A Step Backwards and a Leap Forwards

Having got to week 3 of the running course, I was experiencing more and more pain and soreness and discomfort. Nothing you could call an ‘injury’ as such, but I just knew it wasn’t right.

Having run through this sort of thing before and ended up with a very poorly knee, I wasn’t about to repeat that, so I have sought help early. Enter Andy, of the Injury Clinic, based in Wokingham. In a hour’s assessment, I was able to run faster than I EVER have before (8kph in case you’re interested) and PAIN FREE!

Turns out I have amazing flexibility in many places, but zero stability in many others. I also have a right foot that wants to point out at 45 degrees from my body, naughty foot! With the running course I had been running slowly to be able to do the distances. Unfortunately, this lack of speed was increasing the time my feet were on the ground and thus the impact sent through my legs up my body. Andy was pretty straight talking and when he first saw me run on the treadmill he said “The definition of running is that there are points when you have 2 feet off the ground at one time. What you’re doing is walking really fast, but you’re not running.” I like this straight talking approach. We did some drills, stretches and exercises and Andy advised me on what good form feels and looks like. I’m aiming for a high cadence, landing light, cycling the feet, pulling up and pushing round, and using my arms to help.

Trouble is that all this quick running means that my lungs can’t keep up and I don’t have the fitness to do any kind of distance. I feel like I want everything all at once! I want great running form so that I don’t get hurt, but I want distance and fitness at the same time. Well, I can’t have it all. Thing is, the choice is “run distance, lose form, get hurt, don’t run again” or “run within your limits, great form, build up slowly, keep running”. That isn’t much of a choice really, is it?!

Whilst I’m working on form and building strength with Andy, I wanted some kind of progressive running program to help me keep on track to be able to get round the 5k at the end of June with the lovely Kim of Physique Health. So I looked up C25K again, and I’ve started that. Now, it’s just a framework. If I can’t get past the first week without losing form, then that’s fine, I won’t get past the first week. But if I can, it’s a nice way of building fitness. Today was run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes for 20 minutes. Honestly, I managed about 40 seconds of the 1 minute running, but que sera, that’s just where I am.

C25k Week 1 Run 1 Pace Over Time
Cadence, pace, heart rate all good! 

I was really pleased with the cadence. Andy was right, there was very little difference in cadence between running and walking before. But now I’m getting green dots. Not for long, but they are there!

There are other advantages to this approach. With the harder efforts, heart rate shoots up and you get a nice HIIT workout which we all know is great for burning fat!! IMG-20160501-WA0001

Now, as I was plodding – or speeding! – around I was thinking that I’ve really taken a big step backward from where I was with the running course. I was running 1km at a time, or 5 minutes. Well, as Andy would say, I was walking really fast, not really running. And now I’m struggling to complete 1 minute of running. And I think I’m going to get round a 5k in 8 weeks time?! Ha!

However, one of the great things about being a statistician is the desire to gather data. And today the data held a nice surprise. I compared today’s session with the last run I did with Lady Bugs. And guess what – today I went further, in less time, by being faster. Max speed was 9kph up from 6.4kph. Average page 50 seconds quicker today. Max HR got a better workout by 12 bpm extra. Best pace went from 9.27 min/km to 6.41 min/km. So what felt like a step backward was really a leap forward, and what’s more – it’s sustainable because I’m not hurting my body nor putting my muscles and joints at risk. Compare Lady Bugs to C25K

Yep, I can only run for 40 seconds at a time today. Tomorrow it might be 45 seconds, and next week it might be 1 minute. It’ll build slowly and I’m OK with that as long as I can keep going, day after day, week after week, year after year.

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