2016 summary

Here is the usual end of year post, but late. 🙂

It’s been a year of two halves. The first half consisted of the most painful months in my running “career”. It took me ages to recover from a combo of shin splint and ankle impingement caused by pushing a bit too much at the end of 2015. The second half has been a much more enjoyable combination of experiences, from being able to run again, trying new races and doing some pacing for friends.

Here is a quick summary.

January

Still convinced injuries go away if you ignore them I tried to run, but every time I did I had to stop for a day or two.
I only clocked a total of 60k in a month and the pain was still there.

February

I started going to see a physio and he slowly managed to get me better and better. I spent every evening doing at least 45 minutes of strength training for my feet, shins and core. I even got to run almost 18k in one go. I thought the future was going to be bright.

March

I gave up with running. For every step forward I was doing two backwards. The pain was still too unbearable. I decided to do something else and started cycling or swimming every day. I even went to the gym on Friday mornings for classes of Boxercise (killer but fun).

April

More cross training and hiking. More cancelled races. Gave up on doing the Centurion 50 milers Grand Slam. Very sad.
The last weeks of April I was starting to feel like I could run again and started cycling to Richmond Park, run a bit and then cycle back. At the end I was doing more than 50k a week. I was back!

May

I was a runner again! Weeks of: 56k, 66k, 77k and 91k! I dedicated my time mostly on improving my form to avoid getting injured again.

June

I was finally running more than 100k a week. I paced Manu on his first 100 miler, the SDW100. I ran 62k that day and it was probably the best running experience of the year. Going through the night on those beautiful hills, seeing the sun come up and with it Manu’s morale and speed. Being there when he crossed the finish line, I still get goose bumps now thinking about the last 5k of ecstatic running.

sdw100_2016

July

I was finally ready to do some racing myself. So I did the North Downs Way Marathon one weekend and the Chiltern Challenge 50k the week after. I suffered a lot in both but really loved being back wearing a bib and those hours spent on the Chiltern Hills were worth all the pain.

ndw_marathon2016

I spent the last week in Puglia where on a normal day it was 40 degrees. I ran almost every day but not more than 10/15k. Even at 6 am the heat was too much.

August

August was a busy month. I paced Davide on the NDW100 but unlike my previous pacing experience, I felt I was not that useful. I also ended up not running the full 50 miles I promised him but only 41k in the middle of the race and the last 12k. It was still fun and a good lesson for me.

img_8449

Then at the end of the month I went to the Peak District to run the Dig Deep 50k. I ended up running 55k as I got lost. To date, this is the race I suffered the most, mentally and physically. Beautiful places, though.

September

I ran the Centurion Chiltern Wonderland 50 mile which was probably the best race experience I ever had. I paced it to perfection and basically ran it all (apart from the craziest hills). Beautiful.

October

I ran the Wimbledon Common Half Marathon finishing 7th overall but with my slowest time on this race I have now done three times. A lot of fun, but too muddy to try and do a PB.

November

Another trail half marathon: the Dirt Running Half. A lot of fun, first part fast, second part hilly. I finished 15th overall but 1st in my age group. Nice.

At the end of the month, I ran the Centurion Wendover Woods 50 mile. Very interesting experience, five laps of killer hills. It’s been a mental journey from start to finish. I cannot wait to go back next year.

December

I took this as a “month off”. I did not run too much the first three weeks. Mostly 40/50k a week. I did a Parkrun that killed my legs and was more than 20 seconds slower than my PB from last year. In the last week I ran again almost 100k, to get back into action and start with the real training in January.

Overall the second half of the year has been very good. Being able to run again after so much time injured has made me appreciate the sport even more. I feel very lucky every day I can go out the door and enjoy running, whether on the road or the trails, I love it all.

Summary of the year racing:

  • 1 Park Run (5k)
  • 2 Half Marathons
  • 1 Marathon
  • 2 50k
  • 2 50 mile

 

medals

I only noticed today I was given the wrong medal at the Chiltern Challenge, it says 25k!

 

Stay tuned for a future post with my plan for 2017, it will be a super running year!

The future

It took me quite a while to recover from the half marathon I ran last week end. I don’t know if it was the effort I have put in ti or the fact I ran it a week after a tough marathon on the NDW. Maybe both, but I could not even walk without pain in my legs for two days. I decided to take it easy and rested Monday and Tuesday. Then the rest of the week I ran relatively all easy stuff.

Here is a quick summary:

Wednesday 10.5k at 4:48 with wooden legs.
Thursday 11k at 4:38 on the Bushy Park trails.
Friday a very nice 14k at 4:35 in Richmond Park. I have never seen so many young deer.
Saturday I pushed a bit and did 22k at 4:26. I finally felt like I had recovered.
I finished the week with an easy 11k run on Sunday at 4:43.

Overall a good week of recovery. I ran a total of 69k.

From next week I will start increasing the mileage again. Why? Because it is time to seriously start training for the races ahead. And I have a lot of them coming up.
I have basically decided what I am going to do for the rest of 2015 and most of 2016 already. I enjoyed the NDW50 so much that I want to do more of the Centurion 50 milers, all of them actually and try to complete the Grand Slam.

But that is next year. First I need to prepare a 50k run I will do in September and then the 3 day Druids Challenge in November!

Here is my semi-definitive list of races I will do next:

DATE

RACE

27/09/2015 High Weald Challenge 50k
04/10/2015 Cardiff Half Marathon
06/11/2015 Druids Challenge
05/12/2015 Rail to Trail East (Cuxton, Kent) Marathon
23/01/2016 Rail to Trail South (Ashurst, East Sussex) Marathon
05/03/2016 Rail to Trail West (Wendover, Buckinghamshire) Marathon
09/04/2016 SDW50
14/05/2016 NDW50
17/09/2016 CW50
26/11/2016 WW50

I only have to find something to do in June, July, October and December 2016!

It will be fun.

Hope to see you in one of those races!

Back in action

After resting for three days after last week’s marathon I started running again on Wednesday.

The first day was quite painful. The legs were very stiff and I took it easy and only ran 10.5k at 4:51 min/km but it was nice being on the move again and the morning’s weather was nice and the river and Bushy Park were shrouded in a beautiful mist.

The day after, Thursday, I did the same route with a bit more of a detour in Bushy Park, for a total of 12k. I was feeling definitely better and ran at 4:24 min/km. I was wearing the Brooks Cascadia after more than a month of not wearing them. So I went looking for the most interesting and offroad paths I could find on the river and in the park. I had a couple of close encounters with deer and rabbits.

Friday I did another easy run, 13k at 4:33. As there is more light now I went on the river north of the Teddington lock where it is usually very dark as it is in the woods.

Saturday and Sunday I went for longer runs. 21.1k on Saturday and 16.5k on Sunday. I have to say, I was pretty tired by the end of the week end, but both days I felt like I could go on for more.

Next week will be more intensive. I will do speed works again and during the week end I should do two long runs.

Overall a good recovery week, 73km in total and I feel like my legs are back and ready for more.

Easy week

There is not much to report from last week. As it was a post marathon week I had to rest a bit (and eat junk and drink beer).

After three days of rest I was restless so on Wednesday I went out for a 10k easy run. I was hurting everywhere. First my feet were complaining, especially the toes. Then the Achilles’s tendons for a couple of kilometers and finally the hamstrings. Anyway I was happy to be back in action.

Thursday was a very strange day. It was almost 11 degrees at 5am! I went out in shorts and run 10k again but this time I tried to put some speed in. I could not. I was still too tired.

Friday was going to be the last run of the week as during the week-end I had decided not to run as my mum was visiting. So I tried to run for a bit longer. I did 14k, it was raining, but I enjoyed it a lot. The light is starting to arrive early in the morning and I can finally run on the riverside again. At least on the way back. Soon it will be possible to run inside Bushy Park! I cannot wait.

On a side note, I have been shopping for new shoes. The Asics Nimbus have more than 700k in tehm and it is time to change them. I decided to try something new and bought the Adidas energy Boost 2.

adidas

They have very similar stats to the Nimbus. Unfortunately I was so silly I ordered them from the web without trying them. I probably bought them half a size too small. In general I think they are tighter than the Nimbus. So after using them for a week to go to work I decided not to use them for running. I’ll use them as “normal” shoes.

I then watched this video (as always the Gearist is very informative):

and decided to try the Saucony Zealot. I am interested in seeing how a smaller drop affects my running. I went to the local shop but they were not selling them. They were nice enough to let me try the Kinvara for size and then I ordered the Zealot from a web site.

They arrived pretty quickly:

Saucony Zealot

The first thing I did was weight them on the kitchen scale (don’t tell my wife). They seemed so light! And they are: 100g less than the Nimbus (each one). I cannot wait to try them. I hope to get used to them in time for the next marathon in a couple of weeks time.

Ciao

Snow?

This week I decided to stop following The Cool Impossible training schedule. I have basically done the whole of it, only 2 weeks left, but they were not the right training runs just before the next trail marathon. So now I am going with my own schedule like in the old days, but with a lot more knowledge.
I used to run just as fast as I could and once in a while do some interval training and run a bit longer the week end. Now after almost 1 year and a half following well organised schedules I think I know what I am supposed to do. I know the importance of recovery runs, frequent interval days and tempo runs. So now I am going on my own!
Last week I did a lot of speed work and the 38k on Sunday left me really tired so the plan was to keep it relaxed this week, do more next week and than taper for the Rail To Trail Wendover marathon.

Monday I rested after the long run on Sunday.
Tuesday I woke up and it was snowing! Beautiful! I went out super excited as it does not happen very often. The beauty was that the roads were I live are not that travelled at 5am so the snow was fresh and untouched. As light reflects on the snow it was easier to see where I was going and so I decided to take a route tat is usually too dark at this time of year, from the Teddington Lock to Hampton Court Palace on the river path. Fantastic soft snow. I wanted to do only 10k, but I was enjoying it so much I had to do more. I ended up doing a sort of fartlek for 13.5km. It’s a shame that it rained later on and no snow was left anywhere.

snow

Wednesday, to prepare for the next trail marathon, I went for a run on Kingston Hill to do some hill repeats. I did five 500mt climbs and used the downhill to rest. then on the way home I did 5 fast sprints. It was incredibly cold, but I felt very good and strong.
Unfortunately by the time I was on the train to work I started feeling a bit strange: super headache and nausea. So much so that by 11am I left work and went back home. I spent most of the day sleeping and the day after I decided not to run.

Friday I went out for a 13k run where I tried to go a bit faster than a recovery run, but not too much. Ended up with a 4:18 min/km average. I felt good.

Saturday I did not want to do a long run as this was the rest week so I went out armed with just one gel and the handheld bottle (this time with salts in it) and went for a run around Richmond Park via Richmond Bridge. I tried to keep a steady pace under 4:30 and did it without any particular effort. Nothing special to report apart from the fact I enjoyed it very much. Saturday mornings are the best of my running week.

On Sunday it was sunny and I could not resist and decided to do the run I skipped on Thursday, so I went out for a relaxed 12k run in Bushy Park. Beautiful as always.
Talking about Bushy Park, have a look at this wonderful video by @juliableasdale.

Overall it was a good week, especially the run in the snow. As planned, I did less km, 75k in total. Next week I will do more kms and then taper. I cannot wait for the next marathon! Then I will have a third marathon in March. After that 7 weeks to do the final preparations for the NDW50. The plan is to increase the weekly km by doing two long runs during the week end and rest on Monday instead of Sunday. I will need to work more on time spent running more than on the speed which I tend to do too much.

See you!

Recovery week

After the epicness (at least for me) of last week I had to rest a bit and take it easy. It took me three days to recover from the marathon. I think the pain in the legs I felt on Sunday was mostly due to the mud. I really had to use muscles I rarely use. So Monday I rested. I had a couple of celebratory beers in the evening:

beerTuesday I had planned to go for an easy run but still felt very stiff, so I stayed in bed. Wednesday I finally went for a run and it felt so good. Three days with no running is now too much for me. I did 10 easy km at 4:25 min/km. It was quite warm, surprisingly so.

Thursday, as an experiment, I did the exact same route as the day before but did the final 5km at a 4 min/km or faster pace with a cool down km at the end. I struggled a bit. Too warm for what I was wearing and I still had tired legs.

Then Friday I decided I recovered enough and it was time to up the game so I went for a 15k run. More than the usual week-day 10k. Nothing really special, but I felt the legs were almost back to normal.

Saturday I felt good enough to go for a long run, grabbed my trusty handheld bottle, one gel (I should have taken 2) and went out in the freezing cold. It was between -2 and 0 all the time. It went really well: Bushy Park, Hampton Court to Kingston, Richmond Park and then into Wimbledon Common. I know so little of Wimbledon Common and it is so wild in places that I got lost running in the woods and mud. By the time I was out and back to Richmond Park I was already at around 20k so I decided to head home the way I came, instead of all the way around the park. I got home after exactly 30k. I was starving, but very happy. I was not expecting to be able to run so much a week after the marathon. Beautiful run, started on icy trails, caught some snow, rain and finished in the sunshine.

So all in all a good easy week, ran a total of 65k and, I think, recovered well. Next week I will resume The Cool Impossible training plan. I managed to get the heart rate monitor working again, by buying a new one. 🙂

Stay tuned for more, the next marathon is one month away!