Tag Archives: strength training

Running at Shawnigan Lake Triathlon

This one weird trick will change the way you run

…and you’ll never guess what it is!

Just tear your ACL, get knee surgery, and be forced to teach yourself to run all over again. Easy-peasy!

No really, if there was a blessing in disguise for being off running for a couple of years, it was that I had to learn to run again.

Recovery was slow but steady, but running and triathlon training have been a different kettle of fish.

The fact that I am now regularly running 10k – and have signed up for a fall half marathon, is a miracle of modern medicine. And, to be honest, a testament to my following my physiotherapist’s instructions.

I began by “running” only the straightaways on a track, walking the curves, but it was clear from the very first foray that I would have to run differently.

I would have to run more efficiently, on my forefoot, the way Victoria runner Marilyn Arsenault tried to teach me years ago while I was training for my second or third marathon.

I had signed up for one of her clinics, then got impatient and left the group because I felt re-learning my running gait was interfering with my training. So I remained a heel-striker through my journey into triathlon some years later.

Then the knee injury and the surgery and the recovery.

So there I was, on the track, ready to run for the first time in two and a half years. I started out tentatively and immediately felt pain shoot up through the newly-reconstructed knee.

Discouraged wasn’t nearly a strong enough word. My tears said it all, and Ken could only commiserate.

Then I remembered the two or three Mindful Strides sessions I did manage to get through years ago in Victoria.

Then and there, I switched my running gait to land more on my forefoot, with my bodyweight firmly under me.

Quite frankly, it was the only way I could run without pain. I was astounded that by switching up my gait, there was no pain at all.

I was running again!

I was slow as molasses. It was deliberate and exhausting, but exhilarating. It was a total of about 2 kilometres. But I was running, and it was pain-free.

I’ve been slowly building up fitness ever since. I’ve been incorporating strength training into my routine as well.

I haven’t been working on speed in the last year I’ve been running – just putting in some mileage, getting used to the idea of running and doing triathlons again. I’ve done a few hills now and then (they’re hard to avoid, living in Vancouver).

I’m still slower than I was pre-injury, but I’m hoping that’s because I haven’t deliberately trained for much of anything except completing a couple of 10k events last year.

Training starts in earnest mid-July for the Victoria Half. Then next year? Bring on the 2018 triathlon season!

Photo credit: Connie Walters Dunwoody

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Physiotherapist taping up someone's knee

Week 2: I’ve been here before

In less than three months it will be one year since the knee reconstruction surgery.

Some say writing down a goal and making it public will help achieve it. Other research says talking about a thing becomes (in one’s mind) a substitute for actually doing it, thus undermining motivation. But I’m determined —

On Saturday April 9, I’m going to run at least 5 kilometres.

My physiotherapist says absolutely I will be able to run 5K by April 9th, and then, possibly, pull off a sprint triathlon in the summer. He gave me my first two weeks of workouts, written on a piece of paper which I promptly left in the treatment room. But no matter, I have them committed to memory. It’s pretty simple: at least 2 track workouts per week jogging the straights and walking the curves, ramp up length/intensity as long as I’m relatively pain-free. Do my strength routine on off days (as well as swim and ride bike and get on the elliptical trainer).

I’ve come back from debilitating injury before; I KNOW how much work this is going to be. It’s going to involve change, and dragging myself to workouts I “don’t wanna!” do in order to be consistent. It involves elliptical machine, and the track, neither of which are my favourite places to work out, but if it gets me to my goal, I’m there. I’ve been there before. I can do this.

I’m not completely pain-free. When I overdo it, my knee hurts like a bugger – but the good news is I’m giving myself a chance to overdo it (with the oversight of my physiotherapist, and a clean bill of health from my surgeon, I hasten to add). I’m not sitting around working myself to death anymore – not since the Christmas holidays when I deliberately started increase my physical activity because I knew I had to get my stress levels in check. When I do overdo it, I back off, ice it, and hit the pool instead the next day. Working on a campus built on a hill helps. Stairs make me stronger, according to my physio guy.

I’m going to start by dragging that box full of running gear from the storage room. Wish me luck and cheer me on.

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Shifting goals

Woke up with a sore SI joint this morning. I’ve been afflicted with it since he marathon training last year. I had a good physiotherapist and soldiered on, getting a 3-minute PB.

But then things just kind of went to hell.

I stopped doing my bootcamp class, I went on vacation for a month. I started to get weak. My injuries just don’t heal like they used to. In October, I put in my worst Half Marathon performance ever. Then I moved to Vancouver,

I’ve seen a PT here, but my last “treatment” consisted of showing me exercises that I won’t do every day like I’m supposed to. I can’t pay $70 per session for that.

I’m starting to wonder if my goal of putting in a sub 2-hour half marathon this year is doable. Getting faster means putting in some consistent fast mileage. Consistent fast mileage means injury. Injury means more time and money to PT and massage, neither of which I can afford right now.

So why can’t I be satisfied with a modest 25-30k of running per week at a moderate pace? Why do I have to set an ambitious goal? (Hey – I KNOW I’m slow. For me, 2 hours is an ambitious goal. I’m not you. Deal with it.) Why can’t I sign up for a race without a goal in mind? Why sign up for a race at all?Target

Well, because the best part about racing is the experience of the day itself: lining up with hundreds, if not thousands, of other runners excited about their performance. Race day is a victory lap, a reward for training, for putting in the miles no one sees. Half the fun is cheering for the other runners on the course, especially team mates you’ve been training with for months.

In racing, my time does not count. I’m just another mid-to-back-of-the-pack runner in a sea of spandex. I’m not even going to place in my age group. Ever.

It’s the journey, not the tape. Hell I won’t even see the tape.

Training hard also takes away from other things I want to do: writing, cooking spending time with my man (who just moved in), maybe even performing slam poetry again.

Someone with ultra-stamina could probably do all that and more. Not me, not any more. I know my energy levels and my priorities.

So, just as I’m reflecting on my priorities for 2012, I’m taking a good hard look at what I really want to accomplish this year, and I’m adjusting accordingly.

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