Thursday, 27 October 2011

Now Running Without Knees

First of all, some good news: my knee seems to be totally better. I thought that I would get a bit geeky and write down exactly how I got better. By doing this I’ll know how to recover if I get a recurrence of the problem.


Since having a whole two weeks off from running I have been teaching myself to run slowly. This is more difficult than it might sound especially because I run pretty slowly anyway. But, I have been focussing on running at a very easy pace. My lungs and heart get stronger much more quickly than my legs so if my heart rate is too high on every run then it’s a pretty sure thing that my legs will soon break down. The five weeks of rehab went like the following:

This low mileage was accompanied by lots of stretching. I also did some gentle physiotherapy on the knee every day. The last run of the rehab block was a strength test to see if the knee was better. I went for a 5 mile fell run up and around Foel Lus. It was hard work and there was a lot of walking but my knee passed its first test with flying colours. It was time for my next stage of training.


During this phase of training I focussed on strength. This meant leg exercises targeting the knee ligaments and the quadriceps muscles. I slowly increased the amount of hill work and fell running. I also ran with a weighted backpack to increase effort level. All of this, while keeping the pace very slow. The mileage was as follows:

I got a slight twinge in my left calf that got worse during the second week so I backed off a bit. However, on the whole my legs felt pretty good during this phase. Most importantly there was absolutely no tweaks or twinges from the dreaded knee. Touch wood, I am better. The next phase is the “Base Phase”. This is where I will increase my weekly mileage from 30 to 40 miles over a period of six weeks. The emphasis here will be on long runs for endurance and fell runs for strength. I’m staying away from all that speed work/tempo nonsense for now.

I’ve lost a little weight which is handy but my diet is all over the place. I am not eating enough healthy stuff, vegetables and the like. This will need to be changed when I up the mileage.

Since becoming injured the goal of completing the Snowdonia Marathon was replaced by the goal of getting healthy again. Now that I’m relatively injury free I need to start deciding on some new racing goals. It was always my goal to start doing fell racing this year but I never quite felt I was fit enough or experienced enough over that sort of terrain. Whilst I have enjoyed training on the fells I was never race fit, especially on the ascents. As soon as felt that I was close I was always knocked back by some injury or health problem. Story of the year really.

So, the short term goal is to get fit enough to start feeling truly comfortable on the fells. This will give me the confidence to start doing some races next season.

My long term goal is to complete the Malvern Hills Ultra next May. This 52 mile race across the Malvern Hills will be my first (hopefully, of many) ultra marathons. I have been fascinated by the idea of doing an ultra marathon ever since I started running. I will never run a super fast 10k or a sub 3 hour marathon; speed is certainly not my forte. But maybe, with a bit of bloody mindedness, I may be able to find out what my limits are in terms of distance.

So, there you have it. That’s how I got better and that’s what I’ll be up to next year. I’ll try and update this thingy a bit more often now that things are a bit more, you know, shiny.