General day to day ramblings

Baby steps for big gains.

Finally after nearly 6 weeks I am allowed to run again, albeit very slowly according to my physiotherapist and not for too long. I have attached my training plan for the week below and this from a runner who is use to running 160k a week and twice a day. Funnily enough the first two runs have been as hard as my old tempo runs. Six weeks out saps your fitness and there is nothing you can do about it but just take it on the chin and continue onwards and upwards. Your pace will return but I am believer in you have to multiple your time injured by three to get back to where you were pre-injury. For me at the moment that’s around 4 months, joy !

A big week for the BK running machine….

My first hit out on Saturday night was a 3k run where it felt I was running around the 4min/k pace which turned out a tad slower according to my Garmin. (see below)  5:45min/k average which would please my physiotherapist but did nothing for my state of mind. How can a pace so far off what I’m use to seem so hard ? Where has the last 9 years of constant running fitness disappeared to ?

 

Surely Garmin error…?

Sticking to my plan I ran 4k today and again suffered the ‘post injury’ pace curse that makes 5min/k pace feel like a tempo run. No worries, I knew this was coming and it’s just good to be ‘out there’ running again, at any pace.  I have the City to Surf Marathon in August and to be ready for this I need complete recovery, this entails ‘small steps for big gains’. Patience , when it comes to injury recovery, really is a virtue. Rush a recovery and you’ re only heading back down the same path,  muscles need time to recover and there really is no shortcut. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt running so slow and feeling exhausted at the end but you need to keep in mind your pace will return with your cardio fitness.

Personally I feel the best way to look at recovery is something that everybody needs to do at sometime in their career and it really is all about taking it slow to make sure the recovery is as good as it can be. On the bright side your fitness does return quite quickly but more importantly it just feels so good to be out there running, pace is secondary.  My two runs this week have been so satisfying as my calf feels good and I know it is well on the way to a full recovery. If I can adhere to my plan I’m sure my physiotherapist will give me the green light,  and after a brief discussion about injury prevention,  I’ll be let loose back into the world of double up days and massive weekly distances, heaven to me. It’s then be on for a big City to Surf Marathon, Rottnest Marathon , 6 Inch Ultra Marathon and the Australian Age Group 100k record at the ADU in January. Plenty of things to keep me motivated but first things first I have to rest before my big 4k Wednesday, baby steps…..

 

 

It’s very dark in a tunnel.

Well its been over 6 weeks since I tore my calf muscle at the Bridges 10k warm down and stopped running. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’ve been coping and they can’t believe I could go from running twice a day , everyday, to nothing and not start climbing the wall. Well I’m happy to report (I think?) that I’ve handled not running very well, maybe too well.

Initially , as per my earlier post on the 5 stages of injury, I was in denial but seeing the ultrasound of the 5cm tear left me in no doubt I needed complete rest which would help me towards complete recovery. I have embraced this complete rest rather well truth be told and now enter my third week of no exercise at all.  Of course there has been the obligatory weight gain and I hit the scales 3kg heavier than when I injured myself six weeks ago.  Happy enough with that as I’m also using this time as ‘down time’ and letting my hair down. (in the literal sense only of course, I do miss my hair ? ) . I even treated myself to two glasses of wine over this six week period which for me is a lot. (my normal annual intake is about 4 glasses.)

So when do I start running ? This is the million dollar question. A calf tear of my magnitude would normally be a 6-8 week recovery period , minimum.  ( Why do health professionals give you recovery windows ? All runners when told the recovery period is 6-8 weeks only really hear 6 weeks. They then take a week off because they are better than everybody else and then another week because health professionals are overly cautious.  This brings it down to 4 weeks. Factor in the ‘ my injury is probably not that bad’ and you can justify another week, so we’re moving towards 3 weeks. Finally add in a bit of ‘ my muscle is probably stronger than most and also recovers better’ and we’ve turned a 6-8 week recovery window to 2 weeks max. ?)  I have been very cautious with this calf injury as I cannot afford to keep tearing the calf and continually reinjuring myself, as is a common theme with calf tears. Being on the wrong side of 50 I need to make sure when I return I come back 100% so I can try and recapture some of that lost fitness. I must admit a part of me is holding back because I am worried about breaking down again. This is the first time I have had this worry and I’m putting it down to having such a good 2016, and start of 2017, and worrying I may never get back to that level of fitness as Father Time tried to ‘drag me back to the pack.’ I have also picked up a slight hamstring ‘niggle’ walking the dogs and this has also got me concerned as I know I may compensate for this when I start back running and do more damage.

Am I actually making excuses for not running ? This is the worry.  Am I too worried about starting back and finding I cannot reach the same targets I set and achieved earlier in the year? This may be the real reason I have been ok with not running. Of course you also need to factor in I’ve moved house and brought two golden retriever puppies since my injury,  so I’ve had other things on my mind. These ‘distractions’ will become less of an issue over the next few weeks so maybe that will help me realign my focus back to where it needs to be. ? On the flipside of this argument is the change in attitude needed for me to embrace this calf tear as ‘a setback and another challenge to be overcome’. Can I get back to where I was pre-injury and even get better , with the added rest helping reinvigorate my tiring muscles.?  I was due a rest, I must admit but was not expecting it to because of a calf tear.

The right mental approach will be paramount for the success or failure of my return. I need to start slow and just start racking up ‘time on legs’ , distance fist and then add pace, rule no1 of my golden rules of running. It doesn’t matter how fast the pace is really,  it is just time on feet and not doing any damage to the calf. To this end it will be grass running only initially, probably with two golden retriever puppies snapping at my heels . ( A recipe for disaster?) First sign of any calf problems and I will stop of course and reevaluate the next stage.

There is a stretch goal that is always in the back of my mind and the complete wrong thing to do, probably undoing all my good work. The Perth Marathon is on the 18th June. If I was to start running again tomorrow I would have a month to get into sub3 form and run with the boys. Currently Mark C., Mark L., Mike and Jon are all looking to run sub3 and it would be good to run with them on the sub bus (to be driven by my mate Ray , on my left in the photo below of the bridges presentations.) Can I do it ? If the calf holds up I think I can but there is no margin for error, even a few days setback will scupper the plan but there is a small chance if….

Of course this is completely the wrong thing to do. I should rest a few more weeks and then take it very easy for a month before looking to the Rottnest marathon in October. Even miss the City to Surf marathon in August (a race where I am one of only 20 people to complete all 8 previous marathons.) This is my physio’s approach but what do they know ? Even typing this I could be in trouble if he reads my blog.

I always said I’d need a full month for Perth and a sub3 ( to continue my sub3 streak which currently sits on 25 in a row)  so tomorrow is ‘d-day’. I will try and run 6-8k on grass and then if that goes ok build up slowly. I’ll know pretty quickly as the last two previous runs I broke down at 4k both times. I have rested for 3 weeks since so I should be ok for this distance. If not, no worries, there’s always another marathon in the calendar and all this extra weight will keep me warm as we move into winter.

 

Bridges 10k . Age group win but what price did I pay ?

It’s darkest before the light…apparently?

As I continue my ongoing struggle with the calf injury from hell I have had several set backs.  Over the weekend I was convinced the CT scan showing a 5cm tear couldn’t be right as I had nearly full movement in my right calf. After a run on Sunday and one today I’m not so sure. Both were 4k easy runs on grass but both finished when I felt the calf was tightening up. Unfortunately after the second one the calf felt tight for the rest of the day and I lost the ability to do a calf raise on my bad leg. This was a big set back both physically and mentally. I’m now very depressed where as before I was just depressed. 

I know what you’re all thinking, leave well alone Kev and rest, and I know that would be the best thing to do but resting is not something that sits well with me. I know I should do more of it but it’s the one rule of running I tend to ignore.

My racing year is 12 months with  no time off for good behaviour. Last year I raced three marathons, four half marathons, five 10k’s and as many 5k’s. Sprinkle in a couple of ultra marathons, two 10 miler’s and you have a full calendar.  As I has said before it’s all about racing for me and the training is tailored to get me to the starting line with a good shot at a PB. Last year was so special as I managed to tick off a sub 35min 10k (34:18) and a massive half PB. (dropped it from 1:16:24 to 1:15:00), add in a silver medal at the World Masters Marathon and a sub 2:42 5th place at the City to Surf and I achieved so much more than I ever though I would.

To try to continue this streak would take as much training, which is fine because I actually enjoy it, and also no injuries.  At fifty you can’t afford any time off because old father time is waiting in the wings and there’s nothing he likes more than injured runners. My friend the Mighty Mick Francis (who has run over 100 marathons and 100 ultra marathons with over 90 marathons sub 3 ) tole me he started to slow quite quickly in his late forties. I always remember that and worked very hard to make my last year in my forties the fastest I had ever ran. It took a lot of bloody hard work but the results were worth the extra effort. I was hoping to use this new found cardio fitness to spring board me to the holy grail of running (for me anyway), a sub 2hr 40minute marathon.

With hindsight I reckon I was in sub 2:40 form after the City to Surf marathon in August and should have targeted Melbourne in October. Instead I went for the World Masters Marathon in Perth in November. That time of year in Perth is hot and the day was also humid. I ran well to finish 7th overall and 2nd in my age group but I feel I sacrificed a potential sub 2:40 time for the Masters. It is not something I regret because the World Masters was a wonderful day spent with good friends all achieving great goals.

 

Perth Masters, it was an awesome experience.

 

So what next ? Another physio appointment this Friday and lots of time with a heat pack and strength exercises. This mornings run has done me more damage than good so a few more days on the sidelines me thinks. There’s always Yelo but have been consoling myself with coffee and muffins on a daily basis lately , which will probably not end well. I may have to go and read a few of my posts on weight loss and how important weight is to marathon running. I may get out the bathroom scales and see what 4 weeks of minimal running does to you, combined with a week of Yolo muffins. ? Now that is something I am not looking forward to.

You even get to check out the ocean. Queues can be biblical but with 4 baristas and 3-4 Ladies serving it doesn’t take long…

The injury that keeps on giving.

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.

I miss these guys.. 

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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’.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 fifth sixth 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.)
  9. 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.

 

Injury, what injury ? The five stages of grief

The same stages apply to an injury.

 

My Daughter recounted this to me a few days ago in reference to my ongoing battle with injury. She reckoned I was moving into the depression stage and truth be told she’s probably right.

The 5 stages of grief can be virtually mirrored for injuries when you’re a runner. Well they work for me. The first stage is denial. For me this was probably as I hobbled over the road to Yelo to grab a coffee and muffin with the boys a week before the Bunbury Marathon. At the time I could just about hobble 10m’s but once I got settled in the cafe all talk was about the marathon in a weeks time. Not once did it cross my mind I may not make it. I had a calf knot which would either disappear itself with a bit of ‘pain ball’ magic or a trip to the physio  and dry needling. Nothing to worry about. That was three weeks ago and I’m still lame, silly boy.

Next comes anger. Boy, I was angry on Thursday evening before the marathon when 7k into a 10k last run I pulled up lame and knew instantly I had rolled the dice one too many times. I was also angry at myself for ignoring the calf all week and just assuming it had come good on its own. In my defence I had ran twice with no issues so assumed all was ok. With hindsight I should have gone to the physio on Monday after the weekends 10k race and had some needling and massage on the calf. I reckon the physio could have got the know untangled intimate for Bunbury and I would be posting about my 42nd marathon finish rather than adding to another post on injury.

Next come bargaining. For me this was about convincing myself I’d be right in a few days after physiology. Again . no problem, I bargained my injury window down to a week max with the upside this would be good ‘rest’ time, something I never do normally.

Once bargaining fails it headlong into depression, which is where I am now. Depressed at what could have been and also depressed that I’m still injured and my 2 days blip has become a 3 week road block with little sign of abating. Worse still my last 7k run was as bad as the first run 3 weeks ago which started this sad tale, so after three visits to the physio and well over $150 out of pocket I’m back to the start, injured ! Oh yeah, I’m depressed. It gets even worse, I’ve had to resort to spending two hours a day on the bike to try and save my cardio fitness. This is depressing but also painful. How these cyclist breed is beyond me.?  The family jewels have taken a right royal beating on the Perth bike paths and I either need to man up or get cycling shorts with more padding. (maybe a cushion! or even better a cushioned seat as the one I got seemed purpose built to inflict as much pain as possible. Maybe this is why cyclists spend so long in cafe’s drinking coffee and eating cake, to rest their ‘how’s your fathers’ ‘ ) 

Finally comes acceptance. I’m close to this stage currently as the Joondalup half in 2 weeks is now off the race calendar as is the 10k the following week. I realise that the 3 weeks of no running (with more time to come.) is too much for me to give a good account of myself at either of these races. I have no accepted missing the Perth marathon in June as this is an A goal race but I may have to reevaluate my predicted time. A lot will depend on Tuesday when I will slope off back to the physio and let his magic hands and needles do their best on my right calf.

Injury wise I’ve been lucky over the last 8 years. This is my fourth calf knot which accounted for maybe 4-6 weeks of no running, less than one week a year. I know that it about as good as you get but as I sit him typing away I’m not overly excited about my previous track record. If you’re a runner you get injured, this is as certain as the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening. How long and when depends on so many variables but I could kick myself for missing the signs (for missing substitute ‘ignoring’!) and allow the 2 day injury to morph into this 3 week (and counting) career threatening calf knot from hell. Off course I did sell my soul to the Devil for this good run but was hoping to get longer than 8 years. That’s the problem with dealing with Lucifer, just can’t trust him. Oh well, onwards and upwards, the bike is calling and how much more pain can the family jewels endure? Surely over time the jewels will ‘harden up’ or maybe they just fall off ?

 

No running, what else is there ?

As I enter my fourth day of no running I am officially climbing the wall. Actually I don’t think I can actually climb a wall at the moment, so I’m officially looking at a wall thinking ‘I wish I could climb it‘. My calf knot is still hidden deep within my calf hiding from all attempts to release it. I have a third appointment booked tomorrow for some more one-on-one time with my friend ‘mr.needle and his many mates’. I’m hoping third time lucky and once this knot is released it’s back into training for the Joondalup half in 3 weeks.

On the bright side I suppose this has given me an excuse to rest, one I would not have normally taken. I understand the benefits of rest, especially when you are as advanced in age as myself, but I struggle to not run. I love running and must admit find it hard to run just twice a day normally. I mean we eat three times a day, why not run three times a day?  The reason I don’t is it could so easily become the ‘norm’ and then the ‘expected’. This would be dangerous and put a serious strain on my happy marriage (my Wife insists we are happily married and if anybody asks I must reiterate the fact. If I don’t she beats me .. only joking Karen…) and also upset the kids. My family are ‘supportive of my running‘ but you’ll notice that is in italics. Maybe ‘put up with’ is a better description.

I’ve mentioned this before about running and family life being a fine balancing act, spend too much time with either and balance is threatened, resulting in grief. It really is a tight rope, and one I manage to walk just , daily but to increase my running any more than I do now would be suicidal. (My Wife is Scottish you know.) Also would I see benefits from running three times a day? All of us have exponential returns from running, we all have our ‘sweet spot’ be it with distance or pace. Any more gives us exponentially less return, so running 100k a week may be as beneficial as running 130k. The extra 30k serves no purpose and only serves to increase the risk of injury as you would be fatigued.  Finding your ‘sweet spot’ takes time and experience but once you find it it is best to adhere to it religiously.

Personally I consider 130k as my ideal distance. Any more is more for my sanity and ran very slowly, so the extra is really a ‘time on feet’ exercise to protect myself from injury. My logic is I’m either sitting watching rubbish on TV , far too close to the fridge, or outside running, albeit slowly, gaining some extra cardio fitness. To me it’s a no brainer, to some of my running friends the fridge wins hands down.

There is also crosse training and I did manage a 75k ride Saturday and 50k Sunday. Both days I pushed myself and felt better for it so the bike can be a good alternative while you recover. There is also water running but must admit too never trying it. Circuit training and core fitness would also be a good alternative while you recover and core training should also be part of your weekly training programme. I myself need to do more core work as another benefit of getting old is the mid-section can tend to ‘give up’ and unfortunately even expand. Gotta’ love this ageing process.

I’ve attached an article on cross training which has a photo of cyclists, I apologise in advance.

 

Cycling primarily works the quadriceps, a big muscle group that running doesn’t effectively work.

There are many cross-training options available, but not all of them are of equal value to runners.

In choosing between the different modes of cross-training available to runners, keep three considerations in mind:

1. Is this option aerobic? As we talked about earlier, one of the main adaptations that your body makes to endurance training is learning to use its fat stores as fuel. To be effective, any cross-training mode that you choose should help you achieve this goal. That means it has to be an exercise that you can engage in for hours at a time, at a moderate intensity level (at an RPE of 6–7).

2. Is this option low-impact or nonimpact? Sometimes high-impact exercise gets a bad rap. When faced with repetitive impact, your body adapts, increasing bone density and strengthening the muscles related to absorbing this impact. If you don’t engage in high-impact exercise, your body will be unprepared for the stress of race day. The result? A bone bruise or stress fracture.

RELATED: Why Runners Should Cross-Train–And How

But remember our motto: every step necessary, but not one step more. High-impact exercise is crucial, but after the essential benefits have been gained from engaging in it, high-impact exercise raises the risk of injury during training. Running three days a week will prepare your body for the stress of racing. After that, you should aim to increase your endurance base without adding unnecessary stress to your body. This is where cross-training comes in; it will help you achieve your race-day goals while lowering the risk of injury associated with intense high-impact training.

3. Does this option complement your running? Any aerobic cross-training will help you become a better endurance athlete, but to get the most from your routine, you should choose a cross-training mode that doesn’t simply mimic the running movement, but instead works different muscle groups. The point of doing this is to strengthen the muscles that support your running. After all, your running muscles — particularly your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calves—are already strong from running. By focusing on strengthening your other muscles, you’ll become a more balanced, injury-resistant athlete.

So what cross-training exercise should you choose? Much of that depends on what your preferences are. Would you rather train in the great outdoors, or does the convenience of a gym appeal to you? Are you looking for a low  budget exercise that you can do anywhere, or are you intrigued by a new high-tech machine? There are plenty of options to choose from, both traditional and cutting-edge. All of them provide an added benefit of one kind or another for runners.

MORE: Can’t Run? You Can Still Train

Four popular cross-training modes are cycling, swimming, elliptical exercise, and stepping. All are low- or nonimpact exercises that provide excellent aerobic workouts. That makes all of these valuable training options for runners. The elliptical trainer and the stepper in particular are good substitutes for running when running isn’t possible—when you’re injured, for example. But apart from reducing the volume of impact, working on these machines won’t add anything to your running that running itself doesn’t provide. Of the four cross-training options above, only one effectively works muscle groups that are complementary to running: cycling.

Perhaps you’re thrilled to read that because you are already an avid fan of cycling, but if not, don’t be discouraged. An old coaching aphorism is that the best exercise is one that you’ll keep doing. So if you have another form of aerobic exercise that you currently enjoy, feel free to continue doing it. But my goal in this book is to make you a faster runner with the lowest risk of injury, so keep an open mind as I explain why I think cycling should be your number one crosstraining choice.

Cycling primarily works the quadriceps, a big muscle group that running doesn’t effectively work. Insufficient strength in the quads can allow the knees to buckle on landing during the foot-plant phase. This is the primary cause for the up-and-down bobbing motion seen in some runners, which can lead to patella tendinitis and other knee problems. Cycling can help with that.

RELATED: Five Indoor Workouts To Boost Your Fitness

Cycling also works the outer hips and gluteus medius muscles, which are crucial for running. These muscles help keep the hips from swaying outward on the landing phase. When this happens, the iliotibial band—a thick strip of connective tissue on the outside of the leg—is pulled tight, which can result in knee and hip pain. Again, cycling can help with this.

Cycling also provides you a chance to take your workout outdoors, something important to many runners. Even though there are ways in which you could take your cycling workout indoors, cycling, for most people, represents a chance to get out for some fresh air.

For runners, this is a natural fit. You probably fell in love with running not in the gym but on the roads and trails, just like the rest of us. During our workouts and races, we have the opportunity to experience the sublime beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the changing of the seasons, or the thrill of extreme weather. Giving this up to spend time in the gym is one of the biggest hurdles some of my training clients have to overcome. But with a good bicycle, you don’t have to give up your love of exploring during your workout.

Being outdoors also helps ward off the biggest problem with indoor cross-training workouts: boredom. You can do a 3- or 4-hour session on an elliptical machine, but who would really want to? But a 3- or 4-hour bike ride is not only commonplace among cyclists; it’s also considered fun. On a bike, you can cover wide stretches of territory, and with a little planning, you can map out a grand tour that includes beautiful local scenery, as well as key rest stops.

You can also more easily rope friends into joining you, which makes this a much more social form of crosstraining than the other modes. Don’t have any cycling friends? It shouldn’t be too difficult to find some. Most town and cities have cycling clubs. Stop by a local cycling shop and ask; staff will be happy to fill you in on all the local options.

For swimming, aim to spend half as much time in the pool as you would for a bicycle workout on the schedules found later in this book. For the elliptical machine and stepper, spend 75 percent as much time working out as you would if you were cycling

 

No fool like an old runner. !

As I sit here typing this post I should be in Bunbury celebrating another marathon finish, number 42, with Jon over pancakes with extra maple syrup and bacon. Instead I’m sitting at home a few hundred dollars out of pocket (hotel and entry fee not refundable.)  and feeling very sorry for myself nursing a very sore calf knot. How did this happen ? 100% avoidable unfortunately. After running the bridges 10k last Sunday I picked up an extra medal and an Asics bag for winning my age group. We then had to run back to the car which was a 6k warm down we had planned pre-race. The small fly in the ointment was two fold, truth be told. First I believe I hadn’t drank enough water after the 10k race and became dehydrated, this was probably compounded by a cappuccino brought by Mark L., (He’s a cyclist so always drinks coffee after exercising. !) It was also a hot day and waiting around for an hour for the presentations was probably not the best idea. Hindsight really is a wonderful thing as I sit here typing away… Next I ran back to the car carrying my winnings, the Asics bag, and this would have put my running style ‘off kilter‘.

The run back was uneventful bar a lot of laughing at my exploits in the previous week (You don’t want to know) forcing Mark C. to at one point to stop as he was doubling up in pain laughing so much.  After a shower , walking back to the car, bang, calf knot. I knew instantly that was what it was as in the last 10 years I have been afflicted by calf knots probably three times previously. The first time I just waited, and waited, and waited for the knot to unravel. It never did and dry needling sorted it instantly. The second and third time dry needling again sorted the problem instantly. That’s the good thing (?) with a calf knot, if you can force it to open the injury is gone, instantly.

So Sunday I massaged the leg and applied Deep Heat, (which apparently is a waste of time?) and my running was unaffected Tuesday and Thursday as I put in my last slow runs pre-Bunbury Marathon. All was good on Thursday after the last run but in the evening I was tasked with taking no2 Daughter to her dancing lesson. This would be a good time for one last 10k, in my racing shoes, in preparation for Sunday. Silly, silly boy ! Seven k’s into the 10k, boom ! Calf knot and I knew my marathon was probably over. Limping back to the car I cursed myself as I had had so many chances to avoid this situation and ignored all of them.

Anytime in the week I could have had a massage or even some dry needling but instead chose to ignore the possible impending disaster by running twice and pulling up ok. In my defence I did feel pretty good by Thursday which, accounted for the double up, which was my undoing.

Two desperate dry needling sessions on Friday couldn’t shift the knot and it is still hiding deep within my calf ready for round three , probably this Monday. I did managed to cycle for 75k yesterday and 50k today because sitting around doing nothing would be stupid right ? I think they call it resting but it is alien to me. Moving forward this is a lesson learned, listen to your body. Not only did I totally ignore this knot on Sunday I still ran a double up day Thursday , on a run that really served no purpose at all. I suppose this may have saved me a DNF at Bunbury because I don’t feel an extra 48 hours would have been enough to allow my calf to survive a marathon.

What next ? Looks like me and lycra will become good friends for at least the next week as I attempt to keep my cardio fitness and if the dry needling goes well I could be running again in a few days. My racing calendar will hopefully be unaffected and I’m targeting a half marathon in three weeks and then a 10k before ramping up for the first A race of the season, the Perth Marathon. This will be marathon number 42 and Perth number 13, let’s hope its lucky 13. ?

Some articles on Calf Knots below, if only I had read them pre-Thursday. Right, pass me my lycra and a Cappuccino and no one get hurts….

 

You don’t have to be a barefoot or minimalist runner to have tight calves, but it helps.

Like many runners, the first thing I noticed when I transitioned to a forefoot strike was the huge increase in strain on my calf muscles. At the beginning, even a short run up and down the street was enough to leave my lower legs burning for two days. Of course, this is a normal part of the transition period and a big reason why people who switch to barefoot running are told to take it slow at first. After years of heel-striking in conventional shoes, my calves were not accustomed to this type of work and they had to gradually strengthen over time (my knees and back previously took all that strain, which was a catastrophe waiting to happen).

I’m happy to say the burning subsided after a few weeks and ever since then I’ve been able to maintain a forefoot strike that feels good. I do, however, have a persistent problem with tightness and knots in my calves after a run. This wasn’t a serious issue when my runs were short, but now that I’m consistently running above the 10 mile mark it’s becoming more of a concern. The last thing I need right before my marathon is a serious calf injury.

There is a lot of information in the webiverse about how to prevent knots from forming in the first place, and this includes stretching techniques, nutrition, ice baths, salt baths, leg compression sleeves, building up other muscles to balance the strain, acupuncture, dealing with stress, aligning your bed to face the moon on Saturn’s return, etc. I hope to research it more someday, but right now I’m just focusing on what I see as the most practical and immediate form of treatment that can be done at home: self massage.

But first, the basics…

What is a Muscle Knot?

In short, a knot is a tight ball of muscle that results from overwork. Need more? Here’s how massage therapist Kip Yates explains it on legitmassage.com:

To understand what a knot is, it is important to distinguish the normal physiology of muscles. Most of the time, our muscles operate in an on/off manner. That means the muscles that get sore and fatigue easily, the fast twitch fibers (the white meat as opposed to dark meat) that enable us to perform rapid, intense movements of short duration like weight training or throwing a ball are not always at work. They fire or contract during exertion but when the exertion is completed they quit firing. It is when they continue to fire or contract without releasing that a spasm or muscle knot forms. So how does this occur? A fatigable muscle in spasm contains individual sections within the muscle that constrict and pull from both sides. This makes a taut band of muscle essentially forming what is known as a knot.

Running: Knots in Your Legs

 

Yep, that’s what it feels like.

Got it? Good. Next question:

Why Would I Want to Massage this Taut Band of Muscle Essentially Forming What is Known as a Knot?

The explanation I’ve heard my whole life, and from the physical therapist at my running workshop, is that pressure from a massage will physically break up the tight band of muscle fibers and help them return to their normal state. I think it’s worth noting that I also came across a theory that says applying pressure to the knot will literally starve it to death. Massage pressure prevenst blood from delivering oxygen to the spasm. When it looses oxygen, it looses strength, stops spasming and relaxes back to its normal state. Releasing pressure then allows fresh nutrient-rich blood to flow into the now-looser muscle and start the healing process.

Mabye it’s one, maybe it’s both. Either way, massage helps.

How to Massage the Knots Out of Your Legs

The good news about massaging your calves is that it is very easy to do and does not take a lot of time. The bad news is that the most popular massage tools seem to be grossly overpriced. Either that, or I’m just cheap. Regardless, I do consider my health and running ability to be a high priority so I splurged on some of the trendy gadgets. Here’s a breakdown of how to use them and what I thought of them.

A few tips first, and these are general guidelines for all massage:

  1. Only massage your muscles when they’re relaxed.
  2. No need to overdue it. 30-60 seconds of pressure at a time for each muscle seems to give optimal effects.
  3. Expect pain. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.
  4. Studies disagree on when it’s best to massage your muscles. Some say immediately after a run, others say you should wait a couple hours. Personally, I find massaging a couple hours after a run and on rest days works well.
  5. Take it slow!
Massage Tools for Runner Calf Knots
They all hurt.

Prevention – how to avoid getting muscle knots in the first place:

  • How much water/sports drink should I drink?Diet and hydration – Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. Foods such as alcohol, sugary caffeinated drinks, processed and fast foods all play a part in dehydrating you. If you are careful about what goes into your body, you are less likely to get injured.
  • Take breaks – Most people spend a lot of their day sitting in front of a computer or staring down at a cell phone. Our bodies cannot handle being in those positions too long. Every hour at work, get up and walk around. Even when sitting at your desk, straighten out your back, turn your neck from side to side, uncross your legs, and move as much as you can.
  • Exercise – As previously stated, our muscles were designed to be challenged. We are built to perform. If we aren’t moving, stretching, and lifting then we are compromising our muscle health.
  • Massage – We are slowly starting to come around to the fact that massage is not just some occasional luxury saved for vacations and spa days. Massage Therapy can help keep your muscles healthy, pliable, and oxygenated.
  • Lifestyle – A life filled with stress and lack of sleep is a perfect pathway to injury. Slow down, get more sleep, and breathe. Even as little as 15 minutes a day of focused relaxation time can make a world of difference.

Sunday long run, the social side of running.

Time is getting away from me lately. My twice daily posts have morphed into daily and now weekly posts. Life is getting in the way it seems. Although this may have affected my ability to get to the keyboard you’ll be glad to hear I’m still putting in the kilometres, some things really are sacred. After Darlington half last weekend I managed to drag myself out for a recovery run in the evening, after first posting about the race of course, priorities.

The recovery run on the same day as the event is normally an exercise in pain management and this one was no different. I struggled, and I mean struggled, to hold anywhere near 5min/k average and my right ‘hammy’ , which is as fickle as a Donald Trump voter, was threatening to let go the whole way. Luckily it survived long enough to get me home and immerse myself in deep heat. (Much to the kids disgust of course, some people just don’t appreciate the soothing smell of Deep Heat at the dinner table, these non-runners are a funny bunch?) The next day was no better with recovery run #2 at lunchtime, much to the amusement of Jon and Mike who recover a lot better than me obviously. Both of them look forward to the recovery run after a race as they both save something so they can tease me with a pace just outside what I can achieve before slowing down to let me catch up, before repeating the process. Got to love running humour ? This lack of pace continued until the Thursday morning progressive where I managed to salvage some pride with a half decent hit out before a similar run in the afternoon. On the second run I actually nailed a perfect 10k progressive for the first time in months. I’m blaming the company I keep on the Thursday morning run where we get to sub 4 pace far too early in the 14k distance leaving you nowhere to go at 10k but slower; well for me anyhow. It then stops being a progressive and turns into a 5k tempo. (I’ve written a few posts on progressive runs and their benefits, if you search on the word ‘progressive’ you should get access to them.)

After Thursday my confidence was restored and even ran a good double up on Friday  to prepare me for my first Park Run of the year. I have certainly advocated the park run on this blog many times and I firmly believe this is a must-have for all wanna-be runners of all distance. The 5k is long enough it will test you (and bite you in the backside if you go out too quick!) but not long enough that you can’t race it and still put in a good training week.

On Saturday I wasn’t expecting to much but with the help of my mate Andy went off like a rocket and managed a 3:09min/k first kilometre (when will I learn?). I did manage to hold 3:20min/k for the next 2k but let myself down a bit on kilometre four with a 3:29. I kicked for home and registered a 3:20 but the damage was done in kilometre four and I missed a PB by 8 seconds. No problem, I wasn’t expecting one and I felt good for the duration. A bonus was grabbing the Carine 50-55 age group record (from Andy funnily enough, remember him at the start!) to go with my 45-50 age group record. Also managed a top 10 finish nationally among all the ‘age grade’ champions for the park run courses. When you get to 50 it’s all about age grades and groups. (Sorry Mark Lee but it’s all us old timers have left to chase, quality twenty year old runners are now something we read about,  not catch!)

Carine Park Run, first lap. Holding on to a slender lead….

 

Sunday came and luckily we had decided in the week to go with the Mark Conway plan (which Mike is copying , you didn’t hear that here.) and run a 20k easy, for no other reason than we were all a tad jaded after Darlington and fancied a shorter-long run. Due to family commitments I couldn’t start until 6:30am so we all decided to meet at Yelo at that time and either start from there or at least meet the rest of us and continue (if you needed a few extra kilometres.) My 9 year old Daughter did find this amusing as the main reason for this delayed start was her and here were 10 runners changing their lives because of her. We’re a funny lot runners, but accommodating, thanks lads.

So off on the short 20k run we went, ten of us started which normally calls for road closures in Western Australia. (We did pass Mark Lee running in the opposite direction dressed like a Christmas Tree which amused the group greatly ..?) Ten is a good number because it takes about 10k before you actually run out of the ‘initial banter’, this can be stories from the week regarding anything the group would find of interest. Truth be told there are a few subjects which are mandatory of course. Jon’s height and weight are also discussed early as well as Mike’s VO2 max score, add in Mark C’s training plan from Matt Fitzgerald and you’re good for 5k minimum. We then discuss politics for at least 2-3k but lately because of Donald Trump this has started to last a bit longer and normally involves a lot more laughter than previously. (American voters, c’mon, it is a joke isn’t it…?) My training plans are then fair game and also discussions about possible posts. Add in a few Phil quotes and before you know it you’re turning around for the run home.

This of course is when the real running happens. The outward journey is social, we’ve generally not met since the previous Sunday so we have a lot to catch up on. I mean as runners we live very full lives. We sleep, worry about our weight, distance, ‘niggles’, pace, alcohol intake (well my group for some reason doesn’t seem to be too worried ?) and then, well that’s about it really but all of this needs to be discussed at great length. Add in potential races and I’m surprised we have time for anything else bar eating muffins, pancakes and drinking coffee.

So back to the journey home. I must admit without the T-train lately (he’s still injured from the ADU 100K in January.) the last 5-10k has been a tad pedestrian. Tony would always push the finish and we often found ourselves at 5k tempo pace at the end of a long run. Luckily this is considered one of your ‘go to runs’ (a long run, fast finish) but I always felt the T-train just enjoyed putting us all through then ‘ringer’ at the end of a 30k, lovely guy Tone. (maybe we don’t miss him?….) Today was no different and I up’d the pace and split the group as we all moved towards Yelo and the final goal, a berry and white chocolate muffin and coffee combo. (see below!)

The holy grail of running…Yeo muffin and coffee combo.

Being it was only 20k the end came around sooner rather than later and we all continued the conversations we had started 90 minutes previously outside Yelo, The topic of conversation didn’t really change much, (and never does truth be told but that’s the point isn’t it?) Jon’s weight and Mike’s VO2 score were discussed and Phil came out with some more gems which funnily enough were mostly already on the internet. This brings me to the reason behind the post. (Finally I hear you all shout !) … The Sunday long run is more the one time when you can let your hair down (excuse the pun in my case!) and just run with good friends who love the same things you love and then at the end celebrate the whole ‘running thing‘ over good coffee and ‘tukka’. If it does you good as well then that’s a bonus but it’s not the real reason we all run long on Sunday, there’s something far more important , running with your mates. (It is also important to know Mike’s VO2 score and Jon’s current weight battles but that’s secondary, I think?)

 

The boys, Mark L., Mike, Phil, Al, Jon and me, Mark C. and Zac.

 

Another week of running, what else is there ?

After the weekend racing I certainly felt every year of my fifty on this planet. Monday and Tuesday were spent trying very hard to keep up with my training buddies and I was dropped on a few occasions even on our ‘easy to Matilda Bay and back‘ lunchtime 10k. The race itself was brutal and I needed the full 48 hours after a 10k to recover. Things improved Wednesday and come Thursday I was ready for another 14k progressive with the lads with the obligatory  post run muffin and coffee at Yelo. Surprisingly the 14k progressive went better than planned and I managed to pull a PB out of the hat which was a pleasant surprise, albeit I worked for it. Of course with Strava I was able to investigate my previous runs and even print out the history of the run.  In the image below you can see the gradual increase in average pace, bar one (9th February) where we decided to make a big effort to run a perfect progressive and this start slower to give us some leeway at the pointy end of the session. (I actually missed a perfect progressive by a few seconds on one of the last kilometres if I remember correctly? Still to hit a perfect 14k progressive.)

14k Progressive run , with a muffin incentive.

 

These sorts of graphics give you the little push you can sometimes need as you start another week of training. Marathon training is hard work and also hard work on a weekly basis, it doesn’t just end after a few weeks. Every Sunday you struggle to hit the weekly target and then Monday is all starts again and you’re back behind the eight ball.  Add in progressively hard sessions and towards the end of a marathon training session you can feel absolutely finished. Luckily you have a few weeks tapering and then 3 days carbo-loading before the big event. These two activities certainly help at the end of a marathon plan.

So back to indicator sessions and races. I can see from my progressive run finish times over the last few months I am making an improvement. This sort of information helps spur you on as you move towards your ultimate goal. A glimmer of light in the dark tunnel of marathon training. I mentioned in a earlier post marathon training ‘is a slog‘, natural talent plays a part but good old fashioned hard work can make as much of a difference, this allows runners like myself, who are prepared to put in an extra few kilometres, gain an advantage or at least level the playing field.

As I have mentioned many times, and it’s even one of my golden rules, you need to document everything and Strava (http://www.strava.com ) or even Training Peaks , ( https://www.trainingpeaks.com ) these need to be your weapons of choice. As you move along your marathon plan you see improvement in the pace and/or distance of sessions, this gives you the push you need to get to Sunday, add up your kilometres (or look at Strava as the days of adding up left us when Bill Gates invented Excel of course. Thanks Bill.) and then start thinking about Monday morning and starting at zero again. Constantly look for improvements as you work towards the marathon, these will also give you the mental strength you will need in the race, ‘trust in your training’ is one of my favourite running mantras and these small victories help to reinforce this.  Keep looking for these improvements , they do make a difference.

Right, Sunday almost finished, another 10k maybe and then it’s time to reset my weekly totals back to zero and back behind the eight ball I scuttle ready for another week of running, wouldn’t have it any other way really, I mean,  what else is there ?

If you want to get faster run more, it really is that simple, or is it?

Been reading about Arthur Lydiard a bit lately. An article below by Duncan Larkin dismisses the myth that Lydiard was just about distance and slow pace. He also believed in speed work, flexible training and training longevity to achieve true potential. I must agree with him on all three of his ‘secrets’ described below by Larkin.

His approach with speed work fits closely with the 80/20 split championed by Matt Fitzgerald ( http://mattfitzgerald.org ) and also a book I am currently working my way through by Joe Friel,  Fast after Fiftyhttp://www.joefrielsblog.com ). Joe also advocates using high intensity work outs to retain fitness for the ‘older athlete’, rather than relying on long, slow, distance workouts. (LSD) Both these well respected coaches teach secret number 1 below. The second secret about flexible training is also a concept I would agree with. Each runner is unique with their own training threshold, be it distance or intensity, as well as their ability to perform a training program without the danger of injury. Each runner has different parameters that need to be monitored and to do this the coach needs constant feedback on the program selected. Finally Lydiard believed to reach their full potential a runner would need between 3-5 years. I’d hope it takes a little longer as I’m probably on year eight in my journey and hope to find a few PB’s before I start back to the chasing pack, we’ll see.

So it looks like all distance and no pace will not allow a runner to reach their trust potential. You really need to change into the high gears once in a while with fartlek, threshold, tempos and track sessions. These sessions do come with their own dangers but , as runners, we do enjoy testing ourselves and sometimes you just got to run as fast as you possibly can. I understand it can be painful but the feeling you get when you finish an intense session and reach your target is worth the suffering, and let’s face it running fast is fun.

Arthur Lydiard. Photo: lydiardfoundation.org

It’s not hard to start a conversation about famed running coach Arthur Lydiard. The New Zealander, who passed away in 2004, forever changed the sport of distance running by way of his influential teachings. He coached athletes like Peter Snell to the Olympic podium and was a prolific writer in his own right. Lydiard was also a dynamic speaker who preached his training philosophy like a fervent evangelist, creating disciples who still quote him in a quasi-religious way.

Lydiard was a legend, but unfortunately he gets labeled as an elitist and “the long, slow distance guy” who preached rigid periodization in training. At risk of his important teachings being oversimplified and misunderstood, it’s critical that we dig deeper into three of Lydiard’s most under-acknowledged secrets of success:

1. Lydiard believed in speed work.

“Far too many people think Lydiard training is all about long, slow distance running,” says Nobuya “Nobby” Hashizume of the Lydiard Foundation. “How many people realize that he used to have his runners, even marathon runners, compete in a 100-meter dash in a local track meet?” Hashizume contends that many people who study Lydiard’s teachings come away thinking that a lot of long, slow distance is the answer to successful running. He calls it “the plodding zone” and says that Lydiard did believe in 100-mile training weeks, but only to build aerobic strength to prepare the body for race-pace work that followed.

Greg McMillan, founder and head coach of McMillan Running, says that Lydiard’s anaerobic and lactate threshold workouts are often forgotten. “It’s important to remember that [Lydiard] was working with very competitive runners training for shorter distances and though everyone talks about his endurance or base phase, his programs have a lot of fast running as the race nears,” he says. McMillan points out that Lydiard incorporated 2-3 days of speed work after his endurance phase so that the athlete peaked on time instead of the 20-40 x 400m interval workouts used by other coaches that he didn’t think was as predictable in performance improvement.

2. He called for flexible, individualized training.

Many runners think of Lydiard as someone who followed a one-size-fits-all approach, but that wasn’t the case. “As the runner got into the race-specific training, Lydiard was doing many, many test runs and based on how these runs went, the athlete would adjust the program going forward,” says McMillan, who accompanied Lydiard on his final U.S. tour before he passed away. Lydiard knew that flexibility was a vital component to success and that both the coach and athlete had to work together closely in order to observe how the body and mind responded (and recovered) from training and racing. “They had to then adjust to build on the strengths and shore up the weaknesses,” McMillan says.

Rod Dixon, winner of the 1983 New York City Marathon, used to listen to Lydiard speak when he was a young runner in New Zealand and says that Lydiard encouraged “learning by doing.”

“He told us to apply the principles he taught to our own environment,” Dixon recalls. “He wanted us to evolve as runners and keep things simple—not to make the sport a complex formula. We knew that we wouldn’t respond the same way to everything; we learned that we had to adapt in order to run well.”

3. The potential to improve exists in everyone.

Lydiard is best known for the grueling workouts he passed on to the likes of Snell and for attracting the very best runners who were aiming for the Olympic podium, but what many don’t realize is that he worked with runners of all ability levels. “Lydiard is often described as a hard-nosed elitist coach who insisted everybody to run 100-miles-a-week,” says Hashizume. “Quite far from it. Remember, he was not only a maker of champions but also the father of jogging.”

In 1961, Lydiard gathered 20 obese middle-aged runners who couldn’t run a single lap around the track and coached them to run a 4-hour marathon in just eight months. “Arthur’s jogging program was ahead of its time,” says McMillan. “Bill Bowerman and subsequently Jeff Galloway saw how this idea was very, very beneficial to the masses of runners who weren’t trying to go the Olympics but wanted a more appropriate running routine to get them fit and healthy.” Hashizume says that his mentor maintained “hope for positive human potential” and told him that one can never know their true potential until they train systematically and intelligently for three to five years.