Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blisters, illness and perseverance

What a frustrating week! 

You'll have read from my previous blog about my attempt to change my trainers earlier in the week and the pain and suffering that followed. Well to add to the misery was another bout of  cold. It was nowhere hear as bad as the flu, but enough to have my HR higher than normal (even when not running), keeping me awake at night (so lack of sleep all week), and basically making me feel very groggy and not really wanting to go for a run. Both my wife and I had it, and this time we blamed nursery!

With a lack of sleep came the inevitable struggle to get out of bed early in the morning for a training run - as a result, my training plan this week didn't quite go according to plan. It was hard; I struggled in places, ran slow, but still managed to pretty much keep on the mileage target and churned out 69 km during the course of the week (just a couple of km short of my target).

Tuesday's run was supposed to be a 13 km progressive run, but I just couldn't face getting out of  so early in the morning. I was still a little tired from the Long Run on the Sunday, and I was starting to come down with a cold. However I felt guilty that day (hate it when that happens!), so in the evening I put the new trainers on and went out for a 10 km run. I tried to keep to a 5.35 min/km pace (my half marathon pace), however I struggled badly. Heart rate was all over the place and I was puffing and panting and my legs felt heavy. Coupled with that I was starting to get blisters from the new trainers. I completed the 10 km run in just under an hour. Not good, but hardly surprising.

On Wednesday morning I went for what was supposed to be a 15.73 km run at Zone 2. However I soon realised it would take me too long to complete it running that slow and so upped the pace a little. I ran, snotted, spluttered, coughed my round 15 km but then stopped as I went past my house - I was running out of time and I needed to get to work. My feet were destroyed with huge bloody blisters! It was time to take the trainers back, but that's in another blog...

I could not face a slow 1 hour Zone 2 run on Thursday morning: my feet hurt like hell and I'd been struggling to sleep due to the cold. I was very tired and really not feeling too well. I therefore took Thursday and Friday off as rest days. Saturday was the dreaded Parkrun. I really wasn't looking forward to it. I hate running fast around 5 km - been there, done that and don't really want to get sucked into it again. That said it forms part of my training plan - every 3 weeks.

Wearing my old trainers I ran 6 km to the start at a slow pace. This felt comfortable, but I still wasn't feeling too well and my feet still hurt. My HR was also high (again). I was a couple of kms into the Parkrun and my legs seemed okay; however my breathing was heavy - too heavy! I coughed and splutter my round, finishing in approximately 27 mins. My 23 min PB seems like a distant memory...how I did that I'll never know. After the run I plodded home, by which point my legs were starting to tire also. In total I'd covered 15 km. Not quite the training session I was hoping for. Being ill and tired was starting to frustrate me...

Sunday was my Long Run. The plan was to repeat last weeks' run to Hungerford and back, but this time run the full 31.40km as opposed to the 30km we did last week (when my HR was the issue).

The alarm clock went off at 5:15am and I really struggled to get out bed. If Robin Killingsworth wasn't running with me, I'd have been tempted to stay in bed and catch up on my desperately needed sleep, and rest my painfully blistered feet. Nonetheless I got up, changed and put my new trainers on (which I'd got the day before from Reading). I was ready for the run.

Neither Robin nor I were really feeling the lovin' for this run - we both felt crap. That said we were running and chatting at a faster pace than last week and my HR was relatively low - around the 163 bpm mark or below. Heading out to Hungerford we were running in the low-to-medium 6 min/km bracket as opposed to last weeks' high 6 min/km bracket, and yet my HR remainder constant. Breathing-wise I felt fine...no puffing or panting and yet running slightly faster. However as we approached Hungerford my legs started to really feel tired. It wasn't the pace that was causing the tiredness, it was the previous days' running - if not the weeks' running. When we got to Hungerford I just wanted to stop -my  legs were hurting.

Not to be - I took a gel and the we turned around and headed up the hill out of Hungerford. Just prior to Kintbury I decided to eat a healthy bar I'd bought - never eaten anything running whilst before, so this was my first attempt. I took one bite and spat most of it out. It was like eating sawdust. My mouthing instantly tried up and I felt sick. I reverted back to a gel and plenty of water! We were still keeping a good pace; only slowing down when going up hills, which were now killing my tired legs.

At around the 22 km mark I told Robin  I needed to go to my "happy place", which meant I
New Balance M1260v3
didn't want to talk for a while. I wanted to think deeply about 'stuff' to take my mind off my very tired legs. All along however, my HR remained around the 163 bpm figure or below...often falling below 159 bpm, and yet still keeping up the pace. I told Robin that I just wanted to head back to the start rather than taking the planned diversion to make the run up to the 31.40 km mark. I'd run the last 5 km back to the start every week, so psychologically it was good for me. With 2 km to go we hit a very steep hill with a real kicker at the top. Robin went up faster and I plodded up. When we rejoined he said he'd wished he hadn't run up so quick. I don't blame him - it's a leg sapping hill; short but steep. We then ran the last 1 km or so back to the start chatting to each other. We finished just as it was about to rain.

In the end we completed just on 28km in 3 hours. We averaged 6:30 min/km, which is 30 seconds quicker each km than last week. I was also happy with my average HR - 159 bpm. We were 2 km short off what we ran last week, but did the run 30 minutes quicker. Even we'd ran the additional 2 km, it was still a good improvement. Breathing-wise I wasn't tired at the end...but my legs were another matter. They felt very tired and I had new blisters appearing on old ones (lovely!).

On the whole this was a positive run for a number of reasons:

  • Firstly the new trainers worked. I may have new blisters, but figure that if it wasn't for the old blisters I'm not quite sure the new blisters would have materialised. That said, I think it is about time I invested in some blister-free socks. I've ran well over 1,000 miles in my existing socks (all blister free!).
  • Secondly, I was more than happy with my pace and more especially my HR. Yes, it's not fantastic when compared to other runners, but given my recent difficulties, I felt it was very constant and didn't rise too much (whilst running a slightly faster face than the previous week).
  • Thirdly, although running on tired legs was painful, I tried to keep a constant pace on the flat and down hills and it seemed to work. I managed to do the run and it taught me a lot about the pain of having tired legs on a marathon and still forcing yourself to carry on. I need to do more of this in the future.
  • Finally, I experienced what choosing the wrong food can do to you - lesson learnt!

I just wished the legs were fresh like last week. If they had been then it is likely I'd have been able to run the planned distance and perhaps a slightly quicker pace, especially on the hills. However, given my hellish week I am more than happy with this final run of the week.

No comments:

Post a Comment