Monday, 16 September 2013

False Dawn

The title is a bit dramatic isn't it?!

Entering Lakeland 100 did feel like the start of a new and exciting journey though and to be fair it still is. But to be hit with injuries the very same weekend that I entered has been tough. I've got all this energy and excitement that I want to channel into my running and I can't.

I visited my physio last Tuesday. Nick at City Physio in Manchester's St Anne's Square. I've found him really good so far. It's only the second time I've been to see him (Ro is credited with discovering him) but I've got confidence in him already.

He suggested 3 exercises for the neck/back/posture problems I've been having - the funky chicken once an hour when at work!! And a couple of others to do at home.

He thought my quad and foot problems were related and, as suspected, stem from a weakness in my piriformis/glute on the right. Again, he's suggested 3 more exercises to strengthen this area.

My foot is likely to be tendinitis and he said he expected it to take a bit more than the 2 weeks I've got until High Peak 40 to heal, but with lots of the above exercises (twice a day), lots of ice on the foot (20 mins of every hour that is convenient), it is not impossible to get through the race, but he thought Round Rotherham 50 a month later would be a more realistic bet.

He made the point that if I did choose to run HP40 and it wasn't fully healed I would make it worse, but he recognised that I would then at least have 4 weeks for it to recover properly before RR50.

I don't think I was any closer to knowing what to do!

I chatted to Ro about it that night and sent Nick a quick follow up email. I asked him what I should do if I decided not to run HP40. He advised me to use the stairs as a guide for the quads improvement. Ideally, pain free and then about a further 5-7 days

Correction/improvement of the lower limb position (my foot) would come as a result of improved stability around the hip, but this is a slower process. It should be better at 3 weeks due to improved muscle co-ordination etc., but measurably stronger at 6 weeks! Nick expects me to be able to run somewhere between 3-4 weeks. 

So that's at least another couple of weeks from now before I should start running again. A week before RR50. My first 'test run' I'm advised to keep sensible to avoid too much aggravation e.g. 5 miles. Not 50 then?!

So where does that leave me. Well, I'm doing pretty well with the exercises. I'm going to gym almost every lunchtime and I'm going to start swimming after work a couple of times a week from this week. In reality though, whilst I've felt a little improvement in the quad, it's going to be another couple of weeks before I can even do a test run and I don't wat to rush it. I want to give the injuries time to heal. 

In a nutshell, I'm going to miss my last two races of the year. 

My focus though is Lakeland 100 next year. I've got a recce coming up on 10th November. If I can start running again at the start of October then I've got 5 weeks to build back up again and go into that feeling good. Feeling fresh. Then I can start some proper winter training, including lots of night running, which I need to get good at. 

In short, I've just got to be patient. Sigh. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bumpy Start to Lakeland 100 Training

Last Saturday, the day before entering LL100, I set out to run up to 25 miles in the hills, but cut the run short, heading back home from Diggle after running Stage 1 of the Oldham Way instead of carrying on to Stage 2. The top of my foot had felt sore coming down the hill from ‘Pots and Pans’ and I didn’t want to risk aggravating a minor injury with High Peak 40 only 3 weeks away.

On top of this I noticed a bit of soreness in my right quad muscle walking across Manchester on my way to work on Monday morning – assume this was sustained during my run in the hills too, but could have been a bike ride I did on Sunday. I noticed it again at the gym the next day and when warming up for my run on Tuesday evening – although not too sore when running on the relatively flat canal. I did feel the soreness in my foot thought after a few miles. 

Garmin Details - Tuesday 3rd September

Very disappointed I decided to take the rest of the week off from running to give both injuries chance to settle down.

When I set off for my planned 20-mile run this morning I knew my quad was still sore, but thought I’d see how I went. I could feel it the whole time I was running though – it seems to hurt when go up and down stairs or doing any kind of lunge movement and so no surprise that it hurt as I ran up into the hills. Just over 3 miles into my run I started to feel my foot too. I turned around at the 4-mile point and on the way back down my foot got worse and worse.

Garmin Details - Sunday 8th September

Things to consider

Should I worry about the root cause of these issues, both being on my right? Is it an imbalance that I need to work on noting that my right glute or hip feels weaker than my left when doing glute activation warm up exercises?

I’ve had a problem with the top of my foot before and when I asked around it was suggested that the most likely cause is laces too tight. I checked my laces when I got home from my run last weekend and I could fit my finger under the knot, but that’s not to say they started that way.

The foot could just be bruising, but could it also be a fracture of the metatarsal?

How do I treat the muscle injury in my quad – rest, massage, acupuncture, exercises? If exercise, should I do them as part of my pre-run warm up, post-run stretch or in the gym at lunchtimes when I’m focusing on strengthening and conditioning?

Finally, what does this mean for High Peak 40 in 2 weeks? The longest I’ve run I’ve done since running my Oldham 40 on 17th August is 14.5 miles last Saturday. Since then I’ve only managed 5 miles on Tuesday and 8 miles today.

Trip to the physio needed this week. I’ll make the call tomorrow and decide after I’ve seen Nick.

Good news this week

Lakeland 100 planning has gone very well. I’ve set myself a budget for both kit between now and next July and I’ve worked out costs/budget for accommodation for all the recces I’ve got planned. We’ve booked accommodation already for race week, getting there the day before and allowing at least 3 days recovery after the race.

I’ve also entered two more races! That’s it now, all my races for this year and next and booked and paid for!

I’m a big believer in the idea of having an A, B & C race for each year when planning ultras. I think 3 main goals for the year is more than enough to focus on.

Last year, my A race was supposed to be Lakeland 50, but I messed up and didn’t get a place, so I entered Evesham Ultra instead. At 45 miles though I felt like I hadn’t hit my target for the year of running a fifty. As such, I’ve entered Round Rotherham 50 in October as my replacement A-race for this year. I just want that badge of having run 50 miles before the end of the year!

For my C race, I’ve also entered Hardmoors 26.2 Osmotherley Trail Marathon in February to celebrate my 40th. As you do :-)

My B race could end up being High Peak 40 next September if I can’t make it in 2 weeks and I’m able to defer my place.

The main focus of course though is my A race for next year, Lakeland 100, and I’ve got lots of recce weekends planned so I can run the course as much as possible. I’ve signed up for 3 of the 4 official recces and then plan to do at least a couple of my own between April and June next year.

Run up to LL100 - Key Dates

Events already booked and paid for:

21st Sep High Peak 40 

19th Oct Round Rotherham 50

10th Nov LL100 recce 26.3 miles – Section 1 - Coniston (CP1) to Buttermere (CP5)
(Finishing in the dark)

25th Jan LL100 recce 15.6 miles – Section 4 - Ambleside (CP13) to Coniston (CP1)
(Night run)

16th Feb Osmotherley marathon

30th March LL100 recce 52.8 miles – Section 2 - Buttermere (CP5 to Dalemain (CP8)

My own planned recce runs:

Easter weekend – 18th – 21st April – Run the full 100 mile course over 4 days with overnight stops and support crew

Date TBC – Run the full 100 miles course again over 3 days with overnight stops and support crew

Sunday, 1 September 2013

I've entered Lakeland 100!

The Lakeland 100 'Ultra Tour of the Lake District' is the most spectacular long distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK. The 105-mile circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent, and must be completed within 40 hours.

Sounds good doesn’t it? If you’re nuts!

I’ve had my eye on this for a long while, but I’ve mostly kept it to myself. I decided I wanted a challenge for next year that would top any other challenge. OK, so there’s the iconic UTMB of course and other iconic races around the world such as Western States, but you’ve got to start with the best we have to offer here at home and Lakeland 100 represents this to my mind. 

Firstly, it’s a 100-mile + race. I know there are quite a few of those now, but this one is considered the toughest by a long way with a drop out rate this year of around 60%. That’s circa 60% of the people who lined up at the start, didn’t finish! Not many people make it round this course and that says something. 

Secondly, it’s in The Lake District for Christ sake! It will be hills, hills, hills. But that’s what I do. I train in the hills on the edge of The Peak District where I live and my experience so far has been that I perform best and enjoy it most in either The Lakes or The Peaks where the terrain in rugged and the topography is constantly up and down. 

I’m not ready for this race though. Not by a long way. 10 months of intense training will be required and this starts now. I’ve not ran this kind of distance before and everybody says this course is brutal, so I want to obtain as much experience of the actual route as possible over the next year.

One thing I’ve realised this year is how important non-physical training is. Anyone can run 50, 70 or 100 miles a week if you build up to it gradually over time, but that alone won’t get you through this race. 

I’ve learnt a lot from watching how my partner prepared for her Ironman event earlier in the year and more recently reading the blog of and listening to an interview with Stuart Mills, this year’s Lakeland 100 winner, and how he  prepared. Everyone who completes Lakeland 100 says its mostly mental strength not physical strength. It’s about preparing your body and your mind and getting all the little details right. You need to think of everything and be ready to deal with anything. 

I’m going to do more regular blogs from now on, which will form part of my non-physical training. Hopefully they will provide a reference point for me and generate some discussion as I prepare myself for next July. 

First up though is High Peak 40 in less than 3 weeks. I’ve done 40+ miles a couple of times before and know I can do this course as long as I stay healthy, so what should I be aiming to get out of it? I need to give that some thought over the next 3 weeks. I want to enjoy it, but at the same time what can I test that will help me in my journey to Lakeland 100?

Then I’m looking at Round Rotherham 50 in October. My first 50-miler!

Then November will be the first of 3 or the 4 Lakeland 100 Recce Weekends I’ve signed up for. 

It’s gonna be one helluva ride!