Monday, 19 April 2010

A real breakthrough!

If Thursday's run was a disappointment, Saturday's was the complete opposite.

On Thursday I just couldn't get going. I got through the distance ok, I just felt a bit unresponsive.

On Saturday I decided to do a little over 7 miles, heading out from Apperley Bridge to Shipley and back.

I felt far better from the outset and stopped after an 8:12 opening mile to spend a minute doing some dynamic stretches. This is something I'd got out of the habit of doing but both the injury prevention workshop and the latest book I'm reading expound on the virtues so I've decided to quit being lazy and bring them back into the running routine.

I felt good as I set off again and decided to focus on just one thing - engaging the deep abdominals and keeping them engaged. This has been a key focus of the physio work - preparing me for identifying and using these muscles to help stabilise my pelvis - and is also regarded as something that takes alot of conscious effort to maintain while running. Previously, when I'd dabbled with Chi running it was something I'd think about but within 20 seconds my mind would wander and I'd relax them without realising.

That didn't happen this time. Instead, I was able to keep them gently but noticeably engaged for the remainder of the run. From a proprioceptive point of view the run felt noticeably different - I felt a little more solid, more upright in the torso and more 'together'.

That last bit is difficult to explain but if you think of the body as machine made up of a series of connected levers, at times, when injured especially, my body has felt like some of the levers are slightly misaligned but this time it felt like all the levers were perfectly aligned and well oiled. That made the run feel more efficient and sustainable.

By the time I reached Shipley and the 3.7 mile turnaround point the average pace had reduced to 8:01 a mile without my realising. I ran back feeling equally comfortable and with the aid of a couple of short downhills at the locks on the way back, speeded up a little more still so that when I finished the average had reached 7:51 a mile. That's only about 10 seconds a mile over half marathon race pace, which based on injury, lack of training and current weight is pretty good.

However, the most important factor was that I had no groin pain during the run (which is common enough now) but also no pain at all later in the day or the next day (which although reducing has still been occurring each run). On the basis that the distance was greater than I'd recently been allowed and the pace was the fastest since the autumn it wouldn't have been too worrying to have had a little more than of late but this time there was nothing!

So, without wanting to get too excited, it feels like I'm definitely on the mend and that by following this approach I'll certainly get a more economical gait and prevent pain.

Its dynamic stretching every run and for the next weeks a conscious effort to concentrate on engaging the deep abs for stabilisation throughout every run in the hope that it becomes second nature.

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