Saturday, June 30, 2007

June Summary

So June is over, a complete train wreck in terms of training. Achilles problems the whole month, and relegated to deep water running for most of it.

No races: Wisely skipped 2 instead of ripping my tendon up.

-- Ran just 5 times in 30 days
-- Biked twice - made my knees hurt
-- 7 days of pool running - boring, but hopefully effective
-- 16 days of nothing - lard ass
-- Only 38 miles running
-- 29 "miles" pool running
-- 850 Miles 2007

July Goals
-- Another month in the pool
-- No races
-- A massive 16 miles running (spread over 8 runs)
-- A mind numbing 135 "miles" pool running

By the end of the July I hope to be able to run 3 miles, twice a week. Then I pick it up in August to 4-5 miles 4 times/week, and I should be back to real running in September. Another 2 months of pool running might well make me crazy. I will really be unhappy if I am a complete slug when I get back to fast running.

I've redone my marathon training program for CIM in December. It's a little challenging going into a 15 week program from a base of just 8 miles per week (vs the planned 60), so it's got a pretty steep ramp built in. I'm still hoping to max out at about 65 miles per week in early November. I'll be amazed if it all works out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Splash, splash......

Day 3. My first "long run" following 2 days of intervals (1:30s and 2:30s). This was 3 minutes warmup, 30 minutes steady and 5 minutes cooldown. I appear to have invented a time machine of sorts; Pool running slows time almost to a stop.

In order to stay sane, and have something to plot on my various charts I have worked out a pool running to real running conversion based on level of effort. Today's run was 5.17 "miles". But trust me, I would rather have run for 15.17 miles than got in the pool.

I've worked out my schedule over the next few months to gradually reintroduce running: very slowly at first (i'm going to run 1 minute, walk 1 minute for 15 minutes next tuesday). As things get better i'll lengthen the runs a little but keep to 2 short runs/week. I'm determined that I'm going to get through thios with a complete recovery so it's 9 week before I am truly running again. (then I'll keep 2 days in the pool for 3 weeks, then 1 for 6 more, then I'm done - hopefully forever!)

This week is 21 miles in the pool and 0 running.
Next week is 15 in the pool (going to mexico) and 2 running.
Week 3 is 26 pool and 3 running
Week 4 - 29/4
Week 5 - 30/5
Week 6 - 32/6
Week 7 - 34/6
Week 8 - 36/7
Week 9 - 37/7... and then......Woohoo!
Week 10 - 14 in the pool and 17 on the roads!
The first "quick" miles will wait until weeks 12-13 depending on how I'm feeling and then if all is good I'll try a 10k mid September to see if all this crap has retained any of my fitness.

I will be very pissed if I'm really slow.

Then, hopefully, I can get back on track for the Cal International in December.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yesterday I bought an aquajogger buoyancy belt and went for my first real pool running session. This is a foam belt that keeps your head out of the water so you can concentrate on "running" and not worrying about staying alive.

I went into this with very low expectations. My unassisted, belt-free attempts at pool running over the weekend were terrible, and there was no way I was going to spend the summer doing that.

The training session was 5 minute warmup, then 2 sets of 5x1:30 "hard effort", with 30 second easy effort gaps, and 2 minutes easy between sets, finish with 5 minutes easy "running".

The kids thought it was hilarious to see Daddy bobbing up and down doing little circles in the deep end. I suspect they will be throwing things at me as I paddle by within a few days.

I have to say that it is a very tough workout and certainly is going to be enough to keep me fit while I can't run on the roads (if it doesn't kill me). Due to water resistance, the muscles get worked differently, and this morning I feel sore from head to toe. I figure that'll sort itself out over the first week or so.

I also accidentally discovered a fantastic running store. It's run by a 60 year old guy who is a big runner (2:22 marathon) and trainer (trained women's olympic team in the 80's). He is a true running/shoe expert - certainly not your average foot locker employee...... After telling me my current shoes were too big and a crappy choice for me, he got me all sorted with new shoes and advice that will hopefully help me if I ever get back to running on land.

It's Gary Goettleman's Ryan's Sport Shop in Santa Clara, and I'd highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pool Running Sucks

It is horrible! Worse than track speedwork, and so incredibly boring. I am going to buy a flotation belt tomorrow, which should at least keep me from drowning. And to make things worse, people's experience on various running websites is that 6-10 weeks is about the normal recovery time for achilles tendonitis.

Found a schedule to follow for 9 weeks of pool running. Assuming I don't drown myself from boredom if I can stick to this I'll not lose all my conditioning - but the bad news is that I can't even try running until the 9th week (August 20th)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Achilles 1, Running 0

OK, so this achilles thing has me completely messed up and it is now very obvious to me that "treating it gently" like I have been for the last 3 weeks is not doing any good.

Ran Thursday lunchtime and did a 3 miles at 7:30 pace as part of a 7 miler. During the run the heel felt OK, but that may have been because I was too preoccupied with not passing out due to the 99 degree weather (way too hot for fast miles, my heartrate hit 179!). Friday morning it was stiffer than ever, and bugged me most of the day even with ibuprofen. It's still bad this morning.

After a bunch more online research I have come to the realisation that if I don't make a drastic change this is just going to get worse and worse until I end up needing tendon surgery and then I can say goodbye to running until 2008.

So I am going to completely stop running until at least July, dose up on ibuprofen (3x600mg/day for 7 days), get some orthotic heel inserts, wear shoes with a heel all the time (to relax the tendon), stretch at least twice a day, heat before stretching, ice afterwards, and start doing some "Swedish eccentric calf exercises", which sound more exotic than they are.....

I can hopefully keep some basic level of fitness with a bit of pool running, if that doesn't strain the achilles at all, but I'm not going back on the bike since that didn't help at all and also made my knees worse!

Starting no earlier than July 1st, I'm going to spend a couple weeks easing back to 25 miles/week and only then start doing anything other than easy, flat short runs.

If that all goes well, I'll probably at least be able to run the Los Gatos half as an easy long run at around 8:30 pace. A far cry from my goal of 6:52 required to go sub 90 minutes.

I'm really pissed about this but realistically it is the only way that I'm going to get through this and still be able to train and compete effectively at CIM in early December, and even with this approach I'll be going into a 20 week training program having run an average of 15 MPW for the last 7 weeks, vs starting from a solid base of 50-60 as I had hoped. Plus if I don't stop eating/drinking so much I'll be 10 pounds overweight.

Of course, this is if things go well. If it doesn't, and I can't start training properly in the second half of July, then I'm not going to be ready for CIM, which means I'd need to start lining things up for the London Marathon in April '08.

So, if you see me running at all before July 1st, or doing anything other than easy miles before July 15th, please yell at me and call me stupid.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not So Fast.....

I think I may have been a little too optimistic yesterday. Although everything felt fine during and after running, this morning the achilles is sore again. A fast 10k this Sunday is going to have absolutely zero good long term effect, and will probably leave me hobbling into August. So I'm going to skip it and just run easy this week.

I'll see how things go leading up to the Oracle 5k next week.

At this point, the Los Gatos half is looking more and more like a 1:45 training run.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Full Speed Ahead....

Ran my first quick mile today in over 2 weeks. As part of an easy 5 miler I sped things up to a fast pace for 5 minutes to see if anything was going to break. Peaked at about 5:45 pace (which is pretty much flat out for me), and ended up doing a solid half mile at under 6:30 pace with no bad news.

Two hours later and it's all feeling normal so that is encouraging. Hopefully if I stretch out properly this evening, things will be fine for tomorrow morning's 7 miler, which will include a couple of miles at 6:45 pace.

Maybe the 10k this weekend will be OK after all....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting Better....

Ran my first long run (13 miles) yesterday since hitting my recent injury. It was a very flat route and run at a steady 8:15 pace, for a total time of just under 1:50. Felt a little pain after 9-10 miles but nothing major. Overall it was pretty encouraging to be able to stay up and running on it for almost 2 hours.

Apart from that run it was not a big week: just 2 other runs for a total of 25 miles, which after last week's 15 puts all of my June mileage targets completely out the window. I'm going to try to run 4 consecutive days this week (Tuesday thru Friday) and put a couple of 6:45 miles in during the Wednesday run. If that all goes well I'll skip Saturday and then race the 10k on Sunday morning.

I'm thinking that a hard race will probably upset my achilles but I'd rather find that out now in a 10k, versus discovering that in mid July during a half marathon. If it doesn't hold up in the 10k at least I'll be able to take some time off and not impact my December marathon training plan.

My goals for the 10k were originally.....
------(Goal 1 - new PR, sub 42:51 6:54 Pace)
------(Goal 2 - sub 42:00 6:46 Pace)
------(Stretch goal - sub 41:00 6:36 Pace)

I'll probably start out relatively slow (7:10 pace) and then see if anything falls apart as I gradually pick up the pace. Most important thing is to see if I'm really recovered enough to run hard, without actually making things much worse. If all goes well I'll perhaps be able to meet Goal #1. I'm not thinking that the others are going to happen this time around.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Slow and Steady.....

Another easy run today: 7 miles, all very flat, nothing fast. Good news - No real problems! I could feel the achilles a little after about 5-6 miles but nothing really to worry about. There was no pain later in the day either. I'll ice later tonight, do some easy stretching and take tomorrow off. Another short, easy 5-6 mile run on Saturday and then I'll try out a 10-12 miler on Sunday.

Next week will be also be an easy week, with no speedwork or hills. If that goes OK I'll try things out in the 10K on Sunday June 17th.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Encouraging Signs....

First run this morning after 4 days of rest following doctor's orders. It's weird to think that 4 days off is a long time, but it felt like I hadn't run for weeks.

It was a steady 6 miler on the flattest roads I could find. Started a little slow as I was worried I was going to make things worse but it didn't feel bad so I settled down into an easy 8 minute pace. The achilles didn't really bother me. I tried out a few quick accelerations at the end and it's definitely still got some problems, but I think if I take it easy for another week or so, and keep off the hills, I'm going to be fine.

It was good to get the bike out again for a couple of rides this last weekend, although I could feel the effects of riding up hills in my knees today when I ran. So barring more running injuries, I don't think I'm going to build too much biking into my training plan.

So this is definitely good news. I can hopefully get back to real training soon and move on to the next injury. I wonder what that one will be....?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Plan B

Bummer, bummer, bummer...... it's time for Plan B!

A visit to the sports doctor yesterday confirmed my internet based self diagnosis of achilles tendonitis.

As most people know, Achilles was a Greek dude from a long time ago (recently portayed by Brad Pitt in the not very good movie, Troy) who had a dodgy heel.

Apparently the rest of his body was invulnerable (although this picture doesn't make him look all that invulnerable to me....). Given my past running history I obviously don't have the invulnerable part but it turns out that I do have the dodgy heel. (I make no claims to any other resemblance to the guy on the right)

I'll leave you to decide on the Brad Pitt part for yourselves.....

It's inflammation of the achilles tendon and is caused by extending the tendon too much when exercising, which then gets inflamed and it hurts. Keep doing that and it can rupture and then you need to have surgery, which is bad!

Common causes include....
1) running up lots of hills
2) too much speedwork
3) adding extra miles too quickly
4) wearing high heels in the day and then running in flat running shoes

Looking back over the last 2 months of training, I'm willing to admit that I am very guilty of 3 of these. I have no public comment on #4.

The good news is that I caught it early enough that it probably isn't going to be a long term problem and I don't need any surgery or anything drastic.

The bad news is that my agressive training plan leading up to the Los Gatos half marathon is completely out the window.

Prescription is ibuprofen 3 times/day for a week to reduce the inflammation, ice after any exercise, apply heat in the evening and lots of calf stretching once the pain has gone. I'm completely off running for the next 4 days (my longest break since October, right after my first marathon) and then I need to ease back in with just slow miles: avoid hills, no speedwork, and gradually ramp the miles. Biking is OK, so I'll probably dust off my (t)rusty steed and go a for a ride today.

This week was just 15 miles (vs a planned 52). Next week I'm hoping I can do 3 easy runs and then maybe a long of 10-12 on Sunday to get to around 30. The week after hopefully 4 easy runs and then see how it is doing for a planned 10k race on 6/17.

If that all goes OK it should be cleared up and I'll then have 4 weeks to tune up for the half in July. That means 3 good weeks of training and the taper week. Even if it all goes wonderfully well I don't think I can get enough done to get anywhere near a sub 90 minute time. So I'm replanning that race and I'm going to make the San Jose Rock'N'Roll half in October my goal race for sub 90. That was my first ever race last year (1:51:50 finish). I'll weave that into the training plan for December's full marathon.

So it's a bummer to have a set back like this but something of a much needed sanity check. At some point this type of injury was definitely going to happen so I'm glad it happened now and not 2 months before my December marathon. It's also good that I caught it soon enough that it isn't going to cause any real problems.