M minus 10 : Palma de Mallorca approaches
It’s been a while since my last post about running – work, friends, a niggling injury and an unfortunate death in the family have made me take time out from blogging – but that’s life!
Fortunately, it seems as if I have been able to manage my niggling shin issue enough that I’ve been able to complete my last two long runs at the planned distance, and not too much slower than forecast. Sure, some of the shorter runs have had to fall by the wayside in return for enforced rest to manage my injury, but being able to get through the long runs without too much hassle is encouraging.
I have been able to discern that my shin issue is aggravated by speed work, not necessarily mileage. It started with the British 10k London Run, and seemed to keep recurring after shorter runs. I then did a track session hoping that reduced mileage (albeit faster speed) on a softer surface would be ok for the shin. Nope. Worse. Much worse in fact.
Off to see my physio again and even though she could not help help with the bone bruising and bone-stress response directly, she did help with my calf tightness and also gave me some useful advice. You see, it turns out that my form has been slipping. Not necessarily in a bad way, just not in a good way for distance running.
Playing and training for Aussie Rules Football over the summer meant that I was running shorter distances and doing workouts comprising lots of short sprints interspersed with jogging, like Fartlek training. All the sprinting had changed my running style to a more ‘toe-ey’ gait. Being up on your toes brings your calf strength to bear (your calf muscles are some of the strongest in the body), increasing your propulsion dramatically over what your quads and hamstrings provide. Look at a 100 metre sprinter and you see what I mean about being a ‘toe-ey’ runner.
Anyway, I digress. My physio told me that being a ‘toe-ey’ runner is fine, and in fact very good for sprints and short distances, however anything over a few miles and you start overloading your calf muscles, which causes excess strain, micro tears, and associated tightening of the calf muscles. This in turn aggravates the connections between the soleus muscle and the tibia, causing the bone stress response.
Her advice to counter this was to pay more attention to my gait and to try and revert to a mid-foot strike, along with concentrating on rearward leg extension using my glutes and hamstrings. Doing this will keep me off my toes and rely less on my calf muscles for propulsion.
I’ve been trying it out and I must say that my calf soreness after long runs has been lower, with very little in the way of extra soreness on my hamstrings and glutes. It also feels like I’m foot striking more under my centre of gravity landing on the mid-foot, whereas when toe/forefoot running I think my foot strike was happening further forwards in my gait, which could also be a reason for shin soreness as striking the ground in front of your COG tends to result in a ‘braking’ action, transmitting the force into the lower limb.
So, I’m generally feeling positive and training for the marathon seems to be getting back on track, and although I’m still not being able to maximise my short runs by doing speed work, I am getting in my long runs which are the backbone of any marathon training plan. So it’s thumbs up for me at the moment!
On another note, ‘Get Going, Get Running’ is now on Facebook, where I’m posting items, articles and other running related trivia on a more regular basis, over and above the blog. If you want to keep in touch with my day-to-day happenings, tips and inspiration, just ‘like’ my page and you’ll start receiving my posts in your newsfeed.
Do you have a Garmin too? I’m keen to connect with people to see how/what they are doing for their training as well. You can connect with me through my Garmin Connect profile.
I hope I see some of you lovely souls on Facebook or Garmin some time soon! In the meantime;
Happy running everyone and I hope your race preparation is going well too. Let me know in the comments below!
Get Going, Get Running!