Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bluenose 10km - May 2016

Well it has been awhile since I had a race and with my Achilles issues, I kind of had hoped that I might have a little more time to recover.  Sadly that wasn't to be and race day appeared.

This week I had been able to get a few runs in with out issue, though they were short, a max of 5km on the Friday with a couple of kilometers at pace was my best run. So I knew I could run, I just wasn't totally sure how far I could get before the old Achilles decided I would be done.

Race day. Perfect weather, 12 Celsius and no wind with overcast skies. I arrived about 15 minutes early and relied on walking fast as my warm up.  A quick picture session with my sister (also running the 10km) helped lighten the mood and take my mind off of my issue.

Soon we were lined up and ready to run. A few friends were toeing the line with me.

And we were off. The first kilometer I hung with the main group (about 10 of us). It was slightly downhill so I knew it would be fast, but a 3:09 when I glanced at my Garmin said, slow down!

I slowed it down a bit, and held my position. Ideally I knew my idea of a 36 minute 10km were not going to be, but I still had hopes of holding onto a sub 38 minute run. For that I knew I just had to pace correctly and as the entire final 2/3rds of this run were going to be mostly uphill, I couldn't overcook things in the first 1/3rd.

I was comfortable and through 5km in 18:23, which was great considering that this included the worst of the hills. I slowly worked passed two other runners as they started to fade and pulled a gap. My Achilles was still feeling fine, but I could definitely feel my endurance slipping.

As I held on through the next kilometer I finally made it back to the main final stretch, which was a step ladder of hills back to the finish line. Drew was in front of me and pulling away, but that was fine. I was just happy to still be running pain free.

Pain free yes, but not without some effort. I wasn't wearing my heart rate monitor today but I knew the effort was climbing into the top end of Zone 4 by this point. I kept pushing as best as I could up and up the hills. My overall pace was slipping as a result of the hills and my lack of any real running in the last few weeks. But the work I had done in the first 5 kilometers was holding my overall pace high.

Then just to add a little insult, as you enter the final kilometer, you hit a nasty little climb.

But hey, I still looked good. And while my legs were running out of steam, my heart and breathing weren't too bad. My Achilles was just starting to tighten now, but wasn't hurting and had't moved into my plantar region, like it had in a few longer training runs a few weeks back. The tightness was high enough that I was pretty sure it wasn't going to affect things by this point.

As you approach the end, a crazy steep downhill is your reward with a huge crowd and a man in a banana suit (sorry no picture). Then a cruel corner and a 200 ish meter uphill again. At this point I had enough energy in the tank to finish on pace and was glad I didn't have to duke it out with anyone.

I crossed the line at 37:48. Not a PB but still sub 38 minutes and turns out 7th overall and 1st in my age group. That means free entrance into next years race. So, yay!

My wife and sister both had great races as well. Smiles all around.

Hours later, my calves feel fine, my Achilles has a little friction, but no pain. I will take it easy for a few days, then start some short runs to rebuild strength as well as continue my rehab. Glad to see things are going to be okay, and I know the overall speed and fitness will come back.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 2016 - Keeping the Achilles Working

So back in mid April my Achilles was a little tight during some interval sessions. I did some vague rolling with the foam roller when I got back but I didn't really go to great lengths to address things.

I wasn't smart enough to really pay attention though to the warning signs that had been creeping up. Really by the time your Achilles hurts during a running session, you have likely already not been paying attention for quite some time.

Looking back now I should have seen a few things. My lower calves were always itchy, but more from a tight deep muscular type of thing and not a surface thing. Itchy is really just a way for nerves to say, hey somethings not right.  And super tight muscles help to block up nerves. Also my right side calf wasn't firing properly, so I did what I would have done in the past and added some calf raises to my daily regime.  When I did actually use my foam roller, it was really painful at the ankle, and really painful isn't a good sign.

So by the time my Achilles actually hurt during a run, I was quite far into thing. Now luckily not that far, as a little rest and it would be fine again. The problem being that it would come back mid run.

So I went to see my guy, Alan at Seaside Chiropractic. A good assessment and he could quickly tell that the muscles in my legs were just way past needing a good foam rolling. So the tendon wasn't able to slide properly and this causes friction and thus pain. Unfortunately that friction does a little damage and the subsequent healing the body goes through doesn't always put things back right, essentially forming a type of scar tissue (yeah, its more complicated than that but still).

Long story midsized, my main problem has been a lack of proper firing of my soleus. That's the other muscle in the calf. It lives kind of behind and a little lower than the big meaty gastroc. And sadly it is often an over looked and weak muscle that is really useful when it comes to running fast. The faster we run the more we start to hit mid and forefoot and it is the soleus muscle that is really responsible for the eccentric loading of the foot. And that is why doing calf raises is exactly not the exercise you need to fix the issue of weak soleus, they are concentric and will work the gastroc.

So eccentric calf drops are the way to go. Essentially you use both feet to rise up, take away the good foot and slowly lower the bad side until you go to a low stretch. Then repeat. Ideally you should be able to work your way up to 3x15 at which point you can start to add weight and do it. This will get the soleus working right.

This needs to be coupled with massage, possibly ART and at the very least foam rollers or massage sticks. The muscles around the affected area need to get loosened up.

Running needs to be limited to short distances/ time, with the main way to tell if it is too much being, does your tendon hurt now and does it hurt in the morning? If so, then cut back. But as long as there is no pain do light / limited running. For me that is 3-6 km give or take.

Ultimately a tendon takes much longer than a muscle to completely get back to normal. I highly suggest you see someone who can assess and track your progress, but everything I have read suggests up to 12 weeks to get back to normal.

Most of the other things you may see suggested usually are great at dealing with the acute symptoms. Ice, heat, drugs, stretching and if the symptoms are bad enough are warranted.

I have come across a few other interesting exercises that I have start to incorporate as well but the eccentric calf drop is a tried and true rehab exercise that and I can see why. Even if you aren't currently having Achilles issues, this is the sort of exercise that doing twice a week is something that should help stave off future injuries. If you do a quick youtube search you will likely find any number of video examples of how to correctly do this exercise.

So up next is the Bluenose 10km. It was going to be an A race for me, now it will hopefully be a fun race. My Achilles isn't in any danger of being damaged by running the race or else I would drop out, though I do expect it will be sore afterwards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It's Been Awhile - May is Here

With no races and a busy schedule it has been awhile it seems. Also I found Instagram, which is kind of like blogging without commitment, or religion, one of those things.  So I figure an update or something is in order, and maybe I need to be better about posting more often. Or maybe you, my loyal reader, get just about enough of me as you can take.

Anyway, since the lats race I have had a slightly annoying Achilles tendon issue. Luckily I am smarter now than I was before and get help asap. Dr Alan at Seaside Chiropractic was an early stop and he set me on the right track. Things are getting better and the Bluenose 10km race shouldn't be a problem. Sadly I have had a few weeks of less than ideal training, but that is life. I have been back running with a little bit of elliptical work (to keep my fitness) and I can hold a decent pace without issue. Tomorrow night I will try and hold a fast pace and see how things have progressed.

By the way, if you are a runner, eccentric calve drops. Do them. I will maybe do a little video at some point and talk more about this amazing exercise.  

Otherwise, I took a trip to Cincinnati to see an art show. Amazing as well. And what more can one ask for a but a city that is walkable. Thank you. Also they have great chili.

But what has e most excited these days? I bought a new bike.

The Norco Search Adventure Bike. Aluminum frame, 35mm wide tires, road geometry. It is a go anywhere and do it fast kind of bike. Oh and disc brakes. I have only had a handful of rides so far, but will do a review (hint so far so good).  In doing so I had to say goodbye to an old friend, the Trek 1200. It will be missed but went to a good home.

Oh and wow, this weekend was Open City in Halifax. A kind of buy local celebration / get people out and see what is available type of deal. Following my weekend swim (by the way swimming is going well) I got to stop in at my favorite coffee place and have one of this city's best lattes.

Take care, do your exercises, take a moment out to enjoy things and ride your bike if you haven't already.