Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Gift of a Run

I was particularly nervous before running last Saturday afternoon. It wasn't the edgy 'fear of impending pain' nervousness that strikes me prior to racing in the D-grade 800 metres at Interclub. It was just the 'running could make my injury worse' kind of nervousness.

I thought my calf was on the mend. On Wednesday I ran 11.7k with Chris, pushing at times to keep up with his occasional 5:40 kilometres. The calf was fine during the run, but I was devastated to find myself walking around like John Cleese for the next two days. On Saturday there was still a little tenderness happening, so I debated with myself the merits of trying to run, or settling for a mountain bike ride. Finally, I laced up the Brooks and shuffled, Cliffy style, down the street, with the promise that I'd stop at the first sign of pain.

I made it to the edge of Theodore. This was looking good, I thought to myself. There was a lightness in my stride as my shuffle expanded to accommodate a few 5:20 kilometres. I continued along the banks of the 'Melrose River' (actually a stormwater drain into which it flows). A small brown snake slithered from my path towards the trickling stream. I was happy to be running without pain – just the normal stress of a neglected cardiovascular system.

After covering 6 kilometres in 33:46, I was back home, very happy in the knowledge I had given myself the gift of a run. It very nearly didn't happen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A big number

I'm very happy to be back running again after taking three days off last week due to calf soreness. I put my lameness down to an excess of enthusiasm the previous week when I ran six days out of seven.

In the two runs I did last week I managed a grand total of 15.7 kilometres. On Saturday I ran two laps of the Central Basin of Lake Burley Griffin. This is the best 'dead flat' scenic course in Canberra with about one third of the 5.1k lap being on gravel paths. The calf remained niggle-free throughout.

Before I drove to the lake I did something foolish. I jumped on the bathroom scales and was confronted by a big number – 80 kilograms. This is close to a PB for heaviness. When I had my heel injury over a decade ago I briefly made the scales struggle to 82 kilos. I know 2P will consider this nothing to worry about, but I'm feeling all this extra weight.

Although at the time, friends said I looked "in need of a feed", I'd like to approach the 71 to 73 kilos I was in my thirties. I always remember a small article in Runner's World about weight and VO2 max. It was a university study of a group of runners which came up with the result that a loss of one kilogram of excess body weight reduced the time for a 10k race by 30 seconds. Perhaps, but I think the best reason to lose some weight will be to regain that light feeling on my feet which should make running more enjoyable.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Life in the slow lane

My calf problem came back towards the end of this week. I'm hoping it's only a strain. I've run 126 kilometres during the past four weeks but I'm still a long way from being fit for racing. Then why race? I just wanted to see how bad I was. I've done two 5k races in the past two weeks, both at the Customs handicap, for times of 27:13 and 27:00. This is nowhere near a goal I had for this year of running 5000 metres in 19:59. This goal won't happen. The challenge will be to get somewhere near the 22:30 I ran back in May.

In my 27:00 Customs 5k I did feel more comfortable than the previous week. It was strange running flat out yet falling away from Bob and Colin who were jogging along having an animated conversation. My average heart-rate was 153 – a little below my usual racing heart-rate of 155 to 158. The race showed my lack of fitness. Earlier in the year I was running 4:44 per kilometre pace at this heart-rate rather than 5:24s and I wasn't fully fit.

Feeling like I do at the moment in races gives me a real appreciation for the struggles that beginning runners and novices go through. I also have a greater understanding about the long road back from injury or illness.

Many years ago there was a young runner in the group that Geoff used to coach. She had been injured and was doing her first Sunday long run for a while. We ran a course of 17 kilometres out around the Corkwood plantation and back through Stromlo forest. She kept dropping back from the group and would breathlessly catch up when we stopped for a drink or to open a gate. She was clearly out of shape but completed the run. Years later she ran in the trial for the 10,000 metres at the Sydney Olympics.