Tag Archives: injury

Turbo, gym, pink pigeons, a terrific women’s cycle race, Chris Froome (and some more cricket)

Women’s Tour of Britain coming through Faringdon. It was ultimately won by Lizzie Deignan, 9 months after having a daughter. Magnificent.

An almost decent week of getting back into some sort of training rhythm.

On Monday it was the turbo for 22.2 km in 45 minutes @ 29.6kph (13.8 miles @ 18.4mph) and on Tuesday an hour in the gym (various weights machines for the legs, front and side planks, 110 sit-ups, some chest presses, bicep curls and a lot of stretching).

Wednesday saw the Women’s Tour of Britain cycle race come through Faringdon, our nearest town so I went to support that – and the incredible efforts of some of the cycle group to decorate the town pink. Pink pigeons is a Faringdon ‘thing’ after Lord Berners – Faringdon’s eccentric aristocrat – used to have the pigeons at his house in the town dyed pastel colours in the middle of the last century. There were about 50 bikes put about the town, all pimped pink.

A second hour in the gym on Thursday before heading off to Southampton to stay with one of my brothers-in-law in order to go to the cricket on Friday. I was lucky that I was going with my brother-in-law as otherwise my absence on our 32nd wedding anniversary would have been rather frowned upon.

In keeping with my life’s work of bringing cricket to the corners of the world that hasn’t yet reached, after I watched them win their first world cup game, England batted and bowled reasonably in their second match – but fielded poorly and managed to lose to Pakistan (who they had just beaten 4-0 in a pre-tournament series). Back to winning ways in match three against Bangladesh and then (the match I was at in Southampton) winning surprisingly easily against the West Indies. Whisper it, but qualification for the semi-finals looks possible, with New Zealand, Australia and India also looking good so far.

I stayed over on Friday night too and then back home via Bournemouth (still managing to resist a run while I rest the Achilles’ and torn calf) to collect the bed linen and towels used by the friends who had used the house the previous week. Yet more glitz and glamour to my lifestyle.

Turbo again on Saturday evening – 15.64km in 30 minutes (19.4mph average). Hard, hard, hard.

…. and above everything else, my very best wishes to Chris Froome for a swift and full recovery from the severe injuries (a fracture to his neck, a fractured right femur, elbow and ribs, plus a broken hip) he suffered as a result of his terrible crash on Wednesday.

It’s a good reminder that this cycling lark can be dangerous – stay safe folks.

Advertisements

Back to the turbo trainer (nearly) and, for something completely different, cricket

The Pavilion at The Oval cricket ground, South London

One of the (many) things I’m bad at is taking time to recover from illness or injury. Partly it’s just that I like exercise but it’s also fear that delay means I won’t be ready for the next challenge, whatever that might be.

Of course, that’s daft. Fretting about it won’t help and training too soon is likely to be entirely counter-productive and actually slow down the whole process.

Admittedly, having torn the right calf on Saturday, cycling on Sunday and going for two long walks (two long limps) over the weekend might not have been wise but the ride was short and gentle and I don’t get the chance to walk with both of our sons too often so I wasn’t going to turn those down.

Since then I’ve tried to be better. It was Bournemouth on Wednesday (no running) and from there straight to London in the evening to be ready to go to the cricket on Thursday.

Apologies to those in parts of the world that don’t have any knowledge of cricket (and to the millions who do know about it but still don’t like or understand it) – but I really like it. How can you not admire a game that can finish without any positive result at the end of 5 days of play?

This was the first game of the Cricket World Cup – a tournament of one day games, each of just 50 overs per side, meaning a match with a playing time of a mere 7 hours or so. This opening match was England v South Africa. Purists might look down on one day cricket as ‘cricket for those who don’t like cricket’ but it’s hard to know where the game would be without its shorter forms of as they are the main draws of big crowds.

Following England in just about any sport is an agony of optimism, disappointment and frustration. This time it is possibly worse than usual because of high expectations, England being the favourites for the tournament.

We batted first and posted a very decent, but not unbeatable, 311 runs for the loss of 8 wickets. The South Africans were in the hunt for the first half of their reply but faded in the face of some brilliant English fielding and catching, and were all out for 207. A very good day and a very good result against the side ranked 3rd in the world in one day cricket.

Perhaps above all else, we avoided the three words that strike despair into the heart of cricket fans – “Rain Stopped Play”.

By Friday the calf was feeling better and the Achilles seemed to be improving slowly so I was thinking I would get on the turbo trainer for the first time since early March. However, as the bike on the turbo has clipless pedals it would have meant a good deal of calf involvement – so I thought better of it. Signs of common sense, perhaps.

I don’t really understand why I’ve done so little cycling for such a long time. It was logical while I was marathon training but why so little since? I hope I haven’t fallen out of love with it.

We are visiting different friends for lunch on Saturday and Sunday which will mean a full 8 days after hurting the calf without any significant exercise. Is next week the one I start to get my act together?

Row, run, cycle – but taking time to smell the roses

Chelsea Flower Show

After Monday’s London run I gardened on Tuesday. Having cut a whole 3 seconds off my 2000m rowing time at my 2nd attempt, at the gym on Wednesday my 3rd attempt took another 28 seconds off (now down to 8m 42s), although still not feeling 100%.

I suppose that’s encouraging but if I’d known it was going so well I might have eased off a bit to keep something in hand for the next attempt. I assume the improvement is just a bit of familiarity with the equipment so perhaps next time will just be consolidation.

I’m still wondering whether the gym will add much to my cycling. I’ve always taken the view that cycling must use all the muscles needed for cycling – but the gym is a nice social diversion from other training (if I were ever to get back to doing some) and, with my focus on the legs and core, it can’t be doing any harm … can it?

In the afternoon I was at a local junior school helping to give cycle training to some 11 year olds. They could all ride but we were also assessing them with a view to taking them out on the road at the start of next term. It was enjoyable and all the children were pretty good on the bikes – although the bikes were a rather motley bunch in terms of style and road worthiness!

Back to Bournemouth on Thursday, continuing to clear the garage and garden. With a fleeting visit, no running (I didn’t even go to the beach to check that the sea is still there) – but back to the gym on Friday morning – I did the 500m rowing machine sprint for the second time and at 1 minute 57 seconds I took 2 seconds off my first time at the distance. My gym companion thinks the machine I used this time is the harder of the two – I’ll check next week.

After the gym, it was up to London for the Chelsea Flower Show. We tend to go every few years to get some inspiration for the garden – but fail to implement much (if any) of it. Still, it’s a good day out. This year was very enjoyable in good weather – even though it was a bit too crowded for my liking. Great show and artisan gardens and outstanding exhibits in the Great Pavilion. I’m not sure if I’m inspired or intimidated – probably both.

Back to Oxfordshire on Saturday after a run early in the morning (about 4.3miles – 7km). It went well to the half way point but then my recent right calf niggle became a current right calf pull. I finished the run at a hobble and well over a minute per km slower than the first half. How do I train for, and run, a marathon in April with no muscle issues, only pull one on a reasonably gentle 4 mile run the following month? It hurts a lot – but at least that takes my mind off the Achilles tendons.

We drove back to Oxfordshire later with our sons who came back for the Bank Holiday weekend which is good compensation for the calf.

  Indoor rowing  
Attempt No. 500 metres 2000 metres
1 1minute 59 seconds 9 minutes 13 seconds
2 1:57 9:10
3   8:42

Back in the swing (of something) and club ride sweeping

Up on the Ridgeway looking down over the plain between the North Wessex Downs and the Cotswolds

I think the decision to curtail last Sunday’s sportive was a good one judging by the knees and ATs on Monday. They had a rest while mowing on Tuesday and then a gentle run (4.5km – 2.8miles) with my wife early on Wednesday before I headed down to Bournemouth for more mowing and the eternal decluttering.

This time I took a bike to leave down there (a Gary Fisher Advance mountain bike – perfectly OK but not the great man’s finest work!) and am looking forward to using it over the summer.

Gym on Thursday with Ian. I did the 2000m on the rowing machine in 9 minutes 13 seconds – but I don’t suppose that means much as I’m not sure what machine it is. It was set to ‘7’ on the resistance (simply because that’s what it was already on and it means I have some adjustment either way if I discover that I need it).

From the internet, it seems that the resistance (‘the damper setting’) is finessed by a ‘Performance Monitor’ which means that effort is measured regardless of the damper setting. All very clever but I must admit to a little nervousness when I realise that the rowing machine is cleverer than I am.

I’ll leave it on 7 for now as greater resistance, apparently, is more suitable for those of us lacking in fast twitch muscle fibres, even though it can exhaust muscles before the full cardio benefit is achieved.

I read that 8 minutes for 2000m for someone with no experience on a rowing machine is pretty good – but I doubt that was for an over-60 year old – either that or I’m just not ‘pretty good’. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as I’m only competing with myself to measure progress, not talent (which I anticipate will be sadly lacking). Next time I’ll do the rowing before I start on the weights.

The afternoon was spent following the first stage of the Tour of Yorkshire bike race on TV – Yorkshire showing its true colours by raining pretty much throughout the stage, but with the locals still rising magnificently to the challenge.

With the rest and a lot of of stretching, I was happy to do my turn today as lead/host/sweep for the club’s Saturday ‘red’ ride. It was a cool morning (5℃ which is 41℉) at outset thanks to a fresh northerly breeze but at 75km (47 miles) it looked like a reasonable outing for the decrepit body.

Although I demonstrated my usual wimpish tendencies by wearing about twice as many clothes as anyone else, it was a good ride. I took the role of sweep and rode at the back with three others – but we picked up two more (who had been with the faster group) at the roadside when one (with tubeless tyres) had a puncture that wouldn’t seal. Messy old business fitting a tube into a tubeless set-up but between us we managed it and everyone completed the ride safely.

Proper club ride sweeping! It’s odd how fulfilling it is to do that job when you can actually add something to the enjoyment of the ride for others – either by roadside rescue or by helping pull folks round by taking the lead into the wind.

The group has recently started to incorporate a coffee shop stop (we used to just stop at the roadside for snacks we brought with us – generally referred to as the ‘banana break’) and that was welcome on a day that never really warmed up.

Quite a slow ride with 870m (2850 feet) of climbing but one of those rides that you’re pleased you did, even though you might have been unsure about it at outset.

Failing to prepare …

Uffington White Horse in the distance – and this is as close I got to it in this year’s WHC

How (not) to prepare for a 90 mile sportive: first, make it only your third ride outside in nearly five months (✓); second, go to a wedding reception the evening before (✓); third, have a dodgy knee and ATs (✓). OK, ready to go.

The White Horse Challenge took place today (Sunday) – I think it was my 8th entry and 7th participation. It’s a really good local sportive – it’s about 90 miles (just under 150km) with climbing said to be about 1400m (c, 4600 feet) although my Garmin has typically measured it at about 25% more than that in climbing.

It takes in 4 White Horses in the area (chalk figures cut in the hillside) and is limited to about 600 entrants. The first time I rode it I took a bit over 6 hours – one of my big aims is to get under 5 hours but my best so far is 5:05.

This year was, clearly, not going to be very special for me. The Achilles Tendons are not right and my left knee is still dodgy after the marathon. More importantly, I’ve done just 20 miles on the bike and 6 hours on the turbo since the first week of January. I hoped that the cardio vascular benefits of the running might help but the muscle action is rather different so I went into it with very low expectations.

The day itself was dry but very cool and with a stiff breeze. It was probably a good year not to be in great cycling shape – I’d have hated to waste good form on a day with such difficult conditions.

I never felt perfectly comfortable on the bike – running does not help toughen the backside or strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles. Worse, although they both use the same leg muscles, they certainly use them differently.

I got past 80km (50miles) in a time that suggested I’d do something under 5:30 but at the top of one of the bigger hills the knee and ATs made it very clear that they didn’t think another 70km was a good idea. For once good sense prevailed and I decided to bail out – although the route I took back only saved me 30km (c. 20 miles) and took in another hill with a 17% gradient.

So, I did a total of 113km (70miles) 1250m of climbing (4100feet) in under 4:30, with a surprising 77 Strava achievements.

More importantly, my congratulations to everyone who completed the challenge.

I’m sad not to have finished the ride but think I made the right call. On a hard day for cycling, I had little to gain and potentially a lot to lose (or, more accurately, to damage). The current aim is to get the legs right – I’d hoped that cycling was a free hit with no real leg strain, but it appears that’s only true up to a point.

With so little cycle training, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed – and there’s always next year. If the September/October 2020 marathon comes off, perhaps the early part of the year could be dedicated to a sub 5 hour White Horse Challenge …..

Back to real life – will the gym be a tonic?

With the running on a back burner for a bit it looks like the gym and the bike for the next couple of months – not much of a hardship

I had a gentle run with my wife on Sunday morning – about 2.8m (4.6km), in glorious sunshine, and with her muscle strain improving. In the afternoon we went to London and had supper with our sons. It was a really nice family occasion and, extra good news, both sons are, in principle, up for the Berlin Marathon in 2020.

Alex, who ran Rotterdam marathon with me two weeks ago, is now off to Peru for a month – brilliant for him and I’m 100% behind the trip, but I’ll still be worried until his return.

We stayed over for the night and I couldn’t resist getting out in the morning, even though I know that the master plan is to go easy on the running to let the knee and Achilles tendons recover. I ran about 4miles (6.4km) down the Thames Path and back through Hammersmith – delightful.

I need to cut down on my running as I doubt that I have any more marathons to enter for a year, perhaps 18 months. At the same time I’d like to avoid having to start from too low a level when I come to pick up distance running again. Accordingly, I was wondering what running is necessary to just maintain fitness, without risking burning out with over-training. It looks like the answer could be something like 20-25 miles a week at normal intensity, with a longest run of about 12 miles.

That’s a bit more than I wanted the answer to be – but I think it’s purely academic as anything close to that isn’t going to get my knee and ATs better. Having taken liberties with the ATs during the marathon training, I owe it to them to sort them out – even though it may take a few months from what I read.

I’ll try running just twice a week (and only short distances) for a while to see if everything heals – if the ATs recover, restarting running from a low fitness base will be a small price to pay.

Tuesday was spent on the de-cluttering in Oxfordshire and Wednesday I went down to Bournemouth to mow and, surprise, surprise, de-clutter. The garage there is full of overflow rubbish from here. How have we accumulated so much stuff? In fact, I think I know the answer to that – I’ve simply been bad at throwing it out over the course of many years.

Back to the gym on Thursday with Ian, my usual gym companion, for a very good session. Protecting the tendons, the knee and the shoulder takes a bit of imagination but I think I could get into rowing (on the machine, not the water) which, happily, doesn’t trouble the shoulder at all. I’ll look at some stuff on technique (I am currently a technique-free zone) and then set a 2000m time next week and see how much I can lower it over the coming months.

The next challenge is the White Horse Challenge on Sunday. I think I’ve written it off as a proper attempt to set a good time as I’ve only ridden outside twice this year which is not perfect training for 90 miles on the bike at any sort of speed. Truth be told, I’m a bit nervous for my backside with that distance and so little toughening up.

Marathon training week 12/20: turbo, turbo, run, run, run. Heading back on track for Rotterdam?

One problem I have with running (among many) is how long it takes to get to the end of a long straight road

After walking in the Lake District and skiing, last Sunday’s run was my first for three weeks – textbook marathon training!

It went pretty well but the key issue was how the Achilles tendons were going to react. They’ve been problem children after every run since September so it could have gone either way – the rest could have done them good, or the sudden exercise could have aggravated the underlying issues.

Well, Monday morning revealed – confusion. The tendons certainly didn’t hurt where they had before (right down at the back of the heel) but there was some soreness on both legs about 6 inches (15 cm) higher up. I’m not sure if the pain is at the bottom of the calf muscle or the top of the tendon. I assume it’s the calf muscle as the tendons only ever hurt when stretched and the new injury hurts (slightly) when the heel is raised or lowered.

That’s probably a bit encouraging – as long as it’s not just the start of another injury problem. Right at the start of the marathon process I said it was probably going to be more about injury management than training itself – I’m sorry to have been proved quite so right.

It was an hour on the turbo trainer on Monday for 27.95km (17.37 miles) and another hour on Tuesday for 28.4km (17.6miles). One of these two sessions can replace the running intervals (I’m still protecting the Achilles’) and one can be the week’s cross-training (the shoulder I hurt skiing wouldn’t let me do a gym session yet).

Although I appreciate the need to focus on running if I’m going to avoid an unpleasant experience at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, I’m starting to look forward to getting back on the bike properly soon afterwards.

I ran on Wednesday – 13.25km (8.2miles). I must run a different distance as I can’t get “8 miles and running, got my 7th album droppin” out of my mind.

It was rather too far outside 4 hour marathon pace for comfort. I misjudged the weather and overdressed badly so I dripped the whole way round. The shoulder and new calf/tendon pains are still there, but no worse, so I’ll settle for that.

I did the same run on Friday to see if I could up the pace a little. Strangely, Strava recorded it as 0.14km further at 13.39km (8.3m) and with 35% more elevation. Garmin Connect recorded the second run as 0.2 miles further – very confusing as I’d assumed these things were pretty reliable and accurate.

It was hard but despite the rain and a wind gusting over 40mph, I managed to run 11 seconds a km faster. It’s not going to shake the world of running – and it’s still outside 4 hour marathon pace – but it’s some sort of progress.

Sunday, today, was long slow run day. It was the first time I really didn’t want to run – there was a little drizzle, it was cool and it was a long run. I was just thinking about some breakfast and a wrestle with myself to get out later when my wife decided to run. She always wants to run early – so I abandoned breakfast and left after just a cup of coffee. I’d forgotten that she was going to do hill reps and as we parted ways after just a few hundred metres. I realised that I didn’t really have a course in mind as the original plan was to drive a couple of miles and run from there.

I made up a route on the hoof – roads I know well from cycling but not from running, and not being very sure of the distance involved. At least it was a proper route without all the doubling back and multiple loops that are usually involved.

It rained and was a bit hillier than I’d like for running but it went OK, if not very fast. The main problem was that it did go on a bit. I had no water with me and just two cheap cereal bars (I ate one of them) and in the end I ran for 17.6 miles (28.3km). Curiously, just a few hundred metres beyond two thirds marathon distance.

It wasn’t at all fast – about 4.5 hour marathon pace – but it was certainly hard.

I don’t know if the lack of food and water was a factor or whether it was just that I’d run nearly 17 miles in the previous 4 days but it was certainly hard. Perhaps it’s simply being 63.

So, over 34 miles running in the week, by far the furthest in the training programme – but very hard.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16.1m  (25.9km) 9.8m  (15.8 km)  2:00
2 18.5m  (29.8km) 13.3m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7m  (33.3km) 65.8m (105.9km) 1:00
4 22.2m  (35.8km) 13.7m (22.07km) 1:00
5 24m (38.6km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13.2m (21.3km)    
7 25.56m (41.1km)62.7m (100.9km) 3:00
8 14.63m (23.6km)13.2m (21.2km) 7:00
9 (Skiing) 15.51m (25km)   12:00
10 (Skiing)     12:00
11 (Skiing) 7.1m (11.4km)   6:00
12 34.1m  (55km) 35m (56.4km) 1:00
‘Running’ totals 171.4m (276.1km) 213.2m (342.7km) 47:00