Friday, 24 September 2010

Who said running doesn't hurt? Get used to it!

   Don't you just love running magazines?  They are a  constant source of valuable information aren't they? 
Sometimes not always quite mindful of the vast majority of runners and their lifestyles.   
It's about this time of year when so many runners re-introduce elements into their training which have not featured over the summer. 
  Perhaps you've been off-road all through the lighter months and embark on a programme of punishing road runs, possibly even reps or tempo runs.  Perhaps you've been concentrating on honing your speed with racing and track sessions and embark on the first session in a programme of hill reps.  Whatever the scenario,  a change in an aspect of our training will without doubt have a severe impact on the old legs.
  You know the one.  September. "Started hills at the club last night. Can't walk this morning.   Calves are mashed.  Quads feel as if someone's taken a hammer to them.  Hamstrings really sore!"
 The technical term for the pain as I'm sure most of you well informed readers know is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).   I would suggest many "new runners" at this point reach for the phone and book a physio.   The experienced  know the score and know that if they "take a hammer" to the legs within the next week and repeat at intervals then eventually the pain goes!

 But our learned magazine writer suggests you  get up on the Wednesday morning following your Tuesday night session and run a cold water bath,  into which you pour buckets of ice which you have conveniently positioned in your freezer.   Immerse yourself for 10 minutes.  Coming home from work at lunchtime, you repeat this.  (Not sure where you have acquired this second batch of ice)   You repeat for a third time on returning  from work.  
 Now you might consider this practice a tad inconvenient;  possibly for the following reasons.  
One, you are always late for work on a Wednesday and risk being sacked,
two, you can't make it home for lunch,
three, your better half and the kids want to use the bathroom before going to school/work,
four, you are afraid this immersion is effecting your love life and the prospect of further kids,  five,   you do not own a freezer the size of an articulated lorry.
                            OK.  So not a keen on that idea.  Don't want to end up like this........?

What about massage?   You calculate that  once weekly this will eat into 5% of your modest salary; so that's not a good idea.    You could always "self massage" the article suggests. Fine.
 Third idea suggested is to stretch and do a "mini-version" as they call it of whatever caused the DOMS in the first place. But just when? the next day? the next week?
  There is no doubt about it,  tempo runs, track sessions, hill reps etc. can "hurt".   I would always suggest planning to gradually increase the load,  is the key to keeping the pain to a minimum and avoiding injury.   But is the club coach working to the same plan?  

  The icing suggestion is just not practical for the majority. 3 x 10 minutes a DAY? but a system using cold/hot pads (not bags of peas!!) is possible with pads only costing £5  and together with "self massage"  for the lower limbs can be very beneficial I find. 
 (I use tubigrip and adhesive bandage with the hot/cold pads!)
  I certainly wouldn't return to "hills", for example, the next day.  I would keep the run flat and if the session has been a hard one surely the pace is going to be "easy" as a matter of course. Just  as long as we avoid running with a mate who has not done had a hard sesssion the night before  and is unsympathetic to the way YOU feel. Anyway....

 5.15. Time for today's run.  Quite a bit of trail this week so I'm going on the road ;keep the legs used to hitting tarmac.   The wind has dropped,  the sun's come out; now let's see if the legs have recovered some more.

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