My initial diagnosis of a calf knot after the bridges 10k turned into a small calf tear after three weeks of no real improvement (and four visits to the physio for dry needling!) and finally, after a CT scan, it morphed into a large tear of about 5cm. This injury just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I was thinking about an MRI but fear for my leg, the more I spend on diagnosis the worse it gets !
Funnily enough the calf itself feels so much better and if I hadn’t had the CT scan I would probably be attempting some grass running today. This would probably be a bad idea and undo any good I have so far achieved with resting. The only thing keeping me sane at the moment is my two hours of exercise on the bike and even typing that depresses me. As a runner I have no real inclination to cross train and over the last 2 years have done little or no cross training. I love running and lately have increased my running rather than look elsewhere for some relief from the constant pounding.
I understand cycling from a ‘I‘m injured so what else is there‘ point of view but to make it your number one goal in life is certainly beyond me. For a start I hate punctures and after a two year run of no punctures (coinciding with little riding, true be told) I have been blessed with four punctures in the last two days. This has me paranoid enough that I now find routes that allow me to stay close to home and basically ride around in circles. My logic being if I get a puncture I can easily get home with the help of Uber (assuming I use up my spare inner tube and all the patches in my repair kit) Most runners don’t scurry about close to home for fear of injury or ‘blowing a pair of running shoes’?
Another problem with cycling is you need so much time to really achieve a good cardio workout. I aim for two hours minimum and ,although you can achieve a good distance in that time , after the first hour I find it hard to really enjoy the whole cycling experience. Add in the beating the family jewels take and you have one unhappy runner in lycra.
Next is the life or death situations you face daily on the bike thanks to our good friends ‘the friendly, caring car drivers’ . There’s a nice mix of drivers who hate cyclists with a passion and will do their utmost to scare the crap out of you and the driver who is distracted by their phone and don’t even see you, they actually don’t see anything really which is a tad worrying, call me old fashioned.
Rather than me just pay out on cyclists, which is probably unfair, I have listed my golden rules of running below as it has been some time since I posted these ‘rules to live by‘. Obviously I am currently having an issue with rule number three but eventually every runner falls foul of this one. The only thing you can do is try to mitigate the time you have off your feet because you’re going to have to work so hard to get back to where you were before injury. I generally aim for about three times the length of the layoff to get back to where you were before injury, so currently for me with 4 weeks under my belt I’d be looking at 12 weeks minimum. This is probably on the conservative side and the type of injury will also play a part. The three week rule assumes you can start running again to a good weekly distance. With hindsight I’m going to change that to a 2-3 times the length of the layoff; as with all things running it is very runner specific.
Finally the last thing about cycling is I don’t to play with my friends. It is very much a lonely existence for me as I have no inclination to join other cyclists (I’m an injured runner honest!) so am forced to roam the Perth bike paths alone, a solitary figure of remorse and regret, constantly on the look out for the next driver who wants add me to their car bonnet as some sort of grizzly prize.
Right I have two punctures to repair and a bike to prepare for my next assault on the family jewels, someone pass me a tub of vaseline and a pump and I’m ready.
- Run Further. Add distance, not speed. As you can see from the table my weekly average has steadily increased year on year with this year being the first I will break the 100k a week average for the year. In 2012 I was injured with a nasty calf knot, that I didn’t treat, which explains the delta compared to the previous year. 2014 my training had plateaued which is why I turned to Raf ( http://www.therunningcentre.com.au ) to train me in 2105 where my distance increased by 10%. I have taken this training forward and will probably increase another 10% this year. Distance first, everything else comes once the ‘foundation of distance’ has been achieved.
- Run Faster. This is about adding pace after you have got your foundation after rule 1. 2011 was a break out year for me after 3-4 years of building a good running base. I had ran 3 Comrades campaigns in 2008-2010 ( http://www.comrades.com ) so my distance foundation was well and truly complete. In 2011 every time I put on a bib I was confident of a pb. It was a wonderful year. Unfortunately in 2012 I had a nasty injury which set me back but towards the end of the year I was able to train consistently again and in 2013 I was again rewarded with a magical year of running.
- Don’t get injured. This is the hardest rule to obey as you always want to do more of rule 1 and 2 which can result in an injury. (I even hate typing the word!) In 2012 I succumbed to a calf knot which took me out for over a month. I struggled to recover from this and as you can see from the table I only ran 3 pb’s for the year compared to 13 the previous year and 10 the following year when I recovered. If this doesn’t back up this rule nothing does.! Don’t get injured, so easy to type but in reality one of the hardest thing for a runner to do, period.
- Nutrition, nutrition and nutrition… Did I mention nutrition. It’s all about the proper fuel. So underestimated by so many runners. The number of times I hear the old ‘I run xxx kilometres a week so I can eat what I want’ . Not true, imagine putting low grade fuel in a Porsche, eventually the head gasket blows and you are faced with a serious bill, not to mention a misfiring engine. The human body is a finely tuned machine and should be treated as such, we all know what is good food and what is bad (normally the nice tasting stuff!), avoid the bad and put in the good, easy really. (bar the odd Yelo muffin of course, we are after all only human.) I’ll be exploring nutrition more next year when I have one more go at a sub 2hr 40minutes marathon.
- Weight. So important, use to believe because I ran 100k+ a week I could eat what I wanted. Not true. This is another golden rule so often ignored. Runners can run so much faster is they hit their racing weight rather than a running weight. My go to man , Matt Fitzgerald, when it comes to everything running even has a website dedicated to this. ( http://www.racingweight.com/ ) If Matt has a website dedicated to this subject it must be important.
- Baseline, document and evaluate everything. If it isn’t on www.strava.com it didn’t happen. Once you set a goal you have to be able to know how far you have come to achieving this, small steps but constant feedback. So buy a Garmin and start recording , everything !!! Contentious subject here. I’m a Strava addict and I know it but the purest will be horrified. You need a baseline to see improvement, set new goals and realize your goals. Buy a Garmin and to quote a small clothing company ‘just do it’.
- Sleep. So underestimated but the bodies way of refuelling and preparing for the next day of running. Common sense but so often ignored. Sometimes the most obvious, common sense tips are the ones ignored. Sleep is when your body repairs itself, the more sleep the more repairs can be completed. It really is that easy, go to bed and dream about running.
- Consistency. No point running 100k one week and then nothing. Marathon fitness is built up over time and this works hand in hand with rule number 1. I feel the figures from my running log back this up. I’ve steadily increased the duration consistently year in, year out (bar injury) and have reaped the rewards with 2016 being my fastest year yet as I move towards my
fifthsixth decade. (Thanks Dave Kennedy) Running is all about getting out there on a regular basis again and again and again. Time on feet initially and then add pace before targeting certain distance with different run types, most important thinkg to note though is always consistently putting on the trainers and just running. ‘If you build it they will come’ type approach, keep running, build the foundation and the personal records will come. (This also works for baseball pitches apparently.)
- It’s all in the mind. After 32k a marathon is down to mental strength and the ability to persuade your body you can still perform at your desired pace without falling to fatigue, which is the minds way of protecting itself. Never underestimate the power of the mind in long distance racing. Finally another massive part of running, the Noakes ‘central governor’. I’ve talked about this at length in various posts on this site. With experience I believe I can mentally finish a marathon stronger now then when I first started. I know what to expect and to this end can persuade my old friend fatigue to stay away for longer allowing me to achieve better finishing times. The mind is such an important part of running and needs to be trained as much as the body. When you race a marathon you will spend time in the ‘pain box’, the runner who can spend the most time in this little box of joy, before opening the door and embracing the old enemy fatigue, will run the fastest. I spoke to Steve Moneghetti after the Perth Marathon this year after he ran the 3hr30min bus and asked him how the professional athletes are so much faster than us recreational runners. His answer surprised me as he replied that a professional runner can stand more pain and this gives them the advantage need to push through and achieve the faster times. Again turning off the ‘central governor’ and spending more time in the ‘pain box’ avoiding fatigue and thus not slowing down. Common sense really, thanks Steve.