Sunday, 21 June 2009

Its been an eventful 10 days or so since the last blog entry.

I ran with Beth Saturday before last and she struggled again, though having a glass of milk just before leaving home probably didn't help her too much! We ran again on the Sunday and whilst she wasn't at her best she was much better, enjoyed seeing a fox, and was chuffed to bits with herself when she chose to add a little 'sprint' onto the end of the run.

Before running with Beth I'd done 6 miles with Sue. It was meant to be a tempo run for her, a week before she did the Jayne Tomlinson 10k, with the middle 4 miles at 9:15-9:30 pace. After 2 miles of that (9:27 & 9:42) she stopped saying her heart was pounding way too much and she couldn't possibly carry on at that pace. Coach Bob snapped at her and we headed back at a slower pace and in silence!

She did the race today and I feel fully vindicated - her pace for the 6 miles ranged between 8:28 and 9:21! She did really well and really enjoyed it.

On Monday I took Beth to the running club and did 4 miles running round the fields on my own, while I waited, and then on Tuesday did an enjoyable and hilly 5.34 with Abbey Runners. Wednesday was a rest day and Thursday was 5 miles with the middle 3 (tempo) at 8:03 pace. Friday I rested again.

Yesterday I took Beth for her run (her second best time) then went to a Chi Running course by . It was quite enlightening in the end. I found the postural exercises relatively straightforward and the running element more difficult, largely because it required a degree of multi tasking & coordination - not my strong suits. No surprises there.

The instructors had said early on that my weakness was my very slow leg turnover (or cadence) but when I saw a video of my running taken at the start of the day I was shocked at what I saw.

I'd always assumed I looked relatively 'normal' as I ran and that my foot hit the ground somewhere between a mid foot and heel strike. Two things stood out as I watched it: firstly, there was the slow bounding gait (I honestly thought it was being played in slow motion at first) and secondly there was the most pronounced dorsiflexing of my foot and subsequent heel strike. Each stride was like a leap, with energy wasted bouncing me upwards as well as forwards and my leading leg stretched straight out as far as possible in front of me leading to the inevitable heel strike. Its no wonder I've had lower leg pain and now I also know what causes the tenderness I feel after runs at the back/base/'corner' of each heel - my entire body weight (several times over) bouncing repeatedly onto that small area!

Afterwards, I felt a mixture of relief (that I'd identified a big problem area) and despair (that I looked so far removed from what I thought I needed to look like that it might prove impossible to get there).

When we got back from the JT run today I headed out to do the planned 10 miles along the canal, but this time I took a bleeping clip on metronome with me, set to 85 per minute (the instructors had suggested 85-90 for me).

It was very strange. First up it was slightly embarrassing with the bleeping causing panic, confusion and amusement to the various other runners and walkers. Only one guessed at what it was and asked what it was for. Then there was the running itself. My feet felt like they were blurring beneath me in a fast shuffling stride but I pretty much kept the rythmn and turnover rate throughout. It would have been interesting to have seen a video of today's run for comparison.

For the first mile and a half I had the unwelcome and uncommon accompaniment of lower shin pain but then made a conscious effort to not only go with the turnover rate but also to 'loosen' my ankles between lifting the foot and putting it back down again. I don't know if that fixed things but the pain dissapeared and didn't return.

After 3 miles I stopped to get a fly from my eye - a standard problem from summer time running by a canal - and decided to head back rather than complete the 10 miles. This was purely down to my realising the left side of my vest had a large bloody circle on it from the nipple chaffing as I'd forgotten to apply plasters.

The run back was as before: pain free with the leg turnover on target, though I also added in occassional bursts with the Chi Running 'lean' which not only speeded me up a little without changing cadence but also helped promote a mid foot strike (I think).

I stopped the watch after 6 miles, feeling very comfortable, no breathlessness. Normally a warm sunny day would make me struggle if I pushed it at all, especially as I didn't feel I'd hydrated well and hadn't felt especially 'up' for running.

I looked at the watch readings for the first time and was shocked. 51:28 for 6.01 miles - an average of 8:33. In itself that wasn't astounding as I run tempo sections comfortably faster but this was for the whole 6 miles, without looking at the watch once, without trying to run fast, without heavy breathing, without trying to do anything really apart from keep the leg turnover high, and with my feeling relatively fresh at the end.

I feel pretty enthused now. I suspect the high turnover automatically shortens the stride in front of me and reduces heel strike - especially with the lean and relaxed ankles - and that the high turnover also forces the feet to stay closer to the ground reducing bounce. Net result a more efficient run - going faster but with less perceived effort. I'll look into the Chi running all the more!

Until yesterday the dieting was going well - not too far from Paris weight now and I still have a chance for 11st 7lb by the end of July. Yesterday was a mini binge but I can live with that. Its a curry tonight then back to the diet tomorrow.

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