Month in review: December 2016

I stopped writing “month in review”s in February because my statistics show that nobody ever visits this blog. “Why bother?”, I thought. But almost a year later I realize (once more) that by regularly scrutinizing my training (and related factors) in semi-public, that I might hold myself more accountable; and therefore make better progress towards my goals.

Track running: December saw a very clear focus on track work. I did 14 track workouts, both outdoors (6x) and indoors (8x). The latter number was amplified by participating at the FLA training camp during the Christmas holidays. I’m thankful that the federation allowed me to participate, even though I noticed a number of times that I’m far removed from my peak performances. Still, you play with the cards you’re dealt with, and I hope the effort I put in increases my odds of doing well during the January competitions. In mid-December, I did a 300m at the Indoor Laf Meeting which was not very good.

Road and trail running:  With such a clear focus on track, the need for recovery and busy days at work I didn’t get out nearly as much as I liked. Consequently, I only did one single long trail run (12km) in early December.

Walking: I only walked 33km during the entire month, which therefore sits as one of my least active months this year. Again, work is partially to blame: it’s much easier to just grab food at the nearest place during lunch than to go on a reasonable (4-5km) walk and grab something to eat on the way.

Cycling: This month, cycling was impacted in the same way as walking. With daylight being nonexistent outside of work hours, I should have gone out on bike rides in my lunch breaks, but didn’t. I still got 82km in (in 4 rides) with 799m of vertical gain, and 3h53 in the saddle.

Weight training: Strength training was nonexistent this month, apart from a few sessions at club training, for a total time of just 2h19.

Total time outside: 18h34

Average body weight: 82.43kg. Body fat 15.48%. This is a fairly significant change for the worse, after doing quite well for much of the year. Since November, I’m up over 1.4kg and almost 1% of BF.

Month in review: February 2016

February was a solid training month. Once more, I concentrated on quality track workouts, which means I didn’t get as much hill/trail running done as I’d want.

Road, trail and track running: 43km on roads and/or stairs in 5h21 with 1669m of elevation; no real trail work whatsoever, 8 track trainings (of which 6 were on actual track, 1 was inside and 1 was on stairs), one track competition (200m and 4x200m relay). My 2016 season best on the 200m is now 23″49.

Walking: I stepped up the number and length of my lunch walks. In total, I went on 14 walks, totaling 65,4km in 20h18 with 1628m of elevation.

Cycling: Didn’t spend a lot of time on the MTB – either the weather was bad or I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of transporting the bike to and from work for a lunch ride. Only ended up doing 1 lunch ride and 1 weekend ride. 2h03 in the saddle, 42km and 420m of elevation.

Weight training: Five sessions (3 at home, 2 with the track club). 4h04 total. Wanted to do more, but most free evenings my energy levels were too low to motivate myself.

Total time outside: 34h04

Average body weight: 81.25kg. Body fat 14.62%. No improvement on the scale, but body fat went down by 0.5%. Which probably means I got fitter and built some muscle.

Month in review: January 2016

January was a break-through month. My main focus finally moved from the achilles injury and recovery to actual running. I was able to successfully participate at three indoor track competitions. While the performances are much slower than my personal bests, I’m still pretty happy with them considering my age and how much of 2015 I spent injured.

Road, trail and track running: Just like in December, my focus was on the track, and as a consequence I did almost no road or trail running. Out of eight possible club training sessions (on Tuesday and Thursday) I attended seven. Of these 7 sessions, 5 were real track sprint workouts. I competed on three weekends, and did a total of 6 races (three 60m, three 200m). My 2016 bests are now 7″50 and 23″50. Outside of track, I only got out for one single 10km trail session, on the first weekend of the year.  I’m a little concerned that I’m concentrating too much on short sprints, at the detriment of long hill sessions that I should be doing if I want to run up a few mountains in summer.

Walking: Most of my walking/hiking in January was on lunch walks, ranging from 2km to 6km. In total, I walked 74km in 13h35, with 1200m of elevation change. I was therefore more consistent with this than in December.

Cycling: It’s hard to be consistent with cycling in January weather, especially since it is merely a means to cross-train (I do not have any cycling-specific goals right now). Still, I’ll take whatever I can get. 4h26 in the saddle, 95km and 1020m of elevation.

Weight training: After many months of no weight training in my home gym, I might finally have restarted that habit in late January. Did three sessions at home in the final two weeks of the month, trying to build a base that focuses on basic lifts and reasonable workload.

Total time outside: 24h39

Average body weight: 81.28kg. Body fat 15.09%. Better than December. My weight was down by about 1kg, and body fat improved a little as well.

Month in review: December 2015

Injuries & treatment: I had a lot of doctor visits and physiotherapy appointments in December, as we were coming to an end of the “treatment” phase of my achilles injury, and moving towards what will hopefully be a “maintenance” phase in 2016. December saw 7 doctor visits (for laser treatments and final ultra-sound check-ups) and 9 physio-therapy appointments. Having to plan and drive to these 16 appointments took considerable time and energy, so I was happy to see that the achilles won’t require quite the same investment from here on out (if I continue to be smart with training volume, stress and recovery).

Road, trail and track running: Since I’m still trying to have at least 48 hours of space between any two running sessions (be it road, trail or track), that obviously means there’s only a limited amount of sessions I can do in a month. Specifically, this translates to 8 sessions on the track (which was therefore my main focus) or on the short stairs, and only 5 sessions on the trails (with no road sessions). On these 5 trail sessions, I climbed a total of 2000m. In total, I clocked 90km. Even though track was my main focus in December, it took me until the 31st of the final month of the year to do my first “short” sprint session (2x(30m-40m-50m-60m).

Walking: I continued doing quite a few lunch walks in December, but still only totaled 48km and 741m of elevation.

Cycling: Cycling was on a little up-swing compared to November, with 4 sessions and 3h26 in the saddle in total, for 84km and 606m of elevation. Not much, but better cross-training than sitting on the couch.

Total time outside: 27h10

Average body weight: 82.23kg. Body fat 15.37%. Almost unchanged from November.

Month in review: November 2015

Injuries & treatment: The achilles continued improving throughout November. I had one doctor visit and five physiotherapy appointments.

Road, trail and track running: I had a week-long vacation at the end of November, and I had a few stressful days at work leading up to it. This means I had a fairly normal training load during the first two weeks (three sessions outside, three track sessions – two of which were inside and only one on the track; then one week where I only managed to get a few quick lunch walks in; and then the week in Fuerteventura where I decided to run up “Pico de la Zarza”, the highpoint of the island, three times during our stay. 67km on road and trails; 9 hours on my feet, 3400m of elevation gain. 10km at the club (6km on pavement for warm-ups, 4km on the track).

Walking: Not much to report. Clocked 51km and 970m of elevation, 10 hours on my feet. Most of this was during lunch breaks.

Cycling: Did just 2 outings, for two hours total. 45km, 505m of elevation.

Total time outside: 21h01

Average body weight: 82.19kg. Body fat 15.35%. Didn’t weigh myself during the week abroad.

Month in review: October 2015

October saw five more doctor visits (regular appointments and laser treatments) and five physiotherapy appointments. Fortunately, this led to a marked improvement of the achilles tendon; although I still need to be careful not to attempt too much too soon (I might actually have done just that on one track training at the end of the month).

Road, trail and track running: I’ve returned to regular club trainings, and have been able to join the sprint group on most of their sessions. In total, I’ve done 9 club trainings (every Tuesday and Thursday of the month). Towards the end of the month, I even did 3 sprint sessions on the track (although with less volume or speed than in my better days). Doing track trainings comes at a price, however: I had to eliminate pretty much all other running during the week to allow me to recover. If I want to have a day off from running after every serious track session, that leaves me with just three quality days per week. And coincidentally, that leads me to the third category of running: hill climbs on trails. I did 3 sessions at the Saarschleife in neighboring Germany (one session each weekend I was at home), running from the Saar river to the Cloef viewpoint. Over the course of the month, I progressed from running and walking up once each, to running up twice, to running up two times followed by a walk up. 30km on road/trails, 1500m of elevation gain.

Walking: Not much to report. Clocked 42km and 631m of elevation, or pretty much the same as September.

Cycling: Did 7 outings, most of which were on my lunch break and therefore limited to 1 hour or less. This looks to be the best way to get some cycling in during winter. With the sun now setting by the time I’m off work, at least this way I get to ride in daylight and during the warmest time of the day. 129km and 6h03, 1550m of elevation. Distance and time-wise that’s half of September, but with running on the upswing I’ll take what I can get.

Total time outside: 17h54

Average body weight: 82.55kg. Body fat 15.13%. Not that different from September. Staying stable is better than rising, but I wouldn’t mind dropping a few kilos.

Month in review: September 2015

I had another four physiotherapy appointments and two doctor visits in September. Fortunately, my left Achilles tendon finally started to improve; which enabled me to incorporate some running in my training again.

Road, trail and track running: I did a full “reboot” this time, barely running for two months and then restarting from zero. As such, my first run in September was a mere 20 minutes, on track (so without climbs or irregular surface), at a slow 6:30min pace. Overall, I did four sessions on track or grass in the second half of September, totaling just 16.6km. However, that’s much better than zero, so I’m happy. Baby steps.

Walking: 37km, and a mere 652m of elevation. This is the lowest number in 2015, but can easily be explained by lunch-time physio appointments (which I drive to), biking instead of walking, a few days of illness; and also by a desire to give the Achilles tendon enough rest.

Cycling: Did 9 outings on the bike in September, ranging from a quick 26 minute 10km ride to a somewhat extreme (for me) 2 hour 52.5km ride. I spent more time on the roads than in the forest. This is not really what I planned – I’d rather ride forest paths or single trails than braving pot-holes and traffic – but that’s how it worked out. 11 hours in the saddle, 253km covered, with a total of 2339m of elevation.

Total time outside: 22h31

Average body weight: 82.62kg. Body fat 15.03%. Only a minor improvement from August, and still a couple of kilos and a few percent off what I would consider a competitive weight and shape.

Month in review: August 2015

The injury on my left Achilles tendon continued to heavily influence all my sports activities in August. I had another two doctor visits and two physiotherapy appointments. Unfortunately, a limited test to return to running (as prescribed by the doctor) proved to be a little premature. The good news is that the inflammation is mostly gone. The bad news is that the Achilles is still not pain-free, there’s still less range of motion on the ankle (that I can’t seem to improve without adding to the pain, either) and adding any kind of intensity in running would probably quickly worsen my condition again at this point.

Track training: None. I didn’t even see a track during all of August.

Road&Trail Running: After a doctor visit on August 4th, I was supposed to slowly start running again. The idea was to gradually get the Achilles used to running again now that the inflammation was gone. Unfortunately, both test runs that I did (on August 8th and 11th) proved to induce too much pain even though they were slow (>6:30 min/km) and short (<30min). So the rest of the month I once again spent not running. 1h, 8km, 147m elevation.

Walking: 70km. Most of the month, I hovered at an average of around 3km each day, but with quite a few days off as well. On the last two days of the month, on vacation in Austria, I did some limited hiking (11km and 7km) which went OK.  Two thirds of the elevation covered during the month was actually during these two days. 16h21, 70km, 2304m elevation.

Cycling: Here, the month went quite well. I did 12 outings, from around 50 minutes to almost 2 hours in length. Some sessions were on the road, others in the forest. My longest ride was on August 1st, when I did 51km. In the Alps, I finished off the month with a 750m elevation climb on a crappy rental bike that showed me how much I still need to improve in the saddle (and how much better it is to ride a decent bike than a crappy free hotel rental). 15h31, 297km, 4243m elevation gain.

Total time outside: 33h

Average body weight: 82.86kg. Body fat 15.28%. Major jump up both in weight (almost 2kg) and body fat (almost 1%). Didn’t eat healthy at all, and the cycling probably burns less calories than running would.

Month in review: July 2015

My left achilles tendon has been the biggest source of trouble in my entire athletics career, and by early July I was once again at a decisive point as far as the severety of the injury was concerned. There was a lot of inflammation around my left heel, and even just walking around hurt my foot. This was obviously the direct consequence of climbing 4000m of elevation over the course of 4 days in Chamonix in late June; but in general the previous months had seen a gradual worsening of the situation even though I’d already decreased my training volume and intensity.

Thankfully, I had already made an appointment with a doctor specializing in sports medicine; who on July 7th diagnosed a Haglund’s deformity. We initially agreed that I would try to maintain a certain level of training volume, so I still did a couple of runs in the easy 5-6km range throughout the next week; but these runs merely confirmed that the achilles definitely wasn’t going to get better if I kept subjecting it to impact forces. My last running activity for July was on the 16th, a simple 2km warm-up that was quite painful.

On my second appointment on July 24th, we decided instead that as long as the achilles didn’t improve, I’d keep not running; which of course meant that I would not be able to compete at the Red Bull 400 in late August.

Obviously, all of this had quite an impact on the type and quality of trainings I was able to do all throughout July:

Track trainings: Only 3 track trainings. Did warm-up, jumps and stretching on July 2nd, then regressed to merely doing a warm-up and stretching on July 14th and July 16th; and finally stopped going altogether to make sure I didn’t succumb to the temptation to run even after the start of my running break.

Road&Trail Running: Only 3 short sessions on mixed surface; which all confirmed that even just a 5-6km run was too much for the achilles in its current state. 18km, 2h12, 549m elevation.

Walking: 46km. Lower than previous months, which is both due to the achilles, as well as the high temperatures in July that made me less likely to go on my typical 1-hour lunch break walks. 11h09, 46km, 991m elevation

Cycling: I was planning to do quite a bit more cycling on the MTB to compensate for the lack of running; but I still only ended up with 7 sessions. Furthermore, I spent more time on the road than I did on the trails, with 4 road sessions and just 3 trail sessions. Still, I managed to spend more time on the saddle than ever before, so at least there’s that. 7h40, 184km, 1742m elevation

Total time outside: 25h

Average body weight: 81.03kg. Body fat 14.43%. Needless to say that a decrease in training volume had a negative impact on my body composition. I also didn’t do well as far as healthy eating was concerned. Gained 1.3kg on the monthly average, and went up almost 1% in body fat.

Month in review: June 2015

Track trainings: 6 track trainings in June. Still trying to find the right balance, since the pain threshold is quite low as far as the achilles tendon is concerned. What’s making this harder is that during the training when the achilles is all warmed up I feel a lot less pain than the next morning; when it can get really tight and uncomfortable to walk on. Mostly did “alternative” trainings (jumps, lunges, goblet squats, etc,).

Road&Trail Running: Only 7 sessions, but two of those were fairly hard vertical races (943m and 1000m elevation gain). So I had to factor in a few days of taper (taking it slow in anticipation of the races) and recovery (since each race weekend not only meant a physical effort but also over 1200km and 12 hours behind the wheel). Furthermore, I overdid it on a road session during the middle of the month (ran too fast, which exceeded my pain threshold on the achilles), and took it slow for the remainder of the month since I did not want to compromise my 2015 goal race (Chamonix KMV) on June 26th. 7h21, 50km, 4190m elevation.

Walking: 121km, which is on the high side for 2015. Did quite a lot of lunch walks, and did one long 25km outing in Chamonix the day after the KMV. 27h46, 121km, 4272m elevation

Cycling: With the focus on two races in June, I only managed to do three MTB sessions; one of which was entirely on streets. 3h29, 84.5km, 1065m elevation

Total time outside: 46h41

Average body weight: 79.70kg. Body fat 13.47%. Almost the same as in May, but I didn’t track during 4 days in Chamonix (didn’t take a scale); which probably had a minor impact since I actually increased in weight during the end of the month because my eating during June was less than optimal.

Injuries: The achilles tendon continues to feel a little worse with each passing month. I’m more and more resigned to the fact that I will probably need to take a month (or more) of complete rest (as far as running is concerned, at least). I have another doctor’s appointment coming up on July 7th.