Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cuboid problem

I've been getting some pain in my left foot since a little while before the marathon, and its been getting worse.  Basically its a soreness on the outside edge of my left foot, just behind that sticky out bit, about half way along and it happens as I push off when running and, to a lesser extent when walking.

So last week I decided it was bad enough that I would have to see someone about it and booked into the RunRight podiatry clinic in Helston.  The podiatrist, Steve Bloor, came to fame last year when Tesco's staff refused to let him walk barefoot in the store (see here).

Anyway, I was quickly diagnosed with a stuck Cuboid.  Some manipulation and things seemed to improve almost immediately.  Steve carried out some gait analysis and basically gave me a full MOT from the waist down.  Being interested in barefoot running it was great to chat with someone who knows their stuff and could give credence to some of the ideals I am starting to adhere to.

I was especially pleased to have someone look at my gait and tell me I'm doing it right.  Basically I'm running mid foot now and have found, after a fairly long transition from heel striking, that it had all come together; but its always good to have someone else give the thumbs up.

So that afternoon, feeling liberated from my annoying pain (though, if I'm honest, a little tender from the manipulation) I thought I'd go for a run.  I dropped Bronwen off at Brownies in Hayle and headed out for a run I am very familiar with - across the dunes to Gwithian and back, a total of 8 miles, which gets me back just in time to pick up Bron at the end of Brownies.  For the first 4 miles I felt great; after that, not so much.  Rapidly feeling the returning pain increase I opted for running back along the beach rather than the dunes. By the time I got back I was really sore.

D'oh.  Should have rested up for a day I think.  Saturday came and went and there was no way I was running.  No improvement on Sunday either.  By Tuesday morning I was back to where I had started on Friday.  I called Steve and got booked in for a second visit.  He advised me I might benefit from an orthotic, which was really something I had hoped to avoid as it felt like a retrograde step; having just spent a year working down to as little shoe as possible the idea of orthotics just seemed wrong.  Still, if Steve, being a man who spends most of every day barefoot or in very minimal shoes, thinks its the way to go then I guess I have to give it a try.  Its not a permanent solution though, just something to help me recover.

I also got a spiky ball and instruction on how to exercise my foot and build up the strength to prevent this kind of thing recurring.  Since Tuesday I've run a couple of times and I'm still getting a bit of soreness so am staying below 6 miles but I think things are slowly improving.  Its frustrating though, I should be back up to some pretty high mileage weeks by now and I'm not very good at taking it easy.  

Friday, 15 March 2013

Lessons learned from my first marathon

Its nearly two weeks since I ran the Duchy Marathon so I've had a bit of time to mull over how it all went.  The truth is it wasn't as bad as it could have been but it certainly could have gone better.  

Here's a few things I learned along the way:

1. Eating everything in sight for three days before your race is your reward for all the hard work you have put in. You are duty bound to make the most of it.

2. If you think you might have time for another quick trip to the toilet then you probably have.

3. When the race starts near a local supermarket there is at least one more public toilet available than you think.  This can be handy when considering point 2.

4. Switch your Garmin on before you think you need to.

5. When people say "start slow, finish strong" you should probably listen.

6. When people you overtook in the early part of the race come past you near the end, refer to point 5.

7. There is almost always a way of maintaining forward motion when you start to get a cramp.

8. Sometimes when you get a cramp you really can't keep running.

9. Bending over to stretch out a cramp after several hours of running can have strange effects on your sense of balance.

10. Just because you spent the last hour dreaming of the free pasty on offer at the finish line doesn't mean you will be able to eat it when you get there.

11. Beer goes down much easier than Cornish Pasties after running a marathon.

12. Have a goal time and stick to it.  Have a couple of backup goals you'd be happy with though, just in case.

13. Even though its just a little bit of chafing, bath water will make you feel like you just spilt acid on your genitals.  You have been warned.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Duchy Marathon

Looking like a prize dork at the start
This weekend I entered my first marathon.

The Duchy Marathon, organized by Cornwall Athletic Club, is in its 37th year.  There have been a few different courses over the years but the current one starts and finishes at the Penventon Park Hotel in Redruth. First heading to Pool the route follows a two lap circuit taking in Illogan, joining the coast road just West of Portreath and heading along North Cliffs before returning to Pool along scenic country lanes.  A final stretch skirts round Redruth and finishes back at the hotel.

The forecast was for a cold, overcast but dry day and that is what we got.  Saturday was very still but an easterly breeze had picked up overnight; oh well, can't have everything.

The Penventon is a fairly luxurious place to start a marathon and we arrived in good time to pick up our numbers.  A few bedrooms had been assigned as changing rooms and both these and the toilets were soon sporting large queues.

As the minutes ticked on we gathered in the car park, ready for the start.  I stupidly forgot to set my Garmin to locate and was still waiting for satellite reception when the gun went off and we all piled out onto the road.

With easterlies blowing the first few miles were fairly sheltered and the run along North Cliffs was very pleasant, easy really.  As soon as we turned back however, we got a sharp blast in the face for a mile or so until the country lanes gave us some shelter further inland.  There is a big hill at mile 10 (and 22) which was not entirely welcome but soon fell behind us.  

On lap two everything was going well until about 18 miles in when I got a sudden cramp in my right thigh.  I managed to stretch it out and got going again but from there on in my pace began to slow.  I crossed the line in 4 hours 13 minutes.  Not too bad for a first timer; I was happy with that.  

Chocolate, bananas and pasties were all provided at the finish, as well as a very attractive medal.  I'd been looking forward to the pasty for miles, but when it came to it I couldn't face it.  The pint of Tribute in the hotel bar seemed to slip down OK though.

A special word has to go to the Marshalls and Army (cadets?) helpers.  Throughout the race they were friendly, helpful and encouraging, despite the biting winds which must have left them frozen to the bone. 

You won't see crowds of supporters lining the streets at the Duchy and most of the entrants are club runners so don't be too surprised if the average times are somewhat faster than is usual for a big city marathon.  That said, if you are looking to set a fast time then this is also probably not the flattest and certainly not the most sheltered course you could choose from.  But it is a well organised event in a beautiful location and well worth a look.  I'll certainly be back.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Carb loading adventures

This weekend I have mostly been eating carbs.

I've tried to load up on carbs for two to three days leading up to long races previously and it definitely works.  Having read this excellent article from Run your BQ though, I suspected I wasn't eating quite enough. 

Essentially, in order to maximise glycogen stores, you should aim to eat 7-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight each day.  For me that is something between 540 and 780 grams of carbs; a massive amount of food!

Generally speaking, having carte blanche to eat everything in sight for a few days with no sense of remorse is about as good as it gets. Its a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

It can be a bloody pain in the arse though trying to sum up everything you are eating and its tempting to refuse to eat anything that doesn't have a clearly printed label on it somewhere. Thankfully our friend the internet helps fill in the blanks and I now know that an apple contains about 22 grams of carbohydrate whereas an egg has less than 1 (try as your starter for 10).

Clearly man cannot live on apples alone since I'd need to eat 20 a day to hit my goal!

Bread, pasta, rice & potatoes is mainly where its at. However even pasta is only 75% carbohydrate so unless you want to eat the best part of a kilogram of spagetti then some good old dirty sweet food, and drink, is going to be required.  In fact drink is very important; its almost impossible to consume this many carbs without drinking a fair bit of it.  

Here comes another lesson learned: the free Cadbury's hot chocolate at work is much harder to consume in quantity than Sprite.  In fact the hot chocolate made me feel pretty sick, but I drank a litre of sprite over the course of the day and hardly noticed myself doing it.  A litre of sprite contains 100 grams of sugar! DON'T FEED THIS SHIT TO YOUR KIDS.  I seriously think these kind of drinks might be worse than crack.  

Anyway here's what yesterday's menu consisted of. All in all this adds up to a whopping 541 grams:
Beetroot juice 250ml 22
Large bowl Muesli 90
Toast and honey – 2 slices 25
2 apples 44
1 banana 24
2 satsumas 18
1 litre sprite 100
scambled eggs and 2 slices toast 25
boost 34
ma bakers banana flapjack 54
1/2 baked potato with cheese and butter 15
Vegetables (toms, brocoli, cabbage) 15
Spinach & Ricotta stuffed pasta with pesto 52
cadbury mini roll 15
1 glass red wine 8