Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bernie’s Christmas tips for runners

This time of year magazines, newspapers and fitness and lifestyle websites are full of ‘How To’ advice on coping with Christmas.

How to eat properly. How to party properly. How to workout during the holidays. How many steps you need to take to work off a full turkey dinner with stuffing, potatoes, veg and all the trimmings (I think it’s something like to India and back).

20131220-094641.jpg

And I think it’s all tosh.

To me, Christmas and New Years is about being with family, being thankful for our lot, celebrating the year past and the new one coming.

It’s not about fretting about how many calories are in the gravy you’re slathering over the turkey stuffing. It’s not about overanalysing the drop in mileage because you’ve taken a few extra days off. It’s not about turning down that nightcap with grandad because you want to run early in the morning.

If I had to write a list of Christmas ‘how to’ tips for runners it would go like this:

Eat. If you want to.

Drink. If you want to.

Be Merry. With Friends, Family, Strangers.

Of course if you have a race on New Year’s Day you will also need to Run.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Happy Running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Around the World Running Blog Relay 2014

A great idea for a Running Blog Relay. I hope that you’ll read Kylabee’s post on Motivation and join in!

Help, my run was stolen!

Ok ok. Not stolen, just ‘misplaced’ for another 10 days or so.

My bio-mechanical assessment was on Thursday night with Mike Antoniades from The Running School and the outcome of the BMA wasn’t great. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t good news.

Actually, I take that back. While the BMA showed there are definitely problems with my gait, overall it was good news. My calf injury is indeed an overuse injury caused by a bio-mechanical flaw. This is good news for me because a bio-mechanical flaw can be trained out, and if trained out properly, will leave me with the added benefit of a more efficient and less injury-prone gait. I’ve also been declared fit enough to resume bike training, so I managed a spin class the other morning as well.

So immediate news not good, but overall result is positive.

Diagnosis:
– I have a weaker glute and hamstring on my right side (as suspected)
– My core is not activating correctly, even though ‘overall’ I have good strength (not expected)

What this causes:
– When loading my right leg, my glute and core ‘fail’ and allow my left hip to drop, changing my centre of gravity from central on my spine to the left of my spine.
– The resultant ‘lean’ means my right foot must cross over my mid-line to compensate, which causes supination on my right foot and the overuse on the outside of my right calf.
– The calf injury has caused me over time to adjust my gait to compensate for this lack of propulsion from calf, glute and hamstring by over-striding. I still land on midfoot, but in front of my centre-of-gravity, which is inefficient.

What I need to fix:
– Glute and hamstring strength AND;
– Core activation.
My rearwards leg lift is good, but because of the ‘dropped’ hip I can’t get enough propulsion through my glute/hamstring as the muscles just cannot be brought to bear. It is also causing the hip pain complaints I have been having as my hip joint is not in the correct position during the loading portion of my phase.

How to fix it:
It seems my glute and hip flexor workouts, while useful, don’t include enough compound movements, i.e. movements using more than one muscle group at the same time. That is how I appear to have good overall strength, but really have weakness caused by lack of muscles working together to support one another and engage my core.

Sadly I have to admit that the problem is self inflicted. I failed to follow my own advice and dropped out strength training in my marathon build-up (laziness and a perceived lack of time), assuming that the core strength and ‘toughness’ left over from AFL would see me through. Wrong! “Pride comes before the fall” and all that…

Following my BMA we went into some rehab exercises to improve glute and core strength, and crucially, coordinated activation. These exercises were unlike anything I’ve done before. At first I was skeptical because they involve only small movements and very little weight, but I can attest to their difficulty. Well, for me anyway.

Exercise 1:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a baton in the right hand. Take a small step with the left foot, with the knee slightly bent transfer the weight to the front foot, bend forwards from the hips keeping the back straight, reaching out and down with the baton, hold for two seconds before coming back up. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

Simple exercise I know, but in the first few reps I really struggled with my balance (I.e fell over – sigh) as my core and buttocks just couldn’t seem to fire at the same time to keep my hips aligned. It showed me how ‘weak’ I really was.

Exercise 2:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a baton in the right hand. Take a small step with the left foot, with the knee slightly bent transfer the weight to the front foot, bend forwards from the hips keeping the back straight, then twist to the left and hold for two seconds before returning to the starting position. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

Again, a seemingly simple exercise, but the twist really engages the core and forces your core and glute to work together to stop you falling over. Matt pointed out to me that when doing the exercise on my right side my calf, ankle and knee ‘twitch’ a lot as my body tries to keep my balance through my lower leg to compensate for glute and core not succeeding to maintain my balance.

Exercise 3:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a Swiss ball in front of you. Standing straight, take a small step with the left foot out to the diagonal, with your weight evenly distributed, twist to the left and hold for two seconds before returning to the start position. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

I found this exercise easier as it relied less on my glute strength and the connection from glute to lower back, instead using core and upper body to maintain balance through the movement.

Exercise 4:
The fourth exercise, and not something I can do at home, was definitely the strangest. Walking backwards on an inclined treadmill. Now this was tough. It’s like walking backwards, uphill, fast. It really forces you to engage your glute and hamstrings to lift and propel your leg rearwards up the slope, and because you’re walking backwards your core is working overtime to maintain balance. So much so I had to wear a harness and be clipped into the safety rail in case I fell over!

A bizarre exercise, but I can attest that 3×15 second reps were enough to leave me with fatigued hamstrings and glutes. Much more than a set of 50 squats would do! Mike swears by it as a really good way of teaching the muscle movements and activations required to get a coordinated glute, hamstring and core activation. If difficulty is anything to judge by, he’s onto something. Before my injury I wouldn’t think twice about running 10 miles forwards, but I don’t think I covered 100 yards uphill and backwards before fatigue was setting in!

I’ve got another rehab and strength work session tomorrow night, where Mike will determine if I can run on the weekend or need to leave it a bit longer. He’s already warned me that any running in the first few weeks will be targeted on form and strength, involving short interval bursts and movements designed to train my core, glutes and hamstrings to work together, rather than being about getting mileage back in my legs.

We also discussed Paris marathon. It’s going to be tight, but if I work hard at my rehab over Christmas it will still be possible. Any thoughts of a PB at this time are fanciful because I have lost a significant amount of my base fitness over the last 8 weeks and my running over Christmas won’t be building on that. I’m also away for two weeks in a rented holiday house (it’s a tough life) without access to a gym where I could at least use a stationary bike to build my cardio base back up. These are definitely ‘first world problems’ so I’ll just do the best I can with what I have.

On another topic, I signed up for Parkrun this morning. I figure it’s a great way to do social timed runs, and 5k is going to be my maximum race distance for at least the next couple of months. I’ll probably do my first one around the end of January, to see what my fitness levels are like.

Being a newbie to the whole Parkrun scene, can anyone share any tips or their thoughts/knowledge on it?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Motivate Monday #17

It’s getting towards the time for planning out goals for 2014.

Half marathon – check

Full marathon – check

Ultra – hmmm, not sure. Fear of failure is an issue…

OCR – maybe, but possibility of injury (and electrocution) is holding me back…

More 5k races – perhaps, but they seem redundant when marathon training…

Or…
Let my spirit win and do them all?
20131216-220157.jpg
Drop my pride and embrace the fear of failure to spur me to new challenges;
Take a gamble, risk possible injury for a bigger reward – the satisfaction of new experiences and conquering another unknown;
Leave reason behind and run shorter races because they’re fun, social and more carefree, instead of rejecting them in favour of big mileage.

I think 2014 is going to have more spirit. Guess I’d better start planning some races!

Who else is thinking of taking on a new challenge and letting their Spirit win?
 
Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

I’ve got itchy feet…

No, not athlete’s foot, but just as bad. It’s been 12 days since I’ve run, which I think is the longest break between runs this year. Probably even longer between runs than when I had plantar fasciitis.

My legs are getting that jumpy feeling like you get when you’re tapering.

My feet are itching to be in trainers on the sidewalk, pushing out some miles.

My mind is missing my Wednesday pre-dawn run which is more meditation than running.

20131212-184101.jpg
But, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m feeling recharged. Ready to get back into running, looking forward to the next year. Sure, there is a little trepidation about the fact I have a marathon in April and I haven’t run more than twice a week since November, but fretting about it won’t make my calf recover faster so I choose not to bother about it. I’ll take it as it comes, and at the moment recovery is the key.

So, it’s been trigger point therapy, foam rolling and more physio. For some reason the pain of the treatment is comforting. It means that the problem is being fixed, and I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in the amount of pressure I can apply to my trigger points, which is a good sign.

Tonight is my bio-mechanical assessment, so it will be good to see if there is a form or gait issue that is causing the overuse issue, and what can be done to address it. It will also give the physio a better idea of when I will be able to run again. Hopefully I can get through the next hour of running exercises without too much pain, and come out the other end with a good prognosis.

Wish me luck, and in the meantime,

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Inspire me Wednesday #16 : Ultrarunning. And blind.

I don’t know what inspires me the most – a blind man doing ultras, or Charlie the selfless guide who runs them with him.

Either way this serves as a reminder that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, regardless of ability level. All it requires is the courage to take the first step…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Motivate Monday #16

I find this statement from John “The Penguin” Bingham to be a real truth of running and a great motivation for every runner regardless of speed, distance or experience.
Anyone can run, and can run for whatever reason they want. It doesn’t have to be about medals or PBs – these are just the perks of enjoying your running and taking on the challenge – it only has to be about the run.

running-inspiration-just-run.jpg

 
Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Back to earth with a crash : my Mogwai must have eaten after midnight

After recently writing that my chiropractor had signed me off as no longer needing her treatment for my back and SI, my positive mood was shattered last night when my physio confirmed what I had been dreading denying knew all along – my calf problem is more than just a niggle and I am to DO. NO. RUNNING. Seems my Mogwai has turned into a Gremlin anyway…

Someone must have eaten after midnight...

Someone must have eaten after midnight…

It’s only for three weeks at this stage, but “Boo!” all the same! There goes my plan of starting marathon training in two weeks, there goes the idea of running my age for my birthday the weekend after next, gone is my chance to run along Las Ramblas and the Barcelona beach this weekend while I’m holidaying with the parents!

Boo!

Ok, that’s enough whining and being a Negative Nigel. Time to suck it up and live by the advice I give other people all the time:
It’s an injury. Runners get injured all the time. Runners recover from injuries all the time. I should have got this sorted ages ago instead of trying to run through it. Doing the ‘no running’ time now will reward me with more fruitful running in the future.

20131205-211343.jpg

But in the meantime I feel like this…

Onwards : the diagnosis

My physio thinks my calf issue is an overuse injury, related to a weak gluteus medius on my right side and associated reduced range of motion in my hip. This is causing two things:

  • A hip which ‘collapses’ on the right side, preventing my gluteus Maximus and hamstring from developing full power, requiring more propulsion from my calf.
  • Supination on my right side, meaning insufficient pronation on foot strike and through my contact phase, loading most of my weight on the outside of my foot, overloading the outside of an already overloaded muscle.

Upwards : the treatment

Thankfully the issue with my calf is only muscular (not yet turned into a tendonopathy) so the three weeks off running is about achieving the swiftest recovery possible with aggressive treatment.

Which means pain. Lots of it. Trigger point therapy (find the knot in the muscle and PRESS until the spasm stops and the muscle relaxes), dry needling (acupuncture needles into the knots which are then manipulated to release) and deep tissue massage to stretch out the tissue after the knots have released. Then at home I need to do foam rolling on the area, along with golf ball massage and, if I can stand it, trigger point massage using my knuckles.

I also need to do a bio-mechanical assessment to ascertain in what manner the weak glute medius is affecting my gait, particularly my hip and back movement, to see where my form needs tweaking. However, this can only done when I can actually run at speed so likely to be in about a week.

Tell you what, I’m glad I went on my preemptive 30 day Hip flexor and Glute challenge. I do need to add in more exercises that focus on my glute medius, but I feel like I’ve got a bit of a head start on dealing with my glute weakness and imbalance.

 

Silver linings : finding the brighter side

Now, because I always try to find the silver lining to all situations, no running for three weeks means some good things. I can enjoy the ‘silly season’ without doing painful ‘hangover runs’ (think TinyRunner’s last post). It also means extra time in bed on Tues/Wed/Thurs mornings (we’ll see what my body thinks of pre-dawn runs come January) so for now I’m going to enjoy the lie-ins.
And, no long runs on Saturdays and associated recovery (stuffing my face and napping) period will instead give me time to do things like Christmas shopping and other stuff. Which is a very good thing because I think my girlfriend seriously worries that I’m going to go for a long run instead of buying her that handbag she wants. Let’s face it, what will all the running, the blogging and the Facebook page, her worry is not unfounded – it could have happened 😉

Happy running everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the run up to Christmas and are enjoying the ‘silly season’!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Thursday Training Tip #11 : Proper running form tips

Following my previous post of a parody on awkward running styles, I thought I would pull together a collection of information on good running form as a bit of a guide.

Disclaimer time: I’m not a professional, a coach, a physio or anatomical guru. I also don’t win races. I’m just a guy who loves running who also shares information I find useful for me and hope will be useful for you.

Try to review your form regularly when you’re running, every few minutes or any time where you ‘check in’ after a bout of daydreaming or distraction.

Now, there are a load of tips and tricks to help tweak your form, arms, legs, shoulders, breathing – too many to remember on their own. To help me when I’m running, I developed a chant of U, A, B, C” to prompt me to review my form. Hopefully you will also find it useful to help keep a good running form:

 

U is for ‘You’:

  • When you check-in do a body scan to see how you feel.
  • Any niggles, unusual tightness or sharp pains are an indicator of trouble and you should pay them some attention to judge if they are fleeting troubles or indicative of impending injury. Stop running or start walking if you have sharp pains or any significant impairment in your ability to run.

 

U is for ‘Upright’:

  • You should be standing tall, with a slight forward lean. Make sure your lean isn’t a tilt from the hips. Practice this feeling by standing up straight, then leaning forwards without bending at the hips, until your weight is on the balls of your feet (but not as far forwards as your toes). The lean will be slight, only about 1 degree, and your eyes should naturally fall on a point on the ground about 20m/50ft in front of you.
  • If you start to slouch during a long run, reset your posture by taking a deep breath while standing up tall, then maintain that tall feeling.

 

A is for ‘Arms’:

  • Your arms should moving forwards and backwards like a pendulum, loosely from the shoulders, not swinging across your torso.
  • Check that your shoulders are relaxed. They should not be hunched, tense, pulled back or swinging too much.
  • When running check your arms aren’t crossing in front of your zipper line, and that your zipper line is staying relatively straight, not being twisted like a pretzel.
  • Here’s a link to a previous post about good arm swing technique, and try this video:

 

B is for ‘Breathing’:

 

C is for ‘Cycling’:

  • Check your gait. Your legs should be cycling through, with an efficient knee lift (not high like a sprinters, but not straight legged like a robot), engagement of your glutes and hamstrings and without scrubbing your feet when they land.
  • Your cadence should also be around 180 steps per minute. Cadence is hard when running outside. Practice on a treadmill set on your ‘comfortably fast’ pace, then count your footfalls for one minute. Count just one foot and try to get to 90 steps in a minute.
  • Your footfall should be conducive to efficient flow and foot turnover. This doesn’t mean you have to be a forefoot striker; there is all sorts of debate and little consensus about optimum foot strike. The key is that your foot should hit the ground lightly then quickly roll forward (fast cadence will help this), with your foot-strike being under your centre of gravity to avoid the ‘braking’ that occurs when your foot lands in front of your COG.
  • Here’s a video about good foot position when running:

 

Hopefully with these tips you’ll be able to keep and eye on your form, improve your running, reduce likelihood of injury and make your running more enjoyable. And with luck you can try not to look like these guys (remember this is a parody):

I’m a ‘T-1000’ runner by the way…

 

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

 

Related Articles:

A breath of fresh air : The correct breathing technique for running – getgoing-getrunning.com

Run with your arms – getgoing-getrunning.com

The Perfect Form – Running better, from head to toe – runnersworld.com

The Five Most Common Running Form Mistakes – running.competitor.com

 

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to

Inspire me Wednesday #15 : How awkward…

OK, this week’s ‘Inspire me Wednesday‘ takes the form of parody and a lighter look at running, and our running-form foibles.

The YouTube comments section on this video seems to have a fair bit of banter going on, from people thinking it is hilarious to the odd person getting offended about people who think it is cruel to make fun of people and their running form. I don’t see it that way. This is runners making fun of ourselves! We need to be able to laugh at ourselves. I mean, half the population already think we’re crazy for lacing up and going running in the rain/heat/snow/dark/cold/desert/traffic because we want to, so let’s relax and just take it in our stride (pun intended).

Beginner, novice or hardened racer we’ve all had times where we run/ran awkwardly. I was beaten in the Athens marathon by an over-65 gentleman who had a stride that looked like it would be hard to get to the corner, let alone through 26.2 miles, but it worked for him. I’m pretty sure I was doing the ‘T-1000‘ for years until I relaxed and realised that looking like you’re sprinting when you’re pushing out 6min kms is hilarious for others but does very little for your running, and I know I’ve been the ‘Flightless Bird‘ near the end of some long runs! I just hope I’m never ‘The Geezer’!

So, sit back, have a laugh, and see if you can relate to any of these!

Hopefully you’ve had a laugh, and who knows, if you’ve been inspired to check out your form, here’s a couple of articles which are more serious about the subject:

Fixing Your Form A Half Mile At A Time – running.competitor.com

The Five Most Common Running Form Mistakes – running.competitor.com

The Perfect Form – runnersworld.com

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on
Like a bit of Youtube? Check out my channel with my collection of videos I use and refer to
%d bloggers like this: