Updated: Mar 18
It's mid March 2021 and we are just a few weeks away from being able to gather as a small running group and then being able to make some small trips to the mountains. Both of these things are so simple and yet so powerful. No money, no transactions with the devil - just simple human gatherings, togetherness and in the heart of nature.
So a shit time to get injured hey?
It's been four weeks and it's felt like four months.
Inside this blog I don't want to cry (there has been plenty of waterless crying)
This blog is more of a journey in what has been learnt so far and what can be shared with you (our beautiful running community). Hopefully some of this (simple) advice will be helpful. Maybe some of it will resonate and maybe you disagree with some of the prognosis (if so - and I totally understand why your experiences and experimentation may be different - then please comment below).
Have more people been injured in recent times or is it paranoia.
Inside the Camino Coaching team we have dealt with more injured runners in these past few months than we can ever remember on history. Why is this?
Well for starters we believe that there is some regulation in the tribe. If you are doing so many solo runs you may be more likely to run 'outside of desired zones'. In tandem we have all found that lockdown has resulted in us "yo-yo-ing" with our training. It is much harder to find consistency when there are no running clubs, groups, races, events etc. In this way we have found that we are slightly off our desired pace. It is human nature to want to jump straight back to where we believe we should be rather than to put in the structured graft to get back to that same place. We can easily get carried away by "one decent split" and then try to PB a distance. Throw into this heady mix some brand new carbon plated trainers (do you remember the days when you were advised to "blood" new trainers - take them for walks like new puppies - get 20-30 miles in them before you lay down some speed) and we all believe that we have returned from a mythical Kenyan running camp and are track super-heroes.
Basics. Simples. Easies.
We are guilty of trying to fast-track certain things.
I listened to the recent podcast featuring coach VO2 Max Coaching Martin Cox
Martin is fabulous. He coaches Beth Pascall and George Foster who both smashed Bob Graham Rounds last year - I mean seriously smashed - these are two athletes that can be included in a very small group of true British Ultra elite category. So Martin has either been given the keys to a goldmine or he has great skills in panning for gold.
What Martin brilliantly articulates in the podcast is the need to "build your aerobic house". What we love as coaches is that Martin mentions time and time again that you are looking at a 10 year process for this. Time to sit back and properly let this sink in. Patience is needed. No magic formula here for runners. Building + Adaptation + Patience.
The really good runners that you see on the scene have been around for awhile. They have tried things, made some tweaks, tried some more things but perhaps more than anything they have kept on doing beautifully simple things week in and week out.
We are really proud of our new podcast series and we loved the episodes with Alastair Higgins and Michael Stocks because these are two seriously dialled-in dudes. They have also put in the graft and are definitely not "over-night" ultra wonders.
So believe in yourself - like we believe in you - but don't expect or want for it to happen in season 1. In fact rejoice in the fact that the ultra world is different. That there are inspiring athletes like Geoff Oliver in their 80s, like Eleanor Robinson, like Ian Thomas and Gilles Pallaruelo and they continue to shine bright and create more of their legend every year.
Martin also says "good athletes always have a big injury and they always come back a lot stronger - it is part of the process". Really taking this on board - both that the injury was caused because of "wanting it" and the desire to come back stronger is just as high on the agenda.
Physios. Importance of and listening to their expertise.
As part of the recovery process I have seen two great physios. The reason for seeing two wasn't planned - just a coincidence of having some great friends in the ultra community who actively encouraged me to seek out specific advice.
Again (and this is a theme) much of what they shared I already knew. Was I doing it - not necessarily. Why? I am really not sure.
Sometimes you really need to stare at the basics.
In this picture you can see that when you "twang your hammy" you are going to get some internal bleeding. If you do some research you will see that injuries are graded. Mine felt like a simple Grade 1 - I didn't have any bruising or swelling.
First bit of advice was around the "inflammation" stage. Most of us are told that inflammation is bad and that we should turn to the pills. However advice here was to accept that the body will use inflammation as a necessary part of the repair process (Ice-ing is good) but don't take paracetamol.
I am in week 3-4 of recovery. Advice here (see Proliferation to Remodelling phases) is that new muscle will be appearing around week 3 and this is the time when you should be adapting the new muscle but wary that this is where "going straight back to full on" is where there is a high rate of re-injury.
Most of us don't stretch enough. Again it is easy to listen to others anecdotal advice where stretching is positively denounced.
Back to the experts. Both gave very clear guidance around stretching routines.
This video contains the core stretches that every ultra-runner should factor in daily featuring the leg extender, the diver and the hamstring glide.
Really enjoying the glute strengthening "bridges" in this set of pre-activity:
1. Thoracic mobility over chair - https://youtu.be/9rI0uZQFYo4
2. Glute release with ball
3. Lower back arch (seal pose) hold 45 sec
4. Childs pose hold 45 sec
5. Lower back arch (seal pose) hold 45 sec
Mentioned this before but absolutely loving the "cork ball" - Why? well traditional foam rollers (which every runner should own AND USE DAILY!) have a wide surface area and the cork ball basically "sticks it the wo-man" - it gets in deep and if you can stay on that sore spot and gently oscillate it will positively work on that area and massively aid the repair process. Creator and wonder physio Nick Naylor will give you 20% off as part of this Camino Community - just use discount code CAMINO
So in summary both physios said that I was in the right place to return to some regular short timed (15-20 minute) run/walks - this was good news.
TEAM GB (Being an International Athlete)
Cards on the table here. Running for your country is high on the list of what we dream of for some of our athletes. This week saw the announcement of the IAU's "virtual" 6 hour event and especially the athlete's that will be representing Great Britain. Many on the list are friends - all are super talented. What we love about the team is that the selection includes an exciting array of athletes from all ultramarathon disciplines from 50km, to 100km, to 24 hour and from both track and trail.
The event took place a year ago and we were gripped to see how the athletes performed and how some of our coached athletes were performing in comparison. One of the toughest things for all athletes was the "solo" nature of the challenge. Most were just finding a local loop near their home and many were running the 6 hours as part of a much wider programme of training. Our favourite being superstar Charlie Harpur who decided to tackle a tricky UK trail route - Peddars Way and go for a "fastest known time". He absolutely obliterated the previous best time and even on a trail route he produced one of the best performances of the entire global IAU event.
We will definitely be glued to all the social channels to see how the team get on x
Finally we are loving the latest output from ultra-running legends "80Noir Ultra" who have extended their sensational chocolate and hot chocolate range with a "training bar" specifically engineered for endurance athletes like us. This is a real quality led product and one that will give you a proper wow factor. The team have been working tirelessly in their professional kitchen and actually have some "Wonky Bars" which are non-perfect versions you may want to use as your first try.
Highly recommend and really hope that 80Noir Ultra will become a regular partner at our future 50 KM events.
Try any of the 80Noir Ultra range with a 20% discount by using CAMINO discount code
This is a beautiful London based company - so please do share this with all your friends and family xx