Week 12 a decent festive week

I enjoy running over the festive period.

Typically I take the time off work over Christmas and New Year so overall it’s a good opportunity to get some decent running done.

Like most normal people the period also means eating and drinking more than usual and also probably some later nights and long lie ins.

So not every run feels great but it’s good to blow away the festive cobwebs with a run out.

I’ve deliberately ditched the heart rate monitor and sought to “run on feel” and to simply “time on feet” to avoid any unnecessary anxiety about variability that is par for the course at this time of year.

I was happy that this period coincided with my rib injury being pretty much healed. So the plan was to get back to a schedule of 6 days of running.

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day I was back in my home town of Chester le Street.

In 2016 I’d gone out for a long run on Christmas Day and ended up in bed ill later that day and missed the Boxing Day trip down to Hexham to see my girlfriends family. I was keen to avoid that this year.

The plan for both days this year was a simple 40 minute recovery run. I decided on a slightly new route which ended up perfect – from my parents house up towards Waldridge, onto the “new road” and down the A167 into Chester le Street, down the back of the front street and all the way back up to Waldridge Park Estate.

Both days ended up with 45 mins total and around 6.3-6.5 miles. The route was easy first half and challenging back up the hill second half so ideal to ease in to the run and then work to the end.

On Wednesday the plan was a 50 minute recovery run. Being down Hexham I decided on my usual route passing the rowing club and along the river and the railway track. It was approximately 25 minutes out and back. Like my runs in Chester le Street the first half was slightly easier gradient wise than second meaning a natural increase in effort back home.

Thursday was an easy 30 minute recovery run plus strides. Not much to report as I ran the usual Kenton route heading down to the Town Moor and back up.

Didn’t feel that good but the strides felt fine which was pleasing since it was the first time I’d opened myself up a little for a long time.

Friday was a rest day.

In truth I didn’t really feel like I needed it but stuck to plan to make sure the legs were given a chance to catch up if required. Also, it snowed quite heavily meaning an outdoor run would have been tricky. The local school gym I use is shut until the New Year.

On Saturday the weather had improved although the pavements remained treacherous. The plan was another 50 minute recovery. I decided to get the innov8 trail shoes back out and run laps round the local Kenton dene. This was the first time I had put the trail shoes back on since the fall on the 19th of November that had led to the cracked rib… So it was mixed emotions.

Running for 50mins on the local dene is more a mental challenge than physical as each lap is only just over 3 minutes so it becomes quite monotonous. However I enjoyed it especially since I found myself getting stronger as the run went on.

Going into it I felt like 7:30/mile would be sufficient taking things into account – especially the conditions underfoot with snow and ice still present. However, I settled into just over 7 minute mile pace quite easily and was able to pick up nicely the last few miles. Overall I completed well over 7 miles and felt refreshed for it.

On Sunday I was looking to complete a full hour of running. This was calculated as a pre requisite for my upcoming cross country race next week. The eagle eyed will note that all my runs have been easy recoveries and the key has been to build a bit of an endurance base following my time out injured. So it was felt if I could build a long run back up to approx 1hr that would be enough to warrant an outing in a race that could be used as a hard training run.

I was pleased with the plan as I’m very keen to achieve 100% attendance in the Harrier League this season and to defend my current standing in the Individual Grand Prix.

The run itself was solid with 8.8 miles completed in the hour at times against a strong wind.

So in total for the festive week I completed 4hrs 51m of running and 41.5 miles. Very pleasing and bodes well for the start of 2018.

In total for 2017 I ran over 1,500 miles which was well up on 2016 but well below the target of 2,000. The key for me next year is to build on some of the positives from 2017 namely continuing the good disciplines and realisation that consistency is king.

No one magic training session exists. Succeeding in running comes from solid and consistent training, allowing the body to positively adapt to the stresses placed upon it and having the mindset to perform confidently on race day.

I feel 2017 has been a solid year where I achieved the key breakthrough in the 5k and established a line in the sand for the half marathon. I performed as good as ever in the early part of the XC season and although I had an unfortunate end to the year I feel like I have shown more maturity in dealing with the setback.

I now have a very strong base from which to build. I have a coach that believes in me and I just need to get out and do what I know I can. And in doing so I am very confident I can achieve my goal of new PBs over 5 and 10k and the HM and have a very good go at selection for a Masters England vest.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to all. I look forward to continuing this blog in what I believe will be an exciting year for me personally!!!

Week 11 getting back to it

I’m glad to say that I can now put the cracked rib behind me, a small footnote at the end of the chapter of 2017.

Overall it’s been a good year.

Much better than 2016 and of course the highlight was the sub 17 5km in May which had been a long term target.

As I look forward to 2018 my hopes are high. I feel I have a lot more to come and the training and racing that I completed leading up to the cracked rib was testament to that.

I currently lie 8th in the standings in the North East Harrier League and I am keen to defend that position to the end of the season.

I’m also hoping to take in the NEMAA XC champs in February and improve on my 4th place in the 35-39 age bracket in 2016.

The key of course will be to build the training back up to where I left off late November.

This week (week ending 24th December) I’ve been getting the easy runs in completing 31 miles in three and half hours of training. My breathing is back to normal with the sore ribs subsiding and it’s just been a case of trying to blow away the cobwebs and get back into the routine.

This week I’ll be aiming to build up to more like 4 and a half hours and get on the start line of the 4th NEHL XC race on Jan 6th in half decent shape.

The plan will be to get out for a good hard run and it’ll probably be my first effort for some time.

After that I can also turn my attention to really putting in place the plans for spring and summer which will include the aim of improving my 5k and 10k times and looking to compete for an England vest where the opportunities exist.

Happy Christmas and New Year to you.

Week 10 out of routine…

This week I had a work trip to Barcelona and, although I managed to fit some runs in, I’m finding things overall challenging.

I don’t wish for this to be a moany blog but it probably will be as I’m struggling to fully put the broken rib behind me…yet. On top of that I’ve had a sore throat/chesty cold for the last two weeks.

It’s the hardest part of running when you just feel like you’re paddling against the tide. You can’t go out and train properly and you just feel “meh”.

My runs in Barcelona were as frustrating as they were dull. I was staying in a different hotel to usual and couldn’t quite get my head round the map. And I needed to fit my runs in early morning and the sun didn’t rise until 8am.

Consequently I ended up running up a few streets onto a main street with a wide pavement. It was fine early doors when the pedestrians and cars were nowhere to be seen but the one run I did in the evening was very stop-start.

The only amusing part was the funny looks from the locals as I was running around in my shorts and t-shirts and they were wrapped up in scarves and wolly hats! Compared to the UK it was positively warm at around 8 degrees or so.

Overall the rib feels much better out running albeit jogging/easy running. The problem is when I’m not running I’m still aware that it’s there and not fully healed. So the question remains when can I fully get back to training?

This week I managed 23 miles total slightly up from 14 the week before. I was completing 45-50/week pre the fall.

As I write this it’s almost a full month since the trip and I was told it could take up to 6 weeks to heal.

The head cold is also persisting and there is no point pushing on into that although I feel like it’s finally shifting.

So this is all leading to an almost inevitable waning in my motivation levels.

I’ve also gotten completely out of sync in terms of my morning routine (partly because I don’t feel like push ups, burpees etc. will do my rib any good) and my diet and other good habits are suffering especially as we move into the festive period.

I’m trying hard to keep focussed on recovery and keeping positive but I really can’t see much short term light at the end of the tunnel. I’m already looking ahead to January and the next Harrier League XC fixture on the 6th as being a race I will struggle to get in shape for.

I need a good rest this festive period as it has been a tough couple of weeks and months particularly workwise. Running wise I would love to just feel like my body is ready to start training again…

Apologies for the fairly negative blog but usually being like this would mean no blog and therefore this is hopefully better than nothing at all.

If nothing else it gives some insight into the fact that I don’t find things easy. I think about running all the time and how I can make it work and reach my potential. That in itself can cause anxiety.

But I’m determined to get back and I’m sure I can pick up where I left off on 19th November…

Thanks for reading and on a slightly more positive note – happy Xmas!!!

Week 9 walking and jogging

This week was planned to be the “peak week” of 2017 for the North Eastern cross country champs but as I explained in last weeks blog that wasn’t to be due to a confirmed broken rib sustained during a fall in week 6.

Despite the broken rib I had continued to train well following my best ever showing at the North East Harrier League fixture at Aykley Heads.

That said it was hard to be confident in my training as my rib issue was making breathing difficult.

Despite assuring myself it was only bruising things came to a head on a flight home from a work trip to Athens. Probably the cabin pressure made things uncomfortable and at that stage the rib felt weird, swollen and it was then I decided to get the problem looked at.

Anyway, that’s covering old ground and coming into week 9 the plan was to rest up Monday through to Wednesday and then get out for some short jogs later in the week.

There is very little you can do with a broken rib other than to take paracetamol and ibuprofen and rest. Cardio exercise is difficult as it can aggravate.

Instead I went back to the old faithful of an early morning walk. Overall I felt like I could start getting some deeper breathes in on my walks which was a good sign.

It was good to get back to the 5am routine although admittedly it’s more of a challenge in the cold of winter.

On Thursday the plan was to try out a short 20 minute jog. In fact that was the plan for the rest of the week.

I completed this and also had a slightly longer run on Saturday.

Overall things feel much improved so I hope to increase duration to maybe 3-4hrs of running week 10.

Not much else to report otherwise and the focus is on returning to full training as smoothly as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Week 8 on the mill and a cracked rib…

Week 8 would need to be carefully managed around a work trip to Athens out on Monday and back on Wednesday.

My flight was mid morning so I was able to get out early at 7am. It became my only outdoor run of the week.

I’m not a big fan of running in the morning generally.

Nothing feels good or well oiled. Limbs stiff and just struggling to get going.

Indeed I was thinking about breakfast well before half way. I didn’t wear the HRM as my ribs were still sore and I didn’t want the tightness of the strap or the sweaty thing in my travel luggage! So I just ran on feel. I ended up with just shy of 45mins and 5.7 miles.

Off to Greece.

I arrived at my hotel around 23:00 and set the alarm for 06:30 (04:30 UK time). That is the main challenge when trying to keep up with a routine whilst away.

To counteract the travel tiredness I completed only 40mins total with 5mins warm up and cool down. I deliberately kept my HR very low. The treadmill in the Metropolitan Hotel is quite good and it’s just a case of getting in early to get the best one of the two. Outdoor running is a poor option generally in Athens I find mainly due to the roads and traffic in the area I tend to stay.

I always try to get my runs done in the morning (morning running’s not so bad when all you need to do is leave your hotel room and walk downstairs to the gym) and out the way as I can never guarantee when I will finish work and there is a risk of not getting a run in the evening.

As it happened the meeting did finish on time and I felt good and was keen to make up my training to an hourish like I would at home. So I got in the gym for another 25mins easy.

At this point I was still conscious of my rib and I had noticed swelling on one of the ribs. I started to now wonder if this was just bruising.

Not to be put off I set my alarm for 06:00 (UK 04:00) on Wednesday and got a full 55mins done, again at a low HR to make sure I could control my breathing.

Later that afternoon I travelled back home and the rib was giving me problems.

On Thursday the weather in the North East took a turn for the worse (see pic) so it was the gym again…

Again it was an easy 30mins with 5mins warm up and cool down followed by strides. The strides were done at 18kph on the treadmill with 20s bursts and then 40s standing recovery.

At the end of each 20s I felt pain in my left side getting safely off the treadmill. I decided I would finally look into getting my rib checked out.

I rang the local NHS walk-in centre and they suggested popping in the next morning which I did.

I have to say the service was excellent as I was seen within 10-15mins of arrival.

I explained what had happened to the nurse. She was concerned at my low resting HR of 44bpm but I explained this was normal as I do 40-50 miles a week running.

On closer examination she was pretty sure that my rib was broken and that I would need a course of paracetamol and ibuprofen and at least a couple of weeks off from running.

As I write this I’m still taking it in. It means the NE XC champs next week is out realistically and I will need to play it by ear.

I plan to get some walking done over the coming days and see whether things settle down next week.

It will be a potentially frustrating injury if it means cardio exercise will not be possible.

My key goal is to keep motivated and try to work on other areas such as leg strength.

Part of me is glad to get the diagnosis so that I can move on and get fixed.

Of course I am disappointed because without a doubt I have reached the highest level of fitness I ever have.

I need to ensure I don’t sulk and get dejected. I will come out of this stronger… But it reminds me that I’m not indestructible and a stupid accident has led to my first ever bone breakage at the age of 36. I can tell you I’ve had some harder falls prior to this without the unfortunate end result… Shit happens…

Thanks for reading…