Friday, 23 January 2009

So far so good...

Having packed in the grog and gone to bed at 10pm on the 31st I was up and feeling righteous on New Year's Day. I went for a run first thing.

Normally a creature of habit I did 3 miles along the River Aire rather than the normal route along the Leeds Liverpool canal though the start point is the same and the two run pretty much parallel. Carrying the effects of a fortnight's Christmas gorging and pretty much out of the running habit for a couple of months even that felt tough. Low point was ripping a pair of shorts on some barbed wire, high point was seeing a small herd of deer in the woods.

I'd seen deer on early morning runs in Scotland and in the Dales and knew there were deer even in the narrow corridor of green between Leeds and Bradford as I'd watched amazed as a young deer swam across the canal one summer lunchtime the previous year. I love seeing things like that when running.

This run was the first of my Paris marathon training program. It was a truncated program of 13 weeks that I'd lifted from Runners World Smartcoach. As my running was disrupted and I was (and probably still am) frightened to death of injury recurring I slightly frigged the system by putting in a slow 'recent' time for 10k to calculate the pace requirements, pretended I'd been doing 20 miles a week and was rewarded with a fairly straightforward program of 3 runs a week - one long slow run, one speed session and one very short easy run. Probably not the sort of program to get me in peak shape but maybe easy enough to allow my underprepared body to adapt ok.

The next day was the first speed session - a 5 mile interval run with 2 x 1 mile intervals. In theory it should have been a doddle as the pace for the 1 mile intervals was no quicker than a typical 5/6 mile run of October but I struggled and just about kept myself within 30 seconds of the target.

Part of the problem was that my lower legs felt exhausted within half a mile. Its a long standing problem of mine that (apparently) my anterior tibialis muscles are relatively weak and after a break from running they struggle to re-adapt for a couple of weeks. Its also the root cause of the injury that messed me up after Paris in 2007 and that has frightened me to death ever since - that the overworked and inflamed muscles rub on the adjacent tendon causing ongoing pain that there is no quick and easy remedy for other than rest.

The long run on the 4th was 8 miles and didn't prove too taxing. Speed (such as I had) might have gone but I still retained an element of stamina.

The next week it was a 3 mile easy run, a 5 mile tempo run - which felt a little easier than the previous week's speed session - and a 10 mile long run which again felt pretty good.

Week 3 meant another 3 mile run, a 6 mile tempo run (easier again) and a 12 mile long run. 12 isn't a daunting prospect but its in the ball park where injury flared up in the autumn so I was glad of the easy pace targets. The first couple of miles were very slow - about 30s a mile slower than target but without too much planning I speeded up after mile 4 and my overall pace finished up about 20s a mile under the target. I probably should have reined myself in a bit there and will do so with future LSRs but doing that one faster was good for confidence.

It was completed pain free too which was a relief as I'd been imagining faint discomfort in my left lower front leg for a fortnight. I'm pretty sure I was imagining it as it hasn't got worse or appeared when running but I find I'm sort of listening out for pain there.

That brought me on to this week - my first cut back week of just 3 x 5 mile easy runs. Tuesday's 5 was completed almost bang on to the pace target but today, despite it being cold, windy and wet I found I'd run some 40s a mile faster than I should. Again, I probably need to be a bit more cautious but it was nice that that pace felt very very easy.

As well as the running plan I'm also losing weight. If all goes well I'll have lost 2 stones by Paris and a further half a stone by Edinburgh. When I lose weight I tend to lose very quickly at first - I know its not all fat by any means but its still a boost - and since the start of the month I'm down by a stone. I feel and look better for it and its probably linked to running feeling easier again too.

Its a fine line though, trying to cut the calories while also upping the training. I've yet to reach the peak weeks of the plan but I'm logging all I eat or drink on so I can watch my calories but also make sure I have plenty of protein. My one man assault on the EU pastrami mountain is a major feature of this.

So all in all things are going well. I'm not counting my chickens just yet and blogging experiences since 2007 certainly underlines that training isn't always easy and dissapointment sometimes waits around the corner; but by my reckoning I have 30 runs between now and Paris and if I can get through the next 21 of those without injury then I'll be back on the Champs Elyses come the morning of 5th April this year. Fingers crossed.

No comments: