Well - generally I seem to be recovering quite well at the moment with more and more runs pain-free. Whilst there is still substantial work to be done on my achilles I'm starting to dare that the worst of it is over.
Part of what this experience has made me realise is that the Meb quote I think just after he won the New York marathon last year was absolutely dead on. Essentially running 90 minutes a day is the easy part! For the first time probably ever in my running career if I went to a physio I could say "Yes I do stretch, and probably enough". I'm doing exercises to strengthen up all of my muscles. My core stability stuff is still questionable but on the whole I'm ticking a lot more of the boxes with improved diet and whilst I'm still not getting enough sleep at least it's fairly consistent now.
So - what next? Well I've selected the Bath half in March as a target. Both Bath and Reading half marathons have fairly generous policies with late entries available in some cases for sub 75 HM guys and free entries for sub 70 guys (whole 8 seconds clear - get in!). I've devised up a program till then which if anyone is interested they're welcome to a copy just drop a comment at the bottom of the post or drop me a mail - brynreynolds1athotmaildotcom (you can add the dot and the at yourself!). The basis of the schedule is a decent length base phase transitioning into some more specific stuff. Compared to previous schedules I'm approaching it from a far more aerobic angle with lots of 50-80 minute sub-aerobic threshold runs at just under marathon pace and 40-60 minute efforts at marathon pace dotted with shorter stuff at lactate threshold, 10k and 5k pace. I'm for the most part staying away from VO2 stuff until closer to the event though there will be some sort of 3/4 volume very fast sessions with decent recovery - hopefully combined with strides and drills this will keep me being able to move optimally. I'm also (as I try and do most years) increasing my average mileage by probably around 10 over this time last year with the aim being to run fairly regular 85-90 miles for 3 weeks before a cut down week per training block.
The flip side of this is that I'll not be running amazing times over 5k/10k. The plan after Bath is to then take a short break and then start nailing some faster stuff for the summer. I'm tempted to avoid 5000s for the moment as there is a slight chance that if things go very well then next summer I might be able to take an entire minute off my PB in a single race - that'd be amusing! My road and track PB still remains a half way split in a 10k (with my second best time being the second half of that 10k!) though my time at the 12 stage shows I was clearly in shape to run a very substantial 5k PB.
One of the other ideas about the schedule mentioned above is that I'm trying to hold back the rapid fitness improvements I usually get a little bit in order to help keep my body and fitness in sync. Not much use being able to bash out 16 miles at 5:35mm feeling comfy if the body breaks down the next day.
I've been struggling a little bit this week with a decent volume finally being hit - this week will be an 80 with a rest day (tomorrow and well needed!) with my legs just not being used to this and also the additional stretching and flexibility stuff meaning some muscles that didn't get properly used before (e.g. hamstring, hip flexors and glutes!) are now being subjected to decent mileage for the first time and they're not quite ready. Hoping that I'll be adapting fairly quickly though. the first week after bumping up is always the hardest.
The previous weekend I ran in the Surrey League XC division 2 for my second claim club Clapham Chasers. I started out very conservatively and to be honest took the whole race relatively easy and felt quite relaxed the whole time - which I appreciate isn't how XC should feel. I started way back probably just outside the top 20 but by a about a third of the way through I had worked my way onto the back of the chasing pack behind the lead pack and feeling really strong. I went past the chasing pack and had just started reeling in the lead pack (or at least trying to) just before halfwya when I took a wrong turn. I didn't lose an awful lot of time 9 somewhere between 5-10 seconds I'd guess, but the result was that I was back behind the chasing group and feeling pretty awful after feeling great the whole first half - I'd just lost all my momentum. Thanks to the Guildford guy who called me back on course by the way! We then had a pretty good battle over the rest of the race with me getting away about half way through the lap - he pushed again to try and catch me near the end but I just upped the intensity a bit (by this point I was starting to bring back one of the guys who'd fallen off the lead pack but it was just too far to make up at that stage) - and cruised in for 6th place. Quite pleased as the Guildford guy actually narrowly outsprinted me at a Parkrun earlier in the year when I was fully fit (albeit messing the race up majorly and pretty much deciding I didn't want to run halfway through - not a proud day!) and was a nice return to XC.
One a side note about parkrun I was interested to see a post about the new Brockwell parkrun. Whilst it's only 2 miles away I've never been there but I definitely will now! Having it only 2 miles away will definitely make it a firm fixture in my weekly training schedule and I'm just hoping they make it a fairly fast race course- if so they'll never get me away from it!
Right that's a pretty good catch up I think- hope everyone is well and let me know how you're all getting on!
See you at the races.