Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Better and better...

Having given my calf 3 days off I decided to see how it was today - if only to give the doctor something to look at tonight.  Went out at lunchtime as we had some diary movement and ran half a mile up to the canal nice and slow then sped up to my new MP of 7:20ish for 5 miles.  HR was very steady away at 140 or less, and the pace felt very gentle.  Half a mile of warm-down back to work saw me do 6 miles in 44 mins with an average HR of 136.

My legs were stiff - but this time it was in both legs and a result of running further and harder than for ages at the weekend.  My hurty calf hardly entered the equation.  Both achilles were a bit tight, so I'll have to keep an eye on that, but overall it felt much more like I'm on the mend.

Went to see the GP about getting a referral to Martyn tonight, but he said as it seems to be on the mend more physio may be better, so in the end I'm going back to see John Fizzy for a couple more sessions before and after Blackpool.

So - assuming all goes ok I think I'll be disappointed not to be in sub-3 shape, as I certainly was going that way 6 weeks ago, but very relieved and grateful to be coming to the end of this injury in time to hopefully enjoy a comfortable 3:15 or less at Blackpool.  I did play around with what the time would have to be to allow me to speed up and still chase sub-3.  I think if we go through half way in the low 1:30's (which we shouldn't unless conditions are absolutely perfect - 1:32 is 7 min pace, and we're aiming for 15 secs slower than that) then I might see how I feel at 16 and 20 and then maybe decide to throw the kitchen sink at it, but to be honest I'd rather cruise through half way in 1:35 and then run a 1:30 second half with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

No running but a lot of meat

Never intended to run much early this week as I had to go to London yesterday which involved the Eating of Meat at Bodeans in Soho.  You just know what you're getting when a menu says "barbecue beans - contains meat".  So Hinsley and I ate a lot of meat then drank a bit of beer.

I saw the physio yesterday and he was happy with the way my leg had recovered from 17 fairly hard, hilly miles, so a bit of friction, some ultrasound and a bit of heat and my 6 sessions were done.  Going to get a referral back to John  from the GP tomorrow though - not sure I need to go to Martyn.

My calf feels pretty good now, so I think I'll take it out for a few miles tomorrow and see how it reacts - but given how easy 7:20 felt on a hilly course on Saturday I'm becoming quietly optimistic that I should be able to hold that pace a week Sunday even if I don't run much in between now and then - although of course after 20 miles it might all feel very different!

We'll see, and with a contingent of Harriers coming over to provide energy drinks and support it should be a good day out of nothing else.  One of my RW forum chums, Scooby Dudek, may be running with me - another runner targeting 3:10 would be great, if only for stopping me going off too quick.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bliddy Heck!

After the depression/resignation of Friday I contemplated sacking the Coniston 14+ (so called because it's longer than 14 miles...) and cycling over to the Lakes instead.  However a brisk westerly breeze put paid to that idea, as the thought of flogging up numerous hills into the wind was even more depressing than the thought of not running Coniston.

So more in hope than expectation I packed my stuff, including my number and timing chip and set off westwards, thinking that at least I'd get a few beers in Ulverston to drown my sorrows.  My calf was feeling a lot better, which suggests that 24 hours rest does it good, but even so I was expecting the tightness to return as soon as I started the warm-up.  Once I'd arrived at the school field, I did a few strides on the grass and felt...not a sausage.  Convinced that this was some kind of con-trick by my devious calf I decided to trap it into a reaction by running down the road for a wee (note to readers - one of the key skills of the experienced runner is to know where the Secret Toilets are - there's some at every race.  In this case they're down the road at the Bluebird Caff car park).

Still no reaction.  Very odd.  By this time Hinsley had arrived belching Cumberland Sausage from every orifice having just troughed a large breakfast, so once I'd given him directions to the Secret Toilets I thought I'd better get ready to race.  Number on, chip attached and race plan negotiated with Hinsley - 7:20 pace (which is 3:15 MP) to 14 miles then we'd see how we felt.

We started from way further back than we normally would, and the first mile was uphill and gentle at about 7:50.  No reaction from the calf, and breathing easy.  We held this pace for the first 9 miles, and it was really enjoyable - easy running, chatting away, enjoying the jelly babies a nice lady gave us near Lowick.  During mile 9 Rich started to slow a bit, as he's a bit short of mileage, so after giving him a gel to keep him going I pushed on, somewhere around the 10 1/2 mile mark.  I didn't want to overdo it, but I soon found myself running at about 6:40 pace and still feeling ok - and of course the joy of this sort of race strategy is you pass dozens and dozens of people.

I'm afraid I even descended into some sort of twat-persona near Brantwood where a guy shouted "Looking strong, Ilkley!" and I replied with "Feelin' gooood!".  I don't know what got into me...

I'm glad I was "feelin' goood" because the organisers had kindly put a sign saying "Normal Finish" at around the 14 mile mark, which is the running equivalent of Jim Bowen's "Look what you could have won" on Bullseye - Hinsley admitted to being a tad irritated by it, particularly as a glance to the left at that point meant you could see the finish across the other side of the lake.

Anyway, I was miling at something 6:40 or quicker, apart from the pull up past Thurston and Low Bank Ground where it dropped to just over 7, but then I managed a 6:10 on the descent.  I definitely started to feel the lack of training in the last mile or so, but I held the pace to finish in 1:59:15 on the chip, 30 seconds slower on the gun.

Having got home today I checked out the photos taken by Mick Hall, and as expected I look something of a nob with one of my compression socks up and one down, but I do look to be enjoying myself:

Very, very pleased to have got round, to have broken 2 hours and particularly with how easy 7:20 pace felt - I think 3:15 might well be a goer.  My calf was sore last night after the race but it's calmed right down again today, so some heavy-duty anti-inflamms from the GP on Wednesday when I go to get my referral to Martyn, a bit of a rub down from John Fizzy tomorrow and a few days of taking it easy should hopefully see me in decent nick in a fortnight.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The night before the end?

My calf's tight again today, not unexpectedly - what is a bit unexpected is I think it's a bit swollen.  The plan for tomorrow is to drive over to Coniston and do the warm up, but if it hurts during the warm up I'm not going to run.  I've booked into see Martyn Speight the Muscular-Skeletal Specialist to get a proper diagnosis, as I don't want this to be with me forever.  Need a referral so seeing the GP on Wednesday then Martyn on 8th April.

To be honest I think deep down I know that I'm unlikely to be running tomorrow.  If I don't then I'll simply stay off running completely til it feels fixed or I've been to see the sports doc (which isn't til after easter).  Probably means Blackpool's off the agenda too, although if I'm fettled by then I might just turn up and run it and see how I go - although having hardly run for 4 weeks and it still not being right I'm not sure whether another couple of weeks will make any difference.

It's actually quite cathartic thinking "that's it, buggered" - don't need to worry about doing a marathon off a disrupted build up - just that all those long runs were a bit of a waste!

I'd rather miss Blackpool and enjoy Mallorca then feel ok for the John Carrs, Leeds Half and the EDD etc.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

And another one...

Woke up with my calf feeling fine again, so whatever happens to it when i run seems to recover fairly quickly, so I took my stuff into work for another steady run.  Went out at lunchtime and did 4 miles.

My calf was fairly tight from about half way, and got tighter as the run went on, but the tightness is definitely not where the injury occurred, and stretching seems to ease it.

Plan is therefore to ice it and stretch it like a good 'un, then no running tomorrow (will try and get a few miles in on the bike as I'm off work) then hopefully be ok for Coniston on Saturday.

The run today was steady at roughly 7:40 pace, which still feels nice and easy - so I think my strategy will be to use the next 2 weeks as a chance to get as much recovery into my calf as I can before trying to run Blackpool at about 7:20 a mile - which would be a comfortable 3:15. 

As the people organising Blackpool have let it be known they won't (as advertised) be providing Lucozade every 6 miles, but instead in cups (almost useless) at half way.  This is sadly becoming a bit of a feature of these particular organisers - no race permit (which can give concerns about course accuracy - their course was short in 2008), lack of detail about the course itself and now this.  Think this may be the last Blackpool race for me.  However as far as fuelling goes we have a solution - Ilkley Harriers are taking a bus over which means a bunch of supporters, so I'll take my bottle belt with nice Powerbar drink in and swap bottles at half way - that'll give me a litre of nice drink rather than yukky lucozade.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Comeback #2 - slowly but surely...

John Fizzy again today, and he didn't seem terribly surprised that my calf was stiff after Monday's exertions, so much to my surprise he didn't say "told you so!" and ban me from running for another fortnight.  He gave me some massage and my calf a bit of hammer - when he pushed his knuckle right in there's still a tender bit, but it's getting ever more localised and harder to hurt - so things are on the mend.

He also gave me clearance to run again today, so after work I went off on my own up to the canal again.  It was much busier, which I s'pose is to be expected as the evenings get lighter, and after a mile or so I found myself pain free and moving at about 7:25 pace.  I pushed on a wee bit (nothing silly, y'understand) and ran a 7:24 and a 7:17.  The only niggles were further up in my laft calf, and nowhere near the injury, so then I knocked out a 6:50 (my old MP - ah, the nostalgia...) and a 7:03 before slowing right down for the last mile.  In the end 6 miles at an average of 7:19 - respectable, certainly.

If I'm honest by the time I finished the calf was quite tight where the injury was, but nothing too serious, and as I type now it's just a bit achy.

So - John seems to think this is expected, so I'll just have to ease back in - hopefully a steady run at Coniston on Saturday will qualify as "easing back in", then I'll see John again Monday to get any niggles ironed out.

Ive decided not to push my luch, so if I get through Coniston ok that'll be it for longer runs - little and often with a bike ride or two for a bit of stamina.

I'm feeling about 7/10 about the 3:15 - the speedier miles tonight didn't feel hard at all (HR averaged 137 and was around 145 for the pacier bits).

Still - we'll see!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Really not sure what to think about my calf today (sorry if I'm sounding obsessed, but I am a bit) - slept with a compression sock on last night and whilst the lower bit of my calf was fine this morning it now seems quite tight higher up - perhaps a bit of DOMS from the first run for ages yesterday?  Maybe.

To be on the safe side, and to take advantage of the best day of weather of the week I decided to bike in today and leave the running til tomorrow after more consultation and beard stroking from John the fizzy (who doesn't have a beard).  We went in fairly hard and I managed to drop l'Herb on the stretch from Snaygill to Cross Hills which is always a sign I'm going ok.  Not our quickest ride in but memorable for two reasons - it was my first commute of the year without a jacket on (arm/leg warmers and lifa top under my jersey, but still almost springlike gear) and l'Herb being in shorts (and being very, very cold...).

As I arrived at work Linz happened to drop into the conversation that it had forecast rain later - not according to bloody Look North it hadn't, so not only had I not worn a jacket, I hadn't brought one either.  Sure as eggs is eggs, at about 4:30 it started to drizzle stubbornly as the sky darkened.  And then to put the tin lid on it K asked me to rush home as she had college - so it was the valley route home as well.  Yuk.

I was on my own due to Herb doing late afternoon pointy head things so I got my head down and hammered home, and was surprised to see I got home slightly quicker than I went in this morning - unheard of.  Average speed coming home was almost 19mph, which is way faster than usual, so at least something's working ok.  I got bloody drenched of course...

My calf's quite stiff, but the injury site seems pain free - if I can get round Coniston ok on Saturday then I may even pack the running in til Blackpool and take my chances on having retained enough gas to get 3:15 - but if Blackpool's not a goer then I think I've decided that Abingdon will be the target as I'm not convinced another couple of weeks would be long enough to get back to full training so Chester would be off the agenda (especially given the amount of cycling I'm going to have to do to survive the Etape).

Monday, 22 March 2010

Comeback run...or is it?

John Fizzy again this morning, where he attempted to make my calf hurt through a variety of fiendish practices, including having me hopping up and down a karrimat, doing heel drops off the edge of a vibrating table and then running at 12kph (I know it's not very fast but it felt it) - no pain.  He passed me "fit to run" - so run I did, at lunchtime.

Good news:  it felt fine, and the middle two miles of our four were at about 7:20 pace and it felt easy peasy - HR down at 125-130, easy breathing, legs felt fine.

Bad news:  it started to feel stiff towards the end and four hours later my achilles and calf feels definitely tight - not painful, and hopping etc doesn't make it worse, so I'm hoping against hope this is just a reaction to running again after four weeks off - but to be honest I'm not sure if it is.  I may try again tomorrow or I may give it another day - but I think I have to try again by Wednesday (when I'm seeing John again).  If I can come throught that and manage Coniston without conking out then I think 3:15 is definitely a goer - I may even be tempted not to run much (if at all) between now and Coniston as biking and the mileage I have done seems to be maintaining my fitness (despite the 6lbs I seem to have put on) - but if not then I think I'll just have to leave marathon training til at least the autumn or maybe even take a chance on the ballot or a club place for next year's London.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Nearly there (hopefully)

In just over 24 hours I should, with any luck, be stepping out of the building at work to run 8 or 10 miles along the canal - and I've no idea how horrid it's likely to be.

No pain from my calf at all, and no amount of hopping, heel raising or poking about can glean any kind of pain from it.  There's a wee bit of tenderness where John and his trainee torturer have bruised it a bit, but I reckon tomorrow's the day.

By way of a farewell I got out with Rick on the bike today - met up at Gargrave then headed up to Airton and over the top to Settle.  This is one looooong hill, but never too steep.  Then it was off up Ribblesdale to Stainforth and something rather meatier - the road over to Littondale.  This is very steep at the bottom, and had me thinking about a few weeks' time when we'll be hitting this after 90 miles of the Etape du Dales.  Blimey...

I coped fairly well today, as did Rick, who's getting a lot fitter these days (for an old bloke).  We paused at the top of the road over Malham Moor to consider whether to cut over that way, but as the sun had come out we decided that a full loop was in order.  Caps were removed and buffs pocketed as the weather had started to feel decidedly springy.  Pen y Gent looked fabulous with the last remaining snow patches hanging on tenaciously, but the warmth we could feel from the sun suggested they won't be there for much longer.

As we came over the top the view of Littondale stretching out to the east caused the usual exclamations of appreciation, and then the swooping descent with assorted potholes drew exclamations of a more terrified nature!

The ride down Littondale with a helpful tailwind (does it ever blow out of the east up there?) passed enjoyably, then apart from the horrid road past the quarry near Linton the remainder of the trip was a pleasant mixture of fast riding and putting the world to rights.

Back to Gargrave for tea and medals at the caff, and a most enjoyable 42 miles and 2,800' ascent.  Ready for running tomorrow though - especially as it appears Hinsley needs his mentor back, having run a pretty (for him) average Bradford 10k today.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Abject disobedience

Went to see John Fizzy today.  He took me in the gym and did all sorts of things on vibrating tables and trampettes to try and make my calf hurt, and failed miserably.  I also did lots of stretching but when he put me on my front and had a real dig around he eventually found a tiny sore spot - so his advice is no running til next week, although we're nearly there.

This is driving me mental - I can't make it hurt by hopping, clumping downstairs or any of the things that usually show up an injury - so when I got home I decided to take it for a run.  In my jeans and a fleece, trainers on and along the Halton East road for half a mile out and back - and I don't think I'm kidding myself when I say I absolutely can't feel a thing.  As you can see from the exciting graph above I did my mile in just over 7 minutes, which is a healthy pace, but not sure whether I'll be up to doing 26 of them at that speed in just over 3 weeks, but we can but try.

So - I'll not try again til the weekend but depending on hangover on Saturday I might do 4 miles slowly and see if there's any reaction, and then on Monday John's putting me on his tready for a go, then back to see him again Wednesday to see if there's been any reaction.  Plan is to do 8 or 10 miles Monday evening with Hinsley, so if I get through that unscathed I think we're back in the saddle!

Don't thik I'll 'fess up to John I've tried it, but I've just had another little hop on my toes and there is absolutely nothing there - so an easy few more days and then hopefully back to something worthy of the name of "training".

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Spring has sprung

 At least that's how it felt as I crept out of the house at 7:25 this morning to ride to work - still long pants and long fingered gloves, but without that bitter feel that clouds your breath and makes it extra hard to get your legs moving.  A brisk ride in with minimal chatting at an average of 18.5mph (not the heady days of 20mph+ average, but that's on a summer bike, in summer clothes in the...erm...summer).  Definitely respectable, and felt pretty strong considering that's 80-odd miles in 4 days.

The ride home was a solo effort as K had college to go to (needless to say as I type this I've been home for 45mins and she's not bloody left yet) and l'Herb had a late pointy-head meeting.  Came home the lumpy way, and as usual when on my own pushed it quite hard - big ring all the way (which was tougher than I remember it) but kept the average speed nicely up and never felt like I was going to bottle it and drop it into the small ring.

The lumpy way home - around 1700' of climbing in 13m - it's no wonder I'm knackered!

I hit the top of the moor above Draughton in just on 40mins, which is always my bellweather for a decent time, and after a bit of an effort on Low Lane got home in a tiny bit over 54mins.  Not my quickest (that honour goes to a ride home when I was mid-WRC build-up last year in 50:20), and a check on Rubitrack shows that I was slower by a mile or two per hour on every mile, but to be within 4mins of a time I did when I was massively bike-fit, in summer gear on my summer bike is pleasing - maybe I'm not losing too much fitness.

Had a wee debate on RW today as someone warned me against running again too soon - if I'm honest there is just the tiniest bit of tightness if I hop on my left leg for a while, which suggests there's something there - so do I leave it another week and hope cycling's going to see me ok?  In extremis, do I leave it right up to M-Day and risk trying to run 3:15 off no running for 7 weeks?

Seeing John Fizzy tomorrow and Thursday so I'm hoping he'll be able to feel the difference and give me his blessing to give it a go - I'm desperate to run but also desperate not to start too soon if another few days would mean it's fully healed.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Fickle? Me?

Another change to the plan - the logistics of running Edinburgh with accommodation etc are just too much, so I've said "Thanks, but no thanks" to the kind offer.  Instead I've put in a "back-up" entry for Chester Marathon on 31 May - reason being it's close enough to go for the day and it's another week and a bit later than Embra (so giving me 7 weeks after Blackpool if required).

I'm hoping not to need it - if I can get my 3:15 at Blackpool then the sub-3 plan will shift to VLM next year, but if I have a near miss at Blackpool then I can get 3 or 4 more 20's in and lots of midweek MP stuff and give it a bash at Chester.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Decisions, decisions...

Got an email tonight offering me a place in Edinburgh marathon on 23 May.  I really can't decide what to do - it'd give me another 6 weeks to get ready, so if I had another fortnight off I could theoretically do 4 more long runs and have a decent taper.  However if I can run Blackpool and can run 3:15 then that's the marathon thing done for this year and I can get on with riding my bike and running shorter races.

If I were to swap over to Edinburgh it'd mean dropping out of the Etape du Dales and probably not racing Leeds Half or the John Carr races - but of course it would mean I'd be more like to run sub-3 than I am at Blackpool.

The real dilemma is not knowing what shape I'll be in and I won't know that until I'm able to start running again - which if it's another 10 days won't give me long to find out.  It'd be frustrating to throw my eggs in the Edinburgh basket only to find I knock out a 20 miler in sub-2:30 the same weekend, but it'd be equally maddening to go for Blackpool and run 3:20 - although I guess at a push I could still do Edinburgh.

I think that's the plan - keep pushing on for Blackpool but keep Edinburgh in reserve in case of accidents - and of course I've still got my Abingdon entry!!

Running? What's that?

Actually, the title of this entry is to make myself feel better about the fact I'm desperate to get back on my feet, and get inexplicably angry with anyone I see out for a run!  However - we should be grateful for what we have, and what I have is the good fortune to live in an amazing place to do bikey and runny things.  As runny things are off the agenda for another week (pleeeeease  only another week!) I did another bikey thing today.  Angry and the Gym-Bunny were absent, but Wood trecked over to Embsayville and l'Herb managed an afternoon out of his busy mothers' day schedule.

We set off, as one usually does, over Halton Heights, which gets the blood pumping right from the start and headed via Appletreewick and Hebden to Grassington.  There were signs of a stiffish westerly blowing, and with the route we had planned there was going to be some tough conditions.  Nevertheless the sun was out and the roads were quiet, and the Dales looked stunning with patches of snow still in evidence higher up.

Sure enough as we turned up Littondale the wind hit us full in the face and it became a real effort to keep our speed up.  As I'm still using these rides as a replacement for running I worked hard to keep going and found myself out on my own a few times.  Herb was suffering with his back quite badly, and wasn't able to do his usual stint at the front - still, from looking at my HR stats I'll have done myself some good.

We turned left in Arncliffe to climb over to Malham, a climb I've not ridden for a few years and not at all since I got a bit fitter - I remember it as an absolute monster when ridden on a triple, so doing battle with a compact double would be interesting.

In the event it wasn't all that savage, but it does keep at you, with a longer steep section than many Dales climbs.  I took the opportunity to grab a rest and photo at the top of the steepest bit!

These pictures probably don't quite capture how steep it felt, but they do show what a spectacularly beautiful place Littondale is - we're very blessed to be able to set off from our front door and cycle in a place like this.

About half way up the climb the road drops ridiculously steeply to a farm and then climbs again more gently for about three miles to eventually come out at the top of Malham Moor.  We then descended into Malham via the cove road, and as usual my thoughts went back to the hilarious sight of Vic sliding underneath a five-bar gate as he overcooked the sharp left-hander half way down.  We all made it down unscathed and grabbed a brew before the wind helped us on the way across to Rylstone.

A blast back down the Grassington road and a nip down Brackenley Lane saw us home with 40m under our wheels in a very respectable average of 14mph - something around 3,700' of ascent.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Lumpy and bumpy

In the absence of a clearance to run from John the Fizzy yesterday a ride with l'Herb and the Harrowgays (Angry, Wood and Jacko) was arranged.  As K and Mrs Herb were booked for a day of musicals and beer in Leeds we had to be back early, so the team assembled in Otley at 8am for a short but hilly circuit of Ilkley Moor dubbed the Tour de Rombalds.

Along the Askwith road to Ilkley into a freshish breeze was an opportunity for the us to assess each other's fitness before the road headed upwards.  We all seemed to be in similar shape, but l'Herb has been bike commuting 3 times a week and Jackson has been poncing about at spin classes so we could have had a couple of dark horses there.

We turned off towards Addingham Moorside and as usual "The Yoyo" Anson screamed past everyone at the bottom of the climb.  Also as usual he slowed down fairly quickly and eventually it was the Herb leading us out up the steady ascent.  I managed to catch his wheel after a bit of an effort towards the top, with Gym-Bunny Jackson a few yards behind.  Wood was next and predictably, following his early efforts, Angry was some distance back.

The drop down into Silsden was fast and bumpy, and all the while we were looking leftwards towards the "Murder Mile" as the climb back up onto the moor is known.  This is a bit of a beast - not quite as steep as Park Rash but not far off on the vicious hairpin half way up.  The Gym-Bunny took the lead up here, and again I managed to grab the wheel and hang on within a few yards of him.  Herb suffers a bit on these very steep climbs as his winter bike has a triple which leaves him spinning away as we grind it out, so when the summer bike reappears there may be a change of performance.  Once again Angry (getting angrier by the minute) was last over the top.

We then dropped into East Morton for our last big climb, a hill I've never ridden up but have wondered how gnarly it is as I've driven up it (and also as I've sat in meetings at work as our board rom gives a very good view of cars and vans crawling up the steep part).  A very steep section just out of the village leads to a steadier but still tough section.  I came past Jacko at the bottom and stayed just in front with him on my wheel to the top - I think two seconds and a first place probably just gave me the polka dot jersey for the day.

A wind assisted whizz along the moor road led to decision time - the original plan had been to drop into Menston and finish by skirting along the Chevin.  In the end we headed round the moor to Burley Woodhead and dropped down in to Burley down a brilliant straight, smooth descent, where all of us probably topped 40mph.  The ride back to Otley was uneventful for Wood and I, as the time trial specialists hared off along the main road.  "Hared" being apposite, as I pootled along in a tortoise like fashion, then turned off along the old road into Otley and emerged in front of the speedy boys, as did Wood who had followed me.

Unbeknown to me Wood had raised an inflammatory fist as he came out in front of the lads, which proved too much for the Gym-Bunny to bear, who hammered down even more power as he came round the bend.  Unfortunately this blast of adrenalin-fuelled acceleration exceeded the adhesive properties of his 23mm tyres and he came off fairly spectacularly.  I bimbled back to the car oblivious, but it was a fairly ripped up little Bunny that arrived a few minutes later with a ripped arse, overshoe and gloves, along with a nicely scraped rear mech.

All in all a nice 27m jaunt with some tough climbs.  As I'm still benched from running for another week we're going to try and get another ride in tomorrow, probably from Embsay.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fizzy Visit

Went to see John today at the Yorkshire Clinic.  He had a fiddle around and couldn't make my calf hurt until he absolutely "hit the spot", and he said he couldn't really feel much other than a slight tightness in the muscle.

He did what felt like a fairly short bit of friction massage, then some laser and finally some ultrasound.  I must say it did feel a bit like "going through the motions" and I wonder if part of the function of physiotherapy for runners is to give you something to look forward to to break up the days with no running!

Felt very jealous when Hinsley and The Newmanator set off for a steady 6 at lunchtime.  I popped my trainers on when I got home and did about 200yds up and down the road - no pain, and not even the weeny bit of tightness I felt a week ago when I set off running - so something's definitely different.

I'm getting horribly paranoid about losing fitness now though - John is absolutely insistent I don't run for another week, preferably 10 days - I guess I could just about hold out til a week Tuesday but really I'd like to do a few miles a week on Sunday - just 4m without pain would be great and would leave me a full week to build up for Coniston (for which the number arrived yesterday...).

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Frustrated optimism

Just a short post to record how I'm feeling - the word is pretty much ok, really.

No running, but because I now feel I'm not running positively (if that makes sense) and I have a target in sight, plus regular physio sessions where hopefully I'll get some positive feedback that things are getting better, things don't feel so bad.

My calf is feeling odd - it's actually quite sore, but I think that's bruising from where John gave it some hammer, as the deep-down tightness doesn't seem to be there any longer.  I've been stretching like a good 'un as well as doing some bent-knee calf raises on the stairs, which don't hurt at all.

I'm hoping that another 10 days rest may see me able to run the weekend after next, with hopefully 3 more physio sessions in between - if that's possible I'll be really confident about getting back into decent shape.  I'll have had 4 weeks rest since the injury, and 2 weeks of complete rest.  If I can run then I'l;l be able to ease back through the week, maybe building up to an 8-10 miler with a few MP miles in by midweek, then run Coniston 14 as a race of two halves - half at 3:15 MP, and if that feels easy enough speed up to sub-3 pace for the second half.  That'll still leave me with a fortnight before Blackpool, where I'll look to get a few 10-12 mile runs with some MP running in before a proper cut back the week of the race.

So - whilst it's frustrating seeing the glorious weather outside I'm now feeling about 8/10 I'll be able to hit a decent time come April 11.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Fizzy No.2 Says...

Went to the Yorkshire Clinic yesterday to get the opinion of another physio, and also for the first of my 6 sessions I've booked as part of a package.  A nice Irish lad called John was kind enough not to give me any gyp for being 10 minutes late for my 8am appointment (15 minutes to do the last mile of Bingley bloody by-pass!!), then we got through the usual preliminaries fairly quickly as I feel quite an expert on describing my injury - no pain to the touch, sometimes a bit tight coming downstairs, not an over-training injury etc etc.

He agreed with Mike that it's in the Soleus (which I now know to be pronounced with the emphasis on the middle syllable), although he didn't seem as convinced (or indeed concerned) as Mike is that it's in the membrane between them - but the fact of the matter is it's deep, very deep...  He felt around and eventually happened upon a very sore bit really deep in the inside of the calf.  He then applied "friction" - which is fizzy-talk for battering the hell out of it by massaging sideways across the muscle.  It hurt.  A lot.

He then applied laser and a heat source to help it heal and gave me some stretches.  We've agreed I'll not run til midweek the week after next, which assuming I run on the Wednesday will be 4 1/2 weeks since the injury - that should be plenty of time for it to improve dramatically, and with another 3 or 4 sessions of physio and plenty of stretching I'm now pretty confident I will at least be able to run Coniston 14+ - which if I've managed to get a couple of runs with no pain in I'll probably do as a 20 miler with maybe 8m at sub-3 MP if all feels good.  That'll be as good a test as I can as to whether my pace on the day should be 6:50 or 7:20.  Back to see John Friday afternoon.

The bad news is no running for another 2 weeks (John actually wanted 3 weeks but that would've meant Coniston would be my first run back) but the good news is that with that rest that will be nearly 5 weeks since the injury, plus lots of physio, laser etc etc.  The manipulation John did now means I've got a much better idea where it hurts so I've been able to do some manipulation of my own, and I've been fastidious in my stretching.

So - how do I feel?  Ok, actually - I'm confident I'll be doing Blackpool as this treatment plus rest is plenty of time, and confident I can run 3:15, with sub-3 still being a possibility - maybe 3:05 would be a back-up goal.  Whatever happens I think I'll need to know before I set off roughly what I'm going for - I don't want to set off to run sub-3 and blow up and end up running 3:20!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

What a day!!

Long(ish) planned bike ride with my brother Rick and l'Herb today, which was going to be a bit of light relief after my heaviest fortnight in the build-up.  As it is, it was a blessed bit of cardio-vascular work after the lightest fortnight!  A sum total of 14.5 miles in 2 weeks.

We met in Clitheroe as that's about half way between us with around a half hour drive each.  The sky was spectacularly blue, the temperature was low but the spring(ish) sun promised to make it tolerable if not balmy.

We set off gloved and hatted (with Herb wearing something resembling an underwater diving suit under his helmet) and headed up the lane to Waddington.  2 miles in and we were onto the climb over Waddington Fell, which is long and straight without ever being steep.  I'd decided this was going to be one of my "long run" replacements, so needed to get the HR up to something respectable, which meant that the usual etiquette of riding the first part of the climb together was ignored and I pressed on from the start.  Rick (well he is my older brother) fell off the back fairly quickly, but I also managed to drop Herb and hit the top on my own.  It's not the prettiest of climbs but it gets the heart rate up, and I was surprised to see my HR up in the high 140's and beyond - which is half marathon level.  The beauty of it was there was no pressure on my calf at all.

A speedy (and for me, scary) descent saw us into Newton in no time, and then a few minutes later in Slaidburn and the start of lump number 2.  Catlow Fell is its correct name, but we've always called it Cross o' Greet, and it goes over into Yorkshire via a double bump - the first one fairly pastoral and green, the second hitting the high moorland via one of my favourite climbs.  I rode most of this with l'Herb but pressed on a bit at the steep section at the top.  Rick (claiming 200+ miles of XC xkiing as his excuse) was a few minutes behind.  I was feeling surprisingly good and felt positive to be doing something, and also that my fitness levels were still reasonable.  At the top I managed to coax a single photo out of my flat-batteried camera, and captured the stunning vista of Whernside and Ingleborough that smacks you in the eyes as you breast the climb.

Another descent and a bimble through the lanes took us past the half way point of the ride and very close to Rick's old house near Keasden.  The final climb was Keasden Fell (that's what we call it anyway) and is about 4 miles of climbing.  I was soon alone again and enjoyed pushing on as I climbed higher and higher.  There were snow patches on either side of the road, and at one point a tongue of the white stuff leaked across the road like a dribble of icing on the side of the cake.

We regrouped at the top and set off on the fastest of our descents, heading back into Lancashire towards Gisburn Forest and the habitat of that most impenetrable of creatures, the mountain biker.  I'm sure it's terribly extreme, but I just don't get riding around on pre-prepared tracks with hundreds of other people and getting about 8 miles in.  No doubt they think we're equally daft for riding along tarmac breathing in exhaust fumes and risking getting flattened!

The descent was even scarier than I remembered it, and I recall seeing my speed hit about 40mph as I approached a group of toddlers with doll's buggies, shortly followed by gravel all over the road, shortly followed by a sharp right hand bend.  Herb was at this point catching me rapidly so was probably approaching 50mph, and had a bit of an "oh shit!" moment.  Fortunately both of us made the bend and soon after we were mixing with the mountain bikers having a sausage butty and a brew.  We couldn't believe the huge numbers of cars and vans spewing people out into Gisburn Forest - each to his own but give me a quiet lane and a long road climb anyday.

Suitably refreshed we headed down to Bolton-by-Bowland and followed the lanes back to the car for a fantastic 43 miles (with about 4,500' climbing), and a realisation that if these physio chaps can get me fit for Blackpool I just might be able to do my bit and stay fit enough to do myself justice.  Just on the offchance they can't, and wanting to take some positive action I entered Abingdon marathon and booked a hotel yesterday - it's mid-October and if I do end up having to do it my LRs will start in August.  Yum...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Desperate measures for a desperate man...

Well after yesterday's 6m trial, which I was fairly pleased with, I awoke this morning to find my calf not sore, but a bit stiff going downstairs.  I had the afternoon off, and as I alternated looking out of the window at the gorgeous weather and my diary with "24m LR" in it I started to feel a touch frustrated.

Why me?  I've built up slowly, generally haven't overdone it, done the slow miles as well as the hard sessions.  It's possible I did one hardish session too many the week of the half, and the combination of race shoes and slippy snow may have caused the problem, but overall I think I've been fairly careful.

Anyway - what's done is done, and what's needed now is damage limitation.  Took my calf out for a declared slow no-more-than 2 miler this afternoon instead of the planned 24 miler, and it got tight and quite painful after about a mile and a half - so it's clear Something Must Be Done.

Rang the Yorkshire Clinic and booked in for an intial assessment on Monday morning followed by 5 sessions of physio (if that's what it takes) - £130 but if they can get me training again and more importantly on the start line with a chance of running somewhere remotely to my potential it'll be money well spent.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


After Mike telling me that I could start to run again slowly (and furious internet trawling to get more information, where the only thing of note I found was that after 10 days the injury will be as strong as the surrounding injury - but sadly I think that related to calf muscle tears) I decided, as the weather was absolutely glorious today, to have a go.

I pulled on my new compression socks (don't tell anyone) and set off about 5 o'clock - in full daylight.

All was fine and dandy up to Halton East, so then I got a bit cocky and carried on to the 3m mark.  No pain, nor even tightness to speak of.  Back to Halton East, and then at the 5 mile mark I finally felt a bit of pain.  Not enough to stop me, and it may even have eased off a bit, but a sign that I'm not right yet.  And why should I be?  Mike said 5 or 6 weeks - which would mean still 3 weeks away at least.

However - 6m done, at 8min pace which was very comfortable.  Unless it's pain free tomorrow afternoon (and it's a bit achy now) I'm going to leave it til Saturday and then try again - if I can keep getting 5 or 6 miles in three times a week for a couple of weeks without it regressing then i should hopefully be able to build up again for a couple of weeks before tapering down for a fortnight.

All may not be lost!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

No tears before bedtime...

That's tears as in rips - my calf isn't torn or even tweaked - it's the membrane between the two calf muscles that's irritated.  Not half as irritated as I was when Mike the Fizzy told me cheerfully that it'll be fine in 5 or 6 weeks.

Take a look at that countdown thingy to the left.  5 weeks Sunday.  Arse.

However - he was almost insistent that I start running again, gently and only slowly at first, but he says that running will actually help the muscles get used to the movement again.  The problem is that there's an imbalance between the Soleus and the Gastrocnemius muscles in my calf.  We also decided it may well have been because I adapted my running style slightly because of the snow underfoot in the early part of the Blackpool race.  Double arse.

Because it's an irritation and not a tear there's no risk of me doing it serious damage by running on it, but I need to build up again, and back off if there's any pain. So I think the plan will be to run Friday, maybe 5 miles and see how it goes.  Trimpell may not be a goer a week on Sunday, but I think I'll target a 20 miler the weekend of 20 March - and then run Coniston as a LSR with 7 or 8 m of MP at the end.

If I can't manage those then I can't see Blackpool being a goer - but to be fair I always entered Blackpool with the mantra that if I wasn't right, I wouldn't do it.  Triple arse.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Still resting

Back from 2 work days in London where I drank beer, ate crap and watched telly in my room instead of running - hope I can get back to it soon or I won't fit in my shorts...

The injury's at that irritating stage where I'm not sure if it's gone or not - no pain in normal movement but I sometimes convince myself I can feel something - it's not completely gone yet, that's for sure, but it's better every day.

Seeing Mike at Ilkley Physio tomorrow evening so hopefully he'll be able to scan it and see what's there - I can't make it hurt by touching it and I did have a little jog up the road when I got home and couldn't feel anything, but if (and I really hope it's not the case...) Mike tells me to rest it another week I think that'll be ok - I'd still have Trimpell and a couple of weekends to run another 3 20's and get back to where I was.

Massively frustrating though!