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.

Month in review: May 2015

Track trainings: I returned to the track this month, but six out of seven sessions were restricted to warm-up, lunges, jumps and other conservative non-sprint stuff. On the seventh training session (May 28th), I dared to do some diagonal strides (on grass) and then couldn’t resist joining the guys for three starting block starts. The achilles tendon wasn’t happy the next day, but still better than the last time I tried a serious track training.

Road&Trail Running: Just like in April I counted 12 sessions again, of which one was the Wallberg Berglauf mountain run on May 1st. The split between hilly and flat training was about 50/50, and I clocked 5500m of vertical, 105km of distance and 13h15 on my feet. This is about the same vert and time than April, but I covered more distance in the same time (105km vs. 90km). I guess that means I’m getting slightly faster.

Walking: I did one long hike while I was in Southern Germany. It alone accounts for 33km and 1400m of vertical; with the total for the month being 2800m of vertical, 122km of distance and 24 hours outside.

Cycling: I didn’t mountain bike as much as I would have liked, but my time and energy levels didn’t permit more. As is, I tracked 5 sessions with a total of 127km, 1600m vertical, 6h30. I realize this is what some people end do in one easy day.

Total time outside: 43h44

Average body weight: 79.79kg (down 1kg from March). Body fat 13.43% (down 0.61%)

Injuries: The achilles tendon was maybe a little worse than in April, but still quite stable. It still amazes me that I can seemingly do a hard hill training with 1000m of vertical change and the achilles tendon is better the next day than it is after just a few seconds of sprinting.

Month in review: April 2015

Track trainings: I opted out of club trainings on the track this month, and managing the inflammation on the achilles tendon has become a bit more controllable.

Road&Trail Running: 12 sessions, of which 6 were hard hill/mountain work-outs.5600m of vertical, 90km distance, 13h12 time.

Walking: 13 days of >2km. 2500m of vertical, 87km distance, 16h06 time.

Cycling: Now that I have a mountain bike, it’s natural for these to increase; even if I’m only starting out. 8 sessions, 101km, 1800m vertical, 6h07.

Total time outside: 35h25

Average body weight: 80.82kg (down 1.75kg from March). Body fat 14.04% (down 0.94%)

Injuries: The achilles tendon seems to have neither improved nor worsened this month; even though I’ve done considerable vertical elevation changes in my training. Balancing hard workouts with walks and bike rides seems to help; but I still don’t have a final solution to something that is still very much a problem. I’d like to go back to some (albeit limited) track running.

Month in review: March 2015

Track trainings: 3 sessions with the club, but no real track running.

Road&Trail Running: 8 sessions, of which 4 were hard hill/mountain work-outs. 4104m of vertical, 77km of distance, 10h52 time.

Walking: 17 days of >2km. Quite a few 4-6km lunch walks and 2 harder hiking sessions. 2295m of vertical, 91km distance, 19h00 time.

Indoor cycling: 1 short session. 20min, 11km.

Average body weight:82.57kg (up 0.11kg from March). Body fat 14.98% (up 0.08%)

Injuries: Still fighting the achilles tendon; which seems to get worse every time I speed up. Oddly enough, running up or down mountains at moderate speed seems to have less impact.

Month in review: February 2015

Track trainings: In February, I actually managed a perfect attendance at track trainings again. I went every Tuesday and Thursday of the month, for a total of 8 sessions. Unfortunately, the trainings I ended up doing have little resemblance to real track work: the first four sessions of the month I only warmed up outside (2km lap on pavement) and then went inside for weights; the last four sessions I did Rollingergrund stair sessions. I’m still holding back on sprint training because of my left achilles tendon, which is not really getting better at dealing with excessive stress.

Road&Trail Running: During the middle of the month I increased the intensity and volume a few times, but could feel the negative impact on the achilles tendon so I took it slow again during the final week. The hardest training of the month was at the Saarschleife again, with four hill repeats of around 210m each for a total of 845m of elevation gain and a total of 13km (with warm-up and cool-down) that spanned over two hours. The total amount of runs throughout the month was quite average at 8, and a total of 59km in 8h21 is not very impressive either; although the total elevation gain of 2800m makes up for that a little.

Walking: As seems to be the norm, when I do less running I at least tend to do more walking. I was doing quite a bit of hill work too, for a cumulative elevation gain of 4300m over the course of 110km and 22h30. This is a significant improvement over January.

Indoor cycling: None.

Average body weight: February saw a minor improvement from January, and my average weight dropped down from 82.8kg to 82.5kg. At the same time, body fat only improved marginally, from 15.1% to 14.9%.

Month in review: January 2015

Another month already?

Track trainings: Continuing last month’s trend, my attendance at my club’s track trainings was sporadic. I went four times, and did weights and other indoor stuff three times. Which leaves only one track training, which in retrospect I wasn’t ready for. The 8x300m training is a winter classic, and I was happy that I was able to complete it at a moderate effort level; but payback came the next day when the left achilles/soleus/calf area was so sore that I couldn’t walk without a limp for a few days. Needless to say that this was yet another setback for my 2015 plans, both physically and mentally.

Road&Trail Running: I was able to put in a fairly regular effort during the first two and a half weeks of the month, doing road and trails runs that varied between 8 and 12km; with a few rest days in between to keep the overall load manageable. Towards the end of the month, that regularity went out of the window because of three reasons: achilles pain, work commitments and a snow front (that turned the trails into slush). In summary, yet another average month with 103km in 10h51, and 1850m of vertical.

Walking: Walking-wise, January was a fairly slow month. Outside of those walks I did on work days for transportation, I only did two real weekend efforts, coincidentally on the first and last day of the month. At least January ended on a good note, with a 12km hike on new snow. Total: 43km, 7h23, 600m vertical.

Indoor cycling: Not much improvement. Only one session, 30 minutes.

Average body weight: Still fighting the aftermath of the end of the year, and sloppy eating that gets magnified during that time period. Higher than usual stress also didn’t help in getting the numbers down. Average of 82.8kg, body fat 15.1%.

Year in review: 2014

Summing up an entire year is not an easy task, especially if there’s been a few different things going on, but nothing that really stands out.

On the track, both indoors and outdoors, I ran a few competitions but wasn’t happy with the majority of them. My best 100m was 11″65 (+0.1m/s), which translates to the tenth-best time in Luxembourg in 2014. I shouldn’t really be ranked that high with a time as average as that, but that’s outside the scope of this blog. Indoors, I did one 60m in 7″43 (and was disqualified in another with a blatant and uncharacteristic false start). My best 200m indoors was 23″57. I participated in three relays, one indoors and two outdoors.  I even did shot put once (7.66m – pretty weak). Most of the year I was held back by trouble in my left achilles tendon.

With long distance running, I didn’t achieve the kind of regularity in training that would be required to do well in a race. My monthly mileage was all over the place, from a low of 12.3km in September to a high of 155km in February (and lots of ups and downs the other months as well). The yearly total was 900km, or a measly 75km per month. Since I judged that the legs and lungs didn’t have the necessary stamina, I didn’t compete at all in 2014.

Beside a steady amount of unimpressive walking and hiking in my everyday life, I spent three days in the Stubaital in Austria. On this trip, I bagged two summits of around 3000m (Rotkogel 2947m, Schwarzkogel 3018m). The highlight of the year, was my speed hike (with a bit of running thrown in) up Ben Nevis in Scotland. What I took away from this is that even with very limited training I can still do several hours of sustained hard effort; which I guess is something to build up on in 2015.


Month in review: December 2014

Looking back at December, it was a slightly below average month. There was some regularity with my road & trail runs, but in general I was trying to keep the intensity moderate so as not to worsen the Achilles tendon.

Track trainings: With the holidays at the end of December, regularity on the track is always an issue. Worse than that, if I look at the 5 trainings I did do in the first half of the month, 4 of them were not even real track trainings. I did one 4x300m session on December 2nd (which was OK), and then two sessions each of Rollingergrund stairs and indoor stuff only.

Road&Trail Running: I ran on nine days in December. The runs were pretty spaced out too, with no back-to-back efforts whatsoever.  The total for the month was a paltry 81k; spread pretty evenly between efforts of around 7km and 11km. I covered almost 1800m in elevation, but that average was greatly impacted by one Saarschleife workout that had 650m in one day. Compared to November, the training schedule was very tame, with only that one high-elevation session having me hit the “limiter” (high heart rate) and the others being fairly moderate efforts.

Walking: As usual when I dial down my running, my walking seems to go up. I did nothing very remarkable, but clocked 68km (and only 1100m of vertical).

Indoor cycling: None. Slightly annoyed with that, because in theory I should be doing a whole lot more of this to build cardiovascular endurance while the Achilles tendon continues to impact my running

Average body weight: The end of the year is usually accompanied by an above average number of lunches and dinners. The consumption of chocolates and cookies usually goes up as well – this had quite a large impact on my body weight in December because I can’t say no to sweets, and the wife brought home or made quite a few during the month. My average moved up half a kilo to 82.9kg. As far as fluctuations go, oddly enough this month they were exactly one kilo up and down, for a minimum of 81.9 and a maximum of 83.9. Body fat increased from an average of 14.9% in November to 15.1% in December.

Month in review: November 2014

November started off with a nice amount of volume and intensity, but I had to scale back somewhat during the second half because of recurring achilles tendon inflammation.

Track trainings:In November, I did 8 track trainings (two per week). Unfortunately, only three sessions were good sprint workouts on the track. Three trainings were mostly indoors and two times I was heading to the Rollingergrund stairs because I didn’t want the strain of track running.

Road&Trail Running: I ran on fifteen days in November, although there was a notable difference between the first half and second half of the month. The total for the month was 138km, and I covered considerably more elevation than in other months, at almost 4400m of positive altitude change. The nature of runs was pretty diverse as well: 5 normal trail runs, 1 trail run with more elevation changes, 3 runs on mostly flat terrain and paved streets, 3 “Kosakestee” stair sessions, 1 hill session on cobble stones, and two more extreme trail runs on the “Saarschleife” with around 500m elevation gain each time (in less than 10km).

Walking: I did a fairly small amount of walking. 29km on the month, mostly limited to short lunch-grab walks or brief commutes either because I didn’t take the car or couldn’t find convenient parking and had to walk a bit.

Indoor cycling: Almost nothing: one session, 10 minutes.

Average body weight: I kept my body weight mostly stable. The average was 82.4kg, down just a tad from 82.5kg the month before. Body fat was exactly the same, at 14.9%. (All numbers according to my not necessarily very accurate cheap scale.)