CROSS COUNTRY CAPERS
FRIDAY. Noon. As I sat in the car at the local playing fields , waiting for a hail flurry to blow through and looking towards the sunshine which was clearly on it's tail, I was weighing up the pros and cons of this fortnight since the ill fated 5K in Preston.
Thinking positively, this fortnight I will only be doing what I constantly keep reading we need to do for a period in the year.......take a REST. A forced rest maybe but at a time when the weather has taken a down turn, so not really too frustrating. Back in the day 43 weeks averaging 43 miles per week would have been considered only moderate but nearly 63 I'm sure the majority would suggest a few low mileage weeks are well deserved and well overdue. I keep reading how this period of rest will REgenerate, REbuild, REvitalise. So with the leg recovering from the strain , the week's mileage will be 50% of average. The pace has been very easy. There will be runs more than 4 miles. No attempt to run fast.
BUT I have been at least been maintaining some fitness .....and getting outdoors.....with the jogs of 2 and 3 miles. I don't "buy" the idea of stopping running altogether. I will not be hibernating to a cave by the sea to "find myself again"!
I think it would make January and February very hard indeed attempting to return to a level where by I can enjoy my weekly routine and race moderately if I stopped running altogether. A bit of "cross training", maybe.
The negative, of course, is that I am already missing my favourite sessions and runs. But if I get back to routine I'm sure I will appreciate them all the more.
The REcovery from the grade 1 calf strain ties in with the rest quite nicely, being positive. So whilst the calf is recovering and healing the rest of the legs and the old cardiovascular system are feeling the benefit as well.
I tested the leg on the Tuesday after the race with a mile walk and a mile jog and decided to more or less write off the rest of the week whilst continuing to ice and treat.
This week I've coped with 2, 3 3.5, 2 , 3 with the leg well on the mend. I have put the ice pad on for 10/15 minutes after each jog, however, to maintain some treatment.
The third R, Reassessment. I was aware that Aldershot veteran Martin Duff was investigating the effect of long term training and racing on the heart. Sadly he reports heart attacks, strokes and atrial fibrillation as being very common whilst stating that perhaps those who have not suffered negatively have not contacted him.
A very significant factor seems to be damage done to heart, organs , muscles as the immune system suffers because of the "need" to maintain high mileage (I would suggest above 70 miles per week). Conclusion being,of course, don't train or race when unwell or run down. Don't train to exhaustion. Maintain an even
running/work/life balance and recover well after races.
I may be wrong but judging my race times today the majority all club runners today have the number of miles they run per week well under control as they cope with so many responsibilities of modern life.
I have had no real trauma, (mine was atrial flutter), since I reduced my "preventive" asthma medication so it would appear that scaling down my training over the years has worked. However, I think next year perhaps there needs to be more highs and lows in each week, in each month and a "scale down" period in the year like this, when the weather is so uninviting. A reassessment required as I reach 63!
I would have such highs and lows automatically in the '80s when I ran 3, 4 or 5 marathons per year. The days before and after the event giving me time to catch up with a pile of paperwork or household chores.
Without them it's been easy to bash out 40 plus miles per week , week after week coming down only slightly
for one or two races in the year. With no children and minimal work responsibilities I could do more but I think I appreciate the need to "detrain".
Again, I keep reading less quantity more quality; perhaps that's the way to go!