The End is Nigh

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Its been a long time since I posted on this blog and much has happened between then and now, but finally after over two years the end is nigh.  Yes I am within spitting distance of the start line and two and a half years of training is finally going to be put to use.

When I first started this journey/madness I really didn’t understand the huge commitment in time and energy it would be to train to compete in a race like the Coast to Coast or how the training would change my body and my world view.  There have been some tough times, I broke both physically and mentally along the way, but I have also fixed myself with the help of my family, coach, and friends.  I no longer thing that going for a run is a strange thing to do.  I ride to work and enjoy it, a 60k round trip that actually only adds 40 minutes to my daily commute.  Not that I do that everyday, but at least once or twice a week.

Just Back in 2016 I tore my calf muscle which put me out of the race for 2017, mentally this was really hard to handle as all the hard work felt like it was for nothing.  Some heart surgery early in 2017 meant that I didn’t start training again until May of that year but I am now ready to line up on the start line and run/ride/paddle across the South Island of NZ.

Even though I am probably fitter than I have ever been I still don’t feel like an athlete, I haven’t really lost much weight, although I have changed shape and gone down at least one size in Jeans and really do need a new belt…  I’ve worn out two pairs of running shoes, worn through a pair of running shorts and found some really good winter running and cycling gear.

Sitting here in Christchurch two days before the event though, I do feel ready for race, my training has been good and I’m sure I’m able to get over the line, all that needs to happen now is for me to actually do it.

I’ve arranged a GPS tracker for the event so people can follow my progress (I’ll be the slow one at the back) using this link – https://coasttocoast2018.maprogress.com/?id=13162 or from the Coast to Coast homepage – my number is 2021.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past two years, especially Jane, Jessica and Matthew who have put up with tired, hungry me on more than one occasion.

See you at the finish line!

365 Days on

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Yes its been a year since I began this journey! I have trained for over 220 hours, in sunshine, rain, fog, cloud, extreme wind and darkness.  It’s been incredibly tough at times and occasionally even tougher than tough.  I broke once, I almost broke several times but I got back on track generally after a decent nights sleep and a quiet pep talk to myself.

The strange thing is I’ve enjoyed most of those hours, I’ve learned to not only tolerate the weather, I’ve learned to enjoy it.  Yes, when you look out the window and its raining, or dark or even just windy it seems really easy to tell yourself that you’ll make the miles up later, tomorrow, another day, but we all know that it won’t happen and when I do make the effort I find that I really enjoy being out in the elements.

There have had to be a number of changes though, the silly looking clothes that you see cyclists and runners wear, they work!  There is a reason people wear Lycra on bikes and synthetic shirts and shorts for running, they keep you cool or warm depending on the weather.  Winter kit is especially important, I have an Ultimate Direction ultra jacket for running – it was expensive, but it keeps the worst of the weather at bay in the driving rain and keeps me warm when its windy or cold.

Getting up early is still a hassle, and as I’ve been traveling a fair bit for work I have had the luxury of being able to do my session after work.  The Taranaki has been great for my hill sessions on the bike and running, not so good for riding on the flat however.

Sleep is really important, more important than I ever thought possible.  Its doubly so when you’re getting up at 5 to fit a 2 hour ride in before work.  The one time I melted down, was because I was just dog tired and pulled the pin on my run after about 20 minutes, followed by a slow walk back home, even though there was not enough time to go back to sleep, the 20 minute spa before I got ready for work was pretty good for the soul.

Losing weight is more difficult than I would have thought – after the initial quick loss of 6kg I’ve plateaued and cant seem to move any more, not helped by restaurant meals when working away and the fact that I’m pretty much always hungry.   Snacking has become a thing, finding good snacks that aren’t all sugar is more difficult than it should be.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself over the past year.  I, like most of us can overestimate my own abilities – most notably with the purchase of a really cheap, really fast, really impossible multi sport kayak – a real Dunning Kruger moment.  Sometimes however these overestimates have just been times where I was forced to push myself more than I would potentially have done if I had truly understood the ramifications of my choices, can you say 400+ meters climbing in the dark on a 90 minute ride.  I have also learned that where I think I will break is a lot less than where I will break, in fact I don’t actually break, I just get a bit slower and keep going.

There have been some truly fantastic moments though, my first sub 30 minute 5k was pretty good and my first sub 60minute 10k was even better – the fact that these were in the same week was pretty awesome.  Getting up French Pass was awesome, then seeing Jane’s and Chickens times on Strava was humbling.  Paddling my kayak for 3 hours (24k) was a bit of a milestone, hitting 8k in my sea kayak was also pretty good.  Going over 50k downhill was a rush, sitting at 40k on the flat was even more so.

Training for endurance sports is quite a selfish pursuit, its impossible to spend 3-4 hours a day on the weekend without impacting those around you, not to mention the fact that I’ve been tired for a year, distracted and hangry at times.

All in all its been a tough but rewarding year, having put in the hours I truly appreciate the efforts that Jane and Chicken put in when they are training for their events and am as always a little in awe of their tenacity and drive.  I am really appreciative of all the sacrifices that Jane, Chicken and Buddy have made so far and the support that they have given me to date, its been as much a journey for them as it has been for me.

Year to date:

Cycling: 1960km 80 hours

Running: 880km   110 hours

Kayaking: 210km 34 hours

Climbing out of the doldrums

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It feels like every post of late has begun with something along the lines of, I’ve not written much lately…  and that’s true.  The truth is I was becoming a little bit befuggled, the winter mornings dark and cool make staying in bed look a lot more inviting than getting up for a run.  Add to that my feeling that I wasn’t making progress, and lack of planning out what I was going to be doing each morning/week and you have a perfect storm of rationalsation that would end up with me waking up in a few months going #$%^ I’m unfit again…

So what do you do when you find yourself lacking in motivation and drive?  The option that I was going with to start off with was to go with it and enjoy my sleep-ins, except that I wouldn’t actually enjoy them, I would lie there beating myself up for not getting out of bed all the while staying in bed…  some might label that a little on the stupid side, the least I could have done was skip a workout and enjoy the experience.  Clearly this work avoidance scheme wasn’t working for me any more than trying to train without a plan was working for me.  In fact it was beginning to feel like the photo above – well and truly out of control and in danger of crashing down.

Clearly it was time to bring some structure back to my training and to this end  I have engaged the services of local coach Mark Sutherland.  For those of you who have been paying attention to sport in NZ over the past 20 years you may have come across his name before, making his name coaching Ian Ferguson & Paul MacDonald back in 1987, Mark has continued to coach a number of international athletes to world acclaim.  needless to say I am far from the dizzying heights of olympic gold, but the skills and rigor that Mark has provided over the past couple of weeks have already shown me that I made the right decision to enlist his aid.

Having a plan laid out each week has made getting up in the dark that little bit easier, and having someone other than myself to explain why I chose the duvet rather than the pavement to is definitely a great motivator.  The plan Mark presented me with has added some much needed variety to my training while not increasing the volume overall.

After my first full week on the new programme I am already feeling the effects, I’m definitely working harder than I was before and I am seeing some improvement already, some of this is possibly due to having a bit of a break and then getting back into it with renewed vigor but I can already feel myself getting a little bit faster and stronger.

Its going to be an interesting few months coming up, I am traveling for work quite a bit so I’ll be training in some new places – new roads to ride and paths to run.  The weather is getting a lot cooler too so I am having to work out just what gear works when its below zero.  All I can say at the moment is that I need some gloves…

The first weeks training

Saturday – Bike 32k, Run 7k

Sunday – Kayak 14k

Monday – Ride 22k

Wednesday – Run 5k, Ride 13k

Thursday – Run 9k

If you want to contact Mark you can find him on his website http://www.thegoldmedalzone.co.nz/

 

Keeping focussed

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I mentioned in my last post that I was having trouble with motivation, the dark mornings and colder weather make it so much easier to stay in bed when the alarm goes off at 5am.  Unfortunately, because I am constantly recording all the training that I’m doing I can see the negative effects that this is having on my performance, the lack of a personal record (PR) on Strava over segments that I run or ride regularly, the occasional red box in Training peaks staring accusingly at me when I fire up the website…

That’s not to say I haven’t been riding and running, I have, I have just struggled with putting in the effort necessary to improve my performance, its too easy when its cold and dark and you’re riding/running on your own to just go along in cruise control, putting in good times but not great times, and even at times just putting in times, neither good nor great.

All this wasn’t helped by a trip to the hospital last week for another reboot, which leaves me feeling a little gun shy and a little knocked back.  After these episodes I tend to have a bit of a quiet couple of days and keep well within my aerobic HR to ensure (probably falsely) that the heart is going to stay in rhythm.  There is no evidence that this actually makes a difference, but its good for my mind if nothing else.

I’ve also been a bit poor at planning my week in advance.  I’ve found over the past months that its a lot easier to get out of bed if I know what I’m going to be doing once I get up.  If I dont have anything planned, it is really easy to choose something a bit easier than I would have planned, or just flag it and have a sleep in.

So something needs to change, I’ve started by planning my week a bit better which seems to be helping a little.  I’ve also started changing some of my runs to do intervals which should help with speed (or the couch to 5k for going faster as I like to think of it) these have the added benefit of not taking as long as a 10k.  I’ve also experimented with intervals on the bike, these aren’t quite as easy as running, but I did seem to enjoy my ride a bit better and actually got my first PR in quite a while.

I also got hold of an old rowing machine over the weekend.  It had been stored in a barn for some time and was full of a birds nest, but after a good clean out and a wash its now working as good as new.  I put in my first session on the trainer on the weekend and now have some sore paddling muscles, which is a nice change, plus  I get the opportunity to watch some TV while I’m at it.

It’s not all bad, I’m booked in for the Maungatautari Mission in about 4 weeks, which would be my first race with transitions, and my first foray into true multisport.  Whether or not I take part will depend on how the next few weeks of training go.  But hopefully with some more planning and some focus on improving again I can get myself into shape enough to tackle the race.

Monday – Post race 6k walk

Wednesday – Bike 30k

Thursday – Run 9k

Saturday – Ride 23k

Monday – Run 5k – Intervals

Tuesday – Run 10k

Wednesday – Ride 17k

Friday – Run 6k

Sunday – Row 25minutes

 

 

My First Trail Run

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There’s nothing quite like a last minute change of plans and signing up for a race the week before the start…  But that’s what I did a couple of weeks ago and last weekend I ran my first serious distance race, I did the 22k version of the inaugural Waitomo Trail Run.  Janes mum had seen it advertised in the local paper so I checked it out, it looked like fun so I entered.  I probably would have entered the 11k distance except that it was fully subscribed and so entries to that distance were closed.

The only distances still open a week out from the start were the 33k and the 22k, I was definitely not ready for 33k but 22k sounded achievable, I had run a few 18’s and done 23 a couple of weeks earlier, so I figured that I should be able to get around the course.  Looking at the course I was a little concerned at the amount of climbing (789m) but there was little I could do about it apart from set my goals accordingly.

I went into the race with fairly modest goals, firstly to finish the course, it was my first trail run and I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for.  Secondly I would like to finish somewhere between 3:30 to 4 hours.  This was about an hour longer than my previous attempt at 22k and felt achievable.

Race day was perfect weather, sunny with little wind and the temperature was in the high teens and the scenery was fantastic, even if the amount of hills was giving me a little cause for concern.  Still I knew what I was trying to achieve and while I felt a little under prepared, I was certain that I could last the distance.

This was the first year the race has been put on, and we got to run over some pretty beautiful countryside with quite a lot of the course running over private land so the opportunity to see it is pretty limited usually.  The first half of the run was REALLY hilly, I knew I wasn’t the fittest runner in the field, but those hills were pretty intense, and the off road aspect just added to it.  I got to the end of the first major climb, probably about 100 meters but quite steep and undulating terrain, and I came to the “shortcut” which was a route option that would cut 5k off the total route.  It was reallllly tempting, in fact if I hadn’t been chatting (I say chatting, I mean gasping) to the people around me I would possibly have taken it, but no one else was heading down that route so I just kept going.

We ran over narrow rock escarpments, through native forest and across undulating farm tracks.  It was fantastic, the most frustrating parts were where there were a couple of pinch points where only a single runner could pass at a time.  One of these was a small cave that required a bit of gymnastics to get through – unfortunately this meant a 30 minute wait to get my turn to go through here.  While the rest was welcome, it did take a bit longer than I would have liked and I did start to get cold.  Once through the run continued through the fantastic scenery and looped round back to the start, seeing the start line again was a mixed blessing, it was great to see my supporters and hear them cheer me on, but it was a bit disheartening to realise that I had only run 11k and it had taken the better part of two hours.

The second half of the race was a mixture of farmland and some native bush.  Running in the bush is great, its cooler than in the paddocks, and the ground is springy as a lot of NZ forest is, but the single track is a lot more technical and required a fair amount of concentration to ensure that you didn’t trip.  The path was well marked though so route finding was pretty straight forward.

Eventually my race drew to a close, though I will say any course designer who places the finish line at the top of some stairs is a special kind of sadist, but as usual the sound of people cheering you on makes you dig deep and find some last reservoir of energy to ensure that you run across the finish line.

So there you go, my first trail run, my first official half marathon distance, so what did I learn…

  1. Although I thought my training was going well I wasn’t as fit as I had hoped
  2. I don’t do enough off road running, while we don’t have rivers like the Coast to Coast course, running in the forest teaches some of the skills needed
  3. Running in five fingers worked really well and I had no issues with grip or ankle support, but my feet did get tired
  4. It was fun, although it may not have looked it by the end of the race, I did enjoy myself
  5. Must Do More Hills… I need to build hill legs, after the event I couldn’t walk down stairs forwards for 3 days…

 

Training…

  • Monday – Run 18k
  • Wednesday – Walk 9k
  • Thursday – Bike 22k
  • Saturday – Run 22k – The race

When things get real

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When I first said that I was going to enter the 2017 Coast to Coast race it was nearly a year and a half away, a.k.a. quite far in the future.  Well that far in the future is now a lot closer and this week became extremely real.  Tickets for the 2017 race went on sale on Wednesday this week and after a quick call to Jane to see if she was still on board I am now officially entered into the 2017 two day individual event – bib number  2005.

This means that money has been spent – there is no backing out now (which is kind of why I entered as early as possible).  After my rest week last week I needed the renewed motivation to keep going and refocus myself.  I also signed up for a race at the weekend – Janes mum found it in the local paper and it sounded interesting so I entered.  So this Saturday (30th April 2016) I’m participating in the 22k Waitomo Trail Run.  The 11k division was sold out and the 33k was well outside my current comfort zone, so it really had to be the 22k distance.  At least I know that I can run that far.

This weekends run is through some stunning Karst scenery – which is landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. (according to wikipedia) What this does mean is that we get to run through caves and fantastic limestone formations, so it should be pretty.  Its also my first truly off road run, not quite the terrain of the C2C run, but more challenging than my usual routes.

Based on my previous 22k time of 3 hours I expect this to take somewhere between 3-4 hours, the route has a lot more vertical ascent than my previous run which will slow me somewhat I suspect.

I also realised this week that the Maungatautari Mission that I entered some time ago is only 6 weeks away, which means that I really need to get out in the kayak as that race has a 10k kayak leg, and I’ve been concentrating on my running and cycling up until now as these are the disciplines that my skill level is much lower.  Its going to be a busy few weeks as I continue to work on my running and cycling fitness as well as build up my paddle fitness, I feel an erg in my life in the near future 😦

Last week was a mental health week, as I alluded to last post, and so there is not much to report on the training front.  The sleep-ins helped reset my internal batteries and it was nice to not have aching muscles for a day or two.

  • Tuesday – Run 6k
  • Saturday – Ride 50k

Sometimes you just have to hit snooze

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The astute among you will have noticed that I haven’t been writing as regularly as I normally do, I would love to say there has been a great reason for this but I’d be making stuff up…

It has been a fortnight of ups and downs,  with some pretty awesome training followed by some repeated hitting of the snooze button.  I even got to run in a different city as I was away for most of last week for work in New Plymouth and managed to get a ride and a run in a new city.

Working away from home is a double edged sword really, I always enjoy the solitude but miss Jane and the kids, and having a new city to explore is always fun, but not having anyone to share the discoveries with makes it a somewhat Pyrrhic exercise.   All that aside the New Plymouth coastal path walkway would have to be one of the best in the country and made my morning run and cycle a really magical experience.  It has to be said running along the coast is one of my favourite ways to start the day. Well favourite active ways to start the day, lying in bed with a good book and a decent coffee is still my all time favourite way to start the day.

I have also been logging the k’s on my long runs with an 18k to follow up my easter run of 15k and then an almighty 23k last weekend.  The 23 was probably a bit soon, not so much in distance, but the route I chose was uphill for almost half of the distance, I would have actually been better to have run it in reverse, at least that way the climb would have been short and sharp followed by a long descent.

So all the training has been going quite well – hitting the 23k milestone was pretty awesome, its just over the half marathon distance and only 10k short of the C2C mountain run.  Extrapolating from my run I figure the mountain run should take me somewhere between 4 and 5 hours, so I’m happy with that and I still have 290 odd days to get faster and get some more runs in on similar terrain to the actual run.

What about the downs I hear you ask??  Well the extra distances have definitely been having an effect on my body and I’ve been finding it difficult to motivate myself to get out of bed in the dark to go for my normal training runs.  Now I’m not a morning person, but I actually do enjoy the early morning sessions in the dark.  I don’t even mind the cold and rain as long as I am dressed for it, but I just haven’t been able to get up.  Now I know that this is largely mental and getting up is probably the best thing for it, but sometimes you just have to hit snooze.  Training is a combination of putting the body under stress and rest, and I’ve been pretty good over the past 8 months at putting my body under stress but not always so good at the rest part of the equation.

Being a night owl I have found it difficult at times to convince myself to go to sleep early, even going to bed early hasn’t always helped and I find myself still awake at midnight with a 5am alarm set.  Normally I manage to get up and exercising first thing wakes me up and gives me energy for the day, but nothing can hide the fact that I’m tired and need to get more sleep.  So today I didn’t get up, today I hit snooze and slept in for another hour.  And it was liberating!  I woke up feeling guilty because I didn’t go for the ride I had planned, but I felt better than I have for days, muscles don’t ache, brain isn’t foggy from lack of sleep and I’ve been in a good mood all day.

So the moral of the story, sometimes you do have to snooze, and not beat yourself up about it.  I know that its not the start of a habit, because I do feel a little guilty for not going for my ride but I also know that today it was the right thing to do.  I’m pretty sure I’m not over training though its something that I’ve been on the watch for, especially as I have come from a pretty low base it would be easy to push too hard in my attempts to hone myself into an endurance athlete.

So a mixed week, some really high highs, and some middling lows, but nothing that a sleep-in can’t fix.

 

Monday – Bike 30k

Wednesday – Bike 16k

Thursday – Run 9k

Saturday – Run 18k

Sunday – Ride 23k

Tuesday – Run 4k

Wednesday – Run 9k

Thursday – Ride 20k

Saturday – Run 23k

 

Hunting the easter bunny

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A couple of weeks have gone by since my last post, then I felt like I had lost my running Mojo and was a little despondent about the couple of steps backwards that I felt that I had taken.  Well there is nothing like a couple of short weeks and a trip to the beach camping to turn your head around and reset yourself.

Jane and I had decided that we were going to go camping for the Easter holiday this year as we hadn’t had a chance to go camping during the Christmas holidays, so we packed the kids and the tent up and headed to Hahei in the Coromandel for 5 days of relaxation and running.  Well that was running for me, Chicken had some serious K’s to put in on the bike for her training and Jane and Buddy decided to get some walking in as well.

The weekend was looking pretty rubbish as far as the weather went, and on Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of torrential rain and power outages, thought to myself sod this and rolled over and went back to sleep.  I had already done a session on the bike and a couple of hill run/walks on the first three days of the week so having an unscheduled rest day wasn’t the worst thing in the world and my tired legs were certainly going to appreciate it.

We arrived to the beach early Friday morning and had a relaxing day settling into the camping lifestyle.  For us that generally means going for walks on the beach, a good book or 10 and a beer or wine in the afternoon.  There is of course no escape from the rigors of training and on Saturday I went for an exploratory run around Hahei, a town I know pretty well, but have never run in.  The run went really well and I clocked up 7k for the first time in a while without feeling like I was going to die.  A couple of days rest and a change of scenery had definitely pulled me out of my funk.

On the Monday I decided that I would try for a 10k and if I felt good then I could add a few kilometers without too much hassle.  Rather than running later in the morning, I got up as the sun was rising and headed out of town on the route that I had planned the day before.  For anyone who has never been to the Coromandel, it’s hilly…  Like REALLY hilly.  I had planned my route to be as flat as possible but there were still a couple of hills to be tackled, and the flat road I thought I found was actually just a long steady hill for about 3k… but the morning was beautiful and the scenery fantastic, so I stuck at it walking up some of the hills but running the rest and I felt good, really good so I kept going.  I ran through the first hour of my playlist, 8k’s down and feeling strong, so I kept going until I had run through the second hour as well.  There were a couple of stops to take photos and I really needed some more water with me, but I completed 15k in under two hours and felt really great for the rest of the day and the next.  Legs were tired but no injuries or pain.

So it appears that I found my mojo again, silly really it was at the beach, which is where I fell in love with paddling all those years ago, which is why I’m training for the Coast to Coast, because it has a paddling leg.

The rest of the week was pretty good for training as well, a run on the shores of Lake Tarawera while I was away for work was pretty cool and my fastest ever 5k on Sunday was the icing on the cake.  Legs feeling tired but not sore, cycling distance getting up and speed increasing slowly as well.  All in all its going OK at the moment and the end of daylight savings means that my training runs and rides finish in the light.

 

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  • Monday – Run 6.7k
  • Tuesday – Bike 17k
  • Wednesday – Run 6.8k
  • Thursday – Rained off (yaaay)
  • Saturday – Run 7.2k
  • Sunday – Run 4k
  • Monday – Run 15k
  • Wednesday – Ride 21k
  • Thursday – Run 5k
  • Friday – Ride 23k
  • Sunday -Run 6k

Finding My Mojo

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Its been an interesting week, where I’ve begun to question my ability to run.  Basically I feel like I’ve lost my running mojo!  Before my operation a couple of weeks ago, I cut back on the amount of running I was doing to give my Achilles some rest and began to focus on cycling a bit more than I had been, what I had failed to recognise at the time was that it would be four weeks until I next ran again.

Those four weeks have somehow stolen my mojo, and my recent runs have been a real struggle, to the point that I have not managed to complete a single run without some walking.  In fact the first time I headed out for my run after I got the all clear, I was shocked at how much running fitness that I had lost.  Everything felt really heavy and I just couldn’t seem to hit the groove, it was quite disheartening, as I remembered just how it used to feel to run for 40 minutes without stopping while I was walking around my usual morning route.

It’s getting better, I can now run further than that first few runs, but I’m still not back where I was and its a little disheartening.  The fact that I’m recording all my runs on my Garmin watch, means that I am able to see the slow gains that I am making, which is great and definitely helping with the motivation.

On a rosier note I have started putting some hills into my weekly cycling routine and have started doing a 22k hill loop that climbs 350m overall and provides some pretty beautiful views as well when the sun starts to come up.  And its these moments that keep me getting up at 5am so that I can get the run or ride in before work.  The getting outside and “doing it” is really good for my sense of well being, even if its absolutely rubbish for the amount of sleep I’m getting, something that I am going to have to address, but a lifetime of being a night owl is not going to get overturned in a few months.  Still I do have to get used to going to sleep sometime between 9 and 10 because everything I read tells me that sleep is realllllllly important for recovery.

Finally I actually won something this week! Not a race, but I won a supply of EM’s power cookies from a competition that I entered on Facebook.  They’ve not arrived yet but that was a pretty excellent way to start my weekend.

Shawn

  • Monday – Ride 22k
  • Tuesday – Run 6k
  • Thursday – Ride 17k, Run 6k
  • Saturday – Run 5k
  • Sunday – Ride 31k

 

 

Hello Darkness…

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Last week was two weeks after my operation and I was officially allowed to start exercising again. Taking an enforced two weeks off was harder than I thought it would be, I actually missed going for a run or a ride, something that if you’d told my unfitter self at the beginning of this crusade I would have scoffed at you!

The first week of recovery was pretty much spent taking it really easy and either sleeping or doing things that didn’t require much energy.  That meant that I read a lot, got quite a bit further through Fallout 4 and caught up on a lot of sleep.  During the second week however, as I started to feel better and was able to get around easier without feeling like I had already run 5k with each set of stairs, I started to get the urge to “just go for a quick ride or run.”  I did resist the urge to go, I was under doctors orders and having been through this surgery before I knew that the appearance of feeling better was a bit of an illusion for the first couple of weeks.

Finally the day came when I was able to get back on my bike again, but those two weeks off had changed the experience somewhat.  For a start it was dark, and I don’t mean the sun will be up soon, its starting to get light dark.  I mean holy moly, I can’t see my hand in front of my face dark.  Luckily I had picked up a cheap generic CREE bicycle front light, which makes it like riding with car headlights, plenty of lumens to see and be seen by.

The other change was the drop off in fitness.  It wasn’t a huge drop but it was noticeable, legs ached a bit more than they had, and times were a bit slower.  I’m not really too worried about that, the first ride was intentionally slow and I kept my heart rate about 10 beats lower than I usually do my aerobic training at to ensure that everything is still working as intended.  Riding in the dark was slightly surreal, there are even fewer cars on the road than there have been in the past, but the blinking lights of a cyclist about half a kilometer almost ruined my resolve to have a slow recovery ride as I repeatedly had to kill the urge to catch up.  Luckily the slight reduction in fitness made that choice ultimately easy to make as I would have never been able to maintain the pace necessary to catch the unknown cyclist up.

Of course now that I had the green light to start exercising again I decided to ease back into it, so a ride on Wednesday followed by a gentle 6k on Thursday morning.  Running in the dark was really cool, although I tended to stick to the flatter sections of the road and keep off the rough stuff in the light of my headlamp.  I’ve been looking for a high visibility running vest, but the local offerings are a bit thin on the ground so I’ve ordered one off the internet.  I do struggle with running and cycling kit that isn’t highly visible, especially the winter stuff.  Even in the best weather its better to be able to be seen, and with modern coatings I shouldn’t have to look like I’m straight out of the 80’s in flouro.  (now there’s an  image – me in headband, arm bands and leg warmers and lycra all in flouro…  the best thing is that you can’t unsee that image now muhahahaha)

The run was hard, I really struggled to keep going and it wasn’t until I looked bck at my training log that I realised that it was a month since I had last run.  I had forgotten that I had stopped running to give my Achilles some time to heal.  The good news is that I had no Achilles pain at all, the exercises and rest had done their job, unfortunately every running muscle was calling out in pain for the next couple of days.

Friday I went for another ride, another relatively slow one to just turn my legs over and work some of the ache out of them.  The ride was pretty uneventful except for the rain that started the minute I left the house and stopped about 2k from home.  Signs of the months ahead and an indicator in what clothing I’m going to need to get to ensure that I can continue to train through the upcoming winter months.

  • Wednesday – Ride 17k
  • Thursday – Run 6k
  • Friday – Ride 17k