Saturday, September 29, 2012

Running in circles .....

After a week of riding the windtrainer while the weather outside has been beautiful and Spring-like, finally with the opportunity to get outside, the weekend has returned to wintery conditions. The strong winds meant either a MTB ride, the WT or a jog. It seemed like a good time to test out Jim's advice and see how the calf would hold up. I took the sensible approach and headed down to the local oval for a series of laps. A soft surface was preferable for a recuperating calf and soft it was. Actually pretty soggy after lots of rain in the last 24 hours. The surface on the oval is pretty uneven and I felt like a gumby as I jogged around the outside. The jog was easy and barely raised a sweat and the good news is my calf did not hurt at all. Indeed I felt like I could have easily managed 10km, but I didn't want to push my luck :-). I will take a conservative approach to returning to running and will continue with some cycling. However, it will be nice to be able to do some outdoor jogs to break up the boredom of WT rides. Cycling helps my running, but I don't think running helps my cycling (except maybe hill running).

Running in circles .....

Latest activity:
Tuesday - gym session (machine shoulder press, barbell front raises, bent over rows, seated rows, assisted pull ups and abs). 40 min WT session, HRav 125bpm.
Wednesday - 40 min WT session, HRav 125bpm
Thursday - gym session (squats, peck dec, triceps dips, triceps push downs, biceps curls, abs). 47 min WT session , HRav 122bpm)
Friday - Off, couldn't face the WT today.
Saturday - gym session (deadlifts, squats, weighted calf raises, bench press). 5K jog around the local oval. HRav 130bpm.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My calf the actor

Interestingly, the physical findings for my calf all point to substantial improvement i.e. the pain and weakness do not indicate an exacerbation of the tear. Structurally it seems to be heading in the right direction. Could it be my calf muscle has been taking acting classes? Is it seeking more TLC? Joking aside, this is good news and another attempt at jogging will be attempted (and is recommended) next weekend. In the meantime maybe a bit more work on building up the calves?

This kind of symmetry I'll never achieve
For the time being, standing calf raises remain the focus, trying to build strength in my right leg, which remains extremely weak. Calf stretches and nerve stretches also need to be continued. Eventually we will try and introduce some plyometrics (gradually) to help with function.

Spring has finally sprung in Canberra and it was a great weekend for cycling! So much so that I'm starting to enjoy cycling again. Being consistent means the muscles are adapting and the bike riding position doesn't feel so alien or uncomfortable. I will try and build some more distance into the rides on weekends. Only a few more weeks and we start daylight savings. That means some afternoon bike rides will also be possible, a pleasant respite from the windtrainer. We will see how long the enthusiasm for cycling sticks around :-).

Latest activity:
Saturday - 36km roadbike ride.
Sunday - 34km roadbike ride, with a social coffee stop in the middle :-); gym session - deadlifts, squats, bench press and abs.
Monday - day off and Clinic 88 visit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

15 minutes

All of my various exercise activities have been disrupted by work sending me to Ireland to review some horse PEQ facilities. Before I left I was investigating what exercise facilities were available at the places I was staying in the hope I'd squeeze in a few exercise sessions. Hotel no. 1 (Killashee House) has a massive leisure centre. Alas, I was so knackered from the flights, I didn't have any energy when we arrived and with a 5:40 am start the next morning, there would be no morning training session. Next stop was Baileys Hotel Cashel that also has a great leisure centre, although it is rarely used. It wasn't until the following morning that I had enough energy to wander down and hop on an exercise bike. I had the whole place to myself and it was good to get things moving again after all the travel! I was also able to get in a quick session on my final day. What was particularly exciting was that after about 20 mins on the bike I decided to hop onto a treadmill and see just how the calf muscle was feeling. Usually, like windtrainers I hate treadmills; however, this was bliss. I did a gentle 15 min jogging session with a couple of walk breaks. The calf felt okay, but it's still far from 100%. Jim did suggest I could start some very light jogging. I figured a treadmill was a good safe place to start.

Oh the bliss, a jog on the treadmill

Now that I am back from my trip to Ireland, I will start a slow rehabilitation process. The muscles are still quite weak, so the calf raises will continue. Next visit with Jim is next Monday. In the meantime, just a couple of short jogs if the leg is up to it (there is some muscle soreness [DOMS?], but not at the site of the tear).  No monthly handicap this month. It's bike rides, short gentle jogs and weights sessions for the time being.

Not much to report on the latest weekly activity update due to the trip to Ireland. Just lots of time sitting on a plane or in airports. At least with business class there is the option to get horizontal.

Recent blood tests show my ferritin levels aren't especially high (50 ug/L) despite the aggressive iron supplementation I went through recently (although I haven't been taking much iron of late given I haven't been running any distance). I wonder where all that iron is going? This means more iron supplementation will be required when I'm back running.

Addendum: After a short jog today the calf is sore and very weak. It seems more time off will be needed :-(. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I have a thing for deadlifts

I did say that this blog wouldn't contain much about running while I am injured and relegated to riding the wind trainer or riding the bikes out doors on the weekend. I have continued to regularly attend the gym and have started to really enjoy the deadlifts! Not common behaviour for a distance runner. I am far from achieving the weights used in this video, but Terri has now inspired me! Bring it on :-).

Deadlifts do work plenty of muscles involved in running (and cycling!), so they are well worth including in a runner's weights training programme if you are so inclined. There is something deeply satisfying about a performing a set of deadlifts.

Runner's muscles!

Latest activity:
Thursday - 33 mins on WT @ 122bpm
Friday - 31 mins on WT @ 126bpm
Saturday - MTB ride 21.7 km @ 115bpm; weights session at gym
Sunday - Road bike ride 31 km @ 121bpm
Total for week - 4 hrs 45 min + gym time.

Monday - weights at gym; 30 mins on WT @ 118bpm
Tuesday - 36 mins on WT @ 120bpm
Wednesday  - 32 mins on WT @ 125bpm

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Experience matters

I had my second visit to Clinic 88 post calf tear. This time I saw Jim Barker. Jim is a talented runner in his own right and has lots of experience dealing with runners' injuries, with a special interest in calf and foot injuries. He was quick to set me straight on what we are dealing with. It is a reasonable length transverse tear at the scar/muscle junction. Something that will take a little time to heal. With any injury, there is always a weak point where the scar tissue joins with the normal tissue. The other issue is that scar tissue has minimal elasticity, so there is increased strain placed on those tissues around it. The supporting tissues need to be strengthened if I am to minimise the risk of repeated re-tearing. My exercise regimen for the next week will include:
Concentric and eccentric calf raises/drops - 3 x 15 once daily (concentric raises quite challenging at present!)
Lots of calf stretches (bent and straight leg) holding 15-30 sec, 10 sets per day
Nerve mobility stretches for both the sural nerve and the tibial nerve - 3 x 10 daily for each nerve.
Continue with the bridges and other drills once daily.
No running for at least another 14 days.

I have surprised myself this week by sticking to the wind trainer. I am adapting to the position and have noticed my muscles are starting to get the hang of it. Yes, it is still incredibly boring, but by being less uncomfortable I am able to tolerate it a little better.

NOT my wind trainer
On Wednesday I went and the saw the movie Town of Runners that was put on by the local Park Run group of Canberra. It was a great little movie and was introduced by our local running legend, Robert  de Castella. Deek has been the driving force behind the Indigenous Marathon Project. This is a cause well worth getting involved in in some way.

Activity update:
Wednesday - 31 minutes on the wind trainer (HRav 122bpm) and a weights session @ the gym
Thursday - 33 minutes on the wind trainer (HRav 121bpm)
Friday - 30 minutes on the wind trainer (HRav 127bpm)
Saturday - Windy 22.8km MTB ride (HRav 115 bpm) [I'm really missing jogging :-/]; weights session the gym

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When time stands still

This blog will not be about running/jogging for the next few weeks. I've been riding a bike(s) to wile away the hours. Doable when riding on the road or out on a trail. However, time really does stand still when you use a windtrainer. It's been a rude shock to the body switching to cycling. The position feels all wrong and there are muscles that have had to be awoken from the dead! Oh yeah and then there's the tush. Two words - bike seat! Before I moved back to Australia at the end of 2006 I was very much a cycling addict. This means I have all the gear (and no idea - ha ha). Yes, I have 3 and a half bikes in my garage (one doesn't have a set of wheels). Over the last few days I have dusted off the cobwebs, pumped up the tyres and oiled some chains. Three of those bikes have been brought back to life. The road bike did some kms on Saturday, the MTB did some kms on Sunday and on Monday the old road bike was set up on the wind trainer with a book holder.

The bikes!
I'm struggling to understand why I was just so crazy about cycling previously. It was to do with the quiet country roads, great scenery and that joy of just heading out on the bike for a couple of hours. Australian roads just don't have the same appeal, especially if around any of the main centres. Even around Canberra it is limited. Whereas where I lived in New Zealand, Washington and Ontario there were lots of quiet loops to choose from.  Hence, back in Australia I made the switch to running. I'm not a strong runner, but I am an even weaker cyclist. My muscles do prefer to run it seems!

Still the timing for this sojourn back into cycling is actually pretty good. I can't train hard until/if I recover from my training intolerance. This means I can limit my rides to being short by cycling standards and to being at an easy intensity. Not that I have much choice there at present. It's a tough switch for the muscles.

Daylight hours are still limited at this time of the year, so I'm limited to outside rides on the weekends. Arghhhh that means the windtrainer during the week. Man oh man, I hate the windtrainer. Even at an easy intensity with a book to distract me, the time just drags. And to think I had managed to do 2 hours on a windtrainer during my cycling mad days. 30 minutes was all I could manage for my first effort and the time watching was excruciating! I should look at the big plus - no magpies when on a windtrainer! Yes I was bombed by two on Saturday and also had one make a half hearted attack on Sunday. Outside the breeding season they are such sweet birds!!

Activity update:
Saturday - road bike 26km, HRav 122 bpm; weights session @ gym
Sunday - MTB ride 19.4km, HRav 108 bpm.
Monday - weights session @ gym; 30 min windtrainer ride, HRav 114 bpm
Tuesday - tush needed a break!