Monday, 28 April 2014

Paths less travelled and blue tape

I just bought a box of clif bars, and the sky is less dark when I head to work: The Calgary Marathon weekend must be getting close. Training is still on course, just about. I had started to feel the left hip flexor get tight, which didn't seem to bode well. 
Chiro-man has me coming in every 2 weeks, and pointed out the left calf was the main culprit. It's certainly tender when using the stick. I've got some magic blue tape to help my left foot spring back between strides.
In monitoring my stride the next day, I could hear my left foot slapping down while the right was fairly quiet (yet another reason not to wear headphones). A bad old habit had crept back in on this one side: lifting my toes. Too much load on the calf then leading to the upper leg doing too much impact absorption. I had to resort to pressing my toes on foot fall, which made for discomfort in the calf and achilles, but since then the upper left leg has felt the same as the right. Got to keep the engine room in top shape. 

Amongst all that, I've run on a few pathways that I've never taken in all these years. Out to the east of downtown Calgary is the zoo, spread out across an island in the river and a small piece on the north bank. There's a pathway on this bank, overlooking the opposite island. So on a lunchtime run, I saw a black bear, some monkeys, a moose, 2 bison and a plastic diplodocus. What takes you aback are the signs that state, "the flood waters reached up to here," above my head on a pathway at least 10 metres up from the river.

I've also been through the area on the southern bank, where there's a bird sanctuary. Having taken quite a hit during last year's floods too, it's a bit stop-start in places. Still, a new path away from the crowds that often walk in moving walls, and the few fair-weather runners who don't know proper pathway etiquette.

Edworthy Park (nw of downtown Calgary) is a true escape, especially on the south side of the river , right down to the coyote warning signs. Unfortunately, it's yet another stretch of pathway closed for flood damage repair. Still very much under repair are the banks connected to 2 bridges in east Fish Creek Park. I will have to wait before I can once again do such a varied 26k - wooded areas, open scrub, twisty paths, long straights, right by the riverbank and up on a cliff edge. I decided to look at a new community I'd spotted on the other side of the Bow river 3k from my house. 
Over the 22x highway, up the hill to Cranston, down the other side and there's Riverside. 760k for a new villa. No way to the river that I could spot. Still, I got to explore and while improving myself, all it cost was a bit of shoe rubber and a bottle of gatorade. The top highlight was seeing an eagle catch a fish.
26k in 2:17 with 3 sizeable hills on that Sunday. Surprisingly good feeling in the legs, and the same on Saturday running 13k home from the gym after 2 hour core workout. 1:12 is a couple of minutes better than I've done it previously. The end of that Saturday is usually a stiff grind, so I'll take that good feeling and run with it.
On my mind that weekend was the beautiful win by Meb Keflezighi at Boston. A year on from the unspeakable, the first American win since 1985, from a man who walked across an Eritrean desert at the age of 12 to escape a civil war. A perfect result.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Marathon training - end of part one

"One final time, I will do a 'time on feet' run rather than doing the prescribed distance," I told myself on the last sunday of March. 20k over 2 hours instead of the 24.5k on my plan. Fresh snow meant a lot of crashing foot falls, flailing about and swearing at the cold wind. January weather is bad enough in January, so I was more than happy to get it over with.

Monday's 10k easy run was also cold, but it wasn't snowing and the wind had backed off. My toes hurt - or rather the part at the top between the bridge and toes. Doubtless from sunday's ordeal of random crash landings. The hope is that this won't happen again until next winter, though I wouldn't bet on it. 

Tuesday was still rather chilly, but one more easy 10k with fewer rattles and squeaks than Monday. New shoes got their first outing, no drama there as I've been wearing Adidas Response Cushions for 3 years.
Tuesdays are also a core/ weights day, 2 circuits of 11 different exercises. I tend to feel it little lifeless after this, though after dinner all's good.

Wednesday was shorts time. What are shorts? I'd almost forgotten myself. I buy running shoes 2 pairs at a time, so this was time to start wearing in the second pair. 
This was my final speed run of my marathon training, next week will be the start of strength runs - long intervals at between half and full marathon pace. Today's speed finale was 3x 6 minute intervals at with 3 minute recovery in between. Target pace is under 4:00/ km. I slow down if my garmin says I'm going 3:45 pace which to my delight I had to do several times. 

Thursday is a core/ weights day and the only day without a run. My least favourite day, but there's a plan to follow. On the whole, the fact that I have to restrain myself works in my favour. There are few times when I have to talk myself into it, though on the March Sunday I had to crowbar myself out of the front door. 
There was also a visit to the chiropractor, as I've been doing every 3 weeks since February. Calves especially tight this time, probably from sunday's crash-bang session. That and high mileage led me getting the choice between 2 or 3 weeks. 2 it is. Easy decision really.

Friday: marathon pace run, and warm enough for shorts again. Just the occasional bit of ice under bridges. I did a small amount of exploring and carried on the north side of the river on a pathway that passes through the middle of Calgary Zoo. For the record, one moose, 5 turkeys, a snow monkey, and a plastic diplodocus.

Saturdays are for my take on the biathlon. I take the bus to the gym, only 5 minutes away. I do 10 minute warm-up on the rowing machine, followed by 3 circuits of my core workout routine. I then get changed into running gear with as much preparation having been done before my core workout (drinks, etc). I eat a couple of granola bars while getting ready. I then run home with a small backpack on. I either run 16k which is followed by another 16k on Sunday, or 13k followed by 26. My legs often stiffen in the last 3 or 4k, though in the past couple of weeks they've been recovering quicker and quicker. 

Sunday's 16k found me trying a new path over the river in Fish Creek Park, turning around just as I got to the hill up the other side of the valley. I just managed to keep ahead of a dark rain cloud and back home to noodles for lunch. 
12 hours a week rather than 8-9 is having an effect on my weight - thinking the scales were off in my work changing room, those at the gym also say I'm lighter than I'd usually be at peak week. That's a whole month early. Most of the extra hours are at "fat burning pace" and more efficient use of fat for fuel is what my plan is designed to do, so probably a good sign. Saturdays involve core workout then 13 or 16k run home. That 3+ hours on my feet is probably mostly responsible for my trousers getting loose.  There are good signs, but I'm not going to take anything for granted.