First Interval Session at TRC Spring Speed Course

Tonight’s session was great in terms of personal accomplishment.

It went a little something like this:

1. Arrived at the WA Athletics Centre on time. Took mandatory blog photo:

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2. Spent 5 minutes trying to locate the TRC group amongst a lot of groups of other athletes. Some were wandering around with spikes on, some had long poles (that wasn’t my group) and there were lots of athletic looking people sprinting/jumping/hopping/hammering a tire with a huge mallet…

3. Located my group by finally asking someone if this was the TRC group. There were 12 of us in total. One older woman introduced herself and asked me if I was new, and then took me to meet coach Alex. She was very nice. Alex was also very nice.

4. Alex congratulated one group member on her sub 40 10km PB over the weekend. Oh… so there were some super speedies here!

5. I had already reconciled the fact that I was going to be snail slow compared to everyone else and I was totally ready for that. What I was not ready for was the lukewarm reception I got. Now, I get it. All the other ladies (one bloke) all knew each other. They were TRC regulars and this was a training gathering, not a social gathering. Ok. That’s ok. At 31 I can totally deal with that. But what I couldn’t understand was why the fuck people can’t just be nice to a new face? Don’t people realise how hard it can be to start in a new group?

6. We were to go out of the stadium and around the buildings/ovals for a warm up run “at our own pace”. Unfortunately for me, my warm up pace is 6:30 ish. Their warm up pace was nudging 5:30 pace. Ok that’s ok. I can just toddle behind them. The woman who was friendly to me wasn’t running this warm up for some reason. I came up the last turn after the oval and fuck me the group was gone. We had come up the buildings from behind into a car park I’d not seen before. Basically, friends, I was totally fucking lost. I couldn’t believe it! There were 3 possible ways they could have gone and nothing looked familiar. I very nearly cried right there. Fucking hell really? They left me behind? All right, I get it. I am not their responsibility. I’m a big girl, I should be able to figure it out myself. I stood in the car park like a fuckwit for a good 15 minutes before taking a punt and choosing one road – found the stadium! I can’t believe it. I lost a fucking stadium… what an idiot.

7. Having located my lost stadium I joined up with the group again, slightly red faced. Bet they’ve never lost a runner before!

8. Did 400m then 1 min rest x 4. Repeat twice.

9. Alex had initially said run at between your 5 and 10km pace (for me that’s about 5:20 ish) but it felt way too slow. I coped just fine with about 4:40 pace for each 400m lap.

10. Yes I was the slowest. By far. But the good thing about being the slowest is that Alex gets to check out my form as I go past alone, I’m not in a pack of people. I also rest while the rest of the group is out on their next lap, so I get Alex all to myself to ask questions and get some feedback. This is most excellent. This is exactly what I need.

Summary: Tonight felt fantastic (apart from being left behind) and I can’t wait to run on Thursday. My calves are already killing me but that means they are WORKING FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER and

NO KNEE PAIN WHATSOEVER #ftw

 

What Marc See Sees

Basically I went to see physio Marc this morning for some sympathetic hand holding and reassurance that my knee was ok and that I’d be able to tackle the 6 week speed course just fine.

Marc was very encouraging. He put me on the treadmill to see how my form had improved with practice. Here’s what I learnt:

  1. The “pain” that’s been plaguing me the past week after an interval session is largely in my head. My brain is anticipating pain and so it generates pain in my knee #psychosomatic #maybejustabitpsycho
  2. I have improved my form out of sight. At my biomechanic analysis I had a bad heel strike. This time around I barely had a heel strike at all. Still not quite getting the mid foot strike that I’m working towards, but a marked improvement.
  3. I need to focus on tilting my pelvis upwards a little bit (like you would when you do a plank). That will also assist in “unloading” my knee.
  4. It’s fucking hard to concentrate on lots of different things whilst on a moving machine. I almost fell off the damn thing.
  5. I most likely don’t need orthotics. This is because the pain in my knee is caused by a heel strike, and orthotics work when your weight is fully on your foot (eg to fix pronation issues). I don’t have any pronation issues so when my weight is on my foot, everything is fine.
  6. My legs look amazing in my purple New Balance running shorts. Especially in slow motion. The shorts ride high up my thigh and you get a glimpse of all that amazing quad action.

I was having mini anxiety over starting the course today. Basically if I can’t run, I will not cope with life at all. So I’ve been readying myself for a disaster tonight and then slumping into fits of depression over what may happen.

Mark has reassured me that tonight will be fine. Not to think about it too much and not to push for a PB. I whined about pain during longer distances. He said “you’re not doing longer distances,  you’re doing intervals,  which means you can concentrate on your form for 30 seconds – 2 mins at a time.” Basically he’s telling me: Baby steps. Baby running steps. Focus on the shorter distances, getting the form right, and the longer distances will come. I think I remember him saying that from the get go. In fact, more than one running friend has told me this… Goddammit….

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I whined that maybe my knee would always hurt. He told me that my brain will respond differently to my knee as I “unload” it and the pain should improve. I also asked him why I get shin splints when I wear compression socks when I run. Short answer: I don’t need the socks because my shin muscles and calves are doing hardly any work and until I start loading them properly and making them do their fair share I’m ok without them. Ohhhhh…. so only runners with good form need them. Goddammit again!!!

I took a deep breath and asked him casually about what did he think my chances were for completing some trail marathon at the end of the year. His reply: “6 inch?” … dammit… this guy’s all over it hahaha… but in all seriousness he said to see if I could make it through the 6 week TRC speed course and then we’d talk about it. I’ll take that as a small win right now! He said walking was fine to do (except it’s fucking boring) and that I was welcome to throw myself up and down Mount Street whenever I like. As long as the exercise is not a knee loading one like stairs or running downhill.

I did take my family out to Serpentine Falls over the weekend and I walked 2km of trails with them. I woke up the next day with sore calves and sore glutes! Ouch! I didn’t think I’d worked that hard!

Serpentine Falls

Serpentine Falls

 

 

 

Dear Left Knee….

Dear Left Knee

RE: HOFFA’S SYNDROME

I refer to your ongoing pain issue over the past almost 12 months.

I confirm that various appointments with excellent physios Steve and Andrew and resulting strength plans have not been able to resolve the pain. This is regrettable. However, I bring to your attention the last two appointments we have attended together with TRC physio Marc See. Marc has identified exactly what the cause of the pain is most likely to be: Hoffa’s Syndrome. Over the past few weeks, following Marc’s advice, you and I have been able to amicably run together, pain free. As a result I feel that you are no longer able to rely on your “defence” of being “weak” and “knock-kneed”. Instead you are encouraged to look to the future with some hope of success and deliverance of excellent running outcomes.

I confirm that I will continue to strengthen the muscles that you require to function properly. I agree to warm up said muscles before starting any run. I will even clam in public should I feel I have to, having reconciled with myself that warm up exercises are personal to me only, and not anybody else’s business, even if undertaken on the side of a busy road or within a crowd of other runners. I will continue to offer you unwavering support in the form of tastefully coloured RockTape. Finally, I will commit to the mental challenge of bringing you around a little further on each stride so that my foot lands softly and underneath me rather than out in front on my heel. I agree to all of these things  if you in return agree to keep your fat pad in check. That is, you will allow the inflammation to heal properly and during long runs you will keep your fat pad out of the way of your patella. This makes good sense for both of us.

Provided we can reach agreement on the above, I propose that you and I will be in a position to enter and complete the 6 Inch Trail Marathon on 21 December; ie in 12 weeks time. I have inserted a link for your perusal. In short, 6 Inch is a race held on the Munda Biddi trail, on a 46km course from North Dandalup to Dwellingup. I acknowledge that you and I have some solid training to do before we can make it, and there are going to be some tough days. In particular, working up to a 32km distance on hilly trails is going to be challenging. However, our mutual friend Scott has provided a well-considered training plan and he joins many others in his unabashed enthusiasm for this event and our ability to complete it.

I have sent a text message to Dad requesting use of one of his hydration packs for training purposes, and I have several friends already lined up for some long trail runs to investigate what perils may befall us during training and the event itself. Initial investigations made reference to ticks perhaps being a problem, however further research has shown this risk is not as high as I first thought. This is a relief. I will need to take particular care not to get dehydrated however I feel I am in excellent hands with regard to adequate preparation. Several dedicated Facebook sites offer endless advice, and the team of parkrunners I have gotten to know, including Ben and Ash who are also running the event, have made me feel both welcome and excited about the whole thing. Mum is currently overseas but upon her return I will ask her if she would like to volunteer at the event. There is no doubt I got my “enthusiastic spectator” gene from her. She can probably learn how to tape you properly too.

I propose we complete 2-3 long runs in the next 3 weeks to see whether or not we can both uphold our agreement, and if so, we should then enter the race at that time. The cost is $75 and although not tax deductible, is certainly reasonable.

In summary, I will do my part if you will do yours and together we can achieve ultra marathon greatness.

I will wait to hear from you tomorrow as we take on Mount Street for the first time in almost a year. In the meantime, please cast your mind back to the greatness we achieved on this beautiful hill and perhaps we can rekindle that tomorrow.

Yours sincerely

Didi’s Brain

 

VMO – it’s the new ITB

Damn uptight VMO

Vastus medialis oblique. Nope, not a Harry Potter spell – it’s the part of your inside quad that’s just above and to the inside of the knee cap. Lucky me I have an “unusual” issue where my VMO is too tight. Usually runners get an ITB that’s too tight and pulls the knee cap to the outside of the knee. Not me. My uptight VMO is aiding and abetting the inflammation under my knee cap. Marc’s gone with an initial diagnosis fat pad impingement rather than patella tendonopathy. Copping a feel of my knee, he’s reasonably sure that there’s not a tendon issue going on. Rather, the fat pad behind my knee cap is getting pinched between my patella and femur head as the knee gets over loaded.

Contributors: fatigue and heel striking which cause my knee to slightly hyper extend and pinch that fat pad. It’s funny, I thought “Wtf Marc my knee doesn’t hyper extend when I run!” But then he straightened my knee and then pushed down on on it to mimic the action of the pressure on it when my foot strikes the ground and yeppo – there was a slight hyper extension AND THE PAIN. That last moment of movement and whammo…. pinched fat pad right there.

How to fix it: 

  1. Listen to Marc and do what he says.
  2. Continuous improvement on my glute and hip strength will help me engage those muscles while running.
  3. Tape my knee in the interim to help lift the patella and take it out of pinching range of my fat pad. It’s like separating siblings who are pinching each other. Big brother patella has been given a time out and is being physically restrained to give little sister fat pad time to pull herself together and stop being a whiny little bitch.
  4. Continue to work on my running technique. Marc has said this will make a huge difference as I am more aware of  not hyper extending my knee, landing more softly and easing up on loading my knees so badly.
  5. Don’t push the injury. Run as long as it doesn’t hurt.

So I’m allowed to do the 6 week Spring speed course with TRC that’s starting on 15 September – concentrating on 5km and 10km speed.

Suuuuure... I can totally replicate this taping....

Suuuuure… I can totally replicate this taping….

I have my knee taped right now and I have strict orders to run 5km today. Hot diggity damn I love it! However, I did ask if I could chance 10km? Marc said no. And if I do he said he will bench me for a week. Ouch ok I’m sorry, I won’t run more than 5km I promise! Also, Marc seems to have faith that I can tape my own knee… fucking hell I should have paid more attention while he was doing it. I took Nat’s advice and wrote down some notes, and drew myself a picture of the taping while Marc was watching and he said that was fine and was sure I couldn’t fuck it up and accidentally tape wrong and hurt myself.

Other noteworthy mentions from physio appointment – I asked Marc if I could settle into a stride that was comfortable however not technique perfect, but was pain free, was that ok to run longer distances like that. Marc said yes. He said to always work on better form, but if I find that sweet spot, it doesn’t matter if it’s not text book perfect because it will be my own perfect style as long as it is not causing pain or inflammation anywhere. That made me feel awesome. I cannot wait to do this 6 week course. Marc will do a brief handover to Raf who can keep an eye on how I’m going. I will make him watch me goddammit. Marc hilariously joked that during sprints it can be tempting to push yourself harder because you want to beat that person next to you. I actually laughed out loud and corrected the man. Marc buddy, I’m going to be the slowest in the group. There won’t be any striving to beat anyone because I’m always last over the line no matter how hard I try. Hahaha. I’m totally ok with that. And hey, turns out I’m saving myself from accidental “hero” injury. Yay for me. Marc also confirmed my suspicion that running at the WA Athletics Centre on the track actually makes you feel like an Olympic sprinter lol. Can’t fucking wait.

I. Love. Dry. Needling.

I. Love. Dry. Needling.

 

A quick recap of the past week’s activities – photo bloggy style:


Saturday 16th: Melbourne Albert Park parkrun with “therunningdad” aka Dan Sharples. FFFFFFFFreezing cold.

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Tuesday night: darkrun with my fav pacer Scott and the darkrun crew

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Wednesday night: Wine and roll night with Michelle and Nat!

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Friday afternoon: South Perth foreshore 3km run with focus on mid foot strike

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Saturday morning: Clay and I ran 5km to parkrun, then ran parkrun! I heart parkrun

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Monday afternoon: 6km mid foot strike training run. Engaged arse before starting. Seemed to help. Didn’t take a photo yesterday but did find this cute pic of the Bass at bookweek last week

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“Run light, run lazy & hit the ground running”

Finally! Today I went to see Marc See at The Running Centre to sort out my biomechanics. For all the physio strengthening exercises I’ve done with Steve, the last piece of the puzzle lay with Marc. He videoed me on a treadmill and then analysed the shit out of my biomechanics. I am retarded and cannot seem to post a video on here but I am savvy enough to get these freeze frames…. Check these out!

Didi 3 Didi 4 Didi 5 Didi 6 Didi 8 Didi 7 Didi 9While I did feel a bit overwhelmed by all the information and jargon, overall I consider the $195 very well spent. Marc identified an issue with my right leg collapsing inward now, even though the pain is in my left knee. That’s because I’m aware of my left knee and protect it when I run. My weak right glute and hip are the culprits. I wonder how that got uneven! Anyway, I have some exercises to do to strengthen my hips and glutes and Marc was positive that I’d be able to see progress. I have to work on lifting my knees higher (about 3cm) to give my foot more “hang time” so I can decide where to put it down. I have a moderate heel strike apparently (which is interesting because I always thought I had a mid foot strike). Marc said I thought that because it takes practice to get in tune with your body and know what’s happening and when. It was so fascinating today.

I did leave my appointment feeling a bit overwhelmed and emotional – for a little while I thought, oh fuck me I’ll never be able to fix this, it seems so difficult. My depression was not helped by the fact I gave a “high knee, mid foot strike” a go as I ran back to work and I nearly fell on my fucking face. Oh dear. I’m signing up for TRC’s speed course coming up in a few weeks so I can work on my technique and get some more tips from the experts. I have a sub 4 hour marathon in my sights for next year… yeow!!!

“Run light, run lazy & hit the ground running” was what Marc wrote on my exercise sheet. That’s his motto, and right now that’s what’s going to keep me going. I really rate my experience with Marc and look forward to seeing improvement next time I go.

 

10 “pain aware” kilometres

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No PB today but a totally solid effort

Today I discovered something wonderful about running.: running slowly can be just as great as running PB. I went out for a 5km run today – meant to be out 2.5km from my office and then back again. But I took a little detour and ended up further away from my work than I’d anticipated and accidentally did 10km. Ok, I accidentally ran 8km and thought fuck it, I’ll finish the distance. At the darkrun on Tuesday I was chatting to Scott who’d told me he likes to run marathons better than half marathons. I thought that was crazy! He said it’s because when you run a marathon, you don’t have to run it as fast so it’s easier. I filed that information away… until just now. I plodded along today sometimes at 7:10 pace. Jesus that’s slow. In fact, in myfitnesspal when you try and log that activity it doesn’t even recognise it in the running section, it makes you enter it in as walking. Jerk website. Anyway, what Scott said rang true today. Instead of busting a gut over 5km, I shuffled my way through 10km. I’m going to say I was “pain aware” rather than completely pain free. Basically I concentrated really, really hard at correcting my form (as best as I can without any proper guidance) and it paid off, just like at darkrun on Tuesday. My knee was fatigued, but did not hurt any more than other parts of my legs, which I couldn’t really say hurt, they were just getting tired. I can’t wait to see the physio on Tuesday to go over my gait because right now the form that’s working for me makes me feel like I’ve done a crap in my pants when I run.

I wore my Rogue shirt and trialed compression socks again. Pfffffft fuck them. They hurt my shins so badly I stopped at 1.5km and took the bastards off. The only thing they were good for from there was additional padding in my sports bra. Ha!

Sweaty McSweat Sweat

Sweaty McSweat Sweat

When I got back into the office I nearly cried – yep – that excited about the distance! And I smashed a huge milo and protein bar for the win. Felt pretty snazzy. In fact, I still do. And yes, I glorified myself all over FB to the delight of my fellow Rogues and adoring friends. You’re welcome.

Darkrun magic

Following on from my last post about being disgustingly depressed about my knee pain and not being able to run, I did manage to get down to the Canning darkrun session last night. I literally squealed the car tires pulling up to the house after work, dashed inside to squeeze my bum into a cute outfit, say “Hi” and “Bye” to my husband and 4 children (they didn’t even notice, they were watching tv) and dashed out the door to make it down to the park for 5:45pm. Made it!

I had in my mind that I’d do 5 x 1km intervals. I managed the first one in 4:45 (PB is 4:28) but 4:45 was pretty slow. The second one I looked down at my garmin and woweeee I was flying at a 5:25 pace lol. I canned the intervals at that point (1.8km total). Dude, I run parkrun faster than that – that weren’t no interval sprint time! Fuck!

wpid-20140805_200433.jpgSo I did a 2 minute plank and a 1 minute plank while I waited for the 5km run to start at 6:30pm. There were 22 of us down there last night! I love going to parkrun, and this group is made up of parkrunners from Saturday who want to get together and do intervals and an easy 5km at night, safety in numbers. Plus it’s an excellent excuse to buy and wear all sorts of flashy, shiny lights! I really appreciate the time Ben has taken to pull this together and give our community more opportunities to run in safety (particularly us girls) and to hang out and discuss all things running related. I have heard some great stories of endurance, injury, clothing failure etc. It’s really nice to get to know fellow runners a bit better. A slow 5km chatty jog is the perfect place! I ran with my fav pacer Scott and a lady whose name I did not catch. I was concentrating really, really fucking hard on turning my knees out a little bit (ie so they face the front not inwards) and not running like a hippo so heavy on my feet. That mental effort was extraordinary. The associated muscle pain was also extraordinary but delightfully dulled by the relentless conversation around me for which I was grateful.

Finished the 5km in 30 minutes. A respectable time. And guess what? All the mental grunting and groaning focussing on my form paid off – I had zero knee pain last night. Well fuck me. I’m keen to see my super physio next week to really get the 411 on how to maintain the right form. While running I honestly felt like I was running with a pillow between my knees, I felt a bit retarded. But it worked. I just have to make sure THAT style won’t give me other bloody injuries! That’s where the physio should help. Iced the knee when I got home. Cheers to Renee for the compression socks too! They’re super cute but will take a bit of getting used to as they squeeze my feet tight!

You put one foot in front of the other… then repeat… right?

Blerghhhh what an absolute cock and balls week it’s been for me. Short story: My knee still fucking hurts doing an easy 5km run. That’s pretty much the crux of it. Knee pain = no running. No running = one grumpy arse bitch over here. Endless googling, facebooking and chatting with friends has raised all sorts of answers ranging from “Just quit running” (from my  non-running friend) to “Go pay $800 for an MRI”. Oh come on! I fall off the wagon of life big time when I don’t run. If I’m not running I don’t eat well, as a result I don’t sleep well which makes me a tired, grumpy, unmotivated crank whore.

Goodbye sweet friend

Goodbye sweet friend

So. I called motivational buddy Sam this morning to virtually cry down the phone and ask why I’m such a whiny, pathetic, injured fucktard. Super supportive as always Sam encouraged me to just take this shit by the horns and go and see a running physio and be done with it. So this is what I have done. I have booked in to see legendary Marc See at The Running Centre. If this guy can’t fix me nobody can. Mostly due to the fact that he’s going to cost me $195 and I won’t be able to afford another physio any time soon. Also, several other “running” signs made themselves known in my life today:

  1. My order from Jaggad arrived!!! Super sexy running gear including a running jacket that is 50% mesh which apart from being great for perhaps a Cher costume, also bodes well for Sweaty McSweat Sweat here. I am a sweater. It’s not glamorous and it means you have to start freezing cold runs in a singlet until you warm up. Hopefully this mesh heaven will let me keep my arms warm during cold runs.
  2. I decided to break up with my under desk heater. As I sit with my knees bent all day surely hot air blowing directly onto my injury is not amazing for recovery. Goodbye my toasty friend. I will miss you.
  3. I have mentally committed to dark-running tonight. Since making that decision I have hauled arse to the shop to buy decent lunch, and have skipped the freddo and opted for more water and a yoghurt instead. Just the thought of running tonight has bouyed my sorry arse back up somewhere near normal.
  4. I have put the call out for fellow Rogue Runners to come down to the Melbourne parkrun in Albert Park on 16 August (take notes stalkers). I hope to get some club recognition spreading out to Melbourne to add to our few Rogues already out there.

Physio is next Tuesday peeps – better book in for a leg wax.

Le Tour de Gym

It’s a struggle to pull yourself out of a down in the dumps slump when you get a set back that requires slow and steady recovery. Recovery time is balls. I just want to run a goddamn half marathon in 3 weeks ffs. Pffffffffft. Gotta boost the core work. I managed to get to the gym twice this week to take on my new physio program. Actually it’s just my old one with added stuff like 2 minute planks and spin bike intervals. Tuesday I went for the first time in nearly 3 weeks.  Fuck spin bikes are hard when you boost them to the highest setting. Actually, I couldn’t ride at the highest setting because even with all my weight on one pedal (up off the seat) my 47kg self couldn’t get the fucking pedal to budge. Imagine seeing that at the gym. There you are concentrating on not falling off your elliptical that is furiously pumping your arms and legs back and forth against your will as you hold on for dear life and you look up and see teeny tiny Didi jumping up and down on one leg trying to get a fucking spin bike pedal to move… hilarious. I believe I am the light comic relief for numerous gym goers. I knocked the resistance down a bit and managed to get the wheel to spin. A top start to interval spin biking I’d say.

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Left: Tuesday Right: Friday

It’s a 3 minute warm up, 30 second hard slog, 30 second free spin – rinse and repeat 10 times, 3 minute cool down. Tuesday I managed a total of 5km in the 16 minutes. Having had my life taken over temporarily by Le Tour de France at the moment, it was not hard to tune into my own personal radio station inside my head and have Phil and Paul take me up and down my little stationary mountains. Ha! It was also not hard to conclude about 8 minutes into my ride that I would never, ever be a stage victor in the Tour. Like ever.

Anyway, I hauled arse back to the gym tonight and did the same spin bike interval session. This time I managed to ride a whole kilometre further in the same time! Yes! Also deadlifted 60kg 3 times for a PB. It was a struggle to get motivated to go to the gym alone. It’s easy to just drive past it and head home for a beer. I was battling with myself over what I wanted to do and I just thought oh fuck it I’ll just go and start dead lifting while I decide if I want to go or not. Dana  gave me some new protein bars to try so I wolfed one of those down afterwards – yummo! Thanks Dana!

My knee is not going to ever recover with rest. My core strength remains the issue, and always will. So, no point whining about it. If I want to run, I have to get strong. But it’s harrrrrrrrd. And it’s also early days and I just want to be strong now, not in like 3 months fucking time. Grrrrrrr….

Heading out to parkrun tomorrow where a whole bunch of Rogue Runners are going to get together which is totes exciting! Rogue domination!