Rob Woollen Personal Training Manchester

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Garburn Trail Run

Posted by right-way on June 6, 2009 at 3:00 PM

 I had a great run out today up in the Lake District. I often have nice enjoyable runs, but I got some great learning from this one that I wanted to share


Plan B

It was supposed to be a 24km race taking in one of the highest mountain passes in England but unfortunately the weather forecast forced the organisers to cut it short. As it happens, we got a fantastic 17km run in some very beautiful surroundings. This leads me to the first bit of learning, or at least reinforcement of what I already knew. The point is the importance of having a back-up plan - it applies equally to your training. How often have you planned to run, or go to the gym and then found you have to go down to London, or pick one of the kids up, or some other important thing. The organisers today had to make a judgement call -  the race is billed as the most scenic in Britain, but they pulled that and just made a great race out of what they had available - we could all learn from that. The fact is, we don't always get to do what we plan, but we can always make something out of what we have. That may mean a 15 minute walk rather than a 60 minute run, or  a run rather than your planned gym session - at least you get what you can! Have a little think next time your plans change - what can you do?


Listen to the niggle

The next thing I learned from today's run was to listen to my own advice! I always tell my clients to listen to their bodies, not necessarily to cry off every time they feel something but to consider it and see if they need to change something. About 6k into the run I could feel something sticking into my toe on the left foot (see the importance of this foot later) which felt like a thorn or a bit of stick or something. I decided not to pull over, and to carry on. I figured that it was probably just a piece of grit or a tiny piece of grass or similar. However at about 10k, I realised that it was sticking in on every foot strike and I was not landing right. I took a minute to pull up, took off my shoe and sock and pulled a big thorn out of my toe. I am so glad I finally decided to do that - it was big enough to cause me serious problems had I driven it right into the pad of my toe! Maybe I should have listened to the niggle before, but I felt like it was Ok so long as I monitored it. Once I realised it really was a problem I ran on better than before - and made up a fair number of the places I lost! Had I kept on going, I reckon I would have done enough damage to make me pull up and do my second ever DNF (Did Not  Finish). Not to mention what next week could have looked like! In the end, I reckon I lost about 10-12 places, but had I carried on I probably wouldn't have finished.


It's not how you do it - it's what you do!

Those of you who have worked through injury/ postural issues with me recently will know that I have been doing a lot of work on proprioception (how the body knows where it is in space) and retraining muscles in the last few months. Somtimes this involves tactile reinforcement - eg pushing against a band or a finger to make sure the right muscle gets engaged.

 I am always amazed at the complexity of our bodies, but today I was amazed at the simplicity. I have an existing hamstring issue in my right leg, and have spent the last few weeks retraining my right gluteal muscles. Perhaps I was a bit tired today, or perhaps I overdid last week, or was not toally recovered from the weekend before. Either way, I realised at some point during the (quite hilly) run today that I was running using only my left leg to run up or down hills. It is a bit like using just one leg to lead up stairs - just lots of them! This not only meant that my left leg was tiring more quickly, but also that my left ankle was starting to take far too much strain - it was starting to hurt me, I realised that the issue was my brain sub-consciously protecting my poorly right hamstring. However my brain was misguided. What really needed to be done was to get my right gluteal working harder. But how to do this? What do you say to yourself in the middle of a run to engage a muscle? Well it was quite simple as it happens! I just said to myself, "You know how to use the glutes - you've been practising for weeks - just do the same thing - get it done." And it was. Sometimes we can get to bound up in thinking how to do something when all we really need to do is get it done. For example if I ask you to lift your left arm, you don't think, "OK, engage anterior deltoid a bit, and trapezius, then a little bit of brachioradialis and smidgin of extensor" do you? Sometimes we need to train muscles to do something a bit alien, but once they are trained,we just need to tell them to do it and remember a time that they have done it before.


Walking hill man

One fellow runner today was making great time by walking up the hills (a la Army "yomping") and absolutely steaming down the descents. It just goes to show- if you have a great technique, use it - maybe it is right for you!


All in all I had a great race today and really enjoyed it. I came in about 10 mins beind the leader, but I wasn't racing him, I was racing me - and I won! Thanks very much to the race organiser and the marshals as always.

Categories: Racing and events

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1 Comment

Reply Rob Woollen
12:22 PM on June 8, 2009 
Just checked the results and I was actually closer to 20 mins behind the winner! And I lost exactly 9 places to the thorn. Pretty chiffed with that because about 20 passed me!