Tag Archives: Rest

Aah rest

Aah. Rest. So lovely. I’m having a week or two off training to recover. It means my blogging and blog reading might be sporadic for the rest of this month. Time to concentrate on work and university, both of which I have neglected the past 31 days (I’ve even set up a Leech Blocker on my work computer so I can’t access Facebook, Twitter or WordPress from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday).

I have also run out of space on my free blog so need to set up a paid blog here on WordPress. I’m not quite sure how that will affect my URL or subscribers but will post more once I sort it out.

Pilates and stretching

My partner finished late shifts last night so after burning the candle at both ends for a week, I treated myself to a bit of a lie in this morning and a day off training. All I’m doing today are my pilates and stretching exercise. What bliss. Well, pilates is tough for me but still, I can do it in the relative cool of my house in front of the television with my partner for company.

I’m looking forward to trail running tomorrow night.

Making lemonade from lemons

Serious food for thought

When I started running again last year, I knew the risks. I also stuck my head in the sand about the extent of my existing leg injuries: shin splints and ITB in my left leg, sharp pains in the arch of my right foot and a spot on my back that no one could touch. I’ve battled through this far (15 months) with my head buried in those tiny grains you find on the beach.

When I decided on the 12-in-12 Challenge my first stop was the physiotherapist. I knew that I couldn’t get through it without getting some attention on my legs.

What I didn’t expect was for my shin and ITB injuries to respond so well to treatment. They responded so well that I forgot about them long enough to overdo it in the garden last weekend. The physio strapped the calf this morning to help it rest and recover more quickly. I’m confident it will respond well to the ongoing physiotherapy and my homework.

I remembered to tell the physio about the pain in my foot this morning. It’s the first time I’ve remembered to mention it (I actually marked the painful spot with a pen before I went in this morning). After poking and prodding my foot, the physio told me he suspects a stress fracture. That’s pretty bad news for me. At the end of our session today, the physio also strapped my foot to help it rest. He’s going to have another look at it on Monday to see how it responds to a week of rest. MRIs are expensive here in Australia so he said he’d prefer to wait to see whether I need to shell out for the test.

So here’s my lemons: best case scenario I have a serious soft-tissue injury in my left foot and worst case scenario is that I have a stress fracture. Either way, I’ll be unable to run for 4-12 weeks.

Here’s my lemonade: these are chronic injuries I’ve had for years and I know I’ve found a physio who can help me fix them. Even if my 12-in-12 Challenge is off, I have gained so much confidence in the past two months and know that I have what it takes to run ultra marathons. The injuries are long-standing problems, they haven’t been caused by the ultra running. In fact, if it weren’t for the ultra running I probably wouldn’t have gone to see someone about getting them fixed.

I’m going mountain biking with friends this afternoon. I’m allowed to cycle so long as I take it easy. Tomorrow I will go swimming for the first time in months. I’m still doing Tough Mudder next weekend but will just be doing it for a laugh and will be walking up the hills. It will probably be my final event for the year. That means I have three months to work on endurance by swimming and cycling, strength in the gym and flexibility if I can find an affordable yoga class.

When I can run again I’m probably going to focus on either the Northface 100km trail run in May (solo run) or the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km trail run in June (team event). And this time I’m going to do it right rather than just jumping in. I’m enjoying reading two blogs by runners training for ultras (Run Nature and Run Bike Race) and am inspired by their systematic approaches to increasing mileage and running well, rather than just bumbling through.

I hope the news on Monday is good. But I am preparing for the worst. Either way, I can only grow from the experience.

More Annapurna Circuit dreaming

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m still resting today because my shin and calf are still sore from Friday and Saturday’s gardening efforts. While ordinarily I would push through, I have a 50km trail run at the Glasshouse 100 on Saturday so can’t risk injury. I think my leg is just trying to remind me of the epic nature of my current 12 marathons / ultra marathons in 12 months challenge.

It’s also my first day back at work after three weeks of holidays. So at least I can stay busy during my rest day.

Today I took the first few steps in my Annapurna Circuit project:

  1. I set up a savings account and automatic transfers so that the money side can take care of itself.
  2. I set a photo taken from the Annapurna Circuit Trek as my computer backdrop at work.
  3. I got a leave pass from my partner to use our joint money and next year’s leave days to pursue my personal dream.

Sure, my next challenge might change. I might never get to walk the Annapurna Circuit. But at least I am moving in the right direction. It’s always better to have a goal and change direction than to drift aimlessly and never end up doing anything. Or at least that’s my experience.

Post marathon stuff

Holiday snap: Fremantle Markets

I thoroughly enjoyed my marathon on Sunday and am still on holidays in Western Australia with my partner. I’ve not been blogging because I’m spending quality time with my partner.

I’m feeling really good after my marathon. Immediately after the race I stood thigh-deep in the icy cold ocean and then I sat in a cold bath when I returned to my hotel. The cold water treatment seems to have helped a lot because I have none of the leg soreness that I had after my first 50km trail run. The next morning after the marathon my body felt great again.

The only exception is my right hamstring. I have a light strain in it so am resting this week to give it a chance to recover. I bought an ice brick so have been using that yesterday and today to try to speed the recovery of the strain. I’m keeping off the hamstring as much as I can but we’re driving around for a few days and I need my right leg to operate the car’s controls, so I can’t totally rest it.

Holiday snap: South Beach, Fremantle

If it weren’t for the hamstring strain I’d be back out running already today, just two days post marathon. But perhaps this is my body’s way of making sure I rest to fully recover from my effort before preparing for my next 12-in-12 Challenge event, which is just 17 days away. I’m not too concerned about the hamstring strain. It’s only light and there’s no swelling. Besides, my physio is a miracle worker so he’ll get me right as rain.

Holiday snap: Swan Valley

I’ll probably not post a lot until I return back home to Brisbane next week unless I go out running. But don’t fear, I’m still alive. I’m just enjoying my vacation with my partner. We’ve been eating lots of delicious food and finding a few geocaches while we’re out driving.

Holiday snap: Canola fields near Williams

Enjoy your weeks and I will be back blogging either when I am able to run again or when I am back in Brisbane on Monday, whichever comes sooner.

Rest day ramblings

Friday is my rest day. Today is also my first day of holidays. I started my day by catching up on blog reading. I watched this awesome video about the Leadville 100 mile on the Ultra Running blog. For me, the Leadville 100 mile represents a dream that is akin to what Everest is to a climber.

Looking after my body

I admit it, I underestimated the toll the 50km trail run on Sunday was going to take on my body. I thought I’d be back out running after a day or two. And sure, maybe I would have been if I had trained properly and methodically for the event, but we all know that didn’t happen 😉 .

I tried to go running on Wednesday morning but my left ankle was still sore. It was swollen like a puffer fish on Sunday after my run so I iced and strapped it for the night. By Monday morning the swelling had subsided so I knew it wasn’t a bad injury. I know I stood in a big hole at about the 20km mark in the race and that it hurt my ankle when I did.

However, it’s not a soft-tissue injury because I didn’t feel feint afterwards. My body has this crazy response to strains and sprains: I feint. I always have and probably always will. It’s good in a way because it means I can easily distinguish between injury and hurt or fracture. I know there’s no fracture in the ankle because it didn’t hurt when I put ice on it. For me, it always hurts like blazes when I ice a fracture. So the ankle is just sore from over-use (I traveled over 110km in 5 days last week) and probably bruised from stepping in the hole.

So, on Wednesday morning I enjoyed a delightful 3.6km walk around my neighbourhood during which I stopped to smell the wattle flowers. On Thursday morning I again went for a 3.6km walk along the same route. The route includes some nice long up and down hills so I felt like it was a good recovery work out.

On Wednesday evening I got a massage that focused on my legs. That was wonderful and I felt like I had new legs afterwards. I’ll definitely be doing that again after my next race.

This morning I did some gardening. I am preparing my vegetable gardens for summer. I have five or six vegetable beds. I totally rested one bed this winter and it was full of weeds, which I had to pull out this morning. I also failed to mulch the beds I did use this winter so they also had lots of weeds growing between my crops. This morning I pulled out lots of the weeds so that I can top the beds up with extra topsoil tomorrow (the beds are built on clay so I will keep having to add topsoil until they settle). I also got a good upper body workout when I used a hand saw to cut through timber sleepers that I am using as barriers between the beds.

I’ve also put a lot of effort into my nutrition this week. I have been re-reading Born To Run for weeks now (I just pick it up and randomly read a few pages every day or two) and have also been reading a lot of online material about ultra trail running. The thing that keeps coming up is the importance of nutrition. I’ve never been a fan of ‘fake’ food like supplements and gels. But I fell into a bit of a trap of relying on them for my nutrition.

This week I’ve eaten vegetables every morning for breakfast, getting in my full five serves before work. I have been raiding my garden ‘supermarket’ for broccoli, sugar loaf cabbage, leaf amaranth and herbs, and have been supplementing this with some shop-bought carrots, capsicum, mushrooms, sweet potato and onions. I’ve been mixing them with nuts, eggs, quinoa, calamari and tinned tuna for protein. No, I’ve not had this exact mixture every day but that’s what I’ve been selecting from.

I’ve eaten mixed nuts and a piece of fruit for morning tea every day with a few digestive biscuits we happen to have in the office. For lunch I’ve eaten baked beans, lasagne and today I’m having vegetarian burritos. For afternoon tea I’ve had two pieces of fruit and, if hungry, a glass of Sustagen with oat milk. For dinner I’ve eaten vegetables with every meal and have eaten two vegetarian dinners this week.

This increased intake of fruit, nuts and vegetables has left me feeling really strong and healthy. I am sure it’s also helping me recover well. I’ve reduced my intake of sugar and have increased my water intake, starting every day with a glass of tap water and drinking herb tea (from my garden) with breakfast. I don’t know why I let my diet get so out of hand when it really is no effort (or increased cost) to eat well. I even switched from white to brown rice and loved it.

It’s not that I’m switching from omnivore to herbivore. But I do want to eat more vegetables and fruits, rather than meats and sugars. I was a vegetarian for a year back in the mid-2000s and it didn’t work out so well for me. I lost too much weight and was lethargic all the time. However, with hindsight I can see that I wasn’t eating the right things. I wasn’t getting enough mix of food and was relying almost solely on eggs for protein. I ate white rice and white pasta, and really only ate leafy vegetables and beans. This time round in my reduced meat reliance I am even forcing myself to learn to eat capcisum, one of only two vegetables I hate (the other is eggplant and no amount of trying is going to get me to like it).

I’m excited about my 10km run tomorrow morning and 6km run on Sunday afternoon. I have a small program that I’ve downloaded from the internet. It shows me how many kilometres I should be running if I want to safely increase my mileage. I am determined to at least follow it for weekend long runs and to help me from over training (I am sure I ran too much for my body the week I bought my Vibrams and that that’s part of why I’ve struggled this week).

I’m glad I’ve take the full 5 days off because it’s helped me enjoy my 50km achievement and has given me time to refocus, refresh and regather myself for my next adventure 🙂

An extra rest day

I decided to err on the side of caution today and take an extra rest day. I woke up this morning with that second day stiffness in my lower back, quads and calves. Besides, my partner had the day off work so I worked from home so that we could actually have time together; I decided that was more important than training seeings as I actually hadn’t seen her since I left home early on Wednesday morning last week (she worked night shifts Sunday and Monday).

Tonight I am glad for the rest because the soreness is all gone. I am now looking forward to tomorrow’s 6km run. I’m just going to take a fully barefoot trot around the estate I live in. Each lap is 3km so I’ll do two laps. From home the course will take me down a short steep hill for about 150m, along a flat for a few hundred metres, up a long hill for about 500m, down a long hill on the other side for about 1km and then back along the flat to the big hill. On the second lap I will have to run back up the steep hill to my home.

It’s not a glamorous route but it contains all the necessary elements for a solid training run. And I know I can run it full barefoot, which is what I feel the need for at the moment to go back to basics for a run or two.

Feeling good the day after my first 50km trail run

It’s the day after my first 50km trail run and I’m feeling good.

Physically, I have some mild soreness in my legs and lower back. But that’s to be expected after a 4-day hike with a 21kg pack followed by a 50km trail run. I will be right for a slow 6km jog tomorrow to loosen the muscles.

Mentally, I am ready to continue my ultra running adventures. I am still feeling realistic about my goals, despite having totally blown away my goal time yesterday by about 40 minutes (I was honestly just hoping to complete the course in 7:30). I am also starting to realise that I do need to commit full-time to running training and to getting miles on my feet. So I am making a personal commitment to that. I have found a basic 20 week 50km ‘program’ that shows how to slowly build miles but doesn’t prescribe specific workouts (because I know I rebel against training plans).

Emotionally I am happy that I can finally call myself an ultra marathoner without having to add the caveat ‘by 800m’ that I used to have to add because my previous ultra marathon was a 43km race. I am also proud of myself for keeping on running despite the pain I experienced during the event. I’ve always been the kind of guy who runs away when things get tough. Over the past year I’ve been proving to myself that I can change this about myself. I now know I can do anything I set my mind to.

My next trail run is the 22km Lake Manchester Trail run on 12 August, just 13 days away. Then I have entered the 50km trail run at the Glasshouse 100 on 15 September, which will be my second 50km. Bring it on!

Taking a balance day

First nectarine of the season

I’ve run 63.39km this past week, bringing my yearly total to date to 458.53km. These 63.69km represent over 16% of the total number of kilometres I’ve run this year. It also represents a 450% increase to my average weekly kilometre. So today I know I need to let my legs recover from the efforts of the past week.

It’s also a good opportunity to regain some balance. It’s been a wet winter here in Brisbane. So, while I usually don’t have to do any garden maintenance at this time of year, I have quite a bit of weeding and lawn mowing to do. It’s also the end of July now so I need to prepare at least one vegetable garden bed so I can sow summer seeds in early August.

One of the 30-odd sugar loaf cabbages

It’s been a good winter so far in my garden. All the work I’ve done since we moved into our home three years ago is paying off. The orchard, vegetable beds and native garden are looking healthy. While the citrus trees haven’t yet started producing fruit, they are finally growing now that I’ve raised the garden bed. The tropical peaches, nectarines and apples are flowering, so hopefully we’ll get some fruit again this season. The sugar loaf cabbages I grew from seed have taken off like rockets and we have about thirty that will be ready for harvest progressively during the next 3-6 weeks.  We have eight broccoli heads that are coming into harvest and pigeon peas, which I need to harvest and shell to turn into pea and ham soup. The only thing that didn’t grow well this year were the peas. I just don’t think it got cold enough for them to set pod.

One of the 8 heads of broccoli

I can’t emphasise enough how important my garden is to me. Long before I rediscovered running, I discovered gardening. We even chose this block of land where we built our home based on the potential for garden. We have four ‘garden rooms’: a raised orchard, vegetable gardens, a native Australian garden and a more ornamental area. All this on a block that’s only just less that one-third of an acre.

Gardening helped me overcome my grief at not being able to have biological children of my own. It also helped me get grounded after I started my transition. My transition was a crazy, almost science-fiction, experience. In those early years of living as Andrew I alternated between the euphoria of making the transition and the anguish of feeling like a freak.

And then I discovered gardening. I put my hands in the soil and felt it’s texture. I realised I was connected with thousands of generations of humans who have all done the same thing. Not only that, but I could sow seeds and nurture them until food grew. My experiments started small: I bought seedlings until I was confident germinating seeds and I only had a small garden. Then I gained confidence and we bought a new block of land that I could turn into our own little sanctuary.

Over the past three years I’ve spent thousands of hours adding topsoil to our property, building raised garden beds, creating dry creek beds, laying turf and planting. I’ve designed the layout, redesigned when things haven’t worked and changed plans when I’ve needed to. It’s been a huge physical and personal achievement that I’m proud of. It’s going to take another two to three years before the garden really starts to show signs of maturity; but that’s a good lesson in patience that I need to also apply to my running.

Because it will take two to three more years before I’m a mature and consistent ultra runner.  Right now I’m like the citrus trees that are still growing roots. Every ultra I run this year will give me stronger legs and mental endurance. Every ultra I run next year will let me expand that base. And then, hopefully, in my third year I’ll finally be able to produce some fruit, just like a citrus tree shouldn’t be allowed to produce fruit until it’s three years old.

While it’s difficult to look at my running with this long-term outlook, my garden is teaching me this lesson and it’s one I want to try to learn. While I might be too undisciplined to stick to any real plan, I think I can still learn this lesson.