As most readers will know, I struggled badly in December with a severe chest infection and asthma-related symptoms. Just over three weeks of training left me feeling as though my fitness levels had completely deserted me and my legs were feeling totally and utterly drained after just a few miles.
I estimated it would take a good 6-8 weeks to start feeling anywhere near normal again.
So here I am just before the middle of February to confirm that after a good 5-6 weeks of regular training, all be it a gentle reintroduction, I'm beginning to feel like my normal self again.
January was a real struggle for me. I only managed just over 59 miles for the entire month. The first couple of weeks of January was pretty unpleasant. I managed to run 5k on New Years Day and then Friday 2nd January but my legs were in such a state, I didnt run again until the Monday. That was pretty much the case through January. Run, legs felt awful, recover, repeat. In them first couple of weeks, my quads felt so badly bruised. I dont think I've ever felt as sore as that after a marathon let alone the odd occasional 5k. Towards the end of the month, I managed a 7.5 miler and a 8 miler but that was pretty much it. At the end of the month, I was beginning to get my confidence back and the recovery after each run was becoming less and less which was encouraging.
February has been much better. On Sunday 1st February, I managed my first double digit run of the year, a long slow 13.1 miler in 2:03. I felt like I still had something in the legs at the end, although I was really feeling it after Alison dragged me around Bluewater that afternoon!
In the next 11 days, I've ran a total of 55 miles, so I've really been putting the miles in and my stats are showing an alarming rate of improvement as I would expect.
On my now regular 7.5 mile loop around Petts Wood, I monitor my times and HR along a specific segment, measuring 5.9 miles, starting from the Tudor Lane junction of Petts Wood Road out towards Locksbottom and Bromley Common than back up to Petts Wood via Southborough Lane to Franks Wood Avenue. Its a good leg stretcher with about 4 miles of draggy hills involved with a speedy section in the middle.
As you'll see from the times, the two times of interest are the top two. Despite setting a new PB for the segment on 26th Jan, the run on 10th Feb is hugely significant. My average HR was back to where I would expect it to me. 156bpm is around my tempo pace, where I'm comfortable, not pushing hard and could spend a good 2-3 hours there if required. Compare that to the run almost 2 weeks previous. I was pushing harder. However 2 weeks later, the legs and lungs are clearly coming back.
As it so happens, I've been setting a good few PBs in the last few weeks.
The end of the segment above, Southborough Lane is another good example. Its almost a mile drag with a 2% gradient.
So despite not pushing as hard as my PB run for the 5.9 mile segment on 26th Jan, the Southborough Lane climb was 2 seconds quicker for 5bpm less effort.
The following day, I ran with Plumstead Runners and treated the run as a recovery run for the most part but decided to run the hills involved as strongly as I could. First up was Lodge Hill in Welling...
Last night's run up Lodge Hill was hugely significant. 3% gradient for the best part of half of a mile and I'm running an average 7:48 min/mile pace for only 153bpm, considerably less than my previous best effort up the hill in May 2013. I have to say I felt bloody great as I was running up the hill too. Normally I'm blowing out of my backside on the short and sharp hills but this felt different. I felt strong, I felt good and I really wasnt blowing too hard.
I have to say almost 24 hours later, my legs are feeling rather heaving today but I have run three hard runs in three days so thats to be expected but there's clear evidence that the legs are lungs are definitely on the road to recovery now.
The only thing I need to do now is start upping my mileage properly ahead of the Brighton Marathon in April. I have to say the December illness has put me behind schedule and I'm certainly running out of time to complete a full training schedule this time around but hopefully I'll be able to manage myself through.
However, a sub 4:00 marathon finish maybe an unreasonable request given the lack of training left ahead of April. I'm just going to run and see where I come :)