Sunday, April 28, 2013

Achilles Heel

I am quite fond of saying that I have not been injured in years, especially when someone tries to take me to task over my training regime, usually criticising the mileage I tend to run on roads. I just remembered the last time when I had what I would classify as an injury, it was Achilles tenosynovitis after the Dingle marathon in 2010. The reason why I remembered is the fact that my Achilles has been acting up again recently, though I can't remember if it was the same leg or not. It's just a niggle and as long as it doesn't get any worse I won't call it an injury, and it does remind me that I'm certainly not bullet proof and that my Achilles tendon tends to be my metaphorical Achilles heel [sorry...].

I have had quite a few niggles in that area before, and my go-to cure, which has worked every time except on that one occasion back in 2010, is to do eccentric calf raises (described here, and criticised here), which gives it a great success rate and I'm more than happy to do it once more.

I'm pretty sure it was the mountain running that brought this on, the load on the back of the legs on these steep trails is far greater than it would be on roads with their much gentler gradients, though those extra load are of course the very reason why I am seeking out those trails. Right now the discomfort is definitely manageable (let's say 3 out of 10, worst I've felt last week was 5 / 10), and so far it hasn't had any impact on my training - which is why I call it a niggle and not an injury.

Training wise I'm still building up the mileage, I followed up last week's 74 miles with just over 80 and as long as everything goes to plan I'll do a few more in the next week. The effort has been easy, I never once checked the Garmin when I was out running, the pace always came naturally, though I did raise an eyebrow on more than one occasion when the pace was a good bit faster than would I would have expected.

The one exception to the "natural" pace was on Friday when I did a few faster miles. I was still fairly relaxed doing 6:34 pace over 8 miles, though I did find it quite astonishing that I managed to run an entire marathon at pretty much the same pace last month.

Today's 20 miles went by smoothly, though I did start to tire after 15 miles, which turned the fact that I was going past our driveway after 16.5 miles into a bit of a character test, though I managed to come through that one.

Right now this is identical to a marathon base training phase. As I get closer to race day it will become more ultra specific, though I'm still unsure what the effort will look like. I can't see myself doing 8-hour training runs at 10-minute-pace, and I know that elite ultra runners like Keith Whyte tend to do a fairly fast pace during most of their training. Obviously, and there's no need for reminders, I am not an elite ultra runner and training like an elite runner generally isn't a good idea for the rest of us, and that's exactly where I'm struggling right now. At the moment the plan is to keep doing what I'm doing, run the Killarney marathon at a decent enough pace (not at race pace, of course) and the Cork marathon as a pacer, add maybe another marathon to the list (maybe, maybe not) and then re-assess where I'm standing, how I'm feeling and how quickly I am recovering from these efforts, which will help in deciding how I'm going to approach the 10in10. If that sounds like I'm winging it, maybe I am, but I like to think it's educated guessing, not just pure guessing.
25 Apr
10 miles, 1:15:09, 7:31 pace, HR 143
26 Apr
10 miles, 1:07:30, 6:45 pace, HR 155
   incl. 8 miles @ 6:34 pace
27 Apr
10 miles, 1:10:48, 7:05 pace, HR 147
28 Apr
20 miles, 2:27:17, 7:21 pace, HR 147

Weekly Mileage: 80+


  1. I only hope that you never get a chance to use that "My Achilles tendon tends to be my Achilles heel" gag l again!

  2. might be trigger points in the calf area with referred pain to the achilles (as it was in my case). i manage mine with a tennis ball and roller.

    def worth checking out the ata site:

  3. Great blog, I really enjoyed reading it! I'm personally only just starting out on my running 'career', and am aiming to do the London Marathon next year. I've started my own blog about it, would love if you'd get a moment to have a read!!