This past weekend I had the opportunity to test my fitness and evaluate my progress after a month of training seriously. I would be competing in the Lake Arcadia Aquathon. The race distances were a 500-meter swim followed by a 2 mile run.
I felt good about my swimming but my running has been slowed by a right hamstring injury that I suffered during my first week of training. I did some hard strides after a long run and I haven’t been able to shake the pain since. I have been doing essentially no speed work at all. Recovery has been slow because I continue to run on it at least a few times a week. It’s a grade 2 strain. It’s not that serious but something that I need to take care of or it will become a chronic problem. I used to get by with this kind of stuff when I was younger, but now I have to think about the injury potential.
I had some idea about what I felt I could do in this race. I thought 7 minutes on the swim, and anything under 14 minutes on the run would be within my current fitness level.
I had a good warm up but the hamstring was really bothering me. It was like a toothache in the back of my right leg.
The race started out well. I took off in the lead and I was able to hold my power and speed of my stroke for about 300 meters of it. I fell off a bit in the last 100 due to lack of endurance. I let a young swimmer girl go by me for the swim lead. I was out of the water in six minutes and thirty seconds, which was faster than I had expected.
My transition was quick and I was first out on the run and settled into a sub 7 min/mile pace. I was able to hold it for a mile or so and then the wheels came off. The lack of anaerobic training was very evident and I was disappointed when some guy passed me in the last quarter mile of the race for the win. My run time was 14:19. I would have been happy with a 13:30.
My total time was 21:12 for 2nd overall.
My swim is progressing well. I will continue to progress my interval speed out longer distances and will gradually cut my rest interval, as I get fitter. So far, I am only up to repetitions of 200 yards with a 30 second rest interval. I will continue with my dry land strength program and use my Vasa Erg Trainer on days that I don’t go to the pool. I’m on target for a very good swim for my race in September.
My run is a different story. I felt stiff, not fluid, and slow. I was also in oxygen debt for a pace that I used to do for an Ironman a few years back. The hamstring ached but I tried to forget it.
I looked back at my recent training and saw that I had no business thinking that I could run blazing fast. I just hadn’t put in the miles or the appropriate speed work. I was just running a few times a week at a slow pace. My mind tells me I can run sub 6-minute miles but my body says no you can’t!
I only have two months to build up my run fitness to a peak around the first week of September. I need frequency and speed work but I also need to heal the hamstring. The current solutions that I have found are very hard workouts on the elliptical trainer. I can finish these with my legs feeling like jelly and without any hamstring pain. It’s also non-weight bearing so it will minimize the damage to my joints and muscles so I can recover faster. I should be able to progress to some treadmill running and eventually get to the track.
I have gotten back into daily Yoga. My injury was on the right side. I discovered that I’m so tight on that entire side. I need to balance out my body strength and flexibility. That might help me run more fluidly.
My next test will be a race at the same venue a month from now but the distances will be longer: 750-meter swim and a 5K run. I’m hoping to improve the paces on both disciplines.