Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thursday 22/7 - Swimming, much?

As the title suggests, I have been swimming a fair bit recently. After my long run last Friday, my legs were pretty sore on the Saturday and Sunday. I had obviously been running in a really weird way because my quads were absolutely excrutiating...I feel like I'd run a tough marathon! (Well, I guess technically I did...)

Suffice it to say I took Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. By Monday I was raring to go again but two problems.
1 - My toe is still very sore. Not walking, that's fine. But running or moving it in certain ways and it's just agony. I am worried now that it might be fractured in at least one place. I did rule that out before since I could walk on it ok, but I think the fact that (now going on 12) days after it happened I am still in a good amount of pain maybe isn't such a good thing. I tried running last night and got about 0.5 miles with no pain then suddenly I scrunched my toe up again and BAM...ground to a frustrating halt. Will need to monitor this and see what happens...

And 2 - I am so busy at work its unreal. I am generally in there between 7 and 8 in the morning and leave between 4-5 though lately it has been later.

Excuses, I know. But all I am really focusing on is keeping my cardio strength up before the Devil race. Hopefully in a week or so I should be running again. So my exercise schedule has been:

Thursday 22/7

Type: swim
Distance: 44 lengths (34 front crawl, 10 breast stroke)

Wednesday 21/7

Type: walk (plus a gentle jog)
Distance: 4.6 miles

Started running and managed about 0.5 miles before my toe began to really hurt. I was gutted but decided to stop and walk...though I'm not really a big walker, and it was raining, so I went and got my neighbours dog (a lovely big scooby doo style dog) and took it a walk. The dog is so powerful it basically pulled me the whole way and I did spend quite a long time chatting to my neighbours but enjoyed being out for a good 2 hours.

Tuesday 20/7

Type: swim
Distance: 46/48 lengths (36/38 front crawl, 10 breast stroke)

This was a really tough run and my arms hurt quite badly the next day!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Friday 16/7 - A shorter long run than expected...thank you, TOE!

Time: ~6h55mins
Distance: ~28.5miles (~24/25 mile run, 3/4 mile hike)

Well, the long training run for the Devil race didn't quite work out as I'd hoped yesterday...I had hoped to do 35miles (depending on how much time I had) but the accident to my toe the other day had me thinking it may be more like 30miles. The toe was not sore to walk on but was sore to touch and still sore to move manually. I saw the Doctor about something else on Thursday morning and asked her about my toe. She told me I shouldn't really run on it as it will take 10-14 days to heal, but said I probably wouldn't make it any worse if I did run on it.

I should have probably taken her advice.

Anyway. Friday morning I woke up at 5.30am, lay in bed until 5.45am then got up and had porridge. I was tired but really looking forward to getting out. Took my time getting my stuff together, packing the new bumbag (which holds loads!) etc and left the house at about 7.15am.

As soon as I started running my toe started hurting. That should have been my first sign, though I just readjusted the way I was running (putting more weight on the inside of my foot) and that seemed to be ok. It was still sore but in retrospect I was basically limping less than a mile into the run.

To Beech Tree was uneventful. I was taking advice from John Kynaston and eating what I could (normally just a few cashew nuts or a chewy sweetie) every 30 mins. In retrospect I really should have put more thought into what/when I was eating!! It started raining just before I got to the Beech Tree and the clouds were so low in the sky. My jacket isn't really very waterproof and by the time I got to Drymen I was soaked. It had stopped raining but my wee toe was really quite sore.

I realised that, probably due to the fact that I'd altered my running style, I was doing something weird with my toes when I ran. Instead of just heel striking then moving off as normal, just as my toes hit the ground I would scrunch them (which was agony on my wee toe when it hit the ground). I don't know why I was doing it, but it was so annoying! The pain got so bad I had to stop and walk for a couple hundred metres.

Onto Conic Hill I realised that it was the downhills which were hurting the most (obviously because my toe was being pushed into the front of my shoe) so I walked the downhills and ran the uphills and flats. Maybe not the best "ultra" running strategy but it was working ok. Walked really fast up Conic Hill which was pretty much like a gorge. My feet were sodding wet though the sun was out, so I took the opportunity to eat a sandwich.

When I got to the flat I ran again but was stopped at the otherside. It was sooo slippy and boggy. There were people strewen all over the hill, obviously evaluating the best way down. I jogged down but had to stop and walk at points. Plus trying really hard not to run faster and keep my foot towards the back of my shoe all culminated in my quads being agony by the time I got to the bottom. I also slipped onto my backside half way down and bruised my butt cheek quite badly.

So by the time I got to the car park I had gone from having a sore toe to a) thrashed quads, b) a very painful a*se, c) an even sorer toe, d) some lower shin pain from running downhill with scrunched up toes.

Oh the joys. At this point I had to reassess my plan. The idea had been to go to Inversnaid but to be honest I don't think there was any way I could have made it in a decent time. I could have walked, as walking wasn't hurting my toe whatsoever, but my friend was coming to pick me up so I couldn't ask him to get me too late. I stopped at the Oak Tree to fill up my water and then kept on running towards Rowardennan. My friend said he would leave then to get me from Row, only he got lost and mistook Balloch for Balmaha (he lives in Lancaster and hasn't driven much in Glasgow) so ended up being quite a bit later than expected.

I left Balmaha at about 11.45am (which I felt was pretty good timing! ... just over 22miles in 4h30 plus stops??) and ran/hobbled into the forest, past the houses but that was really the last point I ran. After that I just hiked as fast as I could. My quads were really sore and going downhill was a struggle so I did run the downhills and some of the flats.

My friend drove to Row for 1.20pm, parked, and ran back about 3k where he met me. He was shocked at how hilly the path was, he's never run on the WHW before!! The two of us then just walked briskly to Row where we got a baked potato and a well-earned (but fairly nasty tasting) cup of tea. We went a wee walk to the "Stargate" after that but I was cold so we headed back to the car. Took the opportunity to stop at the *amazing* tearoom in Gartness for a strawberry tart and another cuppa on the way home (mmmmm!) as well.

So, all in all? The day did not go as I had planned. It worries me slightly that I have not run farther than 28/29 miles before the Devil race. That extra 13/14 miles could be a killer. BUT...then again, what's the worst that can happen - I walk a large chunk of it? I KNOW I am physically capable of doing the mileage and to be honest I will just be SOOO glad and proud to finish it! (Given that I can!!) Plus I will have someone running with me at a few points (that's allowed, right?) so that will hopefully keep my spirits high.

On the other hand, I know that I could have kept going yesterday if I hadn't ran so stupidly for the first part, hurt my quads so much and my toe didn't hurt so much. I.e. if I didn't have the toe injury yesterday I know I could have kept on going to Inversnaid, and probably Bienglas too (though probably walking that rocky part). My legs are agony today but again that's because I put so much stress on my quads yesterday, I know it. Hopefully it's at least helping me build strong muscles!!

The plan now?

Let my toe heal! Doc says 10-14 days. It's not sore walking today but is swollen so I will not run until next weekend (earliest) unless is feels ok. Will swim a lot this week and do some cross training. And eat lots. And generally be merry (o:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday 14/7

Well, an update is in order I feel. My foot has been sore for days. It doesn't stop me walking on it, but it is sore with trainers on and not good for running at all. In fact, I can't run right now.

I don't know whether my wee toe is fractured or just badly bruised, but on the plus side it has been better today and hopefully is just getting better. I will swim tomorrow morning and haven't run on it at all, so should be ok for my long run on Friday.

I am kind of nervous about this run...I'm aiming for 30-35 miles and it'll be the longest I've been on my feet for one stretch (without a bike!). Luckily my friend has agreed to meet me at the end and run/hike the last bit with me which is great of him! I also got my innov8 pro running bumbag today which looks awesome! I just hope it doesn't bounce around too much...guess whatever it does it will be a big improvement from me stuffing my juice into the waistband of my running shorts (:

So a relaxing week this week with the injury, but have done one good hard cross-training sesh.

Monday 12/7

Type: Cross trainer + row
Time: 40mins + 15mins
Distance: 6k + ?

Did 5 min fast warm up then increase in resistance and incline until really really tough...then back down to the fast 5 min again. Called the "Gluteal" work out =O 15mins tough row too.

Sunday 11/7

Type: Cycle
Time: 1h 30mins (including stop to eat lunch)
Distance: 12.6miles

A nice easy cylce with Derek to keep my legs loose. Cycled up to a nice viewpoint and ate a sandwich but it started to get really windy so we headed back.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday 11/7 - The Story so far...

As promised I said I would come back with some documentation of my exercise/life of late.

Update on my foot - today it isn't as sore to walk on (which is good) but when I try to put shoes on or walk with the shoes on the pain is somewhat extremely uncomfortable. I have tried to customise a kind of "toe strap" so my pinky toe is strapped to the one next to it.

Here's my toe when it first happened (left little toe):

And here's my toe this morning. The bruising isn't really that visible in this photo but it's blinking sore I tell you.

So today I think I will forego a run and go to the gym instead. If I can stand ok I will do a fairly intensive session on the cross-trainer then maybe go for a swim...if not, I will go on the bike for a while. Hopefully this will keep my cardio strength up anyway. If it's better tommorrow then I will go a 6-8 miler run. Then I have my big 35 miler run scheduled on Friday.

Now onto the fun stuff...

Last weekend on Sunday Derek, my cycling friend and I all got the train up to Fort William in prep for cycling the WHW on the Monday/Tuesday. It was absolutely peeing down on the Sunday and really wasn't pleasant to cycle to Westerton station in. We got some food in Morrisons then cycled the few miles to our hostel at Achintree farm. That was a really nice wee hostel, I'd very much recommend it. Lovely owner.

It rained all night and when we woke the next morning it wasn't much better. Queue our stupid pre-cycle look:

We headed off about 9am onto the WHW. It was a bit of a slog cycling up that big hill into the forest in the rain, I must say. Between being soaked and cold while pushing and roasting and soaked while cycling, it wasn't particularly good. But going through the moor was quite good and we did manage to cycle a fair bit of it. Queue Derek looking awesome cycling down a hill...

Coming down into Kinlochleven though was horrible. We couldn't cycle as it was way too slippy. In the meantime it continued to rain and we continued to get soaked. When we got into Kinlochleven we were freezing, soaked to the bone and starving. We huddled under a tourist information sign (the bus shelter was full) and shovelled some food down our throats. It was about this time we began to think of calling the cycle off. We looked up train times and decided to get as far as Bridge of Orchy before making up our minds. So we continued on up the hill towards the Devil's staircase.

Now this really was a case of pushing the bike uphill for the whole way. It really wasn't fun.

Though we did get to cycle a bit of it.

Looking a bit pathetic at the top...

...and pushing the bike back down the otherside, which was also too slippy to cycle down.

We finally got to Kingshouse and assessed our plan. Our cycling buddy was keen to push on since the weather had picked up slightly. Derek and I, however, felt it was going to be the same weather tomorrow and we really weren't enjoying it as much as we wanted to be. We had already cycled it, after all and this was meant to be for fun.

So, with a frown in our hearts and some building pain in our backsides, we flew down the A82 towards Bridge of Orchy to get the 18:56 train. I say "flew"...trying to maintain good speeds for that stretch really isn't very easy with all the cars flying past you. We got to B.o.O in time to have some chips then get train home.

All in all the cycle we did ended up ok but I didn't enjoy it at the start. I don't think I'll be cycling the WHW in that direction again. You need to push the bike for most of the time, and when you're doing that you are either getting smacked constantly in the leg by the pedals, or you are completely missing the scenery because you're assessing the ground the whole time. On the plus side though, it did map out the Devil of Highlands route well and I'm glad I covered the ground for it (did the Tyndrum > Kingshouse part while supporting Richard on the WHW race).

Here are some photos from the WHW race, too, which I'll post while I'm here:

Richard and I at top of the Devil's staircase.

and an atmospheric one taken by Derek.

So over the past few weeks my workputs have been as follows:

Monday 5/7

Type: Cycle/Hike with bike
Distance: 25 miles (on WHW) 12.6 miles (A82)

As described above!

Tuesday 6/7

Distance: 4.2 miles
Pace: 8.15 min/mile

A really good run after dinner, mainly because there were a lot of hills and I managed to keep the pace on all of them (all 1-3 minutes of hills!).

Thursday 8/7

Swim. 34 lengths. Pushed quite hard on the final lengths and felt really good afterwards.


Now for something non-exercise related!

Derek and I graduated on Friday 9/7 with our MSc in Operational Research from Strathclyde. Was a fantastic day and it reiterated how good the department are - had a nice lunch with our classmates and some professors. Feels really good to have graduated and I preferred this graduation to the one at Glasgow Uni.

Here are some photos to mark the day...which I view while deciding what my next academic endeavour will be!! ...

Me getting my pat on the head...

Me walking out with my classmates, noticing my parents hanging over the balcony with the camera and laughing profusely.

The goofy couple.

And most of my graduating MSc class...what a happy bunch we are (:

Saturday, 10 July 2010

10/7 - A bit of a gutter

Lots to catch up on but not much time just now so will post more later.

WHW cycle didn't go according to plan...was weather like this (!!) for the Monday and the time we got to Kinlochleven (from fort will) we were drenched and freezing. Ended up calling it off at Bridge of Orchy. Disappointing but we weren't doing it to prove anything, so nothing lost.

In other news, had a bit of a hard day today. As I was going to get ready to go out a 10-12 miler, I smashed my little toe off of the corner of the bath. Pain was immense but I iced it and did feel it would go away...

...cut forward to 7.30pm and the outside of my foot/toe has swollen up quite substantially and I'm having a hard time walking. I really hope it isn't broken or fractured as that would be really unfortunate. I'm icing it and praying for the best. If it's ok tomorrow I will attempt to do a longish run but I don't see that happening somehow.

In nicer news I graduated yesterday! Photos to follow.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday 2/7 - Long run on WHW

Time: 4 hours (plus a few stops)
Distance: ~21.5miles

Was up and out early this morning to do a run on WHW before doing various bits and bobs this afternoon. I drove to the Beech Tree, parked, and then set off to Balmaha (via the road at Drymen). Was a good steady run for the most part but I did start off a bit too slowly. I'm not really sure what pace to start off at when I'm doing these long runs. I made it to Drymen in just under an hour...which really isn't very fast considering it's about 4 miles from the Beech Tree! So I picked up the pace a bit towards Balmaha.

When I got to Balmaha I stopped to fill up my water was really clammy and I felt I was drinking quite a lot. Then I continued on up Conic Hill. I hiked up quite quickly, which I usually do, but it's really different hiking up when you've already done 8-9 miles as opposed to starting off your run! I found it a bit of a struggle right at the start but when I got to the top I stopped to have a look at the great view and quickly kept on going. It's something I think a lot of people forget to do when they are running in such beautiful countryside.

Going down the other side was fine, it wasn't too busy at all. I kept running except on a few little hills where I was trying the "walk the ups, run the downs" tactic. When I got to Drymen I stopped again to fill up my water bottle in the shop and headed back to the Beech Tree. I kept running most of the way until my mum called me about a mile from Drymen with some news about what I was doing this afternoon. I had previously been rushing as I had a few meetings, however she told me one of them was cancelled. I walked for a few mins chatting to her then kept going.

Arrived at the Beech Tree feeling ok from the point of view that my head was fine, i.e. I felt I could kept going, my legs however were beginning to get quite stiff! I guess it's the fact that I never really built up to this run, or the 28 miler two weeks ago...I just kind of went out and did them. I'm at the point now where I can't really build up to the Devil of the Highlands though, I'm just going to have to go with the flow and walk when I need!

Other than my run on Monday this week I swam quite hard on Wednesday which felt good afterwards. I quite like the fact that my muscles hurt a little the day after my swims...feels like I'm really working which can only be a good thing I guess!