Running with the Tail Runner harness and bungee lead.
Took CC our border collie out for her first run with the Tail Runner dog harness and bungee lead. I think she loved it. With some time, training and conditioning she may well become a pretty decent running partner
I’d been waiting for CC to be old enough to start her running.
Did CC Run?
She already loves her long walks. Covering 8-10km per day usually and still has a lot of energy. Adding in some running may help keep her happy.
Looks like she will take to the harness and bungee lead quite well. Turns out, she was better with direction and following commands that I though she would be.
CC has been used to walking with a lead and correction chain. I thought there may be some issues with the harness not providing the same level of feedback if she tried to go off course. Running beside me instead. I was pleasantly surprised.
There will definitely be more runs into the future.
The lead and harness is impressive. Definitely a purchase that I’m happy with. Check them out at Tail Runner
Running With A Dog Is Good Lesson
Dogs don’t care about pace or running statistics. It is about enjoyment. Maybe we can learn something from that.
The steps I’ve taken in my Achilles rehab.. In particular insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Some guidelines which may help you with your achilles troubles.
One of the problems with the Achilles tendon is as you get older it can get a lot weaker. Running alone will not provide the strengthening required.
What’s made my case harder is it’s an insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Where the Achilles joins the heel you start involving the bone and bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that usually creates a bit of glide and cushioning. This becomes inflamed and you end up with bursitis. This will create further damage.
In the acute phase of injury the most important part is don’t cause further damage. So I stopped running, took the load off it avoided stretching the Achilles. Kept it elevated and used iced the injury for 15 to 20 minutes about every 2 hours with 2 days worth of oral anti-inflammatories.
Tendon injuries require loading to get better. After we get past the first 2-3 days of the acute phase there are 2 key points to follow:
applied load to strengthen the tendon
don’t cause anything to aggravate the injury
One of the biggest problems with an insertional Achilles injury is when you stretch it pulls the tendon across and presses up against the bursa. Any stretching we usually do for our calves will likely aggravate the injury. Doing calf exercises where you drop the heel down below level will stretch the tendon.
Limiting movement and stretch of the tendon while applying load is the early plan.
How do we do that?
You have 2 main muscles in your calves .
The gastrocnemius which is the main muscle that goes from the tendon itself up across the back of the knee and joins just above. You strengthen that mostly with a reasonably straight leg. The other muscle is the soleus, which joins below the knee. To target that we need to take the gastrocnemius out of it. So you need to do the exercises with a bent knee.
The isometric protocol I used was an isometric calf raise straight leg and an isometric calf raise bent leg. The plan was to increase the load every week on the proviso that 24 hours after a training session I didn’t have increasing pain. There could still be some discomfort but not an increasing pain from the previous day.
The aim was to do these exercises at least once a day, preferably twice.
Loading initially was holding 30 seconds with 30 to 60 seconds rest in between. Do that for a week then increase that to 5 times 1 minute with 30 to 60 seconds rest. Progress to 3 x 2 minutes with 30 to 60 seconds rest in between finally ending on 1 x 5 minutes.
After isometrics we moved on to the next level and start introducing some movements.
I kept the isometric training going but this time the training sessions started with some actual movement of calf raise both a straight leg and bent leg.
With body weight the aim was to do 3 sets of starting at 10 reps and building that up to 20 reps for each exercise. Taking 30-60 seconds rest between movements. The aim was to get it done almost every day, but I was happy with 5 days a week.
Next progression was to add extra weight to the loading. Using a barbell across the shoulder for the straight leg calf raises. Or across the knees for seated calf raises.
The Achilles’ tendon requires loading to improve. It takes time. Longer than we all want it to. Plus this post only covers the early stages. Beyond these first weeks you will need to start addressing power, elasticity and reactive strength. But that is for a future post.
For a look at earlier stages of my Achilles Injury check out the video below
My first week of run training went well. The first day of training started with an interval session:
3 x 4 minutes hard with a 2 minutes recovery jog.
Performed over undulating terrain this was my first real run. It was a struggle. So much slower than hoped. I’ve got a long way to go.
Finally back into my first week of training. I’ll tell you it feels good to be back running. I’ve lost a lot of fitness. If I’m really honest it’s not just since the melanoma that I’ve had time off. It’s more than two months with the injury before that. I hadn’t really put together a good training week for over four months.
Bonus for the first week of running we went down on holiday to Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. It’s a beautiful location with amazing beaches, nature park, wallabies and views that are fantastic. I highly recommend spending some time down here. Click here for even more details.
First Week Of Running Principles
Truly back at square one. I’m keeping easy at super easy. This means feeling way too slow. Sometimes faster running feels easier. If I was running with someone I would definitely be able to hold a conversation with no trouble.
The training format is intervals followed by three days easy running. Then back again for intervals and another three days of easy running.
Getting a lot of the smoke haze coming in from the bush fires. With a bit of hindsight I probably shouldn’t have run. Starting a couple of those runs just as the sun was coming up I didn’t appreciate how bad that smoke was. Not until I got towards the end and had enough sunlight.
For the first week those easy days were all about 60 minutes. Limited to just covering some distance to get used to running again. No worry about pace. In fact I set up my watch so that all it showed was time. No pace, no heart rate, nothing about effort or even distance. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about how fit I used to be versus how fit I am now.
For the intervals. Starting with three by four minutes with two minutes recovery. That recovery is just a super easy jog. Those four minutes on are definitely not easy. The aim here is to run at a pace that I can maintain for all intervals right to the end. I went out too hard and couldn’t maintain that pace anyway.
The first week of run training went well. It’s so good to be back running.
The beauty of Cape Woolamai comes out better in video than it does in word…
Just had the week five check up on my skin graft. Here’s the update…
It’s healing well but not perfectly at this stage. A couple of days earlier I was a little concerned. There seemed to be a bit of splitting around the edges. I wasn’t too sure if this was anything to be worried about.
I took it easy and they did heal up a bit. Better, but after having a chat with the surgeon he would have liked the graft to be completely solid. Which it’s not quite there yet.
Young For A Skin Graft
The surgeon suggested younger people like myself can take an extra week or 2 around this stage. Which is quite good that at 42 I can be considered young. My kids keep telling the opposite.
A bit of Kenacomb cream has been added to assist the last bit of healing. The skin graft should be considered solid within 2 weeks.
I still have to give the graft plenty of TLC. Keep it protected and that means I am well off running. I’ve got to get through another stage of healing before I even look at beginning the process back.
I don’t think I’ll be out for a run before the end of this year.
It is what it is is. Still at least another 2 weeks before I can get back to a normal-ish life. Even though there will still be limitations.
How do you training when you can’t train? Making use of super slow reps while I’m limited in the exercise I can do.
At 3 weeks post skin graft I’m finally allowed to do a very small amount of exercise. Even though the graft is healing well, it is far from mature. I still have to protect it. I’m not allowed to do any leg exercise. Plus the stitches at the front of my right hip limit plenty of movements.
Limited in how much time I can spend up right before having to elevate my leg. I also have to avoid sweating. All training will be well within these limitations.
To stay within those limitations I am performing some upper body strength training. The session will be under 30 minutes. Weights will be kept extremely light.
How do I get the most benefit from this?
The answer is make each repetition super slow.
How Slow Are Super Slow Reps?
Well, super slow reps are way slower than is comfortable. As slow as 10 seconds up, and 10 seconds down.
Slowing the exercises down this much increases the time under tension which may provide an increased stimulus, Plus it provides the opportunity to improve the mind-muscle connection. Make those adjustments to technique to target exactly the movement and muscles that I’m aiming for.
The slow speed keeps the whole body effort lower, reducing the likelihood of a raised core temperature and sweating.
Taking the opportunity to work on something different and some corrective work. So I’m performing some work on my shoulders and upper back. Aiming to open them up. Remove the feeling of being closed and rounded forward from all the sitting and lying with my leg over the previous weeks.
2 sets of 2-10 reps, with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between.
The key is to keep some difficulty in maintaining in the final few reps, but not working hard through my whole body.
Rear deltoid raise with supination
Seated dumbell press
Later deltoid raise
Dumbell preacher curl
These exercises are better demonstrated in video, than in words. So I cover this in my following vlog:
Not the most extensive or intense training. This at least has me moving while keeping well within the limitations I have with a skin graft. Now I can actually start doing some exercise I feel happier.
Bed bound is a change of pace. But when you find out you have Melanoma skin cancer, it’s a starting point.
That mole on my leg that I’ve mentioned previously. I had it removed. Then after a wait the pathology results came back.
Turns out it was more sinister than first thought and hoped. It turned out to be melanoma. Lets break down exactly what melanoma is.
What Is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer
It makes up 2% of skin cancers, but is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths
Australia and New Zealand have highest melanoma rates in the world
1 in 17 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 85
Most melanomas are caused by prolonged and repeated exposure to UV radiation in sunlight
More than 90% of melanoma can be successfully treated with surgery if detected early
These facts were collated from Melanoma Patients Australia. Head over to their website here for more information.
Levels of Melanoma
The Clark Scale has 5 levels:
Cells are in the out layer of the skin (epidermis)
Cells are in the layer directly under the epidermis (pupillary dermis)
The cells are touching the next layer known as the deep dermis
Cells have spread to the reticular dermis
Cells have grown in the fat layer
Life In The Sun
I have spent so much of my life in the sun. I have chased the warmth and love the outdoors. Running, cycling, swimming, beach, hiking, camping and just being outside. Sunburnt way too many times.
It all adds up.
There is no such thing as a healthy tan.
Lucky for me my melanoma is at Level 1.
Treatment is surgery.
Cut it out Cover with a skin graft and nothing should have spread elsewhere.
Prognosis is good.
Right now my treatment includes looking after the skin graft. Which is bed rest, compression and elevation of my leg.
There’s an element of boredom in there. Maybe some frustration at not being able to move. I don’t want all the work of surgery and the efforts of the surgeon, nurses, anaethestist and everyone else involved to go to waste.
The Biggest Lesson
We often don’t like to admit it. The biggest lesson I have taken from this is…
I should listen to my wife.
My wife told me to get the mole checked for 18 months. With no good reason, I put it off.
I was privileged to be interviewed on the new Prana Running Podcast. We cover consistency and fitting it all in.
Delving into fitting in marathon and ultramarathon training around shift work, children’s sporting commitments and everything else that comes along with life.
We cover running, nutrition, when things go wrong on race day and plenty more.
You may find some nuggets of wisdom and tips for runners at every stage of their journey.
If you’re a runner of any level I recommend you check out the other episodes. Mel takes a different approach than the most other running podcasts. She has a way of extracting usable tips and information we all can use to improve our running and health.