Thursday, 18 September 2014

Train hard, rest harder - Say NO to shit runs

A couple of days ago me and hubs went out for a right shitfest of a run. Like actual, proper shitfest. Everything went wrong. Our legs were heavy and painful, my knees were playing up and I couldn't get my breathing into a rhythm.

I dunno about Chris but I was doing everything my physio told me not to do - crossing over my gait, stamping my feet down heavily, over striding, leaning forward. It was awful.


We've only been back from honeymoon two weeks - two glorious weeks of mostly sitting on our arses eating seven-course Michelin Star meals, relaxing, drinking and basically doing anything but running (apart from this token 5k which we did just to get hungry for dinner as we weren't hungry anymore).

Since coming back we threw ourselves back into training, hardcore style. I was so excited to claw my fitness back and get moving again - there's only so much relaxing I can do before I go a bit mad.

The last couple of weeks have looked like this:

Fri 5/9:     Boxing (T)
Sat 6/9:    Parkrun + 8.5 hilly cycle (T & C)
Sun 7/9:   1hr Circuits / 1hr Boxing class (T)
                  Hilly 10k run (C)
Tue 9/9:    Boxing PT (T)
Wed 10/9: Intervals run (C)
                  Boxing (T)
Fri 12/9:   Boxing (T)
Sat 13/9:   Epic 25mile HILLY Tour of Britain cycle (T & C)

Sun 14/9:  Boxing (T)
                  Hilly 10k run (C)
Tue 16/9:  Intervals shitfest (T & C)
                         
We were tired and it showed. Our legs did NOT play ball, and looking at the above, it's no wonder. Hello accumulative fatigue. Since going back to work I've been knackered - the mix of heavy training, midnight bedtimes and busy days at work have done nothing for my energy levels. I felt great for the first week or so. But on Tuesday the shit hit the fan. It was our bodies telling us to give it a goddamn rest.

I read an article yesterday on Runner's World about the Top 5 possible reasons for heavy legs. Even though not all my training's been running, these are transferrable and I reckon we can both tick at least 3/5 of these off.

So... a lesson learned. I'm glad we stuck at it and didn't bail on the run but to be honest we should've rested and come back fresh the next day. When I was training for Brighton Marathon I really looked after my legs and focussed on recovery. I did everything my physio told me to do and more - I couldn't bear to not make the start line. Since then everything's slipped.

So here's a little reminder for me (and you) on how to look after your legs and recover well.


How to recover and prevent injury


Rest

Rest is just as important as training. And sometimes the hardest thing to do. When you run, lift, cycle, swim, or do any hard exercise you tear muscle fibres. They only get stronger if you allow them to rebuild and they only do this when you rest them. 




You should have at least one day of complete rest each week - I cycle to work every day so can't have a complete rest but more active rest. A 4mile round trip on the bike isn't gonna break me but trying to go hard on intervals after a week of hardcore training when the fatigue has finally caught up with me might just do that.

Strength & Conditioning

I was given a bunch of strength and conditioning exercises by my physio when I started marathon training. My knees were painful and my calves, glutes and hamstrings were weak - so my body couldn't cope with the load I was putting it through with the running and weekly bootcamp classes. I had to strengthen the muscles to deal with the increased load and get me to the marathon start line.

Of all the kit you can buy to 'fix' your legs, there really is no substitution for strength and conditioning. If you strengthen your body you'll be better equipped to cope with training and recover quicker, with reduced stress on joints and tendons.

I've been slack with my exercises recently and it shows. My hamstrings are still very weak and I need to pick this back up to get strong again.

Foam rolling / stretching

This is subjective and you do have to be a bit of a masochist with Mr Foam Roller - there are different studies for / against but I find it hugely beneficial for recovery (and bloody painful!). I also had a Tiger Tail rolling massager which was great for rolling out the legs in the office but I left it on the bloody bus so need to get a new one!



Simple but effective yoga poses such as Legs Up The Wall and Downward Dog also do wonders for my hamstrings and achey legs in general after long runs and hard exercise sessions.

I did used to really love Pigeon Pose but my physio has advised against this while I've got an angry hip as it'll only stress it out further. Listening to experts is the way to go if you want to fix an injury.

Compression wear

Again, there are loads of studies for and against compression wear but personally I really think it works for me. My first set of Zensah calf sleeves from DMPonline carried me through the winter of marathon training and eased the post-run aches in my lower legs. 


The lovely guys at High Octane have also recently sent me some full length 2XU compression tights which I absolutely love. I've been wearing them for hard parkruns and after long cycle rides and they've kept the DOMS at bay. Get some for yourself on their website.


I'm really looking forward to wearing them throughout the next season of marathon training as they're really comfortable and snug fitting (obviously) so are a bit warm for the summer. Should keep me nice and toasty when battling the hail and wind up on the downs!


Nutrition

I'm by no means an expert but fuelling and hydrating yourself correctly for a run or exercise session and refuelling with the right balance of 4:1 protein:carbs ratio afterwards is pretty vital to good performance. Rice cakes with peanut butter do the trick very nicely, as does a glass of chocolate milk.

I had a couple of rice cakes with hummous before our shitfest of a run to give me some energy but looking back at what I ate that day and the day before, there was not enough carbs for the session.

Replacing electrolytes lost through sweat is important too - I used SiS hydration tablets in my water in the latter stages of marathon training which stopped the crippling leg cramps I was getting after about 14-16miles.


So there you have it. Train hard, but rest harder boys and girls. Say NO to shit runs!! 

Have you had a shit run recently? How do you deal with training sessions where your body just says no? 
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