Monday, March 19, 2018

10km Tour de Presinge: enjoying a shorter, faster race

As I was having a hard time in my recent training sessions hitting my target 10k pace of just under 4’30’’ (so’s to slip under 45mn), I really wasn’t very hopeful for the Tour de Presinge last Sunday, and was starting to wonder if even 47mn was possible. And so of course I also started to wonder about all this speed training hullaballoo since it didn’t seem to be having the slightest effect on me, either increasing my base speed or my ability to run faster for longer.

Wouldn’t you know it – perhaps because I’d been training in very cold weather and dodging snow patches, certainly because of the taper effect, and also thanks to some good advice from two friends, I actually hit my target goal at 44’47”… (I think originally I was hoping for 43mn but that was not founded on anything realistic). What is quite satisfying is that this corresponds quite neatly to the predicted time based on my recently tested maximum speed of 15.7km/h. So that does confirm that actually since February the speed work has been having an effect, both in base speed (since I was at 15) and in my ability to maintain about 85% of that speed for longer.

Not only that, but I am also quite pleased that I actually managed the race well in terms of pacing, posting a slightly faster 2nd 5k than the 1st (thanks to some pointed advice from two friends!)...

So now I start on my cobbled-together training plan for GE marathon/100km Bienne/100-mile Montreux with a renewed determination and belief that those goals – 3h25 for Geneva, 10h30 for Bienne – are possible.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Recovering from a sesamoid stress fracture

I've continued ramping up mileage and intensity, moving from 4h to now 6h30, including sprint intervals and hills - and the foot is still "holding", meaning that while I can still feel the occasional tension and weird soreness, there is nothing that prevents me from running and, most importantly, it is all decreasing in duration and intensity, even as I ramp up my running. So while I certainly won't cry victory yet, I think I can put down what I've been doing in the past months to help recover from the sesamoid injury, in case someone else finds themself in the same situation:

- specifically designed orthopedic sole: if nothing else, definitely this! I waited too long.
- rest: it is definitely worth waiting more than less before resuming running; at least six weeks, probably two months, with even minimal walking - and always with the special soles.
- cross-training: to keep up fitness, definitely get into doing 10-20mn of high-intensity aqua-jogging intervals - obviously keeps the heart pumping but also surprising trains the leg muscles; high-intensity rowing; low-intensity bike for endurance to replace long runs (if you do too high intensity, you risk putting pressure on the sesamoid); and strength training (watch out for lunges though!)
- nutrition: magnesium, calcium with vitamin D, vitamin K, and natural acerola vitamin C/ascobic acid; omega 3; and prefer alkaline foods as less inflammatory
- anti-inflammatories, occasionally: for several weeks as i eased back into running, i would take one tablet 2-3 times a week in the evening after a higher intensity session that made me feel the foot.
ice:  definitely try and ice in the evening on every day that you run when you first ease back into it, and of course as necessary.
- return to training: very gradually; go at an easy pace at first - 30mn then adding about 10mn each time, but allowing two full days rest between sessions (i.e. monday, then thursday); if and when you add intensity, make it first longer tempo sessions, then long intervals (1 mile, 1k, 800m) then shorter (400m) and only then go for hills and 30-45" sprints. Even if you are used to high mileage, I found it best to follow the 10-15% rule and back off after 3 weeks. It goes slowly at first, but once you hit 4 hours, it starts to increase noticeably. Just better to really take the time. First time around, i increased too quickly and had to stop for 10 days.
- what pain is ok pain: obviously that's a personal one, so again I can only give the guidelines i've followed, based on what the podiatrist told me after examining me:
    * if i could press on the big toe bone and just behind it, and there was no sharp pain, and it didn't really feel that much different from the other, healthy foot, then it's probably just tension in the tendons and muscles that are being newly sollicited.
    * if it didn't hurt during the run, or only as a distant bother, and in any case didn't get worse, then I would soldier on, perhaps shortening the planned run a little - or avoiding any interval work.

Hope this helps...

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gearing up...

Finally I feel like I am back on track. A few niggles in the foot after a short intervals speed session on Monday but nothing that would make me think that the injury isn't well on its way to mending - just a question of not re-injuring my foot or anything else. At 46, a sometimes difficult proposition!
This time I did things more cautiously, moving from a 1h30 training week mid-January to over 4h last week, with speed work moving from longer slower intervals to shorter and faster. Now it's time to reverse that trend as I spend the next three weeks really trying to work on speed for my first 10k race in 18 years, while increasing the weekend long run to over 2h. (Of course the best way to increase my speed would be to drop my 15 extra pounds! Working on that too over the next few weeks...)
So this will be the first month in what I've mapped out as a 20-week training plan for the 100km in Bienne. The 10k should give me some measure of what my pacing will be and therefore what time I can expect, also for the Geneva marathon early May.
I have a better idea of what I'm doing after working with a coach for last year's GUCR, but I still have no idea how all the components are going to work together for posting a PB in Bienne - but I am certainly having a lot of fun doing whatever it is I am doing! And enjoying focusing on speed and power rather than long slogs and diesel endurance...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A new hope?

I couldn't help the Star Wars reference...

Anyway, after my silly three days in a row that re-inflamed my sesamoid, I took off 10 days and started aqua-running, doing 30"/30" intervals in the pool... Last weekend I did some long intervals followed by a recovery run, then an early morning session with some 800m series - the 5.30am wake-up (first time in three months) really giving me the sense that my 2018 training has finally and truly begun... particularly since the foot is keeping quiet. But I've learned my lesson, so another two days off before putting on my running shoes.

So I believe the force is awakening...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Staying motivated...

So my foot’s better - after not being great again. I guess running three days in a row, with hills, a speed test and sprints was not a brilliant idea. Ten days off and went for an hour run with some tempo paces and it’s ok this morning, though I can feel something. So I’m pretty sure the fracture isn’t there, but just the lengthy sesamoiditis inflammation that I’ve read about – so: rest, icing, and ibuprofen…

Training-wise, I start short intervals in the pool tomorrow with a waist buoy – pool running… And will add one hour of running a week over the next three weeks, then add 20-30mn a week. Keep tempo running but adding sprints only last, in at least a month, if things keep holding. In the mean time, swimming and biking, especially long bike rides before an hour run to simulate long runs as much as possible.

The good news is, the pressure is off. I have an alternate goal if I can’t do the 100km Bienne, with the chance of still being able to possibly aim for a good time at another 100km in November (Ronde des Eléphants in Annecy, less than an hour’s drive) – and that would be the Rapperswil Half-Ironman on the same weekend as Bienne, which my friend Anthony said he is planning on doing. What’s good about this is that on the days when I water-run I will practice the “total immersion” drills to improve swim technique (and presumably speed), and if I can’t run consistently enough to compete in Bienne, that means I’ll be doing more biking so, again presumably, more adequately trained for a triathlon. 

Of course, initially I thought I would do Rapperswil only if I can’t do Bienne. But the prospect of possibly competing in a triathlon with Anthony again is suddenly too appealing for a silly idea not to occur to me: compete in both Bienne and Rapperswil, foot permitting, since Bienne starts at 10pm on Friday night. If I am done in a realistic 12 hours, that means 10am Saturday, then I can hop in the train and be in Zurich by early afternoon, to get my race bib and compete in Rapperswil Sunday morning. 

So the pressure to be ready for Bienne and the anxiety of not being ready for what until now was my first main event of the year, are off – either Bienne doesn’t happen and I can put all my energy into Rapperswill, or I am able to train consistently for Bienne and run a good race – in which case, Rapperswil will be a “best effort”, even DNSing or DNFing if too tired and just appreciate following Anthony’s progress.

At least I have options and it’s a way to stay motivated!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Last run of the year, first run of a new season

Well, thanks to an almost three-month running hiatus because of my sesamoid stress fracture, the start of the new training-cycle-season coincides with the New Year! I picked up slowly end November and have been running for pleasure, anywhere from 20mn to 1h10, with two hilly mountain runs this past week and quite a few hours of intense skiing - capping off the year with just over 2,500km of running, with all of that save the 90km run in December done from January-September.

For the last run of the year on December 31st I tested my maximum (aerobic) speed (the pace that can be sustained for 4-6 minutes) so I know what my training paces for the coming weeks will be: 15km/h... I was at 15.6km/h at the beginning of the year for my GUCR training, so considering I've done no speedwork since mid-August and didn't run for almost three months, I figure that's not too bad and that some high-intensity workouts on the rowing and biking machines, aside from being mentally challenging, were actually quite effective.

In any case, it is what it is - but most importantly it does allow me to dream of a potential sub-10h at the 100km in Bienne. I've decided to start the year with a 8-9 week cycle designed specifically to increase speed - up to 1km/h. And since Bruno Heubi has a training plan to run 100km in 10h that is based on a max aerobic speed of 16km/h, if those weeks of speed training actually get me to that magical number, then theoretically at least I have a fighting chance.

Wow... I hardly recognize myself: "max aerobic speed", "training cycles", "speed work"... Unrecognizable from just three years ago... But, it's a lot of fun and gives some sense of purpose to my running... And that's the main thing. As soon as it becomes boring or overbearing, I'll just move on... But right now, as I once said in a previous blog, it's just me experimenting with myself and that's why I do this: to discover stuff. So I hope to stick like glue to this 8-week plan and see where I am at afterwards...

The question mark is my foot. Three days of mild running in a row and I can definitely feel something there. But I figure that I could also still feel it after two months of no running, and there's no sharp pains and it doesn't bother me when running, so I'll just use the same technique I did when an MRI found a partial tear in my meniscus in 2010 and the doctor said I shouldn't run anymore, especially downhill: I thought, well if the diagnosis is no running, then I'll just keep running till it tears completely, have the operation and take it from there - what have I got to lose? Well, I kept running, competing in over a dozen mountain ultras and the meniscus hasn't bothered me since....

So I'll keep running and just see...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A hopeful return to running

First run in just over two months this morning, woo-hoo! Well, I won’t celebrate too soon, since the stress fracture I experienced was (is?) on the sesamoid just below the big toe, which apparently makes it one of the more troubling injuries to have (one website even said that it can compromise running permanently, but I’ll ignore that one). The only thing the doctor prescribed was no running (obviously), in fact nothing that puts pressure on the foot, which includes elliptical or step machines, and actually he suggested crutches. That just seemed silly - walking to the gym in crutches?! - but I'm wondering now if I shouldn't have done it anyway for a few weeks...

Still, I haven’t been idle exercise-wise. Two weeks of low intensity cross-training (mainly stationary bike at the new gym I joined, just a minute from the office – good thing I joined!) after two weeks of doing absolutely nothing post Ultra Tour du Léman. Then I eased into some high-intensity interval training on the rowing machine and stationary bike, with a sequence of weight training to strengthen the legs and upper body. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and definitely good in view of staying injury free next year.

Combine that with the fact that I believe I have now definitively ended my pack-a-week smoking habit, and am starting on a 5-week high protein low carb diet to try and shed those every 5-6 kg I’ve been carrying around, and I’m hoping that I may actually come back to running stronger – and faster.

That’s key since I have these two speed-related goals next year: a Boston qualifying time at the Geneva marathon (3h25, 3h20 would be ideal), and a sub-11h at the 100km Bienne (actually a double-secret goal of sub-10h, but I’ll take sub-11…).

So this morning I did 10mn on the treadmill at 5’36” (target pace for the 100km – never too early to start integrating specific race pace). A few niggles and twitches, but the main test will be tomorrow morning when I wake up and put my foot on the ground, and Thursday when I try running again.

Anyway, the 2-month break has been refreshing and actually quite a welcome break. but now I’m really ready to get back into the swing of things.