Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Very Last Time

An absolutely monumental hangover on saturday which saw me eventually surface at 8:20 p.m. At the risk of sounding like a cliche that really is the last time. I'm not just hanging up the drinking boots, I am tying a rock round them and going to the river to meet the unwanted kittens.

None of which is ideal preparation for the Peterborough City Games tomorrow where I will be running the 800m and the 1500m. Assuming the weather is good I am eyeing up a sub-2:00 800m and a sub 4:10 1500m. That's assuming the last remaining traces of hangover are in the toilet. Beyond tomorrow there is only really one other opportunity to race in a competitive middle distance race so I'm going to go out all guns blazing and see what happens.

I had an interesting appointment at the physiotherapists. I had to stand in front of her with just my boxers on (praying I wouldn't get a woody) and as she mused "Mmmm....twisted". Holy shit she can see my personality from back there as well. Anyway my knee problems are most likely caused by tight hamstrings and IT Band. Not surprising since the last time I touched my toes was outside Mr West's classroom when I was 10 years old. (Fortunate timing as I suspect that Mr West's replacement would probably have slipped something in given half the chance - and I don't mean a house point.)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Don't Pass the Grass, Man

With the hamstring more or less behaving itself since the weekend's racing I decided to have one last 'British Effort' at lowering my 3k time at the Watford open meet. As it was my last 3k of the season I decided to go out a little bit quicker and, as last time, ignore my watch. Conditions were damp, windy but overall not too bad.

Unfortunately it appears that Buffalo Mozzarella flavoured crisps from the Walkers sensations range don't mix well with running, even when eaten more than 2 hours in advance of the race. My entire warm-up was dominated by the usual (and expected) frenzied backside activity and an unexpected fighting of the mushy crisp tide in the back of my throat.

As with most things it had all settled down once the race started, although you certainly wouldn't have wanted to race closely behind me at any point. I went through the mile in about 4:52 and raced well throughout, although I was slightly restricted by a side stitch for the last 2 laps. Unfortunately given the standard of the field I came 15th, a respectful 66 seconds behind the winner! Pretty happy with the final time of 9:10.92 and that will serve as a good, but not too testing, benchmark for next season.

Another rather pointless visit to the hospital in the afternoon for my asthma meant I walked away with a prescription for my grass allergy. I always wondered why I used to fall asleep at college when it was passed around and now I know why!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Track Narcolepsy

It was off to Kettering at the weekend for another open track meeting. I have good memories of Kettering as it was home to Wicksteed Park - one of the UK's small, squalid amusement parks during my childhood. Nothing like a ride on the 10ft high rollercoaster, the 20m long log flume and some wet candy floss to get a boy dreaming of Disney World. Although the image of Nathan with his eyes closed on the pirate ship will forever be burned in my mind.

I had planned to run the 800m and 400m at the meet, however any hopes of a good time were dashed as the track was situated on the side of a hill and open to the elements. It was the sort of steppe that Genghis Khan made his own, albeit on a smaller scale and you couldn't buy scones in Mongolia at the time.

Every now and again I end up in a race where I look a bit ridiculous for entering. It's usually due to my age and the 800m field was no exception - if you drew up a venn diagram I would have been the only data point in both the male and over 15 circles. I decided to make it a good solid effort for training purposes, run the 400m and maybe even squeeze in a 200m for a full day of multipace training. I won by 12 seconds in a slow time.

By this time I had started to eye up the 200m race, purely because I figured the 400m wouldn't be that competitive, it was 3 hours away and also because the extremely strong wind was perfect for a decent time. So it turned out as I won my race in 23.5 seconds, although a tight lower hamstring at the finish reminded me of my old man's folly.

The reasonably successful day didn't quite end the way I expected as, after listening to the World Athletics Championships in the car, I woke up barely 10 minutes before my race to find out that they had moved the time forward by 9 minutes. I'd had no warm-up and sleep bogeys in my eyes so I decided to opt out of the race. The next day my hamstring told me that perhaps my bout of narcolepsy was a good thing. Maybe I should be testing myself on the polysomnogram rather than the athletics track!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Attack Of The Doms

Surprisingly I felt great the day after my last races, at least for the first part of it. As the day progressed I started to experience some discomfort in my upper quads and by the end of the day it until it felt that someone had shaved them with a sickle. Sure enough, as expected, it was my old friend DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). A particularly unpleasant case on this occasion which left me walking like a penguin for about 3 days - thank God I opted out of the 100m.

Hopefully all the pain will be worthwhile in the next scheduled race day, on sunday over 800m and 400m. I should be nicely set-up for them with last week's racing and a decent workout on sunday (a 5 * 800 @ 3k race pace with a 2:00 jog recovery) and an 800m lactic acid tolerance workout this coming wednesday. After that it's racing and strides until the end of the season in early September. This is the best time of the year; low volume, high intensity!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Under / Overdistance at Watford

Discretion is the better part of valour as they (usually cowards) say. As I had yet to attempt to reach terminal velocity during a short sprint at any point in the last few years I decided to opt out of running the 100m at the meeting last night.

I had feared that running the 200m and 3000m in one evening may go down in the annals of combo mistakes alongside gin with cherry 7-up and the infamous 'night of the Diamond White and prawn cocktail crisps'. It doesn't make a good story but actually the evening was a success.

Before the 200m I eavesdropped on pre-race discussions about attacking the bend, relaxing entering the straight etc. My current state of training absolved me from such technicalities, boiling down to a race tactic of pegging it as fast as I can. Not much to say about the race apart from I felt as though I got a decent start, but never really felt as though there was much speed on tap. I crossed the line in 24.00 - coming 4th out of 8 and with the 20th fastest time out of 83 total runners. Satisfying considering it was my first for 15 years but also highlighting the need for some acceleration / top speed work next season.

The 35 minutes between races was sufficient for my legs to recover but not to eliminate the puke taste in the back of my throat (a bit like the order of play for a hangover). After a sub-standard effort two weeks ago I decided on a change of tactics and ignore my watch except for the first 200m split and to focus on racing people not digits. The result was a much better effort mid-race and a time of 9:15.47 - 11 seconds quicker than a fortnight ago. This way of running is definitely more effective for me and I think I'll leave the watch behind for my final scheduled 3k of the season in 2 weeks' time. This was a good night of racing and hit the spot in terms of preparation for the 400 / 800 / 1500m races to come.

As a side note: I always feel a ridiculous sense of satisfaction at these meetings when they run out of toilet paper (as they always do). It eliminates the queue for the cubicle, allows me to practice my 'self-satisfied look of wisdom' and also enables me to make inroads into the McDonalds napkin mountain that has accumulated in my car.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A Knife For The Gun Fight...

On reflection my 5k-focused season turned on a knee injury and then about 4 poorly timed hangovers. At the time I was starting to nail the tempo runs, was running regular 14 milers and could feel the stamina rising like water in a blocked toilet. Due to my contracted season it was soon time to move on to faster track stuff and in hindsight I definitely should have prolonged the stamina training. I now have the stamina of a 16 year old with a new copy of Razzle.

Perhaps it's not a bad thing as my heart really lies in the shorter distances and as August is racing season it's time to get cracking on some of my season targets - all of which remain untouched by any of my puny efforts to date. The stamina deficiencies will have to wait for next season or, more probably, another lifetime. (A spiritualist once told me I would be reborn as a camel - the animal, not the cigarette).

Between tomorrow and the 9th September I have sketched out about 14 races. They are principally focused around 400 - 1500m but I will venture outside this range and plan to have one last crack at the 5k PB. With so little time and so many races it looks as the opportunities to complete hard workouts are limited - therefore some creative thinking is required.

To hit decent times in the 400 to 1500 in a few weeks I need to add in some speed and some overdistance stamina - a bit like Gordon Ramsey adding some seasoning and winnet d'arse to his boring sausages. What better recipe than running the 100m, 200m and 3ooo at Watford tomorrow night? I'll give it a go and see at what point the body rebels and dumps me in the hospital ward...