Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thursday saw a relative failure as a run, neither enjoyable nor within goal HR range. Dropped my daughter off at a group workshop for kids who have siblings with special needs and then went for a run before going back to pick her up.  Started OK, but then I deviated from the planned route.  I'd thought about trying a particular track I'd not been on before, well marked on the map, but then I decided to go a bit further but on the roads inbstead.  As I passed the entrance to the footpath, I went about a hundred yards further on and then turned back.  Big mistake.  The path should have followed the line of a railway track and then past a lake, but within about a quarter mile it had become completely overgrown, niot maintained at all. 

I carried on hoping it would get better but it didn't, and I was reduced to walking pace threading myself through the brush.  I could have used a machete at that point.  The path then completely disappeared and I found myself all snagged up on brambles, both feet holding thorny things down, one arm snagged, laeing backwards trying to free myself.  I eventually managed it to find that I now needed to cross the railway line to make any chance of progress.  I went over into a field and ran along the edges of that hoping it wasn't private and with my HR now a good 10BPM above the target limit. By that time the damage was done, I was miffed, HR was too high and wouldn't come down and I was wishing I'd stuck to the plan.

On getting home I looked at the map and decided I'd followed the right route after all, but I won't be trying that path again for a while.  In fact I may write a letter to the local council as I'm finding that loads of marked paths are not being maintained.

All in all just under 6 miles in the trail gloves on mixed terrain.

At least I got out and did something.

And the mince pies and shortbread the kids had cooked were pretty good.

Then yesterday, just a very short run in an out of town to pick up a few last minute things for the holidays.  Not perfect, but OK, and it's another 6 miles in the bank.  Off to my brother-in-laws today (Christmas Eve) back home again on boxing day.  I'm not even going to pack any running gear as I'm under no illusion that I'll run.  I'll be filling my usual role as chief barman and executive chef, which is fine with me as the training has been good this year and three days off is not going to make any difference overall when you look at it in reality.

Daley Thompson I am not

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Getting Ready to Race, Maffetone Seems to be holding up

Firstly, apologies to my reader for my absence here.  It’s just been one of those months where I’ve been flat out working and trying to keep the training load up as well.

In this case, flat out with work includes regular trips to Aberdeen and a week of windswept and bleak railway maintenance depots two weeks before Christmas.  I’ve also been suffering from a failure of my Garmin 310 XT.  For some reason it decided to stop uploading data to Training Centre or Garmin Connect but would repeatedly try and transfer data and fail every time.  With a bit of research into this on the Garmin forums and asking around, I found out that this is not an uncommon problem.  Basically a time stamp on one of the workouts gets corrupted and it never transfers so it just gets stuck in a loop.  There are two types of reset described in the manual, a soft reset and a hard reset that wipes all user data.  Neither of these worked, but then I found out that there is a third deeper reset that basically wipes all non-firm memory.  That finally worked and I also took the plunge to upgrade to the latest firmware at the same time, and re-enter all my settings for about the fourth time in a week.  I was not a particularly happy bunny at the time, but all seems OK now.

I’m not going to bore my reader with a full breakdown of what I’ve been doing since the last entry, but I’ve been mainly keeping up a mix of 4-5 sessions a week of biking, running and yoga, and a mix of huaraches and trail gloves for the running.  The only time I’ve gibbed on the running is when I’ve looked out of the hotel window on a desolate scene of wind, rain, sleet etc, nit because I don’t fancy the run, but mainly because I’m going home that evening and I don’t fancy carrying a suitcase full of wet running gear around for the rest of the day.

I’ve been following this Maffetone method since the beginning of September now, with all workouts aiming to be within an aerobic threshold.  For the most part I’ve been successful, apart from a few where things have just not worked and mainly external factors have conspired against me.  I’ve had one or two workouts where I’ve deliberately pushed it, but I can count those on one hand.  What I have noticed though with this Maffetone method is that:
1)      I’m running or riding slower than I used to
2)      I’m definitely running further
3)      I’m recovering better, which means that overall my training load is higher.

The only nagging doubt in my mind though, with a 10K road race coming up in less than two weeks now (New Year’s Eve), is whether I can go fast.  So with that in mind, I deliberately set out last weekend to see whether all this slow running had affected my top end speed, or whether all of this aerobic training had truly worked to shift my threshold and give me a bomb-proof base.  I also wanted to see if I could run fast in huaraches, as if the weather is good enough I plan to race in them on NYE.  I set out to run the race loop from my house which joins it at about the 1km mark.  The plan was three miles steady and then let it go, not up to max, but just up to tempo type perceived effort.

The day was awful, cold, overcast, windy and threatening rain, which arrived duly just as I started the faster section and lasted about a mile and a half. It felt good to run fast again, and looking back at the data, the perceived effort seemed lower than the HR trace would suggest.

1) 7:57 / A137 / M161 – max HR from futzing around with the strap that kept slipping
2) 8:35 / A148 / M158
3) 8:48 / A148 / M152
4) 7:27 / A166 / M171  - started the push here, into the wind and rain
5) 7:15 / A170 / M176 – up the hill
6) 6:43 / A172 / M176 – last hard mile, no wind in the way here
7) 2:48.5 / 0.37mi / 7:36 / A160 / M171 – cooling down

Total) 49:33.1 / 6.37 / 07:47 / AHR 156 / MHR 176

Overall, those three hard miles were pretty decent on no speed work for three and a half months, and I was very impressed that Maffetone seems to be delivering what he promised.  That Max HR on the hill on the course was the same as the race last year, but was faster.  The last hard mile was only slightly slower than the finishing quarter mile spring in last year’s race. 

Overall though, I’m pretty impressed by the way this method has helped me to run further, slower, but still keep my top end speed.

I’m definitely sticking with this now, long term.  The other resolution I’ve made, in my mind at least, even if not yet on paper is to run in my first ultra marathon next year.  I’m intending to make it the 70-miler run on the same course as I did this year’s half marathon on.  It’s a nice 7 laps of the 10-mile course with the ability to go back to the car each lap.  The intention is to finish, speed/pace is irrelevant.

Back soon, I hope.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

How to lose four weeks of your life in one easy step

How to lose four weeks of your life in one easy step and my first conference presentation

I won’t make you hold on to the end, the answer is very simply, to drop your month old laptop from about two and a half feet onto a wooden floor.  Strangely it carried on working for a day after that, but then when I tried to restart it, no go, dead as a dodo, or a Norwegian Blue.  It was an ex-laptop. 

Luckily it wasn’t mine, it was my work laptop, and luckily I had a backup of data from just before I got it.  What I didn’t have though was the work and data generated of the four intervening weeks which in work terms were probably four of the busier weeks I’ve had recently, so I lost a lot of stuff.  One of the more critical things I lost on Monday morning was the finished draft of a presentation I was supposed to be giving on Thursday to a conference being held by Oil and Gas UK, an industry body for the UK upstream oil and gas industry. 

Luckily I had a few critical documents and e-mails still in the system and on thumb drives, and even luckier, that included the first draft of my presentation.  I managed to resurrect that relatively quickly and get that to the conference people in time.   

Until it happens to you, you really cannot have any concept of the impact of killing a laptop.  I was lucky in the relatively short space of time since my last backup, but there are still some critical documents I cannot recover.  The thing you really cannot account for though is the time impact.  I’d planned a full weeks work including the conference, but as it was ended up losing probably a day and a half to sorting out getting a temporary replacement laptop, getting mine couriered to London and then getting it couriered back on Friday with a new hard drive installed, and then there was the e-mailing clients to ask for them to send things to me again.  Add in about half a dozen conference calls, trying to deal with a visa problem and there goes the week. And in my time, I’ve also had the last four weeks worth of exercise data to type back into my spreadsheet log.

I think, from now on, my back-up regime will be a little more rigorous, allied to my policy of keeping stuff in at least three different places.

So, this week’s training?  Pretty mixed really I’ve managed three runs, one yoga class, a turbo trainer session and some rowing, all going pretty well except one of the runs where I really didn’t manage to stick to the HR cap very well at all.  With the rowing I had no intention of sticking to the HR cap as I was doing this with this months challenge being 4x200m sprints with 1 min rest between each.  It’s all a bit of fun, just a virtual team challenge.  I’m currently in our fourth boat (The Ref), but not expecting to be there at the end of the month as we have some very good lightweight rowers in the team.

This was my second attempt, the first being on a nasty scruffy hotel rower, this one being on my nice, well maintained machine at home in my garage.  That doesn’t make erg sprinting hurt any less though.

It went a bit like this
Warm up 2500 / 10:23.4 / 2:04.7 pace per 500m / 24 strokes per minute
1) 37.2s / 1:33.0 / 40 / AHR 145 / MHR 165
2) 37.7s / 1:34.2 / 40 / AHR 160 / MHR 169
3) 38.2s / 1:35.5 / 41 / AHR 164 / MHR 171
4) 38.5s / 1:36.2 / 41 / AHR 165 / MHR 171 
cd 2000 / 9:13.2 / 2:18.3 / 22

That was a total of 2:35.9 for the fast stuff, at an average pace of 1:34.7 and average power of 412W, beating my previous attempt by 4.4 secs.  Not a bad improvement, but you can see the lack of coherence in the attempt.  I was tying up badly with lactic legs in the last one.

Runs have all been with the intent of sticking to the Maffetone HR cap of 148, but succeeding better in some than others.  One of the things that I find difficult with this is running into the wind, where the perceived increase in effort obviously lags the biofeedback from the HR.  It’s also difficult in some cases to respond quickly enough to the HR hitting the alarm limit as sometimes it keeps going up with a bit of a lag. I guess that just means I need to set the alarm a few BPM lower.

Sunday (13th)  6.62 miles / 57:31 / 8:42 pace / AHR 145 / MHR 153

Thursday 4.78 miles / 39:08 / 8:11 pace/ AHR 145 / MHR 160 (@0.56mi/ strap adjust)
In reality the MHR was about 155, which was still too high.  I was running late that morning and may have been subconsciously hurrying.

Friday 6.38 miles / 54:45 / 8:35 pace / AHR 145 / MHR 154 – that max was into the wind, I need to learn to slow down a bit quicker.

Yesterday – Turbo trainer, 1hr, average 206W / Max 236 / AHR 145 / MHR 153

And the presentation I made on Thursday?   That went very well indeed with some great feedback from the organiser, from the UK’s offshore regulator for the environment and from a couple of my existing clients who were in the audience.  Hopefully I’ve made an impact with a few potential new clients as well.  It’s the first time I’ve spoken in front of an audience that big, but I had a surprisingly low level of nervousness.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Equipment Failure and First Run Since Shredding the Feet

I say equipment failure, but in all honesty, it's much more likely to have been user error.  I recharged my Garmin 310XT before leaving home for the week on Sunday evening, which would normally be absolutely fine for a full week of travel with a 20 hour claimed battery life. 

Due to the feet shredding episode of last Saturday and arriving at about 9:30pm, I didn't do any exercise Sunday evening, and was surprised when I turned the Garmin on on Monday evening to be presented with a Low Battery warning.  My only conclusion is that either I'd had it switched on whilst charging and not turned it off for travel or I'd accidentally knocked it in transit.  Anyway, I put it back in the bag and went to manual.

All in all, it's been another busy week, with about 9 hours of windshield time as my American colleagues say.  I drove four hours from home up to Middlesbrough in the North East UK to spend two days on an onshore gas treatment plant there, then drove another two hours down to Hull to take a flight offshore for two days on Wednesday morning. Once I got there I had to change a tyre on the hire car due a slow puncture (nail in the tyre), which meant that I could only drive at 55mph due to a restricted speed spare.  That made the journey home on Wednesday 3 hours, but I did average about 53 mpg.  So with all that away time and driving I'd planned a nice relaxing day today. 

Fat chance.

I spent the morning dropping the kids at school and then catching up on admin and planning.  I did treat myself to a lunchtime run though, my first since last week's barefoot feet shredding experience.    This afternoon I've been reading and editing reports and printing out a new European Regulation that I need to give a presentation on next week.

I did manage to get a few sessions in though during the week.  Remember no Garmin, so no HR data, which meant Maffetone went out of the window again for the second week.

Monday was a speed day anyway.  I row for the Forum Flyers in an indoor rowing league competition, and this month's challenge is a sprinty one, 4 x 200m sprints, 1 min rest in between, total active time to be entered.  The thing with sprinting on the rowing machine is that it takes a bit of preparation to transition from the aerobic to the explosive.  The sharper eyed amongst you will have noticed that the Maffetone Method is all about low heart rate, aerobic base building at the moment.  This was going to be fun!

Right, sit down, assess the quality of the gym rower, furry fan casing and grotty chain says it all.  Unloved erg with a drag factor on the highest damper setting of about 100.  My clean machine at home gets about 200.  No point complaining, warm up, 2000m should do it.

Very crude plan, pull as hard as I can on the first one.  Do the same three more times.
1) 38.9s / 40 spm/ 1:37.2 pace per 500m  
2) 38.8s / 42 spm/ 1:37.0  pace per 500m  
3) 38.9s / 43 spm/ 1:37.2  pace per 500m  
4) 39.3s / 43 spm/ 1:38.2  pace per 500m  
Total) 2:35.9 / 42 / 1:37.4 pace per 500m  

On the last one my legs started tying up in a bath of lactic pain at about 125m and no matter how much I tried I couldn't get any more out of them and the rating wouldn't go any higher.  Overall happy enough with that as I'm way out of sprinting shape.  I may have another bash at that on my own erg which I know is clean.

Tuesday, another hotel, another (slightly better condition) erg.  This time back to the steady work.  I decided to see exactly what the Garmin meant by low battery.  About 30 mins on the HR strap it turns out, so I chopped off the end of the workout.  Maffetone gives me a 148 limit for aerobic, for running, but I've always found my HR drifting higher on the erg, adn lower on the bike for steady state output of a similar power.  That meant that at a comfortable pace, my HR kept nudging low 150s.
Meters / split pace / split spm
1) 2348 / 2:07.7 / 22 
2) 2304 / 2:10.2 / 23 
3) 2275 / 2:11.8 / 23 
4) 2237 / 2:14.1 / 22
Total 9167 / 2:10.9 / 22 / 40 min 

Wednesday was a very busy day with a flight offshore, platform induction, review of environmental conditions, controls, talking to people etc, so I didn't get to the gym until about 8:30 pm, but I was delighted to find a brand new rowing machine there, absolutely clean and spotless.  Lucky old me.

So, no HR strap again, stick to a pace at which I can have an easy conversation with the one other occupant of the gym, a thai boxing rigger/crane driver about 3 inches shorter than me and about 10 lb heavier.  A chunky little fella, working hard to put weight on.  We had an intermittent chat about the values of good overall fitness with the right mix of strength and cardio training to help make sure he doesn't blow up mid fight.

1) 2309 / 2:09.9 / 22 
2) 2302 / 2:10.3 / 22
3) 2293 / 2:10.8 / 22 
4) 2295 / 2:10.7 / 22
Total) 9198m / 2:10.4 / 22

Not much different to Tuesday, just a flatter profile.

Got home early evening Thursday, and did a bit of yoga with Serena, my seven year old daughter, great fun trying to teach her Warrior's triangle and the Sun Salute.

So, to today.  First run since the feet shredding barefoot episode of last Saturday.  It hasn't been until now that I've been confident enough to try them out again.  So, decision made, no more barefooting, minimalist only. It's getting cooler here now, so huaraches on the feet, long sleeve top with a short sleeve over the top of that and thin running gloves.

Seven miles in total, trying to keep to the HR cap.  Hampered in the first three miles by a wonky HR belt giving spuriously high readings until I adjusted its fit. The effect was spikes up to HR values that I knew were just wrong for that pace, but nothing I can do about it.  After that it was reading true, but telling me that I was at about 147 plus and up to about 152 when I turned the corner into a headwind. 

1) 7:58 / A 134 / M152 
2) 8:02 / A 146 / M164
3) 8:14 / A 147 / M172 
4) 8:32 / A 148 / M152
5) 9:07 / A 147 / M151 
6) 8:18 / A 146 / M152 
7) 8:26 / A 146 / M152
8) 0.15mi / 1:16 / 8:18 / A143 / M145 
Tot) 7.15 / 59:53 / 8:22 / A145

What you see about halfway though is when I came down the back straight of the loop into a headwind.  The extra effort pushed up the HR, forcing me to slow to try and keep in the right area, then at mile 6 I turn again and the pace picks back up.

Feet absolutely fine, glad to get out there.  Same again tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Feeling a bit of a fraud

You may have noticed the title change of my blog.  I had a good summer slowly building up the barefoot mileage, then work got busy, the nights started closing in and I was running in the dark, and the weather started getting wetter. Instead of spending maybe 50% of my runs barefoot, it was down to once a week and then once a fortnight, and then yesterday it was my first BF run for a month. 

It was cool and damp from overnight rain, and I went out to run on the 10k course for the new year's eve race I do.  My feet felt tender on the first mile of chip-and-seal tarmac, and the second mile was easier as was the third.  There's a bit more chip and seal after mile three then it settles down to decent tarmac after that.  About there my feet really started to hurt and the pace slowed.  I stopped briefly at about 3.5 miles to check my feet and found nothing obviously wrong so carried on but still slower and with feet getting sorer by the yard.  About 4.5 miles in I noticed that my left foot was bleeding from a burst blister, and that I had more coming.  I kept giving myself targets to get to, promising myself a rest at the top of the 15m high hill on the course.  I didn't get that far though, being forced to a walk before the base of the hill.  At teh top, I trotted again for a bit, but was forced into alternating a slow, painful trot with an even slower painful limping. 

By now I was entirely despondent, and thinking about ways to make the pain end as quickly as possible.  When I got home I found a very good collection of blisters and blood blisters on each foot. 

That really made the decision for me.  As much as I want to be running barefoot, I simply don't have enough time to devote to it over the winter to be able to get the technique good enough to stop this happening each time. My thought process on this is that I can't run truly BF enough to iron out the flaws in my technique, but that they are not severe enough to affect me in huaraches.  The wet ground doesn't help as it magnifies those technique issues and we're now heading into another damp cold northern european winter, so it's only likely to get worse if I keep putting in just one or two BF runs a month.

I want to keep running, but I can't be taking three days off for my feet to heal after every BF run.  I'm also thinking longer term that I'm aiming for my first ultra distance in July next year, which I'm planning to do in huaraches, so I need to be comfortable in those over long distances anyway.  They are slightly more forgiving of form mistakes, but not entirely.

Today (Sunday) I have at least three good sized blisters or blood blisters on each foot, of which I've drained the worst.  If I hdan't I'd only be able to hobble along and I have to drive up to Teeside today for work tomorrow.  There is still enough discomfort to stop me running or riding today but much less than yesterday

I'll pick up BF again when I have more time to spend on it, probably starting back at a couple of miles again until I get the technique issues ironed out.

Well, enough of that, this week has not been too bad otherwise.  I've been recovering from this cold, so not pushing it too hard, but I'd managed a few sessions during the week in amongst the work commitments.

Monday was up to Aberdeen in the evening, ready to take the first flight north to Kirkwall on Orkney and then a car adn ferry ride to the island of Flotta, to carry out a visit to the oil terminal there as part of my emissions verification work for EUETS.  It was a good visit with much better weather than last time I was there, still windy, but nice and sunny for early November.  The place is very beatuiful, but can be very bleak in poor weather.   With just an overnight trip I took the minimum and just did some bodywork exercises in my room in the evening. 

The flight back to Aberdeen on Wednesday was delayed, so I didn't get anything done that evening. 

Thursday and Friday I managed two runs, one in the Merrell Trail Gloves, the other in the home-made huaraches.  Both a shortened version of my usual route, just easing back after the cold.  I'd forgotten my HR strap, a great big Doh! moment for an HR capped training phase, so ran by "feel" instead, keeping it comfortable.

Thursday 4.31 mile / 33:2  1) 7:44  2)7:57  3) 7:55  4) 7:29  5) 2:20 / 0.31 mi / 7:37

Friday 4.48 mi / 33:31 / 7:29 average  1) 6:38 2) 7:48  3) 7:37  4) 7:43 5) 0.48mi / 3:44 / 7:45
 I think the GPS may have shorted the first mile as it was the reverse of Thursday's route and didn't feel that quick

Saturday's debacle
t) 5.68 mi / 52:14 / 9:11 / A142 / M154 (adjusting strap)
1) 9:02 / A138 / M154 
2) 8:23 / A146 / M149 
3) 8:34 / A146 / M150 
4) 0.59 / 5:12 / 8:49 / A 146 / M150 accidentally pressed lap button during a quick stop
5) 8:59 / A134 / M149
6) 11:04 / A139 / M 149 
7) 0.09 / 1:00 / 10:28 / A138 / M141

Monday, 31 October 2011

Gently Does it, Recovery

This weekend I had grand ambitions to get out on the bike for a decent ride.  A combination of actors have been conspiring against me in recent weeks and I've been limited to turbo trainer sessions for most of the month, but I have managed to get a decent number of running miles in. 

Last week, I was hit by a cold, which started on Monday as a sore throat and by Friday had developed into a full-blown lurgy with a hacking cough, sneezing and thick, green snot.  For once, I took the advice that I always offer, but never heed and took it easy.  That meant nothing all week, and only two, deliberately easy sessions on the turbo at the weekend.

Both sessions were planned to be at 200W on the turbo, which I stuck to.  First one with African Queen playing on the laptop, the second with Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, screening the latter for suitability for my daughter (not yet!)

Sat - RHR 58 - that shows the cold still affecting me as that's about 10bpm higher than usual.
Tacx  688 cals / A 200W / M 210W
Garmin 630 cal / 19.69mi / 95rpm / A137 / M147

Tacx 687 cal / A200W / M 210W
Garmin 636 cal / 19.4mi /94rpm / A137 / M148

Both nice steady sessions, ideal to keep things ticking over whilst I rid myself of the cold.  Garmin mileage is of course absolutely meaningless in this context.  It's HR and watage that counts.

Up to Aberdeen again this evening.  This time with a lightning trip to Flotta in the Orkney's on Tues/Weds then in Aberdeen for a couple of days. The Flotta trip was sprung on me last week as a stand in for someone else so I was up to my eyeballs getting stuff done in prep for the trip and amongst all the activity, forgot my HR strap.  A bit of  Homer Simpson moment considering 1) I have an elevated RHR and 2) I'm supposed to be following an HR limited regime at the moment.


Friday, 28 October 2011

Sometimes it's better to just do nothing

Apart from that encouraging MAF Test on Sundsy, I've done nothing this week in terms of exercise.  Other than exercise, I've been pretty much run off my feet. 

I left the house for Aberdeen just before 6Am on Monday to spend three days with one client and one day with another.  This also included a trip up to a gas terminal, where the Nort Sea gas pipelines land and the gas is processed before going into the National Grid to get sent to everyone's homes.  One of the cool things about my job is that I get to see part of the country and vital infrastructure that people just don't routinely think about.   

So what's exciting about a gas plant?  Not a lot in itself, but when you think about where these things are, and what else happens there, it gets interesting.  This particular site is in the North East of Scotland, right on the beach.  The area is absolutely beautiful on a good day.  Last time I was there in May, they had rare birds nesting on the site and it was bright sunshine.  This time it was a howling gale with winds of 40mph and higher.  Not the best weather for climbing 30m high gantries.

As well as the job in hand, it seemed that this week, every man and his dog also wanted a part of me to either plan upcoming assessments and jobs or to revise and re-issue reports, or to book things, or send things, or discuss things...

And then I started going down with a cold as well.  Sore throat all week, then snottines.

For some reason I was uncharacteristically sensible when it came to training this time and decided not to train with a cold.  Hopefully by this weekend I'll be sufficiently recovered to either get out on the bike or a couple of hours light spinning on the turbo trainer

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

mixing it up, keeping busy, seeing progress

It's been a very busy ten days since I last posted, with two weekends and a week offshore inbetween and much happening in those.

An offshore trip is always busy with a lot to cram into a short time, bookended by the chopper flights which themselves are a challenge.  Last week was no different with a flight up to Aberdeen on Monday morning, soem time in the client's office then out to the installation in the afternoon, three days on the platform and drill rig, then back onshore Thursday evening and into the offices again on Friday before heading home in the evening.

Depending where you are, you may or may not know that last Monday it was blowing a howling gale here in the UK, and particularly windy in Scotland.  It seems to have been a very windy autumn so far as evidenced by the amount of time I've spent on the turbo trainer vs out on the roads on the bike.    Anyway, Monday was probably the worst chopper flight I've been on with rain lashing the windows for much of the way and several pretty big lurches downwards.  There were a few hairy arsed drillers looking a bit worried.  When we landed the pilot gave us a pretty serious warning which was really superfluous when you saw the helideck crew struggling to unload the baggage.  He told us the wind was at 50 knots, about 55mph.  I'm glad I had two bags to weigh me down.

The sites (both platform and rig) were both pretty good, but I got into soem very useful stuff to report back to the client on the Friday.  No really good photos unless you're interested in drains, drums, bunding and locked open/closed systems. This is where I was (though not with the same drilling rig.  The flotel pictured here was also not present)

So amongst that I've still been managing to keep up with a bit of training, to the extent that I can.  I've managed two bike turbo trainer sessions (too windy both days to get out around the fens), three runs, two on the treadmill offshore one trail run, and one session on the indoor rower.

I've been mostly sticking to the Maffetone heart rate cap still, apart from a few wobblies on the trace that I think are actually blips in the trace rather than anything else as the HR varies by 20BPM or more in a few seconds, which doesn't seem reasonable, in the first minute or so and then settling down for the rest of the session.

The runs have all been steady state with a total of 21.8 miles last week in 9.8, 6 and 6. 

1) 8:31 / A143 / M159 (approx 1min in)
2) 8:35 / A145 / M150
3) 8:36 / A 143 / M 148
4) 8:48 / A146 / M151
5) 9:12 / A145 / M151 
6) 8:53 / A142 / M 147
7) 8:59 / 142 / M 149
8) 9:06 / A145 / M149
9) 8:50 / A142 / M147
10)0.77mi / 6:49 / 8:48 / A144 / M 148
T) 9.77 / 1:26:21 / 8:50 / A 144 / M159

This was done in huaraches, which worked very well on the trails.  I was expecting a bot of muddiness, but it was ctually quite the opposite with very dry dusty conditions in some parts.  You can see that I'm still struggling with the HR on the trails, but in much better control on the roads.

The offshore sessions were much more boring, both on a treadmill in a hot sweaty airless room.
Tuesday Total 6mi / 49:43 / 8:17 / A142 / M 162 (1st mile spike) / cad 91
Wednesday Total 6mi / 50:00 / 8:20 / A141 / M151 / cad 93

Thursday lost out with the flight back, and then on Friday morning without any long sleeved shirts and no warterproof (the decision to come back onshore Thursday was a variation to the plan midweek) and a lot of wind and rain, I stayed in bed for an hour instead.

Saturday and Sunday were interesting. 

Saturday was an indoor rowing session and my first foray into anaerobic stuff since early September.  It was my effort for my virtual indoor rowing team for our inter-team monthly challenge.  This month was a 500m sprint.  Erging is one of those things where to be good at it, you really need to be doing lots of it consistently and I haven't, so I wasn't really expecting much, and I was thinking that I had one good shot based on a decent underlying fitness, but not much erg-specific training.

Plan was warm up - then 500m's alternating hard/easy - cool down.

Reality was - 2km warm up OK
First hard 500 went OK, rest 500 went OK, next hard 500 went nowhere and became a rest 500, a fourth hard 500m followed and I then called it a day and cooled down again.

The hard 500m came in at 1:40.9 / 37 strokes per minute / AHR 154 / MHR 173

My PB for this distance is about 5 secs quicker, so you can see I'm a way off, the only thing that saved me was underlying fitness and ability to get the stroke rate up.

Sunday's bike hour on the turbo was being used as a MAF test to check progress. Turned out pretty well, using the same protocol as last time.  Ten min warm up - check calibration - 35 mins with 7 minute laps, recording HR each time, then a ten min cool down.

This time (for the 5 x 7 minute section)
1) 232W / A142 / M 149 
2) 224W / A147 / M 150 
3) 222W / A147 / M 152 
4) 214W / A147 / M 150 
5) 213W / A147 / M 150

Last time
1) 217W / A140 / M148 
2) 213W / A147 / M149 
3) 209W / A147 / M150
4) 205W / A147 / M149 
5) 201W / A146 / M149

So HR a touch higher by 1 or 2 BPM, for about 10-15 Watts.  I'm taking that as a positive improvement and encouraging signs to carry on with this Maffetone method.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Variety serves many purposes, both culinary and sporting

This week has been an interesting reminder for me of the value of variety and also the value of listening to the messages your body is giving you.

In August, in preparation for my HM I was running my “long runs” up to 14-15 miles on mixed terrain just following the farm tracks and footpaths round here, sometimes getting lost but generally enjoying myself.  Since lat August/early September however, I’ve been mainly up in Aberdeen in the week and running on roads, and then getting on the bike when I get back here. 

So Sunday, when I went out for a mixed trail and road ten or eleven miles I was quite surprised at what I found.  Compared to running on the roads, my HR was higher for the same pace and, to be honest I was struggling a bit.  It was also tempered by the howling gale that had sprung up between the morning and the afternoon when I ran, but still, it was definitely hard work.  I also found that on the Tuesday morning I was feeling it my calves and Achilles.  One bright spot though was the wildlife around, plenty of rabbist adn pheasants and a few chirpy birds, but the best thing was spotting a  fox track which I then followed for about a mile and a half down a farm track.

I’m throwing that in the bucket with Tuesday in general, when I had a very busy day in London getting to the office before 8:30 to get my laptop in to be swapped, then getting to Oxford circus for ten o’clock for a conference, back to the office to pick up the new laptop and home for about 6:45 pm.  It was a very hot, humid, sweaty day, I was wearing suit and tie, drinking too much coffee and felt bloody knackered by the time I got home.  I thought about jumping on the erg for 40 minutes or so, once.  Then I thought again and decided that while I could, that didn’t mean that I should.  In my own mind I knew that it would probably be a mediocre session in the circumstances and was pointless doing it.  Quality over quantity.

So that leaves a choice.  Looking at those that are getting so specific in one area that they can do that and only that i.e. top level rowers, jumpers, throwers, weight lifters etc and knowing that they will generally be relatively poor at other things I think is this a receipe for health?  that was questioned this week as well with a conversation on another forum where an ex rower realised that he’d become so specific that his body was basically screwed for anything else.  If you are going to excel at that one thing, maybe it’s a worthwhile approach, but I’m not going to.  Personally I’m going for health and fitness, but I need a reminder of that every now and then.

So this week

Sunday – Run
1) 07:57 / A139 / M149 
2) 08:05 / A145 / M150
3) 08:43 / A144 / M150
4) 08:51 / A147 / M152
5) 09:15 / A147 / M152 
6) 08:59 / A145 / M149
7) 08:59 / A145 / M148
8) 09:15 / A144 / M147
9) 08:57 / A142 / M146
10) 08:47 / A142 / M148
11) 6:39 / 0.73 mi / 09:04 / A145 / M147
Total -  01:34:28 / 10.73 / 08:48 / A144 / M152 / cad ave 87

You can see where the wind starts playing havoc with me.  About 4-5 miles of this was offroad.

Monday – planned rest day

Tuesday – extra rest day in preference to a mediocre session

Wednesday – evening turbo trainer session.  Forgot to open the garage door and nearly steamed myself as a consequence
Tacx - 721 cals / M239W / ave 209W
Garmin 1hr / 18.19mi / AHR 142 / MHR 150 / cad 92

Yesterday, Thursday – Went to my first Jivamukti Yoga class in what I counted back as 8 weeks. Some of that is due to just not being here mid week, and some due to a neck/shoulder pain I developed after sleeping in a dodgy hotel bed. 

I’m glad I went, even if I was dripping onto my mat after less than 15 minutes.  My hip flexors are thanking me already.

This weekend – Rugby of course, plus maybe a little variety of exercise.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Autumn finally hits, Maffetone continues to be humbling

I learned the other day where the phrase Indian Summer  comes from.  Apparently it comes from the North East of the USA/Canada where summers were typically swelteringly hot and humid precluding much work being done.  The Indian Summer relates to a period of warm weather in early autumn where the temperature and humidity dropped, but the weather was still good enough for the native Indians to bring in their harvest and prepare for winter. 

The Indian summer here has certainly helped with that and I’ve now bought in the last of my pears and apples, both of which have cropped heavier than ever and with very good tasty fruit.  We also had a good success with the gooseberries this year, and the autumn fruiting raspberries are still going. I couldn’t even try and stop the rhubarb.  The surprise was the strawberries, which were only planted this year, so nothing was expected, but they’ve produced a very few small, but extremely sweet fruit.

The veg have been a comparative failure, with the main exception of the garlic and chard which both produced great crops and the surprise of the year being the cucumber plant that I bought at the village fete and cropped from July through to October with very tasty cucumbers about 6” long.  The leeks are also looking good for the winter.  Germination was very patchy this year with only a handful of carrots, although very tasty.  Same with the parsnips, those that germinated are looking good for the winter with some good firm roots.

The beans were a disappointment, as were the courgettes and squash which germinated poorly and then got smashed by some very heavy rains.  The jury’s still out on the romanesca which look like they’re heading, but not quickly.  Next year I should have my first asparagus available as both crowns I planted seem to have done well.

I was due to be in Algeria this week and next, but a delay meant that the visas would not be issue until next week and we had no room in the calendar to push the whole thing back by a week so had to cancel.  I’m mildly disappointed as I had looked forward to going, but in retrospect it will allow me to get a lot of admin done and prep work for the next few weeks instead.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing to follow Maffetone’s principle, building by aerobic base and getting humbled by how hard it is to keep my heart rate within the prescribed zone.  Since I last posted with my weird goings on on the road ride, I’ve had two turbo sessions and an erg session.  I’d planned to run, but the winds have just been too strong.  Seeing what was going on in my garden, I know how bad it would be out on the exposed Fen roads round here.

One thing I am learning rapidly is that this is very much going to be a long term process, and also how much you need to concentrate to succeed at it.  An example of the impact of lost concentration was the other day when I was sneaking an afternoon turbo session and Rekha came home and seeing the garage door open, started to talk to me.  I was also monitoring e-mails and two phones whilst keeping an eye out for news of my visa.  Before I knew it my HR had shot from a steady 145 up to 157 as I just lost concentration for less than a minute.

The sessions

Monday – Erg – I think the data speaks for itself and shows how out of training I am on this piece of kit.
T) 40min / 9025m / 2:12.9 / 19 / A144 / M 150  

Ten minute splits
1) 2343 / 2:08.0 / 21 / A135 / M147 
2) 2277 / 1:11.7 / 19 / A 147 / M150
3) 2221 / 2:15.0 / 19 / A147 / M150 
4) 2185 / 2:17.2 / 19 / A148 / M150

Tuesday – Turbo – distracted and stressed by visa type issues
Tacx 721 cals / Max 229 W / Ave 209W
Garmin  18.05 mi / AHR 145 / MHR 157 / cad 93 / 472 cals

Weds – Rest

Thursday – Turbo -
Tacx 723 cals / Mac 236 W / Ave 210W
Garmin 18.1 mi / AHR 144 / MHR 150 / cad 93

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Evening run.  Starting to get dark now, and it was also raining steadily, so I went for huaraches rather than barefoot.  That was a first, running 6 miles in soggy huaraches, but it’s all good prep for the 70 miler I’m planning to enter in July next year on the same course as the HM I did.  I’m intending to run that in huaraches if I can.

1) 7:32 / A135 / M146 
2) 7:49 / A146 / M150 
3) 8:05 / A146 / M150 
4) 8:12 / A146 / M150
5) 8:48 / A145 / M149 
6) 8:22 / A142 / M145 
7)0.39mi / 3:08 / 8:03 / A141 / M143

Total) 6.39 / 51:56 / 8:08 / A143 / M150
1:30 outside the target zone

That’s actually faster than the first 10km road race I entered which had AHR 172 and MHR 183.  My running’s improved a bit since then.

I know I’ve not had many photos in here lately, so how’s this one?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Continuing with the Maffetone Method, throwing up some odd results

Up in Aberdeen again this last week so running in the mornings. There's something about a morning run that just sets you up for a good day's work.

Went up Monday night, back Thursday so three days of running.  Trying to work completely aerobically at the moment, so I'm sticking to a flat loop from the hotel down one of the main streets and back up the beachfront, or in reverse.  Seems to be working so far with my runs getting closer and closer to achieving full compliance to the heart rate cap of 148.

For the three runs this week, I managed

Tuesday - 5.07mi / 41:42 / 8:13 / AHR 143 / MHR 160?? max seen on watch was 150 so I think that was a bit spurious as I adjusted the strap.  Ran in my Merrell Trail Gloves
Wednesday - 5.26 mi / 40:47 / 7:45 / A142 / M150 (possible short 1st mile on the Garmin, as the course was the same), run in huaraches
Thursday - 5.12mi / 40:48 / 7:52 / A142 / M150  - best yet, only 30 secs outside the target zone, and that was in the kick back up from the beach to the hotel., run in huaraches

Something had upset my stomach on Tuesday morning as I had severe intestinal discomfort.  I blame the airline sandwich I ate on the way up.  That just reminds me why I don't eat airline sandwiches anymore - I'm a much better business class passenger.

So, flew back Thursday, and had Friday as a rest day, did a couple of house chores, picked the kids up from school, painted a little of the model aircraft I've been working on with Serena and made myself a dammned good martini.

Saturday, as usual was chores day, ballet lessons, shopping etc in the morning, then in the afternoon I headed out for a barefoot run on the 10K loop that I race on at new year (almost missed the entry this year, sold out in under a week).  Ran the loop in the reverse direction this time which was a mistake, as it left the roughest bit of pavement till last, by which time I was getting tired and my feet were beginning to get a little tender.  I'm definitely considering racing BF this year, but only for kicks as I'm still way off my shod pace. You can clearly see in the numbers below where I'm starting to tire, and then when I hit the harder terrain for BF running

T - 6.39mi / 53:44 / 8:24 / AHR 144 / MHR 150  

1) 8:08 / 140 
2) 7:46 / A 144 
3) 8:15 / 146
4) 8:38 / A145 
5) 8:31 / 145 
6) 8:58 / 146 
7) 0.39mi / 3:27 / 8:46 / 145

Today, Sunday, we went out as a family in the morning to the pool (it's been in the high 20's celcius here this last week) and spent about an hour and a half or so splashing around and generally making a fool of myself.  Great fun resulting in two tired kids and a wife.

Lunch, then I set out on the bike for an intended 45miles or so.  Little did I know that a pretty strong wind had sprung up since the morning and that certaintly seemed to have an impact on the character of the ride.  I alse made a routing error which threw the Maffetone HR cap way out of the window for about half a mile of a steep rise.

The wierdest thing was the flat parts of the route that were into the wind.  The HR was playing silly buggers to put it bluntly.  Every time I went out from behind the shelter of a hedge my HR jumped about 5bpm and try as I might I just couldn't stop the HR jumping above 150.  So it was basically jumping between about 144-145 and 150-152 for most of the first 20 miles.  Apart, that is from the aforementioned hill which saw it jump to 157 briefly. The really strange thing was that this is totally opposite to my normal reponse to wind.  Normally, I struggle to get the HR up but the legs really feel it, today it was the opposite, HR up, but really comfortable in the legs. 

Not sure if this is all pointing towards the HR capped stuff starting to work its thing with me now being able to work harder at the same HR or to something else.

Then came the turn, tailwind now, rocking!

Then came the next turn for home, nasty crosswind this time, but the HR had settled down somewhat

45.38 mi / 2:35:03 / A 17.6 / M 28.3 
AHR 143 / MHR 157 
cad 93 / max 119

Overall pretty slow, but in the circumstances I'm not entirely disappointed.

Gonna keep up with this for another coupel of months and see what happens. Off to Algeria later in the week for 7 days, assuming that my visa comes though in time.  Will try another MAF test after I get back

Monday, 26 September 2011

Continuing the Barefoot Practice, and trying the new BikeFood Energy Gel

I’ve been struck down in the latter half of this week with a mysterious injury.  Last week’s hotel had a very soft bed indeed, which as well as stopping me sleeping properly has been known to trigger back/neck problems as well.

On Wednesday morning however, I was up in Aberdeen (again) and went out for my morning 5 miles.  All was going well until, crossing a sidestreet I was distracted by something out of the corner of my eye and looked in that direction at just the wrong moment and as I stepped up onto the kerb, I caught my trailing leg and went sprawling.  My knees took the brunt of it, but I also landed heavily on my hands, picked myself up, dusted myself down, cursed my stupidity and went on my way.  The worst of it was skinned knees, considering I know people who have fractured wrists in similar circumstances.

So I woke up on Thursday morning (good start) and went out for another 5 miles, OK, no problems.  This time in my Merrell Trail Gloves.  I hadn’t worn them for about two weeks, having run exclusively in huaraches or barefoot, so it felt quite odd to have the top of my feet fully covered, and I noticed the subtle difference in feel from the huaraches. Perhaps their new Road Gloves may be more suitable for me.

Anyway, by Thursday evening, I had started to experience some fairly significant discomfort in the left side of my neck, upper back, and shoulder.  I hardly slept that night and it was worse in the morning.  No way I could run.  Two ibuprofen allowed me to work during the day, but that was it. I thought a couple of glasses of wine on Friday night might help me sleep, but no luck, and it had completely seized up in the morning with very limited mobility in my neck, so I was up at about 0500 to have breakfast and start watching the rugby world cup.

Strangely, it seemed to get better during the day, so I ventured into the garage in the evening to have a bash at the turbo trainer.  I full expected pain from the neck to drive me back inside pretty quickly, but it never happened.  I ended up doing the full hour no trouble and actually felt a lot better than I thought I should.

Taxc 722 cals / Max 232W / ave 215W
Garmin - 1 hr / 18.6mi / AHR 142 / MHR 149 / cad 95 / 760 cals

Saturday night was not a whole lot better for sleep, waking several times in the night, but again, during the day it felt much better, so I headed out for a run.  I decided to go for the New Year’s Eve 10K loop again, knowing that there were several points I could turn back and short it if necessary.  Took my waist pack with a pair of huaraches just in case, and a small amount of the new Bike Food Gel that was delivered a week or so ago along with some water to flush it down.  I wouldn’t normally take either water or gel for 10k, but I wanted to try it anyway.

My technique must be improving as I had no blisters this time and very little post run foot tenderness.  The numbers show the relative lack of stamina barefoot vs shod.  I think the limiting factor is my feet rather than the CV system as I could feel my calves, achilles and feet tiring as the run went on.  I also think the wind was more in my favour on the first half than the second, but that’s the kind of thing you have to put with whether racing or training.

T) 6.35 / 53:30 / 8:26 / A 144 / M 154 
1) 8:14 / A 138 
2) 8:14 / A 146 
3) 8:16 / A 146
4) 8:26 / A 147 
5) 8:49 / A 145 
6) 8:24 / A144 
7) 0.35mi / 3:07 / 8:24 / 139

Anyway, now the product review.  I’ve been using Bike Food’s  ( ) energy drink, bars and their protein powder for a while now, and I saw earlier in the year that they were finally bringing out a gel, which is what I’d always thought they were lacking.  As I was down to my last half dozen gel sachets I put in my pre-order, waiting eagerly for the end of August, only to be told that it would be late by about ten days.  The measure of these guys is that to make up for the delay, they threw in a 500g tub of their energy drink for nothing.

So, to the gel.  It comes in a large flask, 700g with each serving being 40g.  The bottle is clearly marked on the outside for you to be able to decant it into the small flask they supply with it via the easy pouring lid (similar to a squeezy HP sauce bottle).  The flask has a non-drip spout similar to a sports drink bottle.  The intention today was to test the leakproofness of the flask and taste the gel ahead of a couple of hopefully reasonably long rides early next week. 

The ingredients and label design

First impressions on opening the bottle were a clear smell of honey and lemon, not dissimilar to a cough syrup but without the medicinal twang.  Very mild and pleasant smelling and clearly shows the origins of the natural sugars from honey and agave. 

Only a minor issue, but the small pocket flask is ungraduated, so I added my own as you can see ( I think I need to do that again as I was not the most accurate), the flask appears good for 5 doses which is going to be enough for most runs/rides. 

It tasted pretty much as it smelt, with a good flavour of honey and then the tang of lemon following it.  I’ve tried a whole variety of gels, and so far only this and one other are ones that I would ever consider using.  I’ve found Hammer’s and Zipvit’s both to be way too thick in consistency and nasty flavours as well.  This and High-5 both have a syrupy and smooth but not too thick texture so they are easy to get down and only need a little water to rinse your mouth.

Overall this is a great product and I can’t wait to try it out on a longer ride or run.

  • No more sticky fingers from rolling up single gel dose wrappers and shoving them in a pocket for later disposal
  • No leakage from the small flask, great dose marking on the larger flask
  • Great flavour and consistency
  • All natural ingredients

  • Only a minor quibble, but why not mark the flask they send out with it?

Overall I’ve now tried all but the energy sweets from Bike Food and I like them all.  They’re a bit more expensive than some other brands, but I think that’s reflected in an apparent attention to detail.

The bars are based on cold-pressed dried fruits (dates and so on) with added flavours like mango or cocoa and plenty of nuts.   The drink has added BCAAs, minerals and vitamins and has a great flavour and is gentle on the stomach.  Their protein powder is unique in that it is vegetable based.  When I went dairy free, I was struggling to find a product that was non-whey based and non-soya based (I don’t like soya because of its links to hormonal imbalances).  Their protein powder is based on milled hemp seed.  It tastes a little odd to start with, but once you get used to it it’s great.  I’ve used it in bottles and also a scoop added to my porridge in the morning every now and then.

Overall, I think of the products I’ve tried theirs is right up there at the top for me.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

It’s Been A Long Time Since We…..

[insert your own suitable phrase here], I’m going for “rock and roll” personally, but then I’m a Led Zep fan.  They’ve helped relieve boredom and take my mind off the pain of many a mind numbing turbo trainer session staring at the garage wall or doing progressive intervals.

Anyway, my intention with starting this blog was good.  The plan was to make at least a weekly update and supplementary entries where relevant, but the last three weeks have been just manically busy both at home and at work.  So apologies to all my loyal fans out there (all 200 or so of them so far).

In short order it’s been a bit like this

Week one – White water rafting at the weekend (on the Olympic canoe slalom course, photos to follow)
Two days in Aberdeen, get home on the Friday

Week two – my sister and her other half come up for the weekend, Barbecue, Serena (7) and my sister “camp out” in the garden, Bruce and I go to the pub. 
Sunday, Fly to Aberdeen for the week including two days offshore, home Friday

Week three – chores at weekend, play with the kids, watch a few rugby matches, off to Germany on Sunday. Busy week with a difficult client (you’d think we were trying to get them to sacrifice their children, it was that belligerent at times), home Friday.

So since the last post two weeks ago, I’ve had some pretty good training time, for me anyway.  I’ve managed to stick with my target 5 sessions a week.  The target was chosen as an increase from last year, but also pragmatically with work and family in mind.

So week beginning 4th September I managed a total of 19.12 miles running, and 18.1 miles on the bike.  I’m not going to bore with the details mile by mile, but it looked like this

  • Mon – Run on Aberdeen seafront, 5 miles in 40:08 @ 08:02, AHR 132, MHR 152                                         
  • Tues – Run on Aberdeen seafront, very windy and rainy, 5.12 miles in 41:08 @ 08:02 forgot HR strap                                
  • Weds – Offshore, BF Run on a treadmill in a very hot gym, 4 miles in 32:32 @ 08:08, AHR 145, MHR 151, got a small blood blister on the right big toe, harder to avoid friction from pushing off on a treadmill                                                                
  • Thurs – None, knackered after getting back onshore, went out for a curry.                                                                       
  • Fri – Run, Aberdeen sea front,  5 miles in 40:52 @ 8:10, AHR 143, MHR 151 ran this one in Huaraches                              
  • Sat – bike, Indoors on turbo trainer, 1hour, 18.06 miles at average 207W, AHR 143, MHR 150
Total for the week,
running 19.12mi, 2:34:40
Bike –   18.06mi, 1:00:00

Week Beginning 11th September
  • Sunday, flew to Germany
  • Mon – Run in the morning in huaraches – 4.21 mi in 34:52 @ 8:17 HR strap went screwy indicating 168-182-202-207, so AHR not reliable                          
  • Tues – morning run, following up a valley, so hilly 5mi in 42:52 @ 8:34, AHR 142, MHR 153, included one downhill mile at 6:46, which was about as fast as I could turn the legs over without faceplanting
  • Weds - evening run, part BF/Part Huaraches, 4.87 mi in 40:44 @ 8:22, HR strap went a bit screwy again              
  • Thurs – day off                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Fri – morning BF run in cool, dry conditions, 4.32 mi in 39:33 @ 9:09, HR strap screwy again
  • Sat – evening BF Run, checking out a 10K race course for BF ability, 6.38 mi in 53:01 @ 08:19, AHR 136, MHR 148
Total for the week 24.78miles in 3:31:02

That BF run on Saturday was the longest I’ve done to date, and was in wet conditions.  I’ve got one small blister on the ball of my left second toe, so I think my BF technique is improving.  From yesterday’s experience, I think the course could be run BF, but if I was looking to improve on last year’s PB I think I’d have to do it shod.  It will all be weather dependent on 31st Dec anyway, as it is usually pretty dire around here that time of year, so I will have huaraches in mind anyway.  Between now and then I’ll have plenty of time to train in the huaraches anyhow as I have about 8 or 9 weeks in Aberdeen between now and Christmas, and I don’t run BF there on the streets.  I’ve found a local synthetic track which I may have a run on at some time.

The one thing I have really found out this last couple of weeks thought is that if you are intending to follow this Maffetone method properly, and consistently, it does take some effort, in particular letting go of the ego and being prepared to run slowly at times.  I found that particularly difficult this week with the hills, but I was getting better towards the end of the week.  

To try and stop me going over the imposed HR cap, I’ve adjusted the warning from the Garmin downwards slightly to give me some extra time to respond before I hit the max zone.

Now for the white water rafting.  My wife bought me one of these “experiences” for Christmas last year, to go and do white water rafting on the new artificial course in the Lee Valley Park that will be used for next year’s canoe slalom at the Olympics.  To be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to it much.  I’m not really that big into water sports (apart from my surfing years a long time ago) and the closest I tend to get to being thrown about in water is my 4-yearly offshore safety training refreshers.

I eventually managed to book it in for late August when I had a couple of weeks vacation and Rekha and the kids could also come and watch. So off we all went, piled into my old car, as Rekha’s had an acute suspension problem at the time.  I arrived in good time, luckily, as they’d managed to lose my booking somehow.  Eventually it got sorted out and there I was all done up in their supplied wetsuit with a tech-tee underneath as a rash vest and my trainers in preference to their wetsuit boots.  I still had an open blood blister so I wanted shoes whose history I knew.

With my lost booking, the boat numbers were a bit screwed up as two large groups wanted to stay together and then there was another couple and myself.  It ended up pretty well I think with me and the couple in a smaller boat with an instructor and the other groups in boats of 9 people each.  Looking at them as we were practicing and then rafting in anger, it looked like we had the better end of the deal as the boat of 4 people rode the waves better and was much easier to co-ordinate.

They have a very good system with this new set up with a big lake at the bottom, a man made course in a horseshoe shape with pumps taking water up to the top of the course.  The kayaks/rafts get taken from the lake up to the top on a conveyor belt, all very civilised.  And the spectators can also get up pretty close, so until she got bored I was entertained by my seven year old daughter waving and shouting “hello daddy” every time I went past, and then catching me up again further down the course.

I think we must have gone round at least half a dozen times, probably more.  I was still feeling fresh enough to carry on, but time was up.

It was thoroughly enjoyable, much more so than I had originally thought and I quite liked the idea of the closed course.  I think a rafting trip might be quite enjoyable as well though, rafting in the day and camping on the banks at night for a couple of days, catching fish and looking at the stars.

A few selected photos here.  The rest are on the web here