One of my mum’s friends has just lost her job because the company has ceased to exist, because the owner is in hospital and unlikely to recover. It’s a risk of small companies with an aging owner. I work for a small company with an owner in his mid 70s. Hmm. I’m also bored with work and I don’t feel I’m growing, but on the other hand… I can’t really be bothered? I keep thinking about it, though. I keep getting recruitment messages. I’ve been here for coming up to three and a half years now. I am getting frustrated by the work though. Everything is always urgent, more urgent than the thing I’m currently working on, which was urgent yesterday but now is not. And it’s the classic software problem of trying to convert what could generously be described as a half baked idea into something subjected to logical consistency. The compiler doesn’t stand for nonsense!
Running updates: A few weeks ago I was aiming for a 22:30 Parkrun and ended up with 23:15 or something. The following week I had the same aim and ran 22:15 – yep, a whole minute faster, and it felt like only a moderate effort. I was super pleased with that. I was planning to just do a full effort run this last week and see where I am, but that was scuppered by the snow and ice. Parkrun went ahead but on a very revised course, which was about 50% grass. Or, more accurately, mud. In road shoes. In theory you could use the lack of friction to your advantage, but I haven’t quite mastered that. So we’ll see next week. I’m not too optimistic though – I did some hill repeats yesterday and felt like I was going to die.
I’m now approximately two months post-virus and this last week my resting heart rate finally came back down to pre-virus levels, but it’s still often elevated when running.
With Stratford cancelled, my next race is Birmingham half marathon in just under 8 weeks. Birmingham is usually a fairly flat course outside of maybe two or three nasty hills. I’ve been doing 75 minute runs for the last few weeks and this week bumped one up to 90 minutes. Ideally I want to be doing one 75 minute run and one 90-120 minute run per week (at tortoise pace). In theory I’ll be fully virus recovered by then, but as I still have lingering effects now I’m not sure how effective the training has been and will be… I have modest expectations.
The Stratford half marathon has been cancelled due to low entry numbers. I’m a little bit irritated by this because I think it’s the organisers’ own fault. I hadn’t signed up yet, because I was signed up in 2020 when they cancelled it and didn’t offer refunds. Entry was instead deferred to 2021… which was also cancelled with no refunds. So I was waiting until nearer the date to sign up this time. Entry numbers are low with 8 weeks to go… Hmm well there’s a mystery 🙄
If things were different I’d be very disappointed, but I’m not really sure I’d have been up to it anyway. My post COVID or whatever fitness is nowhere near being able to run a half in a decent time and I think if I tried I’d have a very bad time. I’m quite glad I was injured for Warwick because I think I would have blown up very quickly if I’d tried to race it.
I aimed for a 22:30 Parkrun this week. It’s a nice round number of 4:30 per km. Pre-virus, I was regularly doing 10k tempo runs at that pace which felt like moderate effort, so it seemed very achievable to keep that pace over 5k running with other people. 23:11 is what I actually ran. Not even close! I tried to really push on the last km but my legs weren’t interested.
It’s weird. I can still do very short intervals at reasonably fast paces and I can still do 60 minute slow runs, but the middle ground of trying to maintain a moderate speed for any length of time just isn’t happening.
I’ve been reading articles on running after COVID and a few other people have made similar points. I think it’ll just take more time. In the meantime, the fact I can still do the long slow runs is encouraging. Hopefully that will actually translate to aerobic fitness at some point…
The physio news is that I have tight calves and I’m overpronating, probably because my calves aren’t allowing enough mobility so my ankles collapse inwards at push off to compensate. Same as last time, really. I’m trying supportive insoles and lots of stretching for the next few weeks and then see how it goes. I think the stretching will be enough though.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve missed three of the last four weeks, or whether it’s still the flu lingering, but my fitness has dropped off a cliff. I treated Parkrun this week as a progression run and did the last and fastest km in 4:16, which felt like pretty much max effort. Normally on a Parkrun I would do all my splits comfortably faster than that…
Yesterday I did intervals. It’s been weeks since I did any tempo speed work, and even longer since I did short intervals. I went with: 3x1min, 2×2, 1×3, 2×2, 3×1. I averaged 3:57/km which wasn’t too bad considering that it’s a loop with a significant elevation change, but I had to ease off after the third 1min rep because I was feeling nauseous and lightheaded.
My ankle feels a little worse for wear after the intervals but it’s not too bad. Overall I feel pretty tired today though.
Bonus Monty pics.
He looks so intelligent sometimes, you wouldn’t believe that a few hours later he was running around a field with a poo bag in his mouth (unused, thankfully), and then a few minutes later found ANOTHER one. Yes, he ate them both. They came through him on Sunday morning.
I tried a 10 minute/2k test run on Sunday and it didn’t really seem to affect my ankle at all, so I then did 5k on Monday, which I also seemed get away with. Tuesday I did a 5k progression (i.e. gradually speeding up, every KM faster than the previous), and it was fine until I came home and did 20 calf raises. It started to hurt after about 15 and then seemed quite achy for a while, but it was fine on the dog walk two hours later. Wednesday was an easy 30 minutes, which was also fine. Thursday I took a rest day just due to scheduling, so of course on Friday morning it was hurting more than it has done recently. Doing a quick calf stretch took away 90% of the pain but it’s still worse than it has been.
So anyway I’ve got a physio appointment for Tuesday.
I have been focusing on eccentric exerises for it, which per my non medical understanding means loading the tendon while it’s being stretched. Usually to load a tendon you contract the muscle, but apparently going the other way encourages ‘remodelling’. I think really it means you’re damaging the tendon in such a way that the body wants to heal it, (hopefully) without the problems it had built up before. Eccentric exercises seem to be the most effective for tendonitis from what I can tell. But we’ll see what Mr Physio says. He’s the same one I saw a few years ago and seemed to know what he was talking about.
Unrelated to the above, here is Monty in a cafe at the weekend. I know, he’s really cute. Let me know if you want to send him a Valentine’s day card.
I’m still injured, which is a bit rubbish. I haven’t run for over a week now. My ankle feels a lot better in general but it’s still achy. I thought it would have been back to normal by now and I’d be tempted to try a test run, but nope. I think I made it worse a few days ago by trying some resistance band exercises. The pain is down the inside and I think it’s the posterior tibial tendon, so I tried doing some inversion and eversion exercises with the bands. The inversion works the muscle, the eversion stretches it. I think it’s the eversion (stretch) that set it off again.
The mechanism of injury seems to be that you overpronate i.e. the ankle collapses inwards too much, leading to the tendon getting repeatedly stretched just a little bit too much. So probably I should be avoiding exercises that stretch it. Maybe I should just focus on inversion exercises to work the muscle and hopefully trigger some healing. Overpronation is always a strange one with me because I have visibly high/strong arches and I tend to put the weight more towards the outside of my foot when I stand, which would make you think more of underpronation. But I really do overpronate when I run (sometimes), which I can see on the wear of my shoes’ insoles and the calluses I get down the inside of my big toes. The physio I saw a couple of years ago thought it was a bit odd but said it was probably my tight calves. So I stretched them a lot and the old wear patterns never formed on new shoes. I wouldn’t say they’re too bad at the moment but my achilles tendon on that leg does feel noticably tighter than the other, so that could be it.
In TV news:
I finished Star Wars Rebels. The first season is a bit rough but by the end I think I was enjoying it more than Clone Wars overall. It really makes me want to see an Ahsoka series (which I think they are making?) to see how it plays out between her and Thrawn. I’m now two episodes into Kenobi and it’s… alright. I mean, a lot of things don’t really make sense, but you don’t watch Star Wars for brilliant writing. I don’t know, ask me again when I finish it. Next up will be Bad Batch and Andor.
I’ve almost finished Orville and Lower Decks. I have to say that neither Orville or Lower Decks, both essentially being parodies, have any business being as good as they are. I’ve enjoyed them far more than serious Discovery (which I gave up on) or Picard (which I didn’t give up on, but wasn’t that great). People say that Strange New Worlds is better but I haven’t seen it yet.
I also watched the last Expanse season a little while ago. If that’s the last one they ever make, then it’s very underwhelming. It peaked around S2-S3, though S4 was still pretty good. S5 started off OK but became a chore and S6 was forgettable. It’s a shame because S2-S3 was very good.
Two weeks out from Warwick half marathon and I’ve injured myself. Maybe 30 minutes into a two hour run yesterday I felt a small niggle down the inside of my left ankle. I considered stopping to stretch, but after a minute or two it eased off and didn’t bother me again…. until an hour or so after I got home, when it became quite painful just to walk on it. I think the issue is that 1) I’ve done too much recently, and 2) my calves are tight. It seems to improve with some calf stretching so I’m thinking it’s more just the calf causing dysfunction/friction rather than any real damage to the ankle.
Since I had a virus the other week I’ve been frantically trying to get the mileage in, but the other thing is that with spending a few days in bed my calves and hamstrings did tighten up. I knew they did because I could feel them tingling a bit sometimes at night.
So I’m sat here with a hot water bottle under my calf trying to relax it. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t help, let’s try icing the ankle)
I’m not too worried about Warwick. I’ll be a bit sad if I DNS (did not start), but I’m a lot more interested in Stratford at the end of April, for which Warwick was only ever intended to be a training run. I think I should be OK for it though. I had something similar a few years ago where it felt like there was some friction in the front of my ankle which developed without warning a few hours after a run and it just took a week or so to let it settle.
The virus turned quite fluey and I ended up spending a few days in bed. I was still working, for some reason that I’m not really sure of in retrospect, but a couple of days were working from bed.
I feel better now except that I’m still coughing a lot and sometimes bringing things up (how pleasant), but other than that I’m ok.
I went for a run today for the first time since being ill. It wasn’t great. I have a half marathon in three weeks and I’m quite a way behind where I wanted to be. I did a 95 minute run two weeks ago and 90 minutes the week before, but I’ve missed two long runs with being unwell. I really wanted to have done a couple of two hour runs before the day but I can’t see that happening really. But it’s not really a ‘target’ half because it’s far too hilly to go for a good time and I was really intending just using it as a tune up for an actual target half in April. So it’s not the end of the world but I think it’ll be tougher than I wanted it to be. At least I have a good base to build up for April.
I picked up my sister’s cold after all. I started with a sore throat and slight headache last Wednesday and a cough that’s been getting gradually worse, but I wasn’t really very affected until Monday when I started feeling pretty rough. Tuesday brings a new symptom of diarrhea, oh joy! And my cough is really hurting my throat as of today. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s COVID but I don’t have any tests and it doesn’t really make any difference either way.
I think mum has also contracted it (she’s being cagey which means she knows she’s ill but doesn’t want to admit it) but she’s a couple of days behind me. The good news is my sister seems to be feeling better now.
Hopefully today is the worst day… But I keep saying that…
It used to be that having a Christmas break meant staying in bed and chilling a lot, but since we got Monty holidays are busier and more tiring than work days. My general feeling is that dogs don’t live long lives (compared to humans) and I want him to enjoy the time he has as much as possible, and if that means having no free time then it means having no free time.
So Christmas has been busy. But also fun. I bought my mum a custom mug that says “Monty’s Grandma” with a picture of him printed on the side. That made her laugh. I bought my sister an aurora light projector, which was kind of a “I have no idea what to give you” present but she seems to love it. Mum gave me a pair of Shokz bone conduction headphones for running, which are nice and useful.
Anyway, my sister thinks she has a cold today so I get to play the exciting lottery of am I going to catch it? I haven’t had a respiratory infection for almost three years now (the last one was probably COVID, the week before the UK went into lockdown) and I feel nonplussed by the prospect of breaking that streak. Working from home is a blessing in that regard; I remember in my previous job I once had a six week period where I caught three colds.
A few weeks back I had three or four days in a row when my heart rate was elevated and my stress levels high for no obvious reason, so I’m hoping that was my body fighting off whatever my sister has caught and now I’m immune… But we’ll see.
I am enjoying my Steam Deck, actually a lot more than I expected. I suppose I expected to think it was neat but not really know what to do with it. And that was so for a while, but then I installed Fallout New Vegas on it and it just clicked. It’s fun. I installed lots of mods to make it a more varied experience than when I last played it (10+ years ago) and I’m enjoying it, but it’s very hard now.
I hadn’t realised this but the Deck has a gyroscopic sensor in it, and you can configure it to act as a mouse movement. What that means is you can be in first person view, hold down the left button to activate it, then spin around and it rotates the camera as if your character is also spinning around. It’s a bit gimmicky but it impressed me. You can also use it for fine aiming. Aiming in general is done with the right touchpad, which you control with your thumb. I found it very hard to use initially but after some practice it feels a bit more natural. It’s nowhere near as easy as using a mouse though, which is one reason the game is so hard.
In totally unrelated news I need to fill out a tax return this year. I made a small amount of extra income last tax year and should legally declare it. …All I can say is I wonder how much tax intake HMRC loses to people who should be declaring side income but don’t want to deal with the hassle of it and the silly test of “we know what these numbers are, but we want to make sure you’re going to put them in right”. There should just be a field saying “I made a bit of extra money on top of all the stuff you already know about, let me just put the number in here and adjust my tax code for next year thanks”. It’s not like they are opposed to fiddling about with my tax code, they do it an average of twice per year for the last few years. I know because I’ve just gone through all the paperwork!