Monday, April 25, 2011

Something interesting: The value of springy muscles

I'll need some help with the conclusion to this blog-post. I have the plot, but it's without resolution. The interesting thing I discovered after going 11 days without running (or cross-training) was that my legs had regained a springiness that I haven't felt in a very long time. A springiness reminiscent of what I remember from my (somewhat) serious 800 and 1500 metre racing days twenty years ago. It's not a measurable feeling — purely subjective, but very alluring.

The thing is, I know I also lost aerobic fitness over those 11 days. My first run back was 10k in 56:34 at an average HR of 139. Prior to surgery, I would have run about 53:15 for that heart-rate. So, on the face of it, 3 minutes slower. But, my legs felt amazingly good! I was expecting to run 60 minutes for that amount of effort after 11 days off, so were springy legs worth 4 minutes of speed?

Not long ago I read a blog post by Steve Magness about muscle tension — specifically, the value of retaining muscle tension during the taper for a race. What has me intrigued after my little unexpected experiment is the idea that there could be value in holding onto some muscle tension during training (or at least not straying too far away from that happy state). I'm addressing the following questions to readers on the experienced side of the age of 35, for I don't think spring-less muscles are a problem for younger folk. Do you think it's worthwhile trying to train in a way that promotes the retention of springy muscles? If so, how could this be done? If it means sacrificing weekly or monthly 'mileage', how much could I sacrifice and still retain a high level of aerobic fitness?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prelude to something interesting

I'm back running after eleven days off under doctor's orders. Ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a total of 30 kilometres and 206 for the last four weeks. I haven't forgotten how to run. I want to write at a little more length about a discovery that my usually cumbersome legs gained some springiness after all that idle time. I'll do this in my next blog post over the Easter/Anzac Day weekend. While I'm here I'll raise a glass of Samuel Adams to my marathon friends running in Vienna, London, Enschede and Boston.

I'll leave you with a photograph of the stitching on my right calf (just below the knee), and another of three amazing women. Pam, Liz and Ruth completed their 10th Canberra Marathons last weekend, thus earning 'Griffin' status. There are only five women in the Griffin Club. Pam ran the marathon in 3:43 and continued on to complete the 50k Ultra in 4:31. Pam has entered this year's Badwater Ultramarathon. Liz (despite some anaemia and other issues) ran 3:19, and Ruth broke the 6-minute km barrier with a 4:12. Well done ladies!

The Aussie Dollar is going up!Stitches on my right calf and an Aussie Dollar

Three Griffins!Three Griffins - 30 Canberra Marathons!

Monday, April 04, 2011

A bump on the track

I'd planned to race the 5k this Saturday at the Canberra Running Festival weekend (there's a supporting marathon race on the Sunday). This afternoon I had a skin cancer cut from my right calf and the doc said "I don't want you to run for ten days." There are only eight stitches in the wound but I should heed his advice. Bugger! There are plenty of 5k races on the calendar so I'm not fretting. I could be a marathoner who's almost torn her hamstring off the bone or a runner who's missed a lil' ol' cross country race due to a stress fracture.

The hazards of living at a high-ish altitude in the country's sunniest capital city. That's one of the reasons I prefer running at dusk — no need to lather litres of sunscreen all over my ranga-esque body. On Sunday morning I watched almost a thousand females race through the parks down by the lake. The Youtube video is here. The frame below shows how much "air" the two leaders are getting. But not as much as me! I reckon the other photo is proof of a new air-time PB. What do you reckon?

Air time at the WAG 5k fun runAndrea and Sarah leading the Women and Girls' 5k

A PB! (perfectly timed photo from John Kennedy)I beat them for air-time on the green grass of Stromlo