Home' NZMJ Digest : NZMJ Digest Issue 65 Contents 21
monitoring your resting heart rate, having a
coach or simply running with friends can help.
If your 5km time trial pace is decreasing, your
favourite run is getting harder or if you can
simply no longer keep up with your mates,
it’s time to stop. Sit down, analyse what feels
wrong and come up with a plan to fx it.
As most runners are reluctant to stop running
all together, I like to use the term ‘relative
rest’, which involves dialling back the training
distances and intensities and working on form
defciencies. This can be as simple as noticing
that your hamstrings feel tight early in a run
and get progressively worse as the run goes on.
So rather than go for a 10km run that makes
them feel even tighter, go for a gentle bike ride
followed by some self-directed mobility work.
Get a massage, go for a swim, yoga, or get a
bio-mechanical assessment by a therapist and
make a new goal.
Personally, the decrease in running
performance and effciency I experienced
appeared to correlate strongly with decreased
strength and mobility. I could no longer
perform a decent deep air squat let alone
a weighted one. In hindsight the warning
signs had probably been there well before the
fatigue set in because, although when I came
back from Namibia I was running extremely
well, partaking in any other sport was almost
impossible. The days of being able to out lift
most runners and out run most lifters was
gone. I had taken a break from weight training
to compete, fully intending to start again once
the race was done. But with that post-race
high, I had forgotten about all the hard hours
in the gym I had done pre-race. Forgotten
about that strength and muscular endurance
base I had built up with a specifc race in mind.
That base that needed to be rebuilt.
Let’s not sugar coat it, endurance running is
catabolic—it will tear your body down to feed
you while you race---and this can predispose
you to injury. As I’ve mentioned before, when
you are lean, effcient and running well, this
is often when you’re at your most vulnerable.
Your body has cut you down to only what is
required to compete. Any unnecessary muscle
is often cannibalised during training or racing
for fuel. If you then injure yourself or fail to
rest and recover afterwards, your body has
little physical redundancy to fall back on.
Ultras can also be psychologically destructive,
especially if they go badly. Your mind undergoes
a mental thrashing in an ultra and needs to be
rested afterwards, just as much as the body.
I had dropped myself down from a weight
of 80kg to 77kg pre-Namibia and still had
enough inbuilt redundancy, through strength
and mobility training, to handle everything
the race had to throw at me. But post-race I
was even lighter and had used up that hard-
earned redundancy. Like continuing to dip into
a savings account at the bank, eventually it ran
out. So when I started to struggle at the Double
Rainbow Run, and got to that point when those
mental and physical reserves would normally
take over, I had nothing.
The take-home message I guess is this.
Early identifcation of negative predictors of
performance are necessary. Sometimes backing
off that training load and going back to your
foundation training of strength and mobility
is key to regaining that feeling of fuency
and effciency. Like money in the bank,
you need to speed time building that
base in order to cash in on race day.
Yes this does mean weight training
for endurance running, and yes this does mean
that at times you have to run less to run more.
Currently I am in a semi self-imposed exile.
The only running I can do for the next 6-7
months is a dead-fat 5km loop or a 480m
track. But I do have 24-hour access to gym
facilities and more time than usual to exercise.
This may actually turn out to be a good thing.
No matter how highly motivated I may be, the
chances of me hitting a 5km loop for multiple
long runs is pretty slim. It also gives me
plenty of time to redevelop that lost strength
and mobility base that is so important in
preventing fatigue and injury. I have already
identifed some major lower-limp mobility
faults and some muscular weaknesses that,
once rectifed, should make me a more effcient
runner. Effciency that will hopefully pay-off
during the 100 mile Leadville race next year.
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