Overtraining

I was very sluggish to get out of bed this morning; exhaustion turned to dismay when I looked at the fridge and discovered I was meant to run 3 miles today.  I filled a bottle with water and trudged out into the sunshine.

The reason I’m so knackered is not because Hal Higdon’s 5k training plan is particularly cruel; it’s self-inflicted stupidity.  On Friday night I downloaded a demo of the Kinect Fitness game, and alarmed my wife by swearing and sweating in equal measure, as well as banging into various pieces of furniture and punching the ceiling fan once.  Still, I was impressed enough to think it was a good idea to buy a copy, which meant horsing about round Singapore to find the only copy in the country (hidden in HMV on Somerset Road, with a baleful warning that it would only work on NTSC-J Xboxes – fortunately my Hong Kong Xbox cares little for regioning, and placidly plays PAL and NTSC-J and anything else without complaint).

I’d already put in an undeservedly quick 4 miles on Saturday morning.  I say undeserved because I was up till stupid-o’clock on Friday night playing violent videogames, and eating the wrong sort of food, and yet I still went 30 seconds faster than I did the previous week.  It’s all very strange.  Perhaps it’s because I ran the route the opposite way to last week.  Or it was Magical Socks.  However, that 4 mile hammering meant my legs were weak and weedy, which in turn wasn’t helped by walking all over Singapore in the day, then walking all the way back from the Regina Spektor concert at the Esplanade in the evening, or helping myself to a stiff G&T when I got home and then drunkenly yelling on Skype at a man in Scotland.

So Sunday came, and off I went for a 65 minute run, which like last week’s 60 minute run was a special sort of dull hell.  I got home, turned on the Xbox and then went through an agonising fitness test, where I turned out to be much less fit than I had been on the test I did on Friday night on the demo.  This had shades of the time I signed up for a gym in Hong Kong, and the first fitness test they did showed I had Olympian levels of athleticism, and the second test showed I was near-death and needed a comprehensive training plan.

Maybe it wasn’t deceit.  Maybe it’s because it’s a bit harder to crank through a bunch of squats and lunges if your legs are jelly from the last three days of exercise.

Ah well, I wasn’t going to give up.  I did a bunch of fairly silly exercises, which mostly involve jumping around and crashing into furniture, culminating in some sort of idiocy from Takeshi’s Castle, and then had to take another shower before my wife’s disgust-meter exploded.  And then I went back to bed.  Quite productive, for 10:30 on a Sunday morning.

I was, of course, a broken man.  Today, with that weird sense that you can almost feel your muscles aren’t getting the sugary goodness you need, and the deadness in my legs, I knew that I’d been overdoing it.  My wife’s admonitions that I was going mental on the exercise were quite right – and now, after rearranging the sofa to make the room compatible with the Kinect, I’m going to have to ration myself to just a short workout every week, and not half an hour of anaerobic grunting every day.  How will I cope?

Thoughts after a week

I made it through the first week of Hal Higdon’s 5k plan. I’m not sure if it was harder than I expected or not; the problem I have with it is more the lack of specific pace advice with the speedwork.

I’m being lazy, of course. You need to engage with these things and carefully determine the optimum speed and distance for yourself; you can’t just rely on someone on the internet to tell you everything. At the same time, it’s nice to surrender yourself to somebody else for a while. Taking decisions takes time too; there is sometimes pleasure to be had in being told what to do.

Still, I’ve been a little contrary. Running two hard days next to each other was stupid; drinking beer mid-week wasn’t so intelligent either. I was contemplating a sly gin and tonic tonight, but we’re on an economy drive as we approach Christmas (pay day is on the 25th and I’m borassic with another 7 days to go). Not going out drinking is a fairly reliable cost-saving measure, especially with all that money sunk into shoes.

It’s odd how your taste in shoes changes. I used to run in very structured shoes: first Asics, then Nike Triax(es?) What’s the plural of Triax? More recently I’ve been running in Nike Lunarglides, which are lighter and less cushioned, and I’ve always felt they go faster. That may be the placebo effect or it may be because they are lighter shoes; it’s strange how the Lunarglide 3 feels so much more bloated than the 4 though.

That may also be because I’ve succumbed to the barefoot fad, and after a run in my Merrells, anything else feels ludicrously overpadded. I’ve been afraid of using them for any significant distance (the furthest they’ve ever gone is 10k on gravel paths in Shelburne) and my thighs aren’t quite recovered from Saturday’s pounding, but they do seem to make me go faster. Again, that could be because you can’t go gently in them; they’re very much a shoe where you have to go hard or it starts to get uncomfortable. Or I’ve been reading too much marketing bumpf.

Tomorrow I have to run 8 200 metre splits at 800 metre pace. I haven’t run an 800 metre race since I was 16 or so – see what I mean about the slightly challenging nature of the Higdon plan? As long as I actually remember to get up tomorrow, instead of unintentionally snoozing for another hour and a half, the training week should be off to a good start.

The sort of start where you wear compression tights all day, anyway.

Chilly in Singapore

It’s not quite hell freezing over, but Singapore seems unfeasibly cold at the moment, given it’s a country in the tropics. I assume that’s because it’s rainy season. There were a few minutes yesterday where it didn’t rain, but for the rest of it the skies were consistently open for business. I was lucky that I got up early and ran my intervals before it got light and the bulk aerial water deliveries began. We never have the AC on in our flat, but even then we had to skulk under the covers last night to keep warm. I began to wonder if Singapore has plans to replace chilli crab with a chilly crab.
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Second time around

As handily provided on the side of a box of official Osaka Marathon biscuits...

As handily provided on the side of a box of official Osaka Marathon biscuits…

Last Sunday, I ran the Osaka Marathon for the second time, which, as it’s only in its second year, means I’ve kept up a 100% attendance record.

In 2011, I had a pretty horrible time: it was only with a desperate lunge for the last kilometre that I finished under 4 hours. Even with several years of slowing down, this was my worst performance ever.

This year, I was half an hour faster: I set my PB not just at the marathon distance, but for a half marathon too, and I was walking around comfortably the next day, and not weeping uncontrollably at the sight of running shoes.

Several things helped me get this time. Continue reading

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

For the past three days I’ve been going to the gym in the hotel and running for half an hour. My wife wasn’t too pleased about this, because it means the bathroom of our hotel room has been gradually filling up with more and more smelly running kit, but with remarks being made about the size of my gut, and with the doctor telling me I need to reduce my cholesterol, it was clearly time to get more regular exercise.

Oh, and there’s the little matter of a half marathon in three months time.
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