Monday, 2 March 2009

The roller coaster continues it's journey

Last Monday I was still a little stiff in lower legs but I went for a sports massage. Forty excruciating minutes later and I was still in pain and remained that way for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, by the following morning my now largely un-knotted leg muscles felt considerably better and thanks to the massage magic I was able to run easily with Abbey Runners again Tuesday night.

This week was 6.2 hilly miles but about 30 seconds a mile slower than the previous week. I enjoyed it and even the 'killer' hills felt easier than they had the previous week. No major soreness the following day either - just a little tenderness in lower legs.

By Thursday all seemed to be going well again. I deliberately took it easy and did the prescribed 2 mile jog with no problems and had been watching my food intake for the week and was losing the weight I'd gained the previous week and going a little beyond: 12st 5lb by Paris looked feasible again.

I can't really say the wheels fell off after that but a couple do feel a bit looser - though they covered some decent miles in the process.

I over ate on Friday. I didn't log it either (which really ought to be a danger sign for me) and instead told myself it was all carb loading before Saturday's 20 miles and that because of that I could eat whatever I wanted that evening - several slices of toast, a large portion of spaghetti Bolognaise, 4 weetabix, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate...

Saturday's 20 miles had a few changes from previous runs, and not just the extra distance. I wore different trail shoes to run in, I wore the new orthotics, I wore a pair of Skins compression socks under my tights, carried a bottle of water as well as the 2 small belt flasks and used a range of Overstims energy gels. In the event some of these little changes may have had a big effect on the run - some good and some not so - but it proved a difficult challenge and one for which I can't decide if I'm pleased or disappointed with.

The first 9 miles went pretty much as per standard, albeit that I was just over 100s ahead of the same point on the 18 miler of 2 weeks before. In itself that wasn't too odd as my pace increased by about 10s per mile for each of 14, 16 and 18 mile LSRs but it may have been taking a bit more out of me than may have been wise. Mile 10 slowed a little but it included 2 large sets of locks - a 3 rise and a 5 rise set - so he steep hills and only moderately slower pace may have also contributed to later fatigue.

By then I was also battling 2 ailments. Firstly my orthotics had begun to bunch up under my toes causing a large blister under my left big toe and pain in my right toes from their feeling like they were gripping onto a ridge. Secondly I'd developed a tight feeling at the top of my left calf, almost behind my knee. I had something similar a couple of years ago on a long run in Scotland and in the end it 'twanged' leaving me hobbling for a couple of days but left no legacy as I ran a hilly 10 mile race a week later.

Mile 11 meant 2 steep downhills and a correspondingly quick mile but it also may have contributed to the stiffness I later felt in my quads. At the end of that mile I stopped to (temporarily) reposition the insoles and when I set off again I was closely following a group of 3 lady runners. They weren't slouches but I guessed that they were going slightly slower than the sort of pace I wanted to be running at so I decided to pass them. I don't know if I was wrong in the first place or if they speeded up as I passed but it contributed to an even quicker mile - some 45s faster than the quickest I'd have wanted and led into another brisk mile following it.

From then on it felt tough. The blister was a pain (literally) and I could feel the insoles bunching again, but I also felt tired. I guess the hills and faster pace were just a little more than I was ready for. That said, the next 5 miles were all done fairly metronomically - all within a 4 second band - but I consciously needed to push myself a bit. The last 2 miles slowed a little - still under my target pace but 12-19s a mile slower than the previous 5 miles and during this period I could feel my legs stiffening. By the end I felt done in.

I did the usual post run routine but the magic cold bath didn't seem to work it's wonders and my legs felt stiff for the remainder of the day. They eased a little for yesterday and a little more again today but there's still soreness behind the left knee, lower left leg and in the outer quads.

Overall I'm pleased with the pace I managed; I'm pleased to have done the 20 and will benefit from the training. I'm a little concerned at how I felt relative to having to do another 6.2 miles and by the pain in my legs since. I guess I'll learn from the experience for next week, the 20 that follows it and for Paris.

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