The last few weeks I’ve been trying to gradually up the distance I’m running. I got myself a big, gnarly goal of a 50km run in May 2013, but the shorter term goal is a half-marathon happening seventeen days from now up in a little town called Marysville, about two hours drive from Melbourne. Marysville was basically burned down in the terrible bushfires of 2009 and the race is a great way to draw people back to the area. As a fellow Australian told me recently, you don’t have to worry about fires if a place has recently burnt down here — it won’t have the fuel to burn again for some time. So that’s a relief.
But what a roller-coaster ride the training is! Having spent years as a personal trainer, been a runner for thirty years, and done countless races, you’d think this upping the distance would be easy. The trouble is, before this, I’ve always chosen races that I could simply fit around my everyday activities. My husband says I have a short attention span; I like to think I am highly flexible. So a typical workout week would involve a couple of runs, several BodyPump classes, a heavy day of weights in the gym, some cycling, maybe a BodyAttack class. I’d never just run and run. And run.
But that’s what I’ve been doing. And I am so glad I’ve been a personal trainer, and that I’ve spent a long time studying physiology and stretching. So when a new ache appears, I think, oh, that’s piriformis. My back aches: quadratus lumborum. Hip? Gluteus medius (again!). I love the real names for the muscles. They roll off my tongue. The stretches I’ve learned in workshops and classes, as part of personal training — they are like lollies to me. I pull them out of my toolkit at the oddest moments, dropping down onto the grass while my kids are doing Little Athletics, getting odd looks from other parents. The runners understand though. They know what I’m doing. And what delight when the stretches work! And when I can share them with my friends.
So here’s my catalog of muscles for the week that have been hit a tiny bit too hard: left achilles (probably soleus); right hamstring (semimembranous); lower back (quadratus lumborum). I bet I’ve spelled some of them wrong. Too sore to get up and check in my physiology books and the cat has just settled on my lap. So please forgive me.
In any case, I’m learning lots about my body, about what it needs to eat, how far it wants to go, how my mind sometimes thinks 20km is a long way, and sometimes eats up those km’s for breakfast.
Within all of this increased distance, I’m also transitioning to minimalist/barefoot running. Very, very slowly. It has taken me twenty months to run 7km in my Teva Five Fingers. It hurt at first, every step. Now, I feel better in the Teva’s than my Asics. Trouble is, I can’t run 20km in Teva’s yet (don’t know if I ever will) and I’ll need a lower-slung cushioned shoe soon. The ones called zero-drop are what I am aiming for, but my shoe cupboard is rather full of rejected runners, and I hesitate to add to the pile. But my hips start to ache the minute I put the Asics on now. I can’t imagine what the higher-heeled model must have been doing to me.
I had an interesting talk with a gym member today — she was wearing the same model of runners I’d worn for the last fifteen years, and just recently started to suffer from hip pain. She was sure it wasn’t the shoes, until I told her the heel had risen in the shoe over the last few years. I kept buying new pairs, thinking my hip pain was due to worn runners. It wasn’t until I stopped wearing that model that the pain went away.
So, the journey to longer distances continues. The pains are just an indication of things I need to do differently, of my body adjusting to a changing demand. So next week, instead of going for a 10% increase, I’m dropping it back to 5%. That’s what my body wants; that’s what I shall give it.
And lots and lots of stretching!
- Lesson learned: increase training by 10% per week only or risk injury (patriciaabowmer.wordpress.com)
- failure, and the grace to try again. (rememberyourwellies.com)