Saturday, 20 January 2018

One Man's Race. Part 2: The Phoenix

The final two sentences of the last post, plus the corny title of this one, leave little doubt where this offering is headed...

My running career ended in late 1992. That really was it. Over. And, though I never had it professionally looked at, I was convinced that I'd done irreparable damage to my knee. In later years I occasionally ventured onto a five-a-side pitch and once or twice a gym treadmill (very gingerly) but didn't really test it. Regular readers may recall a foolish dabble with road running on Scilly a couple of years ago. Although I pulled a calf muscle I was pleasantly surprised to get no niggles at all from the dicky knee. So, when we joined a gym last summer I made a point of getting on the treadmill quite regularly, and slowly built up to around 30 minutes or so. Hmm, promising...

The gym is history now, but those pain-free forays onto the treadmill led to an inevitable next step. The road. On August 30th I waited until darkness had fallen and sallied forth. Wa-a-a-ay too fast, I might add. Anyway, I ran 1.4 undulating miles in 12 minutes. And it did hurt. But...the knee was fine, and I suddenly realised that a 25-year curse might possibly be broken. In September I focused on the bike, but got in another five runs, up to 3.6 miles. There were some calf twinges, but still not a peep from the knee. October ended with 11 runs in the bank, up to 6.3 miles. I could hardly believe it.

Bringing things up to date, in the 11 full weeks from the beginning of November until now I have managed 3 runs a week in all except one. This afternoon I covered 10.4 miles (my second run of 10+ miles) in a bit over an hour and a half. I am delighted. The body's ability to heal itself, and to adapt to an incrementally increased training load, is really quite amazing. In less than five short months I've gone from knackered used-to-be-a-runner to actual runner again.

Mind you, I am no longer in my early 30s! The days of 6:33 pace half-marathons are long gone I think. That said, if I keep at it there's a slim chance I may be mildly competitive for my age-group in 16 months time when I'm 60! And there's been another significant change in the last 25 years.

Data.

In 1987 I bought a very early Timex Ironman sports watch. Basically a stopwatch with lap-timing facility. To keep a record of times and distances you needed to measure your routes on a map, or drive them, and write down the magic figures displayed on the Ironman's tiny screen. It all went into a 'Running Log'. Analysis was done with a biro and slide-rule. Or did we have calculators by then...? Anyway...

In 2017 I bought a Garmin Forerunner 35. Well. What it doesn't tell you is not worth knowing. Where you've been and at what speed. Exactly how rapidly your poor heart was pumping on that hill and the precise gradient of the slope responsible. Even your cadence (steps per minute). It links to Strava and to your smartphone. Here is one of the several million screens of data...

As you can see, since beginning this enterprise I have run a cool 220.6 miles, and I could add that it's taken me 52 outings to amass that tally

So, where is this all going to lead? I don't know really, and am happy to just ride the wave for now. However, it's always nice to have a target, so I've entered a pukka race. It's the Egdon Easy 10k, a flat, 10km route around Lodmoor and Radipole over at Weymouth. I have until Saturday 26th May to prepare myself. I never enjoyed 10k races - always a bit too quick for comfort - but I have to say I am looking forward to this one. I have even put together a loose (and infinitely adjustable) training plan to get me there. I am genuinely curious to see just what my (by then) 59-year old body will be capable of.

In the meantime I shall plod around the local streets and footpaths and endeavour to clock up some useful miles. It's not a hardship...

Dropping into West Bay...definitely not the most picturesque seaside spot in the southwest, but the coast is the coast. Fantastic!

10 comments:

  1. Gav,
    I wish you well on this fools errand. Are you doing it for a local charity, thus being sponsored? I've only ever run(?) three London Marathons (2000 - 2002) and my memories are of unbelievable highs as emotion overrode any pain or tiredness. As for training, six isontonic Stellas a day and I never jogged further than twelve miles before that fateful day! If I won the Euro Millions top prize it still wouldn't come close to that feeling of accomplishment when I crossed the line for that first time - 4 hrs 36 mins! I knew those Stellas would be worth it! Good luck mate - Dyl

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    1. Ha ha! That's a training regime you won't see in any books I reckon! I've twice been to watch the London Marathon (in the 80s) and stood at about the 22-mile mark. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I can only imagine the euphoria whipped up by all that. Hats off to you Dyl!

      No, I won't be running for a charity or any cause, other than that of, yes, a fool on his errand! 😊

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  2. This is definitely my favourite running blog.

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    1. Thank you Jono, but I hope the authors of the many other running blogs you read aren't disheartened by your comment!

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  3. Maybe Jono will show some of those photos he took of the London Marathon on his own blog. The composition of the images did justice to the atmosphere in a manner I've not seen elsewhere.

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    1. Cheers Ric. I've not been back since I took those in 2011 which is odd as I really enjoyed it. However if Gav were to be competing....

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    2. Ha ha! I'll let you know. 😄

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  4. Gav, have you checked on the vehicle called Age Grading?
    From this the HM pb you ran as a 30 year old is equivalent to a 10k of 47:47 as a 59 year old.

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    1. No I haven't Ric, thanks for the tip. I've already managed a 5K time of 23:34 in training so with a few more long runs under the belt I think that 10K time would be quite doable. Which I find amazing. No way am I as [relatively] fit as I was in 1992, surely?

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  5. Seems you're already close Gav. 23:16 for a 5k would equate to your best ever AG.

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