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