Training & Injury Management Update

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 at 12:15

TriathlonOz - Michelle

The good news is I'm still on track without injury so should be right to compete in this Sunday's City of Joondalup Triathlon, race 1 of the TriEvents sprint series and I'm looking forward to it!

The knee is certainly still getting tight during runs but I am no longer pushing through these pains like I did earlier in the year (last season). Instead, I stop and stretch out my ITB - 2 or 3 times if I have to. Whatever it takes, my training has to be injury free or I'll never get to my big race day in just over 3 weeks (Albany Half Triathlon).

Over the past few weeks I've done a number of interesting things to do with assessing my running.

Firstly, I had the opportunity to do a treadmill "stress test" at the Royal Perth Hospital. This is test done on a treadmill designed to measure the electrical activity in your heart as it is pushed to its limit.

This was done as part of a series of free tests I will do as part of being a test-subject for a familial cholesterol clinical research group, although the consultant seems to think that the tests will rule out me being a candidate for medications and treatment, which if needed, would be provided FOC. I was referred here by my GP who was concerned after I returned a recent high cholesterol result of 7.3 and who knew of this research team needing people with a history like mine. I happily agreed, as I thought it would prove interesting to have my HRmax tested in a clinical environment, as I have had a lot of troubles with the reliability of heart-rate monitor straps and honestly felt my HRmax differed significantly to the 220-your age calculation, which has always made it very hard for me to do any heart-rate base intensity training with confidence of being in the right "zone".

Whilst this wasn't a VO2max test where you wear a mask that measures the intake/expel of your air, there were 12 electrodes attached to my skin around my neck, and chest. The average person completes 3 stages - of 3 minutes each. The treadmill is set to a walking pace on an incline. Each 3 minutes the incline increases as does the pace. I went to the end of the 5th stage which is the limit of the test, which got me on a 16% grade incline and running for the final 6 minutes at a pace of 9km/hr. In the final 30secs I was hitting my max, which tested out at 177bpm. If using the age-based calculation 220-44 = 176.

All in all, as far as the doctors were concerned, my heart is strong & healthy and showing no signs of strain throughout the increase of intensity, which is what they were looking for (indications of blockages etc).

So with this new confirmed info, I reprogrammed the training zones in my Garmin so now I can use that feature again and trust it! Yah!! It is very handy for fartlek training.

The next interesting thing, was I bought myself a Garmin foot pod - it clips into your shoe laces and after pairing with my Garmin310XT, it gives a reading of my running cadence. As part of my ITB pain management, I am trying to ensure I keep my cadence high, which is easy on the treadmill but now that I'm starting to get more confidence back out on the paths, I wanted to use it as a gauge to help me when I'm fatiguing. Best $70 investment on running I've spent so far. You can even use it on the treadmill! Turns out my cadence is fine anyway, but I've noticed now how much easier it is to recover through fatigue stages when you keep your cadence up, and reduce your stride length. Been told that for years, but never been able to think about that - its all just been plodding blindly, just barely alive, but now I'm starting to think more when I run and trying to find ways to improve my efficiency to go longer, and this seems to be working for me.

The next thing that happened, was I went to a free Running & Injury Management seminar hosted by TriWA. The speakers were Mark Sea & Raf Baugh from The Running Centre. It was as if they were talking individually to me - and some things hit home, especially how the cycling position affects your running in a negative way as does sitting at a desk on a computer. They reinforced the need for external hip rotator strengthening exercises and the need to stretch and relax the hip flexor. This coupled with insistence from Kerri W to use my foam roller DAILY was a timely reminder of the importance of managing these overuse injuries. I feel confident this time round that I've got all the information I need to really get on top of this ongoing knee pain but its a huge amount of DAILY effort to do the work on top of the training, but I've noticed that when I do it DAILY, RELIGIOUSLY, the pain can be managed. As soon as I let 3-4 days go without doing my hip & glute work, I stiffen up and then the ITB gets tight, the piriformis gets painful, and the knee pain returns when running. If I continue running with the knee pain, then the popliteus/plantaris gets painful which seems to lead to lingering tight hamstrings after exercise. Funnily enough, swimming - especially kicking with the kickboard and no fins works wonders when I'm at this point. But so too does a heat pad - not ice for this one. It's not an inflamation, but a tightness, you can feel it just needs help to relax.

Two days ago, I convinced David that rather than replace his Newton trainers with another pair, that he first go into the Running Centre and have them do an assessment. We were given exceptional service by Raf Baugh, who spent over an hour with both of us (yes, I also had an assessment) and we walked out with 3 pairs of running shoes. Interestingly enough, Raf was absolutely convinced I was running in the perfect shoes for me, but they were worn out (I knew this) so I just replaced them with a new pair - pink this time! (Mizuno Enigmas). And apparently there's nothing wrong with my running style, so nothing drastic to change - just keep up the glute strength exercises to avoid hip imbalance when fatigued.

David got a pair of Mizuno trainers, and Brooks race shoes and is hoping in time his ankle pain will subside as he's done a little tendon damage from running unbalanced on the lugs of the Newtons. Raf hates them and so too do all the physios! Ummmm...

So, back to my actual running. I have now built up to running 10km running distance and today was my first 10km run and I did this on the treadmill with 3 short stretching breaks of 1 min (because that's the pause setting on the machine). Stupid gym treadmills are set to shut-down after 25 mins so I had to set 3 rounds (I also did a 10min warmup and 3min cooldown), but at least I've achieved this milestone and I feel great today, I really do. But its only 3 weeks until I need to run the half-marathon (after a 35min swim, and 2hr45 bike ride) in the Albany Half Triathlon. My plan is to just continue edging it up in training and avoiding pain - so no plan on distances or volume. On the day, I hope to be fresh enough and pain free that I can push through and just let the day be what it will be. I have no goals, no aspirations, other than to avoid knee pain and I will walk if I need to with no complaint. In fact, I'm really quite looking forward to going back to Albany - its a beautiful place and I have only ever been there once back in January 1999 when David and I were travelling around Australia before we moved here to WA.

But first, we have Christmas to get through... see you on the other side!

Some wish for it, others work for it!
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