Saturday, 30 October 2010

Marathon News

Did it! I don't think I'll ever walk right again.

Friday, 29 October 2010

1 Day To Go

This is my first video blog to coincide with my first marathon. I'll let others judge my performance in both so sorry if the video is a bit crap. Good song though: Pulse by Sioum.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

2 Days To Go

My legs really ached this morning. Thankfully the dreaded knee was fine and I was looking forward to see how it would cope today. Stage two, if you will. My intention today was to run an easy four miles. I don't want to knacker myself but I also want to challenge the injury a bit to see if it holds up. It is proving to be a fine balance to tread.

The four miles today went pretty well. My legs were a bit stiff but the knee held up. I am aware of a slight bit of discomfort on the outside of the knee but not the acute pain I was feeling last week. Now that I've got through these two test runs1 I feel that I am ready to commit to at least starting the marathon.

I have bought all my pre and post race supplies and nutrition and am ready to have a complete day of rest tomorrow. I am going to the race registration tomorrow to pick up my race number and to scope the place out. This will makes things a bit easier on race morning. Other than that I am going to try and keep off my feet and eat loads of stuff.

I can't believe that I might be able to pull this off. So excited!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Three Days To Go

I have gone seven days without running a single step. This is the longest stretch of time that I have not run since about February and is not the best preparation for my first marathon which is in three days time. Indeed, throughout this week the very idea of running 26.2 miles has has been put firmly to the back of my mind. This is because of the failure of one very important body part: my knee.

I have certainly been climbing the walls in the past week and am surprised how physically reliant I have become on running. My inactivity has given me headaches, sleepless nights, tiredness and more importantly, I have been feeling very down. I am prone to mood swings at the best of times but it has been close to off the charts these past seven days. I can feel my self getting fatter and less fit by the hour. I am almost at the ceiling.

In the fear of some sort of permanent maddness I decided that today was make or break time. I would run a hard four miles and see what happened. The result of this experiment would determine whether I would spend the weekend in bed or running around snowdon.

The results are in and they might actually be good. Apart from a few twinges during the run my knee held up well. It's a bit sore now but much better than it was last week. I don't want to get my hopes up but there is a small chance that I might be able to pull this thing off. I will do another four miles tomorrow at a slower pace. If I am relatively pain free after that then I will race on Saturday. If not, then bed it is.

More to follow.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Update On The Knee

Right. The situation is not good. Here is my week so far.

Friday: 2 miles treadmill/30 mins cycling/30 mins cross trainer. The knee felt alright but felt sore on the treadmill.

Saturday: 0.5 miles treadmill/30 mins cycling/30 mins cross trainer. The knee is alright but the legs are a bit tired.
Sunday: Rest.

Monday: Rest. Did 100 pressups/situps/planks and side planks.

Tuesday: Rest. Legs feel fine.

Wednesday: 3 mile run. My legs felt really good. No tiredness or tightness and it felt really good to be running. I thought that I had got away with it and thought I had won. Injury nil, me one. However, all my hopes faded at about 2 miles and within quarter of a mile I was reduced to walking. Walked the last mile and iced the knee. Felt sorry for myself and ordered a kebab. I can’t run 2.6 miles let alone 26 miles.

Looks like my first marathon will be over before it has begun. I thought that getting to the finish line would be my ultimate achievement after 10 months of training. Now it looks like I won’t even be making the start line. If a race is seen as a test to measure the quality of one’s training then I have failed. In the next couple of weeks I will review exactly what went wrong and how I can avoid any future mistakes.

There is a slim chance that I might still be able to run the marathon. I am going to take a full seven days off from running. Then I will do two miles next Wednesday and then 4 hard miles on the Thursday. If I can do these two runs totally pain free then I will give the marathon a go. If there is any hint of knee trouble I will admit defeat and concentrate on a full recovery.

I am obviously quite upset about this whole situation as I was genuinely excited about running around Snowdon. In order to make sure I get back into training I have signed up for a half marathon in January and a 10k race in December. I want to stay committed to running and feel like I need the motivation to pull me out of my gloom and doom mood.

Bloody knee.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cracks In The Clouds

Every runner gets injured. Even the ones who say they haven’t probably have and the ones that say they have definitely have. I am probably like everyone in that I go through stages of unrest after an injury has hit. The stages are denial, rage, depression, acceptance and renewed neurotic disequilibrium. Okay, so I got that from a book but it is just about right. Denial: I tried to run 10 miles whilst sort of knowing that my knee was shot. Rage: when I got back to the house I shouted at the dog for getting in my way and got angry at the freezer for hiding the ice. Depression: made myself a massive sympathy lunch which included chewy sweets and two packets of crisps. Acceptance: well I’m writing this blog entry aren’t I? And I don’t know what the last one is but I guess I’ll cover that tomorrow.

Of course, there is another stage to this process. The stage is blind bloody fear at the fact I have my first marathon in two weeks and I can’t even run a mile. Brilliant.

Throughout the year I’ve had a few niggles here and there. In fact the worse lay off through injury was done playing football when I busted my hamstrings. I have had to stop training just through tiredness but not really through injury. Nothing more than a few days. So, I am having a hard time at the moment through little injuries that are stopping me from running. Now, like I’ve said every runner gets injured so I am not going to whine. Sure, I feel annoyed and worried but I am not going to moan and complain. Shit happens.

However, I am going to do some detective work. I want to find out why my legs have been falling apart. I was running well up until a month ago then the wheels came off. So what exactly is wrong?

1. Plantar Faciitis on my left foot that was only getting worse. It went away but then came back after a week and seems to take 3-4 days to clear enough to run on.

2. My knee is a bit buggered. I went for a slow and easy seven mile yesterday which was very relaxing. Afterwards, I noticed a pain on the outside of my left knee which was exaggerated whenever I walked downstairs. Today, I started a 10 mile run and discovered pretty quickly that the knee was fucked. I was reduced to hobbling back through the front door. A sheepish 0.7 of a mile.

3. I have a continuing tightness in my right hamstring and both calf muscles. In fact, pain seems to come and go all over my legs. It isn’t too bad but it does make any running uncomfortable at one stage or other.

Right then, on to the reasons.

1. My last good, strong run was 20 miles. I ran it faster and more comfortably than I expected and it is possible that this just knackered my legs. It is only the second time I have run that far and maybe it just took too much out of me.

2. After that 20 mile run I changed my shoes. My old shoes were quite worn and had covered about 550 miles. With the unused cushioning, the new shoes feel quite different and I can feel that my gait is slightly changed when running in them.

3. The third reason could just be simple overtraining. I have only been doing 3-4 sessions per week but in those sessions I have been working very hard. I might just need to reduce the intensity of my hard sessions.

I would not like to say that there is one particular reason but in all probability a mixture of all three. With a marathon in two weeks I need to sort this out quickly. Two of the problems sort themselves out. I am not doing any more long runs or intense sessions before the marathon. On the shoe front, I am going to start using my old shoes again. I don’t have the time to get my gait analysed and work out if the new shoes are the main source of the problem. I am going to stick with what I know.

With regards to my recuperation I am not going to do any running for the next few days. I will do some gentle cross training and see how I am at the weekend. I have to stay sensible, take each day at a time and try not start climbing up the walls. Rest, ice, compression and elevation seems to be tried and tested. I now have a very cold knee.

I might get a haircut. That should make me lighter on my feet. It is difficult to run sensibly with a massive ginger afro.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Trying Too Hard

Righto. The last month has been...interesting. My last post described in plenty of over the top detail how much pain I found myself in after my long runs. For my last 20 mile run I wanted to avoid hitting wall so I ate like a monster the day before and had a good breakfast. I ran a 02:10:00 half marathon which felt like a breeze. This was where I was expecting my legs to turn into stone. Mile after mile I was waiting and waiting for a pain that never surfaced. This is the first time I have dodged the dreaded wall in my long runs. Sure, the last 5 miles were hard with plenty of aches and pains but I managed a good, consistent pace. I went home feeling very chuffed with myself. Smug, you might say.

The downside is that that was two weeks ago and my body is still recovering. Soon after that 20 miler I developed a bit of plantar fasciitis in my foot. Nothing too painful but it does rear its ugly head every time I run a hard session and seems to get worse as a run progresses. This is a little worrying as I have my first marathon in three weeks. I think it will be alright but did cause me to abort my planned 20 mile run last weekend. When the first five miles is uncomfortable there is no way of getting to mile 20. This was a bit annoying as I wanted to do one last long run before the marathon but shit happens right. I know I can run 20 miles fairly comfortably so I have that confidence in my endurance capability.

I have been working hard on my tempo runs and hill intervals. I am consistently getting faster run after run and am fairly confident that I could pull out a sub 50 minute 10k if needed. I have been using the treadmill to do hill reps. Although I live in quite a hilly area I find the treadmill useful to do long hill running. I am tired though.

I think I might be working a bit too hard. My sessions are very intense and I often have to skip my recovery runs as I’m just too tired to get out there. This is reducing my number of runs to three or four times a week. Although I feel fitter and stronger I am struggling with stiff legs and little niggles. I am getting my key training sessions in but am paying the price a little bit at the moment. I am still a relative novice at running and sometimes it takes an injury or an overwhelming sense of tiredness to remind me of that fact. I am fairly certain I will recover fully for the marathon and am really excited about it but I do feel like it’s time to taper. In future I will try and cut down on the intensity of my sessions slightly. This will give me more energy to fit in a couple more sessions a week. I do need to remind myself of my goals every so often in that I want to increase my volume of low intensity exercise rather than increase the intensity of exercise hence reducing volume.

September was a tricky month. With all sorts of family commitments it was tough to produce consistent training sessions. To make up for this I have been overcompensating by trying to do too much on my hard training days. Nothing I can do about that now but as with all these mistakes it is important for me to recognise them and to learn from them. All the intense, hard training work has been done and I am now almost ready to run my first marathon.

Oh, and new shoes.