C25K Week 3: Inflammation

This week, I explored the effect of what happens to the body after an overabundance of food, alcohol coupled with sleep deprivation and general fatigue.

This microcycle involves another set of intervals: 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk and repeat. Again I felt that this was a little too short – it’s only 9 minutes of actual running – so I tacked another 90s interval at the end to bring the time including warm-up to 25 minutes total (well, 24m30s) and then have a walking cool-down. Following on from last week, I set the pace for the 90s intervals at 6:15 min/mi and the 3 min run at 6:30 min/mi. That definitely made it challenging. I trained on Wednesday and Friday and in the Thursday, I cycled to work (11.5 miles either way) with a mind to introducing some cross training into my program. However, thanks to my competitive nature and Strava suggesting I could do an uphill section a little faster than before, I already had tired legs for w3d2 so I made up for it by pushing the final 90s interval at 10mph making (in theory) for 400m in 90s. Hard, but I felt great afterwards.

It all went downhill after that.

Plans once again got in the way of an outdoors run this weekend although there seemed to be plenty of time to overindulge in food and alcohol and time spent with some good friends who I haven’t seen in a long time. (Even runners and PTs are only human let their hair down and can be prone to the occasional lapse in willpower and this was the last social weekend of a good summer for barbecues.) Then on Sunday I headed to Brighton for a two day developers conference and while it was perfect weather and conditions for a good session on the seafront, I had a niggle in my foot and knee and generally felt inflammed, so I left my running shoes at home. Arguably, I should have made myself go out and make up for the weekends sins, but I faced the prospect of either a bad workout – which would have been annoying but easily got over – or hurting myself even more which would have been even more annoying and set me back a long time. At least I could use the time to recover, eat healthily, walk the seafront and the Laines and get some sleep right?

Living in the countryside, I forget how load a city can be: nightclubbers get kicked out at 2am, garbage trucks collect at 4:30am, buses from London arrive at 6am and alarm went off at 7:30am – all right outside my window. I ended up getting maybe 6 hours sleep on Sunday and a lot less than that on Monday night.

Back at the gym today and I made the decision to see out week 3 on the treadmill rather than skip a session and go straight to week 4. Even though I hadn’t trained for 4 days, I felt the effect of the weekend on my body and felt sluggish, tired and out-of-breath. I struggled to complete the second 3 minute interval and I didn’t even think of trying to push the last 90s interval like I had done on post-cycle legs for w3d2.

On reflection, it’s easy to see why: my rest wasn’t really a rest – particularly with the lack of sleep and too much alcohol. The combination of both of these factors affect our bodies ability to repair, grow and adapt – which is exactly what the C25K program is trying to promote. While I do feel a little guilty at all but sabotaging my training, I’m pleased that I listened to my body (particularly the niggles) and was prudent and patient enough not to try training before I felt ready. Today’s session was harder than it needed to be but at least my legs feel fine.

Bring on week 4!

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