Today I put into practice all the new running ideas to tackle my knee pain. All at once. 250 ml Hornet Juice before the run, tried the 9/1 run/walk strategy and kept in mind to pull my lower leg always up, actively using my hamstrings. I was carrying an other 500 ml bottle Hornet Juice mixed with some Energy-super-something and felt more prepared than ever. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I hoped it hadn’t been as hard as it turned out to be. Yes, my knees didn’t give in this time and yes, I managed to do my longest and furthest training run to date, but there is a but. It wasn’t fun, I am absolutely shattered and annoyed by all this over-engineered running. I can’t really say I felt some special boost through the Hornet Juice to start with. This whole “fueling” idea just takes my focus from running and I find myself thinking more about the next sip out of the bottle. The same with the 9/1 run/walk approach that says, run for 9 minutes and then walk 1. Apart from the fact that you have a nice break to take some pictures, again I found myself only focusing on the next break, especially when I got tired later in the run. It didn’t work for me and in the end I had to stop this rigid run/walk pattern. And then the hamstrings. They can be convinced to be quite active up to k 20 at best, but after that no change: I was dragging my feet and lower legs along as usual. But there was one tip that really seemed to work: Shortening the strides and try to place the foot under your knee and not in front of it. This was something I still can do, when I was close to collapsing. But an enjoyable run is something different. However, I am posting some of the pictures I took to remind myself of the nice route and that every cloud has a silver lining.
Back from my training run were I applied all the new running ideas from the earlier post and the good news is I survived. And I run for 3 hours 27 minutes. And my knees are kind of all right(ish). And I covered 33.3 kilometers. Sounds like a success, right? Yet I feel like I just made it. But I am going to explain this in my next post. Here I just want to post this silly video, totally unrelated to running, but somehow it popped into my mind when I mused about surviving.
I had now a full week of wallowing in self-pity. Its time to do something and come up with ideas how to beat my knee problems. One idea comes from running buddy Cathy: Having a marathon run/walk strategy doesn’t mean you are a loser. You can actually make respectable times with that. Later this week super MdS athlete Andy from work said the same thing: If you know from the beginning you can’t run the whole thing, plan in some walking early and not only when its to late. Makes sense I guess. Andy also gave me a potential secret weapon: Hornet Juice. An energy powder inspired by the incredible ability of hornets to fly hundreds of miles. Will try it for my long run tomorrow and let you know how it goes. An other idea comes from our running newsgroup at work. Shaun mentioned the webpage kinetic-revolution.com. I just checked it out and it is full of ideas how to improve running techniques. Tips like shorting your strides, placing the foot just under your knees and not before them and using your hamstrings actively pull up you lower leg when swinging through to the next stride are the definitely worth trying, but I am not expecting miracle results. However, avoiding impact to knees and joint by better running style is without doubt my long-term goal. I don’t intend to give up.
The snow is gone and training should be back on track. Last Sunday I managed to do over 28k in 2 hours 50 minutes – despite partial snow and a 11k run just the day before. Today I tried to top it and to get confidence that I do can run for very long if I just start slow enough. My idea of “topping it” was a comfortable run of 3 hours 30 minutes, with no pace in mind apart from being slow and feeling comfortable all way through. So I started slow, ran slow and was ground to a hold at 3 hours 2 minutes. My knees gave in, again. And the distance I covered was just the same that I did in 10 minutes less a week before. I felt like throwing a tantrum and I probably had. But my premature end of the run happened in the middle of Lea Valley, which meant I a solid hour walk home ahead of me. The temperature was around 4 degrees and I got cold. Very cold, so I kept walking and couldn’t really afford to through myself on the floor and shout and scream and use words that would make our swear jar at work proud. Why? Why??? Why can’t my body not just do what I want?! I start loosing hope that I can finish the London Marathon running and not walking. Not happy.
Thanks to everyone for helping to reach the 30% fundraising target by the 22nd of January. Even though the running total is still slightly under, I got one verbal donation commitment on the day itself (which was my birthday by the way and the donation is my birthday pressie), but it’s not on there yet. Guess I have to chase my present up 😉 But the NSPCC knows and it’s all good.
Have to start looking ahead though and see how raise the last 70% (and maybe even more, who knows?). Frist measure: I just got this fancy new web address for my running blog. It’s very simple and easy-peasy to remember:
That’s it. Cool, huh? Might put it on a T-shirt to raise awareness for the cause 🙂
The training goes all well. After the rather rigid training plan that I was following for the Tiberias marathon in January, I do now what I call “feel good running”: just try to run with enjoyment, don’t über-focus on times and heart rates and try to run feeling good as long as possible. It works. I have done some nice trail runs since and even reactivated my Vibram FiveFingers. That is the footwear with the barefoot feeling. Nearly forgot how great it is to actually feel the ground under your feet. Fun times!
At 3:30pm I decided to do my run, despite snow, mud and fears. And I did 22k in 2 hours 16 min. Not my best performance. Do I regret it? It was definitely a challenge, but an interesting one to say at least. Running on compressed, icy and slippery snow is a different exercise altogether. Whenever I reached some snow free ground it felt like taking off skates after an hour on the ice rink. You work out muscles you didn’t know you had. That is a good thing I guess. On the downside: It is literally painfully slow, you get soaking wet trainers and sore legs from toes to hips. Lets hope the snow is over soon. Can’t wait for spring to come.
The German football legend Sepp Herberger is known for saying “Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel” – After the game is before the game. The same applies to my marathon situation and I am quite aware of it. It did not take too long to get back on the road and between the Tiberias and London marathon lie 14 weeks, exactly the time I had to prepare for the first. My training approach is now a bit different though. Taking on board that it was not stamina nor strength that killed me, but the pain in my knees, I am trying to worry less about Fartlek or interval runs and do more steady long runs practising my marathon pace. Today is my long run training day and I am supposed to do 2 hours plus, but I think the weather won’t let me. Running for hours in snow, several inches deep? I don’t think so. My marathon “I won’t make it in one piece” paranoia starts to kick in. It’ s before the marathon, not after – remember?