Up and Down and Back on Track: 5 weeks till Tokyo Marathon

I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.

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Sesamoiditis Dammit Dammit! And I Saw a Cobra!

I’m an idiot. Last week I was upbeat about my niggling foot injury (aka sesamoiditis) and the fact that I had pretty much conquered it. “It’s almost healed now so I’m going to ease into the running this week,” I wrote. So what did I do?

Well, I started my week on Monday by power hiking up a mountain and running back down (5 miles round trip with 500 m elevation gain). Is that easing into it? To some, this might not seem like much, but given that I have done zero hill training, it was actually quite a shock to the system. It felt ok at the time, but I was sore for almost a week! I have to say though, it was a nice view!

One of the 'Eight Immortals

Taken on one of the ‘Eight Immortals” in the Pat Sin Lung Mountain Range. I live at the base of this mountain and have been meaning to get up there for a while.

Instead of resting on Tuesday or maybe going for a swim I decided it would be a good idea to shake out the legs so I ran 5 miles. On Wednesday I ran 8 in the morning and 4 in the evening. This is definitely not easing into it…

On Thursday I thought maybe an easy hike would be ok as a change. That seemed to be going well until I saw a cobra on the trail. Big and black and scary. It just slithered off, so there was no danger, but it freaked me out. I do not like snakes. Period. So I headed back to the road and slow jogged for a few more miles. That’s why I don’t like trail running in Hong Kong. Call me a wimp, but I think I’m going to wait till the winter kicks in before I start doing solo runs on those trails, especially during the weekdays when it’s so quiet.

The next day I woke up with niggling pains again in my foot. Nothing too serious, but definitely something abnormal going on. Dammit! Serves me right. Well, I haven’t run since then, so it’s been four days off. To top things off I woke up on Saturday with a major kink in my back, which I am only now getting over. I hate being a gimp! But at least I didn’t get bitten by the cobra, so it’s all good.

In total, I ran 27 miles and did 3 x 25 min of kettlebells (the old cheesy Kettleworx to be precise). I also hiked 9 miles on Saturday with Jenny. So not a complete disaster. This week I will show restraint. More time on the bike and a few slow and easy runs. That’s it!

No, I didn't take this. There is no way in hell I'd get that close

No, I didn’t take this but that’s what it looked like. Jet black and totally evil looking… actually quite a beautiful creature

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.

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!