Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fresh start, a newbie once again!

So my hamstring/tendon issue is resolving (a hell of a lot slower than I would have liked) and it's time to get back to running. Pity I missed the end of autumn and start of winter. I'll just have to get stuck into it with all my layers!
Having not been running for 6 weeks, I've lost some fitness and endurance. I've kept up my cross training (rower, core work etc) but it doesn't replace a nice long run or a speed workout. I miss them.
Before my injury, I had started wearing my VFFs for two or three runs a week, up to 10k. Marathon training kind of got in the way of getting any further than that though. So I've taken the decision to have a fresh start at running. I always feel it's better to practice the technique slowly, master it and then speed it up as required. This is also true in other sports. To this end, I went to a local Chi Running course, hosted by Catherina McKiernan, Ireland's only Master Instructor.
I went along to the hotel where the course was being held and quickly realized I was the only one of 13 wearing minimalist shoes - VFF KSOs to be exact. During the day, each one of the other attendees asked me about the VFFs, and I was even asked to give a quick talk about them and barefoot running (not that I'm any kind of expert!).
So we had a talk first, then Catherina made a video of each of us running along about 200m from the front, side and back. After that we went inside for some drills on correct posture etc and then we went for four laps of the local park to practice. Then we had lunch and chatted for a while before doing more drills and practice. Then we got to see how each of us ran on the video. It was the first time I'd seen how I looked when I ran and Catherina said I kept my back very tense and stuck my elbows out too much, but otherwise ok. A lot of the other runners were heel striking etc, so we each got critiqued.
We then chatted about various running related things (I was asked to talk about nutrition, but I was poorly prepared and didn't do the topic justice) and went over some stretches. Last up was a short, slow run in loops of about 100m where Catherina could run beside each of us and recommend how to correct our form. Gotta say I took a lot away from this and found it well worth it. All my runs since the course have focused on form, posture and just getting it all to gel without any speed at all. Just practice, practice. Also, all of my runs since I was injured have been in the VFFs (either Bikilas or KSOs). I'll bring distance up as I feel I can and then when that's comfortable and my posture is ok I'll add in speed work.
One step at a time...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm intolerant, time to deal with it

I was told by a gym instructor last year that "nutrition is 60% of your training". Since then I have paid a lot more attention to my preparation and recovery from training runs and races, and got a PB in all but one race I toed the line at. Kinda speaks for itself as far as I can see, but being a data nerd, I needed to know if there was anything else I could improve on. I don't want to get OTT about it, but I want to be sure I'm not doing myself harm nutrition wise either.
It was when I saw an advert for food intolerance testing that I saw a way to get even more information than I already had. The test is a small blood sample that was taken at my local chemists. They sent it away to a lab to get tested and about 2 weeks later I got the results. In fact I got the results after work yesterday...
Before I went along for the review I made a mental note of what I thought would be "trouble foods": onions, mushrooms and possibly wheat.
When the chemist sat me down we had a look over the three pages of results. They are broken down by their scoring according to how your blood sample had reacted. Zero to 24 are green (ok to eat), 24 - 30 is yellow (take in moderation) and over 30 is red - AVOID!!
For onions I got zero, mushrooms were 15, wheat also 15...but then at the very bottom there were two items in red...the pic below says it all, Baker's Yeast - 193!

So, I have a yeast intolerance, and a pretty big one too! This can (according to the booklet I was given) "progress to increased sensitivity to chemicals, dampness (i.e. arthritis), anxiety and infection".
For the next 12 weeks, I am to try to totally avoid all foods with yeast, wheat and dairy and anything that may increase the sugar in my stomach. I also have to try and stick to low GI foods to wipe out the issue. Apparently a yeast intolerance gives you stomach problems, so probiotics are a must. Acidophilus tablets are already being taken and I have switched to wheat and yeast free bread and soy milk.
Astonishingly, having only been on this diet for less than 24 hours, I can already feel my long term sinus blockage clearing. Wonder what the rest of the 12 weeks will bring, and how it will affect my running (when I can get back to it!).


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Injury update...again

As you may or may not know by now, I backed out of the Dublin marathon. Three days before to be exact. I had been forced off running against my will, but with my better judgement, due to a hamstring injury. If you have been reading this before, or listening to the podcast (and why wouldn't you?), then you'll know that it's been plaguing me on and off since May.
What actually happened, was that I was at the track doing 50m sprints and, yes, I was being competitive with people 25 years younger than me! Anyway, one of the "kids" there was doing the 50m in 7.00 secs and I was doing them at around 7:20, so I thought, "I can't let him away with that!" Stupid I know. So I did the sprint, but for some reason I was letting my legs stay on the ground a bit longer than I should, and the weaker leg muscles were pulling my legs forward, rather than my stronger muscles doing all the work. That's when and how it happened. I didn't rest it as much as I should have and rather than back out of the Kildare HM I kept going with my training, icing my leg whenever it played up. So the niggle I got in May ended up forcing me out of a marathon in October.
Of course, if I had 20/20 hindsight...
In the meantime I'm still doing my cross training in the gym and have gone three times this week. I used to think I had more lower body strength and fitness, it's turning around the other way now! In the gym earlier I was pretty tempted to jump on the dreadmill for 20mins just to test out the leg, but I erred on the side of caution, as it's not 100%.
I went to the DM Expo and picked up my goodie bag (hey, I paid for it already didn't I) and did some "retail therapy" in the form of buying a new pair of VFFs from who had a stand there. I had Bikila's already and this time I went for KSOs. Can't wait to try them out on a run!