Sunday, December 22, 2013

A couple more parkruns

There was a special farewell parkrun (with a Xmas theme) at Ginninderra last weekend to wish Gindy parkrun founders, Russ and Jess, all the very best before they headed to steamy Brisvegas for new opportunities. This was to be a 'secret parkrun' as I left my barcode in the car, after opting to use pedal power to get to the start. No barcode means no official result/time. However, with appropriate Xmas antlers and trusty watch, my run time was 24:42, with Burkie sneaking past me in the last 50 metres to finish in 24:39. Gindy is a tougher course and it sure felt like it!
Burkie sprinting in just ahead of me at Gindy parkrun
The Xmas theme was also in play for this week's Gungahlin parkrun. This time I remembered the barcode, but forgot the antlers. Mr B was back after returning from an overseas sojourn that included plenty of fine food and relaxation. This meant there was the potential to 'chick' him as his running was somewhat neglected during said OS sojourn! However, conditions were warm and it didn't feel like it was going to yield a quickish time. As always, Mr B was quick off the blocks and grabbed a decent sized lead. As any parkruns are my 'long run' at present, the first km is always the warm up (no pre-run warm up) and the body likes to grumble. At about 2km into the run it was apparent that Mr B was slowing and the grumbling had stopped as I started to find some rhythm. I caught him at the half way point and slipped past. From there on I was convinced all the foot steps coming up from behind were Mr B, argghh I was running scared ;-). As it turned out, those few extra kilograms were enough to slow him down and I crossed the line 20 or so seconds ahead, phew. In the process I knocked another 42 seconds off my Gungahlin time to finish in 23:42 - not bad off 5 weeks of not very much running! Seriously though, it's hard to imagine much more improvement given the current running volume. Last week running included 3 x (10 min easy with 2 min walk recovery) on Monday, 4 x (8 min easy with 1 min walk recovery) on Wednesday and then parkrun on Saturday. That's pretty well the overall training plan for the next few weeks. However, as part of a GCC Sprint event, there was also 930km of cycling in just 16 days (finished last Wed). No doubt taking Thurs and Fri off to recover from the GCC (and avoid the super hot conditions) helped with the run on Saturday. Cycling will continue, but not at that volume!

Friends results at Gungahlin parkrun (21 December 2014):

12       Louise SHARP             21:00                          70.56 %
14       Trevor JACOBS            21:21                          75.80 %
24       Vanessa HAVERD       23:38                          63.47 %
25       Janene KINGSTON     23:42                          69.90 %
27       David BAUSSMANN   24:05                          68.37 %
46       Amanda COOK            25:50                          58.06 %

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Some running to blog about

It isn't a lot of running, but some running nonetheless. This is the end of the 3rd week of the 'back to running programme'. One more week and it gets more interesting with longer run intervals in the run/walk programme. That said the last two Saturdays have ended up being long run intervals, 5 km x 1. Each time I've been surprised I didn't feel the need to stop and walk (although the back to running plan does not include said 5 km intervals!). No doubt all the bike riding has provided a good aerobic base. And we are talking some pretty large kms on the bike(s). For example, 96 km yesterday and another 74 km today, plus 4 days of commuting to work by bike this last week. However, it would be wise to continue doing mostly walk/run intervals to allow the muscles time to adapt and hopefully not do the fatigue thing again.

Parkrun on Saturday confirms that any kind of event stirs up that competitive edge, even without any training in the bank. The plan was to try and run a consistent 5:06 min/km pace to get around 25:30 (if I didn't feel the need to walk). It was going pretty close to plan when Trevor passed me at the 2.5km mark stating 5 min/km pace would be good to aim for (he was saving himself for the Black Mountain run up on Sunday). I thought I had better try and stick with him if that was the case. And so it was he stayed just in front of me for the last 2.5 km, but obviously was not sticking to the plan. My splits were 5:09, 5:01, 4:50, 4:55, 4:29 to finish in 24:26, four seconds behind Trevor. I had to work hard to keep him in sight! 72 seconds quicker than last week. I don't think that kind of weekly improvement is sustainable! I will only do parkruns if they fall on an allocated running day. In theory that means I won't be doing one next week. Running is generally every other day at this stage.

Trevor leads the way to the finish line

Margaret and I listening to the very chatty magpies before the start
Gungahlin parkrun results (7 December 2013):

32       Trevor JACOBS                      24:22              66.42 %        
35       Janene KINGSTON                24:26              67.80 %        
58       Skye FRUEAN                         28:02              53.03 %        
61       Margaret MCSPADDEN        28:42              72.82 %        

Monday, December 2, 2013

And the diagnosis is ............

There is no diagnosis, the lab results and MRI were all normal. This is not unexpected. On the positive, that means there isn't anything obviously nasty lurking. On the negative, there is still no explanation for 3 years of training intolerance :-/.  The plan from here is to continue the gradual return to running and to also continue with the hip stabliser/strengthening exercises. Hip strength and stability are already improved. It will be worthwhile including dynamic exercises that are more specific for running. Last Saturday seemed like a good a time as any to try the new parkrun course in Gungahlin. As it was only my 6th run since starting up 'running' again, it was going to be a doddle. That said, it's hard to completely switch off when there are people tantalisingly close enough to pass! After an easy start chatting with Kikka'ss, I picked up the pace. With the computer set to cycling settings, I wasn't sure of true pace throughout the run. Analysis after the fact showed the following km splits: 5:28; 5:18; 5:04; 5:06; 4:28 (oops!) for a total of 25:38 - HRav 149 bpm. So much for doing a doddle for the 'whole' run. As it turns out, this was the same time as when I ran at my first Ginninderra parkrun, but with a lot less running in the legs! Maybe that is a positive sign?

Kikka'ss and Skye - all smiles at Ginninderra parkrun 23 Nov 2013
 Gungahlin parkrun results:

3         Elizabeth HUMPHRIES         19:22  SW25-29        76.42 %        
14       Gary BOWEN                         21:31  VM55-59        72.04 %
40       Janene KINGSTON                25:38  VW45-49       64.63 %
55       Kikka HAPPONEN                 28:45  VW40-44       53.51 %
56       Skye FRUEAN                         28:50  SW30-34        51.56 %

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do or die .......

And so the saga continues. After being a good little physio exerciser, the hip region is much stronger and more stable. I can now stand on one leg, bend at the knee and not drop the opposite hip. With that, it seemed a good a time as any to make another gentle start at running. Plus, iron levels should be on the rise after some serious supplementation. It was a simple approach - 3 min easy, followed by 2 min run/1min walk reps x 10. Unlike the last time, there were no sacks of potatoes to contend with, just a simple lack of running fitness. The first few reps felt fine and then the lack of running fitness was noticeable. However, it was so nice to be out there again. As was to be expected after 7 weeks of just gentle cycling, there was a nice dose of DOMS for all those muscles no longer used to doing that running thang. The next run session will be some 3 min run/2 min walk reps. It's best to keep it simple and gentle as I don't as yet have the results back for the blood tests and MRI. The next specialist appointment is early December, when all should be revealed. It feels a bit like 'do or die' at this point.
Do or Die!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A second opinion

With this problem getting up to nearly 3 years since it first became apparent, I thought it time to seek an 'expert' opinion. Today I visited a specialist in sports medicine. She was just as perplexed as I am. I was surprised that as a specialist she wasn't familiar with the studies from South Africa about acquired training intolerance. However, as has been confusing me, it is hard to rationalise soreness/stiffness occurring only in the glutes/hammies with a generalised muscle problem (the quads at least should also be affected). My iron levels have dropped again, but similarly, it is hard to use that to explain the localised nature of the muscle discomfort. She examined me from a biomechanical perspective and my hip region is very weak (I have had this pointed out before for some running 'niggles'). Weak muscles could be predisposing them to fatigue (although that doesn't really explain all of the symptoms). Also, are they weak and causing fatigue or is an underlying fatigue problem making them weak? Chicken/egg ...... To start with I'm to do an intensive hip rehabilitation program of multiple exercises for the next month (argghhhh, I struggle with sticking to physio exercise plans). She has advised me not to run until the hip region has better strength, although gentle cycling is still okay. I will also have more lab work, this time focusing on muscle parameters. Finally, the glutes and hammies will be the focus of an MRI study to see if there is any detectable abnormality in the muscle tissue. So much for the magic bullet I so hoped for. Maybe we will know more in a month's time.

Where's that magic bullet when you need it?
Recommended exercises to rehabilitate the hip include:
Hamstring stretches
Quadriceps stretches
Scissor leg raise in lateral recumbency tilting forward to work the glutes
'Clam' in lateral recumbency tilting forward to work the glutes
Squeezing a ball between the knees while lying on my back with the knees at 0, 30 and 90 degree angles.
Bending at the knee while standing on one leg and keeping the hips horizontal - no tilting (knee needs to track over second toe).
Using a theraband around the ankle to work the leg sideways (both ways), forwards and backwards.

Friday, September 27, 2013

More time out

It's been a bit under 5 weeks since starting over with running. I'd like to say it's been going well. Certainly sticking to the plan has been the easy part. I've been very good at following a strict walk/easy run plan. However, considering just how easy the plan is, it's not been going well. Today I had full on muscle symptoms like I'd never taken any time off. To be honest it's fair to say the last 2 weeks have been pointing to a lack of recovery. However, with today's session there was no doubt :-/. So that means 8 weeks was not enough. Fair to say that means no more running for 2013. I'll probably double the break and give it a full 16 weeks. Sadly it could also mean I'll soon be saying 'I was a runner once'. C'est la vie, there is nothing more I can do at this point. Back to slow gentle cycling and the waiting game. Enjoy your running as much as you can, you just never know ...........

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The long road back

I ran today! Or should I say, I jogged? The first steps in a long slow progression to running again. It was a simple start. 10min walk 'warm up' followed by 10 x (1 min jog + 1 min walk) and a walk 'cool down'. I think the 8 weeks of detraining was very effective! Those 1 min jogs felt tough. None of that feeling of gliding that I get on the bike and no easy way to run with a super low heart rate. I felt like I'd gained 20kg and was a sack of potatoes. However, there has not been any actual weight gain, that's just what unfit muscles feel like. It's far too early to tell if the muscles have recovered, but at least it was a good start with no obvious discomfort. Relapses are common when overtrained muscles return to training, so it's going to be a very gentle approach over the next 3 months. No races or running events that would cause me to run too hard too soon. Patience was never my strong point. A good thing I have the cycling to keep me distracted. There's something very satisfying about doing those 100k+ rides, even if they are super slow. Commuting to and from work on the bike is also very therapeutic. The next run will be 7 x (2 min jog + 1 min walk). Daniels has an introductory running plan that looks suitable for a gradual return to running. No fast tracking allowed here! Who knows, maybe I'll be in good running form when I enter a new age group next year?!

The long road ........

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Scared to run

It's been 6 weeks since I last ran. However, I am scared of going running! I've been spending my time doing lots of gentle cycling and lots of walking. It has been a good break for the running muscles. The thing is, those muscles have been so sore and reluctant to run for so long, that I am afraid to challenge them again. Shock, horror, a runner who's scared to run! We are always told to 'just do it'. Alas, I tried to 'just do it' and for 2.5 years battled episodes of training intolerance and muscle pain. I tried various approaches, but nothing worked. So here I am today, 6 weeks off running and now reluctant to run.

There's no need to rush to start running again I tell myself, it's not like I have any events in mind.  Plus I suspect the main running muscles need more time (although I think fear is very much a factor here). Slow cycling has been very good for the mental health. I can ride for hours and keep the heart rate mostly in the lowest zone. Something I can never do running. I don't get any muscle pain spinning in an easy gear and it's been a pleasure doing the odd commute to work by bicycle.

When (if!) some of the fear of running subsides, the plan is 3 months of a 'couch to 10K' kind of approach. No intervals, no races, just good old fashioned jogging mixed with walking. I'm just not quite sure when that will be.

The trusty TCR

In the mean time, it's more time in the saddle of my trusty Giant TCR. I've already covered nearly 1200km on the bike(s) since late June.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

An extended break

After a tad over 3 weeks, the vital running muscles are still not right. I can still feel some discomfort when I walk briskly. I suspect I'll be taking more than 6 weeks off running. As horrid as that may sound, it actually isn't that bad. The walking has been very pleasant (muscle discomfort aside), and bike riding allows me to work out at a low heart rate.  So technically it's not really 'working out'. Indeed, today I managed to ride 103km and it was surprisingly easy. Of course, it took a long time! That's to be expected.  I am very grateful to have the compact crank set as the easy gearing it provides makes all the difference! One can really 'doddle' along. I have also gained a real appreciation of the bike paths here in Canberra! When you are trying to ride at a training pace, bike paths are a hindrance, but when it's all about a doddle, bike paths rock! I passed some familiar runner's faces today and none of them recognised me clad in lycra, helmet and glasses. I wonder if I have been passed by runners out cycling when I've been out running on bike paths?

Tour de Lakes - The lakes of Canberra (103km on the bike)

It's hard to know when (if) I'll be able to run again. I suspect my current sojourns on the bike and out walking aren't helping me make a full physical recovery. However, they are working wonders for my mental status AND of course, are getting lots of steps for the GCC :-). The GCC doesn't finish until late September. My team is battling with another DAFF team at present, so we can't back off. Maybe running won't happen until the end of the GCC. Only time will tell. Well that and the start of the magpie breeding season ;-).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

6 weeks

It seems that things have deteriorated and muscle pain is pretty evident no matter what kind of running I'm doing. For people with severe overtraining syndrome, treatment is complete rest and detraining. This can vary from 4 - 8 weeks with a slow reintroduction to training after that. Historically there have been enforced rests on my part due to injury, but not with complete detraining and not of sufficient duration. As much as it pains me to stop productive endurance exercise, it seems that is what I must now do. This means NO running at all for the next 6 weeks (at least). If I post on this blog about doing some running before 6 weeks is up (that's 13 August 2013), please chastise me! Gentle spinning on a bike is allowable; however, it is for mental health reasons only, not to maintain or work on fitness. Plus there will be plenty of walking, as there is still the GCC to consider! It's time to become and slug and to see if my cranky muscles can heal and completely recover.
Couch potato time - see you in 6 weeks
Rest apparently does not resolve ATI. However, as I have not taken a full on rest approach, it's worth giving it a good shot.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cross training and the ACTVAC handicap

Yes, the ATI is still hanging around. A good thing I have stopped doing long slow runs and slow recovery runs. Those are the ones that give me the most grief. I'm still able to do some interval sessions, although these have slowed down. I guess it is the slow twitch muscles (type 1) that are the biggest problem. The intervals hurt a lot less and are probably recruiting muscle fibres that have not been used as much over my running/cycling history, so are not likely to have as much damage (or whatever it is that is causing the pain). I've substituted in some easy bike rides to make up for the loss of running. These are less of a problem pain/fatigue-wise for a couple of reasons: 1) They can be done at an easy spin and not aggravate the muscles as much; and 2) I cycle more with my quads which are not as affected pain-wise. The symptoms are most obvious in my hamstrings and gluteals. Just to put it into perspective, prolonged walking also results in pain in those particular muscles, just not as bad as running does.
Thank goodness for the downhill finish :-) - Mount Ainslie

Today we had the monthly ACTVAC handicap at Mount Ainslie. Conditions were pretty well perfect. Clear sunny skies, cool conditions and no wind. This was meant to be a 'long run' albeit at a quicker pace than I might normally try to do a long run at. This meant, no warm up pre-run, just using the first 1-2 km, then a bit of a push in the middle before trying to ease up at the end. Now with that big hill towards then end, it's not that easy to ease up, even at a walk (and that I did!). With that approach this was my slowest time on that course by several minutes. That should mean an improved handicap! A lovely brunch to finish off the morning with Ruth, Mr B, Margaret, et al! Now to get in an afternoon MTB ride to rack up some GCC steps.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's been a while

It's been a while since I last posted on this blog! That is primarily because the ATI is messing with me again. Symptoms have been achy complaining muscles during many of my easy and long runs. There has also been a drop in performance. If we look back, the latest trigger was probably an increase in running frequency from 4 days to 5 days per week. Of course, I have tried to ignore this obvious finding coz it's been so nice getting in an extra lunch time run during the week! However, it's not going away and it would be wise not to let it get any worse, so it's back to 4 days of running per week for the time being. That said, as cycling is less taxing on the muscles, a bit of cross training will be incorporated on weekends when the winter weather isn't too horrendous. I enjoyed a couple of very easy rides this weekend as we had 2 glorious winter days. There was also an ulterior motive - the GCC! I am part of a team with some colleagues from work. It seems that runners get the least reward for all their hard work. You get more steps awarded to you for walking (over the same distance) and I confirmed that cycling is also pretty darn generous (even more so on a mountain bike with all the 'spinning').

Team Pouncing Peptides - we need all the 'assistance' we can get ;-)
 I did another parkrun this weekend. It was a tough run as the muscles were pretty sore despite a whopping dose of P beforehand. Finish time was 23:17 - 40 seconds slower than my previous effort. At least with that extra year in age that snuck up last week, it kept me in the 71% range for Age Grade%. Splits were 4:39 HRav 147; 4:33 HRav 156; 4:41 HRav 157; 4:45 HRav 159; 4:39 HRav 161. Nothing to write home about, but at least pretty consistent taking into account the ups and downs in the course. I'll just play it by feel for the next little while and put the experiment on hold until the symptoms subside.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Going backwards

Not a great run in the MDC today, no mojo and legs that had no kick at all. It had to happen eventually, no forward progression. It's just a shame that it was such a shocker and massive step backwards! My time for the 5k was 23:28, where I was hoping for 22:28, out by a whole minute. There's no explanation for the poor performance, but all my runs this week felt tougher than they should have. It was an easier week training wise with no really tough sessions. Alas, none of that helped on the day. It was a beautiful morning and perfect conditions for PBs. Crisp, foggy and no wind. What a fabulous turn out by runners and their supporters in Canberra! I believe Mr B managed a PB in the 10k 45:27ish. Michelle was 5th woman across the line, pretty close to 40mins. Lots of fantastic performances.
Team MamaMoves with Kikka and Maria strutting their stuff

That's the end of my 'fun run' season for the time being. We are heading into winter and there isn't as much happening on the 'fun run' front. For now that means mixing up the training and infrequent appearances at parkrun. It would be so much better to be training for some real distance (aka HMs), but there are no indications that the body could handle it. If anything the indications are it could NOT handle even 10k. C'est la vie in the world of ATI.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Not quite 33 seconds

I thought I was all set for another blog post involving the number 3. I decided to participate in the 1st birthday parkrun event, #53 and my 6th. When I crossed the line and looked at my watch, I saw 22:37, 33 seconds faster than my last parkrun performance. However, when the results were posted it was actually 22:38, and 32 seconds just doesn't have quite the same ring to it ;-). Nonetheless, a pleasing result, particularly as I wasn't feeling especially good during the warm up and didn't feel quite right during the run. It was a well paced run, km splits were: 4:30; 4:31: 4:28; 4:43 (the uphill part of the course that always slows me down); 4:26. Conditions were also perfect for PBs, cool and windless. There was amazing support for the event with 189 runners participating breaking the attendance record by lots!

Friends' parkrun results:

8          Stuart DOYLE                        17:02  VM45-49        83.86 %
28       Louise SHARP                        20:08  SW30-34        73.51 %
39       Trevor JACOBS                       20:38  VM60-64        78.43 %
50       Kate VANDENBERG              21:51  SW30-34        68.04 %
57       Janene KINGSTON                22:38  VW45-49       72.31 %
59       Kelley FLOOD                         22:45  VW50-54       75.53 %
69       Thea ZIMPEL                          24:08  SW30-34        61.33 %
97       Yelena PEARSON                   26:58  SW30-34        54.94 %
139     Margaret MCSPADDEN       30:16  VW65-69       69.05 %
142     Kikka HAPPONEN                30:33  VW40-44       50.08 %

Lovely autumn colours at Lake Ginninderra
  Today was the ACTVAC handicap and at 10km it is the longest one for the year. Too long to consider racing, so the plan was to do it as a 'long run', but as is often the case, plans aren't always followed. It ended up being more of a long tempo run. The first 5km felt pretty good, but the 2nd half wasn't quite as pleasant. The original plan had been 6min pace, but it ended up being 5:27min pace - 54:34. It was an amazingly warm morning for this time of the year, with a good turn out for the event. Nice to finish off the morning with coffee at Wilburs with Gramps, Cheesy and Fluoro (aka Lou and Stu).
Addendum: Ha, I just realised that the 3 theme continues! My first parkrun time was 25:38, so that's a 3 minute improvement since Dec 15 2012.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things in 3s

When we last left off it was 3 seconds. Since those 3 seconds, there have been a series of runs that would rate as 3/3. Last week was a great week on the fatigue front. No fatigue and the body felt completely 'normal' while running, even on the 'long runs'. The last 2 long runs have been good enough to end up as progression runs (run easy and then increase to tempo effort for the last km). Wow, it's been a long time since running felt that good! However, the advantage of keeping a running log means I am well aware that this has happened before during the last 2 years of ATI. My current volume is much lower than it has been in the past (most weeks sit in the low 30kms range) and I've been running just 4 days a week for quite some time. Now that the days are cooler, it may be good to add in an extra lunch time jaunt to get back to 5 days per week. I have also added in a group session on Thursday evenings in place of my usual solo effort. There is the eternal debate of self versus group. My feet fall mostly in the self category. I'm an introvert and I love time alone plus running alone makes it easier to train at the most appropriate pace (and volume). However, there are so many good running friendships to be had, that having some group runs are good for 'life balance' ;-).
Things in threes
It's been 18 weeks of consistent training, but with very little change in total volume. The main change has been in training intensity/pace (based on 5km performances) and types of training sessions. This has resulted in a slow forward progression and gradual decline in 5km times. I suspect a plateau isn't too far away if more volume can't be tolerated. Only time will tell.

The training pattern in recent weeks has been:
Monday - off, gym session
Tuesday - hard intervals, the last 2 weeks were 6 x 3min with 2 min walk/jog recovery
Wed - off (to become a lunch time jaunt), gym (which will move to Thurs lunch time)
Thurs - tempo pace based long intervals
Fri - off
Saturday - long or 5km timetrial at parkrun or like
Sunday - easy or long depending on Sat - plus a gym session either Sat or Sun
Naturally this is flexible and will be adapted to fit in with the level of fatigue and other life events. It's all one big experiment :-).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

3 seconds

Yes, 3 seconds are all it was. The goal for the Australian Running Festival was to run a post-fatigue 5km PB. My quickest 5km since the dreaded acquired training intolerance was 22:55 at the Women and Girls Fun Run last year and that same time at Stromlo just recently. Today I managed to get in just ahead of that time at 22:52 (passed again by ET [22:46] in that final km). It was not a well executed 5km! I arrived late, so had a very poor warm up, and then ran the first km a tad quick (4:15min). The first 3 km went well and then it was a hard 2 km slog to the finish! Conditions were a bit too warm for my liking, but otherwise it was a great little run. The slight rises keep you honest (and miserable!) and the slight declines are bliss. As my Polar recorded the distance at 5.09 km, split info isn't helpful, or the last split looks simply horrible. It seems I'm back to where I was at about this time last year, before it all fell apart again in the lead up to City to Surf. The big question is, will there be more gains, or will I reach the tipping point again? While the long runs are mostly slogs, so far there has been no bad muscle pain or tiredness. Thing is, it does feel like I'm sitting right on the edge. However, it also feels like I could go quicker if I can get the training balance right! Of course, who knows what that actual balance is? It's not like there are training guidelines for ATI.
It may as well be a breath taking edge :-)
It's all about letting the body decide what it will or will not do and to not get too caught up in trying to follow too specific a plan. As the OCD type of runner I am, that's rather challenging (tic, tic)! That said, what works for one person does not work for another and there are some amazing runners that do little in the way of kms. I may miss those wonderful long trail runs that are the bread and butter of the distance runner. However, it is almost just as satisfying to go out and do some targeted intervals and see some improvement in performance in response. More patience is probably required and gains will slow down. The next goal is sub 22:30, but it may be another 6 weeks or so before I can get close to that.
To all my running friends doing the full marathon or the half marathon in Canberra tomorrow, I wish you all the very best!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Magical Mulligans

The choices this morning were a beautiful autumn morning run in Mulligans Flat or a painful 5km loop alongside Lake Ginninderra. For me, the choice was obvious! Particularly since another painful 5km loop awaits me next Saturday at the Australian Running Festival. I've had a couple of weeks of tough training (by my standards, not by most other Canberra runner standards!). Two tough sessions each week of 5 x 3 min hard intervals (Tues) and 2 x 12 minute tempo intervals (Thurs). This week I was a bit more on pace for the 3 min intervals and so didn't fade like I did last week. 4:30 min/k @ 154 bpm; 4:26 min/k @ 154 bpm; 4:22 min/k @ 158 bpm; 4:29 min/k @ 159 bpm; 4:26 min/k @ 160 bpm. The tempo intervals are actually really tough to do mentally. Last week there was a tail wind going out and head wind back in - so yep, the 2nd interval was not good, when it's windy like that, pace should be all on RPE and not on actual numbers. This week it was a head wind out and a tail wind in. So that meant it was easier to hold on for the second interval. Legs were tired from the Tues session and some evil weighted lunges at gym on Wed. Tempo intervals this week were 5:05 min/k @ 151bpm; 5:00 min/k @ 155 bpm. In theory tempo pace should be about 4:50 pace for me, but based on RPE and level of fatigue from Tues, the 5s pace was all I could manage.
My Magical Mulligans Flat loop
My loop around Mulligans Flat this morning was 11.9km and there wasn't too much complaining from my legs. It was a slow doddle as there are a few hills and some rough rocky sections, but overall slightly better than long runs of recent times. The conditions were outstanding. Crisp, no wind with the sun shining. What's not to love about Autumn in Canberra?!

Next week will be an easy week with the lead in to the Australian Running Festival. It would be good to run the 5km on fresh legs. Here's hoping insomnia doesn't come knocking too often during the week.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finally some numbers

Fortunately my RS800CX was an easy fix. Polar just needed to change the battery connections and also noticed the watchband was in need of replacing. I survived it's absence of just over a week. Sadly there was a loss of a week of data (plus the week I was without it). Having it back again has meant it's back to looking at numbers :-). The first of that being the last of YCRC summer series at Stromlo on Tues 19 March. A perfect evening for running with cool conditions and a lightish wind from the South. Now this was supposed to be a tempo run. But it was probably more of a long hard interval as I did start a bit too quickly. Numbers for each km were: 4:25 @ 145bpm; 4:35 @ 156bpm; 4:43 @ 162bpm; 4:27 @ 162 bpm and 4:45 @ 163 bpm. I needed to slow in that last km, still not much endurance on the small base I am working with to avoid fatigue.

There were some good runs by many friends including:

2          Bruce Graham           16:36             
5.         David Osmond           17:35
20.       Katie Forestier           20:00
26.       Kate Vandenberg      21:15
27.       Geoff Moore               21:25
28.       Helen Larmour          21:49
29.       Maria O'Reilly            21:52
34.       Ewen Thompson       22:41
37.       Janene Kingston        22:55
40.       Geoff Sims                   23:43
43.       Amanda Walker        23:52
46.       Kathy Sims                 24:14
47.       Ken Eynon                 24:47

With the improvement in sleep quality and cooler conditions, it's been back into some training. The 'long' runs are still not pleasant and 11-12k is about all I can handle. It's usually a mental battle from the 3k point to the end, not much fun.

Other training is easier to do, it's meant to hurt and it's over pretty quickly. Tuesday was 5 x 3min  hard intervals (with 2 min walk/jog recovery). Based on current form that's around 4:26 to 4:30 pace. I usually get the first interval wrong and Tuesday was no exception. Paces for each interval were: 4:13, 4:27, 4:26, 4:17 and 4:31. Mr B tagged along, but was well ahead at the end of each of these intervals. I guesstimate he managed about 4:10-15 pace for each one. This is working against me being able to 'chick' him anytime soon.
There may be another parkrun effort on Saturday depending on how the body is feeling. There is also the Australian Running Festival 5k fun run coming up on 13 April here in Canberra.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Parkrun # 47 (5)

The insomnia is starting to settle down and I've been able to get in some training this week. Tuesday the XC was at Black Mountain Peninsula, not a favourite course! However, I used it as an opportunity to run a tempo run. As I'm still without my RS800CX, I couldn't do any timed intervals, so a tempo run seemed the best compromise. Having had a couple of nights of reasonable quality sleep, it felt okay and the pace was comfortably hard. There was a brief hope of 'chicking' Mr B as he stopped to tie his shoelace. Alas he caught me, passed me and just kept right on going. I finished in 23:48, a substantial improvement on this course (Mr B was 'taking it easy' and ran 23:03).

Cool down jog with the lads post parkrun
Saturday morning was my 5th time running in a parkrun event. The plan was simply to see what the legs could do. The conditions were good for running. Without any technology there are no heart rate or pace data. For 5 km it took 23:10, a 6 second PB on that course. A little off the training 'target' but not bad considering the disruptions from sleep deprivation. Fingers crossed a sub 23 is just around the corner.
Friends' results at parkrun #47
10 Trevor JACOBS 20:56 (a great back up run after 5000m ACTVAC track champs)
19 Gary BOWEN 22:13
27 Janene KINGSTON 23:10
37 Graham BURKE 24:09
41 Bob HARLOW 25:40
72 Margaret MCSPADDEN 31:02
82 Ewen THOMPSON 35:38 (in cruise mode)
96 Geoff MOORE 42:56 (on volunteer duties and looking fine in the orange singlet)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Missing in action

It's fair to say that there hasn't been a lot of structured training going on for the last few weeks. I seem to have fallen off the band wagon. To add insult to injury, my RS800CX Polar watch spat the dummy this week and I've had to send it off for repair. What's a girl to do when she doesn't have all of her technology at hand?! There isn't really a good explanation for my loss of training focus, although the recurring insomnia hasn't helped! There have been plenty of distractions, but in the past, that's not really stopped me. Could I be reaching the point of no return? Has the long term acquired training intolerance finally worn me down? To some extent I think it's because I can't train for long distance events. That was my bread and butter, getting out there doing long runs, tempo runs, long intervals, getting that buzz of being at one with nature while running for a couple of hours. Sure, there's a similar training pattern for 5km, but let's be honest, my 5km training is pretty limited as it's so easy to overdo it.

Last weekend I ran in the ACTEWAGL Women and Girls Fun Run. There had been plenty of sleep deprivation in the lead up to this, so it wasn't going to be a dazzling time. Sure enough, I managed 23:25, while secretly hoping for 23:00. It was an honest run, I pushed as hard as I could, but I could not hold the required 4:35min/km pace. Yep and that little hill at the end was always going to be nausea city! There were some outstanding performances by many friends. In particular, the lovely Michelle Wells, team captain of MamaMoves, ran a course PB of 19:45 to take 2nd place out right.
Friends' Results:
2 Michelle Wells 19:45
4 Kathy Southgate 20:01
5 Katie Forestier 20:30
6 Emma Adams 20:37
10 Helen Larmour 21:26
14 Maria O'Reilly 21:44
15 Kelley Flood 21:50
18 Kathy Sims 22:10
44 Amanda Walker 24:09
46 Cathy Newman 24:16
143 Ruth Baussmann 28:36
232 Margaret McSpadden 30:47 
417 Kikka Happonen 35:41 

One major distraction, the fabulous Fergus :-)
This week there hasn't been much running as I had a LASIK procedure on Tuesday on my left eye for my longstanding astigmatism. The outcome 'eye can see, eye can see' ;-). Yes, the procedure went well and it's nice to no longer have blurry vision in that eye.  Reading glasses will still be required for the age-associated long sightedness, but at least the left eye won't need a special prescription anymore.

As for the running training, well I'll have to go back a few weeks in the programme and pick up from there. Probably back to week 9 of the Daniels intermediate programme. If sleep is okay during the week, then I'm due to do another progress check at Parkrun next Saturday. No ACTVAC handicap this month as Fergus and I will be taking part in The Black Dog Ride.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Insomnia sucks

Rest and recovery is great when you can sleep. Alas, without good quality sleep it can be hard to convince the body to do anything even remotely taxing. I had a similar problem at this time last year with bad sleep issues. That waking up after only a few hours and not being able to get back to sleep insomnia :-/. Drugs can only help so much. There is a bit on the mind at present (but good stuff!), so switching it off once it wakes up in those wee hours can be quite the challenge! C'est la vie. I know that it will eventually settle down again, in the mean time it means just rolling with the punches. The ACTVAC handicap was today and I had a horrid run, I took some walk breaks from the 5 km mark. Tiredness was mostly due to being really sleep deprived, but I also did a double workout yesterday, a 10 km run in the morning and a MTB ride in the afternoon that involved more hills than I was expecting. A good thing the company and post-ride coffee were good :-). I will have to take it easy this week in the hope that I will be able to push myself all the way around the Women and Girls Fun Run 5 km course next Sunday.

Sexy FZ6R
In the meantime, I expect to be picking up a used version of this sexy FZ6R during the week. If I can't run with speed, at least I can ride with it  :-). Vroom vroom.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rest and recovery rocks!

Most runners like to run every day and are reluctant to take rest days, let alone multiple rest days in a row. Last week was a big week for me, I ran 6 days and did more k's than usual. That was partly in response to the very light week before that. I knew last Sunday that I had probably overdone it when my legs couldn't cope with the usual leg session at the gym. However, Monday is usually a no run day, just an upper body/abs gym day, so it was assumed all would be okay for long intervals at the YCRC 5km run on Tuesday of this week - WRONG! The warm up was crappola! However, as many a crappola warm up has been followed by a good session, I persevered. Alas, that just extended into a crappola long intervals session. Those intervals were 6 mins moderately hard, 1 min jog recovery. The GPS battery died, probably a good thing as I don't want to see the pace data! Admittedly it was hot and others also struggled in those conditions. The 5k time as 25:12 and I pulled up feeling pretty nauseous. I also felt pretty despondent thinking, 'here we go again with training intolerance'. Smartly there was no run on Wednesday, just some upper body/abs gym work. Thursday I briefly contemplated a morning run, but decided against it. There was no lunch time opportunity and by evening I was dog tired, plus I was calculating results at Track. A run could have happened, but the dog tiredness was a sign to just go with another rest day. Friday it was hot at lunch time and as Parkrun was in the plans for Saturday, I stuck with an easy jog followed by 4 x 20 second strides. That jog felt better than Tuesday's warm up jog. Bring on Parkrun .... wow what a difference! The warm up felt good, the run even better. I was hoping for a sub 24 to be consistent with the 2013 Case Study hypothesis. As it turns out, it was so much better than that! The 1km splits are: 4:38, 4:38, 4:47, 4:51, 4:22 - for 23:16 (HR monitor played up so no reliable data). Well ahead of the hypothesis! A 67 second improvement over 4 weeks. 
Some Parkrun fun
Friends at Parkrun:
Louise Sharp - 21:13
Kate Vandenberg - 22:02
David Baussmann - 22:03 - a 5k PB woot woot!
Trevor Jacobs - 23:37 - clearly taking it easy
Graham Burke - 24:12
Kikka Happonen - 32:51 - another kick arse PB!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An easy week with 3000m and a handicap

After 6 weeks of consistent training, the body was tired at the end of last week. The short easy run on Sunday wasn't that easy! New plan - have an easy week! Less runs and less distance. Tuesday was changed to easy instead of hills and even then, the run was tough going. Wednesday became another day off.  Thursday was meant to be long intervals day, so I chose to head along to a track and field meet and do those long intervals on the track. If there was any concern with fatigue, those plans would be aborted. Alas, for the 6pm 3000m it was mighty warm on the track, still sitting at 30C with a hot wind greeting us along the home straight. I set my watch to beep me through at 4:30 pace. Probably a bit ambitious based on current running form and given the warm conditions. As it turns out, it was a reasonable target. I went out a bit fast due to an insufficient warm up and suffered as a result. Km splits were 4:25, 4:40 and 4:35 to finish in 13:40. A pleasing 1:12 quicker than the last 3000m on the track. 4:33 average and HRav was 163bpm, not bad in those conditions! There was a 5 lap spiral at the end of the night, so that was interval no. 2, run comfortably hard. Average pace for the 2km was 4:45 min/K and it felt pretty cruisy compared to the 3000m! Good results considering how bad things were feeling earlier this week.

Beautiful Aranda bushland
 The next run was supposed to be Saturday, but with a late wake up after a late night, I missed the morning window of reasonable temps. The afternoon was filled with thunderstorms and so another rest day it was! Sunday was the first ACTVAC handicap for 2013, an opportunity to run it on fresh legs! That must have helped as it was 4 seconds quicker than last year, and at this time last year I was running quicker and was fitter. It was lovely to catch up with people I have not seen for a while. Steve was as charming as ever ;-), and it was nice to see Cathy and Ruth. Alas no sign of Ewen, I think he was at Stromlo for a training session. Numbers were down at the handicap, no doubt holidays were keeping people away.

There are lots of runs to choose from as the YCRC summer series starts on Tuesday. This means we have YCRC Tuesday, Track Thursday, Parkrun Saturday and monthly handicaps. That doesn't even factor in the mountain runs about the place. Canberra is a runner's paradise. I'm thinking I may do some long intervals during the YCRC Tuesdays and move hills to Thursdays. Maybe one or two more runs on the track, but not if running YCRC Tuesdays. I will also be processing results at track for our Age Grade Champion events, so running opportunities there will be scarce. I also need to factor in the odd Parkrun to see if the improvement is still on target. Phew it's exhausting just trying to plan it ;-).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Close to target

It seemed like a good time to check in on how well the body is responding to training in this 2013 Case Study. Thursday was a great interval session of 5 x 1 km, where it all felt good. Indeed as I approach the end of the 5th week of this training programme, the muscles and body overall are feeling great. None of those fatigue/training intolerance symptoms have reared their ugly head. Even a 'long' run (~13km) last weekend was pleasant. It's been 2 weeks since the last Parkrun, a good time to test the legs. Conditions were okay, a bit warmer than the run 2 weeks ago. Splits and HR for each km were 4:48, 145bpm; 4:45, 157bpm; 4:44, 161bpm; 5:05, 163bpm; 4:58, 163bpm - total time 24:23, HRav 158bpm. The legs and lungs faded in those last 2 km and with the warm conditions, I no doubt went out a little too quickly. However, that is an 11 second improvement on the time 2 weeks ago. Pretty close to the predicted gain of ~15sec/2 weeks. On a cooler morning that time would have been much closer to 24min. 
Running on target
Friends results at Parkrun
8 Trevor Jacobs - 20:01 (should have sprinted for the finish to get under 20 :-) )
39 Janene Kingston - 24:23
45 Roger Abbott - 25:50 (took it easy after some hamstring twinges during the week)
47 Graham Burke - 26:09 (has been out to pasture with an injury for the last 2 months)
73 Kikka Happonen - 36:09 (on the comeback trail!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 2013 experiment (case study)

And just like that it's 2013! What happened to 2012, it feels like it's still March? Oh well, that's what happens as you get older, time just passes you by! Why not start this year off with a little experiment I ask myself? What kind of experiment and will it meet the requirements of the human ethics committee you may ask? It won't have good statistical power when there is only an n = 1 sample size. Fortunately, one can always resort to a case study. I'm going to study myself and see if my response to training tracks that described in the sports literature. I've been injured and out of it for a while, so I have an opportunity to track rate of progress from close to rock bottom. Indeed my recent improvement at Parkrun (65 sec faster than my first run 2 weeks earlier) does show some textbook behaviour.  One may expect to see a response to training 8-10 days after a suitable stimulus.  While it would be awesome to be able to knock 65 seconds off your 5 km time every 2 weeks, a more likely rate of progression would be ~30 seconds every 4 weeks based on data presented in "Daniel's running formula". At some point a plateau will be reached and a stronger training stimulus will be required. Hence the 2013 case study, let's see how long it takes me to hit a plateau and what, if anything can be done to shift the plateau. Of course, this is all contingent on keeping my training intolerance at bay. That said, so far the intermediate training programme is going well (into its 4th week) and the muscles appear to be happy and responsive.

Happy New Year - 2013!
Training programme summary (weeks 1 - 8):
Run 5 days per week (most in the 40-50 min range):
1 x long E run
1 x long intervals (threshold pace - comfortably hard)
1x hills or shortish intervals (a tad harder then threshold pace or effort)
2 x (30 min E + 6 x 20 sec strides) or x 1 + tempo/test run such as Parkrun or track event (no more frequent than every 2 weeks).
Running paces based on VDOT from test runs.
3 gym sessions per week.