Since Julia provided you with great training insights last week, I thought I’d share a bit on my fall training block, as we quickly approach our ECSCA races on Decemebr 6th. In Belichick-ian parlance: So far it’s been good, but there’s a lot to improve on.
I’ve had a great stretch of high volume weeks for 6 of the last 7 weeks. My runs have been powerful and intuitive, as I’m following a 50-mile training plan that I adapted from Hal Koerner. The gist of the plan is to consistently run 6-10 miles per day from Tue-Fri, capped off by large weekend mileage, longest on Saturday with some bouts of intensity and long & easy on Sunday. I’ve never really focused on back-to-back running days, so it has been a good challenge mentally and physically. I’ve had good results, and haven’t wavered from my plan.
My training highlight so far has been the Saturday long runs. Three weeks ago, I jumped in with some buddies on a 24-mile training run at Waterton Canyon in CO, in which the plan was to run tempo pace during miles 20-23. Saving the tempo effort for the end of the run, allowed me to stay focused and relaxed through the first few hours of running. Then I kicked it into tempo gear (assisted by a downward slope) at a point where most people would be bonking or easing down their pace. Knowing that the faster I ran, the quicker I’d be to done and with the comforts of the food & water stash in my car. It was really encouraging to have so much strength and determination late in a training run.
I mentioned that 6 of 7 weeks fit this mold per the training plan I designed. What I didn’t account for was the 7th week. Last week, I was in need of relief. Glancing at my Strava training calendar,I realized how solid my training had been, and that I was still steam-rolling ahead without giving my body the opportunity for relief. The proof:
I took a second to reflect on the success of my training so far, and made the determination to take an easy week and refocus for the next training stage. This seems like a no-brainer reflection point, however, it was really my body subtly nudging me, that while the numbers look good, I’m not on the most opportune path towards success.
After running a few mornings early last week, it became clear that something was wrong, and I needed help. My right leg has been intermittently bothering me since before I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013! Yes, it was during BoMar training that I developed pain in my right adductor (groin/inner thigh)… alarming me enough to visit a doctor, fingers crossed that I didn’t have as stress fracture in my femur.
So here I stand, 3-1/2 years later with the same adductor pain in my right leg, a developing pointed pain in the middle of my right quad, and intermittent Achilles pain (you guessed it) in my right leg. Coming off a stress fracture in my RIGHT foot earlier this year, I knew I had to buckle down and find the root cause of my right leg pains.
My first thought was to rest and soak to let the muscle rebuild. I forewent my lunchtime run and headed to the hottub at the Golden Recreation Center. Here I soaked and rubbed out my leg muscles. I knew this wasn’t a solution, though. Since this was my common response to these leg niggles.
Do I need a sports massage? Probably, but again, a massage wont solve the issue causing me pain. Do I need a gait analysis? Yes, of course!
Over the weekend, I headed to the Boulder Running Company store in Denver and was evaluated by a salesperson as I ran on a treadmill. It took less that 5-minutes for him to step-though the video clip on his iPad and identify the root of my leg issue. Over-pronating:
All of a sudden, it made perfect sense and the cloak of uncertain uneasiness was lifted off my shoulders. It wasn’t Problem Solved, but rather a, duh, your right foot is striking the ground at an angle sending misdirected jolts of stress through the muscles rather than properly through the bones and joints. My left foot was neutral, my right foot was over-pronating.
Now on my runs, I’m focusing on how my right foot strikes the ground, making considerable mental effort to guide the big toe/ball-of-foot to hit the ground first, as with a neutral foot strike. I could not be more pleased with this realization, and the hindsight-is-20/20 moment that we can all benefit from an outside perspective.
So I’m back running again, I enjoyed the easy training week last week, and I’m revitalized to improve my stride – power, consistency, & speed – that will come from the proper distribution of weight through my right leg.
If you have running pain, get a gait analysis. The technology is super simple, and the visual feedback will triggers your brain. The acquired knowledge of the “why and how” to prevent pain will allow you to improve and become a more consistent runner.
Disclaimer: The sales person at Boulder Running Company recommended an orthotic insole to fill the air gap between my high arch and the arch of my running shoe. While I valued his advice, I feel that strengthening my feet and improving my foot strike will solve the issue naturally.