Knackered leg provides pause for reflection

In Barefoot running, Injury problems, Life, Streak running, Ultramarathons by All This Running Around2 Comments

Hooray, I’m injured again!

But rather than take my customary approach of bollocking on about it until my (two) regular readers have thrown themselves off a car park, I thought I’d post a few thoughts about where I am. Not where I actually am. I’m in my office looking at a spider. I mean where I am in terms of my development as a runner. But first, a quick word about my leg knack. (‘Knack’ being the correct scientific term for ‘injury’.) It happened on the 17th of September, three-and-a-bit weeks ago. I ran one of my regular routes, three miles at around eight minute miles. The only thing notable about it was that it was to prove categorically the last time I was to wear my Mizuno Wave Inspires.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to hate a shoe. Shoes are not, as far as I am aware, sentient. I suppose I could hate the person that designed the shoe, if I could be bothered to find out who it was. But I can’t. The fact is this: I have hurt myself in some way almost every time I’ve worn those bastard fucking Mizunos. They are cursed. (I’ve actually just decided that it is possible to hate a shoe.) When I got back from that run, there was some tightness on the outside of my left knee. It ran down my calf and into my ankle. It wasn’t excruciating or anything, and it didn’t stop me from running over the next few weeks. Oh, until it actually did. I have to hold my hands up here and accept my part of the blame. I tried to run through it, a big no-no when attempting the barefoot thing. And it was working, sort of. The runs themselves were manageable, not particularly quick on the whole but I wasn’t suffering. But in between? I was a hobbling mess. After my run this last Monday, my knee actually gave way a couple of times. By the time I got to bed, I was in real pain. Basically no sleep for two nights, although it is improving.

But what-the-fuck-ever. Instead of obsessing about the minutiae of my form (kind of hard since I still run like someone escaping from a fire), I thought I’d have a look at the overall picture.

The good stuff:

  • I’m fitter than I have been for a looong time. Still not quite where I want to be, but I’m getting better all the time.
  • I’ve been running with minimalist footwear for eight months, and I love it more than ever.
  • I have achieved my optimum number of chins (one) and lost a little bit of weight.
  • I no longer have any pain in my knees.
  • I can’t imagine going back to not running.
  • I started a running streak, and although it was very short lived, I know that running every day is something I can (and will) do.
  • I’ve decided I want to make running part of what I do for a living, as opposed to purely for fun.

The bad stuff:

  • I’m still picking up minor injuries, mainly because…
  • My form still sucks (see below).
  • I’m overreaching with my stride, my cadence is all wrong and I’m too tense. But at least I know the problems.
  • I get really frustrated when I can’t run for more than a day.
To be honest, I had to pad out the ‘bad stuff’ bit. The only negative thing about my running at the moment is, well, the way I run. And I know that can be put right. I need to work on things, but not to the point where I lose enjoyment. So there is a little bit of a balance there, but I’ll find it.

My goals:

  • To be able to run in a barefoot/minimalist style every day with no pain.
  • To improve my diet, reduce my alcohol intake some more and live as healthily as I can.
  • To steadily increase my weekly mileage and for my running to encompass more hill work.
  • (Deep breath…) To complete an ultra-marathon, and to generally enter more events.

It is possibly a bit wanky (another technical term) to write stuff down like this, but it helps. Particularly at the moment; I haven’t run since Monday and I need a bit of a lift. I’ve decided to give my leg however long it needs to fully recover, and then it’s back to it. But gradually, with a bit more focus on form and so on. What makes things doubly frustrating is that I’ve recently stumbled on a huge network of footpaths very close to my house that I didn’t know existed. And there are some hills! I’m very pleased, as it means that I no longer need to run on the road at all, and can get in a run of pretty much however long I want through the countryside. Brilliant.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get to the point of running an ultra. There is one in May that I might do, but it goes without saying that I want to make sure my body is ready for it. I’m looking very seriously at getting some coaching in the short term – at this stage I think it’s safe to say that I am not one of the lucky few that transitions to barefoot with no problems! Running is hopefully about to start playing a much bigger part of my life. Need to get myself sorted out, pronto.

Loads of stuff coming up. Stay tuned. By which I mean keep sitting there and do not move.