Friday, January 25, 2013

Seville Marathon Week 4/8

It had been so long since I last commuted to work on my bike that I made a wrong turn and ended up having to go the whole way to work by road (as opposed to cross country). Still, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it, even though it was dark when I went and dark when I went home. People ask me how I manage to see where I am going on those trails in the dark but my amazingly powerful lights actually help me see the dips in the terrain more clearly by night than by day.

Tuesday was farlek on the treadmill at home while watching a fairly mediocre cross between the Bourne Identity and 24 - called XIII. The idea was to alternate between 3 minutes at 13.5 kph and 2 minutes at 16 kph for a total of 70 minutes. What I liked about the workout was that running at 13.5 kph felt like jogging after running at 16 kph and 2 minutes wasn't long enough for it to feel difficult to run at 16 kph - I suppose that is exactly the point of fartlek. Something strange happened after running for about 25 minutes which was that I became extremely hungry in spite of having eaten dinner shortly before. I stopped and scoffed a few chocolates and made myself a toast which I ate with shaking hands, as if I'd just "bonked" on the bike. I can only guess that I have been skimping a bit too much on the carbohydrates. Lately I have virtually become a vegetarian (or at least, the sort that eats fish). It's certainly not for religious or for "humane" reasons (after all fish have feelings too...). It's just what I feel like eating and, I have to say, I feel less bloated and somehow cleaner and more healthy afterwards. I've also been trying to cut down on carbs as I have come to believe that they are the root of all evil (as well as the reason I don't look as fit as Jackie Chan) but I do make an exception for my breakfast of toast with olive oil and salt (which is an improvement on the pain au chocolat I used to have) and I have found it is impossible not to eat the bread that they give you in a restaurant while you are waiting for your food to arrive...

Normally I try to avoid doing two quality workouts back to back - unless we count the long run as a quality workout (as it should be), in which case I sometimes try to simulate the last kilometres of a Marathon by running on tired legs. As a result of the heart tests I did back in September, I had to do some more tests including a exertion test(?) (I only know the name in Spanish - prueba de esfuerzo) on Thursday. This meant that I had to do my threshold run of two lots of 20 minutes at 16 kph on Wednesday evening. It wasn't particularly stressful which makes me wonder whether I should up the speed a little bit in the future. At this rate I'm going to have to swap my treadmill for a new one as I am getting close to its limit!

On Thursday - apart from an hour run on such a windy day that I got a headache on the way back - the "prueba de esfuerzo" was quite light. As usual, they assumed my maximum heart rate would be that given by the Haskell formula (which, according to Wikipedia has neither a scientific nor empirical foundation and that the very same Professor Haskell finds "laughable" that it has been taken so seriously) of 220-age. By this measure, the 165 bpm we reached in the test was already 92% of my maximum but was still less than the heart rate I run a Marathon at. Also, rather than achieving this by just cranking up the speed, the incline went up to about 20% - just as well, really, because the wires were so short connecting my to the electrocardiogram that I would have had trouble running so close to the edge of the machine. No-one said anything but I can't imagine anyone else has done that test in that hospital in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers... All seemed to go well and the next day I had to wear a Holter (named after Norman Holter who invented this device which is like a portable electrocardiogram) for a full 24 hours. The sexy plastic fish net tank top I have to wear over the top of the device and the electrodes was really quite itchy and annoying. There is a company in Madrid called Nuubo that produces a much more modern and comfortable looking alternative - hopefully it will catch on because I expect I will have to repeat this test every 6 months or so. The way I see it is that it is probably advantageous to have something very slightly "wrong" with you that requires regular check-ups: that way they'll catch anything that could develop in the meantime. In that sense I count myself very lucky to have private health care through my company and an excellent health service.

Other than that, there's not much more to say about the training this week as on Sunday I have the Getafe Half Marathon which I am hoping I can use to qualify for New York (although it seems unlikely and I have even heard some rumours that, this year, the window for qualifying times will be until the 1st of January, not the 31st of January as in previous years...). Check back here on Sunday for the results...


  1. Hi, sorry for off top, but i amtrying to find some yoiur old activities: radio madrid podcasts. I am a huge fan of your work. Please help. Best regards. Bartek

    1. Haha... I tell you waht, I'll upload them to my dropbox and I'll post a link for you - give me a couple of days to get around to it. Thanks for the compliment.

    2. OK, they're up!! let me know if you have any problems. check here:

  2. thanks a lot! i will download as soon as possible!! good luck!