Jan 2, 2021
Readers may recall I’ve mentioned from time to time over the past months a niggling pain in my left foot. It started back in March, after I ran the King Island race with the outer sole of my racing shoe flapping underneath the shoe with each step I took. None of the experts seems to be sure what it is, though a stress fracture has been proffered.
Anyhow, I’ve decided to have an MRI scan to see if anything is revealed. This will take place on Jan 12. Strangely, the pain goes away for a few days after a sprint session – but I can’t do sprint sessions every other day, or I’d quickly get injured elsewhere.
This niggling injury is quite relevant to the topic of today’s running article (see below). Below that you’ll find the world run blog posts for Jan 1 and 2, 2012.
How to avoid running injuries?
Injury is the great bane of any runner’s life. An injured runner tends to be moody, grumpy, and even depressed. Even the sight of others jogging along the road can be galling when you’re confined to the sidelines. Avoiding injuries is of the highest priority to any runner, serious and casual alike. So how does a runner prevent these forced periods of downtime?
There are many causes of injury, but the most universal and easiest to circumvent is the problem caused by speed – or more accurately, speed multiplied by distance. If you run too fast for too long, you WILL get injured. Fast running over short distances is fine, but as the length of the run increases, it’s vital to slow down. The trick is in knowing what average training speed your body can sustain for a given distance. Any time you increase the pace of your training, it’s crucial to monitor the potential onset of injury.
That doesn’t mean you should only ever run slowly. Variety is a key component of any running program, and the occasional sprint session or fast tempo run is a desirable thing. The important thing is, however, you should always balance your fast running by incorporating a correspondingly slower period of “recovery” both before and after such fast sessions.
This introduces the very closely related and equally crucial topic of rest. The training effect – the improvement in one’s general speed and endurance through training – relies crucially on two things; stressing the body followed by rest. Some runners – the naïve ones – seem to believe rest is a sign of weakness. Nothing is further from the truth.
Running itself results in all manner of micro-tears in the muscles and tendons (http://running.competitor.com/2014/01/training/running-faster-is-not-always-better_35901/3). It can be easily argued that, after a run, your body is actually weaker than it was before the workout. It’s the ensuing period of rest that results in the body reacting to the stress and damage of the run by laying down new muscle fibres and blood vessels, making our bodies stronger and more capable of delivering oxygen to our muscles. Without adequate rest, the balance between damage and rejuvenation is skewed in favour of damage. The micro tears don’t have enough time to be repaired, leading to increased inflammation and eventual injury.
There are, of course, other causes of injury. Running on the same camber for extended periods will cause problems with your hips, knees, and ankles. Too many hills may also cause issues. A poor choice of shoes, or shoes that are badly worn in certain places, can add to the likelihood of injury. But bad shoes simply exacerbate the underlying effects of running too fast for too long, without adequate recovery time. Speed without rest will lead to injury. Speed without rest in bad shoes will lead to injury even sooner.
Unfortunately, some people have bio-mechanical issues – for example, excessively flat feet, leading to poorly aligned knees (http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes/leveling-with-flat-feet) – and these will greatly increase the likelihood of injury far above that of other runners. Such people need to consult a specialist, as slowing down and incorporating lots of rest may not even be enough to preclude injury.
Avoiding injury is simple in theory. Don’t run too fast for too long, and ensure adequate rest. And other causes of injury can usually be ameliorated to a large degree as well by employing this simple mantra. In practice, however, the difficulty lies in getting the balance right between intensity and recovery.
Every individual is unique. We each tolerate different levels of that stress-rest balance. If in doubt, slow down. Don’t wait until an injury is full-blown. It’s much more enjoyable to rest because it’s your choice, than to have rest forced upon you by injury.
Jan 1, 2012
Distance today = 25.51 km; Total distance = 42.28 km; Location = Gibbston – 45 01′ 28.3″′ S, 168 57′ 40.1″ E; Start time = 1445, Finish time = 1734.
An early rise, off to the airport after some teary goodbyes, and on to the plane to Queenstown. Met the Next Digital Chairman, Roger Sharp, on arrival, and headed off to pick up the support vehicle (many thanks to Chook for supplying it). A quick change and I started running soon after, managing to cover 25.51 kms, finishing at the sleepy town of Gibbston, on the road to Cromwell. Still getting used to the mechanics of the blog and website. When I work it out and become more efficient with my time, I will honour my promise of writing in paragraphs. Currently enjoying a champagne with Roger and the girls.
Jan 2, 2012
Distance today = 51.05 km; Total distance = 93.33 km; Location = near Clyde – 45 08′ 36.5″′ S, 169 19′ 05.42″″ E; Start time = 0951, Finish time = 1605.
I had a great sleep last night, which was much needed. However, with the time zone difference, I wasn’t on the road until nearly 10 am. Ran through the Kawerau and Cromwell Gorges, which are quite spectacular. The strong headwind made things a little difficult, but it helped to keep the temperature down.
I am now about 7 km short of Clyde. Tomorrow I’ll join the Otago Central Rail Trail at Clyde, and follow it for about 150 km. This will be a pleasant change from the last two days, with the high levels of traffic along roads that have incredibly narrow verges. I was constantly having to turn sideways to narrow my profile as cars squeezed by me.
Staying a second night with Roger and Christine Sharp – what a great place, made even better by the fantastic hosts. Looking forward to them accompanying me the next few days on their bikes, along with Tim and Katie. But, before that, some lovely red wine with which to conclude the day.