With no marathon on the horizon I hit the cross training and cycling hard! I was determined to keep as much fitness as possible during my time of no running. I was spending between 4 and 6 hours a day across either a bike or cross trainer machine as well as using my strength and conditioning sessions to strengthen up my weak areas. A resistance band and golf ball became my best friends to help improve my ankle mobility and to loosen out the tight plantar fascia ligament across the bottom of my foot as well as doing hundreds of eccentric calf raises every day.
I have also been lucky enough to gain access to an Alter G antigravity treadmill which allowed me to get back into running a little sooner than had I had to wait for the tendon to be strong enough to with stand land running.
As you can imagine a machine like this has a big price tag, in the region of £40,000!! So there are very few around. Paula Radcliffe has one in her bedroom and Mo Farah regularly uses one as part of his weekly training but mere mortals like me have to rely on a very kind local premiership football club to allow me access to theirs!I started off with an induction session at 50% bodyweight and then moved up to 75% then 85% on subsequent sessions. Once used to the machine I ran my sessions at 85% but did my warm up and warm down at 90%. The great thing about using the Alter G is that you are actually running. There is no change in your gait or leg cadence like you get when aqua running or using an underwater treadmill. The only thing which is very slightly different is your arm carriage due to the height of the ‘bubble’ around you, but once you are used to this you can easily lower your arms as normal.
Here’s a video to see the Alter G treadmill in action:
I’ve now been running on the Alter G for 5 weeks and have been running outdoors for the last 3 weeks. I did my first session outdoors 2 weeks ago and it went well. It was a cross country session and the Achilles didn’t grumble once so if it can survive that, it can survive anything! Last week I stepped training up a bit I’m now at roughly 80% of my normal training load. I have started adding in 3 drills and mobility sessions a week to help ease the stiffness in my hips and glutes but I am still being careful and not pushing things forward to fast as there is still danger that the achilles will flare up again.
Last Sunday I did my first race back. I ran the Heaton Harriers Memorial 10k race and used it as my weekly tempo run. I ran to my heart rate and made sure that I didn’t go above my 80% threshold. I won the race in 34.46 (chip time) which is only about 17 seconds slower than last year whilst running at the same heart rate so I’m very pleased with the result.
Sunday’s race showed that in terms of fitness I’ve more or less picked up where I left off. I’m feeling quite strong in the legs which I kind of expected due to all the cycling I have done. And my average pace on my runs hasn’t dropped any. I’m pretty sure as I increase my distances though this will change as my local muscular endurance will be lacking, but we’ll see
Next up for me is another week of increasing training and then I will be doing something which I haven’t done for about 4 years – cross country! I have entered the British Athletics Cross Challenge race at Liverpool on the 23rd November. I figured being a road runner I have nothing to lose, I might not perform brilliantly but at the end of the day it’s all good strength training for the legs
This last week the weather has really gone wintery and luckily that coincided with receiving my winter kit drop from my sponsors Adidas. I am VERY lucky to receive support from Adidas and the amount of kit they send me is amazing. The picture below shows only a sample of the kit I received. On top of this there was jackets, crop tops, socks, accessories etc and I’ve still got a box to unpack!! This year’s kit is awesome though. As soon as I started unpacking it all I wanted to do was try it all out. It took me about 30minutes just to decide what to wear for my gym session as it is all so nice! The best thing though is that it is functional. It is very warm yet light enough to run in. sometimes you get kit that is warm but too heavy to run in so a bit pointless or it is so thick that it just makes you sweat buckets. I can’t wait to test it all out and really put it through its paces!