I am winning the battle, but it is not yet won. So says big-chief physio, James, consulted on a follow-up visit last Thursday. He did pronounce himself impressed with progress, the offending achilles and patella tendons are responding well to the strength training. Obviously I am angling for a return to running on a regular basis, so when pushed he allowed me to add a second run to my meagre weekly ration. There was a catch though. I first had to survive an additional strength exercise – isometric holds on the calf press. This involves extending two thirds through the normal calf press, then holding in that position for 45 seconds, as much weight as I can manage, repeated three times. I’ve to do that lot 3 times over 3 visits to the gym, if no ill effects I get my extra run. I’m two down, one to go, so far so good. I have to pick which run to insert back in to my weekly routine. I think it’ll have to be the long run on Sunday mornings – I miss those the most.
Last week should have been the first week of my training for the Brighton Marathon. It should have involved a total of 55km of running, topped of with a nice 10 miler on Sunday. Under physio orders this actually ended up as a grand total of 8km run with assorted cross-training sort of making up the rest. Sort of.
Here is how it broke down.
Monday – Rest day
Tuesday – Nada, I was in Paris with work. In normal circumstances, I would have gone out for a run there, but as I am crook and the cheapskate hotel didn’t have a gym, nothing doing.
Wednesday – On return from Paris I hit the gym, 30 minutes on the cross-trainer followed by posterior chain work and the legs.
Thursday – Runch! My much anticipated weekly run ration was a solo affair along the Thames Path near work in Richmond. At James’s insistence, I tried to increase my cadence, the objective being to reduce contact time with the ground and thus increase efficiency and reduce risk of injury. Easy to say, pretty hard to do, it turns out. I went for an initial 5% increase from my baseline easy cadence of 160, aiming for 168. I have downloaded a metronome doohicky on my phone which can be set to whatever you like. It has a setting that will bash out the metronome over whatever you are listening to on Spotify. For the first half or so of my run I battled with this, struggling to find the rhythm and to shorten my stride sufficiently to match it. I failed miserably, the music being a completely different beat. At the turnaround point I decided to cut out the music and focus on the beat. This worked much better.
With an occasional bout of running on the spot to set the rhythm, I was able to maintain a steady 168 cadence although my pace was all over the shop. It did take a lot of concentration to stick to the higher cadence, I need to practice a few more times before trying to increase it again. There are apparently some drills I can do to get used to turning my feet over more quickly. Some googling required.
Friday – an early morning gym session, just a quick 15 minute turn on the cross-trainer followed by leg strength work.
Saturday – nuffink, we were away for the weekend on a narrowboat in the rather lovely Bath.
Sunday – on return home from the west country I jetted straight off to the gym. 60 minutes on the cross-trainer was a tedious replacement for the long run, made more tolerable by watching a video. I also did a good core session, posterior chain work and finally the physio-prescribed leggy sesh.
So, my running purgatory continues for a while longer. I am hopeful that I can get some running done this month, preventing December from being a total wash. At this point I am not overly worried about Brighton, there’s plenty of time and I won’t have lost too much base fitness. Yet.
I’ll be back in a week with another update, which will with a bit of luck include a long run.