2 for 1

So, after yesterday’s antics with the cross-trainer, I felt I could do with hitting the road again. Plan A – hitting the streets at 7am after taking Sarah to work – was over before it had begun, seeing as my stomach was rumbling for a decent breakfast. I’m still not convinced that a body can really just wake up and run.

It took a fully digested mid-morning brunch of scrambled eggs and unbuttered toast – just about the healthiest thing I’ve eaten for a month – to convince my body it should go outside. The day was gorgeous – a proper summer’s day, and the first I had considered going out to run in. Up until this point, I have run in cloudy, cool conditions. I assumed, with the addition of a cool pair of sunglasses to my 90% Nike ensemble, I would do just fine.

I hit the Nike+ website once again to plot out a new route, this time with a more tactical approach. The problem with my local area, as I have banged on about repeatedly in my previous posts, is these damned hills all around me. So, I managed to plot out a rather convincingly flat 10km circuit, from my doorstep, and ultimately to the foot of the final, evil bank next to home. This, I postulated, would go easy on my knee, and give me as good a chance as any of setting my first 10km benchmark.

The circuit lead me into Silverdale, and by the time I reached the “entrance” to the village – after about 3.5km – the sun had officially destroyed my motivation. The sunglasses, it emerged, did very little to tackle the heat and the onset of dehydration. Who knew?

Anyway, a quick text to my parent’s confirmed they were home, and within a few minutes I was sat on their patio with a cool glass of orange squash, followed by a rejuvenating Cornetto. Despite being fully recharged, the sun still hung high in the sky, and I decided to accept a ride home.

My Nike App clocked me at 3.5km, after I accidentally tripped it when texting, but it was actually 4.5km. Not like that makes much difference. It wasn’t 10km anyway.

I felt somewhat glum for the rest of the day, not bothering to shower or get changed out of my kit whilst I made lunch and got to grips with some studying. By the time evening came around, about 8pm, I realised that the world seemed a lot cooler. So, before I had chance to really think about it, I slipped my trainers back on and headed back out the door for Round 2.

I had not planned for anything grand, but I must say I did manage to cheer myself up – 1.75km in 11 minutes, without stopping my jogging pace throughout. My Nike App told me afterwards that my pace wavered dramatically between a 3min/km and a 7min/km, but I didn’t care. I had ran for 11 minutes, and I only stopped because I reached base camp of Mt Hartshill.

Although – bad news – my knee played up yet again. But let’s not get bogged down in the negative right now…

Epiphany time. I wasn’t limited to a maximum of 3 minutes of running as my interval training programme was suggesting. Even though it was exhausting me, interval training was working me out in a completely different way than a long run could or would. Interval training is designed to slow you down when you can run on, just to mess with your cardio system and make you work even harder the next time it gets you to run.

I’m now genuinely interested in how far I can run without collapsing in a heap of Nike outlet gear and sweat. So my next run, on my new level-grade test circuit, will be without “Woman” instructing me. So, we’ll see what happens…

Bond Run

I married Sarah for a number of reasons, but two of these are:

1. We think so much alike that it saves a hell of a lot of time trying to explain something or bring the other person up to speed. This includes pop culture and absolute random things that I cannot begin to categorise right here and now.

2. Despite having such similar minds, Sarah can come up with some truly brilliant ideas that I should have thought of, but clearly did not.

This was the case yesterday, when Sarah made a single, two-worded suggestion when she was discussing next year’s race with me (no, not that two-worded suggestion) – “Bond Run”.

I have today googled Bond Run, and it would appear that this is not a term that people have taken to heart, nor into popular culture vocabulary. Whilst “reem” has, somehow?

To therefore explain, to “Bond Run” is to perform a swift sprint away from an onslaught of gunfire. This was epitomised by James Bond, and particularly the rendition of Bond by Pierce Brosnan (who also mastered the Bond Strangle – but that’s another day and another blog).

The first minute gives you a pretty decent idea about what I’m talking about.

My own love for the Bond Run continued on from seeing Pierce Brosnan on the big screen, and I translated this into my gameplay style in the PS2 James Bond game “007: Agent Under Fire”. During college, my and three friends would race back to my house during free periods (most of the day in fact) and play 4-player split-screen death matches on this game for the best part of two years, like a religion. To evade fire (successfully and more commonly otherwise) I would announce aloud “Bond Run!” whilst doing exactly that. And it felt great every time.

Anyhow….

As soon as Sarah said “Bond Run” I knew what Plan A was going to have to be – I would run the Bupa 10K in a tuxedo. Not forgetting, of course, the Brosnan-standard straight-handed sprinting arms. Ideally, I would like to run the entire 10km with pyrotechnics setting off small “bullet ricochet” sparks all around me. But, a guy can dream.

Daniel Craig does an admirable job at running, but you can't compare it to the coolness of Brosnan

The Cross-Trainer

The cross trainer is weird. From my perspective, it’s the only item of cardio-vascular gym equipment that doesn’t directly translate to a real world equivalent. A treadmill simulates running, a spinning machine simulates cycling and rowing machine makes you row.

Now, I seem to recall somebody once suggesting that the cross trainer is near as damn it to cross-country skiing. But I don’t really see that. Nor do I think that simulating cross-country skiing is very helpful for me conducting at-home running training.

Other experts often say that cross-training is the best all-body workout machine you can use. However, whenever I wake up early on the weekend and turn my TV on to find last night’s sci-fi channel still on the screen, I often see many a strange fitness device being sold on the teleshopping adverts – all of which assure me that they too offer the ultimate workout.

My main concern for cross-training has been the lack of impact upon my poorly left knee. And so today, I managed to rack up a 10km “run” in about 25 minutes. I mentioned earlier that I read you should apply a 4:1 ratio to things, therefore 40km should correctly equate to my quest target. But, I reckon it may be more like 2:1, as 40km at the pace/intensity I was working today would be far more intense than my recent longer road runs have felt at the end. Plus, by my logic, doubling today’s session time would be 20km in around 50 minutes – more or less my quest target time.

10km into today’s exercise though, I’d had enough. My knee was fine, but I think the conditions – being stood in the relatively stuffy confines of my kitchen – really don’t help. I was seriously sweating, and I hadn’t sweat like that since before I started running on the road.

However, the good news was that I did feel like I’d had a decent workout. As throughout all of my quest so far, I haven’t been tracking my heart rate stats, so I don’t know if it was physiologically a good cardio session. I just know it was good to get moving again after a while.

My knee is still feeling pretty good, a few hours after I finished my “run”, so I’ve got hopes that I may actually be able to get out and test her out on the road again soon. Whether that’s tomorrow or next week, I’m not sure yet. Things are crazy enough in the other areas of my life right now to think about it too much anyway.

Priorities

Things may be creaking to a semi-halt for a while.

Not through choice, but through sheer timing and circumstance. I’m sat here with my knee strapped up and a hot oat bag in the shape of an adorable puppy lying over my elevated patella, whilst I try and make a good guess at when I should risk stress-testing it.

And on the subject of tests, I have an exam in three weeks which is pretty darned important, and needs me to use my already rare weekday evenings to sit and revise instead of crack on with this quest.

The new gym is now opening on the 8th September, 2 days after my exam. My theory is that I literally limp my way up to these dates, focusing on revision and maybe hitting the cross trainer once mid-week and once on the weekend, and I’ll try and “freeze” my current progress where it stands until then.

Three weeks isn’t very long, particularly when I think about having to revise so much in that time. So hopefully I’ll reach September 8th without suffering too much of a set-back. I really do want to be back out there running, but as my opening paragraph suggested, this is just an absolutely rubbish time to try.

Strapped Up

Well, the knee thing didn’t go away like I hoped, and my research wasn’t all that helpful. This is mainly down to the flaw with self-diagnosis. When asked “What type of pain do you have in your knee?” it’s fairly difficult to come out with an objective response.

Anyhow, I reckon I’ve got what everyone shrugs off as “Runner’s Knee” – something you get from giving a weak, untrained knee a baptism of fire. That sounds about right. So, after limping around the office today, I’ve picked myself up a knee support strap-thingy. When I bought it, I had the impression that it would gently caress the knee joint, and leave me to carry on with my life. This freaking thing has totally isolated the joint, so now I’m walking like I have a full leg caste!

My plan is to wear it at home and in bed, hopefully isolating the knee for a good 10 hours a day. And then I figure on Thursday I’ll do a cross trainer session – after a lot of digging, I found one website which suggests you apply a 4:1 ratio to cross-training. Which means I need to “run” 40km on the cross trainer to achieve the equivalent of a 10km road run, just without the fatal knee impact. For now.

I can’t say I’m too pleased with the situation, but looking at it from another angle, I am somewhat enjoying the challenges this quest is inevitably throwing my way.

Depressed

Sat down on the patio after tonight’s run, I had a chat with Paula and explained to her that, despite her pats on my back over beating my personal best on the 5K, tonight should have been a 10K run.

However, my body seems to be failing me right now. Earlier in the day, I was worrying about a couple of blisters on my right heel, hoping they had healed up and wouldn’t affect things tonight. They didn’t, but my left knee did.

It’s been playing up for the last few runs, but I figured it just needed the usual rest day between runs, and it would be okay. Well, tonight, the sharp pains from it told me otherwise. Something inside, a nerve, a swelling, I don’t know, is causing me to have some painful feedback every time I drop my left foot and try to put pressure through it.

I was hoping it would calm down after 10 minutes, having warmed up, but it didn’t – particularly as whilst I’m still interval training, the walks cool it back down, and I’m back to square one warming it up all over again every 5 minutes.

So I managed to limp around a 5km circuit, and I think, by shifting weight over onto my right leg, I caused a pain in that shin. I think it’s what I’ve heard being called a shin splint? Anyway, it wasn’t good.

Coupled with all that, I still have a bit of a sniffle whilst this cold lingers on, and consequently I’m just not mentally focused enough to even try and push through the pain, which I’m sure I could. But then again, should I?

I’m going to have to do some reading up on what’s best for knee injuries. No doubt I’m going to find out I need rest. And whilst the old me is grateful for the lack of effort that rest brings, this newly developing me is actually a little bitter at taking a break from the programme. If I leave running for say 5 days, I’m fearing I’ll have dropped back several steps on my progress with my fitness.

Alternatively of course, I have a god-damned cross trainer sat in my kitchen – the ultimate, zero-impact cardio machine. My only trouble with that though, is that it isn’t really helping me to run. I can already hop onto the cross trainer and churn out a 20km “run” in under an hour, but I have no idea how that equates into real running.

Sufficed to say, I’m as confused as my poor sentence structures suggest tonight. Even though I did run a good 5km time, and improved my average 1km pace to below 7mins, I’m a tad let down with myself and my physical limitations.

I’ll report back with (hopefully) better news soon.

Who the hell are you?

A couple of runs ago, after taking two calls from Paula Radcliffe and chatting with her about how well my 5k times are doing, I beat my personal best time once again. Only this time, some American dude chirps up. He was all “Hey, I’m Chad Eaglecrest*, and I want to congratulate you on beating your personal best on the 5k!”

*His name wasn’t Chad Eaglecrest, but something equally American, yet less memorable.

Chad's twin bother, Rex

At that moment, I feared the worst – Paula wasn’t going to calling me again, and I’d end up taking phone call messages from a world full of random running people….

…but then, success! The following run, Paula comes back! I didn’t bother to ask her, but I think she had a charity gala or something the other night, and she wasn’t standing on top of her lookout point. So Chad rang instead. He shouldn’t have bothered.

Nor should he have bothered today, when I got home and Chad said “Congratulations on running your furthest ever distance! AMERICA!*”

*…No, he didn’t hell America in my ear. But it felt like it.

Nike Corporation – hear this. Please take Chad Eaglecrest, and whoever else you have on your telephone call rota, off the list. If Paula has to be somewhere else when I get back from a run, then ask her to leave a generic voicemail in advance. I’ll buy it. Thank you.