Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Instruments of torture

Sunday's race left painful wounds... first a bruised hand and left hip from the fall..., second... a very painful and tight hamstring, third... a fatal blow to my morale...

After taking 2 days off from running to regain motivation and nurse all the physical and mental wounds, this morning I run 17km... It is amazing how my aerobic condition is good: I was running at 4'00"/pace with HR in recovery zone.
Also amazing is how I could still finish the race in 34'15" while crawling on 1 leg for 3km...and I was not at all tired.

Anyway now the only remedy is to work on releasing the hamstring as much as I can before the marathon, avoid racing flats and avoid running "too fast". It seems there is a kind of barrier for which I can not run faster than 3'35"/km without problems.

I want to thank everybody for all the suggestion about different treatments (foam roller, trigger points, etc...).
My arsenal for self-inflicted torture is well equipped:

TOP: foam roller 6"... very good for general muscle release
BOTTOM: massage works well on some hard spots but I will rate him below the foam roller
RIGHT: tennis ball... very useful to take care of any small sign of Plantar fascitis and also to work on some trigger point release technique, but I found that tennis ball is slightly too small to work on some bigger muscles.
so.. here the final weapon:
LEFT: Softball Ball (Mizuno)... works amazingly well for hamstring and quadriceps. It is big enough that you can sit on the floor with the ball under the hamstring and let the pressure of the leg do the job.
It can really dig deep inside large muscles...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Italia R.C. Sweep - Stefano P. back to victory

related to yesterday's race is that Stefano P comes back to victory after many months of physical troubles, etc.
He beats in a tight race our teammate Curtis, who comes home with a hughe PB of 32'55" (not bad for a Master...!!.).
My 7th place rounded the team score and we went home with a victory in the team competition

face down...

A week which went from bad to worse...

Probably the way to portrait the week is that less than 1 second after this photo had been taken, I tripped into the chip mat of the finish line (red/blue plastic band) and ended the race face on the asphalt...

The bad started on Monday when I felt the left pain more painful than usual. So I backed off with the Km and run only 20K in total in 3 days.
The rest and a good dose of painkillers did the job and felt the foot coming along slowly.
Thursday was not too bad, with a kind of interval session on dirt road 5x3' at around 3'18"/km pace.
Friday I felt ok and run easy with a progression of 5k @MP effort at 3'40" pace which felt very confortable.
Saturday I run short of time because of the kids and did only 8km run easy.
Anyway, the forced rest boded well for a good performance on Sunday's 10K race, my last tune-up before the marathon.
During the race, I was more than happy to see my team mates S. and C. taking an early lead and I was happy to stay in the 2nd pack, ready to strike for a 3rd place and total sweep by our team
I did not warm-up properly, so I felt a bit tied up, but as the race progressed I felt more and more in control... until 7K... when my right hamstring cramped.
Running fast is really a nightmare for my right leg and yesterday I paid the price in full...
I tried to kept on running properly, but it was painful and I had to back-off a little and let the others go.
Strangely enough, nobody get close and anyway I was still running 3'30"/k with one leg only, so I crawled to the finish line in 34'15" for 7th place...
I could not lift my right leg anymore and it tripped into the D-tag chip mat... with me "flying" through the finish line. It was so silly and embarrassing...

Now I really do not know if I can even think to start a marathon... my right leg goes into spasm whenever I push the pace.
The root cause is probably down in the ankles and calves... in a sense, the body tries to protect the old injured achilles and avoid too much load on the achilles, limiting the dorsiflexion of the foot. but then all the load goes into the hamstring.
Now I really feel down. My body is organically more than ready for running a marathon in 2h35'-36', but my right leg can let me down in any moment....

I have 3 weeks for trying to put the things in the right direction, but it was really a big blow.

Total weekly: 70km...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 11 - my first "combo weekend"

My original weekly plan was to place a double workout "a la Canova" on Wednesday, something like 20K+20K with a lot of Marathon pace...

Then, since I needed to nurse my left foot, I preferred to stick to easy runs on soft surface.
The foot kept improving, so I was left wondering how to set-up a good long run on the week-end, since I am now 4 weeks out from the marathon, so it was supposed to be one of the hardest workouts.

Luckily I got inspiration from Thomas and his "combo weekend" . It seemed to me a very tough workout, but if he could do it, why not me....

But I seriously complicated the matters by:
a) I forgot the right pair of orthotics in Dongguan... so I had to fit into my Asics Kayano size 265 a pair of orthotics which were done for a 270-275 shoe...
b) for a data obsessed runner, this was a serious mistake: I also forgot the Polar back in Dongguan, while I carried the Garmin back to HK, but without HR belt and charger cable...
So I was left with many Polar HR belts and footpot and a discharged Garmin...
The only way out was to run "old style", with just a stopwatch...


Tuesday to Friday: easy runs in the forest. Foot going better, running on soft is totally another story. Around 15-17km every day

Saturday: "tempo run" to get toasted for sunday's long run. W/u 5k, then I clocked 10k in 35'25". Not bad since I was wearing Kayano trainers and it was raining.
The only problem was that the orthotics were way too large for that model of shoes and they start rubbing my big toes and I ended up with a huge blister..
total 17km, felt not too tired.. and not ice baths or other recovery techniques, but spent the whole day on D-I-Y.

Sunday: felt very apprehensive before the start because it was my first experiment of this kind of training approach... my legs were tired but not aching. I switched into marathon shoes to avoid blister, but I could know foresee how the forefoot could react.
I did not have any reference for my HR, so I run 1h10' at sensation checking the splits on some milestone...
after those 15k-16km it was time to go into serious business and I was really scared of what could have happened...
well... 3'40"-3'40"-3'45" and I felt a bit already in pain...then, the incredible happened: after 5k of struggle, I started to feel better and better and my splits went down to 3'35". I was not even suffering too much, more or less like when you are around Km25 of a marathon, where there is not yet extreme sufference, but a lot of concentration is needed to keep the pace. I ended up with a couple of 3'35" even with 2 underpasses on the way and incredibly I saw also the "finish line" (well... yes, I used the markings of a race to check the split).
Total: 32km with 15k in 54'48" (which is an excellent 3'39"/k pace !!).
This workout gives a projection of a marathon time of 2h34'10"...maybe too good to be true, but now I am totally confident that I could do a good race in 4 weeks time.
Now the problem is how to fill these 4 weeks without screwing up ...

Total weekly: 108km

Thursday, March 17, 2011

our club/il nostro club: ITALIA Running Club (Hong Kong)

(versione italiana sotto..)

today is the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
Despite being a country in decline and despite some political parties play a game of putting one half of the country against the other half (on more mundane affairs, also our Marathoning is not even near what it was 10-20 years ago). After so many years abroad, I also personally find difficult to tackle the chronic inefficiencies and poor organization so common back int he country...

Anyway, despite all, our "soul" (culture, lifestyle, art, cuisine, etc) is very well alive and more and more spreading around the world.

So end of last year, together with a group of fellow countryman, we set-up a running club to carry around the "azzurro" (royal blue) of our national color.
The "Italia Running Club (Hong Kong)" was an instant hit and I am proud to see that also runners of other nationalities were happy to join us.
In these few months we achieved many victories and podium positions and the club is poised for further expansion in the next season.
You could see than in the past few races I wore our uniform which was generously sponsored by some italian (and not only italian) companies.
So, this is our small way as Italians overseas to keep the flag high and promote the italian culture.

Many thanks for this project to:
Unigasket: a italian company, manufacturer of industrial gaskets and rubber products
JAS Logistics: the largest freight-forwarder in Italy
Australian Nutrition and Sport: their sports nutrition products are really good !

Follow us on our website or on Facebook (page: Italia Running Club)

oggi, in occasione dell'anniversario dell'Unificazione, sono orgogioso di annunciare una nostra iniziativa per unire la nostra passione per la corsa e l'onore di rappresentare l'Italia nel mondo.

Il nostro paese sara' pure in declino ed in mezzo ad un casino abissale, ma noi italiani all'estero siamo orgogliosi della nostra identita' e della nostra cultura.
Quindi, qualche mese orsono, insieme ad altri connazionali, abbiamo lanciato il "ITALIA Running Club - Hong Kong".
Abbiamo una bellissima divisa, con i colori nazionali e devo ringraziare le societa' che ci hanno supportato.
In poco tempo, il club ha avuto subito un grosso successo e anche molti non italiani si sono uniti a noi partecipando alle gare con i colori del nostro club.
Per la prossima stagione abbiamo la volonta' di allargarci ancora un po' e di promuovere l'italianita' nel paese che ci ospita.
In questi mesi ci sono stati gia' numerose vittorie e piazzamenti nelle gare locali e sono orgoglioso di vestire la scritta "Italia" sulla maglia.

Seguiteci sul nostro sito oppure sulla pagina Facebook "Italia Running Club"


Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 9

I topped 130km for the week... which is near my lifetime high (I found out that one week of 2008 I run 148km, but basically I then broke down and got achilles...).
I do not feel too tired, but bones/feet and joints are anyway complaining, so I need to take few days easier and shorter run to avoid a breakdown...

Mon: 14km easy @148bpm

Tue: 15km easy in Dongguan @145bpm. It was raining and rather cool

Wed: very big day in Dapingzhen Forest Park... 37km @4'08"/k pace with 600m of climb. I maybe overdid the workout a bit.
The main issue was that most of the course was on concrete roads, so I felt pretty beaten up in feet/knees/bones... etc

Thu: 10k very easy on treadmill. I got up with a pain on my left foot near the "thumb"... I used Kayano even for the treadmill

Fri: 12km easy. Foot was still sore. Also I felt still beaten up from the long run

Sat: 14km. I was planning for a "real" workout, but muscles were still sore and the foot was not better... So I just run easy

Sun: 26km with 16km @ MP target pace. I felt good but the foot was not ok. Anyway after 4km warm-up, I started the long tempo keeping a consistent 3'40" pace.
The main issue was that after 10k the hamstring begun to seize and also the foot was aching also because I was wearing lighweight trainers. I had to mentally pay a lot of attention to relax my stride and avoid "pulling" with the hamstring and keep the pace going.
Overall I clocked 16k in 59' @3'42" but I do not come out from this workout feeling very satisfied.
The hamstring lasted only 10k and at the end the foot was very painful.
Later I went to the park with my kids, we spent all day outside and at the end I was really in pain...

Looking ahead, now I need to find a solution to the problem in the foot and the hamstring.
For the foot: I will use only very cushioned trainers and try to run on soft surfaces (which in HK means only training in a sports ground...).
For the hamstring.... the problem is clear (tight calves, weak glutes, too much work for the hamstring...) but the solution might take months...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Useful gadget: pulse oximeter

I have always wondered how the people could take their rest HR in the morning and then judge their form, recovery and so on..
If me...after switching on the light, get a stopwatch, make measurement, rate would have been over the roof (also I do not see my wife really appreciative of lights on at 5am..).
So once I saw on (interesting blog) a finger pulse checker used at the purpose..yes, it was really a right idea.
Not difficult to find one in China, since I found one manufacturer with offices in the surroundings...
With a modest cost, I got the one displayed wrapped around my finger.
Very useful, I eventually found that my morning H.R. is 43bpm (!!).
No idea what the other data (O2 saturation ??)is used for (if any real use..).
It is a pity that there is not a model with interface to SportTracks3...(I ask too much..).

After the check, I went for a 37km long run before work !
Very hilly course in DaPingZhen park, at the end I was really tired in my bones more than in the muscles because unfortunately the road is all concrete.
Anyway is a superb course which I really recommend to any serious runner in Dongguan.
No cars, no noise, just road and hills.
The course is so hilly that my km splits fluctuated wildly between 3'20" and 6'00"/k with no km same as the previous one...
At my average pace of 4'08"/km I could have added another 20minutes and finish a marathon in around 2:53'...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wk 9 - solid

This post might be short... as I am posting by email.

A very solid week with 2 workouts

Tuesday: I hit again the HKSI for the workout with the "HK National
I felt very confortable to hit the split given by the coach.
The workout itself was not necesseraly according to my usual training
philosophy but sometimes is good to try something different.
I ended up running intervals at 3'10" pace, with a final 400m in 66"
(which should be probably my PB....).
My right leg was suffering the high speed and always running in turns,
so by the end of the workout my abductors were really tired (almost
My right hamstring, abductors and groin muscles are all too tight and
quite limiting my stride.
Working on stretching and muscle release is basically the real #1 target
ahead of the next marathon

Saturday: a good 29Km workout with a HoKi. Long warm-up, then 3x4km at
Marathon Pace effort... I do not know, but I felt extremely good and
easy. I was keeping 3'40" average on all 3 intervals. I do not think
that it is entirely sustainable for 42km, but maybe not too far...

All in between, may easy runs.. Some of them maybe not as easy as needed
Total 109km in 7 runs

From now until the marathon, I will stick to 2 big-workouts weekly: long
tempo run and a long run with mixed pace.
Doing only 2 workouts, I can focus on long and hard workouts more
focused on marathon pace, while having a good 2 days easy runs in