Monday, November 25, 2013

Aranjuez 10K Week 2 / 6

Monday: 6 x 1,600m @ 3:25
Tuesday: -
Wednesday: 22 x (30" @ 3:00, 30" @ 6:00)
Thursday: 20' @ 4:00, 10' @ 4:27, 20' @ 4:00
Friday: 6 x (400m @ 3:09 + 200m jog, 200m @ 2:51 + 100m jog) + 400m @ 3:09
Saturday: 40' @ 4:00 (morning) + plyometrics, 40' @ 4:00 (afternoon)
Sunday: 40' @ 4:00 (morning), 40' @ 4:00 (afternoon)
Total kilometers: 73

As a part of my participation in the Santander Por Tu Coraz√≥n study, I decided to undergo a test on Wednesday which consisted of a combined PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. I had to take Tuesday off from training and fast for four hours (not even liquids) before the test. The MRI is used to get an accurate map of my atheroschlerotic plaques (the fatty deposits in the arteries) and lesions while the PET image is superimposed on this in order to measure any metabolic activity (i.e., are they growing). While I've been told that my case is very low risk, the study precisely wants to focus on heathly people with plaques because the norm is that people are only aware that they have them as part of a post-cardiac arrest / stroke autopsy by which time it is clearly to late. Any excuse for a free cutting edge test and an afternoon off work, only it was harder than I thought it would be to endure...

The first step involved being injected with a radioactive tracer which, in this case, was a sugar designed to highlight metabolic activity. I had to keep completely still for half an hour so I just dozed off. The test itself required me satying in the same position (other than a brief break halfway to stretch my legs) for the best part of 2 and a half hours while I was wheeled in an out of one donut shaped machine, spun around, and wheeled in and out of another donut shaped machine. The PET scan was fairly inobtrusive but the MRI made one hell of a racket (no more siesta I'm afraid) and at times I was sure I could even feel my internal organs vibrating in sympathy. The MRi was synched to my heart beat so that the images would be taken at exactly the same moment as the blood was flowing through my arteries. Of course, having a loud noise beating in time with your heart tends to increase your heart rate (think of house music in a night club) but, in spite of this, my heart rate was around 40 bpm which, I was told, made the test harder for the technicians to conduct. The hardest part was the last section, with my head secured in a Hannibal Lecteresque face mask, when I was told that I should try to avoid swallowing. It's a bit like being told not to scratch your nose - there's no better way to make you desperate to do exactly the opposite. When it was all finally over, I was told to keep away from small children and pregnant women because I was still radioactive. I went to the gym afterwards to do my vVO2Max session of 22 x 30" at 20 kph and so I probably looked like Dynamo from the Running Man film, as I gave off radioactive sweat.

For my quality session on Friday, I thought I would try a little experiment. I'd read that sodium bicarbonate can help performance for relatively short and intense efforts. I've only needed to drink two times during a training session in the whole year (including my 35 km long runs) - this was the second time! I'd forgotten that sodium bicarbonate was similar to table salt. Apart from this, this session felt so much easier than the same one I did last week, outside in the cold Moscow air. I suppose it is cheating slightly not having to deliver the pace but rather just avoid being thrown off the back of the belt but it was mainly due I think to the pace being much more even.

On Saturday morning I took the kids to the swimming pool. I was able to do my run on treadmill in the gym while watching them swim! The gym actually had a plyometric box which was perfect for my jumping exercises. I wasn't able to find one in the local shops but a search on the internet revealed that they are quite expensive, so I may try to build my own one when I get a chance. I did find one plyometric box that caught my attention because it included padding to soften the imapct. Surely the whole point about plyometrics is to activate the Stretch Shortening Cycle and any padding is just going to interfere. It seems akin to running on a treadmill while using your arms to lighten the load on your legs (I find it bizarre that some people walk on the treadmill with a steep incline while holding on to the bars).

Sunday was going to be my rest day but I felt pretty good so I ended up doing another two 10 km runs at Marathon Pace, taking my weekend total to a fairly respectable 40 kilometers. It's in no small part due to being hooked on "Game of Thrones" that I have been on the treadmill so much lately. I'll see how I feel on Monday as to whether I take a day off or launch straight into my quality session of a split 10K at race pace.

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