Half-marathon reminiscences

The first question on Monday morning was whether or not the previous day’s half marathon had triggered a relapse of the fatigue of the previous few weeks.  I was delighted to find that Monday’s orthostatic test was a textbook illustration: a 9.8 bpm rise in heart rate from resting to standing , with a healthy shift from parasympathetic preponderance while resting towards a sympathetic preponderance while standing.  In the subsequent two days the orthostatic test has continued to yield similar results with orthostatic rises of around 8 bpm.  I still feel tired, but I think this is normal tiredness after pushing my legs a bit harder than my training had prepared them for.  I appear to have overcome the troublesome fatigue that had hamstrung me when I attempted to recommence training after my illness.

The second question was: how serious was the strain of my left hip adductors that had developed midway through the half-marathon?  On Monday morning there was a dull ache in my upper thigh, and I made no attempt to test the situation any further.  Tuesday evening I did a short easy session on the elliptical cross-trainer without exacerbating the problem, so this morning, I did some cautious hip swings.  I found I could swing the left leg to 90 degrees without trouble.  On the right, I could swing only to about 60 degrees without pain.  The task of preventing rotation of the pelvis when swinging the opposite leg places greater demands on the adductors of the stance leg, so this was not surprising.  I was sufficiently encouraged to try an easy run this evening.  However as soon as I started to jog, the pain returned so I stopped immediately.  The adductors need a few more days of rest, but I am hopeful I will be running again before too long. 

Although my primary goal on Sunday was to test my recovery from fatigue, it was not all about watching the heart monitor.  A few photos from the final stages give a glimpse of some of the other features of the run.

 2009-09-16RHHM

In the first picture, on the left, taken about 120 metres from the finish, I am managing to maintain reasonable form.  But with the limited swing of my right leg, a firmly anchored left foot and short stride, I certainly do not look as if I am racing.   The second photo, about 80 metres from the line, shows that despite my short stride and almost non-existent airborne phase, the gap separating me from a runner from Redhill Road Runners (7484) is closing.  The picture catches me relatively late in the swing of the left leg.  There is visible tension in my hip adductors.  At this stage of the gait cycle the main role of the hip adductors is to assist the extensors in arresting the swinging leg and bring the foot backwards relative to the torso.  On account of my feeble swing, that should not have required much muscle power.  I presume the overt tension reflects a mild spasm due to torn fibres.

However it was the next picture that brought back a bit of nostalgia for times past. In the few long races I have run since recommencing running in middle age, I have let the lingering remnants of the competitive spirit of my youth to have free rein in the final kilometer or so.  If two runners are shoulder to shoulder after 20Km, they are likely to be fairly evenly matched and it is usually the one with a bit more fire in his belly who crosses the line first.  But wisdom had dictated that Sunday’s run was not an occasion to let the competitive spirit go wild.  About 1Km from the end, a runner in the yellow vest of the Steel City Striders strode past me and I simply let him go without a challenge.  However here I was, within a few metres of the finish, and it was just too much to let this opportunity go by.   

2009_09_16_RHHM_racing

If I half close my eyes looking at the picture I can almost imagine myself forty years ago – well maybe I would need to put on very dark glasses and well as half-closing my eyes to create that illusion – but at least it looks as if I am racing.  I did retain enough sense to avoid an all out sprint, and was content to cross the line a second or so ahead of my rival from Redhill.  I also overtook the young man to the right of the second photo (4184) and a young woman who is not in the field of view.  So although I had not intended to treat Sunday’s run as a race, it was good to have a brief reminder of times past.

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5 Responses to “Half-marathon reminiscences”

  1. Andrew(AJH) Says:

    Great pictures! Having enough in the tank to overtake runners many years your junior at the end of the race is a great testament to your running! A great feeling too!

  2. Ewen Says:

    That’s a great shot. It’s definitely racing, and the Redhill runner has a look of resignation on his face. And a huge crowd of spectators to witness the excitement!

    I imagine if you hadn’t had the abductor strain your stride would have looked quite different. Although, as the top race-walkers prove – you don’t need much of an airborne phase to move quickly.

    Definitely fun though to race an evenly matched rival in the latter stages. My tactic has always been similar to your Steel City rival – go hard from 1k out. If that doesn’t work, try the last 50m sprint!

  3. RICKS RUNNING Says:

    Hi Canute, I’d never seen a photo of you before but must say you look young for your age, there are people I know at work [ none runners] who have just turned 40 who look much older. ronning seems to hold the years back!!!

  4. canute1 Says:

    Andrew,Ewen,Rick, thanks for your comments.
    Rick, at times the niggling muscle and joint problems that beset me nowadays makes it seem that running merely adds to the wear and tear of aging, but casting my mind a decade or so when I was frequently limping due to an arthritic knee restores my hope that running will at least it will keep me mobile into old age.

  5. Paul Says:

    Canute, great pics. If I close my eyes and imagine myself 40-years ago all I see is diapers! Man, you rock. These pictures show me a man who isn’t trying to recapture his halcyon days, but who is making new ones! I am sure 99% of your age-colleagues wish they had your fitness. Good work. Paul 🙂

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