It’s been an interesting week. It began with a slow start due to the little wobbly I had last weekend (all blood tests came back good), where common sense dictated I avoid the two planned long runs – see Program gaffes, ECG’s and vials of blood.– and ended with an extremely satisfying, but farkin’ painful 3-hour run today.
Today highlighted the ‘damage’ the last 2 weekends’ layoff has had on my program, but I’m fairly confident it’s something I can claw back. I tried a new Run / Walk approach to the session which worked fantastically well – more on that later – but was really surprised by the pain in the legs in the last half hour and afterwards which hints at a lack of distance. Were it not for that new method, I think it would have been considerably worse. Anyhoo.
What is it?
Full name Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy (sometimes abbreviated to ESWT) is a treatment that was initially used to treat kidney stones by focussing a high-intensity acoustic pulse to pulverise the *&%^ out of the stone and thereby allowing it to be passed.
After testing it further, it was found to be effective in the treatment of chronic pain in a muscle, tendon or joint caused by for instance inflammation or hardening, particularly tennis elbow, shoulder rotator cuff pain, plantar fasciitis and yours’ trulies Achilles tendinitis.
Administration of the shockwaves is by a wand-like device, not dissimilar in looks to an ultrasound most are probably familiar with, but with a slightly sharper applicator. The kinetic energy, created by compressed air, is transmitted from the ‘wand’ into the tissue, causing it to inflame and allowing the body’s natural healing mechanism to kick in and deliver accelerated tissue repair and cell growth. Isn’t that clever Trevor?
Why’d I have it?
So, despite feeling a bit more solid while increasing the weekly mileage, the slight Achilles sensitivity issue I’ve been feeling since November / December last year persists. In early January, one of my fave physios, the excellent Jo-Dee Pryce, prescribed exercises, with an instruction to consider shockwave therapy if it hadn’t subsided within about 4-5 weeks.
So I entered the week feeling maybe that needed to be explored, and booked an appointment for last Thursday. Shockwave specialist and physio Andries was happy that the issue could be treated with Shockwave therapy, explaining what it did and that it would be sore. How sore was dependant on the severity of the injury, but it would be sore.
How sore? Vreeslik baie (very), but a type of bearable pain I would imagine akin in ways to getting a tattoo – I don’t have any. I did have to wrap my arms around the underside of the bed and squeeze it as hard as I could in certain parts to help with the pain, but made it through.
For some video insight into what it looks AND feels like – check my youtube clip
I ain’t talking stretching my legs behind my head for those kinky people out there. I’m talking adapting one’s training program / schedule to accommodate life’s inevitable curve balls.
Having missed the weekends runs, I skipped rest day Monday, ran Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday thinking if I could get it done on Thursday, I could bosh out my two planned long runs (2hrs and 2h45) on Saturday and Sunday.
While not feeling any apparent negative effect after the treatment, Andries recommended that I avoid the long run on Saturday, run an hour and if it felt okay, go for the 2.45 on Sunday but be mindful of how it felt.
Drat. Training plans foiled again! 3rd weekend in a row. PLUS, I need to go back for round two of the treatment.
These chops and changes have made me realise that you must be flexible with your program. If you miss something, don’t fret, and don’t try to pack that missed session onto another single session. That can just lead to dumb overuse injuries.
There are a variety of alternatives and you just need to be creative by doing things like:
Apportioning the time of a single missed session onto a few forthcoming sessions, or
If you have 2 rest days a week and don’t feel particularly tired, maybe consider a lighter session on one of the rest days
There should be a variety of options at your disposal. Just be relaxed and creative with it.
Run / Walk
A work colleague and running enthusiast with two Comrades marathons on his belt came to me a few days ago (thanks Greg Strachan) bleeting about his discovery of a new Run / Walk method of approaching longer runs.
I’d heard of the benefits of implementing some planned walks during a long run like a Comrades Marathon to give the pins a break from the ravages of running 90km’s. I understood the theory to be that walking utilises different muscle groups and so taking voluntary walk breaks earlier on, could often stave off having to take enforced breaks later in the race as the leg muscles take a battering.
Caroline Wöstmann hit headlines in 2015 when she won both the Two Oceans and Comrades, employing walk breaks during her winning run. So I knew some people used it to great effect.
I knew this as far back as my 2013 run Comrades where I had tried to employ my own hammy version of walk breaks, mostly little stretches up hills, but there was no real method to what I was doing. I simply didn’t know how.
Greg relayed how he’d had a superb 30km run the weekend before, where despite continually dropping behind only to then run ahead of his running mates, as the adoption of the method dictated, he beat his whole crew. I was intrigued.
With my level of intrigue set to high, I decided to give it a bash today. It’s a method devised by Norrie Wililamson, a well-known figure in the South African running fraternity. I used a program devised by Norrie (available through the Old Mutual Do Great things website) for my very first Two Oceans and Comrades marathons back in 2012 and as an anxious newbie ultra-marathoner, followed his suggestions verbatim and had great runs as a result. So at least I felt the person devising the method had the pedigree.
The method works as follows. You run for 1 minute, walk for a minute, run for 2 minutes, walk for a minute, run for 3 minutes, walk for a minute and keep expanding the length of the running segments until you hit the halfway point of the distance being run. So today, for a 3-hour run, I got to 12minutes. Once you hit that mark, you walk for two minutes – as a little bonus gift to self it seems – and then work your way backwards by decreasing the length of the run segments until you get back to 1-minute run, 1-minute walk.
You can check out a detailed explanation on Norrie’s site here – http://bit.ly/2BDkaun .
Aside from the fact that the missed weekends resulted in me being a bit under prepared, resulting in the sore legs in the last half hour and afterwards, I averaged a very solid and impressive 5.32km/h pace, despite the crazy fact that I walked for 24 minutes of the 3 hours.
There were many things I liked about the method. Most noticeably:
- Each one-minute walk segment feels like a little gift to constantly look forward to. Great for the psyche.
- Coming out of the walk segment you can really launch yourself back into a pace that’s quicker than had you not had the break. Even better for the psyche. Not wanting to overdo it, I intentionally slowed myself down a bit.
- The concentration required in executing it took my mind off the run to a degree that seemed to make it go faster.
It was a win all-round. What’s staggering about it is that for a 3-hour run, you only get up to 12 minutes, before working back down. For a marathon it’s 14 minutes. For Two Oceans it’s 17 and for a 10-hour Comrades, Norrie’s method will have you count to just 23.
Although it may negate benefit 3 above, I do want to try and program the flow of method into my Fenix 5. Having discovered the Intervals feature last week, I’m going to look at creating a Workout in Garmin Connect to push to my watch and I’ll definitely be using Norrie’s approach again next weekend.
After some serious pain, my legs are finally feeling a bit better and per my Flexibility point above, I’ve rejigged this week’s program to accommodate round two of my shockwave therapy.
Till next time. Toodles.