Goodbye London! After 20 years my wife and I decided it was time for a change. I’ve had some fantastic experiences in and around London over those 20 years and made some great friends. I will of course still make regular visits. But for now, I have to get used to the fact I can no longer just pop out and run along the Thames or through national parks like Bushy Park (above). It’s been a year of big life events, and there will be one more to come.
So, almost four months since my last blog so about time I did an update. Not a lot to report, and unfortunately a typical summer of frustration through (chronic) injury and illness. I’ve just finished a 2-day run/hike of 52 miles along Offa’s Dyke and it was a struggle because of sore R ‘policeman’s heel’ and bursa, tight and painful L glut and hamstring, and just coming off a one-week bout of campylobacter. Despite the stiffness it was great to be out on the hills. I may have to make a switch to swimming and cycling while the legs take a break from the sustained impact damage of running.
Despite the lack of training, I have been able to work a lot more on core strength, balance and some running interval work (before the injury issues resurfaced). I had a disappointing Top Grun 12hr Ultra race (Pulled out at 30mile) in May, and Harry Hawkes 10mile race (59min) in Thames Ditton during June. But I’ve seen some improvements in my short distance performances particularly circa 5km. I was unable to take part in the Civil Service Track & Field Champs to go for my first sub 16:30, but did post 1st place in Dolgellau (Wales), Wyre Forrest and Ludlow Parkrun’s. The Ludlow Parkrun was a course record…if you don’t count Canicross (dog-assisted). So my speed and strength are both there or thereabouts, despite a lack of endurance.
I do enjoy taking part in Parkruns. Some great, testing courses and the atmosphere is quite relaxed. At the same time you can find a bit of competition if you want it. The races are free so you can decide on the day, and just rock up to a local event. You can see why it’s a very popular. My brother Dean has set a challenge of his own. He is aiming to complete all London Parkruns, (currently 45 in total). I believe he’s completed around 10 so far. I’ll continue to take part in the odd race until I’m able to stretch out my running training and get my fitness back.
So my plans for the summer (potential 3-day Coast to Coast and a 6hr Bristol Green Man) have taken a back seat for another year. And who knows where my focus will be after a few months of sprint-orientated swimming, cycling and gym/strength training. I will need to reduce my hours over the following months so perhaps a few sprint triathlons will be on the cards for next Spring. Plenty of time to build the body up. I may bore you with some training data in future blogs.
Beet juice / Flavanol Tests
I recently took part in a Kingston University study on the effects of beet juice on sports performance. The tests were carried out in a lab before and after a 2-week program of concentrated beet juice supplementation (300mg nitrate/day). The effect on my vo2 max was quite impressive. Each person reacts differently of course, and you have to get the timings just right if you want to get a positive effect before a race. I’m not allowed to divulge any more information about the study until publication.
I also took part in a similar test to find the effects of dark chocolate (oh yes!) on sports performance. These particularly flavanols could only be found in specially manufactured dark chocolate (although the Lab did mention a company has now released a product that can actually be bought in the likes of Holland & Barrett). Unlike beet juice, which contains nitrates, these flavanols help the body produce its own nitric oxide, thereby again dilating blood vessels and reducing oxygen consumption. The results from this test were similar to that of the beet. I’ve always been interested in the science behind sports performance, particularly nutrition and sports supplementation.