Category Archives: Achilles

Week ending 4/7/13 and a new physio

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Last week was another FAIL in the squat department. I really need to train with others for better squats! Maybe next week I will squat in the gym instead of at home.

Bench was ok, but not quite what I wanted. Still got a PB for reps.

Deadlift was surprisingly easier than expected. Perhaps because this was at the gym? Other people’s weights always feel lighter than my own.

2 weeks to the comp, and at this point I am expecting to match my squat and bench PBs, and hoping to hit a 150kg deadlift…. although I’m almost wondering if 150 is too soft now 😉

I had planned a bushwalk / run / hobble on Friday, but the week was catching up to me and I felt very tired. When I got home from work in the morning, I had breakfast to see if that would wake me up, but was still so overcome with tiredness that I lay down for a bit… and woke up 3 hours later. Guess I needed it.

I was recently reminded of The Best Physio Ever, who, a few years ago, fixed my ankle in 5 minutes, and I was 100% pain free for a few weeks. Basically he dug into my lower back, around the sacroilliac joint, and instantly my achillies/ankle area was fixed. I was in so much disbelief that I went for a 25km run with plenty of hills to see if I could break it, and it was fine! Unfortunately this guy is no longer working, so I can’t get him to fix me again.

I’ve told this to every other person I’ve seen about my ankle, hoping they would think, “OK, that’s logical, I’ll perform the same magic and you’ll be right again.” But instead they say what is in all their textbooks, which is, “Do 5 million calf raises and in a few weeks you’ll be cured.” But it doesn’t work like that. My calves are not weak. They’re huge. With muscle. They’re pretty strong too.

After being reminded of The Best Physio Ever, I was thinking why I can’t find any other professional who thinks along the same lines. Then I remembered…. quite a while back, maybe in 2006 or 2008ish, a physio caused a huge stir on a running forum re referred back pain. A lot of runners, physios and podiatrists got all uppity because someone they didn’t know what telling them something they didn’t know or believe, and it was quite funny to sit back and watch the flaming. Anyway, I know it’s referred back pain, because that’s how The Best Physio fixed me.

So yesterday I saw this forum-stirrer. I told him about The Awesome Physio. And he was like “Duhh, of course that fixed you.” And I told him about the stupid calf raises that everyone else suggests, and he was like “WasteOfTime.” And I was like phew.

So he dug into my back – all along my spine, in fact, to also make my scapulas happy too. Then he told me to go for a run.

Well, I didn’t, because it didn’t really fit with my training plan, and it was raining a bit outside. But so far I have a billion % improved extension in my right FHL, which has been one reason why I haven’t even been able to walk with correct gait in years. Now I can. The toe is still a bit uncomfortable, and I’m still clicking it. I also still get the odd shooting nerve pain in the achillies area, but I’m most impressed with the improved big toe extension. And once my GPS is charged up I’m off for a run to test it out 🙂

He also gave me a nice thoracic/lumbar/hip combo flexion and rotation exercise. I like this, because the movement is similar to a video course on sacral decompression I have. But this video I have teaches you how to do this on others, and it’s kind of impossible to do on yourself. This hip rotation is like a modification of it, but you just do it yourself as part of a warm up or cool down in front of the telly.

OK… GPS charged… time to see what running is like 🙂

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You Yangs 50km 2011

I was secretly very happy this year when the You Yangs 5050 was postponed due to flooding in July because it meant a) I had more time to train and b) It would fit in nicely as a decent long run before GOW which is 4 weeks after.

Unfortunately (what I thought was) my achilles troubles has been holding me back from specific running training. I’ve been hitting the trails once a week, aiming for difficult terrain with GOW in mind. I’ve run in ankle deep mud, through thunder, hail and snow, and climbed up hills that would have been easier with an ice pick. Although I haven’t done long distances, I’ve done long times!

Last weekend was the You Yangs 50km and I was terribly under prepared. Since my running partner for most of this year is in hospital due to a tragic experience in a race, I did this for her. I have done some crazy runs with Kate this year, and her strength always amazes me. It doesn’t matter how tiring it all is, how long and steep the hills are, she just keeps going. Running when able, walking the hills the rest of the time. So this year even though I knew I would be slow at the You Yangs, when the going got tough, I always asked myself, “What would Kate do?”.

The course changed again this year, and I think for the best. I liked NOT going to the top of the hill and back multiple times, and I enjoyed the technical circuit around the hill. The first 10km went quite well for me. Although slow, I was feeling good. At 15km I was still feeling good and hopeful I was on track for under 8 hours. At the half way point, although I was starting to get even slower (how is that possible?) I was still on track for under 8 hours and I thought if I could just keep running on the flats and downhills that I would be ok.

My achilles (which now isn’t that… more later) issues meant my running speed was walking pace. I had no power in my right leg and I was going so slow that I was naturally breathing through my nose much of the time. There is a section through gum plantations that is quite flat. Flat bits are a problem for me as you really need to keep up your momentum. I just couldn’t do it. At 30km I was feeling ok but then at 40km I was back at the plantation area and it was a real struggle. I ran as long as I could (at walking speed), while knowing that Kate would be running there too. It was so unnaturally slow but I just did not have the power in my right leg to run at any normal running pace.

At around 45km I started walking. This run was much harder than it should’ve been. There were (dare I say it) too many flat runnable bits! I realised I was going to be way over 8 hours and decided my ultra career is over until I sort out this leg problem. If you can’t train, you can’t run at any speed. My leg strength from weight lifting enables me to complete these distances, but is not enough to actually run properly. Getting over the injury and being able to run in training is the only thing that is going to help.

I decided I would pull out of GOW this year. I couldn’t get my money back on the accommodation so worked out a really nice weekend away. I even planned some nice walks and it was going to be the relaxing holiday I’ve been in need of all year! At this point in the race, I had reached a calm. This was it for me! The last long race of the year! Yeah!

With Kate in mind, I still kept running when able, and walking when I couldn’t. I don’t know what time I crossed the finish line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I came dead last! I quickly found Andy to withdraw from GOW before I changed my mind. But he told me to think about it… ugh…..

So anyway, since then I have had some acupuncture and it’s been discovered that my achilles is fine. A bit thicker than usual, but functionally fine. It’s the flexor hallucis longus that has been killing me. This muscle originates near the calf behind the achilles so it has been making me think the achilles is to blame. This makes perfect sense as I had problems with my big toe a long time ago, and it is still quite tight and inflexible. Now the source of the pain has revealed itself, the acupuncturist reckons it wont take long to fix. I am hopeful this time! And I am doing GOW! Even though I shuffle at a snails pace, provided I don’t get lost, it will still be enough to make the cutoffs.

New training plan… again

I am changing up my training… again… hence no posts in a while. I had been so intent on getting out for my 2.5 hour run every weekend but it wasn’t working for me. My working structure has changed and I’m often so tired that getting up at 6:30am on a Saturday to run is not fun. And running should be fun. I also took some time out of running to fix my achilles. It’s doing so much better now (about 90%) and I can’t believe I didn’t think to do this earlier. Anyway, I’m not going to do any long runs leading up to the Wilson’s Prom Ultra (60km). I am going to do the exact opposite of everyone else that will be there!

Over the past two years I’ve learnt that heavy squats and deadlifts give me the required leg strength to run an ultra. 3 sets of 3-5 reps of squats and deadlifts is the equivalent of a weekly 3-4 hour run or even more! The only difference is a much shorter recovery time, and no more sleeping on the couch for the rest of the day!

I’ve come to trust that my training is suitable, and even preferable to the usual running programs out there. So now my 2 or 3 runs a week are interval based. Usually I’ll do 5 x 6 minutes or 20 minutes worth of hill repeats or something along those lines to keep up leg turnover and good technique. I also seem to increase my fitness better doing bodyweight circuits, burpees and kettlebell workouts. I also don’t get injured doing those things!

Wilson’s Prom is on at the end of April. So that give’s me 2 months of getting my legs stronger and increasing my cardiovascular fitness. I’m really excited about this as I’ve found with myself and my clients that bodyweight and kettlebell work increases fitness like nothing else. I’m really looking forward to this and seeing how my running will be affected, and how it will all go in April!

Achilles exercises

I hate to admit it, but after 5 days of these exercises my achilles is starting to feel stronger. Of course, it could also be because I’m not running.

And I guess now the exercises are getting easier I need to up the ante on them so they will no longer be easy and cause more pain. I am dying to go for a run to see how it goes… Maybe on Friday 🙂

My fitness has not been suffering whilst sidelined from running. I have been doing a series of killer bodyweight intervals every day developed for one of my jobs. They cause me to swear and lie in a puddle of my own sweat. So maybe I am even increasing my fitness more than if I was still hobbling down the streets.

I’m hoping to beat my achilles issue once at for all. So this week I started doing daily exercises for it. I’ve always believed everything comes down to form, and if your form is not 100% then you’ll get injured. I’ve been working on my bad leg, making it do the same as my good leg, but lately I’ve found it hard to tell if the bad leg is doing the right thing or just running any way that will avoid pain. Since it’s never relaxed, I know it’s not right.

I’m not convinced my stupid achilles exercises will work but it’s cheaper doing them than going back to the physio only to be told to do them again.

The result is my achilles is more sore than ever. Yesterday I went out for my long run but 3kms into it my achilles still hadn’t warmed up so figured it was best to turn around and go home before it was too late. So no long run this weekend. This was so disappointing, especially since I decided to enter the Wilsons Prom Ultra. Running up hills doesn’t seem to be a problem so I’ll have to do more hill repeats and work more with the kettlebells to increase my fitness.