Archive for January, 2015

Ballad of a Thin Man

January 24, 2015

It’s a Bob Dylan track. You’ll see why I chose that title for this blog. Just read on.

I was reminded of an old cartoon-strip joke about the Victorian explorers who meet a new tribe. “Who are you?” they ask them. “We’re the Fkawi!” Says one explorer to the other “Damn, these people are lost as well.”

Well, it’s almost the end of January, and, as it were, where the …. are we?

In a pretty good place, really. When last we met, I was anticipating running a couple more local Parkruns before getting back into some deep winter, sprint-specific training. The “best laid plans of mice and men”, eh? On my second from last Parkrun I pulled a calf muscle at about 3k and almost failed to walk the rest of the way to the finish. Not an experience that endeared me any more closely to running 5k events. I was told I run like a sprinter, so how do I expect bits to last distances ten times longer than I ever race in anger? The calf recovered well by just before New Year, but although I’ve ventured out since as photographer for my local Parkrun, I’m no longer using it as an element of my training.

Nevertheless, the aerobic fitness boost it gave had been helping me me greatly to get into a good routine for other training. I’ve not sustained four sessions of quality training each week like I am doing at present for a good few years. The emphasis has recently been on agility, strength and the beginnings of speed endurance. I’ve had to keep a careful eye on my calf, which niggles now and again, but otherwise, I feel good, and it feels good to feel good!

I don’t know whether the gym I use is going through hard times, in terms of membership, but this year I saw no appreciable increase in usage after New Year. OK, it may be happening in the evenings, and not the late afternoon when I’m mostly there, but usually there’s a burst of enthusiastic “New Year resolution” people. Most of them have faded away by about Easter, if not much sooner. Nevertheless, today, the local Parkrun broke its record for the number of people taking part, and the jogging/road-racing thing seems very back in vogue. Both of these things mean I’ve had some great sessions where I have had acres of gym space to myself. This has been brilliant for plyometric work, drills and stuff. At this time of year, I hate outdoor training for things like that. Being lean, I suffer from the cold. I hate spending a load of time warming up in layer after layer of gear, only to lose all that heat between reps and end up freezing again.

Lean? I don’t struggle with my weight, though time was that I had a stubbornly high body fat percentage that seemed determined to resist whatever so-called “fat burning” element of my training I tried on it. I mentioned in the last blog that while a volunteer for tests at Manchester Met University back in November, I saw an MRI scan “slice” of my thigh, revealing very low intra-muscular and subcutaneous fat. My measured body fat percentage is also very much lower now that I can ever remember it being. Partly age, partly effort. Pity it’s been so cold though!

I’ve got just on three weeks to go before I begin racing indoors. I could have chosen to do some open graded meetings already, but I’ve made a very conscious decision to restrict myself. I’m doing two competitions leading up to the British Masters Indoors in early March, and that’s pretty much going to be it (fingers crossed against injury) before the European Masters in Poland at the end of March.

The late and limited start is because I’ve realised that I could still be racing well into October this year! The World Masters Championships are in Lyon in France at the start of August, and I’ll also be going to the European Masters Games, in Nice, starting on 1 October. There’s plenty of local competition too and I really want to avoid setting myself up for some painful wear and tear. The calendar I’ve got actually makes it hard to spot a good opportunity to back off for a few weeks without the risk of losing form.

So, that’s it for blogs until the gun goes.