Need for Speed

Today marked the first time I have done a specific speed work session in months. In fact the last time I did a specific speed session was when I hurt my foot back in late September 2011 therefore I was a little apprehensive about it but over the past 5 weeks of building my base mileage up again the time was right to freshen up my training especially with a half marathon race just over 3 weeks away.

Although I have a 42 mile FatAss run the week after so I don't intend to rip the half marathon course up because I want to be reasonably fresh for this but I don't really have any excuses not to do some speed work to increase leg turnover, get fitter and run harder for longer!

So I headed out at lunch time and found a long stretch of pavement near the River Thames relatively free of people (quite unusual but found a good stretch). It was mostly flat except for a section at the near Vauxhall Bridge which I hoped to avoid but wasn't able to as you will see below. The session played out like so:

2 mile warm up (16:24)

1000m at 4:01
2 min jog recovery
1000m at 4:03 (into the wind)
2 min jog recovery
1000m at 4:00
2 min recovery
1000m at 4:18 (into the wind and over a slightly uphill section over the bridge)
2 min recovery
1000m at 4:08
2 min recovery

2.1 mile cool down (18:56) jogged back on way back.

8.25 miles in total - 1:05:52

I have to say apart from the 4th rep I am very pleased with how things went. I didn't strain to breaking point during each of the reps but did feel tired around the last 100m but managed to hold things together especially my running form so overall I would say it was a very solid first speed work session.

Comparing this session to my last attempt back I felt far more in control of what I was doing and knew exactly what I wanted to achieve from it. Hard workout sessions like this are not meant to be 100% all out sprinting as you will only get injured doing so. The main thing to remember is to have a a target pace that is probably on or just above the cusp of your current racing speed and attempt to run it at for the duration of the interval.

Definitely going to be doing more of the same next week. Think the legs won't be thanking me tomorrow but I have my Compressport R2 Recovery sleeves on so hopefully they won't be to sore :0)

Ready Set Go!

As the title of the post suggests things have taken a huge leap forward during the past two weeks on the running front. Following my latest visit to the physio last week I have now officially been given a clean bill of health on the foot / ankle.

Despite indications that my foot / ankle wasn't 100% last week it did behave rather better than hoped for but it did remind me every now and then with a little "Hello I am still here mate". I managed 32 and 37 miles during those perspective weeks most of which at an easy pace but the more I got out the better I began to feel mentally and the legs feeling stronger.

With this renewed confidence there was a temptation to ramp things up but this would of been completely stupid and foolish (lesson learnt there). I had one final trip booked to see the physio last week to see where things stood and I felt positive that by the end of the session I wouldn't need to go back until I needed an "MOT" appointment (by choice of course). We discussed how my running sessions had gone, how I felt mentally / physically and what my plans were for the months ahead. By the time he had reviewed the leg and stretched both legs fully he told me that he was very happy with things as they were and that there wouldn't be much point him calling me back again.

YES YES YES! A sense of relief swept over me. The nightmare of the last few months finally dissolved. I had an extra skip in my step and I finally felt like a runner again. By the end of last week I had clocked up 46 miles (highest since September) which is way below where I want to be at this point but I am happy with that.

It's a pivotal moment for this the running year ahead as I did have doubts that things would get sorted quickly. I can now finally focus on the Milton Keynes marathon at the end of April although I think with the 10 1/2 weeks training block left I will be rather looking to enjoy the race rather than trying to stretch for my original goal of 3:17. This doesn't mean I will be treating the build up process any differently but I have to accept that the last few months lack of consistency and fitness means I will be not at optimum fitness in this build up cycle. Therefore I will need to revise my race goal time based on the weeks leading up to and including my tune up race the Brentwood half marathon on March 25th.

I will be aiming for a sub 1:40 at that race which I think is well within reach but I don't want to take to much for granted at this stage. The primary goal though is to continue the plan of rebuilding the mileage and consistency of running. This week hasn't quite gone quite to plan so far due to busy days at work but I did get a solid 11 miles in today and it will be all about getting those daily runs in and focus on the plan week by week. Time to go up a gear!

Running is cheaper than Therapy

These past few weeks have been some of the most frustrating times I have had with both the health of running but also my general health.

Not long after my first physio appointment I came down with a fever and chest infection. Just when I thought I was back on the road to recovery from my foot and ankle problem I was dealt this even worse hand from the cards of life. WHY NOW! After visiting my doctor and confirmation that I was indeed suffering from the infection I was prescribed a course of antibiotics and rest. This meant an enforced rest period of at least 7-10 days including time off work.

After the first 3-4 days I started to feel improvement and by the sixth day I had returned to work feeling more or less normal again. Although health wise I was feeling like my old self I was been extremely cautious not to plunge myself back into running to quickly. This to me was mental torment as I consider running my therapy time and boy had I missed this time. I decided that after 12 days the time was right for a test run to see how I felt and how the break had helped with my foot / ankle problem.

That first run was like returning to my first runs when I started running. I was breathing quite hard for a slow plod pace and legs felt empty but mentally I felt like the world of melting around me. I could feel the effects of the enforced rest but it was great to just get out, leave lifes problems at the door step, hone my senses to the surroundings albeit with aching legs and sucking up wind at a plodding pace. My ankle and foot both felt mostly ok but noticed that my right shin and a small area on the front right hand side of my ankle were a little sore. Fortunately I had moved my follow up physio appointment two days after this first run due to my illness so I was looking forward to going back to update him on progress.

After some discussion followed by some massage of the shin, testing for stress fractures and ankle mobility he said it could either be some tendon irritation caused by an inflamed sheathe that wraps around the tendons at the front of the ankle or it's the sheathe that binds all of the tendons was inflamed due to tendon irritation, a bit of a chicken and egg situation. He ruled out my feet causing problems gait wise as I had very neutral feet which did make me feel pretty good as I have been working hard on improving my running form over the past 18 months so it was nice feedback.  With that he sent me on my way and said to monitor things daily and to book another appointment for 2 weeks time or to get in contact sooner if it's to painful to run on.

Last week I did get a few runs in and ran from 3-6 miles. Each day got a little easier in terms of adjusting to the pace and the ankle / foot has got progressively better although I would be lying if I said all of the soreness has receded 100% but I am feeling like the fitness is starting to ooze back into this body of mine.

Again I am not going out with the idea each day on achieving mileage targets at the moment but just letting the body / mind dictate pace and duration. I am continuing to soak the legs after each run as well as stretching them out gently. Unfortunately this does mean that I will not be taking part in the Thames Trot ultra this coming weekend however I don't feel disappointed in the slightest as there will be other times for sure. Building a solid base once again is paramount to future success for the rest of the year so the next few weeks ahead will be filled with easy runs building that time on feet once again.

I am just happy that I can get out there and put one foot in front of the other again and attending my therapy class on a daily basis again!