A new year and new plans for the year of running ahead, the deluded narcissistic coiffured lunatic on the other side of the Atlantic permitting.
It doesn’t bear worrying about, so I won’t. Somehow, we’ll all muddle through and even if we don’t, worrying about it will not do you nor me any good.
Since my last post, after the aborted Chester marathon, my running has been decidedly lacklustre and my performances mediocre. I’ve turned 51 years old, advancing age is undoubtedly dulling my speed and it has taken me ages to shake off some niggly injuries.
The stiffness in my right ankle, specifically posterior tibial tendonitis is better; however, I still feel it on every run. Since October, I have sought help and treatment from physios at the Coach House in Leeds and, on the advice of my podiatrist neighbour, an excellent running-specialist podiatrist on Street Lane, Lee.
Lee diagnosed me quickly. He is also a runner and after filming me shirtless running on his treadmill (I was shirtless, not him, I hasten to add), it was easy to see how problems with my gait and running form were manifested in lower leg pain.
It is difficult to analyse oneself objectively, but even allowing for this, I looked poor – shoulders slumped, hips weak and falling inwards leading to the right knee collapsing inwards, pressurising the tendons on the inside of the ankle.
If David Rudisha resembles a gazelle when running, then I looked like a hyena – a hyena that was constipated and had been knee-capped.
Despite my awful running style, Lee thought that I didn’t look too bad. He stressed that I needed to engage my core muscles and lift everything up by a couple of centimetres. I should try to look forward and not down and work my arms backwards and forwards rather than across my body. He said it was amazing I could run as quickly as I do because I was wasting lots of energy working across my body rather than propelling myself forwards.
To my detriment, I have never been especially dedicated to physio’s exercises, but I did try to take his advice. During my easier runs I have been focussing on holding my core firmly and lifting up.
To be frank, I hadn’t felt much had changed, but when I went back for my last visit, Lee said that my form was much better. He filmed me again and I could see that my hips were more stable and different muscles in my back were firing.
Since Chester, my level has dropped significantly. During one of those slow days between Christmas and New Year, I took some time to trawl through my weekly mileage records on Strava from the previous three years. It was easy to deduce that my best race performances came after blocks of heavy mileage. When the weekly training mileage dropped, so did the subsequent race performances.
It ain’t brain surgery – you get out what you put in.
Feeling better, I have set some plans for 2018. The highlight will be a return visit to South Africa in June to run the Comrades marathon for the third time. As I missed last year, I will be partaking in another down run. I won’t be setting any time goals this year. I already possess a Bill Rowan medal (sub 9-hours), the next best medal is the silver – however the required standard of under 7 hours 30 minutes is well beyond me.
I’m blogging again for selfish reasons – just writing the blog provides focus and makes me train harder. Since I began writing the blog I have managed at least two personal bests each year. I would be delighted to keep this streak going, but that will be very tough, I might well be over the top of the bell curve, we’ll see.
The first day of the year saw me attempt (and fail) the now customary Valley Striders parkrun double. In a change from the usual format, we ran Woodhouse Moor followed by Rothwell (rather than Temple Newsam). After the second parkrun, my ankle was sore so I ducked out of the slow 6 mile trudge back, opting for a lift in a nice warm Citroen C1 instead. Much Kudos to my hardy teammates who completed the challenge.
Yesterday, I gave it a dig at a new parkrun for me – Pontefract. It’s a great course, basically a lap of the bumpy ambulance track inside the longest flat horse-racing course in Europe, bookended by two laps of a boating lake.
It was a teeth-clenchingly chilly day – a glacial northerly wind nipped into our faces for the first half of the big lap. I was soon isolated – a small pack of speedies zoomed off and I spent most of the race vainly chasing the lad in fourth place. I was disappointed not to duck under 19 minutes, but I gave it a fair effort, which is all you can control.
Sunday morning saw us side-step the Peco cross country race at Roundhay Park and head up to the reservoirs for the first long training run of the year. It was a divine midwinter day – a clear blue sky illuminated by a blinding low sun.
I wrapped up and ground out three laps and 20 miles, not made any easier by fatigue and ever-increasing throngs of dog walkers that I had to manoeuvre around.
I finished with an 11-minute mile, shuffling around the car park willing my Garmin to tick over to 20 miles. I have a long way to go and many miles to run.
Comrades 2018 -22 weeks
11 stone 3.8 lbs
65.1 miles, longest run 20 miles. Parkrun (Pontefract, 5th 19:02)
RunBritain Handicap 2.9
Aerobic efficiency on Long run 1,080 heartbeats per mile