It’s been an interesting year to date. Unlike the previous four years I started in reasonable health, but for the first time I had no clear focus on what I wanted to achieve and which races I would compete it. It could be the fact I started a new year without health problems and/or injuries took me a little by surprise.
The only race I had entered in advance was the Green Man Ultra on 5 March. Apart from that I decided to continue working a lot more on core conditioning, and technical aspects of my training through proprioception and plyometric exercises, alongside a little more speed work. These are all aspects I get my clients to work a lot more on. I have also been focusing far more on my running gait, improving my posture and trying to stretch out my stride length. Despite my age and background (four years of Ultra running) I have found this was having a positive effect in fitness tests.
To put the theory to the test I took part in the local 5km Parkrun on three occasions. Bushy Parkrun usually has between 1000 and 1500 runners, run around a slightly muddy and long 5km route. In the first 5km race (Jan) I finished in 17:09. I then went on to post 17:01 and 16:56 (Mar). I came round 5th in all races and 1st over 40 years old (1st over 30 in 2/3 races). I was really pleased with not only the times but also how ‘comfortable’ my form was. I felt a lot more in control of the pace. The 16:56 was a PB, so my thoughts are now to a <16:30 on the track.
There were no other variables in my training or lifestyle, which leads me to believe the extra conditioning and technical aspect of my training was paying off.
21 Feb – LUDLOW AQUATHON (400m/10km) Race Report
This was the inaugural running of the Ludlow Aquathon. A 400m Swim in the local pool followed by a 10km run around undulating country roads. Quite a low-key event with around 80 athletes competing.
If it had been 10 years ago I would have relished this format, as my swimming was a lot better then. My running however (as mentioned) has taken a positive turn in recent months, which may compensate for this, and I was relishing the opportunity to see how I would perform in my first Aquathon for several years. As I was competing in front of family and I’ve never won an Aquathon before, I wanted to be in good shape. Unfortunately I developed a very sore throat over the week before and didn’t feel 100%. Hard to say if this had an impact on the day as I still felt I performed well.
The race was split into wave starts throughout the morning, generally 15mins apart with the slower swimmers in wave 1 and the fastest swimmers in the final wave (based on pre-requested estimates). 1-2 per per lane, 16 lengths. Several years ago I would swim 6:00 before heading out on to the bike/swim. This was my predicted time for this race. A little optimistic! With what turned out to be a severe (almost non-existent) lack of swim training I knew I’d be a lot slower, and would be lucky to get 6:30. In a race that would take just over 40mins this could make a big difference.
As the final wave started lining up I got chatting to a couple of the athletes and found out they were aiming for times of 6:00 and 6:15. I made sure I was in the lane between them ;) From the gun I worked extra hard to try and keep on their draft and use them for pacing. This worked for 12/16 lengths before the lactic acid accumulated too much in the arms and they started to drift away. I climbed out of the pool in joint 7/8, but with a quick transition (running out in 6:43) I had not lost too much time to the other athletes.
On leaving the leisure centre I had the whole of the wave in front of me, and by 1 mile I had overtaken all but one runner. In hindsight this early pace may have taken it out of me later, but I was keen to get myself established close to if not right at the front. At circa 3 miles and lots of hard uphill running and tight cornering I finally managed to get on the shoulder of the leader. I was hoping that at some point he would start to tire but fair play to him he kept a steady pace throughout the whole race and by the time we reached Ludlow Castle at 4 miles the previous efforts in the swim and start of the run caught up with me and my pace dropped. The elastic broke and I now had to contain myself to ensure I could complete the race in an optimal time because I didn’t know what the athletes in the other waves had done overall. One athlete I knew was not so good (relatively speaking) at swimming but an awesome cyclist and runner was Paul Rogers.
The final mile was painful but I managed to get around in circa 36mins which considering the hard swim and not feeling 100% I was very pleased with. 2nd overall and 1st Vet.
5 Mar – Green Man Ultra (46 mile) DNS
Despite great running form over shorter distances, I had barely done enough mileage to justify a marathon let alone a 46 mile run around the Bristol Green Man Ultra (46M). But following a comfortable and steady 25 mile recce of the course with Brian Robb (Midnight Green Man winner) I knew I could not only get around the course but should be able to take a big chunk out of my old PB of 6hr35min, which was done on an extended course carrying the inguinal hernia.
In the two weeks following the Ludlow Aquathlon I spent the first week recovering, but then developed a strange soreness and cramping in my calfs and hamstrings in the second (race) week. Despite the necessary rest, stretching, light massage and electrolyte hydration this couldn’t be shifted. On race day I woke up at 3am from cramping and decided that I wouldn’t drive the 2hrs+ to Bristol to race 46 miles and have a potentially miserable experience. To say I was gutted is an understatement, particularly as I was generally in good physical shape, something lacking in recent years. In anger I jogged down to the local Parkrun where I posted one of my fastest 5km times (mentioned above). Typical!
March – April
With three big lifestyle changes (including a wedding) over the recent/coming months I’ve been quite busy mentally as well as physically. I have struggled with any form of training since mid March and have now picked up another injury. This one is even more frustrating as normal because it’s not something I had consciously done! I woke up a week ago with what felt like a bad crick in the neck. Normally this would ‘iron-out’ in 24 hours, but this particular injury seems to have also pulled on the trapezius. I have an imminent physio appointment for a more firm diagnosis. But at the moment I am unable to do any form of exercise without aggravating the area, even on the turbo trainer. Looking forward to being able to get my health and mojo back particularly as the weather is great for exercise right now.