Tag Archives: injury

Chiltern Way Countdown

Chiltern Way

It’s a mere 10 days to go until the big and scary plans become big and scary actually happenings. I’m in taper now although given the last few weeks, nobody would spot much difference.

I’m already wondering if this post will be a way of getting my excuses in early.

My training, for the most part, has been okay, if a little lacking in structure. I’ve run lots – more than I did for my Lakeland 100 attempt – but this time around I’ve neglected gym work, done nothing in the way of interval training and added the odd tempo run in here and there. So mileage has (for me) been good while running with purpose, less so. That being said, most of my runs have been recces on the route itself.

Just don’t ask about the injury!
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Back to life

Winter clouds

2014 was one of those years that I’m happy to draw a line underneath. My running never really took off after the marathon – if anything, it nose-dived into oblivion as I ended up being plagued by a piriformis related injury (the piriformis is a muscle involved in external rotation of the hip). It came to a head in a 5 mile club trail race at the beginning of July; the run started out well but after 3 miles, I was in such pain that I had to pull out and was left with nothing but the ignominious walk back to the start. After that, it never really came together. I did run more but mostly running felt difficult and painful and by October, I’d more or less given up.

The end of last year saw me stop running for two months. This in itself isn’t unusual – my running career has never been what you might call consistent – but for the the last 10 or so weeks of 2014, just even thinking about running made me cross. I stopped going to the gym, didn’t do any training or exercise, lost my fitness, put on weight and got into a spiral of decline. I was frustrated and unhappy and had got to the point where I was ready to give up on running altogether.

Running and I were finished.
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Berkhamsted Half Marathon – March 2nd 2014

I’m a bit out of kilter with race reports. As I mentioned in the last post, I have raced a couple of times since last year but have yet to write about them but I’m starting with the most recent because it’s so fresh in my mind. Well, fresh in the same way that a pack of supermarket chicken bought from the discount counter and is a few days past its Best Before date is fresh. But before I talk about that race, I want to share some feelings about a race of sorts I did back in November – of sorts only in that it was a club only race and counted towards the club Off-Road championships but there were numbers and times and places and everything so it counts.

The race, which takes place on the route of the popular Ridgeway Race which our club holds annually, is a trail run through the beautiful National Trust woodland and is just shy of 10 miles long and takes in about 775ft of elevation (according to Strava). I was excited about the event because a) I’d never done it before b) it was my first real challenge after injury and c) I love the course. It’s a handicap race with all runners setting off at different times – slow to fast – with the aim of having everyone finishing at about the same time (although this hasn’t yet happened in the events history to my knowledge). The winner is the first one home, irrespective of the time it took them.

All told, the race went well for me. I set out too fast and paid for it later and still don’t manage ascents that well even though they’re relatively benign compared to anywhere outside the Home Counties. But I pushed myself as hard as I felt comfortable, maintained focus and managed to run my fastest time on that course (even allowing for the fact that, technically, a route change made it 0.1 mile shorter), finishing as I did in 1:18 on the nose (so an average of 8:17 mins/mile). It would have been faster too if not for the extra challenge of getting caught behind a couple of ladies riding horses down a narrow path – this slowed the group of runners I was with down to a walk for a couple of minutes. Perhaps the enforced rest did me good and enabled me to push the last couple of miles a little harder than I would have done otherwise. Any which way, I got a time I was pleased with on a steep and muddy course and, more importantly, I really, really enjoyed the run.

So what does this have to do with last weekends half marathon?
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Time Marches On

It’s March and I find myself once again in an all too familiar and depressing situation – whether or not to pull out of a race because of injury. It’s a little depressing that I am once again writing this sort of post, especially when I have several race reports to write up because, yes, since recovering from breaking my foot last year, I have raced. Unfortunately, it’s as a result of the most recent one (report coming soon) that I am sitting here wondering what to do.

But first, some background. At the end of November, at our club AGM, we had the annual lottery for the London Marathon entries allocated to the club. (Read more information about that scheme on the VLM website). On a last minute whim, I put my name into the hat and, yes, you guessed it, won a place. Then, three days later in a rather foolish and ill-advised foray back onto a rugby pitch, I pulled my right calf muscle quite severely. Why was I on a rugby pitch? Don’t ask and I won’t tell (although I wasn’t playing a game of rugby – I never made it that far). The injury was serious enough for me to be relegated to crutches for 3 or 4 days and so December became a month of enforced rest.
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C25K Week 3: Inflammation

This week, I explored the effect of what happens to the body after an overabundance of food, alcohol coupled with sleep deprivation and general fatigue.

This microcycle involves another set of intervals: 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk and repeat. Again I felt that this was a little too short – it’s only 9 minutes of actual running – so I tacked another 90s interval at the end to bring the time including warm-up to 25 minutes total (well, 24m30s) and then have a walking cool-down. Following on from last week, I set the pace for the 90s intervals at 6:15 min/mi and the 3 min run at 6:30 min/mi. That definitely made it challenging. I trained on Wednesday and Friday and in the Thursday, I cycled to work (11.5 miles either way) with a mind to introducing some cross training into my program. However, thanks to my competitive nature and Strava suggesting I could do an uphill section a little faster than before, I already had tired legs for w3d2 so I made up for it by pushing the final 90s interval at 10mph making (in theory) for 400m in 90s. Hard, but I felt great afterwards.

It all went downhill after that.
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C25K Prologue: The Road to Recovery

This morning I went out for a run, my second in the last five months. The first was a few days ago on a treadmill but today was out on the road. The plan for both runs was to do the week 1 training plan from the Couch-to-5K plan which is simply a five minute warm up at steady walking pace followed by 8 repeated intervals of 1 minute running and 90 secs walking for a total of 20 minutes. On the treadmill, I set my speed at 4.5 mph for the walking and 6 mph for the running. The temptation to go faster or for longer was great but I stuck to the plan as an exercise in discipline. Out on the road today, my intention was to run at a comfortable pace but to stick to the plan and timings.

Imagine my surprise at the end of the 25 minutes when my Garmin told me I’d run a total 2.5 miles. Not bad considering only 8 minutes of that was running. Looking at my run splits, the news gets even better:

There are two reasons this is an encouraging picture. Firstly, my fracture is obviously healed enough to withstand the force exerted on it at speed. Secondly, despite being heavier than desired and not having done any significant cardio training for the last 5 months (barring some cycling in the past few weeks), I was surprised that a 6 minute mile pace, albeit for a minute at a time, felt “comfortable”.

The third thing to come out of today’s run is wondering if the C25K program will help me achieve my goal of a sub-20 minute 5km time.

The potential risk with all this feedback is that I’ll end up pushing myself and my foot before I’m ready and set myself back a month or two. I have five weeks until my next (and hopefully final) hospital appointment and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize any healing. I intend to start running again during the week and will be doing 2 if not 3 days, sticking to the C25K plan. At least two sessions will be on the controlled environment of a treadmill and I will be limiting my speed. When I have the final all clear, I will start the C25K plan again but at a higher target pace to see how the plan can be adapted to improving speed. Discipline and patience are my friends…

I know it may not come across but I’m really pretty delighted after today’s run!