Turn up the base

I had a good week of running. I managed to hit my goal of 50 miles and also went on an 8 mile hike on Saturday. My body held up pretty well, although there are a few aches and pains. I’m confident that I can handle more and I’m especially happy about the fact that I’m able to beat the heat. Running at 6:30 am is clearly the way to go. Earlier would be better, but I find this is a good time for me since I am able to deal with it consistently. There was one day this week when it was especially hot so I did my run in the morning and followed it up with an evening cool down. I may have to do that more because running doubles like that allows me to avoid the effects of overheating that seem to intensify after 9 or 10 miles.

I know that this is hardly original, but I find the best way for me to deal with the early mornings is to arrange everything the night before. I actually set out my running gear and even brew a cup of coffee the night before. Cold coffee works for me; if I start drinking hot coffee the minutes can fly by and next thing you know, it’s too late. I don’t eat anything before runs of under 9-10 miles. I might grab an energy bar just in case, but I find that I’m ok running slower paces on an empty stomach.

Everything else is going well. I managed to do a few short and easy yoga sessions and two strength training sessions (each about 20 minutes). I alternate between kettlebells, resistance bands, and body weight routines. I’ll try to write more about that later.

The toe problem has come back, which is something I’m trying not to think about too much, although I know it could be a problem. The thing is that it really doesn’t seem like it’s a big problem because there is no pain when I run. It’s just a nagging feeling sometimes – I notice it especially when I walk around the house. Hopefully this week it disappears…? I’ve tried duct taping some padding under the toe, which seems to help.

My goal this week is to get up to 55 miles and stick with another easy hike on Saturday. Turn up the base is my mantra. I’m following a training schedule which includes some speed work, but I’m going to make modifications in order to keep the intensity relatively low.

Finding Focus

Taken while hiking in Plover Cove Country Park, Hong Kong

Taken while hiking in Plover Cove Country Park, Hong Kong

In my last post I mentioned that I didn’t really have any goals and that it was nice to just run. I have found that this isn’t quite true. Although I plan to stay in base training mode, I have now targeted one summer race so I have some focus for the next 8 weeks or so. While I am back in Canada over the summer I plan to run the Crimson Lake Trail Run, a race I have done many times. It’s a small local event, but a very fun one and usually followed by a party with friends and family. This year they have a 20 km event (two loops around the lake), which should be interesting, so I’m shooting for that.

So with this race in mind, I have decided to train with a half marathon plan. I recently bought the book “Faster Road Racing: 5km to the Half Marathon” and found some plans in there that should work for me, although I may need to make some adjustments. First, I’m jumping in a bit late so I may need to ease into it, and second I’m going to have to lay off the intensity because the Hong Kong summers simply do not permit fast running (unless you want your heart rate to skyrocket to ridiculous levels).

It was a good week running again. My toe problem seems to have disappeared and so I managed to get in 42 miles, which I’m pleased with. The long run of 14 miles this morning was a bit rough and it felt more like a 20 miler. I must have sweat half of my body weight out there and my wife looked a bit shocked and concerned when I came home looking frazzled and very wet. I may need to start doing AM/PM doubles in order to get the milage in without overheating like that.

If all goes well I can get up to 55 next week. I will definitely need to reign in the pace because this will be a jump up. I think with all of that marathon training earlier this year I should be good to go, but I’m going to take it easy and just try to log some miles at a slow pace.

I had a good week in terms of diet and nutrition. This despite the fact that we have had company visiting and I was not in control of every meal. But I have found that logging everything is working out well, not so much to control the overall calorie count (although that helps), but insofar as it helps me to learn more about particular foods, ratios, and nutrients. One thing I have noticed that I sometimes do not seem to get enough of a few key components. The ones I need to work on are protein, carbs, iron, and calcium. I think I have the iron part figured out, but the other ones will have to be an ongoing project. I’ll be damned if I eat the recommended amount of carbs (a bare minimum of 7 grams per kg of body weight puts be over 500, which I find to be a difficult number to hit). I can now understand why some athletes gorge on fruit and just eat a bunch of bananas as a meal. I am going to try to get more carbs, especially as I step up the running, but I find it hard because obviously something else gets lost if you just eat bananas.

I had another wonderful hike on Saturday and got some nice pictures. Next week we might try a different route. Anyways, it’s nice to have a focus again.

Another week goes by…

It has been nice running and training without any particular goal in mind. I have been fairly consistent since Nagano Marathon, running around 30-40 miles a week and doing quite a bit of other exercise: yoga, hiking, cycling (on the trainer), and some kettle bell routines.

For a while I was gaining weight, but I managed to get that under control. I actually got back on Myfitnesspal and started logging everything. This feels like a ridiculous thing to do, but I think it works, at least as a strategy to get myself back on track. I feel that it has been paying off because I am a lot more attentive and don’t slip up quite so often. It’s always a shock to find out just how many damn calories are in a handful of nuts! I think the trick is not to get freaked out or feel depressed if I go over – just need to keep logging and focusing on quality food. I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping it mostly plant-based, which I think is the key to maintaining low levels of fat and developing long term health.

Although I have not been running nearly as much as I was during the marathon training, I somehow managed to injure myself. Not a big injury – just an annoying pain on the joint of my right toe. It’s been nagging for about a week. I figure there is no point trying to run through so I laid off running and did more on the bike this week. I feel like it’s getting better now so I can probably resume running as usual this upcoming week.

I only ran 20 miles this week but managed to bike 89 miles. Also went on a challenging 20 km hike with Jenny where we explored some ghost towns in the Hong Kong’s new territories. It’s incredible that places like this exist in a city that is so well known for its vibrant urban landscapes. We’ve particularly enjoyed hiking in this area because there are some good lunch options in some of these little isolated villages.

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Fung Hang: Semi-abandoned village


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A totally abandoned village near Lai Chi Wo


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Big ass spider – one of many!

Recovery and Refocus

I realized after posting my last write up about cracking 3 hours that very few people actually read blogs, or I mean my blog…. in fact , there have been zero hits! But whatever, I’ll just keep writing, at very least to keep myself focused and accountable in some way.  

Since Nagano I’ve been following the recovery schedule from Advanced Marathoning and built back up to around 40 miles a week. I’ve been enjoying running again at a slower pace with fewer miles per week, but the heat in Hong Kong is really hard to deal with. I have also noticed weight gain, which bothers me because I feel my fitness is slipping away. So I’m going to try to control my diet and doing some other cardio like biking to keep the burn going strong. I’ve been getting up in the mornings trying to beat the heat which is an added challenge. I find that I need to be running by 6:30 am or earlier, which is kind of hard to do consistently. But I’m hanging in there.

I have also been on some awesome hikes with Jenny and enjoying the scenery and found some obscure corners of Hong Kong. We discovered some remote villages accessible only by foot and have been hiking in this area every Saturday and grabbing lunch at one of the villages. It’s been really fun. Some pics on my flickr site.

I’m still not sure about my next race. I was thinking about Edmonton Marathon in August since I’ll be in Alberta at that time. But I just don’t think I can deal with training hard in the humidity and heat of HK. So I’ll probably just keep a solid base and shoot for a fall half marathon (maybe Macau?) and a full marathon early next year. Tokyo Marathon would be nice, but the chances of getting in are slim. I’ll try anyways.  There is also the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in Japan I which is tempting because of its reputation for being kind of hardcore and super fast. Or maybe I should just stick with Hong Kong Marathon and save some money and hassle of traveling. So I’m in transition and still scheming.

Just need to keep getting out of bed early and putting the miles in.