Saturday, 28 January 2012

A run with the greatest!

Today was the end of a great week as far as my comeback goes.   50 miles in the bag thanks to a 14 miler today which officially kick starts my marathon training in 2012.  1 hour 38 minutes and an average of just over 7 minute miling.    It all started last Sunday with my successful easy run around the woods which confirmed my ankle sprain is almost recovered.    I also completed an hours run on Wednesday night on the road and a 10 x 400m session on the track on Thursday which was the first bit of speed of the year.  Times were not spectacular with most hovering about 80 seconds but it was a good start.

Todays long run was made easier by listening to the fantastic Marathon Talk podcast which I have followed weekly since the first episode.  In 2011 there were some fab interviews including the great Steve Jones (2.07 Marathon runner), Paula Radcliffe, Liz Yelling and Scott Overall.   This week was a real coup for the guys as they interviewed probably the greatest runner of all time Haile Gebrselassie.   He talks about his rivalry with the kenyans, tells people to respect the marathon distance and how he cannot run from his house in the daytime as he gets mobbed by fans!  Fantastic stuff - a training run with the greatest chatting away to me - that makes the miles tick along easier!     For my next long run I am going to listen to the Steve Jones interview again - a true hardman of marathon running!  If you have never checked out marathon talk then you should!

Thanks for keeping me company Haile!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Almost there!

Last friday's physio session was a massage/ultrasound combination that seems to have unlocked some of the swelling around my ankle bone and allowed me to progress onto a bit more running (note the physio said "dont go mad!").  The only failure for me was an inability to really lift my injured ankle off the floor in a hop!  So that means running is ok as long as I resist the urge to throw in some triple jump training drills en route!

Saturday I woke up feeling positive and ready for a run only for this feeling to be slightly dashed once I put my feet on the floor and realised that the previous nights physio session had left me a little stiff in the ankle and a little bit painful.   After a few mobility exercises and a walk of the dog I was on my way to the beach for an off road steady run.  4 miles later I was feeling a little bit more optimistic but at the same time slightly uneasy after having to stop for a stretch and loosen off of the ankle after 2 miles.

Sunday I managed a very steady 6 miles around the woods with my long time training partner Graham Youngson..maybe it was the catching up on news that made the time pass by quickly but before long we had cracked 6 miles and no ankle pain or stiffness...the best run of 2012 to date!

The last two days have seen a bit more progress with a steady 6 miles again yesterday in the woods followed today by a three mile road loop where I was closer to 7 minute miling and starting to feel strong again.   Still a bit of a way to go and for me the key now is to build up the running with more than half an eye on the mobility exercises and proprioception (balance) exercises using the wobble cushion!

Race wise I have no immediate plans but looking to do Thirsk 10 on 25th March followed by either Hartlepool 5 or the North Tyneside 10km in April.  Until then it's some base work to gradually get back to full speed....5.20 miling does seem a long way away but I will get there!

23 miles in the bag last week (up to 22nd January) - as the physio said best not to go mad!

Last January was one of my best months of the year with 241 miles of running...not even a Ron Hill type week this week will get me anywhere near that total this January but there is plenty of time left to attack the miles in the rest of 2012!

The Wobble Cushion - my old favourite!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A change is as good as a rest!

As my ankle becomes stronger with each run I am looking forward to getting some overdue miles in to start my 2012 account.   So far all my runs have been two or three miles long with varying success as my ankle slowly improves.   Tonights run of three miles seemed to be a big breakthrough as my ankle felt strong with just a slight ache in it from three and a half weeks of rehab, recovery and very little running.

Positives from the injury:  Enforced rest and change of routine has forced me to swim, aqua jog and cycle more than I would have done had I not been injured.   Hopefully my body will be stronger coming back into my running and I intend to keep the water based exercise going for a while to make sure I stay strong in 2012.

I don't expect to feature in any cross country races again this winter so decided to use the opportunity to switch clubs from North York Moors AC to New Marske Harriers (currently my second claim club for track only).   I'm really excited about this switch as I hope it will help kick start my 2012 campaign and will give me a lot of focus in the forthcoming year.  

New Marske were my first ever athletics club and I have many good memories of my time with them from about 1987 to approximately 1992 before moving across to the North West.   Since then the club has developed into a real force in the North East running scene and I still feel that I can still contribute to the club in road relays and other team events although judging by the quality of some of the athletes in the club now competition will be fierce for places!

It's back to the physio tomorrow night hopefully for a final check up, treatment to reduce some awkward swelling around the ankle bone and sign off!    All being well I will be back on track for the marathon training on the 1st February which will give me about thirteen and a half weeks to the Sunderland Marathon on May 6th which will be my first as a 40 year old.   I hope to attack my 2:48.56 pb which I think is probably a bit of a soft pb long overdue for improvement! 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Injury Management

Since my last blog post things have moved on quite considerably.   A physio session last week moved me onto the next phase of recovery which involves some specific strengthening exercises, stretching, proprioception and a general push on activity to shake things up a bit.   A session of friction massage and ultrasound last Monday meant that the ankle was a bit sore to start with but once things loosened up a bit I have made some good steady progress this week with a few gentle jogs thrown in (the physio did say to shake it up a bit!).  The majority of the time I have been in the pool mainly aqua jogging but with a few steady mile swims thrown in for a change.   Sunday mornings in the pool are a dangerous place to be if you are a slow moving object in the deep end!

I am managing my injury at the moment and whilst I feel like I am moving forward am remaining positive and should be back up to full strength soon.

There was a quite appropriate article in this weeks Athletics Weekly about injury management.  It equates an injury to almost a feeling of grief which might be a bit far fetched but I kind of know what it means. The stages are:

Denial - convincing yourself that the injury is not too bad...the injury will ease off in a few days and no need to interrupt training (so you try and convice yourself!)  I think I probably thought that and maybe even now I think that the injury I had was not too this denial or just trying to stay positive?

Anger - Why now - Why me?   If you heard me using unusual expletives half way down Guisborough Woods slopes F-ing and blinding then I apologise now!   It was just me getting my anger phase out of the way early!  

Bargaining - accepting the injury and overcoming it by adapting to it - this is often in the chronic phase according to the article when you accept the injury and overcome it by adapting to it.  I think this is a slightly dangerous phase and one which sees people "ignore" the root of the problem and continue regardless.  One to avoid - we all know people who have been stuck in this phase only to find a worse injury further down the line!

Acceptance - the stage that we need to come to in order to be rehabiliated.   I think in some ways accepting the injury is hard to do but once this point is reached the rehabiliation can begin properly.

It is now almost three weeks since my injury and to a certain extent I recognise all the above phases.  Seeing a physio has helped massively in understanding the injury and taking positive steps forward.     With something like a sprained ankle it would be easy to do the wrong things at the wrong time - when to strap it, when to ice it, how long, proprioception exercises, types of movement to help, what to avoid etc....It really is a minefield out there.

The main thing with any injury is to seek some professional advice and understand the phases that you will go through in getting to a point of acceptance about the injury.   

Right - back to the wobble board it is then !   This weeks aim is 20 seconds on my injured leg with my eyes closed! small steps - big progress!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Getting there!

It's now 12 days since my Christmas fell race spectacular fall. Since then I have "enjoyed" aqua jogging, cross training, cycling, swimming and lots of prescribed exercises designed to increase mobility in my ankles and ice, lots of ice!

Seems to be working well though and today I enjoyed a brief 12 minute jog with no ankle pain just a little bit of stiffness.   I have accepted that this is not an injury to be rushed so I was quite happy to accept cutting short a run if there was pain but thankfully it seems to be healing well.   Tomorrow night I go back to the physio for a bit more treatment.   Last weeks session was a mixture of massage and ultrasound to reduce the swelling round the ankle joint.   Progress is being made and I dont think I will be too long before I am back up to speed.

Watching yesterdays televised cross country at Edinburgh was a real inspiration.     There were some awesome performances from local club New Marske Harriers with Ricky Stevenson and Andrew Wiles battling out over 3km.   Great to see them both taking a certain Bekele down!   A stunning performance by Mark Shaw to finish 3rd in the Junior Mens Race over 6km.  What a shame there was not more footage of the junior races as the report suggests Mark bravely took the race on for a while.   He is definitetely one to watch in the next few years!

Other noteable performances was Johnny Hay sensationally sprint finishing for 2nd in the 3km Invitational event but for me the performance of the day was Steph Twell.   Although probably not finishing as high as she would like her presence in the race was quite remarkable seeing as she fractured her ankle in February she has comeback with a vengence taking part in the recent European Championships and now in Edinburgh.  Whilst my recent injury is in no way comparable to mine as Twell broke her ankle in three places her interview before the races and the commentary really summed up her commitment and bravery in tackling the really tough period of rehab and also having the nerve to return to the country and compete at that level.   One of the things she talked about troubling her was the ankle mobility which I can totally understand.   Apparently as a result of the injury she now uses a hot water bottle to "warm" up her ankle joint before she runs.   A top tip I think that I will be taking on board in the next few months as I look towards returning to running again.

Steph Twell
Steph Twell
Its probably a bit too early to talk about my next race but I wont be racing at all in January and almost certainly wont do a cross country until next season now.   I hope to salvage my marathon training programme in the next three to four weeks as I build up to Sunderland's Marathon of the North in May.

At this stage I will just be happy to get back to the normality of daily running with or without the hot water bottle strapped to my ankle!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year - Ankle Rankle!

Not the kind of end of year I wanted.  After a really good training week leading up to Christmas and a boxing day run taking in plenty of hills and woods I decided to give the Guisborough Woods race a go.  The last time I raced Guis Woods I think was about 2006 so the memory of how hard hard a race it is has faded long from memory.    Feeling good on the first lap after the uphill I started the long descent in about 6th place.  I knew I would struggle on the downhill as I always do and was quite happy to let a few of the mountain goats past me knowing I could take them on again on the flat and the uphill sections.

CRASH - out of nowhere I was down, rolling down the hill and fearing that my ankle was either dislocated or broken.   That was the end of my Woods Race and as it turned out the rest of my running in 2011 and probably into early 2012.

I am now into Day 6 of my recovery from the Woods tumble with a sprained ankle, possible ligament damage and a fair bit of bruising.   Recovery has been a mixture of cycling, aqua jogging, swimming, lots of stretching and plenty of proprioception aka standing on one leg and working on balance.   Things seem to be going ok and nothing too major in terms of pain so I am hoping that I will be back on my "running" feet within a few weeks.   Today was the start of my 18 week build up to the Marathon of the North so I am hoping that I can get a shortened 14 week build up to it.  This will give me four more weeks of rehab and base work should I be able to run.

Aqua jogging has to be one of the most specific exercises for a runner to do when injured.   It is low impact, limited risk of injury and can improve core muscles, posture and also allows you to train at a decent intensity while injured.   Unfortunately it is also pretty boring and I have managed three sessions of about 30 minutes in the last 5 days.    You can get a flotation belt to help but with my swimming and water polo background I find this not needed.   Good technique is essential though and a recent article in Athletics Weekly (15th December 2011) has some top tips and good pictures outlining good posture and technique in the pool.

Do - focus on a "long back" and a level pelvis
Dont - let the lower leg move in front of the knee.

One of the things the article reminded me was the correct arm position.   The arms should not scull but should be in a gentle fist with the thumbs up.  This makes the exercise more "leggy" and less like treading water.

I'd rather be running though.......

Here is an early picture of the ankle.  Looking much better now!

Many thanks to the advice from Chris Dunne who came and had a look at the ankle and professionally strapped it up.   I am sure this has made all the difference to the recovery and will hopefully get me back on my feet sooner rather than later.

2011 was a great year for me running wise and was probably one of my most consistent and injury free years (ironic that I spend the last week of the year injured then!).

Total miles run in 2011 was 2639 which is an average of almost 51 miles per week compared to 2010 when I clocked up 2251 (43 miles per week). 

ill be back soon clocking up the 2012 miles!