Sticking to the Plan (Not!)


Return to Running

The biggest downside this last 10 days has been not sticking to the plan of cycling and swimming more. A long weekend away to Scotland for a wedding scuppered most of my training days so I only completed the achilles rehab and even then was using just my body weight.

However I returned to running this morning with a 5km Park Run, which is a bit sooner than I’d anticipated or that I’d normally recommend. The achilles has been feeling great all week though – no morning stiffness, no pain after basketball (yes, probably shouldn’t have been playing!) and no tenderness to touch.


Park Run Danson Park

In my other training I only managed one session each of swimming and cycling and that was indoors on a Watt Bike, not that there’s anything wrong with cycling indoors but when you lack experience road cycling that needs to be addressed. The Watt Bike was quite revealing though, showing a definite preference for my left leg which was doing nearly 60% of the work in the early stages. Despite trying to keep it all even it only balanced out (to 52:48 in favour of left) once I’d begun to fatigue. Also my power was much lower than I’d expected, only averaging around 1.8w/kg – having said that I feel as though I could have gone quite a bit harder.

Over the last few weeks the aim has been to get into a better training habit, putting sessions in the diary at the same time each week and making it part of my day – as my wife will tell you training consistency is not a strong point of mine! Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s training for an event or rehabbing an injury, being consistent is important and the best place to start is to have a plan.

Google “half ironman training plan” and you’ll get over 3 million results, so where do you start? Well for me it will be addressing some issues I know I’m likely to face. With my Sports Therapist head on I know that prevention is better than cure. With the achilles I started the rehab pretty much as soon as I first noticed the symptoms and 10 days later I’m back running pain free. Admitting there’s an issue is one of the most common delays in dealing with an overuse injury like this, “the pain wasn’t enough to stop me running” is one of the things I hear most often!

In the clinic I see a lot of runners (and athletes from other sports) that are suffering from achilles pain and the vast majority are coming in to see me after 3-4 months or more of pain – sometimes even longer. In most instances we’re able to effectively deal with the achilles and get everyone back to their sport pain free, but the time it takes to do that is definitely correlated with the length of time they’ve had the issue. My advice if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort is to get it checked sooner rather than later – in the long term it’ll mean missing less training and improving performance as a result.

So what’s the plan now? To actually put a proper plan together! Phase 1 is strength and conditioning to address the following primary issues:

  • achilles and lower leg strength – ensure there’s no repeat of the achilles tendon pain
  • shoulder stability – I have significant laxity in my shoulders which can cause problems with swimming
  • flexibility – I can barely reach the middle of my shins… that’s just asking for trouble with my knees and back!
  • trunk strength – I’ve had repeated spells of lower back pain since a bad injury about 20 years ago

I’ll post the full phase 1 plan next time.

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