Posts Tagged ‘Sports injury’

Running a Marathon With a Cold:

My girlfriend was ill with a nasty cold last week and my punishment, for not looking after her better, was to get the cold myself. Obviously, being a guy, mine was ten times worse and forced me to take 2 days off work. I also didn’t run for 4 days as a result.

Too run or not to run...

Just before I felt it coming on I did my biggest run so far (and ever). After this it would mean tapering down all the way to the marathon. The 20 miles took me 3 hours 20 minutes. Again, not a great time but at least I managed to squeeze an extra mile in to that time slot. I’d prepared well for the run. I’d had beans on brown toast for breakfast and this time I’d taken 3 carbo gels with me that I’d bought the day before from the London Marathon shopin Covent Garden.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel any effect after taking them. It was a pretty hot day during the run and I had to ration the water in the bottle I was carrying as it’s not very big. Apparently it’s important to get your water intake right while taking the gels so maybe this had something to do with it but I still felt knackered at the end and couldn’t keep a decent pace. In hindsight, this is probably because I was on the verge of the WORST COLD EVER, and I’ll finish the marathon (I’m sure of it) but I really don’t think I’m going to be able to complete it in under 4 hours.

This, coupled with the fact that being ill has stopped my training, has meant that this has been a tough week. I’d wanted to keep training so badly during these past couple of days (especially as the marathon is now less than 3 weeks away). I nearly followed the ‘neck rule‘; if your ailment is above the neck (sniffles, head colds, ear infections) then running will most likely not do you any harm and if your ailment is below the neck (injury, coughs, stomach aches) then running won’t do you any good. I’m not sure if there is any scientific theory behind this rule but I rested up nonetheless.

Apparently, the volume of runners that pull out of the marathon due to illness is quite high. Here’s a fact that’ll put a smile on couch potatoes across the land. Endurance training causes a rise in the hormone cortisol which causes stress. This stress can affect the immune system, which can make you more susceptible to infection! So basically, because I’m eating better and exercising more, I’m more likely to get a cold than Fatty McFatterson of Cheeseburger Land!

Of course, I’m exaggerating (I’m not well). The key difference is the volume of exercise. Running for anything longer than 90 minutes causes blood sugar levels to drop to a level where this hormone is more prevalent. Marathon runners exceed this regularly in training and as a result, towards the end of their training, many marathoners pick up a cold.

This wouldn’t have mattered to me if I’d picked up this cold the day before the London Marathon, I’d still have blamed my girlfriend. I’m terrified that something bad is going to happen between now and the big day and I won’t be able to run. I’ve stopped playing football in case I pick up an injury, I’ve stopped drinking so I’m never running on a hangover and I’m taking a Berocca every day to keep the vitamin-C up. 17 days left to avoid twisting my ankle walking off a pavement…

Next week I’ll be attending the Justgiving pre-London Marathon Meet-up at the RIBA, London. Hopefully I’ll see a few fellow bloggers there to watch the 4 speakers, Monty Halls, Simon FosterSally Kettle and Vanessa Galeshare their tips on fundraising. I’ve got £200 to go…

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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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Chafing:

I understand that this is a subject that may not appeal to many and it’s a sensitive issue in more ways than one but it has to be talked about. Chafing doesn’t just happen to men and fat people so suck it up and listen good.

The first time I went for a run that was longer than half an hour I was wearing a pair of Calvin Klein boxer shorts and some cut-off cargos. Unfortunately for me it started to rain quite badly and the friction began. Now my thighs are not chubby in the slightest (in fact I look like a bread-roll with two chop sticks jammed in it) but I came back walking like John Wayne with a melon between his legs. It hurt so much. It must be to do with the way I run (see blog post 2) but right up the inside of my thighs ended up looking like two raw steaks.

It helps...

First lesson learned, don’t wear boxer shorts. If your problem is material rubbing on skin then they aren’t going to help. The trick is to keep yourself as dry as possible and thick undergarments will make you sweat worse than Tom Jones. Materials like Lycra or spandex will help wick away sweat and stop the abrasion between material and body parts. Also (one for the lads) running in boxer shorts can lead to testicular torsion

… Another bollock drop would be to wear clothes on race day that you’ve never tried before. Unfortunately, stopping the effects of chafing takes a lot of experimentation and it doesn’t just happen on the legs. Mp3 players strapped to your arm, vests, running belts and new trainers or socks can cause unexpected pain or discomfort during and after a race has finished. Take the time during your training to try out different outfits and decide a month or two in advance on what you are going to wear on the race day.

After ditching the boxer shorts I moved on to briefs which then resulted in a whole new skin-on-skin problem (I’m sorry, I’m embarrassed as I’m writing this). Vaseline is the obvious choice and has worked well for me. The problem, however, with Vaseline is that it doesn’t last very long and by the 15th mile I’d imagine that most of it will have worn away. I believe that volunteers hand the stuff out along the course but, if I have anything to do with it, I won’t be stopping for anything other than a quick Paula Radcliffe dash! For longer lasting products use Body Glide or if you really want to last the distance try industrial strength Bag Balm (which is actually supposed to be used on cow’s udders!).

If you’re still reading this and all of this talk of rubbing and lubrication has had you one sexual innuendo away from closing this page down, then thanks for putting up with this udder rubbish…

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Recovering From Injury:

Unfortunately I think I’ve purchased my trainers and special double-layered socks a week too late. As a result of continued running with bad blisters (and adjusting my stride pattern to compensate) I think I’ve picked up a mild knee injury. It doesn’t feel that bad at all when I’m running (in fact the there is strangely hardly any pain at all). I only seem to feel it when I’m walking down hill or down steps. It one of life’s little ironies that I live at the top of a hill.

Greenwich Park

Injuries are a marathon trainer’s worst nightmare. I’ve been sticking to the training schedule like glue (see the useful sites page) and don’t want to be playing catch up in a few weeks time after I’ve recovered. It’s been hard enough getting used to the schedule and it’s only the 2nd week.

Runner’s World have a great section on dealing with injury and from it I’ve taken two key points:

  1. No complaining.
    Stay positive. Injury at some point is pretty much inevitable to those who are undertaking a marathon. The average marathon runner will complete over 500 miles of training runs in that 3-4 month build up to that big Sunday (over 800 for an advanced runner). That’s an average of 1,000,000 individual steps to avoid slipping on some grass, dodging a puddle or hopping over an uncontrollable Jack Russel on a long leash. The law of averages has to catch up with you. Complaining about it is only going to piss off those around you. Keep your cool, get better and carry on.
    .
  2. No slacking.
    Unless you’ve broken your back the chances are that you can still exercise and keep yourself active enough to stay in shape. If you have bad sores or blisters then use the stepping machine. If your upper body is injured then get on the bikes. Lift weights, walk, stretch or row, just maintain your basic level of fitness so that when you do recover you haven’t lost any ground. If your training plan says a 30 minute run then do something else for 30 minutes and don’t eat any differently to how you normally would.

I’m not sure if this knee ailment is going to cause a problem or not. I’ll keep a support on it but I think I’ve diagnosed it. I swear, all you need these days to be a doctor is a blackberry and google in your bookmarks. Google search ‘my knee hurts when running downhill’ and the second search result is this. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Easy. Use this link at work when your colleague asks you a silly question. It’ll go down a treat I promise.

How is it treated? Ice-pack, ibuprofen and a knee support.
I’m such a wuss…

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