23 February today, and I’m on a training roll. I have bought a new myithlete HRV sensor as I find it more accurate and consistent than either my Garmin watch or Oura ring. My sleep has improved over the month and my HRV is in a very solid place. Training Peaks tells me my fitness is better than one month, three months, and 12 months ago.
I’ve been varying the training. Cycling has taken more of a back seat as I’ve gradually worked my way up to one-hour runs on a treadmill as part of my base building for the marathon later this year. I’ve been consistent on the weights too, although purposely staying away from the big lifts until this week, when I cracked out some confident sets of deadlift.
My knees hurt. Sometimes the left, sometimes the right. But they would hurt if I wasn’t exercising. My plan is to give my knees every chance, using supplements, knee wraps, compression and doing my ATG exercises to maintain muscle around the joint.
Another month down and I must say, a good month.
Friday, 2 February, and Saturday, 3 February, saw me do four-mile daily runs. I haven’t touched my road bike in 2024, and in the photo, I’m at Rapha in Brewer Street, having run to the customary Friday chat laps. As you can see from my expression, four miles is serious business.
Saturday’s run was the same, I ran into Soho and then got public transport home. My hips were hurting me all night. This isn’t an injury; different muscle groups are coming into the mix. I will need to do enough rolling after runs, as I’m sure IT band issues will happen quickly if I don’t take preventative measures.
Sunday – today – I was supposed to be on my bike, but my overnight recovery was poor, and there is no point in going out hammering 60 miles. That’s likely to burn me out. I’m in the annual phase where I wonder about giving up cycling. The weather is not helping, but the truth of the matter is I have no bike form at all. I have only ridden 60 miles on a fairly flat course since my accident in May 2023. It’s a long way back to form, and I will have to buckle down or call it a day, as I have a beast of a climbing trip in only 11 weeks.
It’s a massive mental challenge for me. I sometimes wonder if I fell out of love with the bike after recovering from my accident. I like running around town on my Brompton, but longer road bike rides are not appealing. I can get knocked off at any time, and indeed, in my area of London, I am at high risk of being robbed of my bike by the wave of scrotes-on-scooters thefts. The biggest appeal of cycling is the social aspect of riding with my sisters and brothers in Chaingang Cyclists. I need to work this through in my mind.
Training Day – Snottier, Slower, Weaker
On Sunday, the 21st, I had a great squat session at the gym. I used the safety bar, which gives me confidence and helps me go slow and low. The following day, I had a good 45-minute run on the treadmill, and the numbers were good, given where I am in my running. On Tuesday, I felt sore. Wednesday, even more so, my Garmin data showed my resting HR was up, and my sleep was poor. Late that night, my eyes were itching, I had a buzzsaw headache and sure enough, Thursday morning, I was on the slippery slope to man ‘flu. Four days of coughing, aching, sneezing, and suffering like only a man with a cold can suffer. You can point to two decent training days, but I suspect I already suffered from the virus on Sunday. I’ve had a very long streak, a full year without a cold, so I have no complaint. I rested through to Sunday – today. Let’s see how I am tomorrow. Unless I have recovered, I will rest again. There’s no point in knocking myself out for a long time. It’s early in the year, relax.
Training Days – Cross Training
I’ve had several training days since my last post. A Slow AF run, two gym sessions, a treadmill Slow AF run, and a Hyrox training hour. It’s been really good to mix up heavy and light training. I smashed a hard deadlift session, then came back with a single leg and upper body workout two days later, which felt good.
On the running front, I have slowed right down to 12-minute miles, which feels a lot better, in that I’m not ending up with sore knees. I need to do many, many of these sessions and build my running base on solid foundations. It’s been a breakthrough, and it came from listening to training friends Iron Empress, Donna (next to me in the photo) and multi-sport athlete Greg Patmore. I’m learning to drop the ego and embrace Slow AF.
I had an interesting hour with Hyrox master coach George. I haven’t done a circuit-style session for a good million years or so. Upper body ergometer, rowing machine, step-ups, burpees, heavy bag squats, and heavy ball walks and shoulder throws. I got around it. My biggest challenge was burpees, where hitting the ground hurt my damaged collarbone and shoulder. George said, “You should be able to taste a little bit of blood at the end of this set of circuits.” He got that right. I will be back next month.
Featured photo is my Chaingang Cyclist sisters Donna, Lisa, and Brandy. While CGC hit North London hills, we hit George’s session. Good coach, recommended.
Training Day – Maintenance
I’ve had a maintenance day today. I’ve had sore knees and one sore shin since the Sunday run. I took yesterday off and researched a sensible routine running for someone starting on the road again. The Slow AF Running Club was a great source of advice, information and encouragement. I’m not giving up on running. I need to go back a few steps figuratively to go forward. Step one: I have bought some Enertor insoles, which have been highly recommended. Then, I started to do some lower abdominal strength exercises. I’ve also done a few sets with my Tib Bar tibia strengthening bar to build up the tibialis and ankle. Finally, I have made a deal with myself to go for no more than two miles and at a modest pace until I have built a solid base. The last thing I want is for stubbornness to stop me, not only running but more generally.
I will be back at it tomorrow with a morning in Third Space Soho with deadlifts, back, and chest on the agenda.
Training Day – Seven
I skipped Saturday training and contented myself with a long walk. On Sunday, I went for another run of just short of 4 miles. My Garmin Forerunner 965 cleverly suggests a distance and pace for me. That’s not something I have programmed, but I’ll take it anyway.
The watch turns out to be more intelligent than me in that it keeps alerting me to slow down. That’s my rookie problem. Slow feels too slow. But the speed I’m running at is too fast. Even though I’m running very slowly, the Training Stress Score for a 40-minute plod is 100. That’s the equivalent of close to two hours on the bike.
I get home, and my knees and shins are sore, and during the night, my knees are burning due to inflammation. This morning, my recovery score was poor, as flagged to me by Garmin Connect. There are two sensible things to log. I need to take today off, no question. The low score has been creeping up on me for a while. Secondly, I need to slow down and build a base.
The way things are going, I will have knee problems and shin splints. I must learn to slow down. If, after trying slow running, my knees and shins remain sore, then that’s the end of running. I can’t wipe out my broader trainer due to chronic injuries. There is tough, driven, and even stubborn, and that’s ok. But at a point it becomes stupidity.
Training Day – Five
No double header. I woke to rain and didn’t do the bike ride. Either weakness or my Garmin watch telling me that my readiness state is low, and my sleep poor. On perception versus how I feel, the Forerunner is a much more gloomy companion than the Oura ring.
Went for a 5k, consisting of two steady laps of Battersea Park, with a 250-strong group Friday Night Lights group. Nice workout. I’ve got this issue with pelvic discomfort and I wonder if it’s an adjustment my body is making to this new discipline. Anyway, I will keep going.
I’m taking today off and looking to do a steady 60 miles tomorrow with my Chaingang Cyclists friends.
Training Day – Three
Upper body emphasis in the gym finished up with single-leg curls and extensions. 40 minutes, in and out. I was dragging a bit, to be fair. Last night’s short run took something out of me. And my Garmin form tracker is pushing me to slow down with my low recovery scores. It tells me what I know: I’m a trainer for 5-6 sessions a week. Pushing to a daily schedule does not work.
Rest day tomorrow, but Friday looks like a double-header with a morning cycle to the cafe and a 5k run in the evening.
Training Day – Two
Storm Henk assailing the UK at present. Stepping over broken branches, running through standing water, gale force winds. 2.5 miles never felt so hard. But I went and did the work. Someone needs to carry the logs; although I didn’t expect logs to be dropping off trees.
Not to be too Dr Google, I’ve got Osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the pubic symphysis in my pelvis. Two factors possibly coming together – I fractured my pelvis in three places last May, one in the pubis, and running can irritate that area in any case. I will need to tread carefully. I can’t believe I just inadvertently typed such a weak pun.
Training Day – One
It’s time to start building a base. It takes a while, and it isn’t very interesting, mainly. But you can’t build a fortress on the sand. Without Zone 1 and Zone 2 work to put in place an aerobic base, progress in more intense work later will fail.
Andrew Huberman interviewing the legendary David Goggins was my listening of choice for the hour. Fascinating stuff and a lot of use of the words “fuck” and “motherfucker”. Building Immense Inner Strength is the title, and there is some stunning new research into the neuroscience of the brain.