Monday, November 4, 2013

My new friend, deep water running

Saturday, I went to Sleeman Sporting Complex, near where I live. Used the heated outdoor pool, with my flotation belt. About 40-45 minutes water running. Dead boring. Then I did about 30 metre swim.

Today, Monday 4 November, I went to the pool at QUT Gardens point campus. 6$ entry, a complete and utter rip off. I ran maybe 1km  to the pool and then I did about 45 minutes deep water running and two laps of the 50 metre pool - 100 metres freestyle.

The deep water running really is not a great substitute for real running. It shifts the work load so that there is more resistance bringing the leg forward than would be the case in normal running. Of course there is zero impact so that is a good thing.  It seems to work hip flexors, and thigh muscles too, just a little. I get the feeling it might help with leg speed - bring leg forward strongly. Seems to work my neck a lot too. So maybe core strength can benefit too.

I will see if I can build my swimming up to several laps of the pool. It will improve my fitness for swimming and nothing else, with a small benefit to running.

I predicted that heel problems were coming back and they did !!

Last blog was Tuesday 22 October, and in it I described the heel problems flaring. It was not imaginary. In fact it was quite bad.  I stepped out to run that afternoon, easy 2 km followed by what I hoped would be 12 x400  at fastish pace.

I did the warm up, right heel was complaining. Right at the point where I have had the problems. I gave it a bit of time to warm up, it got no better. I attempted the 400's. Did about 4 before the pain was just too much to run. Normally in the past, slow running was the biggest trigger. I could speed up and the pain would disappear - because I was running more on the forefoot is my guess. This time it was nothing like that. It just kept getting worsh.

So I stopped and walked back. Even walking after warmed up was bad. It was very bad this time. Rather different in a way from previous instances. In the past it was a slow stead buildup. Many months of it niggling just enough to make it a slight misery at the beginning of a run, and making normal like hellish with the pain when trying to walk after sitting for a while. This time it came on extremely suddenly over a matter of days. Perfectly ok all the time in the week prior.

This time a couple of new factors - Obviously I did 3 weeks of 60km totals, a major contributor, always has been. Simple volume increase and boom big trouble. But I also bought three new pairs of shoes - non running -  wore one pair all week leading up to the weekend, and another pair I wore when I played in band Saturday. The ones I wore in band - I walked a fair bit in them, carried heavy equipment etc. I reckon its too much co-incidence that the heel problem flared immediately after. Most likely the heel box pressured the bad lump I have in right foot.

Got to podiatrist last week, have MRI Tomorrow, Tuesday 5 Nov. In the meantime I have done no running at ll for 12 days. My body has contracted into the scaling old man I really am in the meantime too, aches and pains increased. Running frequently really DOES make me feel good. I just need to manage the volume.  Its clear that I cannot carry that volume..

My plan for the next month or so is to do water running as frequently as I can, I have a flotation belt now. I will also build up a few freestyle swimming laps when I am at the pool, some cross training. And see if I can gradually get back to some running. 60km a week is not good for me so I will see if I can get back to about 45 a week plus water running multiple times a week and swimming.  I need to get my fitness from something while foot keep me off the roads. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stats for the week / month so far, and post stress disorder? Confidence has taken a hit.

Day 22 of base building.  Monthly mileage and average paces (km/hr):

Oct 2013     180.50 12.1
Sep 2013     167.90 12.2
Aug 2013     172.04 12.4
Jul 2013     183.50 12.3
Jun 2013     129.35 11.5
May 2013     80.02 11.5
Apr 2013      69.02 11.6
Mar 2013      26.44 11.9

This month has been a huge ramp up in mileage. Still 9 days left of October and I have matched the highest month of the year near enough. If I manage to keep running for the next 8 days I will exceed 200kms in a month for the first time since July last year. That led to a complete breakdown eventually!! The biggest monthly total I have reached was 211km in June 2010.

The last 12 weeks:

14/10/2013 57.33 12.5
07/10/2013 63.42 11.7
30/09/2013 59.75 12.2
23/09/2013 33.36 12.2
16/09/2013 42.13 12.0
09/09/2013 36.68 11.9
02/09/2013 45.66 12.4
26/08/2013 33.06 12.8
19/08/2013 47.42 12.4
12/08/2013 25.00 12.7
05/08/2013 49.43 11.8
29/07/2013 35.54 13.0

So I have not quite done three weeks in a row of 60km +   but looking at the rest of the weekly totals its clear I have made a big step up. This week I expect to drop to probably 35-40km again. And the same next week in the lead up to the CoolNight classic.

I really do hope backing off a little will help the ankle recover enough to not turn into a real problem!!  In addition to the ankle pain which is totally new, I have now begun to feel hints of the old bursa's in both heels again.  Ankle has in fact almost completely faded away, no hint of a problem after Monday's complete rest day. No sign of twinges when I walk or anything like it..

It does seem though, that taking a rest day from the regular daily running has allowed things to change in bursa area of each heel, and its now suddenly flared a little. It is not too bad, just every now and then while sitting at my desk, I get a solid burning pain in the exact area where the old, original buraa problems were. Exactly where the MRI scans in Oct 2011 showed them, both feet !!  

When the problem was really bad, I had to warm up, massage, rub the area, before I stood up to walk, and when I did take a step I'd have to test it, walk awkwardly, like a bloody old man.. And the pain was really bad always when walking or standing.  At its peak when I was running with the injury it was frequently just agonisingly painful, especially at the beginning of a run.

Right now I actually don't have to do any of the warm ups just to walk that I used to have to do, and I seem to walk fairly easily. But I am just thrown back into that old behaviour of compensating for the heel pain all the time, because of the burning sensations I am occasionally getting in the heels. Its like post traumatic stress disorder almost !! I am actually re-living the pain even though its not really quite there (yet), and I am having trouble breaking the habit formed over so many years of testing before I walk and anticipating the pain of the first few steps.  

I know I am not imagining it though, the sensation is very real, there IS something going on there. If I rub or press the area, I certainly do feel tender in the places where the problem has always been.  Its vague enough but I recall that this is how it began in the first place, with vague burning sensations and localised tenderness on the back of the heels. A very slow burn, and eventually it turned nasty and became chronic and fairly intolerable pain pretty much all the time.

It has knocked my confidence completely I have to confess. I thrive on confidence, enthusiasm, and a bright future, dreaming of the possibilities that high volume base building brings, and finally being able to use the lovely basic speed I possess to do better 5, 10, HM and marathon races !!  It helps to motivate me to step out while tired and get the running done, having a brighter future.

I really want to train well, thats my greatest motivation and desire in simplest terms, my one and only clear goal these days. Train well and consistently because that will bring success and improvements in the races I want. Its just so frustrating to have been held back so long by these achilles tendon, bursa problems. Everything, and I mean everything else is fine. I am slimming down a little, I can FEEL the fitness coming again. To have the old problem appear again is a horrible thing to contemplate.

I feel bad now because I know its real and not imaginary, I am not over-reacting, the problem is always there, always will be, thats the honest truth. I have pretended it was not this way in the past.. Which is silly.  Volume based training is always going to trigger it. I knew it before I started this base building 22 days ago, but I am ever hopeful, I have to try to see if I can get the volume done and get fit enough.  Otherwise I may as well give it up !!

So here is my attitude and outlook. I will keep trying. I will maintain the volume, for as long as my heels allow. Precisely how I will cope with the future - and I know its going to be painful - I just don't know.  Do I get bloody minded every day and run through it? Its clear to me right now that backing off DOES NOT lead to a full recovery and never will. Its also clear that running through it, gritting through the pain day in day out is a misery, but I often wonder - can it get better from there?

Training was not really the biggest problem, I could do that for 1-2, 3+ hours in a run. There is a start, a goal time and an ending to it, I can cope with whatever pain happens during a run.

The problem is going to be real life, and it always was. Day to day homelife for example. Walking the dog?  If I am smashing through the pain barrier in a daily run because my bursa's, it will have profound effects on ordinary things like taking the dog for a walk,  going up and down stairs, the simplest things. It almost happened this morning. I was resisting taking the dog for a walk, he enjoys it, and thoroughly DESERVES to be out and about with me. I have a responsibility to do it. I owe it to him. So how can I justify ruining my heels, and my quality of life in general, and the knock on effects on people like my dog MAX, just to get a long run done  ?   This is the question I am now working on.

I did it in the past - compensating by actively avoiding doing things at home, always wanting to put my feet up, avoiding responsibilities, simply because my feet were agonisingly painful. All because of a 1hr+ run I wanted to do each day.

I know this is what is going to happen. So I am asking myself how do I manage it this time? I can medicate, but that has dire consequences potentially. Can I take anti inflams weekly? The day after a long run? I do know that its basically INFLAMMATION that is the problem. I have proven it in the past by taking the medication. Heels settle down in a matter of hours, its quite a dramatic effect.

So what to do. Backing off has failed, getting medical treatment worked up to a point but still it took 2 YEARS to get to where I am now. Pretty much at the beginning again but this time knowing fully what I am in for if I keep going. Perhaps that is better, knowing whats going to happen. Can I deal with the pain and somehow make it to the other side of it with grossly malformed haglunds lumps and bumps on each heel, and be able to keep running?  I may well end up never being able to fit a shoe again, that is how bad it can be. Its well known that it you keep running with bad bursa's in the heels, that the body reacts to repeated scarification with calcified scars. And THAT is what will make it all much worse. Eventually calcification forms hard bony lumps on the back of the heal. I actually have it clearly on right heel not so much on the left already, so I am pretty far gone in that regard now.

I think what I need it to get out and run again :)   And forget about the misery I have to face in the very near future!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 20 of base building, a small injury and ParkRun

I did ParkRun on Saturday 20 October, the day after a fairly hard interval session.  Carrying quite significant fatigue in the legs and pretty much all over from the running volume. Managed slightly faster than the week before, 20:29.

This time I paced really well from the beginning, a 3:56 and a 3:59. I settled down and recovered in the 3rd, and continued with a slightly more comfortable pace, a 4:09, 4:13 and 4:09 again for the last one. The big difference was I finished stronger.

Again legs felt like the limiting factor. I felt much better aerobically, breathing was significantly easier. I have to have a better 5km in me if I allow myself to recover and am fresh. The opportunity will be there this coming Saturday another ParkRun to do. I will also do the CoolNight classic on much fresher legs.

I was confronted with a very harsh reality yesterday. On Saturday I only did 5kms, the ParkRun race. But of course I did it reasonably quickly (for me ) and I was extremely tired, so it seems to have knocked me around a bit. I also played at a pub Saturday night, 4 hours rocking on.. That is  a fairly good workout on tired legs too with a heavy guitar slung around your neck. I was actually a bit out of it, fatigue was very high all day and night Saturday. Its a clear sign that I am need of a decent rest.

So the harsh reality yesterday, Sunday. I had planned a long run, 1hr30, possibly about 18kms. I stepped out at about 4PM Sunday afternoon, after a long day. Not enough sleep from the night before..  I walked to warm up feeling really tired. Like I really should not be running !! My simple rule of thumb these days was applied. Basically get started, if I don't start feeling 'better'  after 3kms, think about packing it in.

The route I took has some small easy hills. Legs were burning right at the start. I can usually do the first 3kms at 4:30 pace fairly easily. Not today, I was barely getting 5:10 and working really hard. Got to 3kms, was on a downhill section, felt ok.. Kept going. By 5kms I was completely wet with sweat, very extreme compared to what I normally do. I stopped to get some water and go to toilet. Began running again and immediately felt sharp pain in ankle. I ran through it for a bit, but it did not fade, got marginally worse. The pain could have been dealt with maybe if I was not so fatigued, but at the time, it stopped me.

So I applied my rule of thumb. I was feeling crap initially, I got to 3kms feeling ok but marginal. Stopped for water and got going again and triggered a new injury. Certainly not feeling in any way 'better'  after 3kms!

The injury I suspect originates from a few weeks ago. I twisted my ankle on a trail, and the initial twist and pain incident is in the exact same place where this new injury has flared . The ankle has been completely fine, no sign of a problem at all, until this week. The last few runs there has been the slightest twinge of pain, sort of like a zappy nerve, rather than an injury issue initially.  It would zap occasionally, and settle completely after. So it was a complete non-issue until this run on Sunday.  Since it flared Sunday, basically the pain happens when launching, on forefoot, so its similar in nature to the old heel pain I had, almost exact same angle to trigger it. It does not hurt much when walking, a twinge maybe, but it still zaps when I make any movement that is similar to running.

So I stopped my long run of 18km's plus at about 5.5kms and walked home. After I got home, the ankle was aching a little and slightly throbbing. So there certainly a little inflammation there. But it does not appear swollen at all.

So I strung together another 9 days of consecutive running, and its day 21 today of my base building period. Three weeks milestone marked by yet another injury !!  Total for the 21 days is pretty much spot on 180kms.  Day 21 is now a full rest day. I had actually planned that anyway!! Ankle today is quite ok, merest  hint of vague aches and does not really bother me too much walking. I am cautious when I walk, perhaps overly so as a result.

Hopefully this ankle thing will blow over after a full days rest. I feels like a minor thing, not something really bad, so I expect to run tomorrow.

This whole week I will do reduced volume, short 30min easy runs followed by some speed sessions. This should see me in much better shape by the end of the week. I will have a go at a ParkRun for the first time on fresh legs and having done some decent long term aerobic training this coming Saturday. It has to be a good one. The week after I have CoolNight Classic,  5km race so I will continue with reduced volume until after that race. Then hopefully if my body agrees and accepts it, get back to my base building schedule. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ran with the gym running club Friday morning 18 October 2013

I ran with the gym running club this morning, and it was a speed session. 6 minutes of 200 fast/ 200 jog. Rest then did it again. Did a 800 m warmup before and a 600m warm down after.

I feel like I lack raw speed now, and that is not a surprise. By speed I mean raw, 3min pace or quicker. As far as mid speed, say around 3:30 or 3:40 pace I feel I can sustain it better because of improved aerobic capacity. My legs are a limiting factor right now because of the fatigue I am carrying.

My longer running pace is sneaking down a little to something quicker, for the same perceived effort. All I need is to freshen up and I have to be going quicker in shorter races.  Even if I lose raw speed due to this volume based training, my longer distance race times have to improve. 5km, 10km etc simply due to the aerobic capacity I gain. I simply have never fully developed my aerobic capacity.

Its so obvious now, to me what my problem is.. When I have done 20 minutes for 5kms, my pace is quite slow compared to what I am capable of in absolute terms. And if I run my best 5km race pace over shorter distances its actually a very slow and easy pace. The limiting factor overall is aerobic capacity by a massive proportion.  A bloke that can run 400s in 57 seconds but cannot go faster than 20min for 5km lacks aerobic capacity !!

I sure hope all this volume delivers what I think it should. Its quite hard work grinding away day after day. I certainly have not reached my limit yet, I have a way to go before I am sick of it. Its been a good challenge so far.

I get to test myself a little next week at the CoolNight Classic in Brisbane, 31st Oct. I pan to back off substantially next week, a full day off Monday and 30min runs followed by 12x30 speed each day, rather than simply volumes of easy running. The lower mileage will alow my legs to recover and hopefully doing the speed sessions will do what I have come to expect, refresh me.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday 16, Thursday 16 October 2103, 1hr easy and 50 min easy

Did a 1hr easy on Wednesday, a good honest out and back next to the Brisbane River. Did it just a little faster than usual, at 4:49min/km pace. It was not exactly easy as my legs are sore and tired, but overall effort wise it was easy enough. Breathing is comfortable, just heavy legs from halfway on.

I had a late night Tuesday, and was completely shagged so I went to bed early, about 7:30. Slept all the way through. Felt ok physically this morning.

Today, Thursday did a 50min run, out to West End and back along the river again. This one I did slightly swifter again too, 4:48 min/km average for 10kms. I actually pulled up at 10kms rather than go another 2minutes or so, I don't think that matters.My obsessive and compulsive self feels  little uncomfortable about it !!

I was feeling like slowing down after the turnaround, but I encountered a girl running a good 4:40 pace. Its rare that I see that with all the joggers around, and she looked like a seriously good runner, traveling with real ease at that pace.  So I really had to stick with he !!  She did a 4:30 initially and slowed a little. I slowed a little more but was still doing  near enough to 4:45 .

So here I am day 17 of my base building period, having run 16 days total. I have run 6 consecutive days since the last day off on Friday.  164kms in 17 days.

I will do another easy 50 tomorrow I think, this time actually EASY. 5km ParkRun Saturday  will try for a fast one. And then Sunday 15km or more depending on how I am feeling I think. Sunday will be day 9, and I feel right now that 9 or 10 consecutive days is about right before a rest day is in order. This will give me:

- day 18, 174km's  Friday
- day 19, 180km's  Saturday
- day 20, 195km's  Sunday
- day 21 rest  Monday

Next week I plan to back off, do shorter runs, day off running Monday, 30mins easy followed by a little speed session, 12x30sec fast or something Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I need some relief and recovery.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday 15 October 2013, 6km easy plus 12x100 speed session

Did a 6km easy at 4:50min/km average today. Felt really crappy before the run, sleepy and fatigued. Had a cup of tea but it helped only a little bit. Stepped out and was still feeling lethargic. My mantra is 'just get started and see how I feel'.

These days if I feel crap and its time for a run, if I get 3kms into it and I m not feeling any better I just stop. Things started to come together at about 3kms, and I was feeling alright. FInished the 6kms and it was time for the 12x100's. I did these very soft - not flat out at all but still quick. I did them marginally quicker than last week, but they felt a bit easier I think.

It was a good honest effort today, sticking to the plan and getting the run done. The consistency will pay off well, I have to remember that. I am not exactly wrecked just feeling the workload a bit. Give me a good nights sleep and I will be back on it again. I am not going backwards at all. I feel the benefits aerobically, its general lethargy now that is affecting me.