Friday, 21 January 2011

Kneel before me

Generally should anyone say that to you it would be advisable to say 'Not bloody likely' then search out a member of the constabulary, but on this occasion I hope you will humour me for today...


You can probably infer that today's tempo run went well...

Cast your mind back a week and I was concerned at my apparent lack of pace having felt shattered whilst averaging a mere 7:30 pace for 3 x 1 mile intervals, but after a fair performance in completing Wednesday's 1k intervals I went into today's run feeling far more upbeat.

I ran 3.12 miles warm up/cool down at about 9:15 minute miles but completed the 4 mile tempo run at 7:02 pace - even faster than target and with the last 2 miles in 6:55 and 6:52 respectively, despite being wrapped up in sub zero temperatures and running on a fairly uneven surface.

If that wasn't pleasing enough my legs feel pretty good too. A little soreness near the inside top of the tibia and some light doms in glutes and adductors but that's all.

On that basis (and tempting fate here) I think I've cracked the sore calves issue.

I'd previously hypothesised a number of contributory factors leading to soreness - pace, mileage, inadequate rest etc - and I suspect all played their part but I think the biggie was my gait.

In early summer I'd ran a race and on seeing a race photo from the finishing mile I thought it looked as if I was heel striking when fatigued. Its difficult to draw such conclusions from a single image but it was enough to make me think far more about a forefoot foot strike, and proprioceptive adaptation being what it is the more I thought about it the more it began to happen.

That led to some soreness in calves and achillies but no particular damage. I put this down to a temporary strain as my muscles adapted to the modified gait and after a few weeks the pain began to ease off.

Then, in October, I began the 24 week programme and with it began twice weekly speed sessions featuring fast hill repeats and intervals ran at 1 mile race pace. For that type of training there's an increased tendency to run up on the toes with the heel barely touching the ground (if at all) and I suspect that began to carry over into my running generally: a powerful forefoot strike with the calves getting no rest within the gait cycle.

When I needed to slow down to base pace or recovery run pace I maintained the foot strike from faster sessions but slowed through reducing my cadence so my gait consisted of a series of powerful over striding 'leaps' but from toes to toes rather than the more common fault of heel striking.

So, having considered this I've made an effort since Sunday to simply up my cadence back to 180 strides per minute - even running with a handheld metronome on Tuesday. The idea is that the fast cadence will bring the stride length back down, reduce impact and hold foot strike at a more normal forefoot/mid foot position so that the calves rest momentarily within each stride.

The results are excellent with the tightness and pain I felt in the calves completely disappearing.

Roll on Sunday!


Alison said...

That's awesome news if you've solved the calf problem! Fingers (or toes?) crossed.

And great tempo run. I think if anything is an indicator or marathon fitness it's going to be those. So nice work! Now you just need to bookmark this post, so that next time you have a bad session, you can remind yourself that a good one will likely be following fast on its heels.

Roll on Sunday indeed :-)

~Jessica~ said...

I feel like playing the Fatboy Slim song 'Praise You' and setting it as background music to this post.

Fab tempo run: shows what I know about not overthinking training plans!

No wonder you're looking forward to Sunday :D

Laura said...

hurrah for awesome runs!! I feel like a total amateur but I have no clue what my cadence is... maybe I should pay more attention to these things but I wouldn't know where to start!

Maria said...

Great job!
I have never heard of a hand-helo metronome- we have one at home on our piano but it is a big one so I have visions of you carrying it through the countryside!
I think smaller quicker steps are meant to be much better, but I have no idea of mine. But I do try to think about shorter steps and not landing on my heels as I have read a lot about it.

rose said...

I have nothing to say....I find it hard to type from a prone position.....

TOTKat said...

Good job that man! And it must be a real relief to have found a way to keep the pain minimised.

How do you measure your cadence when you run? Do you use music, counting against your watch or a Clever Device?