Sunday, February 28, 2010

Q & A

"I also wanted to update you on my shin splint dilemma. They are getting worse with each run and I am getting more frustrated. I have never experienced shin splints and my pain tolerance is extremely high but I have to tell you for the training run I have only been able to get up to 3 minutes and I can't run anymore. I am not giving up and I don't want to be Debbie Downer or anything but it is not just my shin, it is my arch in my foot as well and it is really starting to suck. I have never been able to run and I really want to make this my goal to start running but how do I get past the shin splints????" - B.

B., I really wish more of our team could have attended Saturday's session. Along with the workout, I went over some self care/maintenance stuff. Mainly we focused on using tennis balls for massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy. Below are a couple instructional videos which can be helpful and demonstrate some of what I covered in class. Unfortunately, the videos do not show everything I covered, yet performing these self care techniques will go a long way towards helping your shins stay healthy while you are learning the new running form.

I suggested to our group that rather than spend vast amounts of time massaging their entire body with the tennis balls, which can be too time consuming, they should instead pick an area of the body to focus on each day, work that area for 15-30 minutes and then hit other areas the next day. Doing what you learn here along with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (good old "RICE") should do the trick. If it persists, let me know and get it checked out right away.

One thing I like to add to the techniques shown in the videos, is that when you find a hot spot and work on it for a few moments, continue to hold the ball on the hot spot and then add some mobility by making circles with your foot and doing some flexing movements. When working above the knee, do the same and then work some knee flexing and extending while holding the pressure.

While you can purchase the tools featured in each video, I find it cheaper and easier to simply buy a tube of 3 tennis balls, tape 2 of them together, and use the other ball to do any isolation work or to roll laterally across the muscle tissue. Foam rollers are fine for bigger muscles or for really tender areas, but ultimately they are not as effective.

Keep me posted!

Here you go:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Running the Rails

Earlier today I had one of the more interesting runs that I've had in a long time. I met up with fellow PR Fitness Coach, Richard Stent, just West of Pittsboro and for a very unique run; something I had never done before, yet something Richard is quite familiar with - rail road running. We jumped on the tracks and headed West. Sure, I've ran on abandoned tracks when I was a kid, or a "rails to trails" kind of thing, but never an active rail system.

At first, it was really tricky to get the hang of running atop of rail road ties and rock. I wasn't sure what the best strategy might be, so I just followed Richards lead and did my best to let things flow. The head wind was stout at times, yet I really didn't care as I was in good company and way too focused on my footing to care about wind or cold.

After 45 minutes of running, we decided to turn around and head back. Our pace quickened on the return leg and I really began to find the rhythm and flow as I let my instincts take charge and not "think" so much. I also noticed my strength was good and my running technique was making the transition to running on the unique terrain of the day. The final 30 minutes were really quite enjoyable and I can see why Richard makes "Running the Rails" and regular part of his running routine.

We ended up covering just over 6.6 miles, but I gotta tell ya, the mental and physical impact felt more like a 10 mile trail run with hills. The training effect was fantastic - mental focus, skill and accuracy in stride and foot placement, leg/lower leg/foot strengthening, stamina, endurance, it was all there.

I can't condone running the rails, as I don't want to be responsible for any of you getting splattered by a freight train during a training run (heck, I don't even know if it's legal), yet I'm sure I'll do this style of training again in the near future.