Saturday, April 5, 2014

Copycat 1Q 2014 Update: Running, Running.... Injury Again

Its been a long time between posts; longer than usual! My life in Sydney has finally settled into a bit of a routine. All our stuff arrived from America only a few weeks ago, and up until then we had been using a cardboard box as a couch, and eating with plastic cutlery. Not exactly a third world situation, given this occurred in an inner city high rise apartment, but not the funnest.

When I began this post, my first sentence was "The last two months have been a good mileage build up for me." And they have been.... until three weeks ago.

So lets go back a step. As I canvassed in my last post about recovering from injury, my mileage in January was: 28, 26, 32, 35 miles for each week. Mostly all easy. I had two notable attempts at tempo runs (2 x 2 miles at HM pace), which came in around 6:50-6:55avg paces. Not great, but not terrible given the amount of time I had off running. I also tried another treadmill speed workout: 6 x 800m at 5K pace with 400m jog recoveries (1.5% incline). Wow. Yeah... so these still hurt as much as I remembered them. But I was very pleased with the result. I ran 4 of the 5 at 6:27, then the last at 6:20. It was hard, but not vomit-inducing hard, so that was encouraging.

And February saw some good running, especially after we moved into our new place. I even took a few pictures of my new routes. We live in the center of the Sydney CBD, so my running takes me all around Sydney harbor, over all the bridges, around the Opera House and through the Botanical Gardens. Having run all over my two fabulous countries, I have to say this city is the most beautiful running city I have lived in so far. It truly does have everything; the sights of New York, the weather of San Diego... doesnt quite rival the hipness of Melbourne, but getting there ;)

You can run right around the Opera House, to my delight!

Several of my routes take me directly beneath or over the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Part of the 'Domain' run, which takes you through the Botanical Gardens and down towards the Opera House
Harbor bridge from the Opera House
One of my many bridges; this is Victoria Road bridge, part of the Iron Cove run
Iron cove run. My photography sucks. But this was stunning.
February mileage: 42, 44, 44, 38 (a down week)

March mileage: I made the jump to the 50s: 51, 50... aaaaaand 10. Before I tell you what happened, I did have one great workout in there... 6 x 1 mile repeats at an average of about 6:40 pace, which was great. About the same pace before my injury last year, so I was at least back to my old fitness levels, pre-hip injury.

Now. Cue the judgey "look at that mileage bump you idiot" faces.

Ok, so let me explain. I had read some really good research demonstrating that the 10% rule is just as likely as anything else to generate injuries. A better injury prevention technique is actually to use down-weeks. You can increase your mileage by, say, 5-6 miles (my jump from 44-50) by inserting down weeks. Seemed like a good plan, and I actually still believe in it.

The real reason I got injured was that I was failing to do all the other stuff you need to do while increasing mileage to avoid injury. I basically completely wagged stretching and foam rolling, because I didn't want to waste valuable running time. I was fueling right, and still strength training pretty well, but the other recovery stuff was not happening. Let me tell you, as soon as I got on a foam roller after my injury... OW. Yeah. Silly girl.

So, the injury itself happened in a fairly miserable way. I stopped running at 10 miles into a very hot 14-miler, with foot pain. Up til that time, I had been reeeally dehydrated, and was not feeling good at all. I tried to call a cab, but couldn't get one, so called my husband to come and get me. Then it started pouring rain.Oh, and the city was celebrating St Patricks day, so it took us about 45 minutes to drive 4 miles home. Kill me.

Anyway, the self-diagnosis is plantar fascitis. I knew it as soon as I felt it.

As anyone who has had this injury knows, its on its own healing schedule. I feel glad that I stopped running when I did; its been three weeks since I last ran, and my foot is finally feeling a lot better. I am going to take another week of non-impact exercise before I try running again. I'm super paranoid about it because my husband has had this injury for years from his time in the Marine Corps, so I am not going to tempt fate with it!

So....enter the pool running! We have a really lovely pool in our apartment building, and my morning workouts there last about 45-60 mins, and I always always do intervals! Favorites so far are:
Sprints: 20 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy;
Ladders: 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1 mins hard, with 1 min easy in between
Blocks: 8 x (2 mins hard, 1 min hard with 1 min recoveries)
(always with 5-10 mins warmup, then 5 mins cool down).
I like adding 10 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy onto the workouts if I'm feeling good. With these, I go as hard as possible, with a real focus on using my core. Its a great core workout!

I have been doing those about 5 times a week (as often as I run) with one strength day, and one rest day. Its not running, but it keeps me sane... and its actually a really pleasant way to start the day! I attach my ipod mini to my head band, put my flotation belt on, and try to ignore the extremely odd and bewildered looks I get from the poor fellow who has to clean the pool in the mornings. As much as pool running is the best workout for injured runners... its not a sight we need to share with the world.

So there you have it. The beginning of 2014: was injury recovery, running, running, injury again. Such is the life of a distance runner, right?


  1. Well. So. I definitely can't judge you because I'm in the same boat! I'm sitting here waiting for a diagnosis after doing EVERYTHING RIGHT (which makes it so much more frustrating). I guess you're rigt, the life of a distance runner. Good for you to be in the pool already. I'm still in my pity party :)
    Get well!

  2. It's such a delicate balance with the running, strength, and stretching! You've inspired me to rededicate myself to stretching and rolling. I've been lazy with it because I've been running in the morning before work and haven't allowed enough time. Also, going to change my shoes soon...K

  3. It's good you're adjusting well over there. From the photos, I can see that it's really beautiful and picturesque! Definitely a great place to do some running. As for the injury, I can see that it must be quite uncomfortable, to say the least. It's good you had the foresight to stay off heavy running for the duration of the healing process. I've known some people who were a bit stubborn, and it didn't end up well. Anyway, I hope your injury heals up well. Keep on going the distance!

    Alan @ ProClinix