Thursday, 7 April 2016

Tied to the run

I got injured six months ago, not a running injury but it dropped me out of the running scene for three months and into a solo running scene on small mileage for another month or so. After mulling over varying degrees of expertise from "Forget your running now, your goosed" to "you'll be grand" I just had to wait and see how thing's would fare out and see what I could come up with myself.

A nightmare? a runner that can't run. I would have thought so, a bust ankle is severe enough that you can genuinely throw your running on the back burner without fear of remorse. That's the biggest obstacle to keeping your sanity, having a good enough excuse that put's to bed the 'guilt' of not getting out for a run. With that taken care of you can let the hair down metafollically and step outside the bubble that you didn't realise you were in to begin with.

The sentiment at the time was that I could get used to this, the underlying pressure to think out the coming weeks running plan, revolve it around everything else that's going on and actually carry it through was no longer there, leaving time and head space for a whole lot else. Two crutches and an orthapeadic boot limited the options but the mental freedom was there.

With less pressure for time the floodgates of ideas and alternatives to running opened, contentment at the realisation that I didn't have to go out and bust my balls in next Sunday's 10 miler or 10K took root. Laziness? maybe. At one stage back in January I nearly entered Ras Mumhan and had a full diary of open water swimming events laid out in front of me for the summer but common sense prevailed - on the Ras Mumhan idea anyway. The rotational non impact motion of pedalling a bike was easier on the ankle than road running or trail for that matter. With that mentality it was always going to be hard to get back running but that's the idea that prevailed, the need to get back running.

It suits. Less time constraints, time efficient and good bang for your buck on a return for the time put in. It took a couple of aborted attempts but I'm back running hard. Due to impatience and an irrational fear of not being able to get back to where I was before (irrational because the default is to think that you were flying before the injury, which wasn't the case and in reality getting back to your previous level is easier than you might think on the drive home from A&E) - it's just a pain in the ass, a bit like driving down the wrong road for 10 minutes before realising you've got to turn around and start again. I'm still walking a bit of a tightrope and the fear comes on anytime I run on uneven ground. After such a lenghty time out every other part of me started to protest on my return too, back, knee's, hips. It would be easy to stop and think you're injured elsewhere but consistent easy running brought everything back into line. If I could only gain an interest and give the time to those exercises I got from the Physio.

That's a long winded way of saying not to jump to the conclusion that your injured every time you feel a niggle I suppose. When problems surface I'v found it's best to work on them while continuing less intense running, don't just stop - cycling and swimming are two perfect alternatives. Self massage on sore quads or hammers will do the trick for most of us. Despite all the talk of over training and training mistakes, as non elites we don't have enough time on our hands to do real damage if we train sensibly - overtraining shouldn't be a word (or two words) and severe penalties should be served for overuse of 'recovery' as a training term. Regular decent work, rest and play should keep us right, most of us don't have the time to get injured through overtraining.    

Our running related injuries will come from overdoing it intensity & frequency wise more than too much time on our feet, fatigue will more likely be caused by late nights and life in general than running alone. This is why some get injured a lot more than others, bad habits and impatience at the time it takes to get to where you want - Do we ever get to where we want though?
  • A lot of injuries can be ran through with some TLC between runs, if you leave it out the problem will only compound itself. Like everything the more TLC that abounds in the everyday routine (not just while injured) the less chance you have of getting injured in the first place but this is real life and pushed to make a choice most runners on the work life balance thing will choose the run before stretching or regular floor exercises.
  • Flogging yourself day in day out will do nothing for you and your running career will be measured in weeks. Too far too fast too soon too keen.
  • Trying to match your fast club mate even though they've got a few hundred more miles in their legs since January. Umph, tough one - competitive instincts will often override common sense, learning to suppress them till race day is the key to survival. Discipline in training is one of the more difficult skills to master.
  • Following the plan even though you're in a heap. While consistency is the key to any good training block there are day's when you just have to knock it on the head. Keeping the TLC in the loop will limit the off day's. If you don't look after the body it'll come back and bite you on the ass (figure that one out).
  • One runners injury is another's  niggle.  
This showed up on my facebook timeline recently, the full interview is here but the best of it's below.

 "If you could give one bit of advice to aspiring marathoners of all levels, what would it be? Favourite way to spend your down time?

Long-term consistency. Run when it’s wet, when it’s cold, when you’re tired, sick of running and couldn’t really be bothered. No secret I’m an advocate of miles with selective hard sessions that form only a small percentage of the total weekly workload. Don’t get too wrapped up in an individual session but rather the cumulative benefits of progress over time.
As for down-time, read a book, watch a movie or clean the car."

So where does that leave us? - Next time your limbering up before the group run, keep the niggles in your mind, sharing them is insurance in case we can't hang on out the road, there's no shame in not being able to hang on out the road or finishing 2 minutes slower than your pb and anyway - no one cares, everybody's more concerned with their own.


  1. Great stuff Kealan, reading this would give a man a lot of confidence to keep going. Like the analogy of driving down the road, for me it would be like cycling up a climb before remembering you left your phone back in the cafe at the bottom of the hill (or Kay did!)

    1. One step forward two steps back. A good excuse for another coffee and bakewell tart. Lucky you realised at the top of the climb and not after descending down the other side. I've one of those stories but it'll have to wait for another day. Mind yerselves.