Monday, May 16, 2011

General Update - Races, Training and Iron

Things have been pretty hectic over here. Reading as I'm sure most heard was an unmitigated disaster. Last year I was very pleased in that I managed to time my peak so I ran best in the most important races - this year I ran, to be fair, shockingly at Reading. I was struggling almost from the get-go. I was just about able to hold it together til halfway and then I was gone. Boom. Now I think I was on track two-three months previous with a 7 mile 5:20 pace tempo feeling strong. Here I was all over the place and almost instantly dropped to 6mm and just slogged it out to the finish. I'm glad I did - I don't like to drop out and do so rarely (3 times I think in 15 years).

Anyways - post-race I went and got blood tests for the first time ever and they revealed a low ferritin level. Not critically low but well below the normal and far too low for a young male athlete. It also explained the almost regular fatigue I was feeling, waking up after 7-8 hours sleep and feeling like I'd had about 2. I just ascribed it to running high mileage but in retrospect it was much worse than that.

So - some simple dietary changes and an iron supplement and I've been back to my usual bouncing off the walls most of the time. Not to say I don't still occasionally feel tired but it's much more normal now and hopefully the longer-term iron supplementation with increased vitamin c intake (together with steak for dinner and 2 black pudding for breakfast - it's a hard life at times!) will mean that's the last of the problems. Looking back I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happened at London last year as it was a similar sort of feeling - and both times off the back of a block of high mileage. I'm not sure I entirely believe in haemolysis (red blood cells burst by foot impact) but with a very heavy footfall and a short stride it seems likely.

Just generally my stats for stuff like red blood cell count, haematocrit etc. were all well below normal - I'm intrigued to see what'll happen if I get them up again!

So I also started changing some stuff around after Reading. Whilst "regenerating" with reduced but much faster mileage. The run I'm slower than 7mm is rare now. It's taken a while to get the mileage back up to anything even vaguely reasonable (combined with a couple of really quite bad niggles) but either the training is working, the huge base I put in is paying off, or my body is finally recovering as I'm racing pretty well at the moment. My garmin clocked 15:27 for a road 5k the otherday (official 15:33) which is a good step forward and I was really pleased with how the race went being sandwiched between the two Torry brothers (hmm... that sentence might need a re-write...) who have both since had really good runs at Bristol. Nick I think pretty much ran back to back the same pace he ran for the 5k!

Aside from the 5k, on the previous Sunday I'd done the Sutton 10k and clocked a relatively pedestrian 32:51 but tbh was very happy with the race as I really wasn't going for time! (and a set of 10 x 200m off walkback recovery on the Wednesday meant I was still hobbling - my body was not built for speed!) I set off very conservatively tucked into the pack whilst Brian Wilder put a very big move in early on and had 50m on us before we even got out the park! I stayed very comfortably tucked in with the chasing pack. Not much progress was being made but we weren't losing huge amount either though I could tell most were likely to die off. Basil Wallace from Herne Hill (who has a fantastically efficient looking stride) zipped past after a couple of km and I tucked in. As we completed the first lap of three and hit the 4km point I could tell Brian wasn't getting any further away so made a big move and started reeling in the 50-80m he had going clear of Basil. I think it was too big a move as I caught him pretty much at 5km! I sat in for a bit, then pushed and got a small lead, at about 7km but Brian fought back and we were back level going into the park. As we were heading back out I got the feeling Brian was working a little harder than I was and decided to try and get clear so a hard burst and I had a small gap. Unfortunately I know just how strong Brian is and knew I needed to keep on pushing. I didn't get a halfway split but had to have run a huge negative split (most in my early pack ran outside 34) and kept the effort level up to the finish line. I didn't particularly kick as I wasn't sure how my legs would hold up at the faster pace! It sounds like Brian was coming off a tough few days and I'm looking forward to having a few more duels on the Surrey road racing scene.

So with the 10k on the Sunday, 5k on the Thursday I'd already promised Leroy I'd run the 1500 and 5k at the SML league in Wimbledon. The 5k I was really pleased with. I'd asked to be B-string and that meant I could conserve energy for the 1500. Pete Tucker took off from the start with John Clarke, Met Police B-string and myself all in a mini-race. I was very much just shadowing the Met Police guy (I felt I was stronger and could kick harder and it's a race - it's the other guys job to either break you or out-think you). With about 6 laps it was clear the guy was struggling a little and I was still feeling pretty strong - John had gone clear and Peter was 150m or so clear. With a mile to go I put a single big lap in, going past John and seeing if Peter was slowing down at all. He clearly wasn't so I eased back a bit and John and I waltzed in together for a comfortable 9 points. Running 16:07 I was fairly sure I could run a touch faster than that pace for 10k which backed up my 5k.

Unfortunately the 1500 was a bit of a disaster. My achilles was a touch tight and I just wasn't driving right off of it. From the start I was flat footed and a 70 second opening lap felt very hard. Whilst I'd felt easy as anything in the 5k (I actually think if I'd pushed flat out for the last 1500 of the 5k it might have been quicker than my 15!) and strong, in control, by contrast in the 15 it was a straight out sprint. Hopefully I'll have a better one soon!

So - limited training with days in general quite hard (including one midnight run home from work including a 5 mile stretch with 4 5:45 miles and a 5:20 to finish!) and lots of racing. I've generally been doing races instead of sessions with regular "half" sessions on the grass. Be interesting to see how it works out!

Let me know any questions or thoughts you all have.


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Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.