Getting there. An update.

Well, to be honest, I was surprised that it’s only three months since my last blog here. It’s been busy, but all along, I’ve felt rather mindful of the risk of tempting fate by writing about how things are going, what is coming up, etc. So, it seems better to base this largely on a bit of reflection on the last few weeks and months in the life of this elderly sprinter,  instead.

Last time we met, I had a finger in a very solid splint, and was coming to terms with how this was going to impact on the key period of my winter’s training. Well, it did impact, and the impact was pretty severe, in that it basically stopped me doing very much at all that I’d normally have done. However, I got around that pretty much from the outset by deciding to do it all differently anyway!

For starters, gripping to lift or pull on anything was simply impossible with a middle finger that was splinted out straight, was completely inflexible, and needed to be protected from further damage. I’d been told that the finger needed splinting for eight to ten weeks, and that I was not to bend it at all during that time, particularly when the splint was removed for washing, etc. Tendons, it seems, take far longer than bones to heal, and even small movement was going to damage the scar tissue that was attempting to join both ends of the broken tendon back together. I was advised not to try to sprint, because, even with the splint on, flinging my hand around quickly was not going to do that re-joining process any good either. I was a good patient and did what I was told.

Thus, I needed an alternative to the (mainly) strength-based training I’d usually hope to be doing in the last few months of a more typical year. I’d decided while rehabbing my damaged shoulder earlier in 2017, that I’d spend time and focus this year on developing my basic fitness in both aerobic and anaerobic terms. I am a huge fan of it, but you can read about my love-hate relationship with Parkrun (as a runner, but not that kind of a runner) in several earlier blogs, where you’ll also see some stuff about what I was doing with a Wattbike down at the gym. Before damaging the finger, I’d reached the point where my bad left shoulder was largely pain-free and generally stable, but now needed strengthening. However, in practice, the kind of strength work I needed to do for it was impossible without using my damaged right hand to help keep the strength work from becoming very lop-sided. I found various things I could do with bungee cords etc, and built them into some of my gym routines, but the big differences were always going to come from that complete change of emphasis towards basic fitness work.

By the time I reached October, running a 5k Parkrun every Saturday morning, and doing two high intensity sessions a week that included work on a Wattbike, was beginning to show benefits to my overall fitness. That’s to say, I no longer felt quite as dead at the end of a Parkrun, or quite so close to losing bladder control (yes!) at the conclusion of a particularly intense Wattbike workout. However, while running in my local Parkrun’s Halloween fancy-dress event, I was overtaken by a runner dressed as the Grim Reaper, and I could not suggest any better metaphor for how I was feeling at that moment! It was good to learn that one’s fast-twitch muscle fibres are amongst the major beneficiaries of training at a very high percentage of maximum heart rate. If that’s the case, mine have had a great time of it lately.

Nevertheless, I was feeling able to push that little bit harder in Parkrun, and was a little more comfortable than I’d expected at higher power output on the Wattbike. I never did reach my notional target of a 1,000 watt peak burst on the bike. I was pleased with over 900, though, given that the thousand has been plucked from the air anyway. I did also get within about half a minute of my 2014 Parkrun personal best. I was quite satisfied with that, and had several weeks of consistency in what I was running.

However, that’s ended now. I have about 4 weeks to go before I return to the track and put in (I hope) a full indoor season before going to the European Masters in Madrid in March. I have stopped running Parkrun, and imposed on myself quite a tough regime of circuit training to take its place. Somewhat unexpectedly, the circuit training delivered the worst two days of delayed onset muscle soreness I have ever suffered from. Fortunately that coincided with two rest days, during which I really felt older than my years, and probably looked it as I shuffled about, struggled with the stairs, etc!

So, that’s where I am now. Apprehensive about my return to racing? Of course I am. I last raced in August 2016. Put off by the thought of it? Not at all. For me, there is no greater motivation.

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