Thursday, 26 November 2015

Spine blog 4... Shoes

Beyond the current tendonitis issue, I've been thinking about practicalities of running up the Pennine Way in January. From painful prior knowledge of racing the Trigger (run on the day after the Spine starts, from Marsden to Edale), I know the flagstones across Featherbed moss can be icey and treacherous. Not only that, but pretty much the whole way up the Pennine way is fairly grim underfoot. Even with a pair of mudclaws on, last year I was slipping and sliding across the flagstones, ending up with a rather magnificent gash down my left leg. I still have the scar now.
The result of running on the Pennine way in January. Nice. I still have the scar. 

Dobbed shoes have caught my eye in the past, simply because they are cool. 8 years ago on a cold and snowy visit to the Lakes, Rob and I discussed how if we lived somewhere like that, where it was icy every winter, dobbed shoes would be a no brainer. 
So far, most of my running has been primarily off road... not on paths, but on sheep trods and open moorland. Chunky mud plugging grips have been absolutely fine. If I have ever needed to use microspikes, paving slabs and loads of ice have been involved. The kind of terrain that I am pretty much expecting to find in January on the Pennine way. 
Spiky bits that'll probably get used. Kahtoola Microspikes. 

I do indeed have microspikes, but there will be times where there is not enough ice to warrant wearing them. Heck, I certainly don't want to be having to wear them for the entire 108miles, so something with a little more grip on the ice might well be useful. Especially if it has enough grip to be used across the bogs as well. 

I've always wanted a pair of Icebug shoes. They caught my imagination years and years ago when I had absolutely no use for them at all. I still don't have a pair, and now they seem to very firmly be aiming themselves at a mass obstacle race market... Fair enough, that is where the money is these days. Also, it appears that Icebugs are quite high volume shoes, so someone such as myself, with smaller feet, might have some issue with them. 
Salomon do a couple of pairs of dobbed shoes which look very cool. The Spikecross look like a pair of speedcross with dobs, and the Snowcross look like a pair of Spikecross with an integral snowgaiter. I've never had the opportunity to put a pair on, and, to be totally honest, am not about to drop £280 or £320 on a pair of shoes, no matter what. Sorry Salomon. Cool shoes though. 

So I have stayed true to my fellrunning roots, and was able to get hold of a couple of pairs of Inov8 Orocs to try on. (Thanks Pete Bland at the FRA relays). I'm normally a 7, but having spoken to a few people a bit more experienced at long long ultras, they were saying that I should really be looking at a pair of shoes that are a bit bigger than my normal size, to account for foot swelling, and also to account for bigger, and indeed more socks that Im probably going to end up wearing. 
Inov8 Orocs... look at them dobs. Phwoor. 

I have a minor issue with longer shoes than I am used to. Back when I had a pair of  size 7 Baregrips, they were actually a touch long, and I kept tripping up because I wasn't used to having that extra tiny bit of shoe at the toe end of my foot. It wouldn't be good to keep tripping up on a 108 mile race, and anyway, in the winter 2 pairs of socks in size 7 Inov8s tend to be fairly ok for me.

I tried on a pair of 7s, then the 7.5s. Then I got a pair of 'waterproof' socks to go over the normal ones that I had on and tried them on again.... Yes, the 7.5s had a little more space, as you'd expect, but the 7s were still comfortable, the right length, and not particularly stifling. 
Yes, after a good few hours in the saddle my feet will not be feeling the same, and no, the fit certainly won't be quite as comfortable, but in this case, I'm going with what I know. 

Recent training... before the achillies tendonitis thing

The Orocs are the same upper as the x-talons that I have raced in for the last couple of years, and have run multiple miles in back to back. They are the "precision" last, which, again, my foot seems to work well with. The soles have a bit of a different grip to that which I am used to, but thats kind of the point. Hopefully the rubber will be decent, the dobs will provide a fair amount of grip on pretty much everything I come across, and the size will be about right. 
Having not used these before, I'm not totally confident about how much to use them prior to the event. Will the dobs last 100km? 500km? Will they end up coming out of the rubber? Should I run just generally across the moors in them to help soften them up? Should I practice running up and down the Pennine way in them to get used to the feeling? 
Ah, decisions, decisions. One thing is for sure, I'm not going to be wearing them around the house!

As ever - I should say Why I'm doing this.... basically, I'm running the Spine Challenger as part of the Inaugural Mountain Rescue Challenge. Members of MR run 108 miles to raise money for their teams. 
As a member of Glossop MRT, I, and 3 others are raising funds for the less glamorous aspects of our team. Vehicle servicing, replacing out of date and used medication, stretcher maintenance, the kind of thing that ain't cool, but without which, we would fail to be a functioning team. 
If you feel able, please donate here, and feel free to re-tweet, re-post and generally get the word out. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Spine 3 - Injury

In the run up to the Spine I was meant to be posting lots of jolly happy stuff about all the gear that is going in my rucksack, and all the exciting training that has been going on. I even had a post ready about shoes (how highly exciting, I hear you say).

However, that has been overtaken by a rather more pressing need - to fix myself.
Not ACTUALLY a picture taken while I was out. I was concentrating on running, rather than getting my phone out for photo ops every now and then. If you're trying to work out where it is on the PW, you won't have much luck. I think it was taken in Wales. 

I was out on a weekend of running up near Settle over the weekend, and had some pretty "good" weather, if you want to call it that (sun, rain, wind, hail, more hail, sun, wind, rain etc). I decided to run with my full race kit on, or as full as I can get it at this point. Hopefully I should be able to pare the weight down a little before the race, but have yet to secure some lighter bits and bobs.
Lynne kindly picked me up at Airton

To cut a long story short(er) I did a decent distance on Friday, followed by a decent distance on Saturday before noticing that some of the stuff in my pack wasn't packed optimally, and I was developing a bruise on my back. Not only that, but my left achilles was feeling a little sore. So I decided to call in air support (well, Lynne in a Rover 25), and got a lift back. The extra (planned) 30k on top of an already sore back and achilles probably wasn't going to do me any good.

Sunday morning was a bit painful to walk around the hostel. The achilles was in a fair amount of pain. On investigation, there was quite a swollen bit of tendon just below the level of the ankle.
Too much weight for too long without enough build up. Reactive tendonopathy.

So my training this week, and indeed for the next few weeks, has been severely curtailed - at least in the running sense of the word. For the past couple of days I have been resting completely, even walking hurt to begin with. At this point, going down stairs is no longer painful, so that means that the tendon is beginning to get back to a state in which I can begin to rehab it properly.

For those interested in the progression I'm going to follow, its basically taken from Jill Cooks excellent recent research. (Here is a link to a BJSM podcast with her) Starting with long isometric holds (shorter holds if the tendon is particularly reactive), and progressing to weighted heel raises. Once they are painless, progressing to a graduated return to running.

Yes, I do have a better picture of my calf.... but I can't find it, and this is the closest I could get. In fairness, this bloke does have less bits of blood and cuts on his leg, so it might be a nicer image to look at. He's also holding it in the wrong place. And its the wrong leg. But never mind. 
In the meantime, I am going to ensure that my aerobic base stays high with judicious use of a rowing machine, coupled with quite a lot of strength and power based weight training. Yes, it is a little concerning that I'm not getting massive miles in, but at least I know the route, I know I can run, and the most important thing is not to aggravate this injury to the point that I have to start rehabbing from the start again.

In the meantime, if you want to sponsor me- or indeed any of the other 3 from Glossop Mountain Rescue Team who are doing this, we are raising money for the inglorious aspects of MR. Campaigns for new Land Rovers etc are always nice, and if you want to buy us one, please do go ahead, but at the moment, its those little niggly things that wear away the bank balance.... replacing used and out of date drugs, replacing team kit that keeps us dry(ish) and warm on the hill, radios that break, stretchers that need to be maintained and checked up etc etc.

Click here to go to the justgiving page.