Friday, 27 July 2012

Good times, bad times

Feeling good. Got into a nice routine which does not bore me, settled on an 11.5k route to get ready for my 10k… with scope for both a quicker 5k and a slower 15k every week. Both times and weight going down, so all’s well. Or is it?

For the past two days I’ve had to cut my running sessions short. Yesterday I was merely aiming for a lunchtime 5k, but pulled up after one and a half due to stomach pains. Spleen? Nah, I know spleen pain… this was higher, not as acute but equally not as easy to shift with a rest. Walked a while, tried getting going again but there was just no point. Tried later in the day but still to no avail: around a mile in I gave up and headed home. Then, earlier today I was hoping to clock 10k but again had to stop… similar pain but not as bad, but legs just not with it… in the end, after walking for a few minutes, I was able to run for the latter part of second lap, heading home but still only totalling 7k, foregoing the final lap of my regular 3-lap route.

So – should I panic?

I’ve decided not to. What I omitted above is that, hours before nipping out for a 5k run, I’d done a 20k cycle. Felt good there, albeit not so much when, along the flat stretch of the route, I was overtaken by a fellow rider. Bike seemed OK and he had one of those proper cycling tops with pockets on the back. He even had a bottle of Lucozade in there. But his demeanour still looked a bit too casual… yet those RPMs exceeded mine, and I was in top gear… what was going on? Weren’t I at the peak of my fitness by the standards I’ve set myself in recent years? And this guy, wearing casual shorts, just overtakes me? And has he got cycling shorts underneath those or is he going to ache later? I did not allow my mind to question that last matter unduly.
As we turned up to face the climb, I knew I was facing a moment of truth. If I couldn’t keep up with him, I’d been kidding myself and still had more work to do than I thought. As it happens, I was perfectly able to stand up on my pedals, overtake him and leave him in my trail. The flat track bully… we can all do it on the flat, pal, but it’s not as easy when there’s a climb, eh? It’s not nice seeing someone standing upright overtaking you when you’re puffing your way up the hill, eh? And where did you end up – I didn’t see you for the rest of the route, not even from half a mile ahead!
Such comments are obviously grossly unfair and exaggerated for what limited comic effect I can muster. I would not have been able to do that a few months ago: based on loose recollection and on-bike speedometre, I was a good 30% faster on that uphill stretch yesterday than on my previous outing. Some of that extra 30% was undoubtedly adrenalin, of the type the male body produces when one’s status is challenged. I was able to maintain a good pace and complete the 10k ‘lap’ twice, in a time of 57’ that compares favourably to the 30’ it took me to complete just the one lap a few months back. Heading in the right direction…

…but for my running problems over the past 24 hours. To some extent these may have something to do with the heat, but I am extremely reluctant to overplay this excuse. When I was in Italy, I’d play tennis at noon in July, go out on 40k cycles at 2pm in August… my body should cope with North Somerset’s 24°C. OK, our bodies acclimatise over time, but not this much – surely! Besides, I ran 10k in similar temperature on Tuesday, feeling really good about how I’d overcome the heat… so yes, whilst that may be a factor (and one of declining impact as the weeks go by), I’m not blaming it on the sunshine.

Far easier to blame it on my body, to be fair. I’ve not trained this hard in years. A day’s rest should sort it. Otherwise, I’m in serious trouble. Besides, I’ve still already clocked 31k so far this week, so a 5k tomorrow and a 15k on Sunday would still see me over that 50k line for the first time. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. Too much? Well, if it feels so I’ll just reel back. I am still comfortable with September’s challenge. Just like I am aware there are four key unknown variables. More on those next time.

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