Thursday 29 June 2017

16km, Vienna and the Donau Insel

Vienna from the Kaisermühlenbrücke (Donai Insel left)

Just coming back from Vienna, where we spent a few days at my brother-in-run Mihh. Two days of sun along the Danube, exploring the narrow hilly streets of Bratislava and the majestic city of Vienna.

With a nice surprise on Sunday: Mihh organised a group run on the Donau Insel, this long narrow island in the middle of the river. 6 km to run there and 10 km on the island, under a heavy sun and 30 degrees. After stretching, I couldn't resist jumping all dressed in the river. Amazing cooling effect. 

Following with a little breakfast and finishing bathing with the family. Barbecue on the afternoon and beer tasting on the evening!

The kind of weekend you'd like every week =)

Monday 19 June 2017

26km, a penny for your thoughts?

26km in 3h!

It's been a week since I ran the Potsdam half and I'm a bit afraid to run long again, so early. I barely went out for a 10km this week and I could feel that my foot was still recovering. Shall I stick to my training plan? The show must go on? Let's see...

I'm out on a sunny Sunday morning. It's hot but it's still bearable. I follow my favourite route, juice and food in the backpack. I just baked flapjacks on Saturday, yummy! As a test, I added a magnesium tablet to my water/juice/salt mixture. Indeed, I got some muscle pain following my last long runs, it could be a lack of electrolytes, especially magnesium, which is working on the muscle and nervous system. We shall see if it makes any difference.

What makes today unusual and probably enhances my overall performance is that I have an important interview on Monday when I'll need to talk about my job (in German) and I am a bit nervous about it. So, during the 3h im running, I'm rehearsing in my head. This keeps my brain busy and my attention away from my foot.

Also my pace is steadier, I don't stop as often as usual. I'm hitting 10km already, I eat a banana and I keep going. I feel less the urge to drink, maybe because the day is not that hot (23°C). When I hit 20km, my foot starts complaining. I feel it a bit more, it's getting more sensible to the pounding. I devour a flapjack and continue. The last six kilometres are quick and easy. My heart-rate is a bit high though. As I'm still lost in my thoughts, it went over to 160bpm. I slow down the pace and finish the 26km in about 3h, therefore 20 min less than the 25km I ran a month ago!

To conclude, I am even more convinced that part of the pain you feel when recovering from PF is psychological. Focus on something else and you will notice that the pain is slipping away. Still be careful, when it's coming back!

I am also convinced that the magnesium pill helped, while running as well as recovering. I barely have muscle pain on the next day and I feel great! I just had my blood tested this month and everything is ok, all levels are in the green. But I imagine that different levels should be considered for long-distance runners. My body seems to like a little magnesium treat... 

...Or maybe I'm just becoming better and better ;)

Sunday 11 June 2017

Potsdam half marathon 2017

Veni, vidi, vici!

Here we are, back at the starting line of the exact same race where  I broke my half marathon PR two years ago, just before injuring my foot. It's also my first official race of the year... It's about time!

I feel much more prepared than last year, as I just ran 25 km last month. However, since I'll be running on paved roads and asphalt this time, in new shoes I barely had time to work out, I don't know how my foot is going to react towards the end of the race. We shall see and be reasonable as usual :)

On the plus side, I'm running with the wife, which is really rare and enjoyable. On the down side, we have to wake up at 6 o'clock and by the time we start it'll be 30°C! :(

The Potsdam half is one of my favourite race, especially since it goes through the beautiful city-center, the woods, around the lakes and along the castle. It's mostly roads but a good part is dirt trail like I'm used to. It has a bit of a "trail run" vibe at some points.

After 1h of driving, we barely have time to park the car, get our starting bags and here we are, on the road for 21km. We stay at the back of the pack, not looking to score any PR time this year, just enjoying the race.

The city is beautiful, people are really nice and encourage us. It's very hot already and we know that the heat is going to be the main obstacle today. For the first time, I'm running with my flask, filled up with juice, water and salt. It's really convenient, as I can replenish it at every station on the way and take little slips more often.

Fortunately for us, the route features many wooded areas and shadows along the way. Nice autochthons spray us with water hose and we cool off eating apple slices.

On the foot side, it's not heaven but not concerning either. My new Asics Nimbus are very cushioning and my knees complain more about the pavement than my feet. A few times on the way, I noticed some tension in my plantar fascia. It's not painful but it recalls some bad memories. 

"The body remembers the pain", I once read. I stop at every station to stretch my calves and relax my legs. Overall they put up with the kilometres without grumbling. The heat makes every step difficult. We try to cool off by drinking a lot and running under the water jets. 

Around 15 km, hunger strikes. A cliff bar devoured in two bites and I feel better already. That's what happens when you breakfast on carbohydrates only. I am used to eating cereals and milk on race days, because they are quickly digested and I don't run with a heavy stomach. 

But the downside is that my body is craving for some more solid food. I should focus on proteins and healthy fats next time, they would sustain me much longer.

When my foot stars complaining again, we are almost at the end. One kilometer to go! We speed up the pace, just for fun. I'm​ hoping to finish in less than 2h30. 

Eventually we cross the finish line hand in hand, with an official time of 2h31. This is one minute less than my finish time at the Berlin half marathon last year, when I hurt my foot on the way and I finished walking on the pain. 

Therefore, I can say that although not fully recovered yet, my PF is resorbing and my foot is feeling much better this year. I just need to keep running regularly, accustom my legs to longer distances, and always give my body enough time, sleep and healthy food to recover. Piece of cake!

All in all a very nice race, I'm glad to be back on the starting line. Next stop: the marathon in two months... And still a long way to go up to my first 50k!