Sunday, December 15, 2013

What difference does mileage make?

Once I recovered from the City2Sea I commenced a gradual return to regular running. After a few days I discovered that daily outings were reducing the level of pain in the left hamstring, and paradoxically, rest days had the opposite effect. I surmised that my gentle jogs were giving the cantankerous muscles and tendons a beneficial stretch while rest days caused them to tighten. On the eleventh day of training I was 20 minutes into an easy 8k run when I noticed a fairly sudden pain in the lower right calf. Instead of stopping and walking it in I continued jogging. The next day I had to limp just to walk — running was out of the question!

I took four days off, jogged (with only one brief twinge) the 2k race at Stromlo, then took another four days off. Last weekend I was visiting Urunga for an 80th birthday party and went body-surfing in the delightfully refreshing salty water. While doing this 'foreign exercise', I tweaked the calf again — how annoying! Another four days off were needed before I was able to jog 2k on the grass track and 2k at the Parkrun yesterday morning. The calf felt fine, so I plan to gradually increase my daily run distance over the coming weeks. I'll also try and improve my running form as I found (thanks Rick!) this great video showing miraculous improvements to chronic hamstring pain. Core engagement, pelvis position and hip mobility play key roles in solving hamstring issues.

Prior to the hamstring injury I'd been running around 64 kilometres per week. This mileage was all steady MAF heart-rate running apart from Parkrun 5k and YCRC races. A week after the 12k mountain run in early October I raced the Tuggers 5k Parkrun in 23:10 at an average heart-rate of 146 (close to my best 5000m track time for the year). Four days later the left ITB/hamstring started feeling niggly. Five weeks after the aforementioned good 5k I raced the same course again (flat out) and ran 25:32 at an average heart-rate of 149. Obviously my aerobic condition had fallen away with the dropping mileage. I'd averaged a little over 16 kilometres per week prior to the second 5k race. A gross simplification I know, but quadrupling my weekly mileage from 16 to 64 would appear to improve my 5k race time by 2:22. Mileage makes a difference to how fast I am in 5k races. Would doubling my mileage to 128 ks per week take another minute off my 5k time? Maybe, but I don't intend to try and run that many kilometres any time soon. Maybe when I retire! I'll let you know how long it takes me to get back to 64 kilometre weeks and sub-23-minute 5ks. I hope this will be a time measured in weeks rather than months.

My beach house at Urunga was air-conditioned but sandy


Blogger Luckylegs said...

Is that the Australian flag on your "beach house" or undies drying in the sun?

This is a great post, Ewen...something there for everyone.

I'm making another comeback this many is this one! Will be walking mostly, but will keep the video in mind when I jog.

May we both keep on keeping on!!

4:09 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

I'm sure you'll be back to sub-23 soon.

Congratulations on your 80th. You don't look a day over 70!

4:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, really interesting Ewen! Looking forward to seeing you back running with the Geese soon! [Miranda]

5:12 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

I WOULD dry my undies there Norma, but no, my trusty sandals (which Joy hates, as I'm always stumbling when I wear them). Good luck with your come-back too!

Thanks Bob. My 'friend' Ken says I'm pushin' 60 (as I'm over 50). You don't look a day over 59!

Thanks Miranda. Hope to get there tomorrow evening for a short jog. It'll be a while before I can keep up with you on the early warm-up though (or run that far!).

9:13 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

Interesting post ET. As you well know, everyone is different, some thrive on distance, some thrive on smart training with a lot less distance. The trick is staying injury free, particularly as we get that little bit older each year. Hopefully you will strike just the right balance and get back to those sub 23 5 ks in the not too distant future.

9:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you that the hamstring and then calf problems have been so disruptive. There is no doubt that training miles are crucial but the issue is complex. Last year, when I had built up training solidly over the preceding 15 months, I ran a better half marathon in September that I scarcely dared hope for. When I then cut training volume substantially for two months, I suffered only a small loss of fitness. This year, after problems with arthritis early in the year obliged me to build up training volume rapidly in early (northern) summer order to prepare for the September half-marathon, my race was much more disappointing, despite achieving a higher peak training mileage. And in the subsequent two months of reduced training volume, I suffered a loss of fitness similar to your loss over the past five weeks. I wonder whether in the build-up following your health problems earlier in the year, you reached a level of fitness 5 weeks ago that was resting on too narrow a base. I hope you are now on the road to a sound recovery, but be careful to rebuild a sound base.

11:18 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

128k isn't actually THAT much; if you build up to it gradually it is easily doable - and you don't have to retire either, I know some idiot with a full time job, a wife and 4 kids who regularly does that mileage.

Mind that calf, though. I'm not convinced a runner of your veteran status should change his running form. Whatever you do, do it sensibly.

8:45 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

J, so true - we're all individuals. But I'm not! ;-) Agree totally about that injury-free trick. Smart training can also mean more distance and less intensity (for some people).

Canute, that's probably right about my narrow base coming off the illness, which (like you) probably caused my fitness to drop faster than usual.

Thomas, I've heard about that idot. Crazy bastard! Agree that 128 ks isn't huge (I know a lady with two young kids who often runs 140-160). Fatigue is a problem I'm wary of though (having suffered badly in the past). I don't think those form changes are radical (even for old folk), but I will be sensible about it.

7:30 pm  
Blogger Raina R. said...

Sorry to hear that things are back to a rest here and there.. That's no fun!
I am curious if you think the calf injury and the hamstring injury are related. They are in opposite legs, but could the calf be compensating for the hammy?

6:31 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Raina, that's exactly it. Because I was favouring the left hammy by using the right calf in a way that it wasn't supposed to be used. On this evening's run I felt much better balanced... but SO unfit!

9:59 pm  
Blogger Run, Karla, Run! said...

Sorry to hear things are touch and go. I find mileage a funny thing. I think my fitness could certainly benefit from more, but I've found when it comes to my knees there's an amount that's just right. Too little, and like you, they get stiff and achy. Too much and I flirt with pain. But, like goldilocks, there's an amount that's just right. I guess you just have to find what that is for you these days. Hope you're back on top soon!

12:36 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

As you said: annoying situation. No advices here because I am only expert in .... more injures.
I hope you get well soon to come back to the usual mileage.
Beautiful villa on the sea. Is it for sale?

5:21 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Karla, that's a great analogy. I wish the 'just right' amount would stay the same and not change over time. But if it did, finding the perfect running recipe for now wouldn't be so much fun.

Stefano, I wish you hadn't become an expert on injuries! Yes, it's for sale - only 15 Euros (one careful owner).

9:56 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

I'm no expert, but I'd say you might have the odd leak too. Look after yourself Ewen.

7:35 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Good observation Mark. We don't get much rain (unlike the land of the long white cloud), so a waterproof roof wasn't a priority for the builder.

9:47 pm  
Blogger Rob said...

Our running experience of late seems that of managing injuries Ewen. Maybe I could visit you at you beach house and we could do some running on the sand. That might help.

8:07 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Good idea Rob. You're welcome any time. It'll only take 15 minutes to knock up a spare room.

9:11 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

That video was very interesting, as that's one of the issues I'm having, though I also have some tearing in the area.

I hope you are back to 100 percent and running the times you want soon!

3:34 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Happy New Year.

4:16 am  
Blogger Raina R. said...

I thought it might be..
Hope both are doing a lot better now!

9:20 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Happy New Year Ewen! Getting injured body surfing is like throwing your back out raking leaves!! I'd advise you to pay a young fella to clean up your garden and or get a leaf blower. You're welcome!

12:47 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Lize, he's based in Denver, so not too far from you if you want to look him up.

Thanks Stefano!

Raina, it's coming along well. Finding it tiring to concentrate on holding the different form for more than 45 minutes. Should get used to it eventually.

Happy New Year to you too Scott. Thanks for that wonderful advice. Your cheque is in the mail.

9:39 pm  
Blogger Cecilia said...

Thanks for the link to this - although I'm not sure if it applies as my hamstring soreness kicks in between the forward swing of the thigh and the planting of the foot. It seems to be when I extend the lower leg at the knee, so the soreness is a little down the hamstring.

I'm off to the podiatrist next week to follow up on the peroneal tendonitis, so we'll see what he says about the hamstring (even though we're moving away from the foot, I'm sure he'll still have a relevant and appropriate opinion.)

12:06 am  

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