Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week 8 / 10

I was in London for most of this week for a conference. It was really cold - to be honest, it is cold everywhere but, after getting used to the "dry" cold of Madrid, I find myself complaining about the cold getting into my bones, just as my (Spanish) wife used to when we lived in London.

I did my 3 lots of 20 minutes at just below my anaerobic threshold running round and round Regents park. The first two I did comfortably at over 16 kph but, by the last one, it was pitch black and very cold and I suppose it was harder to run as fast or know I was running as fast. When I got back to the hotel I noticed the red stripe - I think the last time I got "Runner's Nipple" must have been about three years ago. Maybe the cold was a contributing factor.

The next day I opted to run on the treadmill, the thought of braving the cold did not seem so appealing. Talk about going from the frying pan to the fire: it was stiflingly hot in the hotel gym and I had to lower my running speed again and again until I was only going along at 12 kph. This time I finished with new blisters on my foot - why is it always my left foot that suffers? Damn, it was a mistake to have peeled of the dead, hard skin the other day. How annoying to be having these kind of teething problems with only a couple of weeks to go until the Marathon! The only thing I could find in a pharmacy was something to soften hard skin when what I was looking for was something to harden soft skin.

On Friday I was supposed to do a medium long bike ride but I didn't think belting along on a Boris bike without a helmet would be a good idea, so I changed it for a 90 minute run. Again, I was struck by the prominence of cycling in the UK: the entire front page of The Times was dedicated to cycling safely (a reporter is still in a coma after a bike accident). After the sauna of the night before I headed out of the door and ran to Brent Cross and back, via Camden, Swiss Cottage and West Hampstead. There were patches of ice on the pavement which you had to look out for as well as the usual kids on scooters and people listening to music while texting on their Blackberries. I hadn't packed any gloves but I had the brilliant idea of wearing a pair of socks on my hands - why not?

Before leaving for the airport on Saturday I managed to squeeze in a session of 10 one kilometer runs at 17 kph at my brother's gym. It's the sort of gym where most people go to build muscles so my huffing and puffing tends to attract quite a bit of attention: it's not the first time that I've ended up talking to someone as a result.

Every time I go to London, even just for a few days, I feel bloated, as if I am piling on the pounds (kilos). It may be partly due to having my expenses paid, or just simply that it breaks my routine but I think that my body continues to crave for some missing nutrient that has been processed out of the food and I just end up feeling hungry all the time. This whole myth about eating low fat foods in order to lose fat just means that the food is less satiating when really the only thing that really matters is how many calories you take in, be they from carbs, proteins or fat. Fat gets its bad name because it provides more calories per gramme but if you feel less full after a low fat yoghurt (with added sugar) then you tend to have another one. Anyway, for this Marathon I'm not being so religious about what I eat (or drink for that matter).

It was so cold on Sunday (now back in Madrid) that I ran in leggings for the first time in over a year. We did more or less the same route as last week with more or less the same group, extending it to make up the distance to 35 km. This time, though, we ran the last third at about 10 seconds per km slower than Marathon pace (i.e., fairly fast). After what has been quite a tough week - in particular, the series the day before which had depleted my energy stores - I found it quite tough during the last few kilometers. Afterwards I was hobbling around as if I had just run a Marathon. I suppose that was exactly the point of the training but it has certainly reminded me to respect the Marathon once more, after perhaps getting too cocky with my spectacular Half Marathon result the other day.

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