Injured Runner Priorities: 5 Steps To Get Back To Running

What are the priorities for the injured runner? What is the best way back from injury?

Most injured runners want to get back to full training immediately. We also often try to continue through injury. Often to our own detriment.

Instead of hoping for the best and making the injury worse, let’s work through the priorities for the injured runner.

  1. Prevent further injury
  2. Diagnose
  3. Recover
  4. Rebuild
  5. New training

These are the priorities I follow

1. Prevent further injury

It’s simple…

Don’t make the injury worse.

Stop running. Rest. Do the basics of sports first aid.

2. Diagnose

Dr Google is not your best friend. Do what it takes to find out what your injury is. Use a doctor you trust, a physiotherapist or other practitioner.

An injury needs to be properly assessed. Different injuries have many cross over of symptoms, but require different treatment.

Working from an accurate diagnosis will give you a better chance of success.

3. Recover

Help your body repair.

You have to recover before you can rebuild.

The approach is different depending on your injury. This priority is likely to include:

  • Resting the injured area
  • Protecting the area through support or taping
  • Introducing gentle movement
  • Physical manipulation (massage)

4. Rebuild

This is the rehabilitation side.

Do what it takes to get yourself back to being able to training.

Strengthen the area. Condition the body to prevent what led to the injury in the first place.

Ensure you have good mobility.

Introduce running well within in your physical limits.

5. New Training

Finally what we’ve been waiting for.

Back to full training, but with a new style. This new style has to take into account your recent injury. We likely have to modify are previous training so we don’t have a recurrence.

Runner’s often go back to their previous training plan. The plan that led to injury in the first place. We need to change this. To progress our running we need to train in a way to minimise injury.

If you need help to change then get it. Get feedback from knowledgeable runners. Speak with a coach, physiotherapist or someone who understand running and human movement.

There are many ways to achieve your running goals. I have some further tips on injury proofing your running here.

Time Frames Of Injury

How should we spend in each section?

This will vary so much depending on the injury you have sustained.

A simple muscle strain may need the following time in each phase:

  1. Prevent further injury: 12 hours
  2. Diagnose: 30 minutes
  3. Recover: 2 days
  4. Rebuild: 3 days
  5. New training: 1 week

Whereas a broken leg would need so much longer:

  1. Prevent further injury: 3 days
  2. Diagnose: 1 day
  3. Recover: 10 weeks
  4. Rebuild: 8 weeks
  5. New training: 1 week

Do you have a different approach to injuries?

Consistency And Fitting It All In : Prana Running Podcast

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.

Running Goals: Macro Versus Micro

Are your running goals defined by times and race distances? Or do you have other criteria?

Falling short of a goal forces us to re-evaluate.

Time and distance goals are used to achieve my bigger goals in running. They are tools to chase moments where I truly feel alive. Goals can be differentiated into macro versus micro.

Micro Goals

Micro goals are simple and measurable. Examples are:

  • Run your first 5km
  • Run a sub 40 minute 10km
  • Complete 100km ultra marathon
  • Cover 80km in a training week
  • Run every day for 30 days

These goals give your something objective to aim for. Help guide your training and racing. Provide structure in what you do.

Does it matter if you hit these goals?

Reality of Running Goals

Most people don’t really care how fast your race is. That’s a good thing.

Racing 10km in 39:58 versus 40:03 may feel like a big deal to yourself. It usually doesn’t rate that much to others. Those who care about you tend to care more about what the goal means to you. Not about the specifics of the goal.

Will achieving the goal change your life?

It’s the process that can change your life. Not the goal. We can bring up exceptions to this. Such as having to run a certain to qualify for another race or gain team selection. This isn’t the case for most runners.

But don’t use this to down play the importance of setting goals.

What Are Macro Goals?

Macro goals are your ‘why

Your goal doesn’t have to be massively profound. It can be as simple as you enjoy chasing fast times in a race. Other examples can include:

  • You want to feel healthier
  • You enjoy the act of running
  • Running clears your mind
  • It just feels right
  • You chase the feeling of achievement

You can get more in depth and detailed. The important concept is this is truly why we run.

Understanding your macro goal means it’s easier to make choices. If your macro goal is about gaining a qualification time then you can choose to sacrifice some other aspects of your lifestyle. If your goal is to be healthy for your family, then you can be comfortable that running 10km is fine versus 15km. It comes back to what you really want.

My Own Macro Running Goals

I chase a certain feeling. That feeling is the moment when I feel truly alive.

Everything in my life is enhanced when I feel like this.

This feeling comes from moments. These moments occur when:

  • the noise is stripped away
  • the task feels impossible
  • time feels distorted
  • I am broken down to my core

Running provides me the opportunity to achieve this. It feels innately natural for me to use running to chase this feeling. Something special happens here. It is in this space where there is an interplay between success and failure.

This is why I run.

Long Run For 100km Trail Race: Training

How to approach the long run for 100km trail race.

There’s an important concept we need to get our heads around. The speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Compared to your 5km or half marathon speed, 100km is run significantly slower. This needs to be remembered when we are setting up our long run training.

How Long Is Long For 100km?

By following some principles we can get to an optimal long run distance.

Long is relative. It begins with a distance near the edge of what you can comfortably run. This could be 10km or it could be 40km. It depends on your training history and current fitness.

If you are looking at taking 16 weeks to train for a 100km race I recommend being comfortable at 25km.

You want to be able to build up to a peak of at least 40km or 4 hours. This will ensure you develop the physiology to go really long. The magic happens after 3 hours.

Referring back to 16 Weeks to 100km Training Plan, you want this peak run to be reached by 12 weeks. We start reducing the length of the long run after this.

Is it worth going longer?

The short answer is… maybe

That maybe depends on your ability to handle the extra distance. If you can handle, absorb and adapt to the extra distance then go for it.

However, any of the following will rule out going further:

  • Carrying an injury
  • Still feeling fatigued beyond 2 days after a long run
  • Recent long runs have a dramatic slow down in their second half
  • You struggle to perform the other key runs

Some runners may benefit from 1 to 4 long runs pushed out to 50km or 5-6 hours. Don’t under estimate the impact these runs have. Make sure you get in some sleep, eat well and focus on recovery afterward.

How Fast For The Long Run?

This is specific for a 100km ultra marathon. When training for shorter distances, it will be a different answer.

Now we get back to the concept that the speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Be realistic. How fast will you really average over a 100km race?

Write the answer down.

Most of your long runs should be around this pace.

Take aiming  for under 12 hours to win the beer stein at Surf Coast Century. Giving 10 minutes buffer, 11hr 50min is a pace of 7:06/km or 11:21/mile. Most people in this chasing this time should be capable of a road marathon under 3hr 40min (5:12/km, 8:20/mile). In this example you want to make sure you are very comfortable at around 7:06/km over similar terrain to the race.

Is There Benefit To Going Faster?

You need to earn going faster.

To do so will require the following

  • At least 2 runs of 4 hours or more
  • Those runs must be completed at around 100km race pace
  • You need to feel comfortable in these runs
  • There is no big slow down towards the end

Going faster is best reserved for the peak phase of training. There are a few ways to approach this:

  • Start at usual pace then gradually and continuously increase the speed over the last 30-60min of run.
  • Start at usual pace then towards the end add 3-4 intervals of 10-20 minutes about 1 minute per kilometre faster than race pace. Take 10 minutes back at usual pace between intervals.
  • Negative split the long run with first half at usual pace and second half 15-20 seconds per kilometre faster.

These options look easier on paper. The pacing discipline required is hard.

Do you have the discipline to get the most from your long run?

Tempo Run For 100km Trail Race

Build your speed for a 100km running race. It might be easier than you thought. Including a tempo run for 100km training can give impressive results.

Working on your base endurance will get you most of the way for a 100km race. But we want to get all the way there.

What Is A Tempo Run?

The definition of a Tempo Run has varied a lot. Many treat it as a run around the anaerobic threshold. Even the definition of the anaerobic threshold is up for debate.

When training for an ultra marathon we take a different approach to the tempo run. It is not a set intensity. Instead it is more a feel that progresses over the training plan.

How Fast Should Your Tempo Run Be?

The intensity is under what most call the anaerobic threshold, and higher than your normal easy pace. Extra guides is it may be close to your marathon race pace. Erring on the slower side at the start.

For those of you using heart rate, we would choose around 80% of HR max if your anaerobic threshold is between 85-90% HR max. For those who use the Phil Maffetone formula we will take it as between 15 bpm below MAF heart rate up to MAF heart rate.

How Long For A Tempo Run?

It should approximately one hour to cover the course. Add a warm up and cool down on either side of the tempo effort.

What Terrain Is Best For A Tempo Run?

Pick a mostly flat to undulating course. You want to be to keep a constant effort. No big climbs or anything too technical that create a variation in effort.

Pick a course you can repeat each week. This is a good session to help mark progress.

How To Start Tempo Runs

In your first couple of tempo runs pick a pace that is only little faster than you standard easy running pace. It should feel sustainable for the full distance. You want to feel comfortable that it will only take some extra concentration to get through. Aim to maintain the same speed from start to finish, or just a very small increase over the full run.

If you finish the run like you didn’t quite do enough. You got it right.

This is the perfect run to practice good technique for an extended period of time. Keep your posture in check. Aim to find fluidity in your stride.

How To Progress The Tempo Run

Over the weeks the pace of the run should gradually increase. This should be from two reasons:

  1. Improved efficiency, where your pace is faster for the same effort level.
  2. Increase in effort level. As your body becomes conditioned, we should increase slightly the intensity we run the tempo run.

Try to run on feel. Record all the data you usually do. But don’t look at it during the run. Use it to compare how you felt with the results. Doing this over a few weeks will help hone your sense of pace. An important skill for race day.

Tempo Run Example

My own tempo run is as follows.

From my house I take a 3km easy warm up to the starting point of the tempo section.

The tempo course is almost flat, with a couple of very small and mild undulations. It is a mix of bitumen and concrete with nothing technical.

It follows an out and back course of 7km. Which I cover for two laps bringing the total to 14km. Which is about an hour or so of running. Two laps makes it easy to analyse how I ran after the run. I can easily see if I ran evenly or had negative or positive split.

The return home is the same 3km back home.

Surprise Yourself

This approach is a bit different from most recommendations. It is effective. You keep progressing without burning out. Take this approach during your base building. Repeat for a few weeks. You will surprise yourself how much better you can handle your next level of training.

Base Training For 100km Trail Race

How do we get maximum benefit from base training for 100km? What is the Base of training?

This is the most important phase of training.

Here we complement the post Training For 100km Trail Race: 16 Week Overview by diving into the details of the 8 week base phase.

What is Base Training?

The point of Base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

All peak training is dependant on the quality of base training.

Base training is where the majority of fitness gains are made. These gains are dependant on a consistent and progressive workload. This training may not be the coolest type of running. Without it we gives ourselves a higher chance of failure.

Consistency and Progression

If I could pick one element to focus on it would be maintaining consistency.

Doing what it takes to keep up a solid work load each week is paramount. I will back anyone who can put in moderate running every week over someone with a few big sessions but gaps in between.

The biggest killer to consistency is intensity. Beware pushing the pace. Err on the side of too easy and cover the distance. Allow your body to back up training days. Pushing on your limits forces more down time.

Progression in training should come from gradually extending out the running volume over the weeks. Nothing crazy, but keep running further.

Over time your normal running pace is likely to get faster for the same effort level. Let it do so, but make sure it is the same effort level. We shouldn’t be forcing the speed higher.

What About Speed In Base Training?

Speed is an extra in a 100km race.

Too much emphasis on speed work or high intensity running will take away from the race. Especially during base training for a 100km trail race.

We still need condition the fast twitch muscle fibres and connective tissues.

A good approach is incorporating a few strides in 2 easy runs a week. Run for about 10 seconds building to a moderate and comfortable sprint 2 to 6 times.

Strength training should form part of base training.

Lifting some heavy weights will stimulate the tendons and fast twitch muscles. While giving the body reprieve from the high impact of high intensity running.

Keep it to 2-3 sets of 4-12 repetitions. Avoid going for lots of repetitions (20+). Aim to address the main muscle groups and any area that you are lacking in.

Strength training doesn’t have to be complicated. I have more detail in Basic Strength Training For Runnering.

Base Training For 100km Example

The plan versus reality doesn’t always match.

For me the structure of a base training week would look like this:

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Long Run 30-42kmEasy 40-90minTerrain Run 3 hoursEasy 40-90minTempo Run 14kmEasy 40-90minEasy 40-90min
WeightsWeights

If you are using this as an example to follow you may want to change around the days. For me each week will vary because I do rotating shift work and don’t follow a normal weekly pattern.

I try to avoid scheduling the bigger runs on weekends as my kids have their sport on these days. There is an element of creativity that goes into finding ways to fit it all in. That is worth a post all on it’s own.

See you in the next post as I break apart more of my training.

Training For 100km Trail Race: 16 Week Overview

16 weeks training for a 100km trail race. How do we structure running to be race ready? What does it take to prepare for a 100km running race?

This is a simple guiding structure to training.

There are pros and cons to the different ways of training. The approach presented here works well. It takes you beyond completing the distance. We want to run 100km fast.

What You Need To Train For 100km

To get the most from this program we need to have some base fitness. At least a year of running, preferably two.

My background spans many years, but over the last year, I’ve hardly run further than 25km in single a run. My weekly volume has varied between 20-80km. It has been fairly inconsistent.

The recommended running prerequisites:

  • 2+ years running
  • Able to run 25-30km long run
  • Averaging 50km/week over last 6 weeks
  • Injury free

More important than physical prerequisites come the mental traits. We need:

  • Discipline
  • Patience
  • Consistency

16 Week Overview

The 16 weeks is broken into 3 distinct phases:

  1. Base (8 weeks)
  2. Peak (4 weeks)
  3. Taper (4 weeks)

Each week will have 3 key workouts supported by easy runs and strength training. The key workouts will vary according to the phase of training.

Base Phase

This is the most important phase of training.

It sets up the ability to cover the distance. A proper base phase will have a direct effect on the Peak phase. We are better off to continue the base phase up to the Taper if we skimped on base training.

Base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

The most important trait needed is patience. We keep most runs at easy paces. It is more important to cover the distance. Better to run further each week than to smash out some fast runs.

A Tempo run is listed once a week. This should be over one or two set courses. Begin with a pace just a little bit faster than your usual running pace. Aim to be a little faster each week. This should never be a lung searing, leg destroying effort.

Base running is supported by a good dose of strength training. Using the weight room to build improve the connective tissue, and give some stimulus to fast twitch muscle fibres. This should spare the body some of the impact that faster running brings.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 30-42km
  2. 3 hour run on technical and steep terrain
  3. Tempo

Peak Phase

4 weeks of hard training. We need to be fit, healthy and injury free.

This is where we push the envelope. Where our performance will go up and down. The training will challenge our ability not to quit.

The distance of the long runs will be pushed further. Combined with a few intervals of moderately faster running towards the end. Some fast intervals will also be introduced.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 46-50km with some intervals 10-20 minutes
  2. 4 hours run on technical and steep terrain
  3. VO2 intervals 4-6 x 1000m

Taper Phase

Time to absorb all the hard work.

The Taper phase has 3 objectives:

  1. Adapt to the previous training
  2. Eliminate fatigue
  3. Dial in race pace

To achieve this we will reduce the volume of the most runs by 75% each week. Intervals will be pushed hard up to 3 weeks out from the race. Fatigue will gradually lift. It is normal to feel sluggish as the body adapt throughout the taper.

Resist the urge to push out a long, hard test of fitness. Save this for race day.

16 Week Training For 100km Example

The following table outlines my progression of the key runs week by week. Which day each runs falls on will vary due to my changing roster and life commitments. In between all running should be easy and the will typically vary between 40-90 minutes.

Remember the following is a personal example and a guideline only. Everyone is different. My own circumstances may vary this plan.

This is my plan for the Surf Coast Century.

WeekPhaseLong RunTerrain RunSpeed
1Base30km3hrTempo 8km
2Base32km3hrTempo 14km
3Base34km3hrTempo 14km
4Base36km3hrTempo 14km
5Base36km3hrTempo 14km
6Base38km3hrTempo 14km
7Base40km3hrTempo 14km
8Base42km3hrTempo 14km
9Peak46-50km4hr4x1000m
10Peak46-50km4hr5x1000m
11Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
12Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
13Taper38km3hr7x1000m
14Taper29km2hr15m8x1000m
15Taper22km1hr40m6x1000m
16Taper17km-6-10x200m

Over To You

What do you think about this plan?

Do you have any questions?

Let me know

Wings For Life World Run 2019 – Lessons Learned

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the Wings For Life World Run in Melbourne. It still feels strange starting a race at 9 pm. That’s what you get depending on your time zone for a worldwide event.

Last year and I came in with big goals and they fell apart. This year I took the opposite approach. No time or distance goals. No set pace. Instead, my only goal was just to put in what I felt was a solid effort.

To help stick with that goal I stayed clear of checking the goal calculator. That way I was vague on where any splits were leading. For this run, vagueness was a good thing. There were some lessons learned.

Watch

While trying not to pay any attention to my pace and time I discovered how much I check them.

Each time I turned my wrist I cursed myself for taking another look. Knowing the splits wasn’t going to help me here. This was a test in pacing on feel. To race without any preconceived ideas.

My pacing has become too reliant on technology.

Cadence

I’ve put in a lot of work to improve my running stride. The focus has been on bringing the glutes and hamstrings into action. Getting away from the lazy ultra marathon shuffle I had developed.

Turns out I’d been fairly successful in this.

The side effect is I’d slowed my running cadence at the faster speeds. Running faster as a result but at the expense of endurance. This caught up with me during the race.

Decoupling

Decoupling is the point where you slow down despite putting in the same effort. There are many factors that go into this. For me, the dominant factor is a failure in the muscles themselves.

The rate of drop off in pace is huge for me at the moment. Two main factors have led to this.

First is simply inconsistent training and a resulting lack of volume.

Second comes straight back the lower cadence. More impact on each stride leads to more muscle trauma and a bigger drop in pace.

Fun

There are plenty of issues I can find in my running. Plenty of ways to improve. It still comes back to having fun.

I run because it helps me feel alive. It enhances key moments in my life.

I will always seek improvement. Yet, I will always take a moment to absorb what I have achieved. The Wings For Life World Run is such a cool event. It raises dollars for an amazing cause. There is a uniqueness in being chased by the finish line. Down in Melbourne it is the most fun you can ever have on the Monash Freeway.

Not A Runner

Not a runner?

Lining Up

Thirteen years old and lining up for the school cross country. I pushed my shoe into the muddy ground. Rarely did we have the freedom to get covered in dirt at school. It was a brief thought, replaced with the worry of the race about to start.

I was not a runner.

The previous years had proven to me I was slow. This had been reinforced by the disinterest shown by my primary school physical education teacher.

It would be easier to join those who loudly didn’t care. Cut the course and walk. That way it wouldn’t matter how I went. No one else was concerned where I placed or how fast I went.

Yet I moved closer towards the front of the line up. Not in the first line. That was for the runners.

Running

Cold air had made it hard to breath at the start of the race. Now it was almost soothing. I wanted more, but couldn’t breathe in that much. A film of sweat obscured my view ahead. It was hard to make out the runners in front of me. They had started as a pack, but were now spread out in pairs or single file.

Thoughts of being slow dissipated. I wasn’t able to make my legs go faster. This didn’t seem to be a problem as I wasn’t slowing down. Some of the runners ahead of me looked like they couldn’t run anymore. A few started walking.

I kept running.

Amongst The Runners

Suddenly I was amongst the runners. This is where I stayed through to the finish. Exact placing and time didn’t matter. Mud obscured the finish line. I think I ran a little further than necessary.

Now I could suck in enough cold air. It felt good. Physically tired and sore, but not exhausted. My mind bounced around ideas and realisations. The race was more than fun. Without knowing it at the time I was experiencing the euphoria of the runners high.

To many it’s just a school cross country race. Most kids have run these. For me it set the seed that grew into a running future. I didn’t know it at the time, but over the years I discovered I was made for running.

I continued to stay with the runners over the years. It was and is an amazing community.

I kept running.

If You Run

Starting out thinking I was not a runner was misguided. If you run, then you are a runner.

For a little more on this running journey check out Starting My Running Journey.

Keep running.

Redefine Your Easy: Not Just Slow Running

The body is inherently lazy. It is clever in finding ways to have you take the easy way out. When training towards big goals we need to get past this. Check your base point of training and redefine your easy.

Defining Easy

Easy is a relevant concept. I’ve written about the power of easy runs before. Those concepts still hold true. There are different ways to make runs easy. Easy may be faster than we think.

Most easy runs will occur while recovering from a harder run. Either a long run or a set of intervals. So it would be normal to expect to feel sore or heavy in the legs. Perceived exertion may be significantly higher than the intensity truly is.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

Is this really a problem?

It is when it pulls you away from an efficient running technique.

This leads to a challenge.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

How do you keep the run easy while raising the intensity to ensure better technique?

The answer is to remember intensity isn’t the only variable to determine the difficulty of a run. Keeping an easy run relatively short can allow you to up the intensity a little bit more.

My Approach

Most of my easy runs were between 8-15km. In these I kept the intensity very low. While the movement at a low intensity aided I the recovery from harder runs, it was taking away from my technique.

Now I focus on technique during my easy runs. Ensuring proper knee lift, good leg extension and push off all the way through the toes. This raises the heart and breathing rates more. I am accepting this as long as I’m not reaching my anaerobic threshold and accumulating lactic acid. To keep the run still within the easy range I am dropping the distance down to between 5-10km. The shorter distance stops the run from taking away from the next of training.

The Results

The faster running and more complete technique is a little more difficult. They highlight where I am sore from previous hard training. Here the body and brain attempt to kick in the lazy habits. More concentration is now needed to override the inherent laziness.

On the plus side I am finding I feel fresher going into the harder runs. Faster running is feeling a bit more natural and dare I say it… easier.

How do you approach your easy runs?

Let me know


Chasing Moments