Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mission accomplished

The time has come, I think, to wind this blog down. "Aw no", I hear you cry (all two of you).

Seriously though. When I started this blog, my goal was clear - to be an Ironman - and then I went from goal to goal (sometimes lamenting that my goals seem to choose me, rather than the other way round) almost without stopping for breath. In the background, though, there has always been a single goal of continuing to keep fit into my old age - perhaps better characterized as a fear of the opposite, of going back to my sofa-lounging days.

It might seem a bit like calling victory too soon when I am currently unable to run (although I am still keeping reasonably fit). What has changed is my mental attitude and I don't think it is too soon to say this. I feel like I am where I have wanted to be for years, something that I always perceived other people to have attained - why could I not be satisfied to just enjoy being active and in good shape? Why did I have to be so hard on myself? What was I trying to prove or what was I afraid of?

So. If my blog has ever been interesting, I think it will become much less so from now on. And I don't want the blog itself to become the reason why I run. I have enjoyed writing all these posts and I know that I will enjoy reading them in the future, but this seems like a good place to stop.

Thanks to all my readers and especially those that have left comments (not including the spammers) and have supported me. If it has just helped one other person undertake their own version of the journey I have been on then it will have been worth it.


Runscribe update

This isn't an update from me on the Runscribe, which I started using back in October last year, as I haven't been running - let alone running with my Runscribe - but rather an important update from the people who make it.

They have just launched a new website "Running Unraveled" which aims to use the anonymous crowdsourced data collected from all the users of Runscribes around the world. In particular, they have finally published the results of a study of those who ran the New York Marathon last year with one, in which I can count myself (I am the 3:02 data point).

The other interesting development is that they have added a couple of new metrics to the dashboard, as well as a comparison to the Runscribe community of where you stand in terms of "efficiency" and "shock". Shock is a total measure of the 3D G's you have undergone multiplied by the number of steps you have taken. Efficiency (I think) is comprised of some mix of step rate, contact time and flight ratio. This last - flight ratio - is an interesting addition which measures the ratio of the time in the air to the total time to take a step. The results from the New York Marathon appear to show a very strong correlation between (lower) race times and (higher) flight ratios, as one would expect. What is perhaps striking (if you'll forgive the pun), is how much variability there is in flight time between elites (50%), competitive runners (25%) and fun runners (10%-0%).

If I ever get back to running, it will be interesting to see how my "flight time" compares to last year. It will also be interesting to see how this metric differs between a similar paced run on the treadmill, on a track and on a trail.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Getting on my nerves

The spine doctor recommended me to do an EMG (ElectroMyoGraphy) test. I was unusually nervous (if you'll forgive the pun) beforehand, partly because I'd read something on the internet (not a good idea) that gave the impression the test itself would be horrendous, and partly because the results of this test would largely determine whether I would have to undergo surgery or not.

The test is designed to detect nerve damage and consists of inserting needle like probes into particularly sensitive parts (in my case) of the arm. In a relaxed state, the oscilloscope should show a flat line with no noise and, when the muscles are activated, it should be plain to see. By the way, it was nothing like as unpleasant as I was expecting, a doddle really.

The nurse told me that I was "como un pollo" or, that's what I thought she said, until I looked it up on the aforementioned internet. What she must have said was "estás como un toro" - I am like a bull or, in other words, there's nothing wrong with me. The doctor was slightly less enthusiastic and explained that there was very light nerve damage, but that surgery was not on the cards (yet) and there was every reason to believe that the nerves would repair themselves, with the help of a vitamin B1, B6 and B12 supplement.

Next step is to go back in three weeks' time, to see how things have been progressing. I am still pretty optimistic but it is a bit like watching paint dry or hair grow. I think the symptoms are getting better when I compare myself to a week ago, but from day to day it is a bit up and down. My home alone physio sessions are getting longer and longer as Mónica includes more and more exercises, but I believe that they are helping.

Poquito a poco...

In other news, I was going to the gym the other day to do my uninspiring workout of 40 minutes on the elliptic machine (without arms) when one of the monitors proposed for me to join in the special activities going on outside. I had the chance to see what it was like being in a wheelchair - in particular, playing basketball in a wheelchair, something I am so bad anyway at that the wheelchair didn't make much difference. It was a lot of fun, especially seeing how people who are unable to do things that I take for granted were able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures.

The guy shooting genuinely needed a wheelchair and ran circles (literally) around the rest of us