Thursday, May 29, 2014

I admit it, I'm pissed off

I know I shouldn't be and I'm trying ever so hard to (a) not take running / triathlon too seriously and (b) not obsess over improving (times, distances or challenge). But I have to admit, I am pissed off that I not only didn't get a time close to one I was hoping for on Sunday, but that I actually don't know why I didn't. I mean, really, who cares? There are so many more important things to worry about without even going outside my immediate worries (of work and family). Nevertheless, I have been feeling quite demotivated and anti-climatic after months of preparing for a couple of races, to now not have a clear goal until November, when I run the 20K Behobia - San Sebastian race.

Maybe denying my anger is almost as bad as fueling it: perhaps this post can act as a catharsis of sorts. I have been saying that my recent training regime was an experiment to see whether simply increasing the intensity would help me go faster but - if it was an experiment - surely I have to be prepared for it not to have worked?

Today I thought I would see how well I fared at the test I sometimes set myself, of 20 laps (7 km) around the football field keeping my heart rate below 172 bpm. It was a bit windy and the temperature was up in the 20s so I didn't expect it to be my best result ever - and it wasn't helped by me mysteriously losing my access card on the way, which put me in an even darker mood. I'm starting to see a pattern: the first lap was way too fast and my heart rate shot up very quickly (normally it takes about 8 laps to get up to the target of 172 bpm). I found myself having to slow down and down until it got silly - in fact, I didn't bother finishing the test. This isn't so far different from what has happened in the last two races I have done this year: I have started off very fast and faded.

So, I think that I need to do longer (slightly slower) runs more often to improve my endurance and get a better feel for what my race pace should be. There's probably some wisdom in the traditional school of training in macro cycles targeting different aspects such as strength, endurance and speed, as well as the common practice of polarized training whereby the easy runs are easy.

Having said that, I found that my heart rate is much lower (i.e., 10 bpm) than it used to be running at what I used to consider to be my easy pace: 13.5 kph (4:27 /km) and at 15 kph it my heart rate was closer to what it used to be at 13.5 kph. On the other hand, I know from experience that 15 kph is more like my Marathon pace and there is no way that I would run a Marathon at such a low heart rate. In other words, running on a treadmill with a fan is a different (but not necessarily better or worse) workout than running outside. Perhaps it is also time to go back to training to heart rate.

By the way, I finally got my NordicTrack T20.0 treadmill to read my heart rate from the supplied Polar strap. The repair man had to change the console (by instruction!) even though it was probably not necessary. He told me that other electric devices could cause interference. He also told me that the interference could be coming from the neighbours happening to wear a heart rate band at the same time - come on! But he was right about the first point: it turns out that if the fan of the treadmill itself is running, then the displayed heart rate is all over the place! It's actually quite handy having the treadmill read my heart rate as it is automatically uploaded to the iFit website every time I do a workout on it.

Well, having said all this, I am doing another 10K race this Sunday! I'm going to try to take it differently (as well as not going off too fast!). I remember last year enjoying doing a number of local races, let's see if I can't do the same this year.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Race Report

Believe it or not, this was the first (running) race in which I had taken part in my home country in over 25 years! I always enjoy running in London and feel that either the relatively flat sea-level terrain or the distractions of familiar haunts contribute to me running faster than usual. This time it was not to be...

On the plus side, this was probably the best organized running race I have competed in. In spite of 18,000 people participating, everything from picking up the race number to dropping off my bag went extremely smoothly. Even though the odds were against it, I even bumped into the only other person I knew was running: an old school friend I hadn't seen in the best part of 15 years...

I was in the first coral behind the championship runners (I think the men had to have a sub 32 minute time and the women sub 38). I was surprised how sparsely occupied my coral was, as well as the fact that most of the other guys in it (at least the one I asked) were aiming for times (like 42 minutes) that were not really appropriate for starting so far forward. I thought, what with the UK being a bit of a stickler for rules, people would adhere to their projected finishing times. The start was quite funneled so I thought there might be a bit of a melee but, as it turned out, there was nothing to worry about, at least not in that respect.

I was worried about my foot, though. While warming up, be it running up and down or bouncing on the spot, I got that sharp pain and numbness in my toes. I started to think that it could actually force me to stop. While it's true that I have managed to do all of my training in spite of it, one thing is running on the predictable surface of a treadmill belt, another is running on roads with lots of turns and other runners. My brother was coming to watch me run with my 3 year old nephew (for probably the first time since he was a small boy himself!) so I started to fret about how I would get back to the start if I had to pull out - I had taken no money with me. It wasn't really the best frame of mind to be in, just before the gun went off.

The championship runners got about a 2 minute head start on the rest of us which certainly helped reduce the congestion, although I did catch up some of the women at least. The first kilometer was fairly quick (3:24) and the second was right on the money (3:33). I saw one of the guys I had been talking to, just up ahead - he was only 17 but was aiming for 38 minutes - a little bit too enthusiastically, it seemed. The third kilometer was OK, too (3:35), but then something weird happened for the 4th kilometer: it took 3 minutes and 56 seconds! It's true that there was a bit of a climb involved, but this could only mean that the kilometer marker was in the wrong place (I was going by the markers and not by the GPS on the Garmin). The question was whether the 3rd kilometer had been short or whether the 5th kilometer would be. At halfway, I glanced at the clock, but it showed the time for the championship runners who had a head start on the rest of us. My watch said that that just over 18 minutes had passed. I hoped that the wind and the incline would be in my favour on the way back.

The route is pretty scenic, apparently taking in Admiralty Arch, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, Mansion House, Bank of England, Leadenhall Market, The Monument, Millennium Bridge, Tate Gallery, Cleopatra’s Needle, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I just noticed the river - mainly because it was more windy running alongside it - and Leadenhall Market, because here there were some cobblestones which made me worry for my foot. Amazingly, I didn't get a twinge of pain in the whole race. I think that, above a certain velocity, I tend to tread more on the outside of my foot and I'm fairly sure that the problem is around the big toe (the bunion).

My mental arithmetic is not that good at the best of times (in spite of a degree in Mathematics) so you can imagine how it is in the closing stages of a 10K race. The good thing about aiming for a time around 35 minutes is that you are thinking in terms of 3:30 splits. I knew that most of them were over the 3:34 splits I would need to get a personal best time - especially the 4th one - but I thought that I might still make it. So working backwards from a goal time of 36 minutes, I calculated that it was indeed still possible to get a sub 36 minute time. As I approached the finish line, I could see the time was some minutes and 40, 41, 42 seconds so I decided to sprint for the line - of course, the minutes were irrelevant because again, they applied to the championship runners. Had I realized that I had forgotten to "carry one" in my mental arithmetic and I was in fact "only" breaking 37 minutes, I perhaps wouldn't have bothered. In hindsight I'm glad I did, but it was disappointing to see the Garmin showing 36:50 instead of 35:50 as I had thought.

I've thought that a great feature for the GPS watches would be to "snap to the kilometer / mile markers". The idea would be that, if you press the lap button under this mode, the watch resets its GPS estimated distance to the nearest kilometer / mile. In this way, the GPS estimated speed and projected finish time would be quite accurate (assuming the kilometer markers were well placed!). Perhaps the GPS watch manufacturers would be reluctant to add this feature as it might seem tantamount to admitting that they are not actually that accurate. My watch estimated this 10K race to be 10.3 kilometers which is an unusually high error - this would equate to a 43.4 kilometer Marathon! The route traced out by my watch is indeed a bit "wobbly" - perhaps due to the cloud cover and the tall buildings in the city - but New York Marathon only came out at 42.5 kilometers by comparison. Also, when I traced the route out on Google Maps, it came out about 300m long and it is true that they changed it this year, to end in front of Buckingham Palace. It's tempting to think that this would neatly explain the extra minute but it's hard to believe that such a high profile race (that Mo Farah won last year!) would not be accurate to the millimeter.

At the finish line I saw my brother, my nephew and his Grandma - my brother's mother in-law (what does that make her to me? My aunty in-law?). I was wearing my spiderman t-shirt which my nephew thought looked more like an ant. I proudly showed him my medal, thinking that I would give it to him, but he didn't seem to be that impressed. I think he liked the one he had made on the HMS Belfast the day before.

So, what do I conclude from all this? I should probably do less running on the treadmill and more on the track, do a few longer runs and with hills, and probably cut down on the TV (which I obvously don't watch when I am running outside). In the end the same things that make training seem easier and more bearable probably make it less effective. There's probably a fundamental law of adaption in there somewhere which can be summed up by TNSTAASB: "There's No Such Thing As A Silver Bullet".

I'm going to get my foot checked out and maybe ease up a bit on the running for a bit (although, the Santander 5K race must be soon - the only realistic chance I have of getting on the podium these days). Searching for a silver lining to the cloud, I realized that at least I don't have to go as far as London to run my best times, I can just stick to local races. My idea of finding a less taxing (from a training point of view) substitute to the Marathon of specifically preparing and travelling to big 10K and Half Marathon races hasn't worked out as well as I would have hoped. As a friend said recently, after New York Marathon, nothing seems quite the same: in Europe people tend to only support their own whereas in the States, everyone is cheering for you. In the end, there are so many factors (wind, humidity, altitude, travel, illness, injury, hills, windy as in whine-dy route) that it makes more sense to just run more races, hoping for that lucky break, than to train so specifically for one. The Marathon is different in that you don't get add many shots at it. Quite how the professional runners can be so fast and so consistent amazes me.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Week 9 / 9

I think I've figured out what's going on with my foot (by the way, this is the other foot, not the one pictured below). It suddenly started giving me problems a few weeks ago. Here are the clues that have lead me to me conclusion:

- The pain only occurs when I tread in a particular way and seems to be in the end of my second, third or fourth toe but I am unable to reproduce it by squeezing them hard.
- Sometimes when I am running - especially at slower speeds - my toes start to feel numb
- I have a bunion (hallux valgus) on that foot which causes the big toe to bend inwards touching, but without overlapping the second toe
- (This is the big one.) I was able to reproduce the pain, finally, by pressing hard on the bottom of my foot, near the big toe, while letting the toe bend inwards

What do you reckon? To me, it looks like a trapped nerve. Searching on Google for "bunion trapped nerve" threw up enough results to make me think that my diagnosis is close to the mark. I suppose the good news (assuming I am right) is that I can safely run through the pain without worrying about a possible tendinitis or - as I had initially feared - a repeat of my stress fracture in that foot. I'm trying to find a podiatrist with a sufficiently open mind to running in Vibram Five Fingers (although I probably won't mention it!) who won't send me straight to surgery.

I also went for a massage today as my right calf muscle was starting to get a bit tight. I'm pretty sure that this is a result of treading defensively for fear of the foot pain.

In other news, my back (which was giving me grief before the Half Marathon in the Hague) is much better. Every day, the first thing I do when I get back home from work is lie on my back on my foam roller and I usually get a couple of very satisfying "clicks" if I haven't already clicked my back myself, by pressing my fists into the middle of my back. I think the exercises I have been doing as a result of the Functional Movement System are actually helping, so I'll probably go back soon to see whether I have improved and can move on to the next level.

Apart from the brief interruption due to my head cold, the training has gone pretty well I'd say. I have to confess I'm slightly worried that my progress on the treadmill won't translate directly into better race times on the road but I have most certainly been making strides on the treadmill (if you'll forgive the pun). For example, being able to run a sub 36 minute 10K with a 3% incline or 5 sets of 3 minutes at very nearly 3 minute per kilometer pace not to mention the split 10K (=1+3+2+3+1) at a pace of 3:25 with rests of only 1 minute... Ideally I would have liked to do more training outside in the real world but time commitments, general laziness, the high quality of TV series these days and the excitement of getting a new treadmill have made this difficult to achieve.

As for the race, it looks like it will be relatively cool if not a bit humid and, hopefully, it won't rain too much during the race itself. Tune back in on Monday to see how I got on: my aim is to improve my Personal Best time of 35:48...

Monday: 1K+3K+2K+3K+1K @ 3:25 w/ 1' rest
Tuesday. 40' @ 4:00
Wednesday: 10K (5' @ 3:30, 1' @ 5:00)
Thursday: 40' easy
Friday: -
Saturday: 20' @ 4:00

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Week 8 / 9

It's been a while since I posted a picture of my feet, so here goes:

The excuse this time is the reason why the fourth "pinky" is more pink than usual: actually the treadmill is to blame in a sort of roundabout way. We've been getting power cuts at the weekend - I suspect due to the increased demand going over our contractual limit - and this is what happened last Saturday. I went out to the street (in total darkness, of course) to press the green button to reset the circuit (had it been red, I would have hesitated) and, on the way, I tripped over one of the kids' scooters which was lying around. My toe still hurts a little a week later, so I think the swearing and throwing of said scooter were warranted in this case.

So, with two weeks to go before the race, I thought I would start my "caffeine fast". I very diligently went without my morning coffee but rather absent mindedly bought myself a red bull because I was feeling a little more sleepy than usual (I wonder why?). Oh well.

Other than the aforementioned slip-ups, the week has gone pretty smoothly and I ticked off three of the hardest workouts of the last couple of months of preparation. The first was my usual vVO2Max session, in which I came tantalisingly close to the target I set myself towards the end of last year: I did 5 sets of 3 minutes at 19,8 kph - very nearly 20 kph! But the hardest workout was undoubtably the sub 36 minute 10K (remember my best time is only 35:48) on the treadmill with an incline of 3%!  For future reference I should probably schedule this with a bit more recovery time before the race or at least have done a bit more hill work - my calf muscles are still complaining as I write this 3 days afterwards...

The final quality workout was a classic fartlek of 3 sets getting progressively slower. I like this workout because the fast running forces you to run as efficiently as possible and this, I believe, carries over to the "slower" running - which is still close to my race pace. It also simulates how running at that pace will feel towards the end of the race, running on tired legs. Lastly, there is a mental game where it the pace initially feels unsustainable even though. intellectually, you know it shouldn't be a problem. In short, it delivers different benefits from the typical progression run from slow to fast.

To round off the week, I set my iFit treadmill up to simulate the course of the Bupa London 10,000 with "hills" and everything. Apart from the fact I had to reload the webpage a couple of times mid-run and the annoying feature of my treadmill reducing the velocity on the downward inclines, it was a great way to familiarise myself with the course and the time went by surprisingly quickly.

Monday: -
Tuesday: 5 x (3' @ 3:02, 3' @ 6:00)
Wednesday: 40' @ 4:00
Thursday: 10K in 35:58 w/ 3% incline
Friday: -
Saturday: 30' @ 4:27 (morning), 3 x 200-600-1,000 w/ 200 @ 3:00, 600 @ 3:10, 1,000 @ 3:40 and 3' rest between sets (evening)
Sunday: 10K run over Bupa London 10,000 course

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Week 7 / 9

After last weeks hiccough (cough being the operative word), I am back. I can't remember the last time I had 3 whole consecutive days off but, needless to say, my usual 40' run at 4:00 felt like a breeze in spite of the lingering cough. The idea is to give it a final blast out of my lungs now that it is on the way out at last. I did the run on my brand new treadmill, but getting it to work was nowhere near as easy as it should have been...

I rang Decathlon - from where I had bought the treadmill (a Nordictrack T20.0 for 1,700 € which was about 300 € less than other places were charging) - and they said that, as the treadmill had already been delivered and assembled, the delivery guys were not covered by the insurance to go back and finish off what they had started, thus passing the buck to the post-sales service department. I rang the service number (which is either entirely populated by Romanians as far as I could tell or indeed physically located in Romania). I have nothing against Romanians, of course, but compared to the people who serviced my last treadmill (out of the guarantee period) who were based near to my house, the chances of getting a technician to visit are much slimmer. To my surprise they basically told me that I had to fix it myself by referring to page 26 of the manual: as it was described in the "troubleshooting" section, it was considered to be part of the everyday maintenance and as such would not void the warranty!

This turned out to be a great deal more fiddly (and slightly dangerous) a task than I think is reasonable to expect a retail customer to perform. Getting the hood off the motor was reasonably straightforward (although it was a bugger to put it back on again, as the screws kept falling into the hood, meaning I had to keep taking it off again). The speed sensor is a little reed switch which is activated by a tiny rotating magnet on the roller which drives the belt. If the reed switch is too far away from the magnet, then (obviously) no speed is measured; if it is too close, then the speed measurement is erratic, which is what I had been seeing. Strictly speaking, this adjustment should be done with the power cord unplugged as it is quite possible to get an electric shock or a burn with the hood off, but the correct positioning of the reed switch was so utterly sensitive that the only way to do it was while the belt was running and someone else was reading the display. Anyway, once I had found the sweet spot, the good news was that I was able to check the programmed speed against its measured speed against my estimation based on counting the number of revolutions of the 315 cm long belt, and found very good agreement between all three. Not only that but, unlike my previous treadmill, the top speed of 22 kph was achieved so I no longer need to add extra speed to compensate for a slow running treadmill. Having said that, I would have expected a slightly more robust measurement system for the price.

Anyway, the moral of the story for anyone thinking of investing in a home treadmill is to not let the guys who install it leave until you have run the calibration function (hold "stop" and "increase speed" while you insert the key) and tested all the features. Unless, of course, you are brave enough or experienced enough to put it together yourself (Decathlon only charged me 15 € for this and 15 € to dispose of the old one, which I think is a bargain). Mine still has a problem with the hand sensors which mean that it constantly displays an erratic heart rate, even if I wear the Polar heart rate band that came with the machine. I expect I'll have to fiddle about with the console but in the meantime I am seeing whether I can get my revenge by forcing the customer service to send me a technician: unlike the the problem with the speed sensor, this one isn't mentioned in the troubleshooting section!

Anyway, the great news for me is that I can now do all of my training at home if I so desire, now that I have a treadmill that goes fast enough. So when it came to my vVO2Max session, my chesty cold was still just there enough to take the edge off my performance and I struggled a little at lunchtime to do just 2 of the 5 three minute sets (now at 19,6 kph). I decided to do the last three in the comfort of my own home, with my three(!) fans (one is built in to the treadmill) all on full throttle. This proved to be a good choice because my cough was slightly better by that point and I found it just the right amount of "challenging" to finish the workout. It's not the same to break the workout in the middle, but I learnt enough to know that I can manage to complete it at that speed and perhaps even nudge it up again a little next week.

I also got an iFit module for the treadmill which, in spite of very negative reviews lingering on the internet from a time when it didn't work very well, I got it up and running with absolutely no problems at all. This little device allows you to program workouts based on speed or distance and have them downloaded to your machine. It also logs any runs you do, complete with heart rate information and any manual changes of incline or speed. But the coolest (if not a bit gimmicky) thing is that you can design a route on Google Maps and the treadmill will automatically adjust the incline in real time to match the terrain, all the while showing you stills from Google Street View: I can now run around New York from the comfort of my own home (which is exactly what I did on Friday). OK, its not quite that good, but the time did pass surprisingly quickly and it could be useful for getting an idea of the Behobia - San Sebastian course, which is quite hilly, when I start preparing for that after the summer. The only problem is that, for some reason, the treadmill limits the speed when the incline is negative ("decine"?) - I suppose this is a "safety" feature but it is a bit of a shame because I was hoping to do over-speed sessions by running on a slight downward gradient at 22 kph, for example. I set my wife up for a run around Bali, where we are going for our summer holidays, but unfortunately Google Street View hadn't got there yet so she got a rather boring blank screen, and I set it up a little badly, so that the treadmill stopped very abruptly when she got to the end of the route, giving her a bit of a shock. I've also used it to program my "fartlek" sessions, like the one I did on Thursday evening. I quite like being able to program the whole week in advance so that I don't even have to consult my training plan - I just get on the machine and it automatically downloads the workout of the day. This is not going to help me break my treadmill habit! The only downside is that it is a subscription service (the first year comes free with the module). I guess I will have got bored of it by the time it comes to renewing but, in the meantime, I have downloaded the top Marathon courses from around the world...

Monday: 40' @ 4:00
Tuesday: 2 x (3' @ 3:04, 3' @ 6:00) (lunch), 3 x (3' @ 3:04, 3' @ 6:00) (evening)
Wednesday: 40' @ 4:00
Thursday: 2 x 200-600-1,000 + 200-600 w/ 200 @ 3:00, 600 @ 3:10, 1,000 @ 3:40 and 3' rest between sets
Friday: 43' @ 4:00 with some hills (virtual NY!)
Saturday: 1K+3K+2K+3K+1K @ 3:25 w/ 1' jog
Sunday: 40' @ 4:00

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vibram to pay out $3.75 MM for claims

While there are many much more upsetting items in the news, this one does piss me off: Vibram have bowed to the pressure to pay out for the claims that wearing their Five Fingers would strengthen muscles and prevent injury. Lots of crap advertised on late night informercials make the same claims and I don't see anyone being taken to court over it, but it seems that a lot of people must be going to the doctor with stress fractures in their feet as a result of wearing them.

Either that or it is as a result of this piece of "research" in which 19 experienced runners "gradually" transitioned to Vibram Five Fingers over a period of 10 weeks. To qualify as an "experienced runner" the subjects had to have maintained an average of 15-20 miles per week for at least 6 months prior. The protocol involved running 1-2 miles extra each week of their existing mileage in Vibram Five Fingers. This is by no means a gradual transition: it takes many months (I'd say at least 6) for the bones and tendons to adapt to the change in stresses. I should know - I got a stress fracture the first time I started using them 5 years ago - the difference is, I never thought of blaming the shoe, let alone the shoe manufacturer. It was my bad.

Unfortunately, it turns out that this rather optimistic transition protocol was taken from Vibram's very own website (since changed). So, in this regard, it possibly invalidates their defense. But it still makes me mad that a minority of people who seem unable to take responsibility for their own actions and who perhaps expect fitness to be delivered by some kind of magic bullet, have enough of a lobby to slow down advances in what I believe is the right direction. As I said on the radio program I was on recently, I think that Nike did a great job in enabling millions of people to get off the couch and start jogging without any special physical preparation, but there comes a point when all the cushioning and support becomes more of a crutch and creates a dependency. An oft cited statistic is that 70%(!) of runners suffer from a running related injury every year, something that hasn't improved in spite of all the enhancements in shoe technology over the last 40 years. How can this be? It is very difficult to prove scientifically, but one line of thinking is that the dependency engenders weakness and propensity to injury. Now that running is enjoyed by such a large number of people - precisely thanks to the boom helped by Nike - I believe we should continue to have a wide selection of running shoes to accommodate everyone from the ex-couch potato to the competitive runner. If you don't like my shoes then don't buy them (or sue them for that matter)!

Talking of impact forces, I realized something which is quite surprising when you stop to think about it. In 6 months of running on my treadmill I have broken through the thick board over which the belt moves. Physics tells us that for every action there is a reaction, so the very same pounding that broke the board the bones in my feet must have had to tolerate. Of course, the difference between a board and my feet is that my feet are a living thing which is capable of self-repair while the board is not (at least, not on the model of treadmill that I could afford). The question is, can your feet fix themselves more quickly than you can break them? Evidently they can if you train for it. One thing I would agree with is that running badly with Vibram Five Fingers is probably worse than running badly in "normal" running shoes - and this is exactly why normal running shoes tend to encourage you to run badly.

Here is a better article on the subject of the court case.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

La Behobia - San Sebastián

La Behobia is probably the most popular of popular races in Spain, losing out only on numbers (30,000) to the San Silvestre Vallecana (40,000) which is run in Madrid on New Year's Eve but - allegedly - not in terms of atmosphere. And that is exactly why I am so keen to run it this year in spite of it being a non-standard distance (20 km) with "annoying hills". Having previously run the San Sebastián Half Marathon and full Marathon, I have already had a taste of the basque enthusiasm and hospitality.

The pre-registration opened today at 12 am at which point I hit "refresh" on my internet browser and was met with the unsurprising but slightly discouraging message

After persisting for a few minutes, I finally managed to get through and I now have a place reserved for which I must remember to pay (40 €!) next week.

The race itself is on the 9th of November which is one of the main reasons I haven't signed up for it for the last couple of years, as it was too close for comfort to the New York Marathon (although I do know people who did both). The last and only time I had put myself down to run it was in 2009, the year that I broke my foot: at the time it was still in plaster so I had to content myself with the t-shirt "been there but haven't done that".

It turns out that there are some changes planned to the course this year. Apart from rounding up from 19,780 to exactly 20 km (why?), it seems as though some of the hills will be slightly moderated although that remains to be seen once the profile has been published. I hadn't realized before but apparently some people race it on roller skates - not sure how they manage the hills! I've done my best to trace the new course based on a video the organizers have uploaded to the website: I get slightly more than 20 kilometers so I may have made a mistake, but this should be good enough to get an idea of the profile of the course and to compare with previous editions.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Week 6 / 9

One of those "niggling little problems" that I mentioned last week did in fact become a stopper: my cold developed into a full blown chest cold with a temperature as a bonus. I got so desperate, in fact, that I tried at my wife's suggestion some Oscilococcinum which, after reading its entry in Wikipedia, makes homeopathy seem quite mainstream and scientific. I was assured that it would make my symptoms improve more quickly than if I were not to have taken it, so I can't really say whether it worked or not. Either way, I spent the whole bank holiday weekend coughing and managing my temperature with paracetamol or ibuprofen. In fact, the only people in my family to escape illness have been my youngest son and my wife: even the dog was cough-barking and was put on antibiotics. Since I started running again, I have been much less susceptible to colds and so forth, so it has been a bit unlucky to have had this right on the heels of the cold I had just after the Half Marathon. (On the other hand, it could have come just before the race I am preparing for, so let's be happy for small mercies.)

Amazingly I was able to do a fairly tough workout on Thursday but that was possibly the straw to break the donkey's back as it was only a few hours after that, that my temperature started to climb. Still, I did manage to improve slightly on my previous week's effort and ran my 5 sets of 3 minutes at a slightly faster pace of 3:06 (19.4 kph). I'm gradually easing closer to the 20 kph mark! By Friday, it was clear that the best policy was not to train at all. The "neck test" says that if the symptoms are below the neck (that is to say, in the lungs) then training is a no-no.

I had planned to run a 10K race on Sunday but that was looking even more unlikely as the week wore on. I did, however, get my fantastic new treadmill (a Nordictrack T20.0) on Saturday. The delivery guys did an amazing job of extracting my old treadmill, which they were unable to completely disassemble as the bolts had rusted up so much (with my sweat). Running felt so easy on it. Too easy, in fact - so I calibrated it. It turns out that it has some fault as the speed sensor is very erratic. This was obvious when I pulled up the calibration screen - the "actual speed" was fluctuating all over the shop. Compared to the good old-fashioned technique of counting the number of times a mark on the belt goes by in a minute, the belt was sometimes as much as 3 kph too slow or 1 kph too fast. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to fix but I'm a bit concerned that it has to do with the dodgy wiring in my house which adds to excitement of loading the dish-washer by giving a mild electric shock if you happen to be barefoot, for example. As I have complained before on this blog, I've had electric shocks from various household appliances in all of the three houses I have lived in in Spain. While I may be unusual in that I go round in bare feet most of the time, I would have thought that earthing would be fairly standard in new houses by now.

So, if truth be told, I am a little frustrated right now. As my wife keeps telling me, its not a big deal - and she is right - but it is amazing how quickly you can lose perspective after just three days off training in a row!

Monday: -
Tuesday: 5 x (3' @ 3:06, 3' @ 6:00)
Wednesday: 40' @ 4:00
Thursday: 1K+3K+2K+3K+1K @ 3:25 w/ 1' jog
Friday: nuthin'
Saturday: zilch
Sunday: nada