Sunday, April 15, 2018

When it rains it pours

Being of British ancestry I do tend to talk about the weather a lot and the last 12 months have really stood out as extraordinary. We had a long baking summer, three cyclones and just recently an apparently mild weather system produced unpredicted category 2 cyclonic winds that brought down a large number of trees in Auckland and cut the electricity supply to some for days.

Though my mouth talks about the weather, weather rarely intrudes on my mood or my plans. I've been running as much now as I have in the past, although it must be said that a lot more caution has been required in the last few weeks with some suburban blocks completely dark after sundown and before dawn, often with branches of varying sizes blocking the footpath. (In isolation either one of these wouldn't be too bad but together you could be running into a tangle of branches before you know it!)

Following up my last blog, the tendon problems I mentioned are slowly going down though not completely; shin pain has returned and my knee still checks in to say it's still there from time to time. But I am running and running pretty well. In the last month I've run more than 200km and gotten some of my speed and endurance back. With three weeks to go till the Rotorua Half Marathon I'm still trying my best to get in important training, raise my mileage and test my limits.

Last year I ran Rotorua and achieved a lot more than I had expected. I ran 1 hour 38 minutes at a time when I hadn't broken 1 hour 40 minutes at any stage. And although my training relative to its lead-up was solid, it's nothing compared to what I've managed to do after it and even in the recent weeks. For some context, in 2017, in the same set of 4 weeks I ran only 120km compared to 224km this year. But there is a little mystery for me in this. Mileage does have an affect and should raise performance. I am doing work-outs that should help me run faster and longer, the kinds of work-outs I didn't even know about last year. Yet I did my favourite 21.1km training run and did it 2 minutes slower than last year. To give myself a little consolation, this morning's route was slightly different to last year's route as we moved house and there is a little bit more "uphill" than before; and it was raining for the last 10km, although I was already behind the 8-ball when rain started to fall. The strange conclusion is that I was a stronger faster runner at this time last year with less running.

Although I'm now following the advice of the running experts online, I definitely wasn't back then. Last year, I was still trying basically to go as fast as possible on all my training runs but not running many back-to-back days. Looking back on the titles or descriptions of those runs, one of the most common phrases is "badly timed", that is, I'd often misjudge the speed I should run out and feel the burn by halfway or three-quarters of the way, and have to try to survive till the end. Quite possibly that is a short cut to fitness (if one avoids injury) because the body has to quickly adapt to the demands of ridiculous work-outs. As a result of running fast and holding on I had PBs of 45:00 for 10km and 21:00 for 5km. I'm nowhere near that right now. I'll persist with my plan until after the Rotorua Half and then evaluate. Many of the work-outs are said to take 10km to show effect and I'd like to give it a chance to make me a stronger, resilient and eventually faster runner.

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