It has been an exciting month for running. It marks my return to racing and what feels like real training. The 4 months since May have been about rehab from a high ankle sprain after the Wilsons Promontory 100km DNF. It has been a slow process just to be able to cover some race distance.
The racing tests were poles apart. First I wanted to see if I could cover 50km of trail running. The speed wasn’t important, just the ability to cover the distance. Followed in a week with a 5km fun run to see if I could handle pushing some speed. Check out the race reports to see how these unfolded:
I learnt I have the ability to cover 50km slowly. It was certainly at the limits of my conditioning. It was survival, not running, and definitely not racing. I was pleasantly surprised I could handle a 5km race. Far from my best race form, but it felt good to run faster than 5:00/km. Something I haven’t done since before May.
I Held Together
The day after racing 5km. I felt alive. A few sore spots let me know I’d raced yesterday. Nothing major. As an over all feeling I felt awesome. Everything was a little bit enhanced. I’d forgotten just how much I love racing. I also think my mind and body needs to go hard every so often. I went out for an easy 10km. There was definitely a bit of heaviness in the legs. My running felt a little strange. My legs didn’t want to run at what I thought was an appropriate easy pace. Instead they wanted to give me only two options:
- Run fast… like race fast again
- Shuffle crazy slow… even just walk
So I switched off from thinking about running. Interestingly that kept me at about the same pace for the rest of the run.
Testing The Next Training
Now to test out my next training cycle. I have proven to myself I can run a long way slowly. I also have a recorded 5km race time. That’s enough to plug in some potential training guidelines. Time to start working on getting fast.
Not running fast for over 4 months means there is a lot of conditioning I don’t have. I can’t just say I’ve recovered from injury and then hit the training crazy hard. Chances are I’ll break something else down. I decided to use this week to test the waters.
I calculated paces off the 5km time for my long run, a steady-kind-of-tempo run and some intervals. For the week I decided to only use the long run and tempo run as key sessions. Everything else was to remain easy, with some very short pick ups thrown into the easy runs. Out of the mix was the slow shuffle that had been the mainstay of the last few months. In some ways it felt good to be a little quicker. It became clear near the end of the runs my legs weren’t quite used to this.
The week went by. Some aches and pains developed. Nothing major, but it was clear there is a lot of conditioning of the connective tissues that is missing. Some tightness and weak areas have developed over the months from compensating from the injury. I’ve learnt the hard way in the past not to force the return. The week ended with a little 2km regeneration run. A total of 70km for the seven days. All a bit faster than most of my recent running. It felt good to pick it up slightly. It felt like real running rather than just covering some ground. I liked the difference. There is definitely a want to up the anti next week to keep chasing the feeling. But I do know better.
My body whispered at first. I thought the 2km run was enough rest. Then my body spoke up. The faster running has revealed tightness and some built up issues. More rehabilitation work needs to be in the mix. Over the last few days of September I have taken the safe option. I’ve backed off the volume. Kept the pace up a bit on most runs. Took an extra day off and threw in one super easy and slow shuffle.
I’ve found my current training limit. A training limit is very different to a racing limit. Racing limits are much higher, but training needs to be repeated each week. In racing you can afford to break down to get the result. Training needs to build you up.
Now to plan training for October.