Wednesday – 3.0 miles, 23:34 – 7:51/mile
Saturday – 5.4 miles, 45:08, 8:21/mile
Sunday – 1.4 miles, 9:07, 6:31/mile
I am doing all of this trying to keep my cadence at 180+. 5.4 miles was too far for this, I definitely wasn’t holding it together very well in the last 2 miles or so. But I did underestimate how long my route actually was when I plotted it out in my head.
The Saturday time seems a bit slow but it includes about two minutes of faffing around with mp3 player wiring. Why don’t running clothes have pockets? Obviously so they can also sell separate arm pockets, which are both more expensive than a normal pocket (which usually come for free) AND LESS USEFUL. I tried to wear it over my sleeve. This turned out to be a mistake as it meant I had about 3 feet of wiring flailing everywhere. If you wear it under your clothes, you can thread the wiring underneath too, but then the pocket is totally inaccessible. It’s a pain either way. If you knock two minutes off the time it’s better. But also cheating because I had a two minute rest.
The very short Sunday run is sort of an experiment to try to get my hamstring/quad strength ratio more balanced. If I go out for a longer run I am just going to end up spending most of that time shuffling along at a comfortable pace, which isn’t going to change things much. As I understand it, the hamstrings are used mainly to decelerate your foot before you land, and to propel you forwards. So running quickly with a high cadence should be a pretty good hamstring workout.
This week I’ve also logged just under 7 hours of ‘yoga’, which basically means any time spent stretching/strengthening. Mostly focusing on hamstrings, obviously. I’m particularly ‘enjoying’ single leg Romanian deadlifts, and the supine bridge. The latter is easy to modify to hit the hamstrings harder by putting your feet on a chair. If you hold your weight there, especially on one leg, you can really the back of your leg burn.
As for the knee, I’ve seen a definite improvement this week. It does SEEM to be responding to the hamstring stuff SO FAR.
So the Dr thinks I have a hamstring/quad imbalance, i.e. that my quads are big and strong and my hamstrings are little baby muscles. This leads to knee issues because the quads and hamstrings are antagonists; they work against (or with, depending on perspective) each other when bending the knee. If there is a big enough imbalance, things don’t work smoothly. Between running (slightly quad dominant), cycling (very quad dominant) and sitting on my behind all day (no good for hamstrings) this is likely to be correct. The cycling was probably the tipping point.
I can get physiotherapy but this is the NHS so it might take a while. I’ll think about trying to arrange that next week if I don’t get anywhere on my own before then; now that I know what to concentrate on I might have some more luck.
I definitely have tight hamstrings. I can’t touch my toes at the best of times, and early in a morning I’m lucky to get my wrists lower than my knees. I’m not sure if they are weak per se, but I will be working on strength too. In the meantime I’ll cut out the cycling and keep runs shortish as I would quite like this resolved quickly.
Tagged with: fitness
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I have my doctor’s appointment for my knee coming up on Thursday. In the last 5 weeks of self diagnosis/treatment I’ve got precisely nowhere, so I’m glad I booked the appointment. The summary is:
- Lateral hamstring tendon clicks at my outer knee (painlessly) when I bend my knee to 90 degrees (from straight)
- Something sometimes clicks when I walk; I don’t think it’s the same tendon but it’s in a similar place. This seems to only get worse after exercise (next day or two), but certainly does not always get worse
- Some vague feelings of tightness on the inner side, possibly extending slightly up my inner thigh, and across the back of the knee
- Some occasional soreness on the inner side when walking (none yet while running/biking)
- Miscellaneous transient aches and tightness around the knee
Let’s assume it’s all related.
I took four weeks off biking and two off running (at the same time, i.e. there was a two week period I was doing neither). As far as I can tell, running and biking sometimes make it worse and sometimes don’t. Not running and not biking don’t make it much better and it is entirely possible for it to get worse when doing neither. This is the kind of unhelpful data that makes you wonder why you bothered trying to learn anything.
So I suspect it’s a muscle imbalance, which isn’t going to fix itself, or at least, not quickly. Unfortunately I don’t really know which muscles. I’m guessing hamstrings (weak/tight) and quads (strong), but then we get into the specifics of “well which quads/hamstrings?”. It’s common to have a strong lateral quad but a weak inner quad, for example. What if my quads are imbalanced with THEMSELVES? Do I need to stretch or strengthen? How do I strengthen hamstrings without an expensive gym membership? The problem with an imbalance is a blanket attack might just strengthen both sides of the imbalance.
So hopefully the Dr will provide some insight and/or refer me to a physio.
SO APPARENTLY, there’s a popular school of thought that says your running cadence is important and counter intuitive. Most people prefer to take a small number of long steps, whereas, supposedly, what you should be doing is a large number of small steps. APPARENTLY, we should be aiming for about 180 steps per minute. I’m making a conscious effort to change my technique because it’s asymmetrical and I have some very tight muscles, that doesn’t mean you should.
I tried this yesterday. I downloaded a 90BPM click track from Reddit (there’s also a 180 version – read the post) and used it on a shortish 3.9 mile route.
180 steps per minute turns out to be noticeably higher than I usually run and I had to shorten my stride length a lot to keep up with it. This changes the way you hit the ground, because your leg/foot is very much below you rather than in front of you. It feels like the impacts are lighter, maybe because it is, or maybe because your leg is in a better position to absorb it. In any case, this seems good. By the end I was struggling to keep up with the click track, even with very short strides, and it turned out I ran a bit slower than normal for the distance (8:15/mile vs 7:52-8:00). I’m not too fussed about this as I’m more interested in injury prevention than speed, but it’s worth mentioning anyway.
I’m intending to repeat this the next few times I run.
The speed/performance might well be down to the weather; it’s suddenly gone near Arctic this week (~2 C, 35F). I love running in 12-15 degrees, but when we’re down to 2, it makes breathing more difficult, and I haven’t run in this kind of temperature since maybe February or so, so I’m not used to it. On the other hand, I do get to wear my super fashionable running tights, which is good.
Tagged with: running
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I’ve started taking cod liver oil. I used to take it occasionally when I was very young, because my grandfather used to insist that it lubricated his joints and sort of bullied me into taking. My six year old self took this lubrication concept literally and didn’t quite believe that the human body worked quite like that. The only thing I remember about it was that it was absolutely revolting, but my taste buds have grown up since then, so I approached it with an open mind. Turns out I was right the first time, it really is awful. The whole experience is terrible, the taste, the smell, the oily texture. It makes me imagine being bathed in a haul of fish in the north sea. Worse still is the fishy reflux for the next hour. It’s really vile stuff. It is a mystery that shops sell it, because that implies people buy it. Therefore I must assume that whatever it does, it is amazing at it.
I am hoping this will either fix my knee twinges or provide a convenient placebo. I am a bit worried by these because I am a bit of a hypochondriac, but also because they may have started when I hit my knee into the bike pretty hard. Trauma + inner knee pain = bad news. They also may not have started then; they are vague, and when I say ‘hit’, it was a head-on hit that shouldn’t have involved any twisting or anything like that. But I will mention this to the doctor next week. I have found that foam rolling my VMO and outer quad elicits some interesting knee sensations, so it may just be some muscle knots/trigger points.
My calves have almost recovered from Saturday. “Almost” meaning that I didn’t have to get a lift home from the station today. Not sure they’ll be up to running this weekend but I am optimistic. Strangely, the standard calf stretches haven’t really hit the tight bits at all, but the foam roller has been amazing at loosening them up. Highly recommended. The nice thing about rolling is that not only are you giving your overworked muscles some relief, but by balancing and supporting yourself on it you can really feel your core muscle strength improving.
So I tried a 5k yesterday to see if it would aggravate my knee clicking.
The answer is… I have no idea. I had planned to take a long walk today to see how things were, but I couldn’t because my calves have shut down in protest.
Anyway, last night things were looking good – things were loose enough that I could slowly bend my knee with no clicking(!). Tonight, there’s a soft click. Basically it’s SLIGHTLY worse than it was. So if we deem this statistically significant, then it seems that something is tightening up in the 24-36 hours following a run, not right away. Which narrows the list of suspects down to every single muscle below my waist. The calf tightness struck the moment I stopped running so we can probably rule that out.
It’s a bit disappointing this run seems to have affected it at all – my form felt good, symmetrical, and my footsteps were quiet and light. I ran faster than I intended (8:02/mile) but that’s OK because it was comfortable. Until I stopped. I wonder if my calves are so sore because I’m working against my heavy trainers for a light touch. I am running in Asics Nimbus 14s, and I really love Asics, but my running style has definitely evolved and maybe I would benefit from something with a lower drop. Something to ponder.
Supposedly, taking a break from running for the last two weeks should have allowed my body to sort out its niggles. And by niggles I mean one niggle.
Instead it seems to have developed more.
My imaginary knee pain turned into much more believable knee pain, in the form of a burning ache on the inner side of my right knee as I walked to work yesterday. It seemed to have settled down by the time I walked home in the evening. I still have vague knee twinges and aches, but they move around anywhere from below the knee to above, on the kneecap or to the inner side. I still don’t quite know what to think about this, because in the distant past I certainly had vague knee aches before that I began to run on thinking “this might be a short run”, which actually vanished the moment I started running. On the other hand, back shortly after I took up running, I had an ache which I ran on and then couldn’t walk for a week… soo….
On top of this I have twinges in my left heel and a right hip that is complaining, something about too many clam exercises (okay so that’s technically not ‘rest’).
Unless the burning ache re-appears before, I still intend to run tomorrow…