Sunday beach run

Sunday, January 29, 2006
1:30 | road | LSD/recovery pace After a long hot day, I didn't feel like running about the humidity in the park, so I ran down to the beaches for the first time in many months. I took the advice of McMillan and slowed right down to 6:30 pace for this run. I think I have not done myself any favours in the past with my post race runs by trying to zip about instead of taking it easy. From the onset my shins and calves were tight and a little sore. Not as bad as my aborted run last weekend, but sore nonetheless. No, I hadn't been doing much stretching or massaging over the days since the Oz Day Race, so I guess it was my own fault. The run today was hot but the light sea breeze made it bearable as did the local female wildlife. The beaches were choc-a-block with bathers and it looked very tempting to stop for a dip at each and every beach that I ran through. By the time I arrived at North Bondi (about 9km ?) my lower legs were feeling tired but pretty good and the 3km run uphill to home felt solid. Feeling OK at the moment but I guess will have to nurse my shins this week to be sharp for Striders on Saturday. Mood: --->

Oz Day Fun Run

Saturday, January 28, 2006
8km | 36:22 | Race | PB Having just got back from a few days down the coast, I've had some time to reflect on Thursdays race. Firstly, I am honestly astonished that I not only raced the whole 8kms without any evidence of my nagging injury, but haven't had any real post race issues either. Now, after blogging with despair last weekend about the injury that simply wouldn't go away - it sort of makes me out to be a bit of a drama queen. Yeah, a tad embarrased. Was it the new shoes or the time off with massage and voltaren rapids a plenty ? Who the hell knows. Bottom line is that I ran quite well for the first 5kms or so until my lack of puff took over and I had to wobble home. The course was a bit of a shamozzle with 3 laps of too many narrow paths. Km markers were all over the place and to be honest I never really knew how long there was to go after having seen a 2km marker, then a 5, then a 7, then a 3, then a 4 all on the same lap ! Yes I should have ran with my GPS thingy turned on. Will do that next time. The flatter course this year assisted me to a 36:22 (my watch) finish with a 4:41 PB over the 8km distance. The PB is nice but more pleasing to me was that I could run at about 4:30/km pace for most of the race, which is at about my 10km PB pace. On the downside, I was totally buggered after about 5km on a really flat track. Next week at the hilly Striders 10km Lane Cove will be really hard work me thinks. Mood: ---> What are you lookin' at ! What are you lookin' at !


Wednesday, January 25, 2006
It was raining last night, so running on the sand was off. Instead I jumped on the static bike for a spin. 10 mins warm up 25 mins reps (1 min easy, 1 min hard) 10 mins warm down I started my new MTSS exercises and did my usual icing routine. The legs feel really good. Well they should - I haven't been running. I've got my new GT 2100's and will wear them on Thursday at the Oz Day race for luck. Fingers crossed that I finish in half decent shape. Mood: ---> What are you lookin' at !

MTSS treatment - a new approach.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Thanks everyone for the warm support. It means a lot to me. Even you DJ - who you callin' fat anyway ! ;-p Seriously, very much appreciated all ! Please note that the injury formerly known as shin splints shall hereinafter be referred to as MTSS (medial tibial stress syndrome) in this Blog. It' a far more trendy medical term than shin splints, don't you think ? Shin splints sound like something old people get from sitting on cold concrete !

Warning: huge article regarding MTSS follows:-

"How to strengthen the lower legs to avoid MTSS. When you decided to get really serious about your training earlier this year, everything went smoothly for several weeks, but one day you felt a dull ache on the inside, lower portion of your shin as you began your workout. The discomfort went away once you had warmed up, so you weren't overly concerned. Unfortunately, the pain returned on the following day - and lasted for a longer portion of your workout. As the days went by, pain was present for the whole training session, as well as your cool-down - and even hung around during your regular daily activities. When you used your fingers to probe the area near the back, inside edge of the lower part of your tibia (the main bone in the lower part of the leg), you felt tenderness but no major swelling, and the pain seemed to centre in the tissues (muscles and tendons) near the tibia, not the tibia itself. What was wrong? Of course, you had developed a classic case of 'shin splints', an injury which is more accurately called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). Many experts believe that MTSS is the most common injury among athletes whose sports involve extensive amounts of running (e.g., runners, soccer players, rugby players and other participants in field sports); indeed, research shows that up to one in five injured runners are 'on the shelf' because of MTSS ('Relieving Painful Shin Splints,' The Physician and Sportsmedicine, vol. 20(12), pp. 105-113, 1992). And it's an especially troubling injury, because it can stop quality training in its tracks and also tends to recur, defying conventional treatments. The actual site of injury in the shin area can be muscle, tendon, bone - or the connective-tissue wrappings which surround your muscles and bones. Some exercise scientists contend that MTSS is almost inevitable, since each shin absorbs a force equal to two to three times body weight with every footfall during running - about 700 times per shin per mile, mile after mile. The cumulative effect of this repetitive stress on the muscles and connective tissues in the shin area is believed to be the origin of MTSS. For that reason, MTSS is often called an 'overuse' injury, although as you'll see in a minute, the real problem is not so much overuse as it is a lack of preparation for use. Specifically, MTSS occurs because the ankle dorsiflexors - the shin muscles which in effect pull the top surface of the foot toward the shin and also (as part of their eccentric functioning) keep the foot from being pulled away from the shin too rapidly - are not functioning as well as they should. The key role of these ankle dorsiflexors during running is in fact to control and limit plantar flexion - the movement of the foot away from the shin. During the very earliest part of the footstrike portion of the gait cycle - right after the foot makes contact with the ground, there's a tendency for the foot to slap hard against terra firma. In a 'heel-striker,' for example (a runner who first makes contact with the ground with his heel), forward momentum tries to slap the rest of the bottom of the foot against the ground very quickly and forcefully, an uncoordinated and energy-wasting action which is resisted by eccentric contractions of the dorsiflexors. The sound of slapping feet If a runner has weak ankle dorsiflexors, you can often 'hear him coming a mile away', because his feet actually make slapping sounds against the pavement (of course, such a runner will be at high risk for MTSS, because the rapid downward movement of the foot will tear at and overstress the dorsiflexors). In contrast, the runner with strong, functional dorsiflexors will seem to pad softly along, even if he is running on rock-solid concrete. Watch some of the elite Kenyans running, for example, and compare their foot-to-ground patterns with those of elite Brits or Americans or the average recreational athlete. The Kenyans build up tremendous dorsiflexor strength and functionality because they spend their initial years of life running and walking endless miles while barefooted, instead of moving around with their feet clamped into fluffy midsoles which shield the feet from hard work - or sitting around with feet propped up on a soft hassock. As a result, the Kenyans waste very little energy during the stance phase of the gait cycle - and seldom hobble off the track or roads with a shin injury. In addition to controlling plantar flexion, the dorsiflexors must also deal with side to side motions of the foot and ankle during running - as well as the rotational motions which are a natural part of the gait cycle. Any tendency of the foot to pronate must be controlled by the shin muscles. Any tendency of the foot to supinate must also be reined in by the dorsiflexors. If there is relentless, stressful motion in any direction, the shin muscles can be damaged. That's why many of the exercise routines which supposedly prevent shin splints don't work so well; they often emphasize only front-and-back motions, rather than the side-to-side and rotational activities which are routine aspects of the biomechanics of running. The bottom line is that if you want to prevent shin splints, you can't merely develop general strength in your dorsiflexors - or strength which exhibits itself in only one plane of motion: your dorsiflexors must actually be stronger while you are running. More on that in a moment! That's why classical shin splints treatment - RECEIPT (rest, elevation, compression, easy stretching of the muscles, icing, and possibly taping) - works fairly well at relieving symptoms but does a very poor job of keeping the injury from recurring. Only by improving the functional strength of the dorsiflexors and the strength and coordination of the entire ankle area can one be confident that MTSS will be held at bay. If your dorsiflexors are strong enough to handle your total training load, and they aren't yanked around too badly by poorly controlled ankle movements, your training year should be un-marked by the pain and disruption of shin splints. Try these MTSS-preventing exercises So what should you actually do to lower your risk of MTSS? Well, simply utilize our shin-splint-preventing exercises, outlined below: 1. Wall Shin Raises. Simply stand with your back to a wall, with your heels about the length of your feet away from the wall. Then, lean back until your buttocks and shoulders rest against the wall. Dorsiflex both ankles simultaneously, while your heels remain in contact with the ground. Bring your toes as far toward your shins as you can, and then lower your feet back toward the ground, but do not allow your forefeet to contact the ground before beginning the next repeat. Simply lower them until they are close to the ground, and then begin another repetition. Complete about 12 to 15 reps. Once you have finished the reps, maintain your basic position with your back against the wall, dorsiflex your ankles to close to their fullest extent, and then quickly dorsiflex and plantar flex your ankles 15 times over a very small range of motion (smaller than the nearly full range you use for the basic reps; the emphasis here is on quickness). These short, quick ankle movements are called pulses. As you gain strength over time, make the wall shin raises progressively more difficult by advancing from one set of 15 reps to two and then three sets of 15 (for the basic raises and the pulses). It's OK to walk around for 15 to 30 seconds between sets. Now the single-leg raise Once you can quite comfortably complete 3 x 15 of the double-leg raises (both basic and quick), progress to the single-leg wall shin raise. The basic position for this exercise is as before, except that you begin with only one foot in contact with the ground; the other foot rests lightly on the wall behind you. Now, full body weight is on one foot - as it is during running - as you carry out the overall routine, and the exercises are considerably more difficult. Begin with 12 to 15 reps per foot (both for the basic exercise and pulses), and progress to 3 x 15 (basic and pulse) on each foot as your strength increases. There's no need to rest between sets; simply carry out 15 reps on one foot plus the pulses, shift over to the other for 15 repetitions and pulses, return to the original foot, and so on until you have completed three sets with each foot. 2. Heel Step-Downs These are simple but devastatingly effective exercises for preventing MTSS. Begin with a natural, erect body position, with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and then step forward with one foot. The length of the step should be moderate - as though you were walking in your normal manner. When your heel makes contact with the ground, stop the foot from fully plantar flexing, ie, use your shin muscles to keep the sole of the foot from making contact with the ground. After heel contact, the ball of your foot should descend no more than an inch toward the floor or ground; your foot is held in check by the eccentric contractions of your dorsiflexors (shin muscles). Return your foot to the starting position (back by the other foot), and repeat this basic stepping action a total of 15 times. Then, shift over to the other foot and complete 15 steps. As with the wall shin raises, progress to three sets of 15 reps over time. Now with longer steps Once you have mastered the basic heel step-downs, perform the same exercise - but with dramatically longer steps. Using lengthier steps will increase the accelerating forces placed on the dorsiflexors and force them to work more forcefully and quickly, as they must do during running. Start with one set of 15 reps of long steps per foot, and progress to 3 x 15 on each foot over time. Finally, you will be ready to carry out the heel step-downs from a high step, which will increase the forces on your shin muscles to the greatest extent - and build the greatest amount of strength. Use a bench or exercise platform which is about four inches off the ground to carry out your stepping. Aside from beginning each step from a bench, your movements are the same as they are in the basic step-downs; the idea is to land on the heel of the forward foot and then to use the shin muscles to prevent the sole of the foot from making contact with the ground (again, don't let the ball of the foot move downward by more than an inch). The actual length of the step is moderate at first (you can progress to long steps later). As before, begin with 15 reps per foot, and progress to three sets of 15 reps as you gain strength and coordination. Both the wall shin raises and heel step-downs can be carried out three to four times a week, along with your other strength-building exercises (you can complete them more often if you've had lots of problems with MTSS in the past; don't do them to the point of pain, however). Warm up to stronger shins The following portion of the shin-splints-preventing routine can be completed during the warm-ups preceding your regular workouts. The prescribed exercises develop shin strength and resiliency, as well as overall ankle coordination, and thus are great antidotes for your ankles' desires to begin hurting during strenuous training. It's also a good idea to include the exercises in your warm-ups; doing so transforms the warm-up from humdrum routine into an important strength and coordination session. Here's what to do: 1. Walk on your toes with your toes pointed straight ahead for about 20 metres, getting as high up on your toes as you possibly can. Your legs should be relatively straight as you do this, and you should - at least initially - take fairly small steps. Then, cover 20 metres high up on your toes, but with your toes pointed outward. Your legs should rotate outward from the hips when you perform this movement; don't merely turn each foot at the ankle - the whole leg is involved. Finally, walk 20 metres high on your toes, but with your toes pointed inward. As you do so, rotate the entire leg in from the hip, not just the ankle. Repeat each of these activities (toes pointed ahead, toes pointed out, toes pointed in) at least one more time before going on to the second exercise. 2. Walk on your heels with your toes pointed straight ahead for about 20 metres, getting as high up on your heels as you possibly can. Your legs should be relatively straight as you do this, and you should - at least initially - take fairly small steps. Then, simply proceed as you did with the toe walks, walking 20 metres on your heels with toes pointed outward and then 20 metres on heels with toes pointed inward. Repeat each of the heel walks (toes straight ahead, toes pointed outward, toes in) at least one more time. As the toe and heel walks become easy for you, graduate to doing the three variations of each exercise while jogging lightly, instead of walking! At least at first, you should make certain you are on a padded or grassy surface when you jog on toes and heels. 3. Skip for 20 metres, landing in the mid-foot area with each contact with the ground, and with toes pointed straight ahead. Then, do the same, but with toes pointed out for 20 metres, and then with toes pointed in for 20 metres. Repeat the sequence at least one more time. 4. Then, get well up on your toes and skip for 20 metres with toes straight ahead, pointed out, and pointed in. Now skip on your heels Once the skipping exercises are comfortable, try some light skipping on your heels. Gradually build up your ability to heel-skip with toes straight ahead, pointed out, and pointed in for 20 metres at a time. Heel skipping is a great way to build dorsiflexor strength, but carry it out only on a padded or grassy surface to avoid impact injury to your heels. 5. Once you've completed your walking, jogging, and skipping routines, it's time for rhythm bounding. This isn't the kind of bounding you're probably envisioning - we don't mean progressing forward with extra-long strides, at least not at first. Rather, you should jog along with very springy, short steps, landing on the mid-foot area with each contact and springing upward after impact. As you rhythm bound, your ankles should act like coiled springs, compressing slightly as you make your mid-foot landing and then recoiling quickly - causing you to bound upward and forward. Move along for 20 metres or so with these quick, little, spring-like strides, alternating right and left feet as you would during running. After 10 to 20 metres of regular jogging, rhythm bound for 20 more metres, alternating three consecutive spring-like contacts with the right foot with three with the left. After 10 to 20 more metres of regular jogging, close the set by bounding along for the full 20 metres on your right foot only, followed by 20 metres on the left (making certain that you land on the mid-foot area with each ground contact and that your ankle area, not your knee or hip, is doing most of the work). Make sure (at least at first) that all of this is done on a padded surface or soft grass. As you become stronger and more skilled, you can increase the length and amplitude (vertical height) of each bound and include additional sets of bounds (work your way up to four sets). 6. Complete some 'dorsiflexion bounces'. To do these, simply begin jumping vertically and repetitively at close to maximal height, landing in the mid-foot area with both feet and then springing upward quickly after each contact with the ground. The interesting part of this exercise is that you should dorsiflex your ankles - pulling the tops of your feet toward your shins - on each ascent, before plummeting back toward earth and plantar flexing your ankles just before making contact with the ground. Do 10 dorsiflexion bounces, rest for 10 seconds or so, and then repeat. Over time, you can add additional sets and increase the number of reps to 30. When you are really strong and skilled, perform this exercise on just one foot at a time, but only on a low-impact surface. 7. Finally, carry out rhythm bouncing. Rhythm bouncing is actually just jumping around, but what jumping! You should start with 10 jumps in place, moderately fast, with medium height, and with maximal motion at the ankles - but little flexion and extension at the knees and hips (over time, you can work up to 30 jumps). Then, after resting for a few seconds, change the amplitude (height) of your jumps to less than an inch, and complete 20 jumps as fast as you possibly can (pretend that your feet are hitting a hot stove - so that you must minimize your impact time with the ground). Again, almost all of the action should take place at your ankles, not at your knees and hips. As you become more skilled, work up to 40 quicksilver jumps. After resting for a few seconds, complete five 'high-impact' jumps, increasing the amplitude (vertical height) of your jumping as much as possible. Over time, progress to 30 of these maxi-jumps. So far, all of the rhythm bounces have been carried out in place, so make things interesting by jumping forward and then backward as quickly as possible. After you have made 20 'contacts' (each time your feet strike the ground is one contact), rest for a few seconds and then jump from side to side for 20 contacts. Rest again, and then jump in a direction which is about 45 degrees from straight ahead, alternating directions (first towards the right, then towards the left) for 20 contacts as you move ahead in a zig-zag manner. Remember to use your ankle muscles to propel you, not the big muscles at the knees and hips. As you gain skill and strength, you can increase the number of sets of each type of rhythm bouncing from one to three, and then - the fun part - carry out each type of bouncing on one foot only. Moving in different directions as you bounce increases the ability of your shin muscles to handle all of the forces created during running - the side-to-side and rotational stresses, in addition to the less-overlooked front and back forces. Other considerations Of course, carrying out these exercises doesn't mean that your risk of MTSS is zero. If you suddenly change your weekly volume of running from 25 to 75 miles because you've been bitten by the marathon bug, for example, something will have to give, and it might well be your shin muscles and tendons. So, be certain to avoid dramatic changes in the frequency, volume, or intensity of your training; always gradually progress to more difficult levels of work. Sports-medicine experts often recommend stretching the ankle area by slowly moving the ankle to 'each' end of its range of motion in the straight-back and straight-ahead plane, eg, to the fully dorsiflexed and then completely plantar-flexed positions, holding each position for anywhere from five to 60 seconds. The problem with that, of course, is that you are only stretching your muscles in one plane of motion and thus not adequately mimicking the stretching which takes place during running. At the very least, in addition to carrying out the plantar-flexed and dorsiflexed stretches, you should also stretch each ankle by fully rotating it outward and inward - and by plantar flexing and dorsiflexing the ankle while the foot is pointed both outward and inward to various degrees - not just straight ahead. The experts also recommend strengthening the ankle area by adding resistance to the above stretching movements with the use of surgical tubing or elastic bands. That is indeed a way to increase general strength of the ankle, and it will certainly make you stronger when you carry out surgical-tubing exercises in the future. The problem, of course, is that you run with your feet on the ground - not poised in the air in the clutches of elastic bands. So, to fully prepare your ankles and shins for the rigours of running, you're better off focussing on the specific exercises we are recommending. Does stretching actually help to prevent MTSS? No scientific evidence indicates that it does, but the idea that stretching might be protective is a logical one (overly taut muscles seem more likely to be damaged by pulling forces, compared to relaxed fibres). Don't stretch your ankle area until after your muscles are warm, however; a good time would be after a warm-up and/or at the end of your training session. Other lower-leg injuries Of course, all problems in the lower part of the leg are not necessarily examples of MTSS. In particular, two conditions - compartment syndromes and tibial stress fractures - can sometimes be confused with shin splints. Compartment syndromes owe their name and origin to the fact that the leg muscles are not simply loose straps which run from bone to bone. In reality, the muscles are often grouped together into little sections of the leg which are enclosed by a tough wrapper of connective tissue. Such an arrangement of muscles tucked into a wrapper is called a 'compartment'. During the act of running, excess fluid can build up within one of these compartments, putting pressure on muscle fibres, nerve cells, and blood vessels - and also causing a great deal of pain. Frequently, the pain will be so severe that a runner must curtail a workout or come to a standstill during a race. And the pain will usually be accompanied by the two telltale symptoms of a compartment syndrome - numbness and weakness. Numbness occurs because the excess pressure within a compartment hampers the activity of sensory nerves carrying messages to the brain. As a result, the runner with compartment syndrome may lose feeling in the 'web' of the foot - between the first and second toes, or the insensitivity may extend up the foot toward the ankle. Weakness is experienced because motor nerves carrying impulses towards the muscles are also damaged by the high pressures within the compartment. If a compartment in the front of the leg is involved, a runner may have trouble dorsiflexing the ankle, and the foot may seem to flop loosely. In a posterior-compartment problem involving muscles in the back of the leg, there is often weakness when an individual tries to 'toe off'. If you truly have a compartment syndrome, you will usually observe swelling in your lower leg which tends to subside when your leg is elevated. A doctor can tell for sure if you have this troubling problem by placing a catheter into one of your compartments and measuring pressure before, during, and after running (you will usually have to run long enough to produce pain during this test). What about stress fractures? Stress fractures are small breakdowns in bony tissue, and tibial stress fractures, which are sometimes confused with MTSS, are the most common of all stress fractures in athletes, accounting for about 50 per cent of the total. In addition to producing a lot of pain, stress fractures can actually progress into dislocation fractures, in which two parts of the bone actually separate. Stress fractures also may be 'warning signals' for an underlying nutritional or hormonal problem. Unfortunately, traditional X-rays often fail to detect stress fractures, so a more costly procedure called a bone scan must frequently be performed to confirm the diagnosis. In a bone scan, radioactive material is actually injected into the blood. Bony tissue which is remodelling and rebuilding itself at the site of a stress fracture will accumulate more of this infused radioisotope, causing the affected bony area to show up as a dark splotch on a 'scintigram'. While it's often said that stress fractures take two to three months to heal, up to six months may be required to restore the bone to normal and remove most traces of pain, and a few athletes need more than a year to fully recover. Sometimes called 'crescendo pain,' the agony associated with stress fractures tends to build up steadily during running, beginning as an annoying irritation and becoming a throbbing torment as an individual continues to run. There is usually little of the numbness, weakness, and swelling associated with compartment syndrome, and pain is usually not present when an athlete is at rest. Often, the bone will hurt when it is tapped near the damaged area, and occasionally a hard nodule will appear on the surface of the bone at the trouble site. If you're diagnosed with a stress fracture, you should be sure to have a nutritional analysis carried out (your problem might be the result of inadequate calcium intake or poor calcium absorption). In addition, athletes who develop stress fractures should get their sex-hormone levels checked (adequate testosterone concen-trations in males and oestrogen levels in females are required for optimal bone maintenance). How can you differentiate MTSS from stress fractures and compartment syndromes? The pain of MTSS is usually less localized, compared to stress-fracture pain (it tends to run up and down a region of the lower leg near the tibia), and usually can't be produced merely by tapping on the tibia. In addition, MTSS produces none of the numbness associated with compartment syndromes. How long does MTSS last? If you are unfortunate enough to come down with MTSS, your recovery period will usually last from one to six weeks, depending on how severely you are stricken. If you have a mild case of MTSS (your shin hurts moderately, and only after workouts), immediately cut your weekly mileage by about 30 per cent, and start doing our recommended exercises (we're assuming that your busy schedule prevented you from carrying out the routines faithfully, allowing MTSS to crop up). Start easily with the exercises, doing only one set of each, and stop if you feel any pain. Ice the affected area down thoroughly after activity, and of course keep the whole area as loose and flexible as possible. Within a week or two, you should be able to get back to your normal training, but be sure to carry out the shin-splints-preventing exercises steadfastly. If you have a somewhat tougher case of MTSS (mild pain crops up during workouts but doesn't seem to slow you down much), trim weekly mileage by around 50 per cent, ice and stretch religiously, consider taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (but only if you are not prone to the gastrointestinal upsets which have been linked with these compounds), and become a devotee of our shin-strengthening exercises (start gradually with them, though, since they can further inflame tender shins if overdone). Use bicycling workouts to maintain fitness. In two to three weeks, you should be ready for regular training. If your MTSS produces sharp pain while you are training, stop all running workouts, ice and stretch, take NSAIDS as directed by your doctor, and - when pain subsides - systematically begin utilizing our exercises, starting with a few two-legged wall shin raises at first and gradually progressing to the others. Use the exercise bike to maintain fitness, and return to normal training in four to six weeks. Remember that if you carry out our shin splints treatment routine several times a week and refrain from making bizarre and sudden changes in your training, your encounters with MTSS should drop to a frequency rate of zero. Owen Anderson and Walt Reynolds"

Decision time.

Monday, January 23, 2006
7km | grass | walked home SUNDAY RUN I woke up early on Sunday morning totally unmotivated. Still, it wasn't the first time I've felt like that was so I just hauled my arse out onto the road - as you do. I have been stretching and icing and all the other "right" things since Thursday and continued the walk warmup then stretch routine before I started my run. I ran the outside fence of Centennial Park and moved to the inside fence to avoid the path on Darley Road. My shins felt crap. Sore and inflamed. By the time I had gone about 5km (at about the Cafe in the middle of the park) - I'd had enough. I just couldn't see the point of running in pain. So I walked home. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING ? So lets try and analyze what has happened here. After the Striders Internal 1/2M in October, I pulled up sore and went and saw Larry the Physio. This was primarily because I had developed shin splints all over again since coming back from that Metatarsal injury in July. Larry recommended that I flick all hardish surfaces and run on sand only until my shins recover. So for the first 3 weeks of November I ran on nothing but sand. By that time my shins were feeling OK. Leading up to the Central Coast 1/2M I made a few runs on grass and built up towards the December 4 race, but they were feeling progressively worse. I recall blogging at the time that I was unsure if I was able to run as the shins would flare up as soon as I put my shoes on again. I got through the 1/2M because of anti-inflammatories, ice and refraining from running in the days leading up to the race. After the half it was obvious that I needed to go back into rehab and returned to the sand. I ran the remainder of December and the first week of December on sand only. By 8 January I was feeling confident enough for a light 5km run on the grass. After that run I alternated between sand and grass and never ran more than 7km on grass. Now at the end of week 3 of January my shins feel the same as they were at the worst point of last year. It is clear that I can run barefoot on the sand and feel zero shin pain. The problems recur when I put my shoes on and run on a harder surface. I can only conclude that my problems are caused by coming back too quick and not respecting the 10% rule OR that my problems are caused by my shoes/orthotics. OK, I admit that after running on the sand for so long and feeling so good that I may had launched into running on the grass with a tad too much enthusiasm. But in my defense, I assumed that a first run on grass of 20 mins, followed by a sand run two days later, then 30 mins on grass a few days after that was a conservative approach. No I didn't follow the 10% rule, so perhaps that was my downfall. Orthotics ? Many runners have questioned the benefits of orthotics. A guy I met down at Bronte Beach yesterday during nippers raised the topic again. He's a 20+ marathon runner and introduced himself after seeing my R4YL cap. We chatted about the mag and running whilst watching our kids do their sand and swimming races. After I explained my shin splint history he asked me "how do you know that the cause of your shins back in January last year wasn't just an over-use thing and that you may have needed to just slow down and let your body grow?". He said that I should try and run without the orthotics for a few weeks to test the theory. He's not the first person to say that. Hmmm. WHAT NEXT ? I think I will run the Oz Day 8km on Thursday notwithstanding my present state (after all I've paid for it). I will be able to run it OK as I know how to prepare for a race whilst injured these days. Ice, pills and cross training all this week will get me through Thursday OK. Following that I guess that I will return to the sand for a week or so until all symptoms of shin splints have subsided. Then I will start the Pfitzinger Return from Injury Program. This will simply mimic Superflake's routine for the past months. If during this time my shins flair up, then I will return to Andy the Pod to make sure that the orthotics are correctly designed and fitted. I don't think that I will cast the orthotics aside and run without them. I'm prepared to give the health professionals the benefit of the doubt - for the time being that is ! Failing that and after having these bloody things for 12 months now, I will give up and just play golf. Mood: ---> What are you lookin' at !

Around the park

Friday, January 20, 2006
7.5km | road | easy My legs were feeling good enough for me to run on the road rather than sand last night, so I ran the outside fence run of Centennial Park plus a little bit more around the tennis courts at Moore Park. To be honest my legs felt the impact of the road again. After a few kms my lower legs were in (slight) pain and I felt every step. I moved onto grass whenever I could and the pain would then subside. Looks like my transition to the road will take a little longer than expected. All in all I guess I am improving as I am suffering very little "morning after" pain this time around. I will run 10kms on the grass on Saturday or Sunday, a short soft sand run on Tuesday before the Oz Day race on Thursday. Mood: ---> What are you lookin' at !

Hit the road Jack ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
35:31 | 6.44km | road | easy I set my goal last night to return to the road for an easy 5km run. That actually turned out to be slightly more as measured by Google Earth this morning - no big deal anyway. I was a little tight in the lower legs for the first few kms and really felt the impact of the hard surface. Apart from the impact on the legs, the terrain around my place is not exactly flat, so by the end I was feeling pretty buggered after a few of those big hills. All in all it was an improvement from last week and the legs certainly feel much better. If the weather is good on Thursday, I will head down to Bondi for an hour on the sand. If its raining (running on wet soft sand makes you look like a schnitzel - not a good look !), I will do a similar run on the road of say 7kms. Mood: --->

Oz Day 8km

Monday, January 16, 2006
I see that the course has changed from last year. Rather than running inside the hilly course of Centennial Park, they have opted for a flat course around Kippax Lake in Moore Park, starting outside the SCG. The course switch is obviously designed just for me as they knew that I would have struggled to motor up that first hill of each lap this year. Well done organisers ! Mood: --->

Sunday Run & new shoes.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
10km| grass/trail | easy | 55.00 (approx) After a few days off and constant stretching, icing and popping voltaren - I'm feeling OK. My calves and shins had settled down (pain factor 2/5) enough for me to venture out this morning. Everything seemed to go OK and I ran at (what felt like) a pretty good pace. The mild temp today made it great running conditions. I managed a lap of the outside fence of Queens Park, one of the inside fence of the walking track at Centennial Park and then finished with another of the Queens Park loop which makes 10kms all up. I'm thinking that I will run 5km on the road on Tuesday, then head back to the soft sand on Thursday. Next Sunday I will run on the grass again. I will continue with this pattern over the next few weeks and increase the distance on both road and grass gradually. We'll see if that works. Wobbly Man suggested that I check on my shoes and that certainly has been on my mind lately. I have been running in both Brooks Adenalines and ASCIS GT 2100s for the past year and whilst they have a great reputation as stability shoes, I decided to go to the The Runners Shop in Clovelly on Saturday morning for a second opinion. They certainly know there stuff there and advised me to run in the new GT2100s rather than the Adrenalines. The ASICS will apparantly be better for my orthotics and I should go up another half size because of the ongoing manky toe problem. I have also purchased a pair of the new Brooks Cascadia trail shoes on Ebay ($AU190 at Rebel and I got them for $AU100 landed) for my soft road pursuits and a pair of Loco Banditos for my <10km races this year. Hopefully a change of shoes will provide a tad more luck for me in 2006. Mood: --->

Back on the road, but ...

Friday, January 13, 2006
30:00 | easy ... gawd my legs hurt. Yes I have been stretching and icing but my calves and shins are just plain sore. This happened to me before when I came back from injury in August. I can feel the tightness all the way from my toes to the back of my hammies. So tight that I can feel a "pulling" sensation on the ligaments on the inside on my knees too. All I can do is go easy on the road, return to soft surfaces every now and then and maybe get a massage next week if it persists. Popped some neurophen and massaged with voltaren gel this morning. Maybe I should really be doing the Superflake/Jen walk run return from stressy or dodgy ITB programme ? Mood: --->

Tight calves...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
30:00 | soft sand Tight calves from the weekend means that shin splints could recur unless I'm very careful. So last night I spent 20 minutes stretching down at Bondi before doing half an hour of easy running. I am determined not to get too excited and leap into road running only to find that my shin splints flair up again. So the next week remains a slow transition back to the road. I have found a good 10km program on the Canberra Marathon website so I will start on that soon. The advanced 10km program looks the goods because it eases you into speedwork and hill sessions. This will help in my transition back to the road as well. I entered the Australia Day Medibank Private 8km at Centennial Park on-line last night. Whilst I don't expect to be anyway near fit, it should be lots of fun anyway. Lets hope that I can snatch a few minutes off my softish race time from last year at the very least. Mood: --->

Hill Reps and Speedwork reconnaissance.

Sunday, January 08, 2006
Friday January 6, 2006 Avoca Street Hill Reps 10:00 warmup | 8 x 300m hills | 10:00 warm down In my quest for the "need for speed" I have switched from Ruthven Street, Bondi Junction to Avoca Street , North Randwick. Avoca Street is far more demanding (looks like its about 45 degrees) and also has a nice wide tar footpath on the eastern side. The footpath keeps me off the road, which is good for me as I do all of my weekday training at night. The hill that I run is shown in blue on the above map. I ran these reps pretty easy as I am trying to just ease my way back into the hard work. Having said that I was pretty buggered by the time I finished I will aim to get some splits on my reps next week so I have something to compare my sessions with. I think also you are supposed to run each rep at about the same time, so it will help with that as well. No injuries to report. Happy as Larry really. Mood: ---> Sunday January 8, 2006 Speedwork fact finding mission 11.25km | 61:09 | Easy* Still on the "need for speed" thing, I set out to find somewhere around my place that is flat enough for 1km intervals. I ran up and around Queens Park just for something to do and then along a bit of Darley Road to Dangar Street and Cowper Road. Both these roads failed to be any significant length. Dangar was 400m and Cowper 700m. So it was off to the cycleway adjacent to the busway at Randwick Racecourse that Superflake recommended (Thought about you this morning SF, at nippers Bronte Beach was closed due to dangerous surf and I knew you were doing the Nth Bondi rough water swim today. Rough water indeed !) The cycleway was about 1050m at first jog up. I turned around and did a 4:36 up and a 4:39 rep back to get a feel of it. Noice. I was happy to leave it at the two reps as I reckon I'm not quite ready for the whole hog at the moment, especially when its 30 odd degrees. The location of the cycleway is shown in maroon on the above map. I then ran in to Centennial Park for the remainder of the loop and headed home. Congratulations to Horrie, Twopennies and Miss Skarmel at the Gosford 12 Hour last night. I see that Horrie did 104kms in the 12 hours with 2P and Miss S both putting in huge efforts. Awsome stuff guys ! Mood: --->

Coastal Walk to be extended.

Friday, January 06, 2006
Awsome news that the Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee is to be upgraded and extended to Maroubra and possibly all the way down to Botany Bay. By MARK SCALA Daily Telegraph - January 06, 2006 SOME of Sydney's most impressive coastal views will be opened to the public under a plan for cliff-top boardwalks around private properties which have kept them hidden. An artist's impression of the boardwalk at Waverley cemetery. The Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk will come closer to being joined under Randwick City Council plans to build boardwalks around three tracts of private land, along with a bike route. Plans are expected to go to council in March for cantilevered boardwalks around cliff-top properties between South Coogee and Maroubra, due for completion in July. Work will also begin in June on a $1.3 million boardwalk bypassing Waverley Cemetery, with Waverley City Council releasing an image of the planned upgrade. The plans are on display until the end of February. The coast walk from Bondi to Maroubra attracts 700,000 people a year but stalls near Alexandria St, South Coogee, where walkers are forced on to the road to avoid privately owned land. It is not until Marine Parade at Mistral Point, near Maroubra Beach, that the coastal path resumes. At the cemetery, walkers are forced on to a narrow, degraded path through the gravesites – with many historic graves being damaged from people passing through. A bicycle path will also be built under the plans, with the proposed route taking cyclists along Coogee and Maroubra beaches. Randwick Mayor Ted Seng said the coastal cycle route – which would link Botany Bay and Clovelly – would be implemented in stages, with formal planning to begin later this year. Lanes would be dedicated to cyclists, with the coastal route to form part of a 20-year plan to improve cycling routes across the council area. "The cycleway would be a separate project to the extension of the coastal walkway and the two would remain separate pathways," he said. It is also planned to extend the coastal walk past Maroubra to Botany Bay. Bicycle NSW chief executive officer Alex Unwin said Sydney cycling infrastructure lagged behind that of other major Australian cities. He said the safety provided by dedicated paths encouraged people to use bikes as a form of transport. "In Sydney cycling is not growing nearly as fast as it is in cities where cycling infrastructure has grown," he said. He said projects like the cycleway on the newly opened M7 should be encouraged, with a need to provide alternative transport. Mood: --->

Dude, where's my speed ?

Thursday, January 05, 2006
I ran yesterday afternoon in Centennial Park. I included the outside fence run of Queens Park so that the one lap would be 7kms all up. I was feeling pretty fresh and took off at a decent clip. By about 4kms I was hurting pretty bad and continued the same pace until 5kms - then blew up. Sheesh, I was standing there with my hands on hips sucking in the big ones like a 50-a-day smoker. I did the first 5km in 23:15 and just ambled home from there totally pooped. I obvioulsy went too hard and am lucky that I didn't pull up sore. Silly bugger. Looking at my running spreadsheet for 2005, my last 10km race was July Striders and I was injured on and off from there. Its amazing that from July I only did three races and all three were over 21kms. As my race calendar has every race until May as mostly 10k, I'm going to have to get a wriggle on and get my speed back. Only thing is - how ? I might download a Hal Hingdon 10km program and go from there .... Mood: --->

Xmas Holidays update

Tuesday, January 03, 2006
26th December, 2005 After a great Xmas day spent with my wife, kids and family at my Mum's house in Double Bay, I managed to rise early and head down to Bondi Beach at 7.00am to run off some of that excess food and red wine. The humidity was so high and you could cut the air with a knife. The sea fog rolled in and visibility was bugger all. The shot above is from the sand north to Ben Buckler. I ran strong for about 60:00 and finished without any sign of shin soreness. I decided then to continue running either every day or second day of my time off on the soft sand as an attempt to eliminate my shin problem altogether. 30 December, 2005 For the past couple of years we have been spending a week of our break including NYE with my Dad and his wife at their house in Umina Beach. My Dad is 70 this year and I really enjoy getting quality time with him as do the kids. I've been running everyday and feeling really strong. Dad only lives 400m from the southern end of Umina Beach, so my run starts from there and includes Ocean Beach and Ettalong Beach, which is about 9km out and back. All my runs are done early in the mornings and I'm feeling great and injury free. Sunrise at Umina Beach Lion Island with Barrenjoey light house (Palm Beach) in the background 1st January, 2006 We celebrated the New Year with a few of Dad's neighbor's and had a nice barbie and a few beers. I managed to drag myself out of bed early and headed out for a run. At 8.00am it was 34 degrees. Needless to say I lugged my badly dehydrated body up and down the beach with a fair degree of pain. However in memory of the Fat Ass runners down at Berowra, I had no real excuse but to slog it out. The new years revellers were up to mischief and had the surf club at Ocean Beach up for sale. LOL. After breakfast we spent the morning at the beach. By about 11.00am it was about 44 degrees and the beach was waaaay to hot to stay any longer, so we headed back for lunch. Walking back we noticed a plume of smoke coming from the ridge behind the house. By about 4.00pm the whole ridge was on fire and we had 7 choppers in the sky dumping water on the flames. We were told that 20 trucks and up to 100 men were on the ground protecting property. At 5.00pm we had heard that 3 houses in Woy Woy Bay (near where we used to live) had been lost and we had been given 30 minutes warning of possible evacuation. I spent that time stuffing the downpipes with rags and filling the gutters with water. It wasn't a pleasant time, with the kids crying and Dad packing photographs etc. Thankfully, the fire swung around slowly for the next few hours across the ridge and seemed to be contained . Unfortunately a north westerly came from nowhere and whipped up the flames. This caused the fire to roar up the other side of the ridge with flames leaping a good 15m above the tree line. The sound was like a jumbo jet at take off as a large gum tree would explode in flames. At that point the Ericsson Sky Crane "Rocky" came to the rescue and dumped huge amounts of water ahead of the flames. We could also see "Elvis" dumping water on the homes to the north at Umina Heights. Rocky helped a great deal as did the smaller choppers towing their buckets. Sadly the air attack cannot continue at night so the fading light meant that they had to go home. A southerly change was due at about 10.30pm and the next 3 or 4 hours were crucial. The ridge around Dads house is a horse shoe shape and at about 8.30pm the entire ridge was glowing red with flames leaping in the air and the air was thick with smoke which stung the eyes. We remained on evacuation alert with the police doing a great job in keeping us informed. Thankfully the firefighters on the ground managed to save the houses closer to the bushland and fought off the flames until the southerly arrived. The cool winds turned the fire back on itself and almost instantly eliminated any real threat to our house and also to those residents over the hill at Pearl Beach. In the morning there were numerous spot fires still burinng high on the ridge, but the windless cool temperatures made it easy for the choppers to mop up. We all breathed a sigh of relief as the rain came about 7.00am and doused the remaining flames. Talk amongst the neighbours then turned towards the cause of the fire and that it may have been deliberately lit. If that is the case and they find him, then I hope they put him away never to be released. 3rd January, 2006 I ran with shoes on the road this morning for the first time for a long while. I ran from Umina up over the headland to Pearl Beach and back. Only about 7km all up but mostly climbing steep hills. No problems with shins or anything like that. Pretty happy ! This afternoon we dropped in to see some friends at Woy Woy Bay only to find that spot fires had started around the Bay and at the back of the Woy Woy tip. It was sad to see the houses at the top of the bay burned to the ground. Also 7 of the volunteers cars were burnt where they parked along side the local Bush Fire Brigade station. Having said that, the feeling of sadness switches to amazement that the fire fighters managed to save about 20 houses up there. The remaining houses stand surrounded by stark blackness. No vegetation remains up there, just black sticks. Standing on the jetty at one friends house looking towards a fire at Tascot, we were treated to Rocky and 3 other choppers dipping into Waterfall Bay and surging off towards the fire. Spectacular stuff. Well done to all the fireys for a super job! Mood: --->