June 2008

Music Friendly

Recovery Run. 5km. 30 minutes.

 That’s what this mornings training plan suggested I do. But really, does anyone actually believe that a recovery run exists. In fact I no more believe in a recovery run than I do a ‘fun run’. How can something that hurts so much be doing me any good whatsoever. And it’s never fun.

Let me be clear. I dislike running with a passion. I don’t hate it, and I understand that it is impossible to complete Ironman without actually running 42km, but yes, I dislike it. I wish I didn’t, but I do, and that’s that. As my training progresses I am certainly becoming a better runner and I no longer feel like I am dying for the first 2 km of every run, but it is so mind numbingly tedious and boring that I am always looking forward to the end, when I can turn my attention to doing something more productive with my time.

I think the problem lies with the fact that there is no real ‘guy stuff’ involved in running. All you need is a decent pair of shoes, a t-shirt and some shorts. Cycling in comparison is fantastic, because there are always so many new gadgets and goodies to buy and play with. No bike is complete without a new saddle and seat post. Having the latest rims and hubs is de rigueur and no self respecting cyclist would be seen dead on a machine that doesn’t sport a cadence sensor, power meter or even both.

It’s beyond me how running magazines survive. I mean there are only so many ways to write about how to run, only so many ways to explain how to apply ice to an ITB injury and certainly only one article a year should be devoted to explaining the preferred method of emptying your bowels on the side of the Comrades route. I subscribe to Runners World magazine because I know some of the people who work there and I feel sorry for them. Never let it be said that I have contributed to their unemployment. Bicycling magazine on the other hand is a completely different kettle of ball parks. Its Porn for my Bling fetish, and I can’t get enough of it.

The manufacturers of running clothing try to sex it up a bit with fancy advertising and gimmicks but it is still just running. Plodding along praying for it all to end. Soon.

Last night I read the latest New Balance advert and I see that they have now released ‘Music friendly’ clothing. What on earth is that? There is no description in the advert as to how it works or why it is music friendly, just that bold statement. I had a look on their website and I am none the wiser either. Is other clothing music unfriendly.

In my youth, music friendly clothing described anything you could wear to a pop concert or music festival that wouldn’t discolour or disintegrate when someone who was fully loaded with alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs vomited on them.

Which brings me to my final observation for the week. Don’t eat a large chocolate muffin immediately prior to running a 5km time trial or you really will need ‘music friendly’ clothing.

Killer Shampoo

Saturday dawned dark and rainy. So rainy in fact, that Claire sent an SMS to the group cancelling the morning ride. We were left to our own devices for the day, so Marlene and I decided to do a 90 minute spin class in the warmth of the gym, and then later in the day, weather permitting, we would do another 90 minutes mountain bike ride on the farm. It was a great plan that neglected to take into account that I can’t even take a shower without almost killing myself.

I had finished the spin class and had just got into the shower. I’m a top to toe kind of shower guy, meaning the hair gets washed first, so taking the shampoo bottle I squeezed a healthy amount of 2 in 1 Organics shampoo into my hand (no cheap rubbish here), and somehow in the process of transferring it  from my hand to my head, managed to throw the glob of soap so deep into my mouth that it hit the back of my throat.

That’s when the trouble started. I don’t know if I am allergic to shampoo or if my reaction was normal, but I choked and coughed and nearly died on the spot. I was unable to get any air in for at least a minute. Instantly I was in incredible pain. When I was able to breath again it was in short, painful gasps, that caused me to cough even more. So it was short breaths going in and hacking coughs and bubbles going out. After 5 minutes of this I had recovered to the point that I knew I wasn’t going to die, and after an hour I was left with symptoms that were remarkably similar to bronchitis. These symptoms stayed with me for the rest of the day so any further training was out of the question. I wasn’t feeling at all well, but worse (for those who live with me) was to come.

Have you ever read the list of chemicals in hair shampoo. It’s like a mad alchemists wish list. There is something in the concoction that causes acute gastric distress, or as my Father quaintly calls it ‘the squitters’. That is what woke me this morning. The cough had gone, but the world was falling out of my bottom. At an alarming rate. My planned run was obviously out of the question, but by 10:00am I was feeling good enough to go for an easy ride. Frankly, by that time the house also needed a really good airing, and  I reasoned that on a bicycle I was never more than 15 minutes from home and a toilet, should  trouble start again.

Marlene refused to join me as it wasn’t in her training program (teachers pet) so off I went on my own while she stayed at home and studied her Psychology stuff. It was a fantastic ride on a beautiful day, made doubly so by the fact that I was supposed to be running but for the first time in over a Month I was riding hills on my MTB. Let me make it clear at this stage that I am not allowed, under pain of castration, to deviate from my training program, because obviously I have no idea what is good for me.

As payback to my conscience, this afternoon I was feeling really good again so I went for my scheduled 14 km run. Exactly 13.4 km and 1hour and 20 minutes later I staggered back into the house feeling very pleased with myself. For the first time ever I had managed to run at 6min per km with an average heart rate of less than 80% (79% to be precise)

I suspect when Claire finds out that I have deviated from the program I will get ‘the look’. This time I can justifiably claim that it was all because I washed my hair.

Clear The Pipes

Today my arms are useless and it’s not my fault. They worked perfectly well yesterday, until last nights swimming session that is, when Claire decided that I need to change my stroke. I always thought I had a nice smooth swim style but the problem was that it wasn’t at all efficient, or fast. So now I start my stroke a lot further forward than I did before and as a result I pull a lot more water. This simple change has resulted in my muscles doing more work than they are accustomed to. The result? My shoulders are buggered but I am much faster.

 I have anther unique problem in the pool. When I swim fast I fill up with air. I think it’s because the faster I swim the more air I need so the more I gulp and the more I swallow until I’m bloated like one of those ugly fish with spikes. When I’m in that condition any poke to my stomach is likely to force such an exhalation of air that its highly possible I could go flying round the room like a party balloon going Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It’s a good thing I’m alone in my car on the way home because I’m not pretty to be around for the hour or so it takes to clear the pipes.

On Tuesday we did what I believe are called hill repeats. Before this we warmed up by running up the Tokai mountain for 50 minutes. Apparently there’s no point in doing repeats unless you are properly stuffed.

Anyway, this new torture consisted of sprinting as fast as possible up a hill for 60 seconds then jogging slowly down again only to immediately repeat the process another 5 times. The aim is to get the same distance up the hill each time. Being the creative type I worked out that if I went slowly on the first run I could guarantee always making the same distance on subsequent go’s. I didn’t take into account that Claire would be such a tyrant, shaming me into going faster by shouting at me and clapping her hands. It’s why I pay her the big bucks I suppose.