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Saturday, 27 December 2008

New Blog

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hitting a speed bump in week 5

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Hit a bit of a speed bump this week. The shins have been okay if a little niggly but nothing too serious. The thing that does still concern me is my heel/arch issue and this week that surfaced again.

I'm in week five of my build up plan which calls for a one minute walking break for every five minutes of running for a total of 24 minutes. That won't seem like much to many of you (only about 2 miles) but it seems to be about my breaking point at present. By about a mile 1/2 my left arch was starting to ache to the point where I pulled out of completing the last 1/2 mile not wanting to risk anything more serious. I have run on regardless in the past with this thing and suffered for a few days afterwards.

It's a pretty frustrating injury and to date I haven't been able to put my finger on what it may be. I don't think it's a Plantar Fasciitis injury as one of the symptoms of that seems to be a really sore heel first thing in the morning. I don't have that its more just a slight ache most of the time which is aggravated when running. It only started about a year ago and would usually put an end to my runs after about 30 minutes. It seems pretty clear that even with all the rest I've had this year, this injury hasn't gone away.

I was due to run again today but opted to rest an extra day. I'll head out on Saturday and see if I can last the two miles.

I'm persisting with the Chi Running and I'm pretty convinced that this style has got to have some benefits for more longer term. I just need to get over my injury issues and when I do I'm pretty sure this style will help to keep me injury free.

The main focuses I'm concentrating on are;

-Maintaining a good upright posture but then leaning from the ankles to encourage a mid foot landing.

-Trying to keep my lower legs as relaxed as possible, picking up my feet instead of pushing off with them

- Maintaining a good alignment - pointing everything straight ahead.

I should post a decent review of the book but I guess a key take out for me is in how simple and logical some the theory of the style is. For example here's a couple of quotes from the book where the author Danny Dreyer, is writing about shin and lower leg injuries,

"If your shins are sore, it's because you're using them. You'll need to practice relaxing them. You're probably either tensing your ankles or pushing off with your toes instead of picking up your feet with each stride"

another on along the same lines is equally straight forward,

"At the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll say it one more time. Most leg lower leg injuries are from some sort of overuse. If you don't use it, you can't abuse it. Whenever I'm running I'm always focusing on relaxing my lower legs through every phase of my stride"

So this is one area which I have worked hard on and I'm starting to understand what is feels like to run with relaxed lower legs. I'm not pushing off with my toes thus I'm not using my shin muscles and therefore I'm pretty confident that I will overcome the shin splints in time with the help of the Chi Running method.

Just need to fix the heel and arch now!

I'm still biking to cross train. On weekends I take my mountain bike out for a ride around the streets of the North Shore. Lately it's an 11 mile ride which takes slightly under an hour. A couple of good long hills in there to keep me honest. For those into maps here's the route.

Catch ya later.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Running Again and finding my Chi

If you have been watching the blog closely over the last few weeks you may have noticed the miles starting to creep up in the running log over in my side bar. Yes with the arrival of spring and the best part of six months of rest behind me (but for a brief two weeks during June), I have started running again.

As I consider myself very much an expert in this area now after numerous enforced lay offs due to my ongoing Shin splint issues, I have started with very low and slow mileages. I am also using the run/walk method where I have frequent walking breaks so as not to stress the shins too much. The walking breaks are also coming in very handy as I have lost a good deal of fitness over the winter and it is a little hard to imagine even a 15 minute jog at present. Gradually the walking breaks will become less as my body adjusts and my fitness improves.

I am basically following this programme which Mark posted on CRN last year. I'm in week three currently and so far so good. I'm still taking care of the shins by icing them on run nights as they can still feel tender. I'm not sure whether this is just general soreness from starting to run again - hope so.

Still doing some stretching and self massage also to try and keep the calves loose. I'm also maintaining the biking as cross training , once or twice a week. I still have two more Bikram Yoga sessions left also which will last another two weeks.

I've learnt a lot over the last year or so about lower leg injuries and what do to avoid them etc. I big area for me has been learning about correct running form. This is one subject that I have again revisited in recent months. Last year I purchased a book on Chi Running which promotes a style of running which encourages the runner to lean forward from the ankles (rather than waist) which in turn produces a running style where the runner lands on their mid foot rather than heel. The basic premise being that if we can land on the mid foot with our foot under or behind our centre of gravity rather heel striking in front of our centre of gravity, the result is a much improved chance of avoid injury.

I thought seeing as I was about to embark on another come back it would be a good time to give this style a serious chance so I have re read the book and am trying hard to implement the technique.

I'll write in more detail about the specifics of the technique in another post as well as how I'm finding it and whether in fact it does help with injury prevention.

See ya round.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Nick Willis wins in New York

Nick Willis has again shown his class this week by taking out the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York the week. It caps off a great season for Willis who took the Bronze medal at Beijing last month.

Click here for an interview with Nick where he sheds some light on his recent success and future aspirations. Thanks to Peter Gambaccini of for the interview.

As for my training , I don't want to say too much right now other than that I have started to take some slow baby steps. I'm not going to talk (blog) too much about my running until I'm happy that I have something positive to report.

Keep running.

Photo credit -

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Return to Bikram

Originally uploaded by TheC2life
I attended my first class of Bikram Yoga in seven months tonight.

For those that don't know one type of Yoga from the next, Bikram Yoga is an intense form of Hatha Yoga which is practiced in a heated room, almost sauna like. The heat not only warms the body and muscles but also adds to the intensity of the class by placing you outside your comfort zone while you are taken through at least 20 different poses over 90 minutes.

I still remember back to the first class Bikram I ever did, almost a year ago to the day, I swear it almost killed me. This time round I knew what to expect and I'm quite happy with how I went, managing to complete all but a few of the poses and keeping my breathing well under control.
The last 15-20 minutes are brutal. The heat is almost unbearable but you try not to think about it. Keep it out of your mind and it is almost unnoticeable. Let it get to you and you will just wish for the class to end.

In between each of the floor series of poses you get a brief rest, known as Savasna. This is when you just lay in complete stillness for 30 seconds bringing your breath under control. I try to think of how many poses are left before the class is over and I can escape to the cool air outside the studio. That's all part of the challenge though, staying to the end and completing the class.

The hamstring stretches are the penultimate pose, followed by back twists and a final breathing exercise, then a final Savasna. I made to the end and I'm one of the first ones out the door.
**Warning - Locker room scenes follow **

After a class is always a strange feeling. The men's changing rooms are silent, it's like no one has any energy to talk, I know I don't. I have a cold shower to cool off and try and return my body's temperature to something more normal. The cold water is so refreshing , it cools and revitalises the body.

Afterwards I'm still totally drained, but I know it's all worth it in the end.

If you haven't done it yet, give Bikram Yoga a try.

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