea and coffee available for runners at the end of the meet. I then squeezed in a couple of 100m run throughs at around 3 min/800m pace. As previously indicated, the plan was to run the 800m. I have only run one other 800m and so this really isn't an event that I 'get' or really have any innate ability for. The theory is to run it hard from the start and just hang on. That goes against my usual approach to running, and does not seem appropriate for someone trying to nurse a fatigued and anaemic body back into a bit of 'racing'. Hence, I ran a conservative 800m and was at the tail of the field until the last 300m where I managed to catch one runner and finish in 3:06. A respectable time all things considered. Plus I had plenty left in the tank at the end, so much so that I decided to try and run the 3000m as well. Track does that. you get caught up in it all!

The 3000m was only intended to be a 'jog' as I didn't want to push my luck. It was run totally by feel, all numbers ignored. In the end I just settled into a comfortable 'tempo' pace and counted down the laps. This was an awesome run because of the way the body felt. A comfortable cruise is how I'd describe it. Time ended up being 13:20, so that's 4:27/km pace. By previous track standards a massive PW, but by current body standards, a PB!

Here's hoping the momentum forward continues. Short sharp training will continue and now it may include runs at the track to keep it interesting.

I love this photo taken by Jim White at the last ACTVAC handicap.

Monday, October 17, 2011

So far so good .......

Today I went for a short easy run at lunch time and felt absolutely fabulous. Not unlike that day a little while back where I decided to do some hill reps. Of course, it could just be one of those random 'good' days that pop up now and and then. However, I hope it is in part to do with the change in my training regimen.

The summary of what I have done in the last week is as follows:
Sun 6 x 100 m hill reps with jog downhill recovery (~2 km warm up)
Mon 6 x 400m reps @ 1500m pace (I have no idea what that pace is and on grass it's darn hard to gauge) with 2 min passive recovery (1.2K warm up and 800m cool down).
Tues - easy run 5K
Wed - easy run 5K (body told me it needed another easy day)
Thurs - 6 x 200m reps @ 400m pace (once again no idea, just ran hard) with 1 min passive recovery between reps (1.5K warm up and similar cool down)
Fri - day off
Sat - gym session and a rule breaking 10K trial run (muscles really not happy about this!)
Sun - Compound 200/400/200 x 2 (pace really not easy to gauge) 4 min rec between reps (1.2K warm up and 800m cool down)
Mon - 5K easy, but glorious run :o)

The 10K was not planned, but with running as my therapy, I needed a full hour with my 'therapist'. 30 minutes is never enough to work through those 'issues'. It's hard to ignore long runs when I am a distance runner at heart. But it did make me tired and my muscles especially sore, so care needs to be taken. Clearly not too much harm was done based on the positive run today.

Training will continue along a similar line with short distances and upped intensity. If all feels okay I will run an 800m at the track on Thursday evening. I need to do some sort of time trial to help predict training paces. Still based on the Compound session in Sunday, it will be a slow and painful 800m!

I was going to post a photo but Blogger won't cooperate today. Oh well.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plan B

My body is telling me that it simply isn't ready to be a long distance runner at the moment. It seems spacing out longish runs isn't enough to keep them going in my 'training'. I'm finding I'm not really recovering and so can't do much else. After much angst I must bite the bullet and walk away from long runs (anything over 8 km) for the next few months. I can generally handle 20-30 mins before the fatigue and pain become too unpleasant. I can also handle some short sharp intervals if I don't do much else with them. To not go totally insane, the new 'training' plan will be all short stuff with some hill reps and other reps for variety. I'll try the odd 800m (yuck!) and 1500m at the track and even more yuck! will switch to the Frylink Series at the monthly ACTVAC handicap. The good thing is that by going short, I can run more frequently, which means I get to go out at lunch time, the big bonus of living and working in Canberra. It's all about being adaptable. The down side is I can't eat as much when I'm not doing the miles, bummer! Ah well, let's see how long the body will accept Plan B until it forces me into a Plan C.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still irrational

I took it easy last week and only ran three times. You'd think that I'd be feeling better as a result of that. Alas no! It was a hard slog around the lake yesterday. My visions of 11 km were quickly cut back to a gentle 7 km. Although it did not feel gentle in the least! Today I had a small dummy spit and went out for a run at lunch even though technically Wednesday is a day off. To add insult to injury I made my bitterly complaining body do 5 x 200 m hill repetitions with a warm up and cool down to pad the distance out to ~5.6 km. It does raise the question of whether a body that is struggling with muscular fatigue can respond to any sort of training? You can only train to the level your body can handle. However, surely any sort of stimulus should see some improvements in sustainable pace. Time will tell!

An interesting aspect of this fatigue is that it targets those muscles that do the majority of the work. I can head out the door and within a few minutes I'll know what kind of run it's going to be. My gluteals and hamstring muscles will quickly start to feel sore and tired. If they don't feel sore and tired, then the run is usually pretty good. An odd phenomenon, as there are generally no real indications until I start to run. Yep, still very irrational.

Interestingly, the hill reps today, were at an equivalent pace and intensity to those I did 2 weeks ago when feeling pretty good. However, there was constant muscle discomfort and I made them shorter by about 20 m. That said, I probably could have done a couple more 2 weeks ago, but chose not to push my luck. Today, there was no way I could do any more than 5. The big question is, how will the muscles feel tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Down and out

Not only does the fatigue monster reek havoc with being a runner, it reeks havoc with the mind. The frustration at times is overwhelming and the body really misses those wonderful endorphin fixes that were readily available from a healthy body.

The other issue is that of how other people perceive you. You look fit and healthy and you can go out for a jog, so surely you must be making up this whole fatigue thing?! There is a definite feeling that people view unexplained chronic fatigue conditions with a lot of skepticism. Indeed there are still those that believe the fatigue is 'all in the mind' and that you really just need to 'snap out of it'! It's hard enough dealing with your own doubts, let alone having to deal with those of others! It is very easy to see why long term sufferers of CFS can become quite depressed. Their body won't cooperate AND people just don't believe them! Yep, at least when you have an injury you can show it to people or explain it and its deemed a more believable/acceptable scenario. As runners we are often guilty of letting our injured/fatigued friends down when they can't join in. It can be a lonely time when you can't run!

I did follow the plan and take two days off before the handicap. It felt like it had paid off for the first 4 km and then the wheels really fell off! I suspect that a major factor there was just old fashioned lack of suitable training. The typical fatigue signs weren't really evident except maybe for the last 1 km or so. For those 8 km I averaged 5:35 min/km with an average HR of 160 bpm. Looking at the data, it was something like 5 min/km for the first 4 km and then 6+ min/km for the 2nd half. The HR data confirm a decent effort, but still nothing like what I've been able to do previously.

Today was an 'easy' run day in lovely sunny conditions around the lake. I bumped into Roger and Mr B also out enjoying the conditions. Not a great run, but I did manage to cover 11 km at 6 min/km pace with an average HR around 140 bpm.

So now another day off and then I will see if a bit of tempo is tolerable. If not, then just more of the same .... sigh ....  Just remember that if you have sick or injured running friends, check in on them and let them know you are thinking of them.  They can still drink coffee and likely really need the company.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


There is no real pattern to this fatigue monster. It makes it impossible to plan for an upcoming event as even after several days off, the fatigue can still be quite evident. On the other hand, it can also just completely fade into the background with no rationale as to why! Yesterday I had thought I would head out at lunch time to make up for the fact that there won't be a long run on the weekend due to the ACTVAC handicap. In my head I had thought that I'd try some hill repeats just to see how things were, IF at the start of the run it felt okay. Well yesterday was a day that I felt pretty awesome by recent standards, a 3 out of 3! Given that awesome feeling I did 5 x ~ 220 m hill repeats and felt as okay as one can doing hill repeats. The goals were to run with good form and to not over cook it! It was a great session and I felt great for the rest of the day.

Roll on today. I thought given the stunning weather that maybe I could do a nice slow 'longish' run at lunch time to make up for not doing one on the weekend. Alas, feeling about 2/3 at the start of the run quickly slipped to 1.5/3 and at about the 7.5 km mark it was a 1/3 and I was feeling pretty shite. The longish run was cut short to be about 11 km @ 6:13 min/km pace, average HR was 144 bpm. It was a bit of a late night last night, or could it have been the session yesterday? Although I did not feel at all trashed yesterday!

Ah well, so goes the way of the fatigued runner. It's a day by day approach. Now it will be a 2 day break before fronting up for the ACTVAC handicap at O'Connor ridge on Sunday.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Today I donned my officials hat and officiated at the High Noon Track and Field Meet. It was a beautiful sunny Spring day, almost perfect conditions except for the wind. I watched my friends have a hit out with this the last of the "winter" series before the start of the official track and field season on October 13th. Heidi is such an inspiration and we have yet to see her at her best!

Bruce paced her in the 1500m event with her managing ~5:25. Pretty impressive for her very first run of the season. As I won't be racing any time soon, I can live vicariously through Heids as she blitzes it at the track!

I was also inspired by running friends who participated in the Sydney running festival today. Sydney decided to turn up the heat and conditions were tough for those running the half and full marathon. Despite this, there were some great times on what was a tough course.

I was so inspired by all these great runs that I headed out for my 'long' run around 5 pm. It was still in the  low 20's, although the wind had dropped. I pleasantly surprised myself managing a loop around both the ponds in Gungahlin for a total distance of 13.6 km in 1:25. Average pace 6:10/km; average HR 141. Rating the run as a 2/3. It's hard to come to terms with the massive drop in running pace. However, at least I am still able to go for 'longish' runs.

I will stick with 3 runs/week for the next few weeks and see how it feels. The 2 day break from Thursday to today certainly made a big difference!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Acquired training intolerance?

ATI was formerly known as fatigued athlete myopathic syndrome. A condition that affects older endurance athletes that have regularly done big mileage. I've never thought of myself as being particularly big on the mileage, but I have always found my body to be susceptible to fatigue and over doing the training. They say that training through a virus can trigger ATI. I did that last year in the lead up to the Christchurch marathon. Maybe I am now paying the price? It's very hard to figure out what could be going on. There is also the possibility that as I progress through perimenopause the hormone fluctuations are a contributing factor to underlying fatigue.

Those are the latest theories in a long standing problem with exercise-associated fatigue!

Today I contemplated a session with some tempo intervals; however, as soon as I headed out it was pretty clear the body wasn't up for it today. Last week had just a little too much intensity and that is no doubt a big factor in how tired the body is this week :-(. Ah well, it was a glorious sunny day to do an aerobic lap around LBG central basin.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My very first post :o)

I'm a recreational runner that developed a mild form of chronic fatigue at the start of 2011. By mild I mean it allows me to run slowly, but that's all it allows me to do. I'm not responding to training and if I try to up the ante, I am forced to back off. Very frustrating to say the least!

I thought I'd use this blog to track my progress. I've been trying to run 5 days a week, with 2 'hardish' sessions that include a short tempo run on Tuesdays and some intervals with the speedygeese on Thursdays. An 'aerobic' run and a 'long' run on the weekend. Plus short hill sprints on Mondays. After a shocking performance in the Canberra Times 5 km fun run on Sunday (PW by well over a minute), I realise that I am still over doing it :-(. I have been averaging 35-50 km/week, but clearly this is too much.

It is time to back right off and try to limit my runs to every other day (3-4 runs/week max) and to drop the intervals, as much as I love training with the gang or is that gaggle? :o). Lifting weights is not affected by my fatigue issues, so it will be lots of cross training to see if I can come out the other side of the fatigue monster.

Today's run was a 7 km lap from work to around the central basin of LBG and back. I rate the run as 2/3 where 3 is awesome and 1 is crappola! I may attempt a bit of tempo on Thursday if the body is agreeable.