Saturday, March 28, 2015

Trending faster

Most runners (and cyclists!) are aware of Strava. It's a fun motivational tool for those that like to use it and it's kind of addictive as well. The app for mobile devices is fun as it shows you what segments you are getting quicker on, how you compare to other people doing the same segments and also how you are tracking on any course you have run before. At the moment I'm regularly setting new PBs on various segments and also 'trending faster' on most of my favourite running routes. It's a nice feeling after years of struggling (HRT rocks!).
Run with Strava
The latest 'trending faster' run was today's Gungahlin parkrun. It was a perfect morning, with crisp, clear and windless conditions. As I did a long run last Sunday, the running pattern this week meant a day off on Friday. A good opportunity to see how well things would go following a rest day. Alas, there wasn't a lot of optimism at the start as I was still feeling a bit tired despite the rest day. With Julia and SpeedyGeoff in the bunch, the plan was to sit behind them and see if I could get 'dragged along' so to speak. This was good, as the first km was a more sensible pace (4:35) than I have run for my last 2 efforts. At the 1km mark Julia pushed on, but I thought I should sit with SG for a bit longer. There is one little hill on this course and I noticed SG was slowing here (he's been doing some hard racing of late, so no real surprise there!). He indicated to me that he was feeling pretty tired, so my plan wasn't going according to plan! When the Garmin vibrated on my wrist, I noticed a quite slow 2nd km (4:47), time to pick up the pace! Fortunately there is a little downhill after that hill and the course is pretty well flat to the finish. I used the downhill to pick up the pace and get a good rhythm going. The whole time I expected to hear SG coming up from behind, but that familiar sound never did eventuate, he was indeed very tired. The 3rd km was 4:30, 4th was 4:29 and 5th 4:23 - a negative split, woo hoo! The 5th was the result of having passed two (young) women not far from the finish who weren't happy being passed and then tried to pass me again, this meant a hard push for the finish. Julia ran well, just a second off her PB 22:12. I managed a 13 second improvement for 22:39 - a Gunners PB, not as tired as I thought. SpeedyGeoff still managed a respectable 23:15.

Running on the trails will continue, here's hoping the 'trending faster' continues as I run with Strava :-).

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chipping away

There's been plenty of trail running and a couple of parkruns since returning from New Zealand. The legs have mostly been good with no signs of fatigue. I'm going to attribute this to HRT. Some (by no means all) women report real issues with lost endurance, exercise intolerance and no speed when going through peri-menopause and menopause. My early fatigue waxed and waned during peri-menopause then it became much more consistent as the ovaries stopped doing their thing. After researching the topic and talking to a same-aged cyclist friend who had experienced similar issues, I approached a doctor about trying HRT. As would be expected, it took a while to get the right HRT balance. But when we sorted it out, which was towards the end of December 2014 my running started to feel much better, to the point now where I feel pretty much 'normal'. I am hopeful that we have solved the mystery and that I can get back to enjoying my running as I used to. Bearing in mind that I'm no spring chicken and am best sticking with cross training and minimal pavement running. Not sure what the new blog name might need to be ;-).

My first parkrun after getting back from NZ confirmed I had maintained fitness despite limited runs. It was paced poorly due to it being a parkrun PB event, so there were 22min and 25min pacers. Problem was the 25min pacer was going too quickly early on and as I tried to sit between the 25er and 22er, my first km cooked me for the rest of the run (4:26). In the end I finished with 23:11, the exact same time as my previous parkrun.

Parkrun number 2 was supposed to be an evenly paced affair trying out the slight change in course. Alas, the first km (4:26 again!) was also a bit too quick as I was trying to get some space to find some rhythm. Also out on the course were Speedy Geoff, his new protege Julia, the lovely Gary (birthday boy!) and Margaret. From the 1km point I could hear speedy Geoff encouraging Julia and I kept going to just after the 4km point when speedy Geoff dug in and went past. I was slowing substantially at this point and it wasn't long until Julia also went past. However, as a sub 23 was always the goal, I hung in there to finally get that 23 monkey off my back, finishing in 22:52. Interesting that the HRav for the 23:11 was 160, but only 147 for the 22:52. More than likely this is because I did a sprightly trail run on Friday and the legs would have been a bit tired with less than 24 hours recovery. This in itself is pleasing, good times at parkrun without needing a rest day beforehand!

Friends' results Gungahlin parkrun #74 14/03/15

Position Name Time Age group Age grade%
33 Geoff Moore  22:37  VM65-69   74.87
34 Julia Anderson  22:40  VW40-45   69.41
36 Janene Kingston  22:52 VW50-54   73.32
42 Gary Bowen  23:42 VM55-59   66.53
119 Margaret McSpadden  29:06 VW65-69   74.05

The last sub 23 was back in 2013, so it's been a long time coming. It will be interesting to see how easy it is to get down to 22:30. Interval training is not yet in the plans, but who knows what lies around the corner.
Just around the corner ...


Monday, March 2, 2015

Down time and lost fitness

I had a lovely time in New Zealand, but the running fell off the rails. I managed only 3 runs in 14 days, a couple of strenuous 'tramps' (we are talking NZ here) and lots of time sitting in a car or on boats! Like any runner, the lack of running left me anxious about what effect it would have on my fitness. In the lead up to the NZ holiday, there were about 7 weeks of very consistent running that were showing progressive improvements in fitness (and no significant fatigue issues). So to end up with very little running for 2 weeks, there was a concern that much would be lost from those 7 weeks! As someone that has studied exercise physiology, I should know better, but it's a common concern held by most runners, that even a couple of days lost from training is detrimental. Rest and days off are super important, but when those days extend to a week or more, then the brain starts to panic. There are lots of studies looking at the effect of time off training on fitness. The good news is that in the grand scheme, 2 weeks off has only a minimal effect. With some running in those 2 weeks, the effect would be even less. Back out on the trails of Black Mountain today confirmed only a minimal change in performance, phew!
The stunning Aoraki (Mount Cook in NZ)
An interesting finding for those 3 runs in NZ was muscular disapproval when running on paved flat surfaces. The soleus muscles have been pretty cranky after using the new trail shoes and they carried on their crankiness in NZ, despite a shoe change to my Asics DT trainers. No issues on Black Mountain today wearing Asics Nimbus, next test will be another run back in the Wave Hayates. Here's hoping the positive momentum continues post holidays.