Friday, March 25, 2011

(Relative) feat of endurance

I still seem to be pretty destroyed by this virus or whatever it is. Even riding to and from uni/work has become difficult. Today, I managed my most impressive athletic feat in the past two weeks. A bit of shopping was in order, and I managed to ride Benno's bike the 800 metres back home from Woolies with about 10kg on the handlebars. I didn't think that I could make it up the 300-metre-long hill (gradient about 12% I reckon) without walking the bike, but lo and behold, I put my head down, peddled hard, and before I knew it I had arrived at the top. In the extreme fatigue that ensued, I went home, and downed a massive salad with two packets or corn thins and a couple of slices of bread. My blog posts are apparently becoming less and less exciting. A return to training is needed, we'll just have to wait for this bug to exit my system.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time off = perspective

The Tuesday before last, I put in 35km in just under four hours with a decent amount (600-800m) of vertical gain.
I went out to the Gold Creek Reservoir along the South Boundary trail, put in a solid climb at the back end of the Res, and then headed home the way that I came.
It was great, except for one thing; I was tensing my right foot together for most of the first half, due to having lost (pulled off) some skin its sole. At one point, during a pounding descent, the fourth and fifth metatarsals of this foot flared up wildly, but it soon abated, as I unclenched all of its muscles. Then, for most of the way home, especially when I hit the tarmac, I could not put any reasonable pressure on the outside of my right foot without it feeling like it would buckle. The tendons on the outside of it became pretty tight and painful aswell.
Time for a day off.
On Thursday, I had intended to put in an easy climb of Mount Cootha. I headed out the door, got 1km down the road, and, realising that I felt like shit and my foot still hurt, I turned around and went home.
The next day, I woke up with a sore throat and a reasonable head-cold, then proceeding to work eight hours in the call centre. It hurt.
Since then, I've been pretty much chilling; I haven't run a step, and the only excercise that I have managed has been riding my bike to and from uni. Even that has felt strenuous at times. I doubt I'll be back in action until next week, or maybe even later.
This time off has been really positive - I haven't been wallowing in self-pity or eating ridiculous amounts of high-calorie food as I usually would when not running.
Plus, it has realigned my recently misguided view of running.
Before that Tuesday, I had been increasingly seeing training as a means of achieving racing goals. I had still been enjoying it to a certain extent, but definitely not as much as before.
I have since remembered why I run trails: because it's fun. There was a time not so long ago, where running was a leisure activity for me, unmatched in enjoyment by any other.
Therefore, f**k regimented speed work, roads and treadmills.
When I get back to it, I'll simply be going up, down, and around Mount Cootha as much as is medically advisable (building up slowly), making the occasional longer foray into Brisbane Forest Park.
In any case, this is probably the best way to prepare for Glasshouse 100 mile in September.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Need for Speed: the Roadies

New to EA Games, the timeless car-racing classic has been adapted...to running.
I played the real-life version of it this morning at Sherwood Forest, racing 6km (5.75 to be exact) along side a bunch of road-runners, some of which were pretty hardcore.
As soon as I had arrived, I sort of regretted not wearing a shirt, as many people gave me the "bloody poser" look. I would have to back up my lack of clothes with a decent performance.

Ready, Go!
Holy shit, that kid is moving pretty quick.
There's no way I can maintain this pace!
Damn it, I'm fading through the pack...
I don't feel too good, the week's training must have caught up to me, let's slow down.
Man, I can't control my breathing.
Hey, sweet, I've settled into a good pace, the guy in front hasn't gained on me in a little while!
That explains it, super-fast kid is only doing the 4km.
Nice! There are only four in front now.
Wow, we must be going pretty quick, I wonder what time I'll do.
Ok, go around the 3km marker as tightly as possible.
Good time! You might be able to do sub-20!
I hear footfall behind me, Ben Duffus' Dad must be catching up.
Oh man, he's gaining on me.
"Are you getting faster, or am I getting slower?"
"Ah, bit of both"
Sub-20! What was I thinking!?
(singing to myself) "There goes my hero, watch him as he goes, nah nah nah"...
Speed up into the corner, then take it tightly.
Look, we're catching the guy in front.
"Hey mate"
Stick on his shoulder then make a move.
Hey, Duffus' dad is slowing down a bit.
I feel really sick.
This sucks, racing is gay.
Ok, here comes the downhill, time to pounce; I'm a trail runner, I must be faster than him on the downhill.
Yes, accelerate and then take the inside line on that corner, well done.
Now blast it down. Don't hurt yourself though
Sweet, I think I've dropped him.
Oh shit, he's still there.
"Damn, that didn't work!"
(Other guy grunts)
Ok, where's Mr. Duffus.
He's not yet rounded the corner, must've faded.
Last straight Zac, bring it home.
Man my breathing is really quick.
"21:40"
Nice! Pb for 5km and 6km!

I then proceeded to cramp pretty badly, have a stretch, talk to the duffuses and run back to mum's place. I can't feel my feet now, but I'm sure they'll give me grief later on...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Feet

Bodgan, Mike and I headed North on Sunday and climbed four of the minor Glasshouse Mountains. We got halfway up Tibrogargan aswell before chickening out, as it was likely to rain and Mike had a bum shoulder. Heading to the beach afterwards and downing two kebabs on the esplanade rounded off a fun and worthwhile trip.
Buttttt, I wore crappy low profile shoes, that exposed my feet to a certain amount of abuse, leaving them fairly painful.
The day after, I felt great, so headed to uni to go for a fast-paced run on the treadmill. To my surprise/delight, I managed 14km in 1:00, which is a one hour PB for me. When logging some junk miles in the arvo, my right foot became painful after a while. In my intense run on Mount Cootha the next morning, neither foot troubled me, but in the afternoon the right flared up again. Wednesday was a similar story; hour of power on the treadmill in the morning - not a sound, junk miles in the arvo - feet whinged almost immediately. Yesterday, I did a very hilly 21.5km (500m of climb at least), on which the left foot became the protagonist of pain.
It seems to come and go, and when I'm not running, I get occasional tingles/pricks of pain in all different areas of my feet. I'm thinking that I may have busted up the nerve endings. Either that, or the beginnings of a stress fracture, although if the latter were the case, I doubt that I would be getting such arbitrary and randomly placed pain and that it would rather be centralized in one specific place. I'm hoping It's the second. I've taken a rest day today to see if that will sort it, especially seeing as the weekend is fairly stacked. Racing 2km (or maybe 6km depending on how I feel) at Sherwood tomorrow, and then spending 3-4 hours in Brisbane Forest Park with Nic on Sunday. I'm hoping that this foot problem is one of those things that a nice long run can sort out. Some would say wishful thinking, others would call it thinking outside the box. The problem left ab is still giving me a bit of grief, but has not gotten worse despite (or maybe due to?) the 80km of generally good-paced running that I have done this week so far.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shit just got real

I just registered for the Glasshouse 100 mile online.
It's in September, so why?
Well, as an insurance policy against checking the bank account on the night of entries closing and realising that I will have to sacrifice food in order to run 100 miles.
Also, to kick my ass into focusing on one certain running goal over the whole year, instead of floundering from race to race.
I have realised that I just can't continue to race as much and as intensely (intensity being relative to my ability) as I have been doing over the past three months and expect to be able to continue like that for years and years.
As such, I will only allow myself to race three ultras per year in the future - a 50k, a 100 mile, and something in between.
This will undoubtedly make me a better runner and allow me to pursue this passion for a looooooooooooong time, without becoming burnt out. Also, basically all of my niggles/injuries ever have resulted from racing, so the equation is simple: reduce the amount of racing, reduce the number of injuries.
Anyways, back to the original point: running 100 miles in a day is no longer an abstract dream without a certain date of attempt. Barring injury, I will certainly be trying to accomplish this goal, starting from the morning of September 10, 2011.
This fixes it in my mind, and gives me a reference point for my running (and my life in general) for the next six months.
As such, it's time to gear my training around this event. When I'm back to full health, I'll be doing a couple of speed sessions and a couple of shake-out runs during the week, and weekends will alternate between the following: a 6km race on Saturday and 15-20km tempo run on Sunday, and a 40-50km long RUN on a Saturday, and a 20-30km run/walk on a Sunday.
Any attentive follower of this blog (I am not delusional, there are none) will note that I said that when uni started I wanted to be running 20km every morning. Well, I've realised that I can't save all of my speedwork for the first half of my races, and that in order to run faster, I need to run faster!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Inadvertent carbo-loading

AKA blowing all of your pay on running shoes and a cab fare and subsequently surviving on about $60 of groceries for a week.
Naturally, I spent half of that on protein bars and a gourmet lunch, which has left me eating sweet potato, broccolli, bowl upon bowl of rice, and my housemate's bread for the last five days. Despite consuming a huge amount, I managed to lose weight, that is, until I found peanut butter in the pantry. The caloric content of the jar was soon shifted to my waistline, leaving me to survive on the aforementioned foodstuffs for the remainder of the week.
And on Monday, being the fool that I am, I ran my first real non-race speed session in about a year, having felt like crud before warming up. This led to an odd lower leg injury that has reduced the amount of running that I can do.
And two days ago, my bike was stolen. This was entirely unexpected, seeing as I had left just the frame (no wheels or seat) chained up next to a bus stop for over a week.
Athough my problems are minor compared to those of many, I can safely say that I am currently in a downswing. Now, watch as the God of irony reads that statement and heaps REAL misfortune upon me.
Anyways, the interesting thing is that I don't really give a shit. There are plenty of positives.
- As stated before, I have not gained weight while on the poor man's diet. Additionally, I'm now wildly looking forward to eating beans, avocado and corn products tomorrow.
- I am clearly in need of some sort of break from running (and maybe even adventuring in general), as I have had a ridiculous(ly fun!) summer. My hips/hamstrings, feet, calves, etc will appreciate it. Such a repose will allow me to freshen up in preparation for preparing for Cook's tour 50 Mile in May (the terrible word choice there was intended for comedic effect, not because I am a fool, which is also true).
- Who needs a bike anyways?

The money cycle will be repeated next week, as the shoes purchased a fortnight ago already have a hole in them.

I love it when I can stay positive when shit goes down, life rules!