Thursday, July 26, 2018

Out of the mist

There comes a point during the many complex human interactions that comprise life that one starts to feel that the problems, obstacles and dilemmas don't reside in the actual real workings of concrete things but rather in rationalising and equilibrating of the perspectives and cognitive starting points of the collective human mass looking to deal with them. Any single human member entrusted and empowered to solve a problem would do so, but with the direction of a superior, or worse, rhe assistance of another, or worse, consultation from a committee, or worse the assumed support of a crowd of would-be supporters but later critics, the problem no matter how small becomes increasingly difficult. It makes successful problem solving in a collective environment a Nobel prize worthy achievement in psychology rather than a simple act of simple fixes. We obstruct ourselves.

That isn't to say without the human dimension problem solving is easy. There is skill, knowledge, common sense and creativity that comes in fixing those irritating problems. Perhaps it's the difference in big company / small company but the organisation I'm in never really learned how to launch anything. There are only a small number here who could organise a piss-up at a brewery. There is one I know of who I'll call "Katie". She under her own steam could organise Albert Hall. I'm not even close to her level of awesomeness but she can only shoulder; she cannot share; and she cannot train in these dark arts. I rate myself as one in contrast to the majority but I was lucky: I had the tutelage of some wise ones in the past, and had the constant necessity to find creative solutions, to "roll out" campaigns, at times against my will and beliefs, to "make it work" in my previous position. The common sense of organisation causes so many "duh" moments when you see someone thinking an e-mail or poster will successfully change something.

Change, oh, change. It's the elusive thing of them all. Change "them", change the world. If only "they" would listen. Or didn't "they" say that they would do such and such.  

5 more weeks

Well, perhaps not yet five more quite yet to the North Shore Marathon. But I've reached a nice clearing in time to write about my feelings (almost) five weeks out.

It's the 26th of the month and I'm just 15 kilometres short of the record mileage of June. 15 kilometre is really nothing to me these days, it won't happen tomorrow though. It'll happen on Saturday when I run a parkrun and then keep running. It won't be tomorrow because tomorrow is a rest day. A well-earned one, it's the rest after six straight days running, which, appropriate for a record breaking month, was the first time I'd run six days straight in my adult life. It's a nice little ticked-off goal - to run a good marathon it's good to be running 5-6 days a week, according to a lot of the resources I read.

For me it's something quite symbolic. I see myself as a fragile runner, with niggles a-plenty, injury always around the corner, over the horizon or at least swept under the carpet for a rainy day. The six days straight took me 110km, with three really focussed runs and three "easy" runs in nine hours twenty six minutes of running. And there aren't any sore spots.

That being said I had my "classic" moments of doubt: after day four's intervals (15km where three sets of 2 miles were done at speed) left my calves feeling beaten up. For a moment on the last interval I feel a sudden tightness in my right calf near where I had a calf tear in early 2017. I ignored it, ran just as fast but with that sensation. Two other points in my calves felt sore and so I chose not to run the next morning, leaving it to the Run Club in the evening to check them. They still "felt" it but I ran easily and by the end of the run all sensations in my calves had diminished. I'd run them out. If there is one learning point for the year it's that the cause can be the cure. The knee pain that blighted the last half of 2017 only went when I trained smarter with exercises. It simply became less obvious as my mileage increased. The rest day tomorrow will be enjoyed guilt and worry-free in that my legs are great, the rest only makes them stronger and I'll be ready to close out the month in style.

This should be my third straight week over 100km, touch wood, and barring any incidents. I've planned another two before my taper. This kind of volume and intensity should make my fitness quite formidable when it comes time to compete. Sometimes it's hard to believe that. In my pre-marathon half I should be able to maintain 4:20/km based on my understanding of my fitness. But that's a ridiculous number in the context of my previous running. That's fast! How am I meant to do that? The truth is that classic line: Trust your training. If there is one thing that is astonishing about running it's that when you put yourself out there sometimes your body responds and you just keep going. After my last blog I did a 10km race that was exactly that: I ran it in an unfathomable time in respect to my previous running: 40:50. I haven't recorded an official 5km time under 21:00 yet managed to keep pushing myself to the wire in a 10km at less that double my 5km race record. There were reasons, namely that the course was reasonably flat. Also, I jumped onto the tail of a regularly fast runner and once he couldn't keep it up leapt onto the coattails of another bunch and then another. Get with the right runners you'll have your carrot always in front to tease you to the end. And if the body is well-tuned, as long as the pace is vaguely reasonable, you'll sustain it to as far as you need.

I'm going to sleep well tonight.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

9 weeks till North Shore

Winter is certainly upon us: Fog shrouded mornings. Numb morning fingers. Trouble drying the laundry. And why does the heating in the car take so long to warm up?! I've had a hectic June. July promises to continue the hecticity. 

In spite of that, I've generally been able to find the time and energy to sustain and increase my mileage. June was a record month: 376 kilometres run, each week over 80km. (For reference, my highest previous week was 296km, and I'd only done 2 weeks over 80km last year.) This is all going to plan. And most importantly, I'm noticing the fitness effect of the high mileage. Last weekend I smashed my favourite half marathon route, TwinPeaks, shaving two and a half minutes off my previous best time, which was in turn recorded at my fittest, fastest period last year. At the Shoe Science group run I sliced one a half minutes off my 10km time for the my route record made just 6 weeks earlier. Almost unbelievably, the last few splits for that run were under 4:00/km. In every area I'm stronger than my peak period last year, except perhaps in my confidence to run beyond 32km.

And probably even more importantly than the fitness effect, I'm not experiencing the niggles to the degree I had last year, where I felt my momentum was always thwarted, and early this year when I felt I might not be able to run again at all. Fortunately ever time I've had those dire thoughts I've proven to be wrong.

Next week I have my next "moment of truth": A 10km race at Western Springs. It's a flat route and probably my best chance to record my best time for a 10km run, which in turn will be a measuring stick for what paces I might be able to do in the coming half and full marathons. My happy range of results would be anywhere between 42:00 to 43:00, with anything below 42:00 being a reason to celebrate. I've recorded two 10km times between 43:20-43:30 on hillier, more challenging courses, with slightly less fitness in the last two months. After this will be a half marathon 3 weeks before the marathon, which will be a perfect chance to sort out my marathon pace; and then the marathon itself on 2 September.

My general strategy will be to continue sustaining the mileage, up to 100km/week by the end of July and then taper from mid-August. I've done two runs over 30km so far and aim to do another 3-4 in this coming period.