Sunday, 23 March 2008


Where do I start? With University closed from Thursday afternoon to Wednesday morning over the Easter weekend, and with my training going great I had been looking forward to a brilliant opportunity to log some serious training with Ben G and H, and yet have plenty of time to kick back and focus on some quality recovery. During the same period last year H and I had used the extra time to double our training hours... however the key difference between professional athletes and serious amateurs is not in training volume, but actually in recovery volume. What I mean by this is that when pro athletes train we train but when pro athletes recover (i.e. sleep, rest, get physio or massage etc.) we work. We'd therefore cleared our diaries and arranged for Ben to come and stay.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning I felt great, training went really well with good sessions in all three disciplines... Thursday night was scheduled to be a 20 mile run
at a reasonable pace which although is one of my most challenging sessions of all I was looking forward to getting stuck in to it and seeing where I was. About 30 minutes before the run I started to feel a little bit not quite right... then just before H was due to leave I suffered from a slightly premature dose of the 'runners trots'. It's common for runners to suffer from digestive issues on long runs, fortunately I have a pretty good understanding of what does it to me and so avoid things like muesli, nuts and fruits (particularly oranges or apples) on the day of a long run... any of these will set me off at the 16 mile mark without fail but by avoiding these it's extremely rare that I have a problem. Experiencing 'problems' prior to my run I knew it could be something more serious and said to H that I may well ditch the run early and so not see her until she got back.

Setting off at my target heart rate of 140-145, considering the uphill gradient and major headwind, I was maintaining pretty much my target pace to come in around 2:20-2:25. Experiencing stomach cramps from the first mile however I wasn't convinced I would last and by mile six I was looking for a suitable place to 'pit-stop'... I've always understood the importance of 'be safe be seen' but since taking up road cycling I've become increasingly aware of our vulnerability on the roads, whether cycling or running... unfortunately this 'backfired' on me somewhat on Thursday afternoon when trying to pop for a quiet number two next to a major route out of Leeds during bank holiday rush hour whilst wearing a luminous bright yellow gillet and backpack!!!

Ten minutes of scrambling through brambles and barbed-wire fences later and I was about to make a serious schoolboy error... do I turn back and run the six downhill tailwind miles home to safety or do I 'tough it up' and push on? I've never been one to back down from a challenge, so on I pushed.. only four more miles and I'd be on my way home, how hard could it be? At around eight miles I was struggling to concentrate, half a mile later I passed H and was pretty much done and by 9.5 miles I was staggering round Otley town centre looking for a loo! Unsuccessful in my search and too embarrassed to wander in to a local pub dressed to the nines in luminous lycra I took my only option... 800 metres more and dig in for the home run. By 12 miles I was back in the 'loo' and staring at the toughest 8 miles of my life... normally I'll hold somewhere between 7-7.15 minute miles on a run like this but according to my GPS I was now closer to eleven minutes per mile and home seemed further away than ever before. By mile 18 H had done her run, showered, changed and becoming increasingly worried had set off in the car to come and rescue me... by 18.5 she found me practising the 'ironman shuffle' along Otley road. If she'd reached me a few miles earlier I may have jumped in for the ride but having suffered for so long I wasn't about to let it beat me and discarding my Camelbak and ipod I pushed on for fifteen more minutes and home... and the completion, albeit 40 minutes slower than expected, of possibly the toughest training session of my life.

Sitting here on Sunday night having been sidelined with what seems like a decent case of gastroenteritis (see HERE) and with no visible light at the end of the tunnel I can afford some time to reflect...

I doubt there's anything I could have done to have avoided being struck down with the trots but will certainly take the braver option and turn back earlier next time. It's also been quite a humbling experience... before I'd run a marathon I thought marathon runners were super-human people who never had a bad session, once I'd run one and having realised this not to be the case I thought surely it must be true of Ironman athletes... however... now I have earned both forms of endurance medals and then having just spent almost every mile of a three hour run concentrating solely on not pooing my pants or breaking into a walk, and being over the moon to have achieved both of those goals it is quite clear that some things never change ;)

Hopefully next week I'll be posting a more positive entry having just competed in our tri club's annual duathlon champs at the Stokesley Duathlon.

Today's picture says it all ;)



Jevon said...

Unlucky mate. I can sympathise. Had a siimilar experience in Portugal. The sheer pain of the final pre-explosion steps has never left me.
Remember - what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Hope you're recovered.

Brian said...

I guess that really is 'true grit'. At least you both made it and everything that we experience teaches us something! Hope you are both recovering well. Bon courage!

Tom said...

Jev... cheers mate, when it was really tough i just put myself in the frame of mind that it was good mental training in case of the same happening in Germany... always a positive ;)

Pops... it also brought back vivid memories of when you, Sam and I were in Jeffries Bay :)