Sunday, February 28, 2016

To taper or not to taper - more self experimentation

What I mean by "to taper or not to taper" is really the "traditional" view of reducing mileage progressively over 2-4 weeks before a race. I've always been a great fan of that, even when I wasn't doing much mileage to begin with. I'd average about 25 miles per week, then get frantic two months before a race, ramp up to about 35-40 with a long run in the mountains on weekends, do that for 3-4 of the next 6 weekends, then do pretty much nothing for two weeks while trying not to drink or smoke too much... The races I'm talking about are in the 40-50 miles range in the mountains (usually about 12'000 feet of elevation), and though I was never aiming for speed, I'd always finish, even if the last few hours were a slugfest and parts of it often involved quite a bit of suffering, and as the years passed I slipped closer and closer to the bottom of the rankings. And evidently whatever I did in 2014 - there was no speed or structure to my training and probably I didn't really increase my mileage a huge amount (not to mention the slight issue of a dislocated shoulder) - wasn't enough  to finish the 100-mile UT4M...

Anyway, now that I had a more constructive year of training last year, and have done quite well since the beginning of the year on my "base training", averaging 40 miles a week now after some "speed training" in November, I'm eager to see how that will translate in the upcoming Cabornis race, 25 miles and 6'000 feet of elevation on which I hope to test my speed.

However, tapered I have not, or at least I am experimenting something different, having just completed my biggest week in two months, though I plan to do only about 12 miles of easy running with some sprints spread out between Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday - and a bit of biking. We'll see what happens. Even though I want to "race" the Cabornis, not just run it comfortably, I'm also using it to find out more about how my body functions/reacts. Because after all, there's no set recipe for tapering, everyone is different, and I want to see what works best for me in time for the Swiss Irontrail in August (not to mention anyway that I heard that tapering for too many races reduces its effectiveness).

Well, these are really just reasons made up after the fact - this situation really came about when I realized last month that the 3 weeks on, 1 week off in terms of ramping up mileage then having a recovery week, wasn't perhaps best for me (a factor of age? - 44 - and the fact that I don't have a history of big mileage?), but rather 2 weeks on, 1 week off (maybe I'm just a bit lazy, but I did come close to an injury in January and it's been much better since I scaled back the following week and settled into the 2/1 rotation So this is race week but it also needs to be a "week on" if I want to keep following my pattern, with a lower mileage recovery week after the race. Hence the big week last week and some mileage this week to add to the race mileage and have a decent week...

Does that make sense to anyone but me?!

Anyway, point is, I'll learn much more this way about how (not) tapering effects me, how much recovery I need, bla bla bla.

And what is more fun that experimenting on oneself?

Also, whatever happens, it's a nice feeling to have completed stage one of the new this-is-me-structuring-my-training program, i.e. consistent higher mileage running for fun not looking at watch with a bit hill sprints, before moving on stage two in which I have planned to keeping up my mileage and increasing a bit more, but mainly implementing some speed work. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Running to heal?

So another post on the calf pain saga... Well, it's not so much a pain as a dull presence. Seems to slip around from the right of the shin to the Achilles' tendon to the glucem-something other (the big fat calf muscle). I figure if it's moving around... Also, I'm wondering if the fact that I try to massage my calf with a massage pillow may not actually have bruised the shin bone and that's all it is really...

Anyhoo, I went off Sunday morning for my first serious long run in several months. I've done some 3-hour runs but in the mountains - I think it's been last June since I actually came close to 20 miles on roads. I'd roped in a friend since the weather was going to be miserable and planned on doing about 10 miles before joining up with him. About half-mile into my run I could feel my calf. Definitely. I thought about turning around... Nope. As long as I don't do any sudden movements... Then I figured perhaps I'd meet up with my friend but tell it's a no-go. Nope, can't do that. Then I thought: ok, school holidays are starting tomorrow, we're heading to the mountains on Wednesday, this will be my last run, I can afford take a week off from running, particularly if I'm skiing and touring...

By the time that mental game ended, I realized I couldn't feel my calf anymore. The weather was still miserable, but my new playlist was great, my friend dragged me along for 8 miles at a hefty pace, then I turned back home for a final 2 mile, hitting my target with nary a peep from the calf.

Go figure. Don't want to jinx myself though. But it is an enigma. It's not like the muscle or whatever warmed up and the pain went away only to come surging back - it didn't hurt the rest of the day, and the next day not at all. So I went for a short easy run this morning (the day after), and I could feel it after a half-mile but much less and it eased off again even quicker than two days ago. Not completely, however, so I know something's there. Bit annoying really, because I have a race in less than a month and not sure exactly what to do. I don't seem to be making things worse, yet it's not going away either.

Oh, well. I'll focus on family skiing this week, with a couple of long runs/hikes in the snow thrown in. Then I'll take it from there.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Consistency, almost - finally!

Ah, well, I didn't really stick to what I said in the previous post, since I went out for a run only three days after what I thought was a muscle pull. However, in my defense, I was not totally idiotic: i went for a massage and the therapist said that it was a contraction not a tear - so there!
I did reduce the mileage, then upped it more reasonably the following week, and now planning to get just shy of 50 miles with the long run tomorrow morning. The calf is still tight so I'm being careful. A few faster runs when I feel ok, but no hills or anything too stupid.

Which means two things: for the first time in three years I have cleared January injury-free (no skiing accidents - there's almost no snow!) and can train in February. And maintain some sort of consistency. So now I'm as excited as my kids at Christmas time to see what I can do at the first race of the season early March, the Trail des Cabornis.

Well, let's not count the chickens... I still have four weeks to go. Need to get there in one piece.