Category Archives: injury

Turbo, gym, cycle OUTSIDE (who’d have thought it possible?)

On Monday I could feel the previous day’s 22km run in my legs but nothing was particularly painful (and even the knee didn’t hurt any more than normal so I’ll take that as a bit of a win).

The weather remains pretty poor so it was on the turbo in the early evening but I’m getting very bored of it.

There is a perfectly harmless game show on weekdays for 45 minutes, starting at 17.15. If I cycle for the duration of the show I get a decent, distracted, 45 minute ride. If I want to go longer I have to start before the programme starts – if I start cycling when the programme starts I struggle to carry on after it finishes. Subconsciously, I must associate the end of the programme with the end of the turbo session.

On Monday the trick worked – early start and then 1 hour for 27.56km (17.2miles).

On Tuesday the ‘finger socks’ arrived. I know that the ‘go to’ brand is injinji – but they seem really expensive so I disguised my inherent meanness as mere caution in case I didn’t like them and went for something cheap from the internet. Apart from putting them on being every bit as difficult as getting a small child into a pair of gloves, I think they are really good. I’ll try them on a run later in the week.

Tuesday also saw me at the gym for an hour.

I know I’m probably doing too much training (13 days out of 14 now) but I can see the end of the week being bad and the flip side of the excitement at taking on challenges is the fear that I won’t complete them.

It’s fear that I’ll fall ill or get injured and won’t be able to train, or fear that my knee won’t let me run more than three times a week so I won’t be able to do the ultra marathon training properly.

Yes, I appreciate that excess training is likely to bring on the injuries or illnesses I’m concerned about – but my lucid moments only last a short while and I tend to forget that insight.

I fought back by deciding not to do the turbo session I’d planned on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday a few strange things were going on – it wasn’t raining, it wasn’t freezing, the wind dropped below 20mph and I went for a ride outside. My first since October!

I was fairly sensible apart from when I found myself at the bottom of the Uffington White Horse Hill and could not resist riding up it (about 1km at 9%) and on a wind-assisted stretch with 6.2km at over 40kph (nearly 4 miles at 25mph). In all, 42.8km in 1h 44minutes with 490m of ascent (26.6 miles and 1600 feet).

It was really enjoyable – I think the riding outside idea could catch on.

Gym, run, torn toenails, turbo, run, gym, turbo, run (a decent week … apart from the toenails)

Saturday and Sunday had seen my first runs on consecutive days for a long time. My knee wasn’t entirely happy with that so, rather than push my luck with another run, I went to the gym on Monday morning.

I had a good 50 minutes but it was noticeably hard – all thoughts of making Monday the week’s double exercise day were abandoned. I am concerned about these occasional outbreaks of common sense.

Tuesday was fairly cold and blowy but dry. It didn’t look like the rest of the week was going to be much better so I went for a run anyway. Again pushing the distance a bit – 16.85km (about 10.5 miles) at about 6:20 per km (a bit outside 10 minute miles). Not fast but a pretty consistent pace and it’s about distance not speed.

It was a decent run apart from the fact that, inside the first 3 miles, one toenail started attacking its neighbour and I finished with two torn nails and two bloodied toes. One of the toes has previous convictions and I’m thinking of trying a pair of ‘finger’ socks to stop the fighting.

OK, it’s not the most severe injury I’ve heard of recently (and I sympathise with those who have suffered worse) but it is closer to home.

Turbo for 45 minutes, 21.95 km (13.6miles) on Wednesday – shorter because of the longer run on Tuesday.

Thursday morning was cold and wet but we’d agreed to run and did our usual 6.24km (3.9miles). It was probably a good thing that I’d committed to run with my wife as, alone, I’d have found an excuse not to.

We had an excellent evening with friends over for supper but, with an effort, I managed to get myself to the gym on Friday morning for an hour’s weights. That went OK but I added the 5 minute planks routine on at the end and found it really hard.

I was feeling very jaded after 10 successive days with some form of exercise but I pushed myself to make it a double exercise day and got on the turbo in the evening (45 minutes for 21.7km – 13.5miles). That made it 12 sessions in those 10 days.

At least that was in the knowledge that a rest day loomed as we were having one of my goddaughters and her family over for Saturday lunch. I was ready for the rest on Saturday and had an exceptionally good day, before rounding off the week with another run on Sunday.

It started mild and windy, rained a little at the 3 mile mark, rained heavily and holizontally at the 6 mile mark but finished dry.

Again, I pushed the distance a bit – 22.11km (13.75miles). Yet again, not fast but consistent – no km faster than 6m 10s and only one of the 22 outside 6 minutes odd (and that was 7m 02 sec).

In all, three runs and over 28 miles, two gym sessions and twice on the turbo. That’s me done for the week – shattered.

Turbo x2, run x3 (one snow, one hailstones, one weak sunshine), gym. A very good week (it’s not all about training)

The Thames, with Hammersmith Bridge on the right. A bit sunnier this morning – lots of rowing activity as the Boat Race approaches at the end of the month

Following two rest days I was back on the turbo on Wednesday, pushing the session out beyond what I’ve been doing recently – 1h 15min for 34.45km @27.6kph (21.4 miles @17.1mph).

That’s part of my plan to increase the length and intensity of the training – but I wish I knew how the turbo equates to cycling on the road.

Of course, there are no uphills or headwinds on the turbo – but equally, there are no downhills or tailwinds. Also there are no junctions or red lights which might provide a short break – one appropriate word for the turbo is ‘relentless’.

More importantly, in the absence of things like power meters, it is hard to gauge the strength of the resistance the turbo provides.

By feel, my turbo offers a good deal more than the normal resistance of cycling on a flat road. That’s backed up by the fact that I’ve not got into any of the bike’s three top gears with this turbo trainer. Cycling in a lower gear but still managing somewhere in the range 17-19mph (27.5-30kph) suggests that I’m working significantly harder than I would be out on the road. The turbo has no adjustment but seems to be set to replicate rolling resistance, the resistance of the air, plus a constant upslope of perhaps 2%?

I wonder if that’s true – or whether I’m deluding myself.

We woke to a dusting of snow on Thursday but we’d planned to go for a run and, slightly reluctantly, kept to that for a gentle 6.2km (just under 4 miles). It was surprisingly enjoyable, proving (yet again) that the hardest part of most runs is getting out of the door.

I decided to make Thursday ‘double up’ day for the exercise so I got on the turbo later for 45 minutes: 21.75km @ 28kph (13.5miles @ 17.4mph).

Gym on Friday morning and then a leisurely day doing domestic stuff before we drove to London. Our older son and his girlfriend are on holiday in South Africa so on Saturday we went to check on his flat, to provide some rations for when they get back and to explore the area. It’s proved to be a great choice for them – walkable to both of their offices in the east of the city – a ‘young professionals’, up and coming area rich in ‘artisan’ type businesses – bread shops, gin distilleries, food outlets and a great weekly market.

We had a very enjoyable morning doing the Spa Terminus and the Maltby Street Market and then back to our place.

Frustrated at missing out on my favourite seaside run on Monday because of the weather in Bournemouth, I was determined to have the pleasure of running along the Thames since I was up in London.

Although the weather wasn’t looking too good, later in the afternoon I ran to Hammersmith, over the bridge, down the Thames Path on the west side of the river, across Putney Bridge, up the Thames Path on the other side and back via Hammersmith and Baron’s Court. A bit over 10.85km (6.75miles) at 4 hour marathon pace.

It was terrific – although I could have done without the rain (which turned to hailstones just after Putney Bridge). The roar as I passed Craven Cottage Football Ground was particularly encouraging but I admit that could have been for the match (Fulham v Preston North End – final score 2-0 to Fulham) and not for me.

My knee hurt that night and I couldn’t get it comfortable in bed for quite a while. Despite that, early on Sunday morning my wife and I went for another (shorter and more gentle) run down the Thames Path – 6.4km (4 miles) in a cold breeze but weak sunshine.

Brunch with our younger son and back to Oxfordshire.

Not the heaviest week for training but really enjoyable, and I know which is more important.

Little and often – or fewer, bigger chunks?

On Sunday my wife went up to London for a couple of days, and after my run I went down to Bournemouth. I sorted out a few bits on Monday and thought about a run along the promenade.

If I’m down in Bournemouth, I love to run along the sea front but this time it looked like a run would be foolish for at least three reasons:

  • first, because it would be the 9th day in a row with exercise
  • second, my knee was complaining a bit after Sunday’s run
  • third, the weather was a little ‘frisky’, with rain lashing down and 60 mph gale force winds.

The English Channel is aptly named in the way it funnels the wind along the coastline. Once I followed someone riding a bike into a strong headwind along the promenade, until he gave up pedalling, got off the bike and pushed it.

This time I decided that discretion was the better part of valour (doublespeak for ‘I wimped out’) and the running kit stayed in the bag. Getting back to Oxfordshire I resisted the temptation to do a session on the turbo – a real rest day! I won’t deny the feeling that I should have done something, but I’ll get used to it …

… and I did. I took Tuesday off too.

That brings me to the question posed in the title: would I be better off doing, for example

  • 6 days of exercise with medium length runs (c 6-8 miles) and 45-60 minutes on the turbo, or
  • 4 days with longer runs (9-12 miles) and turbo sessions of over an hour, with more rest days
  • days with multiple short sessions?

As a simplistic example, if I wanted to run for 6 hours a week, would it be best to run for three 20 minutes sessions on 6 days, or six one hour runs across 6 days, or four 90 minute runs across 4 days?

As always, I expect the answer starts ‘It depends …’.

Several short sessions in a day, compared to the same time spent in one session

I can see that several shorter sessions in a day might keep the heart rate up for longer, and I understand why some people would be able to fit them into a working day more easily – and even find it easier to get motivated for a short session. Personally, being retired, the time is less of an issue and I think I might struggle with several short sessions (to say nothing of the washing of smelly kit).

One shorter session on more days a week, versus fewer longer sessions with more rest days

With the importance of rest days, I guess fewer, longer sessions might be better? Also, that feels like a better use of time (change, warm up and stretch afterwards just once for a 2 hour session instead of twice for two one hour sessions?) …. but are longer sessions likely to be riskier from an injury perspective?

I have no idea as to the correct answer but I keep reading that training for the ultra needs time on your feet, running when already jaded and ever longer runs to help replicate the race day itself. Feels like fewer, longer sessions are what I’ll try in the next few weeks.

I expect that all approaches are reasonable if not taken to the extremes – I once ran a marathon with a chap who decided that running one half marathon each week would be good training. It didn’t end well …

Gym, turbo, run – it’s OK, but is it enough?

By last Thursday evening, I’d had 7 exercise sessions in 7 days (and a 7 hour drive on the one rest day), so on Friday morning I did the sensible stupid thing and went to the gym.

I know about the benefits (indeed, the necessity) of rest but it is easy to feel that you need to make up for lost time – and I’m feeling that after Christmas, the knee ligament sprain and skiing. The best thing about the early morning gym visit was that the absence of any other exercise on Friday made it almost feel like a day off.

Of course, knowing that I should be taking rest days is not the same as actually taking them. Instead, I followed normal procedure and did an hour on the turbo, in a pool of sweat, for 28.44km (17.7miles) on Saturday afternoon watching more of the 6 Nations rugby. Good to see Rome bathed in sunshine as Oxfordshire was grey and battered by high winds.

Sunday continued with the wet and high winds theme of the last three weeks but I wanted to get in a third run in the (Monday to Sunday) week. I waited for the wind to drop below 40 mph and for the rain to stop and headed out for the same run as Wednesday, 13.4km (a little over 8.3 miles). Still running slowly – but faster than Wednesday.

I sometimes wonder if the first mile of a run will ever get any easier. It takes that long for my breathing and pulse to settle into a more comfortable rhythm. I’m sure it would be easier if all runs from the house didn’t immediately go up a small hill. Equally, it would help if I warmed up properly but I always have the foolish feeling that, with only a finite amount of energy to play with, I don’t want to use any of it before the run.

That leaves the week with 4 turbo sessions (90km – 56 miles), 3 runs (nearly 33km – over 20 miles) and 50 minutes in the gym lifting heavy bits of metal.

Despite all the recent activity, I’m not sure I’m in great shape for the forthcoming challenges:

  • The sportive towards the back end of April is about 150km with quite a bit of climbing – but I’ve not been out on the bike since the Lake District in October
  • The 16 week training plan for July’s 50km ultra starts in a couple of weeks but I doubt I’ll be up to the first week’s 31 miles by then.

Hmm. Realistically, the short term aim will have to be 3 runs a week, aiming for over 20 miles in total – and getting on the bike twice a week for a couple of hours in total (if indoors) or 4 hours (if the wind and rain are kind and let me outdoors). In addition, I’ll try a visit to the gym – and get back to running to it.

Importantly, I’ll try to remember that nobody is paying me to do any of this – it’s my choice and I’m supposed to be enjoying it.

More good news on Friday was that I’d recommended that two of the children we’d been working with on the balance bikes on Wednesday, should be tried on bikes with pedals on Thursday. Both cycled unassisted – bravo to them.

Turbo (x5), cycle training (x2), run (x2) – a week dodging the storms

I took Thursday as a rest day, we went up to London for supper and stayed the night for an early Valentine’s Day.

Friday it was back to Oxfordshire and back on the turbo – the knee felt a bit stiff and so running seemed inadvisable. A slightly below par 21.55km (13.4miles) in 45 minutes.

Back north to my sister’s on Saturday to continue sorting my father’s personal effects. There were warnings of likely disruption from Storm Dennis (appropriate as that was my father’s name) but he was kind to me and, apart from constant rain, the journeys were better than anticipated.

The storm hit harder on Saturday night and there was a lot of rain again on Sunday. I was going to run when the rain stopped in the afternoon but the roads and paths in the area were pretty flooded so it was the turbo again – 45 minutes for 22.9 km @30.5kph (14.2 miles @19mph).

Monday morning was spent taking a couple of groups for training at the cycle park. A little wet, cold and blustery but, with over 20 children it was enjoyable, nonetheless.

In the afternoon I forced myself out for a run. After a bit of a mental wrangle I managed to push on past the 10km distance that I’ve been running recently and did 13.4km (a little over 8.3 miles). My longest run since the Rotterdam Marathon last April but only just over a quarter of July’s ultra distance.

Still not at all fast – but it’s the distance that matters at the moment. The knee still twinges which is disappointing two months after I hurt it, but it’s not stopping me running so I’ll go with it for now.

If I needed a reminder that getting back into the running has to be done with a certain amount of caution, I got it in the form of a number of random aches on Tuesday morning. Painful right foot, painful left hip and painful left knee. If all the problems had been on the left I’d have assumed the new ones stemmed from running weirdly to protect the knee injury – but the right foot raises a question mark over that.

I had a session on the turbo in the early evening – cold conservatory, rain hammering on the roof and no enthusiasm. A bad combination so just the 30 minutes for 14.9km (9.26miles).

Back to the cycle park to take another couple of groups of children on Wednesday. Cold, windy and a little wet again but one of the girls who could not cycle on Monday was cycling by herself by the end of today’s session – that (and the fact that most of them do not stop grinning for the whole session) is what makes it worthwhile.

Pains (other than the knee) got better through the day. They were slightly replaced by a cricked back from bending down to help small people stay on their bicycles but it was the turbo again in the early evening. Just the 45 minutes for 21.81kph @29.1kph (13.5 miles @18.1mph).

Thursday morning I went for a gentle run with my wife just over 6km (3.8 miles) in a strong wind. Aches and pains much reduced (other than the knee which remains a little ‘tight’) so I decided today was part of my experiment with double-up exercise sessions on one day a week. Accordingly, 50 minutes turbo in the early evening for 23.75 km @28.5kph (14.76miles @17.7mph). Probably a bad idea as it was tough.

For me, that’s quite a hard week of training. Less running than I’d have liked, more turbo than I wanted but you have to fit in around the weather and the injuries, don’t you.

The knee is still not quite right after the tendon sprain – but looking on the bright side the Achilles Tendons that hurt every day for several months leading up to the Rotterdam Marathon are behaving well (so far). Hope I haven’t just jinxed it.

Turbo, turbo, run, labouring, run. Lacking a bit of inspiration

I took a day off on Friday after 11 sessions (2x gym, 2x run and 7x turbo trainer) in 11 days. Although I was on a (very small) roll, I’m sure I needed the rest. Not just physically, but mentally too (to say nothing of giving the washing machine a break).

Saturday (with a tight knee but better calf muscles) I did an hour on the turbo for 30km (18.65miles) while watching the Ireland v Wales 6 Nations rugby. Hard work but at a decent pace.

Well played Ireland – and well won England later in the afternoon, edging Scotland out in a really ugly game in atrocious conditions.

After only 7 miles of running the previous week, the aim was to do slightly more milage over the next few days. Unfortunately, Storm Caira arrived on Sunday, with heavy rain and winds of 50+mph (80+kph) so I wimped out – yet again – and resorted to the turbo trainer. I did just 45 minutes (well, it was Sunday) watching some of the France v Italy rugby, for 23.13km @30.8kph (14.4miles @ 19.2mph).

The storm had largely blown over by Monday, but it was still wet and windy. I was struggling to find the enthusiasm to get on the turbo trainer again so I went for a run instead. Strangely enjoyable despite 20mph winds and intermittent rain – and all the better for being finished just before the hailstones started. A gentle 4.4 miles, but it was an actual run.

As with most runs, I had twinges in knees, feet, ankles on the way round but nothing severe or lasting – and I even remembered to stretch my calf muscles after it.

Some of Tuesday morning was spent wheelbarrowing hard core for a soak-away at the cycle park, until a hydraulic leak on the mini bus tail gate put a stop to that. I took the remainder of the day off exercise but ran on Wednesday – 10.2km (6.3miles), not quick but a few miles under my belt.

It’s a bit of a labour at the moment – I guess I’m not enjoying the running as much as usual because it’s hard getting back into it and I’m worried about a recurrence of the knee ligament problem. I’ve probably also overdone the turbo trainer a bit in the last few weeks.

The ultra in July, and even the 90 mile sportive in April seems a long way away so I’m a bit short of inspiration. Still, I’ll keep at it – improving weather, getting out on the road bike (eventually) and more running without knee trouble will improve it all, I’m sure.