Tag Archives: running

Before The First Step Of Running: Returning After Time Off

They say a journey begins with the first step. But it begins before that. Getting back to running after injury, melanoma, skin graft and rehab I had to rebuild back up to that first step.

This 2020 journey begins with a less-than-ideal 2019. The main event was finding out I had Melanoma skin cancer: click for details

No Running

After injury, melanoma, a skin graft, time off work and rehab I was happy with moving a little closer to normality. The skin graft was my main limitation.

Weeks of bed rest. Weeks of no running.

Surprisingly I didn’t miss running all that much but I was getting frustrated at not being able to move like I used to be able to. More details here: 5 Weeks After Melanoma Surgery

First Run

Eventually I was able to go my first run.

It was for ten minutes and it felt awkward.

The idea of running felt great. I was happy to be out there again. But I wasn’t smooth. My body had forgotten what it was meant to do.

Bit by bit I built my running back up. The skin graft still provided limitations. I had to get creative to improve my running. Finding ways to prepare my legs without risking the healing.

Not Just Running

Those creative ways included:

  • step ups with a high knee lift
  • calf raise with a deep drop
  • directional hopping

These exercises appear in the video above. They are simple, but sometimes a visual makes it easier to understand.

The hopping was actually harder than it should have been. It’s amazing how much of the skills and coordination you lose after being bed down for four weeks.

The aim was to get back to where running felt good. Over the weeks I eventually got there. Running feels good again. That’s step one. There are many more steps to take.

Running Blog To Running Vlog

Adding a running vlog onto my running blog.

Running is a big part of my life. I have taken running seriously for over 20 years. I’m not an elite. Far from it. Very much an amateur. Yet running helps me feel alive.

Why A Running Vlog?

Last year for my birthday my birthday my family got me a GoPro. They’ve said it has been one of the best presents they’ve ever given me. It’s had so much use.

I’ve been filming family videos. The kids in their sports. Putting together videos for my son’s footy team. I’ve loved making these videos.

Naturally this has moved into how I document my running. Venturing into the world of vlogging.

I hope to make training processes clearer. Bring you into how I fit running in among family, life and shift work. I will be able to capture more thoughts as they happen.

I’ll be featuring the videos on my Running Alive Youtube Channel (here).

What About The Blog?

I’ll be continuing the blog in conjunction with the vlog. They will support each other. Some topics are better shown through video. Others are better for writing.

The change in approach will allow for a more regular and consistent blog than I have achieved so far.

This running vlog is a new concept for myself. Let me know if anything is helpful or if there’s anything you want to see.

To follow along subscribe here!

Running And Skin Checks

In the harsh sun of Australia, running and skin checks should go hand in hand. Interrupting my running to have a skin check. I was actually a little bit nervous. 

Take Good Advice

I finally listened to my wife and got a skin check. Make sure everything’s all right. Check all the moles and make sure that none are cancerous

This check should have been performed earlier. Living in Australia and spending plenty of time in the sun means I’m at risk.

The doctor managed to find some moles which were a bit concerning. He wasn’t particularly worried about them. But they still met the criteria to be removed. So that’s what I did.

I have to admit I wasn’t thinking much it until I arrived. There is something about having a piece cut out of your body. Even though it’s superficial. It still makes you think.

Skin Checks And Skin Cancer

Head on over to the Skin Cancer page of the Cancer Council for more detailed information.

Running And Stitches

Good news is after the moles were removed, the doctor was confident they won’t be a problem. Of course they are sent off to be properly tested. To get that 100% piece of mind.

The process has put a gap in my running. The cut has needed 4 stitches on my lower leg. Running puts a strain on those stitches. So a few days off running and a gentle return back in as the cut heals.

In some way it’s a little frustrating. My rebuild back from a toe injury is delayed. Importantly I prefer to put health before fitness. It comes back to knowing your why.

Running Vlog

Jump on over to my vlog on this at youtube about running and skin checks.

For further running updates and tips don’t forget to subscribe

Less Running and More Other Stuff: New Goals

Chasing new goals leads me to less running in my new training plan.

There’s nothing like a forced lay off due to injury to have you re-evaluate your goals and training.

A foot injury ended my training program for the Surf Coast Century this year. Over the last few weeks I’ve worked through the first 4 of 5 priorities for an injured runner. I’m now ready for step 5:

New Goals

To guide our training we need goals.

Mine are:

  1. Injury proof my running
  2. Reach a fitness level to run a sub-3 hour marathon

You notice there isn’t a deadline listed in those goals.

Pushing a hard deadline on a sub- 3 hour marathon will likely risk my first goal of staying injury proof. Therefore I am open to however long is needed. It could be 6 months, or it could take over a year. I don’t know yet.

Less Running

I’m seriously cutting back on my run volume. Long runs and high volume will be a quick way back to injury for me.

Guidelines for run volume include:

  1. I have to be able to maintain good form for each and every run
  2. The volume must be well within my capabilities

It is the running equivalent of stopping 2-3 repetitions short on a weight lifting set. Adaptation still occurs with until grinding yourself down into fatigue.

More Other Stuff

Less running leaves some extra time.

With this extra time I am dedicating it other training modaltities:

  1. Strength training
  2. Prehabilitation / Rehabilitation
  3. Mobility
  4. Recovery

These will now be written into my training plan. Previously I have been performing these on an ad hoc basic. It didn’t work.

More Fun

Less running and more other stuff means more variety. I am looking forward training that doesn’t entail mile after mile after mile.

I am expecting this change in approach will reduce the feeling of grinding day after day. It reminds of how I used to train for triathlons. You could partially recover from one discipline while hitting another hard.

I expect my training to be quite effective. More importantly it should be a lot of fun.

Is your training fun?

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.

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


Best Way To Start A Running Program

Welcome to a new year. New goals. New running program. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tried different approaches to kick starting my next training. In this post I share what I find to be my best way to start a running program.

The approach isn’t about exact mileage, paces or mix of training of sessions. Those all vary depending on upcoming goals and current fitness and health. Instead I look for an approach that sets me up hit my training consistently and hard. To get me beyond the initial burst of motivation.

Two principles make up this approach:

  1. Refresh the mind
  2. Prepare the body
Welcome to a new year. New goals. New running program. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tried different approaches to kick starting my next training. In this post I share what I find to be my best way to start a running program.

Refresh The Mind

This is not taking a break. Instead I am chasing the enjoyment. Looking to lose myself in the process of running rather than focussing on times. It is a form of moving meditation.

There are 2 aspects to refreshing my mind.

All runs are based on feel. Some structure still exists in the form of intervals or repeats. On those runs I don’t worry about any exact times. Instead I run based on feel, looking to achieve the feeling rather than any number. The times are only a by product. If they turn out faster or slower than expected then it’s irrelevant.

If I feel like changing the planned run then I will. It really doesn’t matter as long as I’m still training and enjoying it. Every so often this approach results in some runs much faster than they feel.

Supporting the more relaxed approach I aim to run in places I enjoy. This is almost always on the best trails around me. This year I did this by making the most of the spectacular trails and beach around Anglesea.

Prepare The Body

This is mixture between hard training and allowing recovery. A wide variety of running paces, terrain and intensity is important.

I will train hard and fast in between different versions of easy. I’ll state again I don’t care about exact paces, but am looking to have the running feel great.

One aspect of training I avoid during this process are hard, long runs that grind me down and require a few days to recover from. Those types of runs tend to be counterproductive. They rob me of the snap and spring I look for. Any over load usually comes from pushing the speed up.

I’ll expect to be a bit sore from some training for a day or 2, but shouldn’t require anything beyond that. There is room to throw in a race, but nothing beyond 12km.

Most mornings I woke just before the sun. Running through the amazing backdrop of the sunrise across the sea and beach. The loose training structure went like this:

How I Started My Year Running

Camping with family and friends put me amongst some of the best landscapes along the coast. A mixture of hills, single track, bush and beaches made for the perfect playground.

Living in a tent without setting an alarm allowed my body to follow it’s natural circadian rhythm. This is a luxury to me. Life as a shift worker makes this a rare opportunity.

Most mornings I woke just before the sun. Running through the amazing backdrop of the sunrise across the sea and beach. The loose training structure went like this:

  • VO2 Intervals 4x3min with 3min easy jog
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 7km
  • Race: Tim Gates Classic 10km
  • Regeneration 4km
  • Easy 6km
  • Easy 10km
  • Hill Repeats 4x3min with jog back down
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 6km

In writing it looks like a typical running program. The distances, paces and even the structure of each run isn’t very important. It is the approach that makes the difference.

I find the best way to start a running program is to take a bit of time to refresh the mind and prepare the body. How do you like to start a new running program?