Things are starting to get back into the normal routine at this point. The back injury is pretty much gone at this point, and while my heart rates are still a bit high I've done a few faster sessions this week and they were comparable in effort to sessions before the injury. I'm still being careful about things and escalating mileage and pace slowly, however I'm past the point where I need to be delicate about everything so hopefully the fitness will come back quickly.
I did miss one of the runs that I would have liked to do this week, however I moved up the mileage in the other runs to largely make up for it. My cycling speeds are pretty much where they were before at this point, so it's just a matter of rebuilding the psychological toughness required to ride indoors for significant periods of time. On the swimming front, I'm still sticking to the shorter 3.25K distances rather than 4K as it's a little easier on the body and is likely sufficient for this stage of my training.
On Friday, I did my first brick session in several months - putting in 25K on the bike (31.2km/h) followed immediately by a 6 mile run (5:05/km). I kept myself down on the aerobars for the majority of that ride, and when I got out for the run it was immediately obvious that they are a big help in keeping the legs rested. I've never really had much trouble doing these sessions (the warm-up effect of the bike offsets any fatigue), but in this case the legs actually felt better than just heading out for a run on my own. The aero position pushes the load onto the quads and away from the hamstrings, so I got all of the benefits of the warm up without any of the fatigue. As such, it was a constant struggle to try and keep my pace down as the legs just wanted to go faster than I'd planned. I've read about the theoretical benefit of this in the past, but I didn't think that the practical benefits would be quite so dramatic - will have to try some longer distances to see if this holds up ;)
Contributing to this was the fantastic weather that we had for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures hovered around +4C, the sun was out and we avoided any significant precipitation. Further, most of the snow and ice that's been lingering on sidewalks has pretty much disappeared, which made it easier to enjoy the run rather than having to maneuver around obstacles ;)
Unfortunately, I was busy for most of yesterday so I had to reschedule my long run to today and the weather isn't quite as nice. Temperatures are back down to -4C and I had to do the last two miles or so of my 8 miler in pretty heavy snow. Thankfully, it wasn't settling down on the ground at that point (it is now), so it was more of an annoyance than any kind of problem.
Either way, I took the opportunity to accelerate a few times during the run to see how well my body was getting back into shape. Near the end I pushed myself to do a 4:20 kilometer, and while my heart rate did shoot up a bit higher than I would have liked it was quite comfortable and I likely could have kept it up for longer. With that said, thanks to the injury it's been a while since I've really added any speed into the mix so I didn't want to push any harder than that.
Week 7 Totals:
Running: 37.1km (23.1mi)
Walking: 1.8km (1.1mi)
Cycling: 85.1km (52.9mi)
Swimming: 7.3km (4.5mi)
Total: 131.3km (81.6mi)
Year to Date:
Running: 238.0km (147.9mi)
Walking: 24.0km (14.9mi)
Cycling: 170.1km (105.7mi)
Swimming: 33.5km (20.8mi)
Total: 465.6km (289.3mi)
The tricky part at this juncture is that I need to figure out whether to go ahead with the marathon target or fall back to plan B and just do the half. The 12 week program I was planning on using would have me start back tomorrow, but I'm not entirely sure that it's wise to push myself just yet. The one option may be to reset my goal to doing the Ottawa marathon as that will buy me a couple of extra weeks, but that poses a bit of a problem as the recovery period starts to push into Triathlon season. Naturally, I could just adapt the program to work around the rebuild, but with only 12 weeks to go that may be difficult. Either way, I'll just have to think about it a bit more tonight and figure out what to do.