Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Royal City

I'm actually looking forward to spending a weekend at home for once. Having said that, i managed to relax on my Father in-laws little farm in the countryside of Ciudad Real. I took my road bike along as the thought of the soaring temperatures put me off the idea of going for a run. Instead, I set off in the direction of Puertollano and did a round trip of about 47 kilometers in an hour and a half. I did see a few other cyclists, but surprisingly I thought. As we have to go back next weekend to pick up the kids we left behind, I'll probably repeat the experience, maybe venturing a little further this time, as I have to say that I did enjoy it.

I also enjoyed very much commuting to work on the mountain bike for the first time in ages. It was a beautiful fresh morning, the rabbits were out in full view, and I arrived at work nice an early and bright as a button. On the way back, I was accompanied by Manuel and we took the long way round, via the Casa de Campo and a bar on the way.

The motivation is coming back, slowly...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happier Feet

I was going to title this post "Un-Happy Feet" or "Not so Happy Feet" but, after going to the podiatrist yesterday with the results from my MRI scan, I'm feeling more upbeat, relieved even.

There's a reason why medical reports are handed to the patients in a sealed envelope and that is because they are quite terrifying to read. Raúl, the podiatrist, seemed a lot more relaxed about it since I last saw him after reading it and seeing me. It's true that the pain from the Morton's Neuroma has almost completely subsided - I only notice a sharp pain if I happen to tread on a stone in just the right (or wrong) way, and a tiny amount of numbness in my toes when I stand barefoot - but it's also true that I have radically cut down on running volume and intensity, as well as having changed to slightly less minimal (a little more maximal?) running shoes. There is a big difference between pain that is just discomfort to pain which is actually telling you that you are damaging yourself. In this case, the discriminating factor is what Raúl had to say about it. He verdict was that I should just keep an eye on it and come back after the summer when we could evaluate how things had gone and decide whether or not to go for orthotics (not surgery ). He didn't seem too concerned about my choice of footwear (Merrell Trail Gloves) stressing only that it was important to have a wide toe box.

In fact, the worry is more about the bunion than the neuroma. The scan basically confirmed that my unfortunate accident last year (of tripping over a paving stone) was to blame for the evolution in the bunion and the calcification around the big toe joint: it was possible to see some damage to the cartilage from the frontal impact. Although it shouldn't really make any difference, being able to attribute the blame to a stupid accident made it easier for me to swallow than it being due to, say, my choice (against all advice) to run in minimalist shoes. Strictly speaking, I blame the shoes I was wearing at the time for the accident - the combination of being very flexible and having an extremely generous toe box meant that it was relatively easy to trip over in them - but it is not as though anyone warned me against the dangers of tripping over in minimalist running shoes. In fact, this incident (not to mention the "red carpet incident") is what convinced me to switch over definitively to Vibram Five Fingers, whose footprint is no bigger than that of the foot itself (and employ reassuringly artificial dyes).

So, nothing has changed except I need not be quite so cautious and worried as I have been over the last few weeks. The timing is good - if it can ever be a good time to have an injury - as summer has started and I usually do more cycling and generally reduce the intensity of my runs. But now I can run freely and, if it hurts, it is just a nuisance, not a reason to turn back.

Having said all this, what I continue to struggle with is the balance between competition and simply keeping fit. I have had no problems whatsoever to motivate myself to endure a grueling and often boring workout when it has been part of the preparation for an upcoming race, but lately I have found it difficult to even complete what I would have previously considered an easy recovery run. The problem is that I continue to measure myself by the same standards, so I insist on setting off at 15 kph, thinking that anything else "doesn't count". What doesn't count is not to do anything, and of this I am the most scared: of losing my motivation altogether and just flopping into a state of eternal sofa-dom. I find it strangely difficult to run or ride at a "reasonable" pace, just enjoying the fresh air and the scenery. It's certainly easier with company but it is also a question of attitude. Will I continue to compete? Maybe. I don't have to decide anything now. Still, I would like to be able to derive sufficient motivation from just keeping active, without feeling like I have to monitor my 10K times, my weight or my percentage body fat.

In other news, we were in Asturias again this weekend. I thought I would use the bike so I made sure to fit the bike carrier to the roof of the car, just in case. But the bike had not survived the winter: the humidity was too much for it and the gear cables had rusted up. I couldn't help comparing the gear cables grating up and down in their housing with the inflamed nerves in my feet. I brought the bike back to Madrid in the end, for a bit of R&R.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Oxford blues

This weekend I spent in Oxford, at my 21 years since graduation reunion (or "gaudy" as they insist on calling it there). I shouldn't really have been surprised to have found myself the only person not wearing black-tie (I was wearing a suit and tie, mind) but I couldn't find that naff clip on bow tie I used to use and I refused to buy a new one (and my Oxford education didn't extend so far as showing me how to tie one). I sent a photo to my kids (not reproduced here out to protect the reputations of my fellow colleagues) as I knew they would appreciate just how Harry Potter the whole thing was. It was pretty freaky staying in my old room and seeing all these familiar but strangely different faces. As you can imagine, it was a fairly alcohol fueled evening (I even smoked a cigarette!) that went on late by my recent standards. To really emulate a weekend of my youth, I had arranged for a friend to pick me up at 7 am, slightly hungover and only 4 hours sleep the better, to take me down to the river for an "outing" (in a rowing boat).

I don't think I have seen Mike since he kindly brought my records from Oxford to my parents' house in Cambridge, where I was recovering from glandular fever, almost exactly 22 years ago to the day. I had been rowing in a boat with him the day I discovered I was ill - it was the day after the intercollegiate Summer Eights rowing race, and we were training for Henley in a City of Oxford crew (Henley Royal Regatta is taking place as I write). I felt so weak that I couldn't even row "light pressure" and the others had to row me back to the boathouse. Mike was also in the crew I had rowed in the previous year, which I had joined just after having been dropped from the Oxford University squad.

Just as well I had a lot less records in those days
I may not have found my clip on bow-tie, but I was able to find my old City of Oxford lycra one-piece as well as some OUBC (Oxford University Boat Club) attire, complete with the then ubiquitous Beefeater Gin sponsorship. We drove down to Wallingford, to the very same stretch of water I had splashed incessantly up and down with the university squad all those years ago, but had not been back to since. We were very lucky to have a window of beautiful weather which only just lasted longer than the outing itself. We were quite a motley crew: Mike had assembled a couple of other friends - one of whom was an "ex-blue" (that is to say, had rowed in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race) and past Henley champion, in incredible shape considering that he was 70(!) years old. I assumed the "stroke" position (the one at the front, setting the rhythm), while Mike steered - if he remembered to - using a rudder which was attached to his foot via cables. I was pleased to see that not much had changed since I had last been in a boat (I think I have rowed about 3 times in the last 20 years). We used the "hatchet blades" which have an asymmetric spoon and were introduced around the time I was rowing seriously. In fact, on the last day of that Summer Eights competition in 1992, we switched to them for the first time in a desperate attempt to get our "blades" (oars awarded to those who finish first or "Head of the River"). Otherwise, it was just like riding a bike: I didn't have to think about what I was doing (although the others were probably just being polite in not criticizing my technique).

One thing that I had forgotten as it was the sort of thing that only "novices" suffered from, was that you tend to get terrible blisters - more precisely, open wounds - from the wooden handles of the oar, and the twisting motion ("feathering"). It's actually pretty disgusting to think of all that human blood and sweat which has soaked into the handle and starts to seep out in a kind of greasy gunk as you row.

A picture of my hand: makes a change from pictures of my feet
Apart from the soreness of my hands which only became an issue towards the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the amusing running commentary from Mike a couple of seats behind me. We did a round trip of about 14 kilometers and we weren't too shabby. I mean, I wouldn't describe ourselves as spritely, but the boat was stable enough (presumably because the experienced guys behind me were able to compensate for me) to be able to row without worrying about "catching a crab" (when your oar suddenly gets stuck in the water, with the possible consequence of the handle jumping up and hitting you in the chest). I have to admit that it was tiring, though and I didn't feel as though I could wimp out. I'd forgotten what it was like to have that pressure of not letting your fellow crew members down: a crew is more than just a team - if you stop, you get whacked in the back by the oar of the guy behind you. Since I fell off my bike and tore the ligaments in my shoulder, I have had surprisingly little trouble (so far) - I was able to complete an Ironman soon after - but my shoulder did feel worse for wear the next few days.

After the outing, we had a shower in the boat club and had some breakfast in a local cafe. I felt slightly jealous of Mike living in a quaint village, where he seemed to know everyone we passed, all of whom seemed to be rowers. I made a resolution to get back into cycling in a group when I got back to Madrid. When I am preparing for a specific competition I like to train on my own and I tend to be very focused end self-motivated, but these days I am suffering from a bit of a lack of direction and motivation, especially with the problems I am having with my foot. I got the MRI scan back today, and the conclusion is indeed that I have a Morton's Neuroma (if not two of them in the same foot). I'm seeing the podiatrist next week so I await slightly nervously the prognosis and recommended course of action. In the meantime, I have been cycling a lot more and running a lot less; also, finally, my feet have recovered from my rather unwise sockless run some weeks ago, so I can again run in my slightly more than minimalist Merrill Trail Gloves.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Miami vices

In an almost repeat of last year, I ran as a pacesetter in the Proniño race before jumping on a plane to America, only this time I left a few days in between, rather than a few hours. I was again holding the sub 40' balloon (the first of which, as last year, came un-tethered and floated skyward!). This year, however, I didn't manage to nail the pace quite as well. In fact, if I had been following me trying to break 40 minutes for the first time, I would have been quite upset with me. My fellow pace setter decided against my advice to follow his Garmin watch which, as is customary, cheerfully beeped about 10 seconds before we reached the kilometer markers. On the other hand, I remembered from last year that the markers weren't reliably placed either, so I thought I would go by feel. By halfway I was bang on time, while Antonio was a few seconds ahead of me (in spite of Garmin's optimism). I tend to struggle more going up hills than most but I also tend to fly down them a lot faster. This meant that those following me were tricked into a sluggish pace going up a hill just after the halfway mark, only to be dropped as I went careering off. I found myself running completely alone for the last few kilometers which, for a pacesetter, I think can be classified as a fail. As I caught up with Antonio just after the 9 kilometer mark, he reckoned we were ahead of pace, but I remembered that the 9 kilometer marker was badly placed from last year so I said that I thought we needed to make up time. We soon realized that we were running behind time and so we started to sprint for the line alongside the first female finisher. So as not to spoil her victory, we dropped back and to the side before she broke the tape. In the end we were about 20 seconds slow but there was no-one around to complain and those who had a chance of breaking 40 minutes had done so by staying ahead of us so they didn't care.

This year, my conference was in Miami and my flight left on Tuesday afternoon. To be honest I really didn't feel like going because my youngest son was actually in hospital with a tummy ache that has refused to go away. I hope its nothing serious, but he has been in and out of hospital for the last two weeks and they still haven't come up with an explanation. I'm guessing that its related to the food intolerance he suffered from a few years ago when we put him on a 5 food exclusion diet and then gradually reintroduced gluten, soy, egg, milk and fish, one by one.

I had been desperately trying to pass level 305 in Candy Crush because, as it was the last of an "episode", if I succeeded on the plane, I would have to wait at least until I landed before being able to unlock the next levels. I needn't have worried: not only did I not manage to pass the level on the plane, neither did I during my whole stay nor the flight back, for that matter. (Rest assured, I have since managed though.)

By the time I arrived at my hotel, it was dark and it had started to rain - hopefully that would release some of the pent up humidity in the air. With the time difference, I woke up at around 4 am and watched the finale of the Fargo series while waiting for the sun to rise. As soon as it was light enough, I headed out of the door for a run around the area. My feet were still sore from the sockless run I did wearing my Merrill Trail Gloves ten days before, so I ran (against the podiatrist's better wishes) in my trusty Vibram Five Fingers. I took my GoPro (which solicited a few comments such as "Why does he need a camera for running?") and shot the following video:

At around the 4 minute mark, you see me overtake a girl: after half an hour, I stopped for a rest and she caught me up and turned back at the same point as I did. With the humidity and a quick stop to pee, sip some water and dunk my head in a cold shower, we kept on overtaking each other to the point I was worried she would think I was stalking her. I'm going to have to get used to this weather when we go to Malaysia for our summer holidays. Just as I rarely need to drink any more, I'm convinced there is a large psychological component to my lacklustre performances in hot and humid conditions. Along the route you can see some impressive cars and equally impressive triathlon bikes: not only does Miami host a 70.3 Ironman event, but people have plenty of cash to splash out.

I was surprised that for a relatively pedestrian unfriendly city (without a car, you are nobody) bikes were quite welcome. I was recommended a bike (I should say bicycle) hire shop near the hotel where, looking through the window, I could see I would be able to hire a road bike. Unfortunately, in the same window was a sign saying that it was "currently closed under new ownership". So I walked / ran to Little Havana hoping to see something with a bit of character.

Just as things started to get interesting, I happened upon this bike shop.

I asked if I could rent a bike and was told that, for $30, I could rent one for the day. I said I only needed it for a few hours so he said $25, which I said wasn't much less than $30, so he said, OK, $20 and I said the bike looked a little small for me so we agreed on $15. Then he said he'd need to hang on to my credit card as a guarantee and I said I couldn't really leave it, so he said he'd swipe it for a deposit of $100 which he'd either credit me back or give me back in cash, but it turned out that he didn't have credit card swiping facilities so he just said "you're a tourist, I trust you". The bike he picked out for me turned out to have a D-lock on it for which they didn't have the keys... It proved resistant to the drill...

...but not to the circular saw. I set off on a 32 km ride, taking in Coconut Grove and Crandon Park on Key Biscayne - basically, the continuation of the run I did on the first day.

The bike was very cool but, being a single speed a bit on the heavy side, it was quite a lot of work to get over the bridge of Ridgebaker Causeway.

Complete with shiny new D-lock
There was a point along the route at which the bike path departed from the main road and ducked into a forest. From this point on I didn't see a single soul, which was quite a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city I was leaving behind. It was also much cooler under the canopy of the trees. As if to underline the contrast, a couple of Iguanas about half a meter in length ran out in front of me, followed by a raccoon, some squirrels and the like.

Eventually I came to a beach which was all but deserted. It certainly wasn't the kind of beach I was expecting to find in Miami. I went for a quick swim but was surprised to find that the water was about as warm as I would run a bath.

At this point it started to rain so I headed back to the bike shop. After all the haggling over price, Tony was very relaxed about how long I was out for. When I returned the bike he handed me his business card - handy if I should ever need any plumbing done in the Miami area.

I'm sure Miami must be a lot of fun if either (a) you have a car, (b) you go with friends, (c) you are single or (d) all of the above apply. As I didn't fit into any of these categories, I found it quite a dull city right up to the point I hired the bike.

I had thought that it was a shame to be in America when the World Fooball of the Non-American Kind Cup was going on but with so many latinos around, the atmosphere was electric. You could hear the roars coming from bars at slightly different times, depending on the lag of their network. But, while I was in Miami, not only was Spain knocked out, but so was England, literally in the minute before I was called to my flight back. I'm not sure who to support now: probably Brazil and definitely not Portugal. Maybe Holland winning would somehow vindicate the Spanish being knocked out so convincingly.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Morton's Neuroma, Hallux Valgus / Limitus and Vibram Five Fingers

Finally, I decided to face the music and go and see a podiatrist. I approached this with about as much trepidation as I would a visit to the dentist. As readers of this blog will know, I have been suffering from intermittent sharp pains and numbness in the tips of my toes, particularly when running at moderate speeds. It can't be a coincidence that this has cropped up in the same foot that has a bunion (or hallux valgus if you want to sound fancy) and that suffered a stress fracture in the 3rd metatarsal 5 years ago. As I haven't had any kind of running-related injury since then - and I have been running in "extreme" minimalist shoes (Vibram Five Fingers or Soft Star RunAmocs) exclusively for the last 3 years - I thought that I could safely delete the word "pronation" from my vocabulary, safe in the knowledge that I had managed to strengthen my bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles sufficiently to compensate any imbalance. But, in truth, fear of the word "pronation" and of being told to stop running in minimalist shoes was behind my dread of the podiatrist.

One thing that I cannot deny is that the bunion has not got any better. In fact, it looks like it has probably got worse. I had hoped that strengthening my feet by running in Vibrams might help my toes realign. It certainly didn't help the unfortunate little accident I had last year in which I tripped over a paving stone, painfully jarring my right big toe (I don't count this as a running related injury!). Amazingly, I was able to continue my training with little interruption and go on to get a personal best time in the Seville Marathon. The podiatrist explained that the accident may well have made things worse, but my right foot tended to over-pronate and this can cause the base of the big toe to separate from the rest: I'd always thought that it was more about the top of the big toe touching or overlapping with the others. This over-pronation could also be the cause of my pain and what looks to be a Morton's Neuroma. At one point the podiatrist pressed my foot in a particular way making me shout an expletive (in English) and break into a sweat. Now I really dread going to see the podiatrist! I think I must have shocked him because he kept on apologizing...

A Morton's Neuroma is an inflammation of the nerves that run between the 3rd and 4th toes or - less common but my case - between the 2nd and 3rd toes. Scar tissue starts to build up around the nerve, exacerbating the compression, and it can become so chronic that the nerve may even have to be removed in some extreme cases. By a strange coincidence, my Mum has also been diagnosed with a Morton's Neuroma and is due for an operation to remove some of the scar tissue. The inflammation in my case could be due to excessive pronation (that word again!) leading to the metatarsal bones rubbing against each other and irritating the nerve, or from increased load bearing in that part of my foot, perhaps due to changed bio-mechanics stemming from the bunion.

There are of course many worse things that can happen to you, but this is a bit of a double-whammy for me. On the one hand, this appears to go against my belief in minimalist shoes. The podiatrist was very intelligent and, rather than telling me what to do, he put all the facts on the table and left me to come to the conclusion that perhaps a 42 year old man with a (slightly) deformed foot should run in more supportive shoes and perhaps cut down a bit on the intensity. But I also have to ask myself if now is the time to accept that I can't expect to keep on beating my best times and that I should relax a little and run more for enjoyment than competition: as I said when I left the podiatrist "me estoy haciendo viejo" - I'm getting old.  He is sensibly reserving judgement until we have the results of the MRI, when he will be able to confirm the diagnosis as well as see how the bunion has evolved since the last scan from 5 years ago. One curious thing, though, was that it turns out that I have sesamoids under all my toes, not just the big toes - apparently this is very rare. I was surprised that even my wife spotted this immediately on the scans I showed her.

Anyway, what better way to cheer myself up than to buy some new running shoes? I initially tried running in the shoes I used for the Ironman - some Pumas which are relatively stiff and padded - but they felt too narrow and I'm not sure that they provide any useful support. So I ran down to the 5dedos.es shop in Madrid to try on some Merrell Trail Gloves with my youngest son in tow (for whom I bought some cute toe socks to go with his Vibrams). I like the very wide toe box but I could hear the podiatrist saying that they were too flexible and I needed something with more support. I figured that if it comes to having to use orthotics again, I can at least put them in these shoes as they resemble a conventional running shoe. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. It may be the anti-inflammatory pills I have been taking or it may be that the shoes were better padded and allowed the impact to spread over a wider area, but I didn't experience any pain or numbness in my toes. I did, however, do something fairly stupid. As they were called Gloves and felt so comfortable, I decided to run without socks. What was I thinking? After a few kilometers I felt hot spots on the tops of my feet and, looking down, I could see the crimson patches spreading. By the time I got home it looked as though I had stigmata.

Monday, June 2, 2014

VII Carrera Liberty Seguros

I expect this will become the most commented post on my blog as well as one of the most visited, as the spammers seem to pick up on the word "seguros" (insurance) as a good reason to offer unsolicited, unwanted and irrelevant promotions for insurance and other financial products. Oops, I just said "financial products" so that will probably attract even more of the pointless bastards.

After the slightly disappointing taste in my mouth from the Bupa London 10,000, I decided to enter another 10K this weekend, one that I had done a couple of times before (in fact, I ran the very first edition 7 years  ago). As I say, it's worth the entry price just to have the widest roads in the center of town all to yourself (and the other 6,000 runners in this case).

This time I'm not going to go into all the gory details of the race itself, because that wasn't the important thing. The headline is that I ran exactly the same time as I did in London, down to the second: 36:51 - but this course is somewhat more difficult with a steep hill just when your legs are feeling it most. It was also 16 seconds slower than my time over the same course last year (although it was slightly hotter). Anyway, the point is, who cares? I put in my best effort, I felt good about making the most of a sunny Sunday morning and I got to see a few of my friends in the bargain, including Jacobo who went with me on the training camp in Morocco and I was surprised took up to the 8th kilometer to overtake me! There was one small incident of note during the race: I overtook Martín Fiz (ex-World Champion Marathoner). This in itself was no big deal as he was clearly accompanying someone else; no, the point was that I must have cut a little too sharply in front of him because he gave me a little push that was nearly friendly than aggressive in nature, so I apologized.

What made it more special this time was that I had signed up my youngest son, Adrian (9), for a 250m race. What I found especially gratifying - more than his finishing position - was how he took the whole thing with just the right amount of seriousness and determination: not too much and not too little. I think he also found it quite exciting and was very proud of his t-shirt and medal (which only cost €1, by the way!). He's quite keen to do another race, so we will probably take part in the Proniño race in two weeks' time - I will be running as a pacer with the 40' balloon, as I did last year. (Last year I went directly to Boston after the race; this year I am going to Miami, but not immediately after the race this time!).

I've also come up with a rather convoluted theory as to why my foot has recently started to give me problems when I haven't changed my training or my shoes. I have, however, been following the exercises to strengthen and hopefully align my hips, as part of the Functional Movement System. I can certainly attest to the fact that it has helped prevent the build up of lower back pain that was limiting my training for the Half Marathon I did back in March and I might even go so far as to say my posture is beginning to improve. The theory I have is that, as I correct my hips, my back becomes less curved, my head doesn't jut out so far forward and my feet will land more directly under my center of gravity when I am running. All this is good, of course, but this also means I will land less on the outsides of my feet, putting more pressure under the big toe. Perhaps a combination of the damn bunion and the relatively sudden increase of impact forces there have contributed to some nerve damage. I was able to avoid pain during the race by consciously landing on the outsides of my feet but I'm not sure that this is a particularly good idea in the long run (in both senses of the words): it might mean that I am doing something weird like dropping my hip in order to achieve this, that might lead to some related injury, or that I am fighting against the very thing I am trying to correct. A visit to the foot doctor and another FMS session should help clear things up.

This seems like a reasonably positive note on which to close another chapter in my blog (unlike the previous post!), and to make a Blog2Print book out posts over the last year, including my experience in the New York Marathon. Now to enjoy the series of local road races in and around Madrid, before the heat of the summer fully kicks in.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I admit it, I'm pissed off

I know I shouldn't be and I'm trying ever so hard to (a) not take running / triathlon too seriously and (b) not obsess over improving (times, distances or challenge). But I have to admit, I am pissed off that I not only didn't get a time close to one I was hoping for on Sunday, but that I actually don't know why I didn't. I mean, really, who cares? There are so many more important things to worry about without even going outside my immediate worries (of work and family). Nevertheless, I have been feeling quite demotivated and anti-climatic after months of preparing for a couple of races, to now not have a clear goal until November, when I run the 20K Behobia - San Sebastian race.

Maybe denying my anger is almost as bad as fueling it: perhaps this post can act as a catharsis of sorts. I have been saying that my recent training regime was an experiment to see whether simply increasing the intensity would help me go faster but - if it was an experiment - surely I have to be prepared for it not to have worked?

Today I thought I would see how well I fared at the test I sometimes set myself, of 20 laps (7 km) around the football field keeping my heart rate below 172 bpm. It was a bit windy and the temperature was up in the 20s so I didn't expect it to be my best result ever - and it wasn't helped by me mysteriously losing my access card on the way, which put me in an even darker mood. I'm starting to see a pattern: the first lap was way too fast and my heart rate shot up very quickly (normally it takes about 8 laps to get up to the target of 172 bpm). I found myself having to slow down and down until it got silly - in fact, I didn't bother finishing the test. This isn't so far different from what has happened in the last two races I have done this year: I have started off very fast and faded.

So, I think that I need to do longer (slightly slower) runs more often to improve my endurance and get a better feel for what my race pace should be. There's probably some wisdom in the traditional school of training in macro cycles targeting different aspects such as strength, endurance and speed, as well as the common practice of polarized training whereby the easy runs are easy.

Having said that, I found that my heart rate is much lower (i.e., 10 bpm) than it used to be running at what I used to consider to be my easy pace: 13.5 kph (4:27 /km) and at 15 kph it my heart rate was closer to what it used to be at 13.5 kph. On the other hand, I know from experience that 15 kph is more like my Marathon pace and there is no way that I would run a Marathon at such a low heart rate. In other words, running on a treadmill with a fan is a different (but not necessarily better or worse) workout than running outside. Perhaps it is also time to go back to training to heart rate.

By the way, I finally got my NordicTrack T20.0 treadmill to read my heart rate from the supplied Polar strap. The repair man had to change the console (by instruction!) even though it was probably not necessary. He told me that other electric devices could cause interference. He also told me that the interference could be coming from the neighbours happening to wear a heart rate band at the same time - come on! But he was right about the first point: it turns out that if the fan of the treadmill itself is running, then the displayed heart rate is all over the place! It's actually quite handy having the treadmill read my heart rate as it is automatically uploaded to the iFit website every time I do a workout on it.

Well, having said all this, I am doing another 10K race this Sunday! I'm going to try to take it differently (as well as not going off too fast!). I remember last year enjoying doing a number of local races, let's see if I can't do the same this year.