Training and Recovery

We ran our favorite route in Chamonix on Monday.  It was long, tough but all so worth it.  We started out at Le Buet then to the refuge up to Col de Salenton.  There’s still snow up at the col so we hiked gingerly to get to the top and lucky for us, there’s a short section of snow on the descent.  Hiking in snow with running shoes is tough specially when it’s mushy snow, it’s slicker than hard hardpack, in my opinion.

The valley on the other side of the col is lovely and with the rain the previous days, there were many creeks flowing.  Crossing the creeks is one thing but also running through single track muddy trails is another.  It’s hard to get a rhythm or any kind of continuous flowing effort.  I twisted my ankle twice from running on the edge of soft grass.  It was a 10 mi downhill to Servoz.  We stopped at a refuge to visit the toilet and have our snack.  There was also potable water so we refilled.  The next leg of the run was fire trails and they were very rocky.  The feet were already screaming at me at a few hundred meters then later, the legs.  Long downhill and some steep single tracks towards Lac Vert. We finally arrived to a parking lot where the trail turned into road.  At that point, all I cared was to get to the train station so we took the road all the way back to Le Mont then to the gare or train station.  We sat happily at the station for 40 mins before the train arrived.

It is Wednesday and the weather is clearing up.  Yesterday, a much needed “recovery” bike ride to the village was a good change.  I woke up really tired from the day before.  Those kind of efforts like the long run really suppress my appetite and when we got back that afternoon I wasn’t hungry but had to eat something besides the two banana, peanut butter crepe rolls I packed.  It was really hard to eat but was able to get it down.  I find that adding lots of salty cheese helped.  My stomach felt really bloated for some reason.  I hope it’s not from the creek water I’ve been drinking all day long.  It’s never been a problem last year so it must be something else.  The stomach was so gassy it was hard to run downhill.  It was that bad.

Today, I feel okay but with some residual fatigued and figured out why my left ankle was sore, it was from twisting my ankle on Monday.  Only now it appeared, two days later.  It feels tight and when I stretch it, it felt tighter.  I also realized now that my new shoes is narrow for my toes.  Nothing too serious, no blisters or black toenails but it just feels narrower than my other shoes.  In the many miles on the feet with lots of ups and downs, naturally the feet will expand and the shoes must allow it to breathe.  It’s time to re-assess my shoes.  I really like the 6mm drop but may have to resort back to a 4mm drop for more comfort.  I don’t know, we’ll see – shoes are so critical in long distance runs or even just hiking.

The “tennis elbow” is finally healing!  I’ve had this for a couple of months.  I don’t play tennis but it happened when my little pinky finger caught and got bent on a left hook during sparring.  The nerve somehow got jolted towards the elbow joint.  I didn’t think about it so much but then it started to hurt during sleep time at night.  Luckily, it was the end of sparring and into the treadmill training days so it was able to heal – but it took a long, long time!  It is finally, healed.

The biggest worry I have is the knees.  It’s not uncommon to complain about knee discomforts when climbing 1000m or 3,300ft in 3-5 mi or descending at the same height.  The technical terrain here in Chamonix is really tough.  Imagine trying to run downhill on 20% or more gradient, on rocky surface.  The biggest question is, is it just a minor inflammation that will heal up or will it turn into something chronic?  It’s really hard to tell and hard to know until it just doesn’t go away.  The problem is, it’s like my “tennis elbow” issue.  It did go away but for a very long time.  Healing takes a long time now that I am past my 45’s, I guess.  On the other hand, there are a lot of women and men in my age here in the French Alps who are also trail running so I’ve got no excuse.  I think I am just panicking a bit and let a few days roll out to see how it is.  My knees are not swollen and I can walk without any pain.  It is very discomforting running downhill and I have no problems going up hill.  I’ll have to play it by ear.  It’s clearly an overuse specially with the big 17.3 mi day on Monday.  It’s probably a good idea to reduce the mileage and go a bit slower.

Recovery is really tricky.  It’s hard to reduce or slow down during training.  I know it sounds stupid but it is.  However, that is what makes and breaks training so we have to think hard about our priorities during training.  The race is one thing but permanent or chronic injury is another.  The toughest part in training is to slow down and still train but suck up it up but yet continue to train.  It is a mental game.  This is also the fun part of training.  It’s very much a problem solving game but at a physical and mental cost to a personal goal.  It is personal challenge and you are responsible for the outcome.  I am concerned about UTMR, yes no doubt but that certain fear is a good thing.  Do I let it intimidate me to the point where I give up or adapt to the situation day by day to get to the start line.  It is the journey…

Let’s see how today goes and it should be a beautiful sunny day in the mountains!

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