Monday, December 26, 2011

The coldest run

On my long run on Saturday, the temperature was -15 degrees Celsius. The weather forecast had predicted that the wind would die down around noon, so I decided I would try running outside in the afternoon. On the way to Pointe-au-Père, I wasn't feeling any wind, and the cold was quite bearable. But as soon as I turned back toward Rimouski, I had a 10-knot wind in my face, and I became much less comfortable. The first thing that started to hurt was... the tip of my genitals!! It was directly exposed to the chilling wind, and my running pant was not wind-proof. So I put my left hand in front of it to block the wind. The people I crossed must have thought I was a very weird runner... I was holding my ipod in my right hand, but my right fingers soon started to hurt as well, while my left fingers were feeling fine. I therefore switched hands, holding my ipod in my left hand and protecting my sensitive parts from the wind with my right hand, and I started to move my fingers in my gloves. After some time, my left fingers were feeling fine again, but my right fingers were starting to hurt. I kept switching hands like that until almost the end of the run. At some point, I started to feel my eyelids, which were exposed to the wind all the time, becoming numb. I thought: "this is not good at all, I have to find a warm place to stop and warm up as soon as possible". Thankfully I was getting close to the supermarket IGA, where I stopped 5-10 minutes until I was warm enough to go back outside and get back home. Later on I checked what the meteorological conditions had been during my run, and because of the wind the equivalent wind-less temperature had been -24 degrees C! No wonder I had so much discomfort! Never again running in such conditions...

The next day on Christmas I did not feel like running, so I skipped my 4th session of the week.
Distance this week: 47.74 km (29.66 miles).

PS: today I had a great time teaching Margot and Anaël how to ski. But at one point while I was running next to Margot to slow her down, my right foot slipped in the snow and my knee twisted and I collapsed. It was painful and frustrating. This broken crux ligament is becoming quite incapacitating. I am starting to think that perhaps I should get knee surgery, after all...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Transitioning to 4 sessions per week

My training program seems to start paying off: while for the past weeks I was feeling tired and my legs were aching a bit at the end of my long runs, this week I felt great even after completing almost a half-marathon. So I decided it was time to add a session to my weekly schedule: I started with an easy recovery jog today, after my long run of yesterday. My legs were not aching the slightest bit, nor were they feeling "heavy". Instead, I was feeling very good and was running effortlessly. The purpose of this forth session on the day after the long run is to start training my body to run with tired legs. Because no matter how much I train, I will necessarily feel tired at some point during my 35-mile run on my birthday, and the difficulty will consist in being able to keep up my pace until the end! So at the height of my training program, I'll have some back-to-back long runs to perform on week-ends. During the next few weeks, I will therefore slowly lengthen the "recovery" session on Sundays.

Distance this week: 47.04 km (29.23 miles).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Should I have had surgery for my right knee crux ligament?

Two years ago, I broke my right knee crux ligament while playing squash (perhaps it had been already weakened years before during a nasty fall trying to do a 360-degree jump in snowboard). My stepfather Patrick, who is a sports physician, advised me to have knee surgery. But because of my great fear of surgeries, I decided I would do it only if I couldn't run nor snowboard, windsurf and surf any more. A month after the injury, I was able to snowboard again. Then I started running again progressively, and during my holidays in Hawaii a year after the injury, I completed the Honolulu marathon and was able to surf, all without any knee pain. So I forgot about having knee surgery.

But yesterday, I ran my long run outside in 5-20 cm of powder snow. It made for a more difficult run than usually, as other people's footprints and the occasional rocks hidden by the snow made the ride a bit bumpy. At the end of the run, my right knee ligaments were aching a bit, while my left knee ligaments were not. So, I am wondering whether I am not going to slowly damage my right knee if I keep running regularly for the rest of my life. Perhaps I should have had that knee surgery after all...

Anyway, today my knee is not hurting any more, so it was not too bad I guess. Nor is my right Achilles tendon hurting, which means it has fully healed! Next week I'll do 4 sessions and see what happens...

Distance this week: 36.64 km.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bravo Davy!

Congratulations to Davy, who has completed today the SaintéLyon ultra marathon (68 km, total elevation gain of 1300 m) in 8:15:31, with only 2-week training before the race, since he decided to participate in this race when I asked him whether he would join me in my running challenges. Well, this makes my 35-mile challenge sound like children play, but I can at least try to beat him in average speed, which would be no feat at all given the shorter distance and mostly flat route I would follow if I am able to run outside at this time of the year (otherwise I will have to run on my treadmill). But this gives me a motivation not to run it too slowly!

Otherwise, I have run 33.32 km this week in 3 sessions, and my tendons have not been sore. Yesterday I ran my long run outside in the snow (2-cm deep) on the coastal forest path, under a very nice weather. It was wonderful.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Received my treadmill today!

At the beginning of November, I went to the University's sports center, to check out how many treadmills they had and whether I could run barefoot or at least in socks on them. Turned out that for insurance reasons people are required to wear shoes to run on public treadmills. That immediately disqualified them for me, and motivated me to buy my own treadmill. We have one spare room at home for it, and my wife Marion, who is a runner as well, will be able to run with the kids at home. We bought the LiveStrong 13.0T. They delivered it today, and after a couple hours setting it up, I ran 30 minutes barefoot on it to test it. It is perfect! I had read that one could not run barefoot on a treadmill because the heat from the friction of the belt would burn one's feet. Well, after 30 minutes at 6.6 miles per hour, the belt was just warm and very comfortable to the feet, especially after having spent the whole summer running barefoot outside!

Looks like my tendonitis has healed: I could feel no more pain on Thursday, I ran 15 minutes slowly outside barefoot on Friday (the cold was barely bearable for my feet), and did not feel any pain, then I ran 30 minutes today on the treadmill. I think I can get back in my training program, but I'll do only 3 sessions per week for the next couple of weeks at least.

Distance this week: 7.40 km.
Distance last week: 38.36 km.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Already injured...

Damn, my body never seems to be able to follow my will... OK, perhaps going straight from 3 runs per week to 5 runs per week as part of my new training schedule was too much. Thankfully, the problem did not come from my right foot arch, but from my right foot tendon, which started to hurt on Wednesday this week. I was at a conference on Thursday and Friday so I could not run, and the tendon pain had almost completely disappeared by Saturday morning, so I decided to go for my long run, and guess what? The pain came back even stronger! So I have learned a lesson I had already read about but had not really believed until now: don't increase your running schedule by 2 days per week at once! I have read you should not increase it by more than one day per season (although it was not specified whether a season was 4 months or 6 months long). My friend Davy says it is useless to run more than 3 times per week, which would just wear you out. But other people say it is better to run frequent but shorter sessions than fewer but longer ones. I don't know who's right...

But I know 5 times per week is too much for me right now. So I'll wait one week for the tendonitis to disappear, then I'll try to find a training program with only 4 sessions per week (3 seems not enough to complete 35 miles). Frustrating...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Running Over The Limits

We all have limits, but they are not necessarily where we think they are. One year ago, when I ran my first marathon in Honolulu, I thought I had reached my endurance limit for running, as I hit the wall around kilometer 33 from overheating (it was quite a hot environment to run in after training in the snow in the UK just before the race!). I finished in 3 hours and 56 minutes and thought I could not have gone any longer. Then, 4 months later, I ran the Paris marathon, and finished in 3 hours and 37 minutes, feeling as if I could have run longer. Since the Paris marathon, I have not run any long distances again, as I have transitioned to barefoot running. I ran my first barefoot race by completing the 10K race at the Rimouski marathon, in 39 minutes and 54 seconds. Unfortunately, due to the cold weather on race day, I made the mistake to run in my socks, and got awful blisters. My feet are all mended now and I have started training for my next challenge: to run 35 miles (56 km) on my 35th birthday, this coming February 28th.

I am following a 50K training program in 16 weeks. This week (Week 1), I have run 57 km, but my right foot's arch is aching a bit at rest. This foot has not yet fully adjusted to the change in my running form since I have transitioned to barefoot running style. I have to watch it attentively: if it hurts when I run (which it does not yet), I'll have to stop running until the pain disappears. Better listen to your body than damage it. But I won't go back to my former heel-striking running form. Barefoot running form feels so much more natural and gentler for the rest of my body!

I hope my friend Davy will join me in this challenge, and the ones to follow...