Friday, February 27, 2009

Week Four, Month One of Marathon Training in the Bag

Another week and the first month of marathon training down. Today is my day of rest but, truthfully, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m going to have to continue to monitor my ankle but it seems to be holding up ok and getting stronger. This week I started to experience a little tightness in my IT bands, particularly on my right side. My sacroiliac and glute on that side were muttering a little as well but I spent some time on the roller on Wednesday and Thursday and they’re settling back down again. I need to make sure that I continue to stretch, and I think I’ll make a precautionary appointment with my physio for next week so that she can make sure my hip isn’t freezing up and so that she can stick her elbow into the knot in my butt. Hopefully if I continue to be proactive I’ll continue to be ok.

After Monday morning’s slow-but-supposed-to-be-fast 8km, when I was just too tired, I reluctantly skipped my upper body weights workout. My neck and shoulder are still in spasm from last week’s incident and doing anything to tighten them even further didn’t seem like a particularly clever idea.

All the same, I was still feeling a little fatigued on Tuesday morning during Dee’s RPM class - low heart rate, nothing in the legs. I missed Balance thanks to a meeting (stupid work getting in the way of working out) and after work my neck and shoulder were too sore to even contemplate swimming. I wouldn’t have been able to roll to breathe and every stroke of my right arm would have been agonising. I went home and collapsed instead.

It seems though that the rest did me some good. Greg, one of the personal trainers, was holding another training session with the Gearshifters on Wednesday after work and I wanted to be there. That meant getting up to run before work. Now, I am not a morning runner. I can get up at 5.30am to go to a spin class. I can put in a hearty weights session. For some reason however I’ve always felt fatigued and prone to queasiness if I try to run too early in the a.m. Well, today I had no choice! I had sixty minutes of hills to get through.

Given my general lethargy of the last couple of days I really wasn’t sure what I could expect. I was running from the Terrace gym so decided to head up to Wadestown to test my legs then decide where to go from there. I took Grant Rd and by the time I got to the top I was feeling fresh and steady and was making good time. I’d left at 7am so it was well before 7.30 as I headed up the incredibly, stupidly steep Weld Street at a slow walk. Honestly, Sarah claims to have run up there but it kills my heart rate and my calf muscles just to stagger. One day, perhaps, I will skip up there like a spring lamb, but Wednesday was not that day.

Given the early hour I did wonder whether I was being a little cavalier with my personal safety as I headed into the town belt. I was running along the Northern walkway, a trail high on the hills overlooking Wellington harbour winding through a mix of bush and old pine trees. I ran the trail completely on my own, with not one other person crossing my path. This could have been a good thing (no one around equals no one to mug me) or a bad thing (no one around means that the bad person lurking in the bushes could mug me and no one else would be there to save me). It did occur to me that I was running without any ID other than my Medic Alert bracelet, and with no phone.

In the end I had only cicadas and birds for company and the pine trees that creaked eerily in an imperceptible breeze as I passed. The temperature was perfect - just ever so slightly cool, and there was the lightest misty rain falling. The trail was just damp enough to not be dusty but not wet enough that I risked slipping and falling unceremoniously on my behind. On the open sections of the track the harbour was visible far below me, silent and atmospheric on this grey, cloudy morning.

The first part of the trail climbs steadily uphill. When I last ran this way with Sarah a couple of months ago, I found myself walking several sections of the ascent. Today I didn’t really care how slow my pace was, I just wanted to keep moving. I had a ‘no walk’ motto engraved on my forehead. However I needn’t have worried as I powered up every little rise, my heart rate barely spiking.

I was enjoying myself so much that it seemed a shame to stop but I ran all the way along the trail to the Botanic Gardens then down through the cemetery and back to the gym. The whole run took just under an hour, and I had a blast. I was on a high for the rest of the day and was an immediate convert to morning runs.

I was still feeling fresh when Greg put us through our paces on Wednesday night. We mixed it up with some box steps, jumping squats, clapping press ups (on our knees), bent-over row, butt kicks and some core work. The bent over row and press ups perhaps weren’t such a great idea as they spasmed my neck and shoulder up again, and then I slept on my stomach with my head turned to the right and tightened them up even more. No swimming again then, and one taped shoulder.

With no swim workout on Thursday morning that just left a 70 minute run to do that evening. I figured I should probably try a flattish route given that most of my runs lately have involved a heap of hills. I set out again from the Terrace gym at around 5.30, determined to run at a medium pace.

The run didn’t start terribly auspiciously, when my Garmin refused to latch onto any satellites. I resolved myself to just having a time and heart rate record of my run when it also decided it was running low on battery power. Not wanting to lose any of the data from my last few runs I decided to switch it off. I was running around the Bays so knew roughly how far I could run in 70 minutes.

I concentrated on running powerfully and on keeping my legs turning over. Every time my left foot started to get lazy I focussed on lifting it. I refused to let it start slapping around. After a while I no longer had to think about running well and I simply focussed on what was around me. At Oriental Bay a group of wetsuited swimmers were entering the slightly choppy water. At Hataitai Beach the water was mirror calm and an instructor was teaching a group of beginner kayakers. At Balaena Bay a couple of cyclists were stopped at the changing rooms for a bit of on-the-road maintenance.

There was a Northerly blowing again, which came as a surprise as I expected it to be going south. When I got to Greta Point I kept on going and before too long I was at the Wind Wand. I didn’t feel like turning around so I headed right over the saddle to Newtown, running over the rise without stopping.

I kept pushing myself all the way down to the Basin Reserve and down Cambridge Terrace. I ran back down onto the waterfront and continued back past Frank Kitts to the Meridian Building then back up to the gym. All up I think the run would have been around 70 minutes, more or less. I did start to feel a bit tired over the last ten minutes or so. It worried me that I was feeling slightly worn out after only an hour, but I consoled myself with the thought that this was day six of a long week. I figured that with fresh legs I would have been fine. I also knew that I’d been pushing the pace quite hard throughout.

I’m taking a complete rest day today. Although I used to like to do Balance on a Friday I’m realising that, for my sanity if nothing else, I need to take one full day out each week. No running around in the morning packing a bag of gym gear. No going to the gym. No putting on running shoes. I’ve spent today sitting at my desk or eating vegan chocolate beetroot cake. I’m looking forward to burgers for dinner, a bottle of cider and an early night in my fabulous new bed.

In other news I had my annual Endocrinologist appointment yesterday morning. At least, it will be annual from now on. My Endo had missed scheduling my six-monthly appointment and, given that I’m so well, we’ve mutually agreed that there’s no point in her seeing me more than once a year. I’d rather she spent that time helping her more needy clients.

As always she ordered a barrage of tests and this year I had seven vials of blood drawn. We talked a bit about exercise-dosing my Hydrocortisone and she pointed me to some information on the UK Addison’s website. However her main advice was that I should just work out through trial and error what works best for me and she approved of my experiments so far.

In addition to yesterday’s seven vials, today I am two blood draws through a day curve (three draws in total). We are trying to determine how fast I metabolise my meds. If I metabolise them slowly (which I suspect I do), then I can get away with taking one bigger dose before a long workout. If I metabolise them quickly then it may be better for me to take smaller doses throughout the workout. It will be interesting to see whether we can draw any meaningful conclusions.

The weather forecast is looking pretty horrendous for this weekend. I’ve booked into two RPM classes tomorrow morning in case it’s too nasty to ride (120kmph winds anyone?). Hopefully it will be better for Sunday’s two hour run. In theory I’m heading into a slightly easier week after that with a 21km time trial next Sunday.

Looking back I’ve complained about feeling tired a bit this week but the reality is slightly more optimistic than that. I had quite a big weekend of training, which I felt on Monday, but after that I went through a process of active recovery so that I felt better each day. Admittedly I was two swim sessions and a weights session down, but I think I got the most tiring stuff done. Next week, with no more RPM classes, I will make sure I’m at the pool before work on Tuesday and Thursday. That way there are no excuses (other than that of my still-taped neck and shoulder spasming again).

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