Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Payback is a b!tch?

This time I’ll talk about injury (again!), behind the scenes of running events and an Out of the Box review of the all new Mizuno Evo Cursoris

In the last post I was on a high from finishing the Bentley Half Marathon with no real training and more importantly no injury flair up.

Well it’s been over a week since then and that’s a long time in the runners world…….

I was really pleased that I’d run over 13 miles without an issue with the knee and I was convinced that I was all over it. Post long run I settled back down into shorter mid-week runs and was concentrating on minimal running again wearing the sandals or even 100% barefoot when I was feeling brave.

This week I’d taken the Friday off work so I planned an interesting 16 mile route which took in Little Baddow via some different routes . I got up at dawn and set about running to some of my favourite places in Essex. I was wearing the minimal New Balance MT110 trail shoes (£32 from Sports Direct, I’ve stocked up!) which while not as raw or grippy as Vivo Neo’s do offer a little more comfort. I’d brought a pair of Vivo’s and worn them a couple of times and though they are awesome in mud, I found them a little harsh on road sections or hard stone paths, look out for the Out of the Box review soon (when I can spare a minute to write it up and convert video).

I was having a slow but steady run enjoying the views from one of the high points of the county and was eventually within a stone’s throw of home when the worst happened….. I started to get the familiar feeling in my knee where things were starting to tighten and the dull pain returned. As I pushed on it only increased to the point where at times I felt as if the knee would collapse but then a strange thing happened next, I’d noticed in the past that at times despite the pain I could continue to run and sometimes the pain would even ease a little so I kept going. I limped home but this ”on off” feeling in the knee got me thinking.

At a previous physio session at work I’d been told that the issue was related to something called the Common Peroneal Nerve which is an off shoot of the Sciatic Nerve behind the knee? I initially thought it was a hamstring tear and it might have been at the start but what I was starting to think was I might have some scar tissue that could be causing the pain.

The next day I ran in the Chelmsford Parkrun with my daughter and again the knee was “on off”. One minute it would be fine but the next bad, surely this couldn’t be a tear or pull as it would be painful all the time? I finished but decided that I would give it some serious self massage later to see what that did?

Later I met with a group from my local running club Springfield Striders to mark out a local Cross Country course that was running the next day. I’d been running for a few years now but hadn’t really volunteered that often mostly due to other commitments but this year I made the decision that I needed to help pay back the efforts of others in the running community as without them, we wouldn’t have any events.

It was actually really good fun walking the course and I enjoyed it loads. What we all need to do though is spare a thought for everyone behind the scenes as it takes days of planning to put these on and it’s easy to just turn up and run without thinking.

Later that day I put my feet up in front of the TV and hit the leg and knee hard with the heated massager that my wife had brought me for my birthday. I could feel a little pea sized lump in the back of my knee which was tender so focused on that. Next day it was still a little sore but (touch wood) I had none of the serious pain.

It was Sunday and again today was going to be spent on the other side of the water stop table as I manned Check Point 3 on the St Peter’s Way Ultra Marathon run by Challenge Running Events.

As I said previously I’d not really helped that often at events as I like to take part if I could but this was a local race organised by a keen ultra runner who was just starting to organise races so I thought I’d support. I turned up with my son on the morning and was greeted by Karen who was to be also on this aid station. As it turned out Karen was a race director for another group and she spent the morning telling me tales of other ultra events that I probably would have never heard about.

Just as we set up the first runner came through. They were on quick pace and it was interesting to see things like what kit they used and what fuelling strategy they were on. After a quick water top up and homemade cookie they were off! I guess if you spend 5 minutes at every CP that adds up to a chunk of time at the end of an ultra. It was good to see every runner come through and it was especially good to see most smiling. Despite this being my first time helping, I used my experience of long distance running where I could and offered to help where I thought people might need it? If I could refill a bottle or camelbak for them this might give them a few more seconds to relax and take in some calories before getting back into the race. I take my hat off to everyone as no ultra is easy.

What was easy though was running the CP! Lindley the head of Challenge Running dropped off all the supplies needed and helped set up so everything was ready. I’ve never seen so many Chicken nuggets, Jaffa cakes or Cola! Apart from the legendary LDWA events I’d never seen so much food. I’ve now decided that everyone should help at an event!

Cursoris seen on right

On Monday I decided to test the knee with few miles at lunch time. I also wanted to try out the new Mizuno minimal road shoes that I’d kindly been sent to test so it was time for a little “Out of the Box” action!

First impressions as I pulled them out of the box was WOW! You weren’t going to miss these in the kit bag, I thought I might need to bust out the shades they were so bright. I’ve noticed a few manufacturers starting to create kit in some odd colours and these are certainly different. The next thing noticed when I slipped them on was how they felt on my feet. Every other shoe I’ve run in has felt like I was wearing any generic form of footwear. Yes some shoes are better than others with either no seams like the Merrells or the sock like feel of Vivo’s but ultimately they still felt like shoes on my feet but these didn’t, these felt different, warm and snug. As the world outside was grey and cold these brightened up the day and I felt like I’d just pulled on my favourite slippers.

As I still had some scaring on the feet from previous barefooting so I decided to wear some thin socks but these are just at home with none worn if that’s your thing. They have a thin insole that can be removed but from the look of it, they aren’t designed to be worn without them? Size wise I had the same size I normally wear so they come up fine.

I’ve read I few reviews on these so far and many reviewers have mentioned the lacing system. I actually liked the fact the laces were thin. They were not bulky and felt when double knotted that they would never come undone. What I did do was use the last extra lace holes that you sometimes get as I felt this offered I little more “security”, this is personal choice and I only did this as I have girlie ankles J

Within a few striders I could tell I was in something different. These look like any other normal trainer due to their outer design but to the trained eye you can notice that the foot actually sits lower in the footbed and the difference between the heel and toe is minimal. What these did offer though was 12mm of cushioning. I know the barefooted among us are spitting out of their herb tea right now but hang in there! Cushioning isn’t a dirty word! Heal strike is! Clever support and padding if implemented well can a benefit especially to those looking for an easy transition into full minimal running.

I could easily run in these and found I was forefoot striking all the way. Even though these are road shoes they were equally fine on trail sections and never slipped even though the surface was wet and greasy. I didn’t get them wet though so not sure how they will perform in typical British summers?

So to wrap up? With no walking around the house or wearing them in the office for a week, the Mizuno Evo Cursoris performed well and actually encouraged me to run faster as they felt like I didn’t even have them on! If you’re predominantly a road runner that wants the minimal benefits then look no further!

And they best part is a pain free knee so far!

Special thanks to Mizuno and Fiona Bugler (She runs and Writes)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The come back!

After the dark depression in my last post due to my injury issues, I thought I needed to give an update as things are looking up…

Last time out I was in the middle of an enforced rest period due to an over-use knee problem post ultra and I was going to test the water with an easy Parkrun.

Well  I was still feeling the pain but it wasn’t too bad and with daily RICEing I was managing to walk with little problem. I decided to walk the couple of miles into town in Chelmsford to the local Parkrun and it was the first in the event for me. For those that don’t know, the Parkrun concept is a 5k course that runs every week in most towns across the globe free to everyone of all ages. I’d heard of the concept but it wasn’t until today that I tried it out.

 Once again the pre-race routine consisted of people asking about the flip flops as I’d decided on the Luna’s and I’m surprised people are not aware of these? I guess they haven’t gone mainstream just yet.

Well the run went ok with no major issues so I took this as the first stage of the recovery complete and the green light to start running slowly again. Later the next week I decided that the next step was to replicate the same 4 mile run at work where I’d felt the knee first go. Again, this passed with no serious issue, I could feel the knee but the pain wasn’t bad and if I worked on it after then all was well.

So by now I was feeling better as I could run again so I took the decision to go ahead with a planned race on Sunday, the Great Bentley Half Marathon. I ran one more 5 mile test run during the week which went well so I picked up a group of friends from my local running club on the day and drove to the start near Clacton in Essex. The weather was grim with snow expected later so I’d already warned my passengers that there would be a wait for me at the end as I would be taking it easy!

Again I had the usual “flip flop” related banter as we hid in an old industrial est. sheltering from the elements waiting for the start gun but soon we were off. I had no planned strategy as I didn’t do a lot of road racing now but this entry had been deferred from last year but I decided to push a little but steady for as long as I could then settle into a slower pace (my usual plan in most races).

This was a significant race for me though as it marked the longest race I’d run to-date in the Luna Leadville’s. I’d run off-road longer in training but this was going to be “race pace” and on the tarmac so fingers crossed. I started ok and settled into an easy 8:30/mile pace. I was managing to maintain this speed comfortably so just carried on and ticked the miles off. I made a point of  specifically not looking at the distance covered on the watch (apart from the mile markers on the road) and soon I passed the 5 mile point which was as far as I’d covered in my recovery to date.

Eventually I got to 10 miles and I was still feeling ok. I’d also changed my fuelling plan and taken a gel at the start and another at around 8 miles combined with a few mouthfuls of water at the stations. I normally keep to the 1 every 5 miles plan but this worked. Yet another lesson learnt I guess? Maybe over fuelling in shorter events could be an issue?

By mile 11, I got passed for the first time and as hard as I tried couldn’t keep with them. This happened a couple times more even though I’d increased the pace slightly to approx. 8:25’s. I was also still passing people in front so I can’t complain really and any negative split must be good?

I got to the finish and was more than happy with my performance. The time was only a few seconds over my course PB (set in “normal shoes” and not on the injury come-back) but more important to me was the fact I’d finished my longest race in my favourite footwear.

I’d combined the sandals with ToeSox from Barefoot UK and had excepted to finish with a few blisters and “scars” for my efforts but nothing.

In fact the most difficult part of the race was finding a way of fixing the timing chip to my foot.

Friday, 1 February 2013

No Pain No Gain!

As I write it’s been nearly 3 weeks since my last ultra. Since then I’d been out a couple of times for a run but too much, too soon in hindsight. I now know it takes 2 weeks before any hard running and nothing for the first week!

The sore hamstring from the Ultra was ok but post run has since flared up to the point where I can’t run on it now.

I found this out as I  ran at work but at the 2 mile point the knee started to weaken and I started getting some seriously strange sensations in the joint as it felt like it was swollen, got weak then went numb?

I started to get concerned so had some sports massage that evening and the physio said I had a minor tear in the hamstring. I knew at this point I had to stop all running or risk it getting worst.

I went back to my training plan and looked at other ways to keep working out so actually went swimming and did some cross training but still managed to put on half a stone in a week J

Anyway, had some treatment on the knee this week and they now say it’s more of a strain to the ligaments in the knee including the ITB. All probably from over use on the ultra. What happened was as I passed the miles that I’d trained up to my form changed. Next time more back to back runs to get the body used to the change.

Anyway after lots of RICE I still feel it but going to try a slow 5k Park run this weekend!