I’m into my second week of loading (pre taper) and have a slight niggle giving me some jip.
In the last 20mins or so within all of my long runs of the last 6 weeks I’ve experienced a mild pain in my right quad, the rectus femoris to be more precise – an area of the quadriceps which is most commonly injured among sports enthusiasts. On Sunday just gone the last 20mins were pretty sore and had I not been with my friend, Allie Wilson I’d probably have cooled the jets a little.
It’s a grade 1 strain which means I have relatively little pain with no swelling or bruising present. Like I say, the pain only comes around on my long runs. On every other session it isn’t there. However, the guidance says that a lack of care can easily result in progression to a grade 2 and/or grade 3 strain. And Grade 3 means surgery!
So with 3 more weeks of high load planned I have been a little bit apprehensive of late.
I think I have a good idea of why it has occurred. My right leg is 5mm shorter than the left. I was told by the sports injury consultant that one leg is usually shorter than the other but the average is closer to a 2mm difference. My right leg is also slightly weaker than my left.
But that is only part of the reason. In the past I cycled every day and included a lengthy bike ride on the odd weekend. I also spent a fair bit of time in the hills. Neither cycling nor the hills have featured in my training for this ultra. So I think that my quads have lacked that kind of workout whilst being subjected to the more repetitive nature of running.
It would be worse had I not trained on a variety of surfaces – at different intensities – wearing different trainers depending on the terrain i.e. if I had only run on roads.
So what am I going to do about it?
Well my attention is first drawn to our (Rob and I) West Highland Way attempt on the 9th Dec. I have thought about dropping all load and bringing the taper forward – as well as the attempt. My thinking for this is that the lack of high mileage through the taper will allow for some recovery. However, I’m keen to get through the load phase for reasons I am about to explain.
I’m in the shape of my life. Every run I go on I’m recording pb’s e.g. my recovery runs done at about 68% of maximum heart rate are now down to 7:30 minute miles! I am doing more weekly mileage than I’ve ever done and am getting through it effortlessly. I wake every morning feeling fresh and ready for the rigours of whatever training I have scheduled for the day. I’m running up hills with ease where only 3 or 4 weeks ago I’d have to break into a power walk. I don’t seem to have fatigue whatever I do. In short I’m obviously peaking. And what is more, I’ve never experienced this before. Surely this is testament to everything I have learned this year – and put into practice?
That said it may also be down to a certain supplement I have started taking; Neovite. I started taking this at the start of my load phase (last saturday). This was pure coincidence as I had just found out about it via Rob. My reason for taking it was to give my immune system a boost whilst the cold nights close in. It would appear that there is good reason for this product being used by so many athletes – worldwide. I wonder if anyone who reads this will get round to trying it for themselves? Perhaps this is the reason I feel as though I’m peaking. Put it another way, I actually think I could up my load by about a third and still be comfortable.
But then I am reminded about the thigh strain.
· I am doing more stretching than usual.
· I am wearing compression shorts (skins) more often.
· I have bought a thigh strap (Mueller) which I am wearing throughout the day.
· I use the TENS machine more often – particularly on the injured area.
· I ice the injured area immediately after a big session – even if I haven’t felt a twinge.
· I have upped my intake of glucosamine sulphate from 500mg to 1000mg per day.
· I am doing a bit more strength and core work throughout the week.
I am also applying the magnesium spray every day and if I was rich I'd get myself one of those ultrasound thingies that some (vain) women use on their face. Apparently these contraptions can help heal muscle and tendon damage. Something to do with collagen production!
I am hopeful that this will just about see me through to the end of the load phase and allow me to do all the training I have planned. The litmus test will be my long run this Saturday. If it goes again I may have to bring the attempt forward.
On the good side though and as I’ve pointed out, I’m already in the shape of my life. By binning two more weeks of load I’ll probably sacrifice an hour or so from my expected time. And with no pressure in terms of being in a race, it’s not all that bad a sacrifice to have to make.