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Archive for the category “Run Injury Free”

Learning to run again

When I pulled my hamstring I went to physio. There I was told I load them too much when I run and so part of my rehab was to be learning to run again. It has been an interesting and frustrating journey, but I have persevered and finally seem to be grasping the concept of this new way of running.

It started with me having to run by using my hip flexors more, bringing my knee up in front of me, which made me run on my forefoot. I went home and practised running around the dining room, and my family collapsed in laughter which me me feel really silly. Grumpily the next morning I set out for my run and felt like a horse trotting down the road. During the run my calves got really tight and uncomfortable, but each time I ran it got a little better. Until the physio said now I had to learn stage 2 of the new way of running. He had me stand holding a bar, leaning slightly forward and pawing the ground like a bull about to charge. This, he said, was called “scooping” and I had to do this while I ran. I was to start each run with 10 “scoops” on each leg. 



You can guess what happened next….yes, I went home and tried it and my family absolutely wet themselves, and I felt really stupid.

So the next day I went off for my run and felt like a cross between a horse and a bull and once again got very tight calves. But I kept going and over the weeks it seems to have improved. The upside is I no longer get tight hamstrings and I have successfully gone into a zero drop shoe with no problems, the downside is I can’t really switch off and just run, I still have to think about how I am running, otherwise it starts to go wrong. I think today was possibly my best effort so far as I managed to do a bit of brainstorming about 2014 work plans during my run and noticed while I was “away” I carried on “scooping”. I think the best test will be on 26 Jan at the Colour Run as there will be lots of distractions and it will be easy to forget what I should be doing and get carried away with the excitement of the event.

What A “Beep” Run That Was

I am so tired today! Yesterday I ran 30km but it felt like 132km! What a run that was…..

I woke up feeling quite good, apart from the fact that it seemed as if I had some sort of mouth infection. I had breakfast as usual about an hour before I was due to head off and pottered around getting gels, water and myself ready. When it came time to leave I noticed there were some very black clouds in the sky but I figured I was eventually heading in a different direction, and they didn’t appear to be moving too fast towards our house.

Now, on my long run days my hubby always comes to meet me at the end point of my run. With him he brings chocolate milk and my bag (packed by me) with a change of clothes etc in it. Then after I have stretched and changed into dry clothes we go to a cafe, have a bite to eat and coffee – great way to end a long run. This aside is relevant as while heading up the road (just walking at this stage) I have this feeling I have forgotten something. I get halfway to the start point of my run and realise I have not packed dry underwear into my bag…..so back I went. This then made me start later than I had said, and as we always fix an approximate time to meet at the end, now put pressure on me to run quicker, as Mr was still snoring when I left. I don’t carry a phone with me when I run, and had not thought to leave a note as I just dashed in the laundry door, grabbed some things out of the basket, flung them into my bag and dashed back out and up the road.

Now the clouds looked closer….

And I was right…..

5 mins into my run it just bucketed down and I was drenched! My shoes were squishing and I was dripping! However, I was running 30km and there was no stopping me, so I forced myself to grin (lucky no-one was around) and carried on. The route I had picked was a bit hilly and I had said previously I was not doing any more hills. It is a bit hard to find a long route with no hills in Tauranga, unless you run down the main road and over to Mount Maunganui or Papamoa, but that can be boring, so I had planned a route with as few hills as possible to get the 30km done. For some reason these hills took me down yesterday (probably because I was pushing for time), and by the time I reached a flat section I was questioning my sanity to the extent I was thinking of stopping, grumbling to myself about the fact I had been running for 2 hours already and why was I doing this. Having conversations with myself about me being more suited to 21km and 10km distances, why am I training for another marathon, all this training is too much, etc, etc, etc. I think I psyched myself out so much that everything started to hurt and my legs felt heavier and heavier. I slogged on though, and finally with the end in sight, still managed to give it a surge at the end. I ended up exhausted for the rest of the day and managed to strain my foot as well.

I think this run highlighted some things to me about my running. I seriously do not think I am cut out to do marathons. I get bored with the time spent training, hours and hours of plodding (or at least that’s how I see it). I don’t run with anyone, and maybe in a group the tediousness of those long runs gets brushed aside in the chatting that must go on, but I don’t like running in a group, so it wouldn’t work for me. I enjoy the faster running, it’s over quicker, more exciting. I enjoy trail running, especially fast downhills, I prefer the training for shorter distances. So this marathon is definitely my last, and I have a way to make it seem easier. As my hubby and I were supposed to run the GC Half together and now he can’t, I am running the other half for him, and that will keep me going through the final 7 weeks of training.

This is where I end my runs

This is where I end most of my long runs

Never Play Catch-Up!

Today I learned a few things:

1) Listen to your gut

2) Stop when it hurts

3) Take some money with you when you go for an unsupported run


It all began when I decided to play catch-up…..

If you have been following my blog, you will know that this past week has been a bit hectic. We had two graduation ceremonies to go to in two different towns, it rained a lot, and these things led to my running schedule being affected. So I decided to cram 4 days of running at the end of the week. Thursday I ran just over 10km, Friday I ran just over 10km, Saturday I ran 6km in my new shoes AND did a strength workout, and today I attempted to run 21km. I ran 19.6km in the end….

When I was making the decision to do this catch-up thing, I had a gut feeling this was not a good idea. I did not listen – mistake number one. Then today after running about 3km my shin started to hurt. I ignored it – mistake number two. I continued running only to have to cut my run short, while I stretched, walked, hobbled and jogged my way home. I had no money to catch a bus back – mistake number three.

All things considered the pain did start to ease after I walked for about 5 minutes, and I could jog home on my leg. It is also not too sore at the moment, after I rubbed some arnica cream into it, and did the ice thing. It is simply a strained muscle brought on by too many kilometres in too few days so tomorrow is a rest day, no running, no strength training, no anything! It will be hard to sit still, but it has to be done. Lessons learnt though……NEVER play catch-up!

Up and Down and Lower Back Pain

I did a hill run this morning. It was 10km of up and down, some steep, some not so steep. I got to thinking, during one of my pelting, hurtling, downward dashes on a steep descent that often an area of niggle to strike a runner is the lower back. Often an injury occurs when running downhill. Often this injury is caused by weak core and stabilising muscles. Which made me start thinking about how important these muscles are when running.

Often people take up running and omit to do any other type of exercise. It is vitally important to work on core strength and stability in conjunction with your running programme. Through my work I have come across many people who have a weak core area from spending their days hunched over a desk, on a computer. The first thing I do is assess their core strength and programme core activation exercises to strengthen these areas. We all have a transverse abdominis (TA), and a lot of our bodies have forgotten how to use it. So our erector spinae (the long muscles next to our spine) take over and they’re not supposed to be doing that job. So it’s no wonder they get fatigued, grumpy and injured. Add to the mix some crazy downhill running and bingo! Ouch!

If you have found yourself plagued by a grumpy lower back here is a simple exercise to do. This can be done anywhere so you have no excuse. Take a big breath into your belly (it must inflate) and then exhale until you have expelled all the air. The TA will then activate at the end of the breath. This is called diaphragmatic breathing and will teach the TA to once again remember what it is supposed to do. Do this a few times, several times throughout the day.

There are many exercises that can assist with core strengthening, so once you find where your TA is and you feel stronger, you can start a progressive core strengthening programme. Always remember to take it slowly, because if your body is not used to utilising the correct muscles for a movement, the other muscles may take over. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and retrain them. And while you are out running and you start heading downhill, make a conscious effort to activate that TA, so you hold your core strong while you pelt, hurtle and dash down that hill!

Women, Knees and Creative Brains

I have settled into my marathon training programme well. The fitness I built up and the kms I ran training for the Colville Connection have sustained my fitness levels and it has been no problem to ramp up the weekly totals again. Last week I ran 44kms and have been feeling great this week. While I was doing my long run on Sunday I started thinking about knees (I always get ideas while I run, I figure I get creative….more on that later in the blog). I was thinking about women’s knees in particular. You see we are a bit more at risk because of the way we are built, and running can get blamed for all sorts of knee evils that it actually isn’t to blame for.

Women have a bigger Q-angle than men. That is, our hips are wider and the line that goes from our external hip to our medial knee is more pronounced. So therefore we are more at risk for our knees to track outside of the line they are supposed to track in. So it becomes even more important for us to have strong, and most importantly, well-balanced quad muscles. Often the VMO becomes weakened through lack of strength training, bad gait, bad squatting technique and imbalances in the muscles around the knees. On top of all of that, us women tend to not bend our knees when landing after jumping off a raised area, so all you women trail runners out there, watch what you do next time you land from a height, no matter how high, make sure you bend your knees to absorb some of the shock and also make sure your knees are tracking over your foot, and not collapsing inward as a lot of us do. Get your technique checked when strength training, and ask someone to watch you running so you can get feedback as to what your legs are doing. We have to take care of those knees so they can go the distance.

And so back to the creative bit…..

I am reading a book at the moment called Spark written by John J Ratey, MD and Eric Hagerman. It is all about a revolutionary new science of exercise and brain, and how they fit together. I would recommend getting your hands on a copy and having a read, it is fascinating! Apparently when we exercise we create proteins that are then able to cross the blood/brain barrier and allow more connections to be made. Amazing results have been seen in children in school, increasing their test scores in academic areas, and also with patients suffering from anxiety and depression.  Now every time I head out for my run I am thinking “I am developing my brain”, and I am chomping through the book with eager anticipation of the next great thing!

So get training, you have everything to gain!

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