Sunday, January 26, 2014

Coming back, ever so slowly

Yesterday I raced in the Tuggeranong Parkrun, my regular 'test race' (and only fast or hard running of my week). It was good fun — I had a race-long tussle with Leonie (the runner who dragged me into injury over the mountains of Majura and Ainslie last October). She'll be the first to admit that 5k isn't her favourite distance: "I've been thinking nervously about this race since Tuesday!" she said as we lined up for the start.

At the rather casual command of 'Go!', 225 runners (and walkers) set off on the twisting out and back course by the shores of Lake Tuggeranong. The first 300 metres was the usual somewhat chaotic scramble through the town park. I found myself running behind Brian Wenn (who quickly gathered himself and made his way up the field, eventually finishing in 22:53). Just before 1k, Leonie rounded me up on a sharp corner so I settled in behind her (told myself that at the time!) as we ran over the footbridge to the eastern side of the lake. The midfield of our Parkrun is popular, so there were many other runners to overtake or be overtaken by. Not long after the 2k mark I forged ahead of Leonie, using Gareth (pushing a stroller) as a bit of a pacer for a while.

Around the turn and back towards 'home' I huffed and puffed away, mainly passing people at this stage. I sensed Leonie running at my shoulder and just before the 4k mark she surged ahead. I ran hard, but it was all I could do to keep the elastic from breaking as we ran back into the park. Finally I was running over the last deceptive hill before an attempted sprint finish. I ran 24:33 for 57th place, with Leonie running a 5k PB just 3 seconds ahead. Next time! My splits had been 5:02, 5:02, 4:53, 4:48 and 4:47.

My comeback to full fitness is progressing well, but ever so slowly. This past week I noticed a sudden improvement in heart-beats per km for one of my 10k courses — 748, down from the 800 or more it had been a couple of weeks ago. If the improvement continues, I'd expect another jump down to the 720s, before another to the 700s. My 5k Parkrun races have also been improving — 26:07 at an average HR of 147 on January 4 down to 24:33 at an average HR of 148 yesterday. My advice to anybody reading this is to never (if you can help it) have more than 3 weeks off running. It takes a long time to come back!

 Warming down with Brian (who puts his improved form down to losing a few kilos on a sugar-free diet).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done. Sadly my own experience confirms that coming back for even three weeks off training can be remarkably difficult. I think the cumulative effect of a disrupted period due to ill health earlier in 2013 weakened your usual very solid base of fitness, and predisposed you to a more severe loss during your recent injury. The encouraging thing is that you are now rebuilding that solid base.

11:02 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

I'm sure you knew that already: running is a patience game. On the plus side, it does pay off in the end. Keep hanging in there.

12:17 am  
Anonymous Karla @ Run, Karla, Run! said...

Great work. You know what they say: slow and steady wins the race. While it's not actually true in running, it is true in coming back from injury. Keep on plugging! My rowing coach used to tell us that we could take 2 weeks off from exercise in our off-season, but no more. Then you start to lose fitness. I've personally found it to be true. Inside two weeks, I can pick up where I left off. Outside of two weeks, it takes a bit of time. But I've always gotten back into form. Keep up the great work!

1:35 am  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

Hey, hey! It's nice to see you are back out there racing. Nice job!

9:18 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Canute. I think as we age, comebacks take even longer. And that's a good observation re my small base following the illness earlier in 2013.

Thomas, that's so true! If patience is a virtue, distance runners are extremely virtuous.

Karla, I agree with your rowing coach. 2 weeks is an ideal off-season break. I take encouragement from your returns to form following time off. I'll keep plugging away for sure!

Thankyou Lize!

10:35 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Great to hear you are making such a good running comeback Ewen.

More than a week off running and most runners will notice a drop off in running specific fitness, but if you do consistent cross training specifically aimed at keeping your aerobic capacity up, then the decline in running specific fitness is lessened and so too is the time it takes to get back to your pre injury running fitness. Having now had 5 weeks off running with a fractured pelvis I can vouch for benefit of active rehab & cross training. Besides, it helps keep you sane and that's half the reason most of us run anyway :)

1:56 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

Good work Ewen. Time off is tough and getting the rhythm back can take time. However, you do seem to be quite the virtuous runner, so it will all pay off in the near future. Better to take 3 weeks off and let an injury heal than to drag out the recovery process. As Liz said, cross train and stay sane ;-)

2:18 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

That's some great improvement on the heart rate! I am starting to finally see some too. I bet you can attribute some of it to racing Leonie and others on the 5k circuit! :) That will sure give a fitness boost..
Next time we need some details on the long run :)

small town runner

5:21 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Liz. Yes, I was a bit slack in the cross-training department (only random 2k efforts on the erg). I was also thinking that I didn't want the aerobic system to be in great shape and the legs not when I resumed running, so the legs and aerobic system could come back together (if that makes sense).

Thanks J. I was pretty sensible (and virtuous) about letting this injury heal properly. I struggled on my run today though - felt like I was you running through mud in army boots.

Raina, I think you're right there. The 5k races also don't take much our of me in terms of recovery - I usually feel fine after a couple of easy days.

9:34 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

You are back! A very good negative split.

12:04 am  
Blogger Running Raggedy said...

Silly me, I thought you said stroller. You surely must have meant pace car! You'll beat her in the next one Ewen. 3 seconds isn't a lot to make up and you are definitely making the bigger gains.

6:10 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Stefano. Leonie dragged me to a negative split!

Thanks Mark. Yes, bloody strollers! He was having trouble getting through the crowd too - that's why I was able keep up, ever so briefly.

5:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice race Ewen & lovely that you are well on the comeback to full fitness! Swimming seems to be assisting with my fitness ;-)


9:49 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Fiona. I'm sure the swimming is helping your running. Great 10k yesterday from you (and swim today). Scott from Canberra who finished 8th said the course was tough. Think he's run sub-35 recently (36:17 yesterday).

10:14 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hope running is still going well!!

6:28 am  
Blogger Shane said...

I totally agree a comeback is a tedious adventure and in many instances a frustrating time. Well done on gaining a huge improvement since your return though, over 90 secs in 3 weeks is goood going. I can't believe how big your numbers are at Parkrun over 250 wow! we are just achieving 60 - 70 on average in Townsville.

9:39 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Raina, I've hit a bit of a plateau recently but at least I have no injury niggles (touch wood).

Shane, that's so true. Just logging lots of miles and being patient. Yes, they had a seeded start last week to smooth things out which worked well. Numbers down a bit to 170 or so due to the rain.

9:47 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ewen, nice to see you are still at it and going strong!

2:29 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Great to hear from you Chad! Wondered what you'd been up to. Good to see you've started up blogging again. All the best!

7:14 pm  
Anonymous Leonie said...

Let me know when I can expect a future opportunity to injure you on hills again because I don't think I can beat your new PB.

7:38 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Leonie, please don't race the Nail Can Hill run. Next chance, this Sunday at the Rob Roy Romp 8k - hopefully too short for you to injure me!

6:34 pm  

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