Week five -a niggle a day

“ah, ooh, ow, ouch, argh”

This is not the sound of someone enjoying a fireworks display before picking up the wrong end of a lit sparkler but is in fact my inner monologue every morning as I step out of bed and walk gingerly across my bedroom.

“What? That wasn’t hurting yesterday!”

This is every morning. Not just the mornings after a race or session. Usually the pain and stiffness subsides by the time I reach the bedroom of whichever child has woken me up. This includes side stepping down the stairs as I have an irrational fear that something will snap if I walk properly.

“I may as well forget my run today. I can’t even walk properly.”

But this week was a very bad week and it took a bit longer to shake off the morning niggles. Some of which return due to the long periods of time I spend sitting (or slouching) at my desk.

Most of my runs were short, very achy and slow. I just couldn’t move my body any faster without negatives thoughts creeping in.

“Am I injured, or just tired? Do I need a break to recover from injury or recover from increased training load?”

I am permanently beset with niggles and have had enough injuries to recognise which ones have the potential to become injuries. My niggles are present during every single run. Every step a constant reminder that I am treading a very fine line between having niggles and having an injury.

Day 29 – Sunday 29 January

4.4 miles – 8.22 – 130bpm

Easy leg stretch before going away for the night. It felt tough. I’m now having slight regrets at pushing so hard at yesterday’s parkrun – especially for a relatively slow time.

Day 30 – Monday 30 January

3 miles – 8.44 – 129bpm

This run was indeed as bad as the pace suggests.

I considered using the hotel treadmill but decided to venture out, risk getting lost, enjoy the Kent countryside and hopefully take a peak at Bewl Water.

It was a bad decision. A VERY bad decision.

This was not the slow flat run on a soft surface my legs were crying out for but a hilly road run were the only off-road section was ankle deep mud.

But I persisted. I wanted to see the reservoir and no amount of calf discomfort was going to keep me from it. I kept going, down towards the water in full knowledge that every downwards step would have to be repeated. Upwards.

And it hurt. Not at first, but by the time I was halfway up the final climb to the hotel I was shuffling along like a man double my age and my calves were throbbing.

Then I saw two dog walkers so felt the urge to lift my knees a little and increase my pace. I didn’t want them to know that I was struggling. Damn ego.

My legs are wrecked. And it was only 3 miles.

It was a nice reservoir. Which I enjoyed on an hour’s walk in the afternoon.

Day 31 – Tuesday 31 January

run 1 – 3.8 – 8:19

All the tools were out last night. My foam roller, massage stick, rope and hockey ball went to work and my legs still feel tired.

run 2 – 4.2 – 8:04

This run was a struggle until I decided to pick the pace up towards the end. I felt much better running at 7:30, than 8:30 pace. Strange.

Day 32 – Wednesday 1 February

3.1 miles – 8:12 – 123bpm

Easy run out to Bushy Park for some stretches. Legs starting to feel better but I need to change my approach. I had wanted to run 48 miles this week but if I am going to run every day this year, I need to ditch my weekly mileage targets and concentrate on how my legs are feeling. I shouldn’t be forcing my body through too many junk miles for an arbitrary mileage target.

Day 33 – Thursday 2 February

2 miles – 8:44

A truly dreadful run. I had a 25 minute run window between my wife returning from work and leaving to go swimming so snuck in a very slow two miles. I decided to keep it slow because my body is starting to struggle without my usual 1-2 rest days a week. My easy 2/3 mile runs need to be much slower to more closely replicate a rest. Sometimes I finish these slows runs feeling tighter and more tired than before I started.

I went through my standard leg strength routine which is what I do daily when I feel an injury coming on. Perhaps if I did it more often when I was healthy, I wouldn’t be perennially injured!

This week has been a disaster. Too many short, slow, achy runs. This isn’t training. This isn’t going to help me get fitter. What am I doing? What is the point of this challenge? And how did Eddie Izzard manage all those marathons. I’m struggling with 2 or 3 mile runs this week!

Tomorrow is supposed to be tempo day. Hmm.

Day 34 – Friday 3 February

6.9 miles – 6:56 – 151bpm

Well. That was a surprise.

My legs felt quite good this morning so I decided to attempt 4×1.15 miles in Bushy Park using a stretch of the park between Hampton Wick cricket club and Teddington Gate. I started nervously and had every intention to drop out at any point should I need to.

The first rep felt ok, probably a steady 6:25. Not too bad considering how tired my legs have felt this week.

I checked my watch, 6:07! Where did that come from? I know it is a bit windy but that seemed to come from nowhere. My whole attitude shifted and the week’s doom and gloom was instantly replaced with excitement.

My legs are fine. I’m in better shape than I thought.

Then I started the second rep. Into the wind.

It felt slow. Very slow. I tried to keep a fast leg cadence using ‘Negative Creep’ by Nirvana as my barometer.

I checked the pace just before the last corner and it was a surprising 6:23. Much faster than I expected. But as it was so hard running into the wind I decided that it would probably be sensible to drop out of the final rep and make the third rep my last.

The third rep felt better than the first. I did start a bit faster and having glimpsed my pace after the first minute (5:45) I was very motivated to keep going. Just under 6:00 pace (5:58) for the third rep and although my calves were starting to feel sore I was very motivated to attempt the final rep. That rep was a similar pace to last Saturday’s parkrun but it felt so much easier. Yes!

The wind hadn’t abated, but neither did my will. I was determined to run it faster than my second rep. I kept a careful eye on my heart rate. I was a little over what I expected and I kept having to convince myself to slow down. The final pace was 6:19 wrapping up an excellent session.

I am fitter and faster than I realised. The soreness of my legs was hiding the improvement in my fitness. Cross-country next week, I think I can do that!

Day 35 – Saturday 4 February

5.6 miles – 7:35

I’m back! For an early morning run it felt amazing.

My two best runs this week have both been the longest and the fastest. I have no idea what to make about that. I have experienced this before when my legs feel very tired and tight and a few quick reps seem to liven then up again, stretch them out and get fresh blood moving around the body.

But I didn’t think this week was one of those times.

Weekly totals

  • 8 runs
  • 7 days
  • 33 miles
  • 7/10 leg freshness score

Yearly total

  • 40 runs
  • 35 days
  • 205.2 miles

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