Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

The World Won’t Let Me Train!

Snow in BlackheathI’m writing this post from the comfort of my bed this week. A culmination of the cold weather, over doing it at Christmas and marathon training have resulted in a sustained period of man-flu and (eventually) two days off work.

After my doctor basically told me to stop being an idiot, stop training, take some paracetamol and go to bed, I’m now halting my marathon training until I’m back up to full strength.

It’s a tough little conundrum. Like last year, I’ve taken on a 16-week training plan for this year’s marathon. Some don’t think that’s enough but 5-6 runs a week for 4 months will do me plenty.

I’d kept up a fairly decent 10k pace before beginning my training so it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system once starting. But how in the name of all that is holy am I supposed to train in the worst snow Britain has seen for decades, not get a cold and have any chance of beating my time last year?!

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Preparing for that long run:

Dust off those trainersBe honest, how many of you have thought about entering a marathon, confident in your mind that it doesn’t look that hard? If a 101 year-old plumber can trot around drinking beer and still finish, then what’s stopping you, right?

Cut to two months later. You have your place, you’ve got your new trainers and you’re about to go on your first long-distance run. Off you go…

3 hours later, you stumble home; pale, knackered, nipples bleeding and chafing so bad that you look like you’ve won first place in a John Wayne look-a-like competition. Slumped on your sofa you think to yourself, what went wrong?

A common mistake in training for a long-distance run is starting too strong too soon. Prepare well and you should have no trouble achieving your goals.

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REVIEW: SOLE Custom Footbeds

Update: This blog post was revised on 29th October to reflect the mistake made when heating the custom footbeds. UK ovens are measured in Celsius (C) not Fahrenheit (F). Looks like Sir Jog A Lot overheated the footbeds by a full 110°C!

SOLE Custom Footbeds

If Paula Radcliffe has one bit of advice for runners, it’s don’t scrimp on shoes. Getting your gait analysed can mean a pair of trainers could last you a year, instead of a few months. You’re also far less likely to pick up an injury.

However, this isn’t always an option. You might not live anywhere near a sports shop that provides such a specialist service (I know, can you believe that not every trainer store is equipped with a treadmill, a 3D foot scanner and a gait analysis expert these days? It’s scandalous!). If money and specialist athletics shops are a problem, then a possible solution is a pair of SOLE Custom Footbeds.

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Recovery:

Get back on the road to recovery...After any long distance run, the steps you take during your recovery process can determine how quickly you are out running again. Those in full swing of a marathon training plan, will be running anything from 5 to 20 miles each weekend. Here are a few tips to ensure you are back on your feet by the time the next weekend comes around…

  • Stretch
    Probably the most important thing you should do immediately after your run is stretch. It will help increase the length of your stride. You’ll also flush out lactic acid and prevent an injury creeping up on you over the next few days. Position your stretch and hold it for 10 seconds. Do not bounce. Some people believe that stretching can sometimes cause injury (muscle tearing etc). While this is true, injury normally occurs when you stretch cold, tight muscle (i.e. before a run). Stretching warmer muscles (which they will be after a run) should be fine. Check out Brad Walker’s book, The Anatomy of Stretching for more information.
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  • Refuel
    Make sure you take on plenty of water as soon as you finish. This will replenish the fluids you’ve lost in sweat as you’ve been running. A good way to check that you are hydrated enough after a run is to look at the colour of your urine. If it is darker than usual, drink more. Drinking sports drinks and using sports gels or CLIF Shot Blocks will also replace electrolytes so try to do this as you run. Once you are back your body will be screaming out for you to replenish your glycogen stores. You’ll need to stock up on carbs and protein so get a banana down you within 20 minutes of getting back.

  • Keep warm
    Blue Active GelYou’ll feel understandably hot after a marathon and keeping warm might be the last thing you want to do. But the foil blankets are there for a reason! Your defences are weakened after a long run and as your body loses heat you’ll increase the risk of infection. Your muscles will also become stiff. Cool your body down gradually by keeping moving (strong walks will loosen the muscles).
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  • Sooth those aches and pains
    If you have picked up an injury, or you find that one part of your body is aching more than usual, then rest that area. Massage gels like Jointace, Blue Active Gel and Tiger Balm are useful for reducing inflammation around the knees or the lower back. Alternatively, grab a bag of frozen peas or have an ice bath.

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  • Get a massage
    Get a massage...If you’ve just finished a marathon and ran for a charity, a lot of charities provide free sports massages at the finish line. They can be pretty intense though so you might want to ask the masseuse to take it easy on you. If you’re in training, chances are that you won’t be able to splash out for a sports massage every week so try out the Scholl Percussion Massager (£49.99). One of the detachable heads has a group of rubber pinpoints that really loosens your thigh muscles. It also has a detachable handle so you can do your own back (if your other half won’t oblige)!
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  • Aerate your feet
    Get those soggy socks off quickly and let your feet breathe. The moisture that can accumulate in your shoes during a long distance run can lead to infections. Change into dry socks immediately after your run. Better still, wear flip-flops around the house. It’ll also mean that blisters will heal more quickly. SOLE’s Platinum Sandals do the trick nicely as they have an orthopedic  footbed (rather than a flat piece of rubber) that supports your arches and are much more comfortable than standard flip-flops.

Sir Win A Lot

comp

For a chance to win a huge goody bag full of products that will help you on the road to recovery, including:

… all you have to do is either…

  1. Post a message on Twitter by clicking this link or…
  2. Answer the following question:

ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE, WHAT IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU SHOULD DO AFTER RUNNING?

A. Eat

B. Stretch

C. Sleep

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

*Winners will be contacted either by email or Twitter and announced on 12th October. Your email address will in no way be distributed to third parties.

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Checklist:

Looking forward to it...I was a bit of a naughty boy this weekend. My Uncle (who normally lives in Canada) was in London and I couldn’t refuse an opportunity to go and have a few beers on Saturday night. As I didn’t have to run far the next day (50 minutes easy pace), I didn’t think it would do me any harm. On Sunday morning I went out and, on an empty stomach and a hangover, ran 10k in 54 minutes. I felt surprisingly sprightly!

Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t the best idea to push myself that hard the week before the race and I was feeling decidedly guilty today. I’d never have forgiven myself if I’d have injured myself with one week to go, but it’s an incredibly difficult situation to be in. I’ve spent 15 weeks in training to get to this point and have become used to five runs of a healthy distance a week. To go from that kind of regime to running 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there, leaves you feeling a bit useless and it’s very difficult to relax. I don’t know what I’m going to be like after the marathon, but at the moment I can’t sit still! I’m worried I’m going to take all of this energy, run like a 4-year-old at the start of the marathon and burn out after 5 miles.

To take my mind off exercise I’ve come up with a checklist for this week:

Tuesday – (10 minutes at race pace with a warm up/cool down)

  • Buy Compeed
  • Get home and run around the park at Blackheath

Wednesday – (30 mins very easy)

  • Collect remaining sponsorship from office co-workers who haven’t paid yet (Wednesday is pay day)
  • Go to gym and watch The Simpsons while running on treadmill
  • Write blog post

Thursday – (Rest or 25 mins easy)

  • Buy seven new DVDs
  • Go to gym, run and say goodbye to everyone until next year
  • Put running number registration form in my bag so I don’t forget it for Friday and make sure I have my driving license

Friday – (Rest)

  • Print off race course map for family and mark points to meet them (remembering to decide on which side of the road to be on)
  • Go to Marathon Expo to pick up running number and timing chip (using registration form and driving license)
  • Buy ‘Marathon Survival Kit’ from Expo using voucher on page 13 of Marathon News magazine
  • Visit Justgiving* stand, Running Free** stand and Bupa London 10,000*** stand
  • Eat big bowl of pasta
  • Write blog post

Saturday – (15 mins very, very easy jog)

  • Get up early and do run (to tire myself out and fall asleep faster in the evening)
  • Cut toenails
  • Fit timing chip to trainers
  • Fill out the back of my running number and pin it to my vest
  • Plan where to meet family at end of race
  • Watch all seven DVDs back-to-back
  • Eat the biggest bowl of pasta I’ve ever seen
  • Give family MS Society cheering pack (equipped with balloons, inflatable sticks and flags)
  • Sleep

Sunday – (Race day!)

  • Eat baked beans on brown toast and one banana
  • Have two Lucozade Sport pouches (one at 8am and one at 9am)
  • Do 20 push-ups to get the guns looking plumper before donning running vest
  • Walk to start line (sorry guys, I live 30 seconds from it)
  • Get interviewed for MS Society video
  • Say goodbye to friends and family
  • Take empty plastic bottle
  • Hide the fact that you are peeing into empty plastic bottle under orange rain mac
  • Throw bottle to side of road
  • GO!

* To thank them for all of their efforts over the past few months
** Running Free magazine have agreed to do a small piece on me for their post marathon edition
*** I’ll be running the Bupa London 10k a month after the marathon

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Other Forms of Exercise:

Let’s face it, after 12 weeks of running 4-5 times a week, you start to get a little bored. I’ve changed my running routes that many times that I could probably pass ‘The Knowledge’ exam section for the South East of London. I could tell you, without hesitation, all 6 TV stations that are on in my local gym between 6pm and 7pm weeknights and (because I’ve read the text on my treadmill so many times) what the average heartbeat of an 80-year-old man running at 65% would be. Let’s just say, maybe it’s time to change things up a little.

Wednesday night, 45-minutes hard-effort. I plonked myself on a treadmill, ready to set off, only to turn around to see a work-colleague warming up for her spinning class. I went over.

“How long is this class?”, I asked.
“45 minutes”, she said. “You should join me!”.

It was a sign. My blisters needed a bit of a break and after my 19-miler things were a little chafe-tastic. My buddy showed me how to adjust the seat and the instructor came around to show me the ins and outs. I knew that the seat had to be low enough so that at the moment your pedal is at the bottom of its revolution, your knee joint doesn’t lock out. But that was about it. Turns out it’s a dangerous game this spinning. The pedals are connected directly to the flywheel at the front, which means that if your feet come out then the pedals will continue spinning, entangling your legs!

We set off, my colleague on the bike immediately to my left, and I was determined not to be shown up. I’ve been running well for 12 weeks now so I should be fairly competent at this! I thought it was just going to be a case of pedalling at different tempos. ‘Pedal fast, now pedal slow.’ But after a series of different positions (standing, sitting and squatting), tempos (sprint, three quarters and in-time with the music) and resistance (the dial at the front making it feel like you’re riding through treacle) I was absolutely spent.

No good...

I’d managed to finish well but I’d stupidly not brought a towel with me and I was sweating so much I couldn’t see. I have a new-found respect for those that do that twice a week as it can be killer on the knees. I was obviously a beginner. My seat adjustment was slightly too high and at the sprint sections it meant that I was bobbing up and down on the seat like a jackhammer. I bruised my tail bone as a result (back to running for me).

On Thursday nights I’ve changed my running for a weekly game of 5-a-side football. Our company sponsors a league, playing our clients. Our boss keeps telling us to let them win but at the moment there’s been no ‘let’ about it. 6 games and no victory so far. Again, when we started (6 weeks ago), I was adamant that my marathon training would give me an advantage over my colleagues as half of them haven’t done any exercise in a year! Again, I was wrong.

Football is a completely different type of exercise to long-distance running. The constant stopping, starting, sprinting, walking, twisting and turning is killer on the joints and I initially grew tired quite quickly. Changing up the routine to include football once a week has really developed my quads and, 6 weeks after starting, I can now last the 30 minutes at a pretty quick pace. Unfortunately, being able to run fast doesn’t make you a good footballer (and I’m probably the reason why our team isn’t winning). With football, however, there is a very high risk of injury so I think during the last three weeks of training I’ll have to stop and let the ‘new blood’ come through.

4 weeks to go and I managed a new PB with a 10k run yesteday. 51 minutes. Bring it on…

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Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie:

So you may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post for a little while. This is because I’ve been hard at work in the ‘studio’ creating Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie!

This year, Justgiving have a competition to create a video that promotes your fundraising efforts for the London Marathon. The prize is a £100 donation to your Justgiving page. Last year Gwan Yips won £500 with this effort (obviously the credit crunch has hit Justgiving as they’ve cut their prize by £400). With my fundraising target still in the distance and sponsorship drying up I thought it couldn’t hurt to sacrifice one Sunday to create an entry for this competition…

…and here it is:

Possibly the most embarrassing Sunday of my life (parading around London like a lunatic and getting filmed doing it) but I console myself with the thought that it’s all for charity. Anyone can do this and I encourage you to give it a go. I made this with a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker and it’s a fantastic way to drive traffic to your sponsorship page.

However, if you are going to do a video then wait until after Friday (as that’s when the competition closes)!

If you’re interested, the backing track is from a song called ‘Mr Munchies’ that myself and a couple of  old school friends, Paul Child and Thom Hawkins, wrote when we were 16. It comes with lyrics too and if you want a copy then let me know. Be warned: The lyrics are very childish, rude and resemble any song by Afro-Man.

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