Friday, 27 November 2015

Be Thankful For What You Have, Work Hard For What You Don't Have

A bit of a wordy title, but at least it prepares you for the rest of this post. Since my last blog, I've been training well, and continuing to see improvements in fitness and pace. As I write this, I'm gearing up for a weekend of racing that will take me over my 100 mile target for the month, with parkrun Saturday morning and then a 10km on Sunday - more later.

I'll still be using the treadmill at the end of my gym sessions,
when I usually try to do a couple of quick miles, but not as
a replacement for my longer runs, which I'll be looking to do
off-road from now on, where possible.
A quick apology first - in my last blog I mentioned that I may do more treadmill running in the future since I thought this would be easier on the joints. A conversation with my physio leads me to think this may not be the case - she's seen an article suggesting it can actually be worse. So apologies if that was misleading (or, to put it another way, just plain wrong.) One thing she did agree with was my idea of doing more off-road running, rather than always pounding concrete/tarmac - so long as the terrain's not too rugged. I've done a few more training runs on the railway path in Haverhill that we use for our club time trial, which is compacted earth, and I think this is perfect. As always, please, when reading my
blog, disregard all suggestions, or follow them
at your own risk!

How I hope I'll look
I've also not given up on the idea of more cross-training - in fact, I was at a bike shop today, to get an idea of price, although I was a little surprised at how expensive they are! But this is all for the future, since I only have 3 weeks left before my next operation, and another period of inactivity. I've been very fortunate to get the exact date I asked for, which ties in well with a break in studying at work, and has allowed me to book some time off for recovery without having to miss anything important. In fact, it's two days after my first module exams, so it will be quite a traumatic week!

Of course, having had the procedure already for my right hip, I know exactly what to expect in terms of discomfort/lack of mobility etc in the immediate aftermath of the surgery (much more manageable than I had expected) and in terms of speed of recovery afterwards: providing I follow the physio's exercise/rehabilitation programme as I did for the right hip, I'm sure I'll recover just as well.

Being sensible - to start with

How I expect I'll look
I'm probably going to ease back in to things a bit more gently once I'm given the go ahead to start running again, which should be towards the end of February. After the first hip was done, and I was able to train again, I felt I wanted to make the most of the limited time available to run before the inevitable break for the 2nd operation. It's been worthwhile, and I've enjoyed seeing a reasonably quick return to some kind of form - and most importantly, I will go in to the next operation with a good level of fitness again, which will speed recovery and will mean it's easier when I start running again.  But there'll be no rush really second time around, and I want to make sure I recover sensibly and don't risk further problems.

This will all tie in with the greater emphasis on cross-training, and probably less running mileage, but more targeted training so that I can still hit some new milestones. As always, I've been thinking ahead to what these might be, and it's really nice to think that after this next operation, I should be running pain free for the first time in over 2 years, and that consequently I should be able to gradually improve my times until I'm back collecting PBs again - and hopefully one or two trophies along the way!

Setting Targets

My targets for the end of 2016, then, are as follows:

5km: sub 18 mins

5mile: sub 30 mins

10km: sub 40 mins initially, then sub 38 mins

10mile: sub 65 mins

Half Marathon: sub 1hr 25mins

Full Marathon: sub 4hrs

Some of these are more ambitious than others: if I can get back to where I was before, then I would be pretty close to the 10 mile and Half Marathon targets, and the Full Marathon should definitely be achievable if I can get the nutrition/hydration strategy right. The shorter distance targets will require me to go consistently sub 6 min mile pace - a much tougher prospect, but what's the point of setting easy targets?! Once I can do this, I'll be right up there challenging for age-category placings, which is the ultimate goal.

What I have found is that, by putting in the miles and working hard, I've been able to reduce my times significantly in a short space of time - from 9 min mile pace in my first comeback races at Colchester Parkrun and at the Thurlow 5 on 17th & 18th October, down to sub 7 min pace yesterday at my club's 5km time trial. This bodes well for this weekend's races - but more importantly, it tells me that I should definitely be able to get back to where I was, and in theory once I get to that stage I should find I am able to push on further, unencumbered by any discomfort, and being, as a result, more prepared to push myself harder.

I'll need to shift some pounds if I want
to get back under 19mins. If I then embark
on a 4 month marathon training programme,
I should be able to keep that weight off
without having to worry so much about
what I eat. Which is a relief!
For 5kms in particular, it's all about shaving a few seconds off here and there, and it's the specific speedwork sessions that will help me do that - plus losing a bit of weight again! For the marathon - and I'm looking at something towards the end of the year - it's about learning to cope better with the Long Slow Runs, and again, with the discomfort gone, that should be a lot easier to do.

So, exciting to think of what I may be able to achieve, and important to have some clearly defined goals to work towards - all of which will help me get through the upcoming period when I won't be able to run. But, if I can sort a bike out, I can start that new part of my training regime only 4 weeks after the op, which really isn't too long to wait.

But before then:

Two races this weekend - a parkrun, obviously, because it's Saturday morning..... and this time, with plenty to do for the remainder of the day, I'll be going to a more local one - probably at Great Cornard, which is only about half an hour away, allowing me to get back home by 10am. I'm looking forward to this since it's been a long time since I've run there, and although I don't have the same group of friends there as I do at Colchester, I know one of two people to say hallo to, and it's nice and flat too!

Ah, the Thames. Makes you proud to be British.
Nice heron though. 
But it's Sunday I'm looking forward to more - a 10km in Kingston upon Thames. I did this race once before, in 2012, and loved it - I remember it being a crisp cold November morning, and a really lovely route, running alongside the Thames. I remember setting myself a target to keep every mile under 7 mins, and whilst I think I came up short a couple of times, I managed this pace on average and got myself what was then a PB time. If I can get this kind of time again, I'll be very happy - and the time trial yesterday tells me I should be able to do this: okay, it was only half the distance, but I felt pretty comfortable throughout and believe I could have maintained the same pace for much

And of course, the best races are the ones you do with friends, and I'll be travelling to Kingston with Rob and Bernadette, two fellow Commando runners, and good friends both, which means that, irrespective of what times we all manage, it'll be a good day.

In my next blog then, I'll be reporting back on how the weekend's racing went - in the meantime, good luck to anyone running or racing this weekend.


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