So I realised I have already failed at getting back to writing more regularly but give me a break! I am a working man now who has 2 podcasts and coaches. I am actually impressed that I have the time to even be doing this right now. I tell you what! For a person who hates talking on the telephone, I am spending a lot of time talking on the telephone. But it is all good and much better when you get to do something you are genuinely passionate about.
So if you read the last post it was all about how I have been dealing with my Grandad’s sickness. As always I have been blown away by the messages of support that I received from people I know as well as some self proclaimed ‘randoms on the internet.’ Some of your messages made me laugh, cry but they all made me feel like I am not alone. So thank you, really really, thank you!
One of the biggest challenges that I have been facing recently is that I have an injury that will not go away. I thought taking time off would fix it. I thought physio and rehab for 6 months would fix it. I have been wrong on both accounts. The injury is still there. It limits my ability to run far and run fast and I am sick to death of it. A few weeks ago, there was a light at the end of the tunnel though. One of the Exercise Physiologists at Precision Athletica, Jason Oei, decided to do some run analysis with me. Based on what was causing me pain when I ran, Jason deduced that my issue is that when I run fast I overstride to make myself go faster. Over-striding causes the hamstring to work more than it should and therefore I got myself an overuse injury. Now how do we fix that? Well quite simply, find a way to run that doesn't use so much hamstring. Easy right?
Wrong. I have worked really hard on what I thought were some of the real basics of running biomechanically sound. What has happened though is that I have become lazy and instead of focusing on rock solid technique I was ‘cutting corners’ to run fast. Over time this became my new normal way of running. So what I had done was develop habits that had become my normal. Now I have the challenge of changing what is my normal. So what do I have to do differently? We started by getting me to run on the spot. Next, I increase the height that my knees go so my feet tuck in under my butt. I do this for maybe 10-15 seconds then lean forward from the ankle until I start moving forward. I was running and it wasn't hurting! Jason! You bloody genius. Nothing will stop me now!
Again, wrong. I now have to think about how I am running the whole time. Also, while this seems like a miracle cure it isn’t like the injury has gone away. I can still feel it when I run. It just doesn't hurt anymore. I have also drastically reduced the distance I run. I think my longest runs have been about 40 minutes and after about 35 minutes, no matter how hard I focus on it, I can feel the injury starting to flare up. Still! Progress. I am moving in the right direction. But mentally, running has become a real challenge for me. No longer is my run the alone time where I am able to check in on myself or listen to a podcast. No, I need to focus HARD the whole time. I literally feel like I am teaching myself how to run again.
What is interesting though is that my pace has increased drastically. My easy runs I usually plod along between 5:30 and 6:00 per km. But since this change to my run technique my pace is 5:00 or lower with the same amount of physical effort (and lots more mental effort.) But again, this excites me. It makes me think that if I am patient and follow this plan, I will come out the other side a much faster runner. Who wouldn't get excited about that? Well obviously people who don't care for running I guess, or the people who want to beat me.
One of the other key changes that I have recently made is to start using a new pair of running shoes. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in Australia to try the new Mizuno Wave Knit. I am not going to bother going through all the technical information about the shoe because it is explained much better explained on their website which I have linked here. But it is a lightweight shoe that manages to provide the foot with more support while almost doing less. As a triathlete, I am also excited by just how easy the shoe is to get on. When I first put them on, they felt almost flimsy and I thought, this wont be much fun to run in. However, every run that I have taken them on, the amount of support coupled with the lightweight design has made me feel like I am almost not wearing shoes! Another big plus of the shoe is that it contains what I think is my favourite aspect of Mizuno shoes, the wave bar. This piece of plastic that sits under your foot really enables your feet to ‘feel the road.’ For me, trying to run with rock solid technique, this is incredibly important. This shoe manages to maintain that feel for the road while actually making the road feel softer at the same time. Basically, it is doing a big part in making my return to running much easier.
But now that I have covered the changes to my equipment and my technique I think it is important to talk about the changes to my attitude. I know that last year wasn't my best in terms of development. But I also really understand why. I know what I did wrong and because I am not an idiot, I am determined to learn from my mistakes. That is why with this running issue and injury, I am determined to be patient. I have withdrawn from more races this year that I was planning on doing that I have in my entire life! I would rather get myself back to 100% before I am competing again. So patience is my mantra!
I also thought it was worth mentioning that the fatigue I spent a lot of last year talking about also seems to be a thing of the past. My energy levels are much better (although 5 km swims still hit me for 6.) I am determined not to overcook myself again like I did last year and I think that when I am back racing I am going to be going faster than ever before. This thought excited me!
So the usual stuff, check out my podcast, Think Fit, I promise there is great content there with some incredible guests we have had on the show. Other than that, learn to be patient, realise that anything worth doing should be done right and remember to TRI!