Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Miles Equals Happy Smiles

Running during Christmas week was always going to be a bit of a motivational challenge, what with all the drink and high calorie food. However I was determined not to let this ruin my training. I could not skip training runs - not after only 1 week of the training plan!

I struck a balance between feasting and getting out 5 times during the week to do training. Given the nature of the week I am more than happy to report that I covered 61km. It made having those glasses of wine and calorie-filled food a little more enjoyable!

The weeks' training started on Christmas Eve. I was working that morning but still managed to do a 13km progressive run before I went to work. There had been a storm the night before and the road I run along for this particular part of my training was somewhat flooded in places. It was early morning and I was using a head torch to see. This made it even more fun! It was a pace-based run where I gradually worked my way up to half marathon pace (5:20/km - I know it's slow!). However the flooded road was slowing me down - not to mention dodgy splashes from cars! After 10 km I decided to slow the pace down - it was Christmas Eve after all! Nevertheless, despite slowing the pace, I still managed to run 3 minutes quicker that the previous week on the same training plan. That brought a slight smile to my face, and I went to work with a little skip in my step

Despite a few drinks the night before, I was up at 5:15am on Christmas Day for my Easy Run (half the length of the Sunday long run). Like last week, this meant 13 km in Zone 2. I was actually looking forward to this run and getting up so early wasn't a problem.

The hilly 13 km Spicer's Corpse Route
I ran a controlled run and started to notice quite early that my pace was faster than the week before and yet I was still in Zone 2. By the half way point I had a sneaky feeling that I'd finish the run quicker. There are, nevertheless, a couple of nasty (and VERY steep) hills in the latter half of the route - but even after running these I still managed to finish the 13 km 10 minutes quicker than the week before (on the same route and training zone). I was so happy. Was this progress or just a HR fluke. Either way it was a nice Christmas present from my HR. I got home, showered, open the presents with my wife and 3 year old son, then proceeded to celebrate Christmas with bacon butties and Cava. I was a happy man!

A nice symmetrical HR for 500m intervals on Boxing Day
Boxing Day was another story - I really did not want to get out of bed. Nevertheless I hauled my arse out of bed at 6:20am and then proceeded to psych myself up for what going to be a tough workout. It was the turn of 500m interval training. Run 500m in Zone 5 (around 95% of max HR) and then run 500m in Zone 2 (max. 139 bpm); repeat 6 times. It was a cold morning and I was tired. Nevertheless I completed the session and was a greeted by a pleasant surprise when I uploaded the run into Garmin Connect: I ran 2 minutes quicker than the previous weeks' session. WOW - how did that happen? 

Despite feeling happy with my intervals I was also suffering - and not from the ills of drinks and food. Several hours after the intervals and my knees started to hurt and hurt bad. The speed work had put too much pressure on them (this is one of the reasons why I avoid running fast at Parkruns - when I attend them, that is). I knocked back as much Ibuprofen as I am allowed - and a few more for extra measure (not advisable). The following day (Friday) was a rest day and, with more Ibuprofen the pain started to subside. I wasn't sure whether Saturday's gentle 45 minute Zone 2 run would take place. 

Cold winter morning - running in daylight
was a little strange!
I woke up on Saturday and gently got out of bed and went for a little walk around the house. The knees felt okay so I decided to head out for a gentle 45 minute Zone 2 Recovery run (part of the training plan).

It was a cold a crisp Saturday morning and for the first time in quite a long time I was running in day light! Although I was more than happy to run in Zone 2, the heart rate was up and down like yo-yo! I'm not sure whether it was the heart reacting to not running in the dark; whether it was shocked by the cold temperature; whether it was feeling the affects of the cold I've started to get; or whether I'm just not as fit as I thought I was. This was a "timed" 45 minute, Zone 2 run - yet despite the above I still managed to run a spitting-distance further within the 45 mins than the same run last week. 

The good news is that after the run the knees seemed okay. Yes, I could still feel "something", but given the pain I was in a few days earlier, it was certainly an improvement. I've come to the conclusion that fast runs and my knees do not go together. That said, they are in my training plan and next week I have the 5 km Parkrun sprint. I'm not looking forward to it... 

Sunday brought the return of the long run and the same route and training zone as last week. A 26 km route running Zone 2 (max. 139 bpm) on the flat and down hill and Zone 3 (max. 155 bpm) up hill. The route is primarily up hill.

I struggled to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 5:15am. I'd be suffering (and still am suffering) from a cold. I fell back asleep and then woke again around 5:40am. I then pondered further about whether I should get up or not. Eventually I got out of bed, put my running gear on, and headed outside.

I was met with a bitterly cold morning at around -5 degrees (not including wind chill factor). I had layered up and was wearing my Inov8 running gloves. The run started okay, although the HR was a little erratic for the first 2 - 3 kms; it eventually settled down and it started to turn into a pleasant run. I then then started to hit black ice and slipped a few times. It is bad enough seeing black ice during the day - even harder in the dark with only a head torch to guide you.

At around the 14km mark my right hand started to feel cold and by the 18km mark it was very cold and very painful. I tried to warm it up whilst running but to no avail. By the 20km mark the pain got so bad that I had to stop. I collapsed on the floor hold my hand and felt really sick. My HR was fine, but the pain in my hand was horrendous. At that point I decided to abandon the run and walk home.

Whilst walking home I put my hand under my shirt and after around 1km I started to feel a little sensation in it. At this point I was at the bottom on Andover Road (my Kenyan Hill) and figured I just wanted to get home quick. I therefore ran up the hill for just over 1km. 

When I eventually got home I stuck my hand under the warm tap and then collapsed on the kitchen floor in real pain and clutching my right hand. I felt really sick and the pain would not go away. Took 30 minutes before the pain started to subside, and then I jumped into the shower for 15 minutes. I need to invest in some new gloves...never want to experience that kind of pain again.

As for the run itself. It was a Zone 2 on the flat and Zone 3 on the hills. The good news (if you can call it good news) is that at the point of stopping, my time was the exact same as last week but my pace had improved slightly. I suspect the discrepancy is due to stopping to avoid black ice....

It's been an interesting week of running; but despite the nature of the week I have seen a slight improvement from the previous week. Is this down to the HR training? I think it is a little too early to say, but the signs are promising.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas week (whether running or not). Roll on 2014!

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