Saturday, March 24, 2007

More than Surviving!

So it's Saturday afternoon, and I'm officially at the end of my permitted 'hard week' of training. In the final analysis my left glute is notably achy, my left knee is a little sore (nothing major), my abs are sore, and the upper part of my quads are sore, but other than, and all things considered, I'm feeling remarkably good. I'm sure that in an hour and a half I'm going to find myself crashed out on the bed having a nana nap, but I'm ok with my nana-ness.

Starting where we left off, on Tuesday I was too busy working to make the 11.15 Balance class, but was more than ready for Multis that night. We cycled around to Hataitai Beach, ran for a distance (20 minutes from memory), swam a short distance, then jumped on our bikes and headed back to Freyberg.

The cycle out was fun, and the run also good, if a little slow. The swim, however, was heavenly. Hataitai Beach was perfectly flat, the temperature mild, and the sun was just beginning to set. I could have stayed in the water forever. My swimming skills started to come back to me, and I was a lot more satisfied with my effort.

The return cycle was much harder, against a very strong headwind. I overtook Rose and Fran, and was then in turn overtaken. It seems that I find it hard to cycle into the wind. I'm not sure why, and I wonder whether it has something to do with my lighter weight. However Rose did say that she felt like a 'blat', and my legs were feeling it a little from the run and weights the day before.

As the wind increased the world reduced down to the road a metre of so in front of me. It was difficult to hear anything other than the breeze in my ears, difficult to concentrate on anything other than staying upright. As we rounded the point it was all I could do just to keep inching forwards. To add to that it was starting to get dark, and those of us who didn't have lights on our bikes were feeling very conscious of the time.

So that was Multis. I got up on Wednesday morning and did an intense upper body session, again upping some of the repetitions. I was still feeling quite good by Wednesday night, when the Jog Squad met again. However I wasn't sure I'd be able to repeat Monday's speedy performance. I didn't need to worry.

Our task on Wednesday night was to run towards Newtown for 25 minutes, then back again. Our target was the roundabout at the end. We ran straight up Taranaki Street, then up the rolling hills of Wallace. I started out with Sarah and the speedy Karens, seriously doubting my ability to keep up the pace. However, although at times they pulled ahead slightly, I was always able to catch up.

We got to the main intersection at the start of Newtown and, faced with a long wait at the lights, Duck sent us up Adelaide Rd. So it was an uncalled for hill climb for us poor unfortunate front-of-the-packers. The short steep downhill back to the main street was a relief, and we made it to the roundabout with 7 minutes to spare. From there it was another uphill climb (after some debate), and we made it past the entrance to the sports park, turning around just after 23 minutes.

The return trip was wonderful. We bypassed Wallace in favour of the long slow downhill of the Basin and Cambridge Terrace. With home almost in sight I continued to keep up the pace, and it was only as we ran the last 100 metres on Courtney that I slowed and let the speedies get ahead. The run that was supposed to last 50 minutes was closer to 45, but it felt excellent.

I got to sleep in on Thursday morning, as Duck had moved our session to 11am. The extra hour in bed was extremely beneficial, and I didn't experience the same wave of tiredness I usually get on a Thursday afternoon. Duck ran me through some more Look Better Naked stuff, alternating pushups and hovers, cable work, more arm stuff and some excellent stretching at the end.

Given that my legs were quite fatigued, I wasn't quite sure how Thursday night would go, but again it turned out to be any better than it had any right to. Duck stayed at Freyberg while we raced eachother around to the Zephrometer. I kept a low profile on my bike, concentrated on keeping a fast but steady cadence, and sprinted. Dionne still bet me on her new road bike, but Dionne is a machine and I fully expected her to.

Spinning my legs out as I returned to Freyberg I felt perfectly satisfied with my performance on the bike. Duck sent me off on a run out to Pt Jerningham, which I suspected would be slow and painful. Painful it certainly was, but it wasn't as slow as it could have been. Unfortunately I misinterpreted her instructions and turned around at Carlton Gore, but I knew the distance was only around 2km, so I pushed myself hard and sprinted the return leg. I was helped by the sight of Rose and Anna in front of me, and so was able to push myself past them both.

Realising I'd short-changed myself, I even elected to run out to Fisherman's Table and back, again pushing the return leg. By the time I returned everyone was preparing to climb the rope climbing frame on Oriental Bay. I made it half-way up, but my inactive childhood and resultant lack of agility caught up with me!

I think we all expected to be able to call it quits at that point, but Duck had us lying on our stomachs in the sand, and on command jumping up and sprinting down the beach. We did this several times over and each time I found myself in the front few women. I found that if I could dig my toes in and push up through my arms I could rise to standing more quickly than I would ever have thought possible.

Friday morning and I had a date with Nic and Leonie for RPM. My tired body was protesting ever so slightly, and I did wonder whether there was true wisdom in continuing to push myself hard, and whether a little gentle cardio later in the day would have been better for me. However it was too late to back out. Dee had been replaced by Emma for the day, but Rog was back, and it was soon all on. After the first few tracks the adrenalin started to kick in sufficiently to get my mind around the pain.

By the time Emma put Children on for track 6 I was ready to go hard. Then Emma followed that up with track 7 from the latest release - a stonking Nirvana release. My eyes met Rog's, and the challenge was on. I do not remember killing myself as much in a track in a long time, and I would have loved to have been wearing a heart rate monitor. Any thoughts of spinning my legs out in preparation for today's run went out the window... I had speed and I had dial, and I was not afraid to use them. I did not back down.

At least I had enough sense to realise that Body Balance would have been a little excessive, and besides, the lack of any fresh gym gear and the thought of putting on a wet, sweaty sports bra did not appeal. So RPM was it as far as exercise on the last working day of the week.

Which left this morning. Sarah and I had organised to meet at 8.45 at the Terrace to run for an hour and be back in time for 10am Balance. Duck had suggested I try Ngaio Gorge, and Sarah was planning a flat run. It was such a beautiful morning though that in the end we both agreed it would be criminal not to run out around the Bays.

The upper part of my quads were aching in a way that reminded me of exactly how hard I'd run the shuttle runs on Thursday night. Either that, or I was in pain from track 7 on Friday morning. In any case, and with my knee already slightly creaky, I wasn't quite sure how well I was going to hold up. In the end I stuck it out with Sarah for 20 minutes before a slight stitch kicked in and I dropped back a bit.

I'd had four glasses of wine on Friday night, and eaten a fair bit of pizza and other junk food over the period of the day, so I thought the stitch may have in part been due to dehydration. I stopped at Balaena Bay for a quick drink, after which the stitch disappeared and did not return. I was able to pick the pace up again a little bit, although Sarah was now well ahead of me.

After 35 minutes I started to feel ok again. That's not to say that I was feeling good, just that I was able to sustain a reasonable pace, and to envisage maintaining that pace for the full hour. Apart from that, my calf muscles felt very tight, my archilles niggled a little, my knee threatened to complain, my glutes throbbed, and my quads - well my quads had given up on me and were seeking a divorce. This is the thing I've learned about what happens when your fitness levels increase. It's not that things hurt less, just that your ability to keep going anyway increases. It's the endurance that goes up.

Sarah caught up with me around the Chaffers Park mark, and we ran back more-or-less together, walking up Woodward Street and back to the gym just in time for Balance. I'm very glad I chose to follow the run with some yoga, otherwise I think I would have difficulty getting up off the sofa I'm currently sitting on.

We did my favourite release, and it was nice to be familiar with the moves and to not have to think too hard. Everything flowed reasonably well - no major breakthroughs, no backwards steps. I was extremely grateful for the last couple of tracks and for the relaxation at the end. I had finished my week of training, and I had survived.

The difference between this hard week and the last one a few weeks ago is palpable. I did not get anywhere near as tired this week, and although my body felt it, I was able push through the pain. I am fitter now than I was before the aborted half marathon last year. I am stronger and my cardio fitness is far superior. As far as the sports psychology side of things go, I'm also way ahead of anywhere I've every been before. This is who I am now, not who I am trying to be.

Last year I got to this peak point in my training and followed that up with a crash. It was a predictable trend across each Squad. So my challenge now is to recognise that and to pull back if I start feeling my body cave in. I've got the rest of today and tomorrow to rest before I meet Duck for a session early on Monday morning. I can drop out the extra weights sessions again next week if I need to, and rest if necessary. I've learned the difference between thrashing my body for the sake of it, and working my body hard to make progress. I definitely prefer the later approach!


Catherine said...

You make me tired just reading this :) I looked at the mapmyrun site you mentioned, and I think I can see why you were confused. It absolutely is not accurate on hills. Think about a triangle - the slopy side is always longer than the flat side at the bottom. Any map only measures the flat distance, so when you run uphill, not only is it steeper and therefore harder, but you are actually doing a greater distance than the map claims. The greater distance factor also applies to downhill, even if it is easier. I can see that mapmyrun will be very little use to me, since pretty well all my training is hillwalking.

Pip said...

Of course - that makes perfect sense! I think the only way I'm going to get an accurate idea of how fast I'm going is to start entering some events and get some official times. Thankfully it's not long now till the 10km (April 15). The duathlon is on May 5, and then a half marathon in June.