Regaining running fitness

It always amazes me just how much fitness you can lose after just a couple of weeks of not regularly running. Granted, it serves me right for not sticking to my training plan – but life really has been crazy lately. I’ve been handed over more than 20 clients at work (lots of those are very quiet accounts .. but even so), I’ve had birthdays, work events, meetings .. And I recently started driving lessons. Phew!

I have to admit, the feedback from the biomechanical running analysis kind of knocked my confidence a little. Having someone demonstrate how bad you are at something that 1) you don’t feel you’re that great at, 2) you kind of thought you miiight be getting better at and 3) have enough trouble motivating yourself to get out there and do it already .. Well, it doesn’t really make me want to get out there and give it a go.

I sometimes wonder whether my half marathon actually happened. Did I really run 13.25 miles in the torrential rain, for a creme egg? Did I really push myself through a 3-hour, 16-mile training run in the bitter cold, on the verge of tears, nearly throwing my last half a gel at a horrendous little boy?

Was I really a runner?

Am I even a runner now?

I tried to adjust my running posture this evening. I tried to stop my arms from crossing my torso and making it twist – and my torso defiantly twisted even more. I tried to take smaller, quicker steps to reduce the amount of time my feet were on the ground – my feet moved faster, but I’m pretty sure I’d still be classed a ‘shuffler’.

It sounds crazy, but I feel like I’ve forgotten HOW to run. Suddenly, whatever I do it doesn’t feel ‘right’ like it did before, and far from maintainable! But how can I have gotten to this stage, when I was comfortably running 2+ hours just a couple months ago? I mean, I cycle 14 miles a day! It isn’t like I don’t do cardio!

It really goes to show that no matter how good a workout cross-training might be, nothing really maintains your running fitness and technique .. except running.

Has anybody else found this?

My shin/upper foot pain flared up before I even got 1.5 miles into my run this evening. I made it to 2.25 miles and ended up back at my house, with no desire to go back around the block for another mile.

Not even 3 miles. Where on earth did those other 13 go? And when will I get them back?

On a more positive note, myself and a few ladies from my office are running the 5k Race for Life on Sunday, in support of Cancer Research UK. If you’re interested in donating to a good cause, we’re £50 towards our £100 goal, and every little bit is greatly appreciated by all of us.

Now I’m off to stretch, and foam roll a few niggly muscles back into submission!

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Biomechanical Running Analysis

The results of the running analysis I had done yesterday were pretty much expected, and support what the physio said about glutes, abs and hip flexors!

They took my running history, including injuries, and then set the treadmill to a 10k pace whilst they took a video from the back and the side. They were really lovely, and given that my session was a freebie I was really impressed at the time they took to discuss everything with me afterwards.

There were a number of things wrong! (some of which I’d already guessed). Firstly, my torso rotates too much, thanks to my arms swinging across it rather than forwards and backwards. Of course, any rotation in the upper body is translated to the lower joints (knees, ankles) and causes problems.

Secondly, I overstride, meaning I heel strike (increasing the impact on my knees). I also don’t bring my feet up high enough, which means that I run really inefficiently as I’m not generating much energy at all with each stride. Apparently, the industry lingo for this is ‘shuffle runner’ – not a name I want to keep!

She explained that this is because I have weak glutes. When I mentioned I often ache in my calves, she said that they’re compensating because my glutes aren’t engaged when I run. Looks like it’s going to be regular squats and lunges for me!

Thirdly, my left foot is rotated outwards as I land. The reason she gave for this was that I might have tight hip flexors. The physio mentioned this too, and it explains the shin/upper foot pain I’ve been having (and why this pain eases off a few miles into a run, once I’m warmed up and have eased into my stride).

The thing is, changing my running style is something I’ve always really struggled with. On the treadmill, if a niggle starts I can generally adjust and fix it (though once I start to get tired, it inevitably comes back, and I have to consciously re-adjust!)

I’ve given myself some goals for the next few weeks, to try and correct my running style before my training mileage begins to increase:

  • Strengthening exercises for glutes and core stability muscles
  • Stretch hip flexors and tight muscles regularly, including foam rolling
  • Work on landing under my centre of gravity, and not over-striding
  • Try to work on a mid-foot strike, rather than heel striking
  • Use arms for forward propulsion, and avoid swinging them across my torso
  • Pick my feet up higher with each stride, and increase cadence
  • Try and keep both feet in line! (Stretching hip flexors should help)

I’m hoping that as my running technique becomes more efficient, my injuries should reduce and my times should get better. We’ll see!