Saturday, 4 July 2009

Thoughts On A Few Race Related Subjects.

Time for a bit of analysis of my race and preparations prior to starting training again as my feet start to resemble normality.
This bit is probably a bit boring and will take FURTHER two weeks holiday to read, but if your name is Sandra…. This is it!

The age old question is of course “Did I do enough?” Probably not but I finished so it worked. Now I need to analyse what I did, how I did it and why I did it.
I had two basic needs to fulfil. Get used to trail running, and increase the distance I was able to run. I also had to consider my poor, aging body. Maybe not as poor as some, definitely not as aged as some but nonetheless previous experience warned me that the result previously of over extending myself was extremely painful and on one occasion left me in hospital. My ethos was then to ensure I recovered sufficiently from training runs before moving on. That said I attended most club sessions in particular the 12 mile Tuesday runs being very enjoyable and probably the most rewarding fitness wise. I didn’t always enjoy the Thursday interval sessions but did most of them. Getting onto trails was pretty much a new experience and one that I loved. Some good trails locally and the WHW and Arrochar trails were well used, either alone or with groups.
Long runs were gradually increased, although prior to the Fling I managed only a 34 miler and after the Fling I was so tired and recovered so slowly that I only went past that distance in the WHW race. So every step past Tydrum was a step beyond anything I had ever done. It was tough, but no tougher than I should have expected given the excellent advice that I was given throughout my training. I have been told that a good run in the race is a two year project, and even three, thereby rubbishing the theory that you shouldn’t start training for it until the New Year. Specific training for the race, yes, but I am realising that this race is an all year round obsession and that every step I took since this time last year was taken in preparation for the race. That said, this year already looks like it was preparation for next years! Yes I think I’m in!

Back up – When I ran the Fling, Mairi and Andrew were my backup, and after finishing and making my mind up to run the WHW race they made it clear that they were happy to carry on – or at least that is what I read into their reaction! When I confirmed to my extended family that we would be Running For Darren, my sister’s family were unanimous in offering their help. Little did I know that Mairi’s stubbornness to see the race through would mean she more or less refused to take the role halfway, as I had meant, and only at Braveheart did she get some sleep, although she allowed Grant to drive her after she parked at the Leisure centre to go to Lundavra. Ally and Andrew were both pretty much adamant that they would run part of the way, and as other options did not materialise they became my support runners. Lack of experience (in the case of all of us!) meant that in hindsight we could have improved things, but hindsight is an exact science and you live and learn. All of the mistakes were mine, I could have asked no more from my team!

Drinks - I can’t complain about my drinks strategy other than to say that my boot is still packed with un-used bottles of fluids. Fling experience meant that I would drink more and that Coke diluted 50-50 with water was going to be a staple. I also had plenty of water (and we bought more enroute!), Gatorade and Redbull or the Morrison’s own brand, both bought just because they were on offer in my local supermarket. Funnily enough, Gatorade, drunk copiously during my support of JR last year caused me to pee just as copiously and I vowed to avoid it. However, my Fling experience of failure to pee, made me put it back in the car as I wanted the comfort blanket of piddling to assure me I wasn’t having problems!

Food – definitely a work in progress. After a while I just can’t chew, so need easily swallowed stuff to keep me going. I used plenty of Honey Stingers, chew bars, supplemented by occasional fruit, PB and J sandwiches, beans, Muller rice, chocolate bars and crisps. Heaven was half a roll and Heinz ravioli at KLL – hot too!
One thing I meant to take - and forgot! – was rice crispies. I like them before a morning training run and I think I’d also add some porridge that could provide good carbs with the minimum of effort.

Blog – A bit of a controversy here! On Saturday night, drink having been taken, a few of the Millie members ( Sandra!) took me to task for the way I refer to JR on my blog. They felt I am unreasonably harsh and make fun of him. Hopefully, we sorted that out at the time. I would be devastated to find that anyone had been hurt by any comment I made, JR in particular. Yes, I write down my thoughts, but never say anything I wouldn’t or haven’t said to him in person. He added his tuppence worth to the discussion and assured me he never took offence at anything I said and confirmed to the others that when we had differences of opinion, it was face to face and usually on a Thursday in the cafĂ©, post training. He further added that no matter how much I may have disagreed, the fact that I finished was proof positive that I had listened!

Writing this blog is my training diary, a plea for advice that is often fruitful, as I receive many comments and e mails offering advice and encouragement. It lets me set out my thoughts and bares my soul to my readers. As a motivational tool it kept me going in the darkest days when doubts came into my mind and allowed me to express my joy in those moments when I simply had to tell someone what was going on, and I was on my own in the wee small hours. It may be boring, corny, boastful, or just plain garbage, but it’s mine and serves me well.

Feet – Finally, the big problem I have to overcome is the damage I have incurred to my plates. Since I was born with very flat feet, that have amazed podiatrists and occasionally rendered them speechless, I will always have an uphill battle to run without problems. As I said before I have ended up in hospital with swollen feet and limbs that were suspected of having venous thrombosis and probably the result of my running gait due to the lack of arches. Over-pronator? MOI? The word has my pic next to it in the dictionary. But thanks to orthotic insoles the problem has been largely alleviated. I asked Blair at Achilles Heel if she thought the orthotic she made me would stand up to the rigours of running the WHW race. Her answer was that the insoles would survive it, but would I?
The orthotics were unfortunately the start of my problems. It may have been the socks or shoes causing the orthotics to slide about a bit, or just the terrain, but I found the edge of my foot just outside and below the ankle were getting sore from Drymen onward. If I had changed shoes then, there may have been less of a problem, but I didn’t. so the problem got worse. My feet also started swelling at about the same time and again I could have and should have changed things.
Then there were the blisters. JR’s advice was to moisturise and I followed that advice.
But the problems I had were dreadful and I will reassess this for next year. I’ll stick with it until the autumn and see if I have any problems in training. I can always go to the surgical spirit method as a trial before making my mind up.
I am however reminded of the Marathon De Sables competitor who said it was a matter of luck and you could do the race for years and have no problem and then you get a blister on the first stage and that does your race.

Next year – Although I have till August to decide whether I’ll run next year, I feel I have unfinished business and the chances are I’ll be on the entry list when it’s published. My niece wants to do support for me and I think I’ll have to fight off the boys who seem to have enjoyed themselves supporting. That said, there may be more support runners available from the club next time!

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since the end of my race and I haven’t run an inch. I will try to run tomorrow………


Debbie Martin-Consani said...

I know what you mean by unfinished business!

I don't think anyone will ever get the food thing right. There's always something you want that is the only thing you don't have. I remember doing a training run for the Devil's in 2007 and all I could think about was a banana and a twix. During the race all I ate was half a bag of jelly babies. It was so hot I couldn't face food.

Someone might have a quiet word with me about the amount I mock Marco in my blog! It's all in jest.

Davie said...

Jr and Marco! Bet that's the last time we hear those names in the same sentence. But anyone who takes the brunt of our frustration has to be a hero!