Hi Runners! Welcome back to Runner Diaries. I apologise for not posting recently, I have been spending the last few weeks travelling and slowly upping my trainings again. After my physio appointment around two weeks ago, which showed that my knee pains were due to muscle tightness, I have been cleared to run!
The first few sessions were slow and unsteady. I had lost quite a lot of confidence in my own body and was nervous that the pain would return in my knees. There was very limited pain when I started training again, but sometimes there would be a dull ache in my left knee when I went up and down stairs.
The main change for me was my post-run recovery process. I had always focused a lot of my time on stretching before my sessions, but I had always neglected the recovery after my runs, as I was always rushing to get home for schoolwork, or dinner.
I changed two main things:
- I stopped rolling before workouts. Apparently, this doesn’t achieve anything as your muscles are not warmed up. Instead, I swapped rolling for dynamic stretches. As I was only doing slow runs for around 15-20 minutes at 9 min/mile pace, I would spend the first half an hour of my session focusing on properly warming up. I chose to run on the beach, during low-tide, when the terrain would be smooth. To slowly increase my heart rate, I would walk one length of the beach (around 700m), and then I would do dynamic drills for around 20 minutes (leg swings, drills, etc…). Then, I would jog another length of the beach, and then stop to do static stretches. This helped me to gain more confidence in my knee strength once more, and made sure that I was improving my muscle fibres and coordination by doing dynamic drills.
- After my run, my recovery became the most important aspect. If I didn’t recover enough, I wouldn’t be able to perform again the next day. I would walk home and then start rolling. For my calves, I loosened the muscles by using the hard bone on the top of my knee. Honestly, the first time I did this, it hurt so much, but over time it has improved so much and there is barely any pain anymore. For my hamstrings, I used a boule ball (like the ones you use on the beach), and I would sit on it and roll out my hamstring. My left leg would always hurt more than the right! I used a regular foam roller for my quads, making sure that I rolled as slowly as possible. I would also use the boule for my glutes and my TFL. The pain is pretty horrendous the first time, but with consistency, it is so so much better.
I am currently in Spain, after travelling from England a few days ago and I am currently focused on 5/6 mile tempo runs, 1 hour long runs, strength and conditioning sessions and a few track sessions per week. The aim is to keep the sessions simple, and slowly get fitter before moving onto higher volumes and increased qualities of the trainings.
The track sessions are 300m/400m reps with very little recovery, as I am building up my endurance base. As there are obviously no races for the time being, I can enjoy the time I spend running, without having to rush or focus on having to get to other places.
As I am currently not in my fittest state, it is very hard not to get overwhelmed and stressed thinking about the future and the lack of races. I am not under any pressure, but the fact that I am starting from scratch in almost every area of my life can be a little overwhelming. Starting a new school, a new running club, meeting new people, thinking about universities and the future are very scary prospects, but the experiences I will gain will be incredible. I am focusing on the present and enjoying the time I can spend running and reminiscing about past memories as we pack up the house.
The 2nd Edition of the Weekly Newsletter will be up very soon, and the next blog will mainly be focused on adjusting to the Spanish heat and adapting to the post-pandemic changes!
Lots of love,