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I might be in the hunt for a new nickname

I think ‘Turtle’ would be appropriate…
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It was another adventure in slow running last night. Due to a physio appointment yesterday afternoon my muscles were still sore from the deep tissue massage. That, coupled with only just getting returning to back-to-back running days, left my legs feeling really tired before I’d even laced up. I tried to push on in the middle of the run and managed to get close to half-marathon pace, but I could tell I was pushing so I wound it back in. Maybe ‘Tortoise’ sounds better?

Speaking of physiotherapy…
Bizarrely, I currently have two physiotherapists who share my treatment. The senior physiotherapist is pretty used to dealing with crazy keen runners, with many marathoners on his books, however due to his busy schedule I can’t get in to see him twice a week. His treatments are pretty aggressive and he trusts what I’m telling him about my response to the treatment. This means he treats me at the edge of what I can handle (yes, I curse and grunt, and even came close to a tear in one particularly heavy session), however the flip-side is that he was happy for me to get back into running when I could do 25 calf raises without pain. Herein lies the problem. The junior physiotherapist had different ideas and wanted me to have another two weeks of treatment before starting calf exercises. Six weeks off exercise for a Grade 1 calf strain? You can see where this is going…

Anyway, long story short – after seeing the senior physio last week I went straight back to running, and when I saw my other physio yesterday, she was obviously put out when she asked if I could walk down stairs without pain and I replied that I had no problems during the four runs I had completed since last seeing her. Sure, she was happy to see my improvement, and did note that my flexibility and strength were much improved since she first saw me, but I couldn’t help feeling that I had somehow hurt her feelings or snubbed her in some way. She was also quite non-committal about me running the Benfleet 15 on Sunday. The response I was hoping for was “You’ve done 5 runs and 40km this week, just take it slow and for the love of God, warm up properly!”. Instead I got “Hmmm. You know your body best…”.

Hmmm, that’s true, but I also know my mind, and it has been prone to gross over-exaggeration of levels of fitness and preparedness in the past. I was hoping for at least some level of objective critique on my actual state of readiness.

So. Tally time:
5 good runs and no pain. Good.
Both physiotherapists have different options. Bad.
But both agree that my recovery is going very well. Good.
And I feel strong. Not fast, but strong. Good.

That’s three out of four – 75/25 for running.

Hmmm.

Oh, who am I kidding! Let’s face it, 75/25 means 100% I’m going to run this race. Peanut butter or not…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

p.s. I think I’ll go with ‘Turtle’. Rolls off the tongue better…

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It’s been a long time comin’, but now it’s here…

I’m very late in wishing you all good tidings, however I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I’ve been off blogging for some time but as you can guess from the title (and my shameless use of Springsteen), I’m back! In more ways than one…

 

Back from Beyond

I’m back from holiday. Two weeks in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors and the sublime Cotswolds with Lovely Girlfriend and her wonderful family. Super relaxing and partly the reason for the blog-holiday – I wanted to take time off from the blog and really enjoy the time with my girlfriend in the beautiful places we stayed in. Oh, and I was super lucky and got a bunch of running swag for Christmas which I’ll be doing reviews of soon, so watch out for those.

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A photo from my early morning trail run in the forest near Blockley, UK

 

The Empire Strikes Back

I’m back at work. This isn’t as good as being on holiday…

A photo from a hike along the coast above Robin Hood's Bay, UK

A photo from a hike along the coast above Robin Hood’s Bay, UK

 

Back from the Dead

I’m back online. Two days before the Christmas break my laptop had a total meltdown, however with some assistance from the Interweb and the backup that I (thankfully) did two days before said meltdown, I was able to restore my laptop on the weekend. It will certainly make blogging easier than relying on the WordPress app on my iPhone!

 

Back in Action

I’m back running. As many of you know I’ve had a calf overuse injury (link to post here)caused by poor running form, the main problem being weak glutes and poor core activation. With some physio, and strength and running training from The Running School, last night I was signed off to return to running three times per week. I am still not allowed to do Long Slow Distance runs, but I can do short fast runs, interval training and hill work, with intervals and hill work being preferred.

A photo from a hilly trail run near Blockley, UK. I did run-walk intervals up this hill

A photo from a hilly trail run near Blockley, UK. I did run-walk intervals up this hill

Overall I’m a happy camper and looking forward to increasing my running volume again. Theoretically I still have the Paris Marathon in April, which I am hopeful about being able to run, but I’ll need to see how the next two weeks go before I make a go/no-go decision in conjunction with my Running Rehab trainer.

 

Back to the Future

Being offline for over two weeks has meant my blog reading is *way* behind! Apologies in advance for any comments I make on ‘old news‘ posts. I’m working in chronological order because I want to keep up with all your stories in the right sequence.

Me personally? I’m looking forward to 2014 and some Happy Running. I’m yet to set my goals out I need to determine if I’m doing Paris or not before planning out the rest of the year.

However, regardless of what I do or do not decide to do this year, I wish YOU all the best for your 2014 goals and look forward to another year of running, blogging and sharing with you!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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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!

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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.

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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
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