Thursday, March 31, 2016

More Regular Ol' Training

A twenty five minute treadmill session. It was a bit random but generally longer intervals at 4:00min pace followed by forty five on the bike and some ab-crunches and push-ups. The forecast for the weekend isn't looking great. Looks like being another wet one.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Regular Ol' Training Tonight

Some row intervals and a bike session. Felt pretty good.

So anyway, it is time. Time to head back to the mountain proper. I'm going to head over to Sugar Loaf on Saturday and run a sort of out and back along the Llanbed to Blaenafon route and spectate a bit of the race as it goes by. Should be about ten miles and 800m ascent. After that I'm aiming to get to the mountains once a week and I'm pencilling in a road trip to Snowdonia at the end of April. It will be my first trip there for about a year I'd guess.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Gilwern Without The Grunt

Week fifteen began with another run as sweeper. The Gilwern Grunt this time. A seven and a half mile proper off road race - except the kilometre in the middle that was, well, on the road. Apart from that it was all off road. Conditions were surprisingly good, the storm having mostly blown through before the start. It was cold and blowy but dry.

I felt surprisingly tired afterwards - as attested to by the fact that, popping into the supermarket on the way home, I was stood in the checkout queue with Matthew L directly in front at the self-serve - and I didn't even register it was him! I was looking right at him as well - senility is kicking in. I got home safely despite that and finished the day's training with half an hour on the bike and the core work out.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The End Of Week 14

Just a rest day today. So an easy hour on the bike. Up tomorrow is sweeping at the Gilwen Grunt - I'll be packing my storm force oilskins for protection against the approaching storm...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Found The Gap In the Rain

So I got lucky with the weather, managing to pick a gap in the rain although it was blowing a right gale. It all felt a bit laboured at first but I was determined to improve on my run from two weeks ago. I worked hard on the climbs, the first of which I managed a ten to fifteen seconds improvement. The final section, off the road, to the top of May Hill was a real struggle though. Right into the wind and possibly for the first time ever the clag was down with visibility at about 100m. Yes, low visibility on the May Hill. At points I felt I was running on the spot!

Anyway, I finally got over May Hill eventually and into the downhill section. It felt nice to stretch the legs but it was still surprisingly hard work into the strong wind. I also managed around a ten second improvement on the final climb to Hobbs Quarry so on that front the run was a success. Interestingly despite the improvements the overall run was a few seconds slower overall which was basically down to the strong winds and also the slippery, stony path down from Hobbs Quarry where I nearly came a cropper.

Going to rest tomorrow because I feel my legs need it...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Felt Okay Today

...until I started rowing. My legs felt good. No aches or pains but the moment I pulled the first stroke on the rower the burn in my quads hit. Guess I needed those three recovery days after all. Despite that I did my best for 7:49. Not a very fast 2000m but the session hurt so that's good enough for me.

I finished with 45 minutes on the bike. Aiming for an easy local run tomorrow. Undecided on Sunday before sweeping the Gilwern Grunt Monday - most likely in the rain, grrrrhhh.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Could Run All Of The Hills Some Of The Way....

and some of the hills all of the way but couldn't quite manage all of the hill all of the way. I'd have to say though, in reality, it was most of the hills all of the way. There's no way, back in December, I could have run today's session. I'm pleased.

I focused on making it to the tops what ever the speed so long as I was 'running' - using the loosest definitions of running. Towards the far point of the route my heart rate hit 175 midway on one of the climbs but I just kept going.

A good solid 10 miles with 750m ascent in horrible, driving rain. I even managed a couple of Strava PRs and a half dozen 2nds to a run from waaaay back in 2012 when I was half decent. That was by far my hardest run so far and the Garmin agrees, telling me I have to rest for 3 days - that's two more days than it's told me before. I won't be taking that advice... Anyway, I finished with 30 mins on the bike and some ab-crunches.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Change Of Plans...

I've decided to change the schedule. Tomorrow I'm heading back to the mountains. Ahead of the schedule but I feel ready... Okay, hands up, I'm intending to head to the Malvern Hills. Not exactly mountains but still a bit uppy downy and certainly enough for me at the moment. Plus it's been ages since I last ran there.

The plan is ten miles. That should take me from Hollybush to Upper Wyche and back and about 2500ft ascent. That should be plenty for now... I might see a little rain but rain never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Poor Start To Week 14...

My legs were too sore to do anything yesterday. Much better today but still not up to much. I tried the rower but after a minute I knew it wasn't meant to be so stopped. The bike session was better so I put in a hour before a core session. I reckon the pegs will be okay tomorrow so it should be business as usual...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Too Much Marching...

The backs of my knees are killing. I think it's due to over-extending my stride yesterday - or something like that. I did some gentle stretching first thing and that definitely helped. This afternoon I put in 45 minutes of high resistance, lowish cadence - I don't know what I'm talking about - gym bike. Finished off with some ab-crunches. Not sure what I'm going to be capable of tomorrow so I'll just take it as it comes. Week thirteen of The Comeback is complete...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Aches In Other Places

I have aches in my legs in areas that don't normally ache after a longish plod. I swept the 20/20 Fission this morning. I knew what I was in for when I signed up. I knew it would be slooooow. It was so slow that I actually couldn't maintain running. I ended up walking much of it and then running to catch back up. The walking was more sort of marching and I think that's why I have aches in the different places. Still the distance was almost three times more than I've traversed for five months...

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sweep But No Sooty....

I'm all set to sweep at the 20/20 Fission tomorrow. I've got my kit packed. I feel rested. The weather looks okay if a little on the chilly side. I'm looking forward to the twenty miles. The only downside is early-ish start for a Saturday...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Decided On Rest

My lower legs feel a bit achy so I decided that rest would be the order of the day for the rest of the week - not sure that even makes sense... I have been going at it pretty hard for the last twelve and a half weeks after not going at it for about five years. Anyway, I'll probably do some core work tomorrow but other than that I'm resting my legs ahead of Saturday.

The plan, moving forward, now that I've entered the Butcombe Trail Ultra - why oh why oh why did I do that? - is to make my return to the mountain on the weekend of 2nd/3rd April. Not sure which bit of the mountains but probably somewhere close to home to acclimatise - it's been a while. Probably be Sugar Loaf. Might even catch a bit of the Llanbedr to Blaenavon race while I'm there if I go Saturday...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Feeling A Bit Jaded

Wasn't the best set of ten 1 minute row intervals but I completed the session despite feeling jaded. My quads burnt from the off. I felt a moment of doubt hit me midway through but I vanquished the doubt to finish. Then up was a very easy thirty minutes on the bike.

Not quite sure what to do for the rest of the week. I'm thinking I might take a few days off as I am sweeping the 20/20 Fission road race on Saturday. It obviously won't be a quick 'run' but it will be the longest for some time so I think I could do with fresh legs. Will definitely be good training though and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Not So Unlucky 13...

Yes, week thirteen of the comeback begins.. with a rest day - aka 45 minutes on the bike. I'm still feeling good and I was 17th of 34 at the orienteering yesterday. Top 50% from a strong field. I'll definitely take that.

So anyway I think I might have found a possible target race, The Butcombe Trail Ultra. It's in September and covers 47 miles. Nowhere near the 3600m ascent of the Mourne Skyline but it is quite a bit more distance. It's also much closer to home travel wise. I feel this could be the event to prepare myself for. I am due to complete the comeback in June. That will give me 8 weeks to ramp the mileage towards an Ultra. I reckon it's doable but perhaps a tad over ambitious so I'm not going to commit at this very early stage.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I Enjoyed That!

My first competitive event for about five months - not a race though - and I really enjoyed it. The sun shone, the birds chirped and the compass needle pointed north. What can be better than a spot of orienteering in the Forest on a day like today?

I didn't put any pressure on myself. I set my expectations low to avoid disappointment and headed out to enjoy it. My initial target was not to cock up the first few controls. If I could get those out the way without too many errors then I felt I would go okay.

Control one was fine, straight on it, if a little too cautiously. I could feel it going Pete Tong at control two - that was before I looked to my right and found myself staring straight at the control - doh. Three round to five were good before a slight error at six but without it costing me too much time. From there, despite almost heading from fourteen to nineteen, I really only lost time on fifteen but fortunately not too much - and it could have been worse if I'd have continued to nineteen from fourteen because it would have been game over... I should add control fourteen was used three times, it was also nine and eighteen.

I completed the course (7.8km) in 73 minutes. I'm pleased with that. It's much better than my expectation. Best of all, I felt pretty strong. I was able to run the ascents, albeit slowly, where last year I would have walked. I had a spring in my step and covered the rough ground well rather than struggle across like an old man.

I finished today's training with half an hour on the bike to wind down. Oh, and I should add, I was 3rd of 7 at the point I downloaded my dibber - ooh, er matron - so I am guaranteed not last place!! Also bare in mind, being the Compass Sport Qualifier, there will be a higher than normal percentage of good orienteers out there so I will be interested to see what my final position is...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Phase One Complete

I got out for the planned recovery run - and boy did I need the recovery. My legs were heavy, leading to a rubbish time but it's not about the time. It's about the run and I did it. I headed up and over May Hill. Mostly on road except for the May Hill bit obviously. In all I ran just over 9km. I didn't follow that up with the bike as I want to be fresh legged for tomorrow's orienteering.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Speed Down, Duration Up

Tonight's session, yes forsooth as promised, was the speed intervals on the treadmill. I dropped back to 3:45 pace but out to three minute reps off a 90s recovery with an extra rep from a fortnight ago. That made it 21 minutes of effort. The recovery was spot on, getting back towards 120bpm every time but without much room for leeway. Faster and shorter again next week. I finished with forty five minutes on the bike.

The plan for the weekend still stands at a steady run tomorrow followed by the orienteering Sunday - but it's definitely not a race. Got it? It's not a race, just a competitive amble through the undergrowth of the Forest...

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I ummed. I ahhed and in the end I plumped  for the 2000m row instead of treadmill session. I didn't feel fully empowered for the speed session so I decided to defer until tomorrow. So it was bike, row, bike tonight - with some ab-crunches thrown in for good measure. Two thirty minute bike sessions with a reasonable 2k row in between.

The plan moving forward is run the intervals tomorrow, a steady Flaxley loop Saturday and then Compass Sport orienteering Sunday.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Abort Abort...

I was meant to pull a row session tonight but after a few strokes - sssh, no, stop it - I got twinge from my shoulder. Not an ow, that's really painful got to stop, more an ooch - not sure what that's meant to be - I can't really pull hard - think that might qualify for another sssh, no, stop it. I decided to abort. If I'm honest my legs didn't feel too powerful either.

Instead I decided to convert to a pseudo rest day with just 45 minutes on the bike. I was obviously off the money tonight because I forgot to start my watch till I was ten+ minutes in. I finished off with a solid core workout which now consists; 4x31 sit-ups, 2x9 pull-ups, 2x27 push-ups and 2x15 tricep dips. Interestingly I thought I might not manage the push-ups but they weren't a problem.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Two Days In The Real World...

Yes, this morning I headed back out for another run in the real world. Back to back runs - what is the world coming to? I shall be back to the treadmill later in the week to continue the speed work though.

I have to be honest my legs felt heavy. Not achy or sore and there was no tightness anywhere, just heavy. I decided to make a trip to the recycling centre in the Forest so it made sense to start my run from close by rather than head off somewhere else.

I started with a loop of the Barnhill Plantation and up to the quarry. Surprisingly I got a Strava CR on the climb! - Guess it's not a popular route... Then I headed north to quite literally run the gauntlet of dodging the mountain bikers. Not unsurprisingly, I guess, I didn't see many - well it is a normal working day for many.

I completed the run with a big loop, almost to the main road, before heading back round and down to the car. It wasn't quick, best described as a workman like 12km. Week twelve of the comeback has begun well...

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Back To Flax

I ran the clockwise Flaxley loop today. I have always considered it the more difficult direction. Of course it's the same distance and ascent however it's run but the ascents are all steady when running anti-clockwise with one steeper descent. Obviously that steeper descent becomes a steeper ascent when heading round clockwise - are you still with me. That said, it reduced with to a walk but I can turn that to my advantage. Each time I run clockwise I vow to make it a little further up before it defeats me, I shall turn the many upcoming defeats into overall victory eventually...

I finished off with half an hour on the bike. All I have to do now is work out what to do tomorrow with my day off. Thinking cap on.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Felt A Bit Off This Morning

Decided to stay in and do a row session and bike. Feeling back to normal tonight. Tomorrow I will venture back into the real world.

The row session wasn't the fastest, steady 1:52s but my heart rate was up where it was during my last session on 1:50s so the effort was there if not the output. Ninety minutes on the bike and some ab-crunches to finish.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Almost Halfway...

So I've realised I'm fast approaching the half way point in the comeback and I'm starting to feel apprehensive. Things have gone well despite a few hiccups here and there and I'm pleased training is starting to feel like a habit not a chore but how non-rubbish will I be come June? Will I be anywhere near my former self? The me of ten years ago? Or will I be as feeble as I was last year? Or somewhere in between? - well that's pretty much all the options covered then so I've got to fit into one of those options I guess. I really hope it's the former.

Whatever the outcome in June I will continue with the regime. I am determined to be the best I can be....

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Finally! Only Two Days Late...

My calf muscle still felt a tiny bit tight before I started the session but not enough to stop me. Mind you, it feels proper tight now. Anyway, it was good to finally run the session. 8 two minute reps at 3:30min/km pace off 90s recovery - although I did require an extra 15s recovery for the last two reps and even then my heart rate didn't fully recover.

Felt good to run 3:30 pace. Even if only on the treadmill. I don't think my legs have moved as quick for years. I wasn't even sure they were capable of moving that quick but they were and they did. I finished with 45 on the bike. Now off to gently stretch the old pegs...

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Calf Muscles Still Tight

Couldn't take another rest day though, so I took to the bike. It is a bit baffling. Along with the core work out I did some stretching and gentle massage. Fingers crossed for tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What Just Happened?

My right calf is sore and tight and I have no idea why! No sign of it yesterday - and I took it easy. Suffice to say today's treadmill interval session did not happen. Hopefully I'll be fixed for tomorrow and I can resume with the interval session. I suppose it's the old ying yang, pleasure pain thing rebalancing the universe...