Category Archives: Injury

Now Rest

As I mentioned in my last post, this was a big week.

In fact, it was my last big week before leaving for the desert and I had planned it to be my biggest training week, ever.

imageThe point with ultras, as with all other athletic training is that there have to be different training approaches for the different types, that is the long, single stage races (like Leadville or the UTMB) in comparison to the more ‘normal’ distance, but multi-stage races (like the MdS). The training, if you like, has to be specific to the event planned.

For the long races, it is purely about distance and time on your feet for which you have to train your body to become accustomed. This is generally, and traditionally, achieved by running back to back long distance training over comparable terrain over a couple of days so you become more familiar with running on tired legs – in a 100 mile race, the first 50 miles should be relatively easy!

Fimageor the stage races, where the distance is covered over a week, or similar period, is possibly longer in total, but the individual stage distances themselves are likely to be shorter, so the training approach is more related to faster ‘sprint’ distances, but over a longer period of consecutive days, again traditionally throughout a week, but this is merely for convenience. Add into this the very real and important need to allow the body to rest or risk injury it is a very fine balance between getting it right and not ending up at the start line.

This time, although I still have three weeks to go, I am now over the peak of my training which I seem to have achieved, God willing, without mishap and injury.

During the week, I ran three early mornings, two city lunchtime runs, one evening run and had one rest day, which consisted of three 8 milers, two around 10 miles and one just short of a 26 mile marathon distance. I also added to the variety by making two of these pace runs and four of them hilly, including the long run with a backpack, all of which totalled just over 70 miles.

My legs, body and mind are definitely stronger now, but the big question is are they strong enough for the toughest foot race in the world?

We’ll find out in 3 weeks πŸ™‚

Tentative Steps

Training this week has not gone too badly.

After my visit to the physio I have taken my first few tentative steps back outside with my trainers on. I say tentative because my foot still feels as though it has something amiss; some sort of stiffness in the upper-mid foot, so I have been taking it fairly gingerly. In fact, when I thing about it that could be why I am so slow at the moment, as I am probably favouring my right leg to propel me along the trails, while my left is in a guarded holding pattern around the airfield of full performance.

On Tuesday I did an easy 6km followed by Thursday’s 9km and then did some physio on Friday, with some gym running to warmup and cool down. Everything seems to be hanging in there at the moment, except for slightly stiff knees, which I have been expecting, but so far it not not an issue.

Not massive mileage, but a useful rampup week and a bit of extra distance on my trainers and in my legs and, more to the point, I am planning a long run at the weekend, on Sunday, so we will see how things go during that.

Physio update – visit 3,457

Monday’s seems to be turning into my Pilates and physio day.

Yet again today I had a lunchtime of stretching and core work in the gym. After only a few sessions it seems to be getting a bit easier which is great, but that doesn’t really help my legs, my ankle or my foot! Not in the way that I need it at the moment anyway.

So, off to the physio it was this evening for another checkup from which I emerged with mixed feelings.

Vasyli Orthotics

I have resisted orthotics for biomechanical issues all the time I have been running with problems I have had over the years, and especially since trying to move more to minimalist footwear to strengthen my feet and improve my running posture and technique over the last 10 months. So it was with a bit of disappointment that I learned from Stuart that my biomechanics are now such that it is likely that is what is causing the problem with the pain in my ankle. It is possible that it is a ligament or tendon (or muscle) related issue (he was hedging his bets given the non-specificity of the ache I have had) down the inside of my left ankle underneath the foot which is caused by over-pronation, which in turn may be caused by my foot turning out slightly, which in turn may be a result of the operation.

The upshot is that I now have some temporary orthotics to support the inside of the foot, which he seemed to indicate are likely to be a permanent requirement.

I hate the idea of that.

I will try them out over the next few weeks and if they allow me to carry on with training by relieving the pressure on my tibialis muscles, I will keep them in my shoes, but I’ll not be keeping them in forever. The evidence to support my need comes in the form of a similar ‘top of the foot’ problem I have had before, so there is a chance it is not related to the op and although this change may have exacerbated the problem, I will do my damnedest to ensure I can run in the near future without any artificial aids!

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Cycle Circuit

As my foot is still not playing ball, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get out on the bike today.

Looking back, I was surprised to realise it was last October when I had previously carried out a long cycle round the Guildford area, which, clearly, had been the point at which my running had started to ramp up in distance.

Hilly cycling is actually supposed to be quite good cross-training for the legs, for uphill trail running as well, so I felt comfortable planning this for the morning. The only worry had been the weather, which had been good yesterday (Saturday) but was forecast to return to the recent normal inclemency later today. Still, nothing ventured….

Not where I cycled, but pretty anyway

I have tended to stick to the roads when biking, even though I ride a beat up old mountain bike which would be more suited to trail cycling, as it is more the time and distance that I want to cover, with hills thrown in. Today, I planned on doing the 30 odd miles I had done in the past, but with the addition of the few extra miles I had been running over my last few long runs, around the Surrey hills.

When I started out, I was lucky with the weather, and although it was a touch colder than I would like on bike with the wind, I soon warmed up and forgot the cold as I battled to remove the sweat from my eyes!

The route I took today has quite a pleasant warm up section to the south of Guildford before a steep series of hills as the climb over the North Downs is completed. On the other side of this, there is the complementary downhill though, and the route through Normandy, Pirbright and Mayford has a very slight downhill gradient which is interspersed with the odd short rise here and there.

From Send to East Clandon, the trend reverses though, and the average gradient is uphill for several miles, culminating this time in a long slow ride up to the top of the downs, some 10 miles to the east, as the crow flies, of where I had been just over an hour earlier. I was now on the part of the route that I had been running on recently and although my motive force was not quite as I may have preferred, it was still great to be doing the same route under my own steam.

Of course, after the hill, comes the downhill and this one was Coombe Lane πŸ™‚ I have done this in the opposite direction in the past and it is a challenge! This way is much more fun :wow: Unfortunately, the speed with which I covered the descent was over all too quickly and I now had another series of rises to contemplate through the villages I have come to know well in the Surrey hills; Shere, Farley Green and Shamley Green.

Knowing the route well is a huge advantage in my mind, as I’m sure it is in general. However, it is also interesting to notice that the perspective you get, on familiar routes, is totally different when on a bike. For instance, I find I am much more sensitive to changes in gradient on a bike compared to running, presumably because the differential between high and low speed on a bike is so much greater, a similar scalar is also applied to gradient sensitivity. Or maybe I just need to try a bit harder πŸ˜‰ I also find that the horizon on long straight roads approaches noticeably faster than the foreground when on a bike, almost like a depth-of-field compression effect. Most bizarre.

By the end of the ride, a mere 38 miles, my quads and calves were starting to tell me about it, after over 2 1/2 hours welded to the bicycle my ‘seat’ was in danger of losing all sense of feeling and my unmentionables will have to remain unmentioned.

It was a good ride though, and I was glad to have done it, and will probably end up doing the same next weekend too.

After all, I wasn’t overtaken by any elderly women with their weekly vegetable shopping in their front baskets, so I must be improving.

Back to Square One

I’ve been so good over the last week.

I’ve not gone out for a cheeky 5km. I’ve not risked further stress with some ‘easy’ cross-training and I’ve tried my best not to be grumpy about not doing any exercise and I’ve even (shock) tried to minimise my calorie intake as would befit a week of rest in anyone’s book.

The weather over the last couple of days has helped my decision making process in relation to early morning runs, my need for which has been increasing in inverse proportion to the ache I had felt on the top of my foot.

Back to square one?

So today I thought would be a fitting day to go out and try to loosen the old muscles on a trial run, given a full 7 days rest I had given it.

Maybe I had missed something in my chat with Stuart, the physio, last Monday. I didn’t hear a definitive DON’T RUN WHATEVER YOU DO as I chatted with him, but it seems that that may as well have been his message.

My run this morning started well, and I even conservatively stuck my testing to the flat trails and resisted the urge to run faster than necessary, and although the ankle felt slightly ‘fragile’ by the end of 11 miles, I was more or less happy that things were ok.

After only a few moments of cool down it was a different matter though.

The pain on the top of my foot was back with a vengeance whenever I transitioned it from weight bearing to free and vice versa.

I think another trip to Stuart to review may be called for πŸ™

Rest Day 2

The good news is that my foot is getting better a lot faster than I had dared to hope and I may even be able to get down to the gym tomorrow for a light touch of cross training, although running is unlikely to be a sensible idea.

The limping has already ceased, I haven’t had to ice my foot today and my walking is almost up to normal speed as well, so I’m certainly happy with progress, less than 48 hours after my last run.

Other than that, nothing much has happened today.

For me.

Shambolic George

It has been another interesting day for the chancellor, George Osborne though, as he makes another embarrassing U-turn on his tax implementations promised in the budget back in March. Having backed down (a little) on the pasty tax, which was clearly unmanageable, but now changed it for something equally as confusing and complicated, he is now reversing his decision on the charities tax (cap) plan which seems to be equally as pleasing to both the charities and to the Labour opposition leader, Ed Balls, who is frankly having a field day at the moment without even trying. Young George seems to have picked his timing perfectly, however, as the Leveson enquiry was going through some more meaty enquiries today with the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who was involved in apparently inappropriate behaviour around News International’s BskyB takeover bid.

My life is so simple πŸ˜‰

Rest Day 1

An understandably quiet day today.

It was misty outside when we woke, and although I had no plans to run, I imagined it would have been stunning running through the hills again. Still, not to be for a few days.

Cocoa Orange Nakd Bars

I have also been limping a touch today, but more to try to rest my foot than through any pain, and I have been walking slowly through my normal, and necessary, route through the streets of London. On the up side, I did not need to take any aspirin during the day and managed a slow walk up to town when I got back from work for provisions for Liz – Nakd Bars, available only from Sainsbury’s (at that end of the day)

Still, while the rest of the world seems to be edging closer to the brink of financial disaster, my foot problems are not the greatest concern in the world.

Another bad day on the markets, looking likely to make May the worst trading month since last October. Investors are ploughing money into safe haven assets, pushing down the costs of borrowing for Germany, UK and US governments (and further expanding the bond bubble which in itself is an explosion waiting to happen) while the long term prospects for Italy, Spain and of course Greece are looking considerable worse. The leaders in Europe seem to be almost catatonic in their approach to the current crisis, with market confidence and volatility having a direct relationship to the lack of direction currently being experienced at the helm of R.M.S.Europe!

Time for a Rest

After yesterday’s early morning disaster, and the all clear from the physio, I was keen to get out this morning for a run with the sunrise and finish my week of training on tired legs!

Perhaps I should have taken that as a warning sign that enough was enough.

After checking out the curtains at 4:30am I found the morning was too beautiful to pass up the opportunity though, so wound my way quietly down the stairs (clearly not quietly enough as both the kittens were waiting eagerly in the dining room for me!) and got my stuff ready. No backpack today, but a bottle of juice was definitely on the cards in this weather.

As I started out all was fine, and I was conscious of my ankle and making sure that it was fine, preparing to stop if necessary. The problem with this approach is that you risk being 5-6 miles away from home when you stop, or worse on a long circular run, and this morning especially, I was time constrained, so constantly watching the clock to ensure I was going to get back for 7:00am. Not the best frame of mind.

I found it was exceptionally slow going and I guess that should have been another warning sign (I need to get to read these signs a lot better; my past record isn’t exactly exemplary, but then as Einstein used to say, madness is the art of making the same mistakes over and over again. Still I plodded on and didn’t really feel any adverse effects in my ankle, which I was concentrating on.

All the time I was unable to run, I dreamt of runs like this, early mornings, some trail, some hills, sunrise glistening through the trees with mists drifting across the canals, streams and fields around the area. The smells and sights of the countryside are such an assault on the senses, and can take away all your stress, worries and transport you to a different world in an instant.

It was a fantastic run so early in the morning, and I eventually got back in time for a little bit of breakfast and our superstar helper was up dealing with the children again, as Liz was resting as this was Col’s last day πŸ™ she is back to Wales this evening and her generous help and assistance will be sorely missed. Thanks Col.

Time to put my feet up!

After stopping and getting ready for work, I started to realise there mighty be another problem though. I have had some issues in the past with the bones in my feet, understandably given the pounding I put them through. It has never been explained to my satisfaction by the physio’s I have seen, but the upshot is that it makes it painful to walk, let alone run, and feels like the upper side of my foot is collapsing.

By the time I got to work I needed to take a couple of aspirin, so I was not impressed, obviously. I was even more concerned with what Liz’s reaction would be – she get’s grumpy with me when I can’t run because I’m like a bear with a sore head – nobody’s perfect πŸ˜‰

She was actually very understanding when I got home, and by the end of the day the pain when walking had subsided a little. I reckon it’ll need a few days of rest, which was almost to plan anyway, so not a great disaster at the moment.

Ask me if I feel the same in a week πŸ™‚

Pilates and Physio

My legs were shot after yesterday’s run.

My quads had spent a couple of hours immediately after the run threatening to cramp up and I spent the rest of the day trying to keep mobile to ward off the sensation.

A 4:30am alarm call was therefore not a welcome sound so, of course, the first and subsequent alarms were all switched off in rapid succession. So much for dedication this morning!

Lunchtime was a different matter and because I have a busy week, may well be the only gym session I get in this week. So it was off the Pilates again for me, and although I still felt like a bit of a beginner, I was more settled than last week’s initial shock to the system.

After an afternoon of work, I had to get to the physio in Guildford. Col had been a star again and taken the boys swimming while Liz stopped at home and looked after the little ones.

My ‘ankle’ has been niggling for several weeks, so I had made an appointment with the physio for this evening to get it checked out and as it was not a major issue, insomuch as the ache moves about all the time I am running, is not a constant pain and seems to dissipate within 24 hours, I was hopeful it was no to be a time off kind of injury.

Stuart the physio, and a trainee, Pete, took me through a few tests but didn’t seem to think that there was much of a problem, possibly just posterior tibial tendonitis, a slight sprain, or bruising of the tibia (worst case). Luckily, I was not exhibiting any of the full symptoms one might experience with an extreme case of any of these diagnosis, so I was given some manipulation to loosen the ankle, some ‘lasering’ for some other reason and told not to increase my mileage for a bit. I could run as per normal though. Apparently!

By the time I got home it was quite late and Liz was quite tired so I stayed home and didn’t go swimming. A strangely bitty day.

Holiday and Physio

The children had their first day of Easter holiday today.

I was back to work and so, predictably, the boys were up at 6:15am – there must be an undiscovered part of the human genome that ensures that when children have to get up they sleep in, and vice versa, since on any school day, when it is essential for them to get up, they struggle out of bed at 7:15am. Today though, the Skylanders on the Wii was beckoning.

Behaviour not surprising with names like Eruptor!

After I had left, the inevitable happened though, as there was frustration over playing the game and there was fighting and tears. Not a good way to start the few days of rest that they have, and with Liz having to manage things on her own (albeit at home) we were not best pleased with them. Skylanders has been put away for a few days πŸ™

The rest of their day was spent in recompense, busying themselves making cards and filling boxes with the millionaires shortbread to thank the people who have helped us so much over the last couple of weeks.

They took some to Cecilia next door and Natasha after lunch and went to spend a few hours with her and played, so Liz had a bit of a rest at least.

My day was quiet, but I took it easy , working through lunchtime as well, in preparation for visiting Stuart at the physiotherapist’s this evening.

I did not have high hopes for improvement in the standard of my left leg, as I’ve not been exercising down the gym properly for the last four weeks or so, due to everything else that has been going on. It is incredible to think that it is actually four weeks ago that Liz had her stroke, and she has come on so far in that time since. Nevertheless, I went down to the testing machine, and was pleasantly surprised that I got a ‘PB’ in the leg extension / curl test for both legs, so I must be doing something right. I will put it down to the dynamic lunges and hills runs I have been doing.

So, my next visit is in 3 months, but he’s happy for me to up my distances as much as I want – he still has the impression I am a sensible chap, although I’m not sure where he gets that from πŸ™‚