Thirteen, a number surrounded by superstition. I’m not generally superstitious, tending to believe we make our own luck, but week 13 of training has certainly brought with it a variety of fortune!
First of all, I’m not even pretending to follow my training plan any more. I’m not exactly making it up as I go along, but neither have I firmly decided what to do instead of my running sessions and am making that decision on a day-to-day basis. Here’s what happened this week:
Monday – swim/sauna
8 miles hilly 30 mins elliptical plus swim/sauna
Wednesday – conditioning
cadence drills swim/sauna
Friday – Metafit plus 30 min test run
10 miles 20 mile cycle
As you can see, I ended up swimming 3 times this week, which has really helped me in terms of improving my front crawl. Since my 5×50 commitment requires 30 minutes of activity per day, I stayed in the pool a little longer on Monday and therefore swam a few more lengths. On Tuesday I simply fancied a few lengths after the elliptical and on Thursday I just couldn’t decide what to do with myself. School finished for two weeks and I came home both jubilant that a tough term was over and also mentally exhausted from that demanding term. I had considered a short bike ride since the evenings are lighter now the clocks have changed, but sat down for a little too long when I got home and instead opted for another half hour swim. During this session I decided that I feel comfortable enough with how I’ve been doing to start playing around a little with my breathing rhythm to try and find what’s going to suit me best and make it easier to swim for longer (I’m certain the reason I’m struggling with my “water fitness” is due to my breathing technique). I’ll have to wait and see in the coming weeks what difference that’s going to make. I might also sign up for another lesson or two to try and develop my technique and make sure I’m not falling into any bad habits!
Like last week, I headed to the gym on Tuesday to jump on the treadmill and see how my leg felt. Last week I knew after a couple of steps that running was definitely not on the agenda, but this week there was a big improvement. I could still feel a little bit from the offending muscle, but it was barely noticeable. Still, I decided not to push things (don’t do anything stupid!) and simply allowed myself a minute on the machine to enjoy the feeling of my body running again before going to the elliptical instead for some non-impact cardio.
But even with the decision to use the elliptical rather than run, I just couldn’t shake the idea that running might be just about possible again, so after further strength and conditioning work with Steve on Wednesday, I decided to take advantage of my day off on Friday to head out for a little test run. I’ll admit, I did have a battle with The Fear before finally getting out the door, but went ahead with the knowledge that if my body wasn’t ready yet, I could simply go for a walk instead. As it turned out, my leg felt ok. I was dimly aware of a mild tightness, but nothing major so decided to keep going and see what happened, again ready to stop at any time if things worsened. There was no change, even when I had to stop at crossings and start running again, and I ended up running for 30 minutes without particular issue. The most notable thing that happened was whilst crossing a bridge over the river. I had worn a cap and thin gloves as it looked chilly and like it was likely to rain at any time. Running across the bridge I felt something drop onto my right hand and at first thought it was starting to rain, but then realised a bird had “got me” from above. Yuk! Thank goodness for the gloves (which were swiftly removed, inside out, and carried home to wash!). Some people say that having something like this happen is good luck, so fingers crossed for something nice happening.
I was also able to use this run to count towards the Easter Virtual race I had entered, which required participants to run, cycle or swim any distance between the 1st and the 8th of April. The medals were sent out in advance to avoid delays with post over the holiday weekend, so when I got back from my run I was able to open up the package and enjoy this cute little chap:
However as the day went on I felt perhaps my luck wasn’t changing for the better after all. While my leg had been fine during and immediately after my run, later in the day I became more aware of the tightness in my muscle again. I wasn’t sure how I would feel at Metafit, but there were no problems at all and my leg actually felt better, only to feel a bit worse again later. This was still the case on Saturday morning so I decided to once more skip Parkrun in favour of some stretching and self-massage on my quads. This actually helped a great deal, however I’ll be going carefully in the week ahead before I get to Paris to make sure I give my body the best possible chance of healing. I don’t think I’ve set my recovery back, but I do need to be careful and make sure I’m pro-active in helping that recovery in the coming days. This partly means going through a range of exercises designed to strengthen the muscle and help it re-adapt to the way it should move when I’m running.
So with being careful and pro-active in mind, I first of all asked Steve to do some deep massage on the muscle to release some of the grittiness and tension (post-massage bruises ahoy!), and I also decided that Sunday should be another cycle. Continuing to use the principle that my cycling distance should be roughly double my planned running distance, I settled on the same hilly 20 mile route as last week (but without having to head out quite so sharp).
Sunday morning was beautiful and much milder than of late, so I decided to try the new 3/4 length compression bib tights I just bought. I was really pleased with them as I was much more comfortable in the saddle! I was also pleased that my leg felt much stronger and I was able to get a lot more power on the hills, resulting in better climbing and a faster overall pace (but I’m still a big wimp on the steeper downhill sections!). Since it was such a nice day, I once more stopped at one of the higher points on my route to take a couple of photos:
By the time I got home, I felt much better. I had been feeling quite negative about Paris and worried about how my leg would feel, but the marked improvement from the day before and added strength (along with a welcome hit of sunshine and endorphins!) worked wonders.
And with that, the week came to a close with a mixture of good and bad luck. It’s good that my leg was able to tolerate a run, but bad that there was a little discomfort afterwards. It’s good that I enjoyed my cycle and felt stronger, but bad that I wasn’t able to manage another short run just yet. It’s definitely bad that I encountered that bird, but you never know, it might lead to good luck! I’ll just have to wait and see…
Are you superstitious about the number 13?
Have you ever had any “interesting” encounters with a bird or any other wildlife whilst out training?