So week 7 done and dusted and we are over half way through our training programme! I have to say it has been harder than I thought. My running group have been struck down by the dreaded Sick and Tired disease. Symptoms include:
1. Sore legs
2. Extreme fatigue
3. Excessive sweating
4. Poor performance
5. Low mood
6. Sore legs (need to list it twice for emphasis)
My whole running group (except for Richard who seems to have been born with immunity) have been struck down to a greater or lesser degree. Sore legs is the worst and most common symptom. We have a range of sore knees, sore ankles, sore heels and sore toes!!!
Patellofemoral Pain syndrome or Runner’s knee.
Runner’s knee is usually caused by either a mal tracking patella or poor biomechanics. The patella sits in your quadriceps muscles and if one of the quads is stronger than another it can result in a pull of the patella causing it to mal track in its groove causing pain. Poor biomechanics can be a result of issues coming from the feet or from the pelvis. Your physio should be able to determine the likely cause and address it. The treatment initially is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Compression is usually in the form of taping to relieve the pressure on the patella and reduce swelling and pain. Ongoing rehab will include exercises to address the under lying cause so if muscle imbalance is the cause then your physio will give you specific exercises to correct it. Similarly if poor biomechanics are to blame specific exercises can help as can properly supportive shoes or orthotics.
This is usually an overuse injury, very common amongst runners due to the repetitive nature of running. It can also be caused if you up your training too quickly or suddenly add hill sprints into your routine. Like Runners knee, weak muscles can play a part and in the case of Achilles tendonitis it is usually the calf muscles that need strengthened. In the early stages RICE is the best treatment. Ongoing rehab will consist of concentric and eccentric strengthening exercises which, take it from me, definitely help in the management of this condition. Check out this article on how to perform the eccentric strengthening exercises for Achilles tendonitis
Plantar fasciitis or joggers heel is a common cause of heel pain in runners. It is caused by an over stretching or tearing of the fascia on the sole of the feet. This can be because of over use, tight calf muscles, overzealous hill sprints or wearing the wrong or old trainers. As with all these inflammatory conditions RICE is the first line of treatment, then stretches for the calf and the plantar fascia. A common way of stretching the fascia on the sole of the feet is to get a plastic coke bottle (a 600ml one), fill it with water and put in your freezer. Once is has frozen roll the arch of your foot on it (place a thin towel between your foot and the bottle first), use gentle pressure to get a good massage to the foot.
One thing I have noticed about all these injuries is the cause is usually tight or weak muscles and or the wrong shoes. So we need to get to strength training, do our stretches and buy lots of new trainers!!! Must show this to dear hubby now that I have a medical reason why I have to buy so many shoes!!
So when treating the Sick and Tired disease we have the following treatment plan:
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT
1. Sore legs
RICE, strength training, stretching, lots of new supportive trainers preferable in really nice colours
2. Extreme fatigue
Get a good night’s sleep otherwise suck it up! We are training for a marathon of course you’re tired!
3. Excessive sweating
Apparently the fittest people sweat the most so bring it!
4. Poor Performance
See number 2
5. Low mood
Buck up we only have 6 weeks to go!!! Yay!!!
The Joy (or not) of running
When I first started running in 1995, I ran to get fit and lose weight, not because I liked it. But once I got passed the “Please God somebody shoot me” feeling I actually started to enjoy it.
Actually I didn’t just enjoy it, I became hooked, I loved it. This love of running came only when running was much less about exercise and much more about mental wellness. Back when I started running I ran with my sisters, Ali and Julie, and it became our time to connect and catch up with each other. It was the time of the week where we talked about our lives and loves, “He said what??!!!” “He did what??!!!”
We solved all the worries of the world on those runs.
Fast forward 20 years and I still love running or should I say loved running.
Somewhere during these last few weeks of marathon training I have not loved a single run. In fact every run has felt hard (some harder than others when excessive poo is involved!)
Usually when I run it feels easy, I get lost in my music and my thoughts, I marvel at the sun rises and the beautiful surroundings…. but not now. Now all I think about are times, cadence, my posture, gels, hydration, how much further, how am I going to run twice this distance on marathon day?
The joy of running had kindof disappeared….
I was very anxious about my long run this week after my last disastrous run but I kept telling myself that I have had my bad run, it’s behind me, good to get it out of the way.
Saturday morning came, my running pals and I were warming up when who appears, but my sister Ali! She has had a crap week and needs a running debrief! I could have hugged her!!! Ali and one of my running pals, Jess, ran with me for 15 of my 24km. We talked the whole time about our work, our families and the situation in the Middle East. Ok, not the last bit we aren’t that clever, Ali’s only a doctor and Jess a teacher for goodness sake!
It didn’t matter what we talked about, it was FUN! 24km is the farthest I have ever run in my life but it definitely wasn’t the hardest! I realised I don’t love running because of a speed I can do or a distance I can cover. I love running for that mental release from the everyday, the connection with other runners and the friends I have made. Oh and coffee afterwards! Can’t forget that!
This week I had a cold, but you can still train with a cold, right? Well, sometimes…
I go by the rule that if the symptoms are above the neck, so, runny nose, sore throat etc you can train but if the symptoms are below the neck like a chest infection or flu then don’t train.
In a study done at Ball State University in America, they had two groups of 30 runners. They inoculated both groups with the common cold. All symptoms were above the neck, so no fever or body aches and pains just nasal symptoms, headaches etc. One group didn’t train for a week and the other group ran every day for 30 to 40 minutes each day. The study showed at the end that there was no difference between the groups with respect to severity or duration of their cold symptoms.
Having said that you do need to listen to your body. If you are suffering from more than a minor cold, are really fatigued or have a temperature, it is better to take a few days rest now than risk potentially prolonging your illness by pushing yourself to run.
So, my Life Fit running buddies and I did 10km on Wednesday, 8km on Thursday and then our long run was 20km. My cold had not improved and if anything was quite a bit worse but symptoms still above the neck so I was running. I got all my gear ready the night before; Vaseline to prevent chafing (my friend Zoye’s tip which worked a treat!); neurofen for my Achilles tendonitis issue; Armaforce to treat my cold; electrolyte drink for hydration; Gastro stop, well to stop….you know.
So running gear all laid out, off to bed nice and early to get a good restorative night’s sleep.
That was the plan.
It worked until 3am when dear hubby started snoring (after a night at the pub with, I hate to say it, two of my running pals, Ant and Geoff, who, I might add, were noticeably absent the next morning for our run!!!!!!)
So from 3am I was awake! Not great prep for a run. Anyway got up at 5am and took all my concoctions, loaded my fuel belt with water and gels and headed out.
We started off on our 20km run with a 5km loop around Kiama then headed off to beautiful Minnamurra for the rest of the run.
By 5km I felt awful! My legs were heavy and tired and I started getting stomach cramps. My mind was working overtime “Just ignore it, keep running, it won’t last, don’t worry, it will be fine”. At 10km I took my first gel. By 13km I was in desperate need of a toilet, “Oh My God, where is the toilet, am I going to make it, oh there it is up ahead, out of my way old man!!”
Finally reached the public toilet and……. Well you can guess the rest.
I don’t know how long I spent in that blessed toilet, delayed somewhat by the tiny little squares of toilet paper!
I finished my run in a record slow time with an average pace of 6.09min/km.
When you have a really bad run the most important thing is to learn from it. What I learnt:
Thanks for the great feedback last week regarding nutrition while running. I tried it out on my long run on Saturday with the Life Fit runners. I took an electrolyte drink 30 minutes before my run (thanks for the tip Juls!), then an Endura gel at the 10km mark.
Gels aren’t a particularly pleasant thing to eat, (actually you don’t really eat it, more just suck it down, as it is the consistency of gooey baby food) but it wasn’t as bad as I feared either. It definitely had a positive effect on my running though. I felt like my legs were on automatic pilot for the next 30 minutes, then I was due to take another gel but having only three kms left to go, I didn’t bother. In hindsight though I should have taken it as the last three kms were a definite struggle.
Every little niggle started to really bug me. The fuel belt (holds your water bottles and gels) I had borrowed from my running buddy Jess hadn’t bothered me before but it suddenly decided to start moving around my stomach. One minute a water bottle was in front of my stomach then it was at my side then behind me. It was like a tight fitting hula hoop – extremely irritating!
Then the chafing started… I think my thighs had expanded during the run, that, or my running technique got so poor that I couldn’t run a step without my inner thighs high fiving each other as they passed. Chafing hurts! Especially when you hit the shower later!!!!! Note to self, make sure the paw paw cream is well applied before next run!
One of the things I have been concentrating on this week is pacing. So here is my plan:
Interval training (Tues) – fast tempo runs, short distance, high intensity
Medium distance run (Wed) – Race pace
Fastish shorter distance run (Thurs) – 30 secs per km faster than race pace
Long run (Sat) – Slow as I like
So what I need to work out then is my race pace. Theoretically you just figure what time you want to run the marathon in and divide the number of minutes by 42.2. So for me I am aiming for 4 hours and 15 minutes so 255/42.2 = 6min/km. But really how do you know if you are capable of running at that pace for 42.2 km until you have done it? One article I read said to work out your predicted marathon time you double your half marathon time and add 10 minutes. I don’t buy into that one at all. That would make my predicted marathon time 3 hours and 22 minutes! That ain’t gonna happen I can guarantee you that!
Another predictor of marathon time is Yasso’s 800s. You figure out what time you want to do the marathon in say 4 hours and 15 mins and change that into minutes and seconds so 4 mins and 15 secs. That is the speed you need to be able to run 800 metres in, not just once though, you need to be able to run ten x 800m in a speed of 4 min 15 secs each time. If you can do that you can run your marathon in 4 hours and 15 mins!
So that worked out we need to look at splits. Do you want to run positive splits, negative splits or even splits? (Told you this marathon training business is complicated!) Positive splits is where you run the first half of your race slightly faster than the second half so you have “banked” some minutes up your sleeve if your pace starts to falter in the second half. Negative splits is the opposite of that where you run your first half slower than your second half knowing you are keeping some energy in the tank for a strong finish (I am surprised that most runners surveyed would prefer negative splits because for me I know I have nothing at the end of a race). Then there are even splits which is my preferred choice where you try and maintain your pace throughout. One of my running pals, Ros, sent me an article and it applauded not only even splits but even effort. So if you have to run a hill don’t try and maintain the same pace, just try to maintain the same effort, which makes good sense I think.
But one of the best pieces of advice I have read about how to pace your race for a marathon is:
Rule number 1 – Don’t go out too fast
Rule number 2 – see rule number 1!