Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going to learn to Chill

Actually given the running conditions,
this was probably a decent photo

Last weekend I ran a 10K road race.  Nothing special in that really – except for the really cool TUTU I was wearing.

The race itself was a flat route along the Vancouver Seawall in an out and back.  The weather was typically ‘Vancouver winter’ – Ice rain with gale force winds.  The second stretch of the race actually wasn’t that pleasant. 

I didn’t go into the race with any goals or expectations.  I was just going to run and see how I felt as I ran. 

In the end, I ended up racing it.  I think it was partly due to the fact that the weather was so miserable; I really wanted to get back to somewhere warm and dry.  I ended up pushing myself a little and by about 7K I was beginning to feel it. 

The run wasn’t un-fun.  I managed to make lots of people smile.  I managed to thank all of the volunteers.  I wasn’t really able to talk to the other runners – the race was so small that after a few minutes we were all stretched out, so essentially I was running alone.  I enjoyed the scenery for what I could see of it.  It was a shame it was such rotten weather because I would have loved to take photo’s.  I did a little pirouette at the turning point and I tried to make the run as fun as I could.

Yes I placed, but was it worth it?
I did manage to pick up a 3rd place in my AG, which was more due to the small field and nothing to do with how quick I was.  All wearing a TUTU ;) 

The fact that I was actually running at my half marathon pace (and still dying), just goes to show how much I have lost in conditioning in the last couple of years.  It hurt a little towards the end.

Regardless, of all those particulars, the race ended up being an experiment.  I have mentioned I have been playing around with low-heart rate training.  It hasn’t been going too well.  Whenever I seemed to meet my optimal zone, I was really only doing a brisk walk and I could never seem to go faster than a snail.  Whenever I seemed to push myself, my heart rate would shoot up to something stupid, regardless of the fact that I seemed to be okay in myself.

So during the race, I was pushing what turned out to be a 9 min mile pace (Slow I know).  Looking at the stats after I got home (because I don’t check them during the run), my heart rate was really high.  We are talking about – apparently – 103%/200bpm+ max in some places and I never went lower than about 175bpm/90+% for the entire race.  I wasn’t overly concerned as such, just mildly curious.

What was interesting was what happened afterwards.

After about 4 hours after the race finished, my throat started to swell, I started to feel sick and I felt rough.  I was tired and achy, but not in a good way.

During that evening, I felt like I had a temperature.  I was going between shivering and sweating.  I went to bed early and slept for 13 hours.

The next day I still felt rough.  I was tired and my head throbbed. I wasn’t sure if I was coming down with a cold and my body hadn’t decided to give in.

Forty-eight hours later I felt better.

It has brought to my attention, that maybe a little bit of heart-rate training may be something I shouldn’t discount.  Perhaps I should seriously consider giving it another go.

I am not saying I should run at a pace that is so slow I am essentially walking.  But taking the pace down a couple of minutes may not be a bad thing. 

I have 4 months training during the half-marathon clinic – another experiment. (I am pretending to be like David Attenbourgh and check out the running herd in their natural habitat).  I won’t get very far if I end up being sick every week.  I am not worried about injuring myself as such, but just that I will end up feeling rotten all the time.

I think back to those years I was running a lot more and a lot quicker.  I remember the grumpiness and the tiredness.  I remember the long sleeps after a 9 mile run.  That’s not how it should be. 

So, I have decided.  I am going to hang back with the lower pace groups (they are more fun anyway).  I am going to take the clinics as a social event.  Okay, that was my aim anyway, but I am going to make a more of an effort to relax.  I am going to slowly jog and use the extra time to talk about women in bikini’s playing soccer, or different types of beer.  Yep, they are a fun group to hang with.

I am going to see, how FAR I can actually run if I just slow down a little.  I have realized that just because I CAN run as quick as I have been, doesn’t mean I should.

I am going to learn to chill.  Even though I was paying attention to my surroundings as I ran, I am going to use this as an excuse to really see where I am running.  I am going to concentrate more on my form and my attitude.  I may have lost that smiley spirit somewhere.  I am going to really concentrate on the fun.

I am going to learn to chill.


  1. Your picture shows classic Vancouver weather, though every time I visit in the winter months, there seems to be a snowpocolypse.

    You mention how the slow groups are more fun, and that's one reason I like ultras so much - everyone is in the slow group!

  2. I'm trying low-HR training just starting this past week. I've set my HR monitor to alarm at 133 and if I could just get the thing to measure accurately I'd be all set. It would be helpful if I could find the darned strap! For now I'm relying on bra-band and friction and sometimes the monitor measures cadence instead of HR. Which is useful in its own way, I suppose, but flipping back and forth isn't so great. Grrr.

    Anyway, I'm right there with you. I'm shuffling along at a really slow pace, but I do feel like I could go forever like that.