Monthly Archives: November 2019

Back to health, back to the gym … and back to the future

‘Hello fitness my old friend, I’ve come to train for you again’

Nasty bug repelled (or so I hope). No adverse reaction to the piece of bread on Wednesday evening so it was followed by oatcakes and fruit …. living life in the fast lane here in Oxfordshire.

A gentle Thursday was followed by the gym on Friday morning – my first proper exercise since Saturday’s run. It was predictably hard but, to my surprise, I managed the usual routine with the normal weights. Perhaps the benefit of the rest counteracted the downsides of the bug and the inactivity?

Desperate to look on the bright side, having lost a couple of kilos and weighing in at a paltry 65kg (143 lbs) I’ve probably (slightly) improved my power to weight ratio.

I suppose if there is any good thing about illness (even a very trivial illness like mine) it’s that once you get through it you appreciate good health all the more. I feel motivated and keen to get back to the training (although I wonder how long this will last).

One thing that I did notice while I was ill was how much my horizons shrank. Quite apart from not getting out of the house much, I found myself not even thinking too far beyond the next cup of coffee. I’m particularly happy to have got through that as it makes it feel like a much smaller world.

So, back to thinking about the running and cycling next year. I found a blog with a nice, neat and simple ‘quad’ ambition – running races of 50km, 50 miles, 100km and then 100miles. I like the sound of that but I wonder if I might have left it a bit late to try it myself – it sounds like a two or three year project.

I’ll attempt the 50km Race to the Stones next July first, and then think about anything beyond that in the light of how that goes (or doesn’t go!). One step at a time.

This hasn’t gone well

Another meal passes by

I’m lucky enough to be very rarely ill. Unfortunately, Monday decided to be an exception. I woke with a head and stomach ache, shivers and the need not to be far from a bathroom.

I’d have said it was the dodgy lunch on Sunday but our son had the same and didn’t suffer – a younger, tougher constitution perhaps. Anyway, that put paid to the normal gym session in the morning as I couldn’t get out of bed until well after 10 – and the intended turbo session that evening went by the wayside too as I could do pretty well nothing but sit quietly and feel sorry for myself.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever gone an entire day eating absolutely nothing before but it works as a crash diet as I woke feeling washed out, but otherwise slightly better, on Tuesday, well over a kilo (about 2.5 lbs) lighter.

Eventually I did eat a slice of bread more than 48 hours after my last food. That was OK so I tried a small meal Tuesday evening – just the 53 hours after the previous one. My taste buds might have been ready for it, but my stomach wasn’t, so that didn’t go well.

Down close to 65kg (about 144 lbs) on Wednesday morning.

I assumed that, in general, people feel hungry simply because they haven’t eaten. Here I am 72 hours after lunch on Saturday – and having eaten just a small meal and a slice of bread since then – and I’m not feeling hungry. I understand (and have experienced!) how a nasty bug like this one can disrupt digestion – but It would make more sense if I felt some need to eat, even if I couldn’t digest sensibly.

The bug must have some way of disrupting the normal ‘I’m hungry’ message to the brain. Makes you think that, if they could isolate that mechanism, it could be really useful.

Other than a walk with my son on Tuesday, that’s four days without any exercise – I can’t remember when that last happened. I’ve felt reasonably OK since Monday but decided not to try my luck with the gym, turbo or a run. I rather expect that this, at least, will have done me no harm whatsoever.

I might as well embrace the opportunity to rest (even if it’s not exactly an opportunity I could have refused).

75 hours in and I’m a little peckish …. to hell with the risk, I’m going for another slice of bread.

Gym, gym, run – a light week of not much activity

Sadly, the tight calf muscles after running probably mean a return to this fashion statement

On Sunday’s run my legs felt heavier (after two days rest) than on Thursday’s run, 90 minutes after the gym. Odd. The one thing I’m sure of with running is that I’m not sure of anything.

Admittedly, I did a bit over 10 km (6.3 miles) at just better than 4 hour marathon pace, which is a little faster than recent runs – but it’s not exactly fast.

Back to the gym on Monday morning – still struggling a bit. I’ve decided to stop cheating on the leg press machine and have put the seat further forward to give more of a bend at the knees and therefore a longer travel. It has cost me 30kg in terms of what I can press from that position. My ego will have to come to terms with that.

The aching glutes suggest that it has helped to make the exercise tougher – but the aching lower back suggests that care is needed.

I creaked all day Tuesday so canned the intended turbo session. If I’d been in some sort of training programme I’d have done it, but there are some benefits of not being in a programme!

Wednesday everything felt pretty much back to normal but I had to drive to Cardiff to collect a new car (new to me, at least). With my wife happily driving the Mini it is my turn to have the load lugger so it’s an estate car for me.

I was back in the gym on Thursday – the aches and pains had gone and, to my relief, have not reappeared even though I did the same routine as when I hurt things on Monday.

Just to be on the safe side (and to be lazy and eat pizza) I took Friday off. Despite the pizza, I weighed just under 10 and a half stone (147 lbs, 66.5kg) on Saturday morning before a pretty decent 10.3km run at 5m 34s per km (just outside 9 minute miles – better than 4 hour marathon pace).

That’s a bit faster than I’ve done that distance for many months. Although it’s a bit pointless at the moment, to keep interested, I’ll try to see if I can do this run (which is becoming my ‘stock’ 10km) at under 5.30/km before Christmas. The only downside was slightly painful calf muscles for the rest of the weekend.

Finishing the week by driving up to Wigan on Sunday to see my father – splendid to see him still doing well at nearly 96. Great to see him, even though it’s a 6 and a half hour round trip. We were joined by our older son who hadn’t been able to come up in September. Our son came back with us for a few days after the visit, using up some holiday due to him. Great to see him too.

Foot management. Pairs of shoes: 1 black, 1 deck, 3 cycling, multiple running (and not a Vaporfly in sight)

Just a few trainers

I suffered with my Achilles tendons throughout training for April’s marathon. They didn’t stop me running but I cut out hill and speed work to protect them – and they still hurt every morning.

Early in the training I got some Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes that I thought would be well cushioned and good for high mileage but they came up a bit high at the heel and irritated the tendons – thus disproving my claim when I got them that “If I can’t run in these, I can’t run in anything”.

Then I stumbled across some Puma 500 Ignites (because they were cheap and bright red/orange) and they worked a treat – I trained and ran the marathon itself in them. I bought 2 pairs and have got to the end of the useable life of one pair, but when I went to buy another, it seems that they are now not made in men’s sizes (if made at all).

I’m all for progress – and it may be that whatever has replaced them is better – but it’s a pain to have to try something new when the old was perfectly good and, as an under-pronator with dodgy ATs, suited me well.

I resisted the momentary temptation to consider the Nike Vaporfly series. They seem to have worked reasonably well (!) for Eliud Kipchoge but the one time I suffered with Plantar Fasciitis was when I got some running shoes with stiff soles. I don’t know how my feet would react to carbon fibre in the sole – or how I would react if I’d spent £240 ($310) and not been able to use them.

I have nothing but admiration for people who commit fully to their running and go for broke on the best shoes but I think I’ll just deduct 4% from my times and know that’s what I would have done if I wasn’t so mean …… and I doubt they are very good for trail running anyway!

I’ve just got 2 pairs of what might be the Puma replacement for my old shoe – they are a bit odd as they have a sort of netting leading up to an elasticated cuff around the ankle. So far so good but goodness knows if they will work for me in the longer term.

And yes, now I’m retired I have just one pair of ‘proper’ black shoes, pretty much worn only at weddings, christenings and funerals (may it be mainly the first and second of those).

Run, gym, run, gym, run – steady as she goes

Badbury Clump at its spring-time best. I guess I’ll be seeing quite a bit of this in 2020

A horrible wet and windy Saturday gave way to a chilly but otherwise pleasant Sunday morning so we ran early – 6.1km (3.8 miles). Not a run for pushing hard, but for enjoying being outside.

I want to do more cycling but now the biggest problem with that is the cold – the extra speed increases the windchill significantly (for this particular wimp) so, unless there are particularly good days, it looks like it’s mostly the turbo from here on.

Later on Sunday our younger son (who ran the Rotterdam Marathon with me in April) came home for a few days, using up holiday that needed to be taken before Christmas. Great to have him back, despite my demotion to second fastest runner in the house, and the fact that this means more eating this week as my wife will go into cooking overdrive. my willpower fails completely when food is actually on the table, asking to be eaten.

Gym on Monday morning – a bit rushed as we had guests for lunch.

My wife decided to do some hill reps on Tuesday morning – I’m avoiding those to protect the ATs but ran with her out of the village and did some laps of Badbury Clump – the site of an iron age hill fort (probably before 500BC) – while she did her hills.

Not exactly radical trail running for me but it was largely off road and my trail shoes did get an outing. About 3.5 miles (5.6km). I also learnt the valuable lesson that nettles can sting through the thicker, more padded, knee area of my running tights.

That was followed by a few more hours of wood cutting and bonfire-tending with my son. That’s all the smaller cuttings from the beech trees dispatched, now just a great pile of bigger branches to be logged.

I ducked out of the planned turbo session on Wednesday, having agreed to both a visit to the gym with my usual gym companion, and a run with my son on Thursday.

As it was, 50 minutes in the gym and a 4.2 mile gentle run 90 minutes later were both really enjoyable on Thursday. It was pretty chilly again but the weather was clear and bright – a great day for a run, and the legs felt good, despite the weights session.

Three runs in the week for a total of just over 18km (about 11 miles) together with two gym visits. That feels broadly about right to keep it ticking over for now – I’m not training for anything imminent, but need to keep fit through the winter in order to be able to pick up the training early next year for the April sportive and the July ultra marathon.

Training to get fit enough to start the training programme (which feels like a bit of a con!)

The Ridgeway – looks like a good running track?

The 16 week training programme for the ultra marathon in July starts mid March. Week 1 is 31 miles with a long run of 11 miles. Interestingly, the maximum week’s running is ‘only’ 47 miles.

It is usually said that mileage should not increase by more than 10% a week. If I stick to that, an application of the ‘rule of 72’* tells me that I should be running over 15 miles a week before the end of January – and I ought to be running 28 miles the week before the programme starts.

Fine, I wasn’t expecting the first week to be a just few short walks … but 31 miles?

It doesn’t really feel like a 16 week programme at all, given how much training is needed before it can be started safely. On that basis I could write a marathon training plan lasting just 4 weeks – but it would require the victim participant to be running 45 miles a week before starting it.

Initially I was pleased that the ultra was in July as I would avoid running through the winter – with the pre-training needed, I’ve been thwarted!

It feels a long way until July – but I know by the time I get there I’ll be wishing I had more time because I still won’t be ready. In some ways I wish I could get on with the training now but I remember how long the 16 weeks of training for the Rotterdam Marathon felt.

What I won’t do is think of the current stage as being ‘ultra marathon training‘.

The thought that I was going to be ‘in training’ for 8 months (to the day!) would be soul destroying. The marathon training is just 16 weeks, starting in March – and that will feel like more than enough.

* Divide the number of years into 72 and the answer gives you the rate of compound interest needed for money to double over that period. Conversely, divide the rate of compound interest into 72 and the result is the number of years it will take for the original sum to double at that growth rate. So, at 7.2% compound interest, the value of money would double in 10 years – at 10% it would take 7.2 years.

Internet was a failure, run was so-so … but then the Rugby World Cup final … and it all got so much worse.

I’ve checked and this is, officially, a lot of tree cutting

Down to Bournemouth on Thursday to sort out a new broadband package. It was more physical than I’d thought and involved cutting the tops off many conifers to take them below the new phone wire.

I was sure that I’d done well – but it was all futile, as the engineer told me that they need a hoist to attach a phone line over the trees (even though they would not foul the line) ‘it might get tangled when we put it up’. Could I help? ‘No, we might be responsible if you had a fall’.

Could we at least do the internal stuff? ‘No, I can’t go into a loft unless it’s boarded’.

What about the wire down into the upstairs landing? ‘No, we can’t drill holes in ceilings.’

All that meant I drove back in the afternoon and missed my planned run along the seafront on Friday morning. That was replaced by a run at home – 10.25km, a fraction slower than last week. Legs and feet definitely feeling a bit cranky and (with a bit of dehydration, no doubt), weighing well under 67kg (about 148 pounds – 10 stone 8 pounds). A few pounds less than usual.

On Saturday we planned to sneak in a run early on before settling down to watch the final of the Rugby World Cup – England v South Africa – but it was pouring and blowing a gale so that didn’t happen.

Sadly, the Rugby World Cup Final did happen.

England played badly and were a shadow of the team that beat New Zealand in the semi-final – but I appreciate the adage ‘you only play as well as the opposition let you’. We were well beaten.

Well played South Africa.