100!

I did my 100th Parkrun this last weekend. I ran another post lockdown PB, beating my time two weeks ago by one second!

My knee is kind of ehh. It was fine after parkrun, but I also ran today and it wasn’t great. The problem now is that I have been stretching a lot, because my quads were very tight, and I’m not really sure exactly what I’m feeling. Like I’m pretty sure that a lot of the discomfort now is actually just above my knee in the quads, maybe the tendon, and that’s ok because it’s probably just the effects of stretching. Some of it seems to be down the side, probably the IT band, which isn’t really ideal, but is better than the kneecap.

I have a half marathon in four weeks and I’ve missed one long run now so I’m feeling a bit antsy about that. I’m aiming to do the next one on Wednesday, so I’ve got a couple of days to get it recovered and feeling stronger. But these muscle imbalance injuries can drag on at a low level for a long time. I might try ordering a knee brace…

The weather is supposed to be pretty ridiculous for the next two days. I’ve never known it go past maybe 33 degrees here, and yet we’re forecasting two days of 38. So I have no urge whatsoever to run in that heat.

Monty is going to hate the heat, but at least he’s been to the groomers recently. We took him out this morning for what will probably be his last long walk until Wednesday and met a slightly odd man who became very disapproving when he learnt that Monty is a cockapoo, not a poodle, and wanted us to justify our decision to get a cockapoo instead of a poodle and started on a diatribe about purebred dogs going extinct because of ‘fashion’.

Hmm, well, though it pains me to agree with him, poodles are amazing and maybe one day in the future…. But wait a minute here, purebreeding has its own set of ethical issues and I’m not sure you can really claim a moral high ground over supporting a eugenics program. And anyway, I’m just here to walk my little guy, not to be told his existence is an affront to nature. I will definitely be avoiding him in future.

Energy

I started running after work this week and it actually does feel a lot better! I’m running faster and further with what feels like the same effort. And I don’t know if it’s because of not running in the morning or because I’ve been taking iron for about 3 weeks now, but I’ve been feeling a lot less tired this week, particularly in the afternoons. I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for work then I’d have been having frequent post lunch naps for a few months now.

So I’m pleased about this and I’m hoping that my Parkrun times start moving in the right direction… It was a bit underwhelming today, but it was quite hot this morning and I really, really wasn’t feeling it when I started my warm up before hand.

I’ve also been reading up more on iron. The problem with iron isn’t eating it, it’s absorbing it. I already knew that things like tea, coffee, dairy, etc lower absorption. I was also vaguely aware that running is bad for iron levels because the physical impact destroys red blood cells. But what I didn’t know was that workouts cause the release of something called hepcidin, which lowers iron absorption. The hepcidin levels are highest around 3-6 hours after a workout. So on top of dietary iron blockers, you also have to time iron intake around this.

Anyway I have my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday so hopefully I’ll get a blood test to see exactly what my iron levels are.

Parkies 🌳

I have a half marathon in three weeks and I’m feeling…. quietly confident? Training seems to have come together as well as it could have. The last one I did was in August and it was a bit of a disaster, but this time I’ve been running 16-18ks on Sundays for the past few months, intervals or hills once a week and parkrun tempo runs on Saturdays, so I’m probably in pretty good shape. Not as good as a few years ago, but maybe 1:40? 1:35 would be amazing but probably not. 1:40 is a 4:45 per km pace which is about 45s faster than I’m doing my long (comfortably) slow runs so it sounds achievable. I can feel my left calf is a bit tight but not worryingly so and my right hip has been tight too but I think the foam roller will sort that out.

Sundays are long run day and I usually manage to time it so I’m getting through the park just before they’re starting Junior Parkrun, but today my timing was not so good and I got accosted by one of the marshals… “Hey, I saw you yesterday? You looked like you were doing well? what was your time?”, so I stopped to speak to him and he proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes telling me his entire life history, including but not limited to: he used to run 21 minute 5ks but then he gained two stone and now he does 28 minutes, when he was younger he used to be really lazy but he’d always run up stairs “it must be something autistic in me that makes me want to run up stairs” (umm, ok 🤔). His daughter used to be the fastest runner of her age in the county but then she put on weight and now she runs 30 minute 5ks (hmmm), he runs as fast as elite runners up hills because hills just don’t bother him (hmmm), he doesn’t use a watch for running but he always know exactly how fast he’s running down to within a few seconds of his mile pace (hmmm), he decided to start doing triathlons a few years ago and the swimming turned out OK because he had strong shoulders from playing rugby and was coached by the former head coach of the British Commonwealth Swimming Team something or other (hmmm)…. and so it went on. Anyway after about 10 minutes of this I was starting to feel really cold so I made my excuses and left, but I’ll probably see him again at Parkrun next week 😕

These hips don’t lie

I had to miss Parkrun last weekend because I strained something in my hip, again. I did it this weekend but I took it a bit slower than usual, and it was still quite uncomfortable Saturday afternoon. I kept waking up during the night and my lower back felt really tight as well.

My hips are soooo tight. I stretch and foam roll but it seems like a losing battle as I sit down all day.

So I took the radical step of investing in a standing desk converter, which is basically a platform that sits on your regular desk that can be raised or lowered back down to desk level.

(Please don’t judge the dust on the right monitor’s base.)

I’m quite impressed with it so far, but I don’t tend to use my PC over the weekends so I haven’t actually tested it in actual use yet. Hopefully it will help!

Life!

We’ve had the puppy for almost three weeks now. I never expected owning a puppy to be so stressful! I’m not getting nearly as much sleep as I used to. I keep napping in the evenings after work now.

He is generally doing a lot better now. He has his vaccination booked for next Friday, so a couple of weeks after then we’ll be able to start taking him out for walks. How this is going to work… I have no idea. It’s a struggle to get him to walk from one end of the garden to the other without him trying to eat my shoelaces or chewing on the lead. The lead tends to excite him and he likes to jump up and grab it. I’m a bit concerned about having him walk around much outside because I think he’ll probably try to eat everything he finds, and I’ve noticed the pavements tend to be littered with tiny pebbles and such… so that’ll be fun.

I’d like to get him down to Parkrun at some point so he can see a big crowd of people running but it’s too far for him to walk and with the fuel shortage it’s hard to justify taking him in the car. Maybe in a few weeks.

On the subject of Parkrun… since starting going again, progress has been slower than I thought. I did the first week at about 22:20 and was really pleased with that for a first effort, thinking I’d knock quite a bit of time off it the following week. But I actually got stuck around that time, for a few weeks, before suddenly jumping down to 21:30, where I’m stuck again. Last week was a bit of a struggle, but it was very humid and I’d done two sets of speedwork during the week before. This week I did some 1KM repeats on Wednesday, so hopefully I’ll be well enough rested to see the rewards tomorrow?

The problem is always pacing. It’s a course with an incline at the start, in the middle and at the end, so generally the pace tends to dip in the middle, but I think it’s also the psychological battle of the initial excitement wearing off, fatigue setting in and feeling like a long way from the end. This is the last two weeks:

I obviously still have enough left in me because the last kilometre is always the fastest. But it’s a fine line between taking it a bit too easy in the middle and imploding on the fourth kilometre. I’m still aiming to get it back to about 20 minutes. That feels like a long way away at the moment, though.

Excitement

The first big thing is that my sister and I are going to see a lady about a puppy tomorrow. We have been thinking about getting one for a while. This lady (or, more accurately, her dog) has had a litter and there are two still available. They are cockapoos – the little teddy bear like dogs that you see a lot. They’ll be available to leave in about two weeks, which would be perfect because I’m off work that week, but also not perfect because ohmygodthat’ssosoon.

In other news, I did parkrun today, for the first time since March 2020. I ran it in 22:12. With my foot injury I haven’t done many long runs recently, so the half marathon I did a few weeks ago was a bit of a disaster (1:53 – some people would be ecstatic with that, but for me it felt slow and it was a real slog), and I had a weird turn a few hours afterwards where I suddenly felt sick and hot and felt like I was going to faint.

That knocked my confidence a lot for doing anything intense, so I paced it cautiously to begin with and then sped up on the second lap (it’s a two lap course). I haven’t really done any speed workouts for a long time, so overall I was very pleased. When I used to do parkrun regularly before lockdown, I got a lot faster just from treating it as a speed workout every week. It’s a lot easier both psychologically and physiologically to keep a strong tempo going when you’re in a pack of faster runners than it is on your own during the week when you feel like you should still be in bed.

I’m looking forward to next week’s now.

Happenings

I’m not at all happy with the weather the past few days. I tried running this morning and it was absolutely horrible.

Parkrun is back at the weekend but I don’t think I’ll be doing it. The COVID case numbers are shooting up very quickly, which puts me off. It seems like Parkrun has promised to return a number of times and then didn’t, but ironically now it looks like they’re actually going to do it, it’s happening at a time when there’s a higher chance of contracting COVID than any time previously.

I phoned the recruiter and said I was happy to progress. The next stage is to wait for the employer to send everything through. I’m not used to such a slow process! And it’s playing on my anxiety. Apparently they do some kind of background checking. The recruiter told me there would be a credit check (why?!) and a criminal record check. I’ve never had to deal with this for a job before so I don’t know what to expect. From my research it appears it will be the basic DBS check, because my role is not eligible for the standard or enhanced checks.

But since I’ve never done this and don’t know what to expect then I guess I should wait until this clears before actually handing in my notice? Obviously, I’m worrying I’ll fail the background check despite there being no reason I should. I’m worrying about references too. I’m sure my current employer will be fine, but the previous one… I have low expectations of them. I keep telling myself that they would gain nothing by starting a fight with me and potentially exposing themselves to a hefty lost earnings lawsuit, but eh. What if they just refused to give a reference? Thanks, anxiety.

Virtual Great North Run

On Sunday I’ll be doing the Virtual Great North Run. Which is the great north run from the convenience of my house. So it’s not the great north run at all. It’s just a 13 mile run. I’d like to say I’m excited about it, but I’m not. I am really missing the slightly more competitive side of running and somehow I don’t think this virtual race will scratch that itch at all.

I downloaded the app for it yesterday, which enthused me even less. To be blunt, it reminds me of the kind of thing my last employer used to develop. You’d look at it and think “we’re not actually giving it to the customer looking like this, are we? Oh we are, okay then”. All I can say is I hope it works better than it looks, but in my experience, software often works exactly as well as it looks. So I’m not optimistic. I will be completely unsurprised if it crashes after 11 miles and doesn’t register me.

But then I’m not optimistic about the run in general. I don’t expect to get a good time because it’s just really, really hard to push yourself over 13 miles when you’re on your own. There’s no adrenaline or competition. There’s a reason that Kipchoge was surrounded by other runners during his sub two hour marathon, even though he had lasers projecting his desired pace onto the ground.

But apparently Parkrun is supposed to be returning at the end of October. I really hope so! The last time I ran a Parkrun was way back in March. The run director greeted us all with “GOOD MORNING PARKRUN” and when we weren’t loud enough for her she asked if we had some kind of respiratory illness. Well, ironically, I did, as I discovered the next morning when I woke up feeling like death and pretty much stayed in bed for the next week.

That was a long time ago now.

I miss Parkrun.

Saturday

Saturday is Parkrun day after I missed it last week with my stomach bug. I was pleased today as I went sub-21 for the first time in quite a while, or at least, my Garmin time was sub-21, my official Parkrun time was slightly over, but whatever, Garmin is more accurate for me. Hooray, I’m getting fitter again.

In total I ran a bit more than 14km this morning at an overall speedy pace, but my hip was a bit achy when I got home. I have been neglecting the stretching and foam rolling this week, so I need to get back to that, but I also need to start building some more glute strength so hopefully I won’t need to keep stretching so much.

But let’s keep it in perspective – six weeks ago I couldn’t run a few kilometres without hip discomfort, now it only happens after 14km at an intense pace.

I found out this morning that the half marathon I had planned for early April has been cancelled. I was worried about this when they started mentioning curtailing “large scale gatherings” due to the coronavirus, but actually it was cancelled for the opposite reason: not many people have signed up.

I can’t help but be slightly irritated by this because the organisers didn’t advertise it and they were holding it on the same day as the Coventry half. The only reason I even knew this one existed was because this time last year someone mentioned it at Parkrun and I thought “I’d better make a note of that for next year”.

So I could do Coventry, but, let’s be honest, nobody wants to go to Coventry. Also, I’m just not really feeling well prepared. I’ve had injury and two illnesses sideline me when I should have been training. I’m not as fit as I was in October and I’m not sure I’d be happy with the result. So… I’ve signed up for a different one at the end of April instead. That gives me an extra three weeks.

Progress?

I did Parkrun today at max effort and my hip feels… fine?

So in total today I’ve done about 9k (warmup + parkrun + run home) at a fast pace, which is both further and faster than I’ve run for a long time, and everything feels fine.

I’m hesitant to say everything really is fine, because I’ve had some pain from it this week, but I think it was actually a different pain which might be a red herring (I did a lot of planks one evening, and had some sharper pain the next day; I may have just overdone the planks).

Usually I’d run about 15k on Saturday and then again on Sunday, and I won’t really feel I’m recovered until I’m doing that again. Unfortunately, Storm Ciara looks set to disrupt any Sunday running, but maybe the weather forecasters are being hyperbolic and I won’t really be cowering in my house all day. I can hear the wind now though…

But in some ways it will be good if I do just stay home all day tomorrow because I have about a million plants that need repotting before the growing season starts (which it seems to be doing thanks to some mild weather).