(Edited by Brad Minus) The Decision My 3 years of running experience started with multiple injuries including a couple of ankle fractures. However, I still managed to complete a marathon, a 50K and...
I believe I have started to write this post on injuries, a number of times, trying to be as clear as possible without seeming conceited or that the information I am giving is absolute. That being said I am giving this disclaimer:
The information in this post comes from experience, my personal research and conversations with Physical Therapists, Bio-mechanical experts, Orthopedists and other athletes. I am not a physician or medical expert, so please take this information as opinion based on cognitive research. Also, there is an exception to every rule and another explanation. I do welcome comments that give constructive criticism, but I make mention to this disclaimer first.
What causes injuries?
You might be surprised to hear that there are only two reasons runners (and other athletes) get injured; accidents and imbalance. Accidents are obvious right? For example; rolling the ankle stepping off a curb, falling, being hit by a bicycle, etc.
Imbalance will cover the why’s of the rest of the injuries. The human body is designed for every system to work in synergy, therefore when one piece of the puzzle is not operating a full capacity or efficiently, the other systems have to do more work. This is when the imbalance occurs.
When talking with Physical Therapists and Bio-mechanical experts I was shocked at some of the stories I heard. One story I heard was of a football player who was training, running 100s up and down the field carrying a ball. He had extended his shoulder just barely beyond its usual range of motion, and he ended up with severe pain in his opposite quadricep. “What?!!!!” was my initial reaction, however, I was then educated on the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons etc) which can be traced from the very top of our skull, down through our torso and into the extremities. Everything is connected.
As another example, one of the most popular injuries for newer runners are the dreaded shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).
Scientifically it is caused tiny micro tears of the fibers connecting the medial soleus fascia through the periosteum of the tibia where it inserts into the bone. Due to the soleus becoming so week that the constriction starts to bow the tibia. In more layman’s terms, the calf becomes so tight due to weakness and inflexibility, that the connective tissue pulls on the bone. (There is some physiological proof and complaints that more runners are getting shin splints and other injuries due to training in calf sleeves and other compression gear, but I will address this in another post.)
This same weakness, fatigue in the calf muscle can also cause another popular injury. Plantar Faciitis. In this case, instead of the connective tissue weakening through to the soleus is pulls on the plantar fascia causing inflammation which can be debilitating.
An injury can be traced either by the athlete themselves or by a professional to a point of imbalance. Most likely somewhere within the full spectrum of the athletes, body, behavior and, do I dear say it, attitude.
How can injuries be prevented?
As a coach and trainer, my first rule, and one that I increasingly live by, is “Do no harm.” Therefore, I am always asking questions starting at a high level and continuing to get more specific. (The examples below are catered more toward running, but can be used in any sport.)
- Is the effort balanced through each week? (So, no high intensity days back to back)
- Is the volume balanced? (No consecutive high mileage days)
- Is the duration balancing?
- Is there enough recovery?
- Does the periodization allow for peaking at race time, but still allow for enough rest prior to the race?
- At what time in the plan does strength training make sense?
- This can be critical. If the strength routines are not designed to not only strengthen the muscles used for the sport, but strengthen them for the way they will be utilized, it can be detrimental. For example: Heavy squats for a runner. What is targeted? The glutes, and hamstrings. How are they being utilized in a downward and upward motion causing the hamstrings and glutes to gain size in that direction. How do we run? In a forward motion right? Well if there is more pull on the glutes in the sitting position gravity will work to pull backwards. That is working against what we want. It would be better to do air squats or light dumbbell squats where the motion is more forward which would be utilizing the muscle the right way.
- Are the exercises within the workouts specifically designed to strengthen a muscle, or group of muscles, in the same way they are utilized within the sport?
- Are the intensities, duration, reps and sets balanceing within the weeks of that period in the plan?
- At what time in the plan does strength training make sense?
Form and Technique
- Does the plan take into account work on form and technique either as a full workout or within workouts?
- Is it enough? Or Is it too much? (This is obviously specific to the athlete)
- When looking at the athlete do they look symmetrical? Are there any imbalances to the eye? (over-pronator, supinator, flares,)
- Is the athlete in the right shoes and equipment?
- Is the nutrition in strategic balance, fueling the muscles properly for the sport?
- Is there enough calories? Are there too many calories? Are the calories nutritional dense?
- Is this the right time in the athletes life for this race?
- Do they have a support system?
- is the plan fitting in the athletes life with minimal impact, or is there planning for the impacts ahead of time?
- What kind of attitude does the athlete have towards training and does the plan fit that attitude? Or should there be an adjusting of attitude?
There are definitely more questions I ask, however, I think these examples give a good idea of why balance is so important.
The term “overuse” is being used quite a bit, but what is it? It’s an imbalance of planning or lacking thereof. Tracing Injuries is completed from the highest level which would be the training plan, all the way down to the balance of strength and flexibility within the connective tissue of the body. Personally, I think it is amazing that on one hand our bodies can endure a lot, but if we don’t notice those little weaknesses, it will create an imbalance that could cause and injury that may or may not keep us from doing what we love most.
Balanced Plan -> Period -> Weeks -> Workouts -> Balanced Form -> Body -> Mind
|The line to register for IMFL 2013|
To coin a bad phrase; “Oops, I did it again.” I signed up for Ironman Florida for 2013. The energy of Ironman is intoxicating and if you have any ambitions of competing in one you have to go and either spectate or volunteer. You will either be so overwhelmed that you end up scared out of your mind, or you become so energized you sign up the next day. I again had no intention of signing up. I was planning on doing another Ironman, but I was thinking another location like Arizona, but between Pete, Jaime, Kat, Stan, Tom, Ken, Chuck, Todd, (and probably a few others I am missing), I couldn’t help but think how much fun it would be. I basically trained mostly on my own for my Ironman in 2011, but this time it will probably be a lot more fun.
|Anne, Marai and I after they both crossed the Finish Line|
What also helped was volunteering the day before and getting to be right there for my friends and watch them compete. Anne, Marai, Eve, Summer, Kat, David, Rick, Iron Rick, Mary-Ellen, Carola and Jessica all did amazing. A few of them with PRs if not for the IM distance but for this course. I was so honored to be able to sneak in and put Anne’s Medal around her neck. It seemed to mean a lot to her, and it meant a great deal for me as well. It also helped to be there when Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae ran past me and I cheered for her through the bull horn I was yelling through for gear bag numbers. To be so close to someone with her talent is so inspiring. She took 2nd and locked up her spot for Kona 2013, so I imagine her off-season will be nice and relaxing now that she is engaged.
|Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae as she zipped by me|
Being that last year my goal was to do an Ironman, and I accomplished it. This year, I may have to up the ante by adding Ironman Louisville to the list to make this the year of two Ironman distance races. I am still not quite decided yet as there are logistics that have to be worked out, but I have heard good things about Louisville and because it is in the heat of August and is not the most popular Ironman, the registration stays open longer. This allows me a little bit of time. (Of course, I just put out a chunk of money for both the IMFL race and the deposit on the rental for next year, so I need a couple more weeks to save to pay for it.)
I feel like I am stronger than last year and I am definitely faster on the bike and run. The swim still has a lot to be desired, so my focus on the off season will be a lot more swimming. I am setting up my goals for next year.
|The Three of us…again.|
Swim: 90 minutes or less (Aim: 1:15) – 1:15 – 1:30
Bike: Avg 20 mph or higher (Aim 21.5 mph) – 5:15 – 5:40
Run: Avg 9 min/miiles or less (Aim: 8:00) – 3:45 – 4:00
Transitions: 5 min or less – 10:00
Total: 10:40 – 11:20
Swim: 3x Week (Drills + Intervals, Tempo, Long)
Bike: 3x Week (Intervals, Tempo, Long)
Run: 3x Week (Speed, Tempo, Long)
The Periodization Cycle:Strength: 3x Week (Heavy, Supersets, Endurance)
Yoga/Stretch: 2x per week (possibly more in Recovery Weeks)
To include A LOT of BRICKS!!!
2 Week – Base (Low Intensity, High Duration)
2 Week – Build (Med Intensity, Med Duration)
1 Week – Peak (High Intensity, Low Duration)
1 Week – Recovery (Low Intensity, Low Duration)
I decided last night to put my own plan together with the help of a bunch of resources to include what worked for me over the last year. I will definitely be building in weekend workouts with the A-Train and speed workouts with Progressive, but besides that, if anyone wants to work out with me during the week, you are more than welcome.
|The Goof’ On-Duty|
I wanted to put this out there to not only give a glimpse into what goes on inside a goofy brain like mine but also to make myself accountable. I hope to continue to blog about this new journey and while I am learning and experiencing I may be able to bring an ounce of motivational inspiration to anyone whom thought doing an Ironman was beyond their reach, because let’s face it; if I can do it, anyone can do it.
(Seize the Way! or Seize the Road)