http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: September 2011

Sunday, 18 September 2011

CSSC Games in Loughborough

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We love Twitter. The reason being we are able to share information about our world - Sports Massage. It's also a great networking media. A few weeks ago we were invited, via Twitter, to help out with sports massage support at the Civil Service Sports Council Games at Loughborough University. An event held every 2 years, it brings together a lot of Civil Servants from across the country for 2 days of inter-departmental games. This year the Games were held on 15/16 September. The disciplines range from Football, Netball, Hockey, Chess, Athletics and Squash, and are hotly contended.

Lynne and I drove down to Loughborough early on Thursday morning, and registered with the organisers. Two other therapists were also around, but it took then a little longer to get through the early morning traffic on-site (lots of construction works going on). We divvied up the events between us, and split off to go our separate ways. Lynne picked Zone 1, which had its own treatment room, and the bonus of being equipped with a hydraulic couch and ice dispenser (she found that out on arrival at the room). Her main sports to look after were Netball, Touch Rugby and Badminton. I got Zone 2, and I set up in a small tent outside the rubber crumb AstroTurf of the Seniors Football tournament. A second lot of Netball courts were just around the corner, as was table tennis, and I was led to believe that Swimming was very close as well, though I never actually saw any of the swimmers.

Tom, from Whiteway Fitness was over at the Hockey Pitch, and Matt was down at the Rounders area, and our days were very different.

Netball in action
From the football perspective, most of the guys were very used to playing football on a fairly weekly basis, either 5 or 6-a-side. The refs were all very jovial, and the organisation was excellent. For the vast majority of Thursday I was inundated with footballers with Lower Back Pain or tight calves, sometimes both. The refs also came for treatment. I managed to sort out pretty much everyone that came to see me. As the day went on, there were a few more specific problems that I ended up dealing with, tight piriformis, taping up the wrist of a netball player, and helping out a table tennis player who had done something particularly nasty to his back in his last game of the day.

I was very happy at the end of the day to have a number of players thank me for helping them play on through the tournament when they thought they were going to have to pull out with painful calves and tight lower backs, so that was great. The second day was much of the same, but with a couple of potentially more serious issues. The footballers who play quite often were fairly philosophical about it. Sprained ankles, twisted knees etc. I told them honestly that it probably wouldn't be such a great idea to play on, and they listened. I was a little surprised about that, but all credit to them, they realised that the games weren't the be all and end all, and they wanted to be able to walk home as opposed to play through injury and make it worse.
Badminton finals underway

The second day also saw me head on down to the netball courts where I helped treat a few sprained ankles (much worse than the footballing ones), a couple of knees that needed taping up, and persuasion of a few people that it really wasn't worth their health to go back on court even if it meant losing. The netballers are a hardheaded lot, and no matter what the injury, a number of them just wouldn't back down, and went back out - mostly because they didn't want to let their teams down. As a therapist and first aider, you do what you can, but you can't change the mind of someone who wants to play on.

By the end of the second day I think we were as tired as the players, despite not running around anywhere. It was a great couple of days, and a brilliant experience to work in a situation that we don't normally find ourselves in. Thanks to the organisational guys, especially Neil from proFITme who made contact with us initially, and the volunteers who helped make it all happen and make it all run smoothly. We hope our small contribution helped to make the games a success for the participants.

Lantern Pike Fell Race

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Well. I didn't enjoy that!

Mainly, it has to be said because my running style doesn't seem to work with a race like that, it was hard, hard work, and it wasn't the hills that did for me.
So what happened?

This particular version of a Fell race up Lantern pike is run on the first day of the Hayfield Sheepdog trials and show. We got there in plenty of time, thanks to a lift with one of my fellow triplers from last week, John S, and wandered around the show for a while. Lots of good stuff to see and do. The Chainsaw carver was particularly good, as was the eagle and vulture display, I didn't get to see the pig racing, which was a little disappointing.
I suspect that I might still have the residual miles in my legs from last weeks 18 miler, which is quite a good excuse, however, not the best reason.

The Kids race
There was a great turnout from Pennine, Lantern Pike was a counter for their championship, and a decider for the year, Glossopdale had a good lot out as well, as it is a counter for the weekend championship (I didn't realise this for a while, as I'm not in contention for anything at all having joined the club more than halfway through the race calendar).

The weather was somewhat changeable throughout the day. The morning had been lovely, but on the way over there was quite a terrific downpour. Then the sun came out, clouds were piling up everywhere around the place, threatening to, but not quite actually raining. Proper sunshine and showers kind of weather.
Warming up, (I'm the one stretching, not running)

We lined ourselves up ready for the off, Stevie K ready to head on out at the front to try and get his points in the Pennine championship, unfortunately Dan Chan wasn't running because of an unfortunate footballing incident the day before. Lots of banter and excuses were being thrown around the crowd - there were about 200 odd people ready to start, and all of a sudden GO! I'm pretty certain that everyone was a bit surprised by the suddenness of the departure, and there was a mad scramble, elbows everywhere, mud flying and heels kicking all over the place. Within about 200 metres it had all calmed down a bit, and I was somewhere near the front, but my legs were complaining somewhat.

I could see the blond head of Ba-ba heading off down the field in proper fast cross-country style, followed by Mark O and Stevie K and a gaggle of others, and my legs said good-bye to them, I was struggling. Already. Not a good sign.

Down the hill to the river and past Lynne, whom I didn't see as I was too busy trying not to fall over in a slithering sliding muddy mess, and down to the road. Across the road and up the hill, on tarmac. The Plod began. From now, the legs continued their slow decline, my lungs didn't feel like they were working, and people came past.
Mud tastic - but in the sun
John H was up ahead, and although he wasn't disappearing away, he certainly wasn't getting any closer. Up the hill, a guy from Altringham was alternately walking and running and walking and running, I shuffled up to him, he ran away for 5 steps, then walked, I caught up, he ran on again. It was almost comedic apart from the fact we were both too knackered to laugh. And this is before we've even gone 2 km.

Up the hill, Chris strides past on his long legs looking fresh - oh dear, I'm just losing ground now.
The only person I'm keeping up with is Andy - with whom I did the 15 trigs with. We swap around a bit, then Charlie goes past us as if we are standing still. I COULD go faster, but that would blow out all my reserves of energy and within 300 metres I'd be collapsed in a heap and further back than now, I just have to keep going.

Flipping heck. Maybe I should just see this one as a bit of a training run, I'm certainly not being competitive. We pass Tom taking pictures and a wildly enthusiastic Des, who is marshaling, and finally come to a slight downhill section where Andy and I overtake about 3-4 people and catch back up with Chris, but then it flattens out AGAIN, and the precious places we took are taken back again as our straight, flat speed is out gunned by everyone else. Onto tarmac, and more people overtake, 1st lady goes past me, a Dark Peaker, and there is nothing I can do to respond, or even think about responding.
Through a field, road, then a stile, Chris is ahead of me and making excellent ground on those ahead of him, on a short ascent he makes up 4 places, swiftly followed by the 1st lady.

More road, over a cattle grid and an ascent up the road, onto a track, losing places, past a group of walkers, Andy is in front of me now, and that Altringham chap who runs and walks, and we swing up onto the ascent to Lantern Pike. Everyone is walking. The sun is still out, but rain is threatening.
Up the steep part, a sharp right and a runnable bit to the top of the hill. I eventually overtake the Altringham guy and Andy, heading up to the top, and there is Tom taking pictures again.
Over the top and down, at last a bit that I can enjoy, slightly technical muddy and slippy down hill, I stretch away from Andy, over take a couple of people, and follow someone who is evidently just as happy as I am about the fact its now a bit more techy. The rain starts pouring in earnest.
He gets away from me for a bit, and I see Chris and the Dark Peak lady battling it out ahead, too far to catch? Maybe.

Again, back past the still wildly enthusiastic (if slightly damp) Des, and down the hill again, the rain comes down harder and the guy in front begins to flag. I keep it nice and paced, this is the fun part. Down and right, onto more tarmac, round a couple of corners and I overtake him on the tarmac. There is another person now between me and Chris, and the next part is a steep steep tarmac downhill section, I let it all go and just let the legs do their thing. Hit the ground hard, get grip, keep going. The water is pouring down the road, but the friction of my feet in the shoes warms my feet up. I stay a distance behind the guy, but as we go down the hill he tires, and I catch him, and pass. To the bottom, I'm getting closer to Chris and the Dark Peaker, we have 400 metres left, I look at my watch, not long to go before 40 mins is up. I know Chris ideally wants a sub-40 min time.

Coming in at the end
We come up onto the road and cross it, and they are about 30 metres ahead of me, I shout at Chris that its 38 mins and to get a wiggle on if he wants that time. He shouts back that he's got a stitch, and the Dark Peak lady seems to surge in front of him. Now its all muddy field uphill to the end. We go down and around, and then past the muddy stream that we went through at the beginning, I nearly catch Chris, but he accelerates away up the hill, past the Dark Peaker and away. I contour around behind her, and if this last part is uphill, I'm a gonner. We come out of the field, and its a flat sprint all the way home.

Stretch out, and go. Not a hope of catching Chris, but I pass the Dark Peak lady and come in at 40:20, 33rd.
The rain descends in anger as we mingle at the end, a growing number of muddy, shattered runners, standing/lying/sitting in a downpour in the middle of a field.

Andy comes in very soon after me, and Charlie not long after that. John H had a long and very tiring race, commenting that he probably won't do the triple next year. We both had the same experience of just having nothing in our legs.

There was lots of places for road runners to overtake, but not many techy bits for fell runners to excel at. I'm still fine with the downhill bits, but I need to work on flat speed and uphills. I say that all the time, but now the racing season is over, I might actually be able to work on my weaknesses a bit.

Well done to Mark O for being first Glossopdale home in 6th (I think), and well done to all those that ran in the rain, hail, thunder and lightning. I didn't see the last 3, but apparently it was all happening up there!
yes, that is quite an angle on the hill...

The sun then came out and we chilled out at the fair for a bit before adjourning to Sikobes house for a rather splendifourus end of racing season Glossopdale BBQ. Thanks for hosting, Sikobe, a great time was had by all, even the long suffering Ian who ended up cooking (apparently for the first time in a long time).
Ian, doing what he does best. And cooking.
Thanks to the organisers and marshals for making the race safe and organised, I found it hard, but it shows me what I need to practice to get better. Thank you.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A story of 3 races. Coombs Tor, Padfield Scamper and the Coal Sack race

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A day with 2 fell races is always going to present a choice, unless they are close enough to each other to get from one to the other in time for the second one to start.
This will normally involve a bit of pre-planning and a car.
What if the races are on the same day, a decent amount of time between them, and a runnable distance from each other? What then.
Numbering up for Coombs

We started off the day picking up Sikobe (whose idea this entire folly it was) and John S and wended our way out to Rowarth for the start of Coombs tor race. The first time this race has been run, organised by Goyt Valley Stranglers. There were a few of us around who were doing both races, but fewer of us that were going to do both, and the run between them.
We dropped off the bags of stuff we were going to take from one race to the other, and warmed up a bit. There was quite a good Glossopdale turnout for the race, which is always good, a nice social scene. I don't know if we outnumbered all the other clubs, but I wouldn't be surprised. It was good to see Nick Barber of Pennine at the race, on his way back up north to his new job- he wasn't going to stop off at Padfield after, though, mores the shame.
route checking

Sikobe decided that anyone running all 3 sections of the day should all be given a token of our dedication to the cause and brought chillies fresh from his allotment- to be kept until the end of the races and then swapped for a "prize". hmmm. In all there were 5 of us from Glossopdale who were fool enough to do it, Me, John S, John H, Julien and Sikobe. There were also 2 other guys from Retford AC who thought they would join in the fun.

We lined up for starting a bit early, and hung around for quite a bit. The start was delayed by a horsebox loading a horse just around the corner, and time ticked away... we needed a timely start to ensure that we could get down to Padfield in time for the 2nd race. oooh. 15 mins went by and we still didn't start. Eventually we did, about 20 mins late, and there was a full blown dash down the hill (led by our own Carl Bedson, striding away like a mad thing at the front) until we hit a tiny, slippery footpath which spread things out a bit. I hung on to Julien, who took the first opportunity he had to whip his Glossopdale top off, complaining of the "heat".
Elaine and Claire from Pennine warming up
The start (and eventual end)
There were a few guys in front of me, but not a whole lot. The problem here was do I go all out, and run like crazy to get a decent result in this race and damn the second, or do I chill out on both races and the run between? Hmmm. Well, I can't let Julien get too far ahead of me, simply  because he is doing both races and I didn't really want to be too far behind him at the end of either race. Up and over the hill, down the other side and over some footpaths. Truth to tell there wasn't much in terms of an epic battle going on, I was just trying to keep Julien in sight, and there were 2 others between us who were swapping places quite a lot.
As expected, up the hills I was dropping back, and down the hills I was gaining, while the flat sections were a kind of stalemate, with one of the other guys being quite strong through the flats. Going down the only slippery grassy part of the race, Julien was a good 40 yards ahead and I managed to close up a little, but up the next part, there was no way that I was making up any time at all. I noticed a bit of a pain in the back of my left calf. Was it cramp? No, it didn't feel like cramp. A sting? A bite? as I ran, it felt more like a bite. Ah, dammit. Looking down, nope, nothing there. Oh well, just get on an ignore it as best I can.

We got to the top and there was a fair amount of undulation going on where I made nothing on any of them, and they ended up as more of a trio competing against each other. Down, and a minor mistake made because of a slightly misplaced marshal. I saw this from about 50 metres back and was able to make up a little distance, on them. Down, over a stile, left and onto a road that went down and up. Julien doesn't like road, so I made a little back on the trio ahead.

We must be 3/4 of the way around by now, my legs are aching a bit. Its not like I've been hammering around, but I certainly haven't been dawdling. I'm almost in a realm of my own, with 3 ahead and no-one else around me. By this time I'm thinking about how many people must be in front of me. Ohh. about 10. That makes me 10th. ish. I've not really been properly top 10 ever, so that's pretty damn good. I can see 9,8 and 7 in front of me, between 20 and 50 metres away, so that's not all that bad. We'll go with that.
Thanks for the photo Geoff

Up and right, and then, what? another hill? I didn't realise there was another up. Julien gets overhauled by both runners, and I'm slowly catching up. I recognise the area as I've biked around here before. It dawns on me that we will be going down quite a slippy technical descent at the end of the race, brilliant, perfect for catching people up. I keep the pace and we go on. And on. and on. I'm SURE the turning is up here somewhere, can't let them get too far ahead. Dig a little deeper, and I'm starting to feel it a lot more.
Then. I hear breathing behind me. Is that breathing? Or is it my imagination?
Not sure, the turning is coming up, doesn't matter, pretend it is breathing, and pretend its John H and it will make you go faster. Better the imagination than nothing there at all.
Cut right, out of the corner of my eye I see a blue top.
It IS John. Crikey. He was no-where just now. Better the devil behind you than imagination!
I head down the trail, I know this bit. Flat and fast on a mountain bike, getting more technical as you go down, and then a bit rocky and nasty through some trees until you come out on a tarmacked road.
I pass Julien easily with him saying "I thought it was you behind me", 200 metres further, just getting into the technical rocky stuff I pass the next guy on the left, brain off, and down into the trees, fast gaining on the guy in 7th. Out at the bottom I'm a pace behind him, and there are maybe 200 metres left. I follow him down for about 10 of them and he begins to try and accelerate down the hill. We started half way up this hill and it was the bottom that Carl had run crazily down at the beginning of the race. I knew exactly when to kick. Just as we passed the "start line" with 100 metres to go, bang, left him for dead, sprinting in to the line in 7th place, 1st Glossopdale. Not bad at all. But a tad tired. This might not bode quite so well for the rest of the day.
John H and Julien came in pretty much hot on my heels, but were 9th and 10th respectively.
We stood around for a while, gasping, and trying to look composed. It didn't really work.
Had there been a team prize we would have got it, but I don't think there was. Ah well.

All too soon, Sikobe and John S had come in and it was going on midday, time to head on out, the Padfield race starts at 1315. We set on out and within about 150 metres I was thinking "this might have been a bad idea". Up and out of Rowarth, I followed Julien, as this wasn't really a race, it was a transit, but with a specific time that we had to be in Padfield. Jules knows his stuff, so I'll keep with him. Over a few stiles, my Garmin kept turning itself off, so I really don't have a perfect route of where we went, but its close enough.
A long long hill up on a road, then eventually onto a field, up and over to Monks road, across it and over to the Nab. A delightful run, taking in the views, at a relaxed pace. Julien and I out front with the others a way back. At points, my left calf twinged a bit, but there was nothing serious or significant about it. I also managed to run through a thistle and lodge a huge thorn in the top of my shoe which constantly, on every step, embedded itself further into the top of my foot. Ouch. I'll have to take that out before we start the next race.

Transit over the Nab
Over the Nab, and down the Herod Farm race route, then through Glossop in a direction that I have never gone before, following Julien's nose, and listening to stories of how it used to be before this that and the other was built. He has a fascinating knowledge of the place and would be brilliant to get drunk with, but as we went up the hill towards Padfield all I wanted was for him to stop running! My legs were not happy and I was considerably tired, getting into the place where I really didn't want to be. Tired and achy and not really in a position to head up another hill.
Me and Jules coming in
Over the hill and down into Padfield. Thank goodness for that. Its 1pm, the race starts in 15 mins, and we had just about got there in time, Lynne and Andrea were there (taxi drivers from the morning), as were 2 worried wives from Retford AC. No, they weren't with us, yes, they were with the other guys, yes they were fine last time we saw them, no, we have no idea exactly where they are or when they will turn up, but it probably won't be long.
John S
John H
I wander around and see a few faces from this mornings run who have driven over to here from Rowarth. Again, there is a good Glossopdale turnout, with more faces who weren't there this morning. I won't be getting top 10 here then! StevieK from Pennine is running, I try to psyche him out with the mud on my shorts, but it doesn't seem to work. Chris Jackson is looking happy because Jules and I look pretty tired, and John H still hasn't arrived yet...
5 mins goes by. Then 10, and John S turns up. Then John H. Eventually, 2 mins before we are due to start, Sikobe rocks up. I have no idea what happened to the Retford guys, I presume they turned up and are alive because one of the posted on the Forum.
Number swap with Bray
All to soon the Gun went and we were off.
I didn't even make an attempt at being near the front for the off, and jogged along mid pack. This was going to be long and quite hard. Down, then up. The beginning of a lot of up. Not steep, not technical, just long and steady. Into the first field and I get overtaken by a client saying "yknow, its your wives' massages that make me run this fast". I catch him at the next stile and he says "I didn't mean to be presumptuous of course, wife, partner...." I'm nearly too knackered to reply, and I can't remember the retort.
A gaggle of Glossopdalers
Onward and upward, across a road and along a flat bit and I'm accosted from behind, its John H, stumbling along in much the same state as me. Jules has gone off ahead of us and there is no way we are going to catch him. Up the hill, and another voice, "ah, you two must be doing the double and the run, glad about that, there's no way I'd catch you normally!"
Well, at least we are making someones day.
John S back marking
Looking comfy at the start. (thanks for the pic Ian)
That hill went on forever. Just grinding away. My calf is beginning to hurt a bit more and I'm wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. The thorn in my shoe is still there and making life a little more uncomfortable every time I take a step. So many times I wanted to stop, but if you walk, its just going to take longer to get around the course. Eventually after about 20 years of running it flattened out a bit, and John managed to find some wind from somewhere and went off ahead. No way was I going to respond. This was pretty much about survival now.
Grinding it out, we overtook 2 people, and 2 others over took us. Up to the top and the turn around, there were 2 people between me and John, and Claire from Pennine (who won the Ladies prize in the morning at Rowarth- but failed to run between the 2, mind you, it was her Birthday as well. Happy Birthday Claire!) was catching me up. My legs felt like lead, but now it was all, or at least mostly, downhill. But it wasn't fun technical stuff, it was undulating bits and pieces, which is a lot easier to run on, and hence I have a lower average speed on it in comparison to other people. I was losing out and losing places all the time. Down the hill. Claire overtakes me, and in the next 700 metres overtakes the next two and is challenging John for his place. We go through a field, and down a rocky gully where I close all of them down, overtake 2 of them and am snapping at the heels of John and Claire.
Then it went up again, I was nearly on my knees. Up, over, I had to walk a couple of paces before I got a grip and carried on with the shuffle. Overtaken again, but only once, and then down onto the path again. I can't keep the speed on the flat and I'm overtaken again.

My sprint finish
I know this is the last mile or so, but there is nothing left at all. Across the road and down through the field. I'm sure I can hear footsteps behind me, and I hang on. Down through the field, into the trees and out again, feet slapping on the road, and there is an acceleration from behind me. This is no more than 40 metres from the finish. I'm not having that.
Quite tired.
Stretch out, ignore the pain, ignore the issues in my legs, and reach for the line, I come in fast and ahead of the guy challenging for the place. A triumph at the end of the pain.
I came in about 30th ish.
Lynne was there to greet me and I stumbled around for a while. John H looked a mess, as did Julien, and I daresay I did as well. Brilliant. What a day. John S and Sikobe eventually came in somewhere right at the back of the field- but not last. (just).

Lynne, Caroline and I wandered around the show for a bit and somehow we ended up in the Peels for a pint. It was the sitting down that really made me go there. John S and Sikobe joined us, and then hunger overtook any desire to sit down and we went back for Hog Roast, to find John H wandering around in a minor daze. Filling up with food (and the inevitable chilli that we had been carrying around with us all day, jeeeeeez it was HOT) we started to think about ANOTHER race. Sikobe had been talking about the Coal Sack Race for the past 2 weeks. I thought it was a sack race like when you get in a sack and jump down the road.
You pick up a 25kg sack of coal and run(!) up a 150m hill. That's it.
Brilliant, that sounds like a marvellous idea, especially in the state we're in. Jules had already gone home, and was going to come back for the coal sack race as well. (He was a winner of the Coal Sack race in 2005 and (I think) was keen to prove his total superiority over all of us).
We wandered around, had a scone, and found somewhere to sit down. Wandered to the hill, looked at it, thought this is a bad idea, and wandered back.
Result of the chillies. No, they weren't hot at all Sikobe.
The race starts at 5pm, after literally everything else has been packed up and everyone else has gone home. Odd, considering its a pretty good event to watch, but then I'm sure the organisers have their reasons.

We signed up, got numbers, Jules stood around giving out advice on how to hold the sack and that the first 20 metres are "easy" and then it gets hard. I suspect the rest of us were thinking... it ALL looks hard.
nervous at the start line
Lynne also signed up for the Ladies race, only 2 competitors, the other was a record holder from a number of years ago. They only had 10kg sacks to carry. Lynne has been wandering around with a 35 or 40kg sack at the end of her training sessions at S&P, and picked it up as if it wasn't there... She was going to find this one easy.

There was a certain amount of waiting around, and then we started. 3 at a time, you ran with whoever was at the start line and picked up a sack. Julien and Tom Jackson were in the first lot to go, and set a blistering pace. I decided to get it over with, and stepped up for the 2nd run. Lynne immediately stepped up beside me (its the same distance just a different weight, so guys and girls ran together. Torsten from Glossop MRT came up next to me. Great, this is going to be fun.
Lynne trouncing me quite significantly
Hoiking the bag up was unsurprisingly awkward, keeping it there wasn't too bad, and the gun went. Lynne accelerated away. Not really a surprise there either, Torsten and I dragging away behind. Up and up, legs, already heavy from about 18 miles of running getting heavier at every step. Lynne blasting out ahead with all the women shouting "yay! do it for the girls!" (I can almost hear Lynne's thoughts of "I'm doing this for me, if you want to do it for the girls, go and pick up a sack you lazy sods")
John H and bag
Torsten comes level with me at about half way and I'm hanging on for dear life, I have power for maybe a 5 metre push at the end, just don't go to early and it will be fine. Go too early and you'll be on your knees.
We are neck and neck until the last 5 metres, I push and beat him by a small amount, throwing the sack down on the pile at the end. Well, that'll be the days racing over then.
Sikobe and John S down the hill
I sit down on the hill and FINALLY remember to pull the thorn out of my shoe. Sweet relief. Sikobe, John S and John H come up, the Johns both looking broken, but they pull through and get to the top. The day is ended with the current and 4 years running winner sprinting up the hill in less than 30 second, but not quite managing to break his record.

Lynne and her prize
Lynne won herself a trophy which now sits on the mantelpiece (I've run about 13 races this year, and the most I've got is a bit of paper from Andy Howie saying he owes me a prize for being 3rd bloke in the May Queen Races, she runs one race and gets a trophy... ah well).
We all got a can of beer for taking part, and at the end, the organisers had obviously got wind of us 5 doing the treble (or even quadruple if you count the transition run) and we got an extra can of beer each. A long and tortuous way of earning your calories, but within about 2 mins of starting on our way home, Julien was talking excitedly about next year, and how we could make it "more interesting".

I finally found out it was a thorn lodged in my calf that was causing the pain throughout all the races, nothing muscular at all. Which is good. I wore a pair of Inov8 roclites all the way through the day and didn't take them off at all. No blisters, no pains, but I wonder if a pair of sock gaiter things might have stopped the thorn in the foot issue...
Thanks to Sikobe for coming up with the idea, to all the race organisers of all 3 races, John H, John S and Julien for coming along on the whole thing as well, and Lynne and Andrea for taxiing us out there in the first place. I don't think running the first leg would have been entirely intelligent... but, then, there is always next year.

Oh, results.
Julien came 11th, 19th and 7th(ish) total of 37(ish)
John H came 10th, 26th(ish) and 15th, total of 51(ish)
I came 7th, 30th and 10th, total of 47(ish)
Sikobe came 64th, 3rd last and 13th, total of quite a lot
John S came 72nd, 2nd last and 14th, total of quite a lot
Jules, Me, John H, Sikobe and John S
Coombs Tor results are definite, the rest are approximate. But we all had a good day out. And that's all that matters.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Coombs Tor and Padfield Plum Fair Scamper

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In view of comments about the wordiness of my blogs I have decided to cut back.

Drove to Rowarth.
Ran Coombs Tor. Came 7th.
Ran from Rowarth to Padfield.
Ran Padfield Plum Fair Scamper. Came 30ish.
Had a beer.
Had a Mettricks Pork Roast Sandwich.
Had a scone.
Did the Coal sack race. Got beaten by Lynne.
Came home.

Fairly fatigued.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sprained Ankles - is there anyway to avoid them?!

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I've been reading a lot about sprained ankles recently, mainly from fell runners (what a surprise), though it's also quite a common thing for people to do even in the city, on pavements, and other such seemingly innocuous surfaces.

The reasons for spraining, or, at the least, turning an ankle are many and varied, from "having weak ankles" to "running over tussoky moorland" and "turning round a corner with shoes that are grippier than you expect" (that'd be me).

Its been a while since I properly turned either ankle, the last time was a few years ago, and when it went, it went quite significantly, I won't go into gory details, but I was a good few miles from home, and very glad I had a mobile, and that Dad had his mobile switched on (a minor miracle, but never mind that here).
In the past few years I have NEARLY sprained my ankle innumerable times, catching it just as it is about to go, or being able to retain balance where I thought it impossible, or simply by letting the rest of my leg give way and letting the other leg take up the slack as I head groundward - this seems to work quite well, but you need to be quite alert to do it without face-planting.

I knew someone who had particularly weak ankles, I swear she could twist her ankle in a pair of Converse on a flat piece of asphalt. Did she just have weak ankles? And more importantly, was there anything she could do to strengthen them in order to prevent constant pain and concern about going over on them?
Equally, if you are prone to twisted/turned anklage, what can you do to prevent it from happening, and ruining your normal running/walking/water skiing schedule?

First, let's look at the ankle and which bits of it are the bits that you physically "sprain" as you turn your ankle. There are generally 2 ways in which the ankle can go when you sprain it, inversion (inward, big toe eventually becoming vertical to your little) and Eversion (outward, little toe going higher than your big).

Inversion. Most common way to sprain your ankle

Eversion, less common way to sprain your ankle (its more likely to break than sprain)
Inversion is much more common than Eversion for several reasons. The medial malleolus (inside ankle) goes much further down the leg than the lateral malleolus (outside ankle). Also, the lateral ligaments (outside) are smaller than the medial ones (inside). To be brutally honest, if you Evert your foot so hard that it sprains, you are more likely to break the bone than you are to sprain the ligament - that's how strong it is, not really soft tissue damage.

When you Invert your foot there are 3 ligaments that are likely to "go". The Anterior Talofibular Ligament and the Calcaneofibular ligament. There are a few more ligaments around the area, but they are less likely to sprain.
Highlighted - CF= Calcaneofibular ligament (7'o'clock position), AT= Anterior talofibular ligament. (3'o'clock position)
Ligaments hold bones to other bones. They are not like muscles and cannot be strengthened by lifting weights or making them move in a certain way. Ligaments are made of collagen fibre and have a "crimp" in the fibres which give a certain amount of "give" in them to allow some movement. They provide support for boney structures but have very bad blood supply - hence are very slow at healing. Once the ligament has been stretched beyond its "normal" length, it never goes back to its original length. Hence a once sprained ankle has a certain laxity to it that a never-sprained ankle does not have, in other words, it is weaker.

So, when you step on an uneven surface and you "go over" on the ankle, it is the ligaments which hold the various structures of the ankle which are the things which end up being damaged, sometimes to the point that they can't recover very easily - especially if they keep getting run on without any support. I think its quite important to emphasise here that it is not weakness of the ligaments, or even necessarily laxity of the ligaments which make an ankle more or less likely to twist or turn, they are merely the bits that end up hurting.

All the text above is to say that if you keep twisting your ankle, its not lax ligaments, it's your MUSCLES that are weak or not firing fast enough to stop you from going over on the ankle.
Let me explain.
When the ankle begins to Invert (big toe up, little toe down) it is the structures on the outside of the ankle that are in danger of being damaged. The muscles that prevent excessive inversion are based around the outside of the leg - they are Peroneus Longus, (sometimes called fibularis longus), Peroneus Brevis, and, to a point, Extensor Digitorum Longus (which I haven't bothered drawing, so don't worry about it). If these muscles are not firing optimally - and by that I mean, they are not reacting fast enough to stimuli around your foot as you walk/stand/run, it is more likely that you are going to turn your ankle.
Peroneus Longus (blue) and Brevis (red) stabilise the foot from this side as you can see from where they insert- Brevis on the 5th metatarsal (outside of the foot) and Longus on the first- going right underneath the sole to the other side)
You cannot do a lot about tightening ligaments without some fairly radical surgery, but you can make the reaction time of the muscles surrounding the joint faster by increasing the firing rate.
The issue about being mobile AND being stable is interesting because the muscles that are involved in ankle stability are involved in deceleration during the gait cycle. As the foot hits the ground, they are loaded eccentrically, to provide deceleration - however, if more stability is needed, the muscles need to be CONCENTRICALLY loaded almost immediately afterward - it's the transition from controlled lengthening contraction to controlled shortening contraction that would seem to be one of the more important things which will help with unstable ankles.

It is actually the reaction time of the peroneals - measured in milliseconds which provide the stability which the unstable lack.
There are of course a number of other factors in ankles that tend to twist more than others, including a tendency to over pronate, bunions etc. However, I suspect that weak, and slow reacting peroneals are a major issue in terms of unstable ankles. A lot can be said for encouraging these stabilising muscles to be developed and their proprioceptive reactions sped up.

How to do that?
What you are basically doing is improving your proprioception. Proprioception is the knowledge of where your body is in space in real time - or, put another way, knowing where your foot is and what it is doing as it hits the floor, be it on smooth asphalt, or unstable boggy hellhole. 

The best way to do this is on a balance board or a hedgehog - balance on it, one legged. If you can't do that, practice until you can.
Then practice until you can do it for a minute without thinking about it.
Then practice until you can do it for a minute with your eyes closed.
At that point, you probably have a pretty good sense of what your muscles are doing, and should have a better chance of not twisting your ankle every time you go for a run on dodgy ground.

If you don't have a balance board or a hedgehog, buy one.
Alternatively you could roll up a towel and use that as an improvised balance tool. However, its not quite as good (unstable) as something that has been made to be unstable.
Please don't get confused and use one of these.
I'm not saying that this is the be all and end all of how to stop twisting your ankle - a lot of that comes from observation, but much more actually comes from being able to quickly react to what is under your feet at any one time - the best way to do that is to train the muscles to react fast to what is happening underneath them.

Now, a lot of people with unstable ankles do this for a while, and then, when they think they are strong enough, or (more often) they get bored or forget, they stop.
Your body adapts to what is going on around it and what is happening to it. If you are not stimulating the muscles by doing exercises like this, and they are not being stimulated by walking on unstable ground, they are not being worked and will go back to the way that they were. Unstable and unsupporting.
If you want stable ankles, and to be able to run effectively without twisting or turning anything in the supporting structures, keep at it. Yes it might be tiresome, yes it might be annoying, but being laid up with an ankle the size of a melon is a whole other level of tiresome annoyance.

A word about strength training on balance balls etc - don't bother. You won't get any better at balancing, and you won't get any stronger. If you want to get stronger, just weight train. If you want to be more stable, work on that on its own, you generally don't need anything heavier than body weight unless you are training specifically for something (like racing on balance balls with heavy weights, but I can't imagine a race like that catching on so well).

Also, there are the times when you fall down stairs, stick your leg in a hole, fall off a pavement when tired (or drunk). The balance exercises will help to a point, but it won't make you invulnerable. (sorry)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Shelf Moor Race report

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Wow. I'm quite fatigued.

Shelf Moor is a locally run race, organised by Glossopdale fellrunners, and presided over by Gordon- and a very well run race it was too. I had a minor role in providing kit checks at the start of the race (random ones, not EVERYONE got checked). The minimum requirement for the race was a windproof top and bottom layer because of an accident that occurred last year, the runner in question cooled down very quickly because of lack of outer wear.
As far as I could see, everyone had taken on board the warnings that anyone without the covering would be DQ'd and I didn't have to take anyones number down. Which was good.
The race map, elevation profile and kit requirements

Lynne and I got over to the scout hut quite early- considering it was about 500 yards from the house, it wasn't too much of a chore to get there, where I registered, and helped lug in the massage tables for any poor and ailing runners in the run-up to, and indeed, aftermath of the race. Lynne was going to be doing the hard work of massaging, while I was out doing the "fun" stuff of running up a hill, and then massaging at the end.

Slowly but surely the runners filtered in, with one or two taking advantage of the free Sports Massage (with donations to Glossop Mountain Rescue, of course. The morning was a little overcast, with a minor threat of rain, but nothing more. Lack of safety pins at the start meant I had to raid the stash of pins in the ash tray of the car- stored for a moment such as that! I now have no pins in the car, so need to start amassing them once more.
I wandered up to the start- checking a few peoples kit on the way, and very soon it was time to start. To be honest, I didn't really feel like I had warmed up properly, and I certainly didn't finish my stretches to keep the psoas and iliacus/diaphragm pain at bay, but that was my own fault and I hoped it wouldn't slow me down too much. The field was looking quite strong for this race, as Julien noted. Not only was Jack Ross and Gwyn around, but a team Inov8 runner was also about, and Dave Taylor from DP. This was looking like it might be a fast off. A short speech from Gordon saying thanks to everyone for obeying the kit rules, and without too much ado, we were off.

The beginning of the course is long and flat(ish). It goes along the bridleway up from Mossy Lea and on the way up to doctors gate. One word for it, fast. Before we had gone 300 yrds Simon Bailey, Jack and Gwyn were shooting off into the distance with the rest of us strung out behind like the debris trail of a comet. I kept in contact with Julien up the path, not wanting to burn out too much, knowing the climb that was coming. Having said that, the "flat" bridleway is anything but, providing a nice constant uphill challenge before the race really gets going.
There was a little harrying for places as we went along the path, but it was mostly settled in my bit of the race. It was nice to see some of the other Harriers out marshaling, so I said my hellos as we went through the gates helpfully held open by them. We streamed right, down toward the river, where a small divergence in the path occurs. Julien went high, and I've run this route before, following him. This gains us some ground as others drop lower to the river on rockier terrain, and we stay on a good trod. Nice route taking. It gains us precious seconds on the guys who took the lower path. Julien already has his top off- and it is really starting to feel warm and a bit muggy as we jump over a ditch, say hi to Carl as he marshals the bottom of the climb, and turn left up the hill toward James Thorn.

I did this part of the route last week with Matt and Rob when they were up from London and was quite comfortably knocking stuffing out of it as I ran uphill, leaving them for dust. (or mud, really, considering the weather). The beginning of the climb was ok, I managed to stay with Jules as we climbed, he slowed considerably as the gradient got harder, and I figured I'd sit on his heels and hold on, see what happened. To be honest, there isn't all that much on the hill that isn't runnable, but as you get higher, the more you just want to stop and walk. At the first steep section, we did just that and walked. One of the guys who we passed by taking the trod stormed up through, and by this time, my legs were starting to feel a bit tired. The gradient flattened out and I managed to start running again without too much trouble, but Julien was beginning to pull away. The hill swung up again, and we were reduced to walking- this is where it started going wrong I think. Just not enough in the legs.

Julien and the other guy began to sneak out of reach, and I had nothing to answer them with. plodding away, I was running, but I'm not sure that anyone would have called it running had they seen it. Up over the spine of the hill, to the stile. Over it (quite beautifully I must hasten to add), and up on to the Lancaster wreck site where Beryl was marshaling. I asked if she had a cup of coffee for me, the reply was no, but she did have a kick up the butt for me instead.
Smiling for 1/200th of a second on James Thorn. After that it was back to the grind. Photo credit to ShaunP. Let me know if you want it removed.
So I trawled on upward. Lactic raging in the legs, and all but wanting to sit down and not move for a month. I know how Matt was feeling last week when he said his calfs hurt and I sniggered a bit. I wasn't sniggering now, I was gasping for air. The vest comes off and is stuffed down the waistband of the bumbag. now, to the top, and then a slight dip across some peat bog and then again, UP to the trig point.
By this time we are really spaced out, Jules has a massive jump on me and is miles away, there is someone else just up ahead that I am attempting to keep pace with, but other than that, the main concern is the army of heavy breathing runners that appear to be closing in from behind. I stagger off across the top of the hill keeping to the very well flagged course looking at the floor quite a lot as I'm fatigued, and that is the time that I most often kick the floor and end up tumbling- which, although it doesn't generally hurt, does tend to slow me down.
I follow this runner across and over, can't remember if I overtook him, I think I did, as I remember coming up to the trig with someone else in front and again, the army of heavy breathers behind. The final ascent to the trig was horrible, and I ended up having to walk again, disappointing, but very necessary and someone overtook me. I noticed he had a pair of X-talon 190s on... lighter and grippier than my roclite 268, so I was a bit concerned that he would be rather handy on the descent. No time to worry about niceties of kit at this stage, I had a pressing need to get more oxygen in my lungs.
We crossed the gap to the trig, with runners going in the opposite direction- its Julien, already passed the trig. That's the last I'm going to see of him then.
Up to the trig and I hear someone shouting encouragement at me, and at Chris. He must be pretty close behind then. If he hasn't got me by now, theres no way hes going to get me.

Around the trig point- photo Angrybloke2000
We turn around the trig and its flat across peat bog. I know that this is the high point and everything from here on is downhill, (give or take), and it is very very well flagged as well. Gathering pace as I get my breath back I haul in the guy with the X-talons on. So he isn't as good on the peat as I suspected he might be. Within a minute I am almost at the point where I'm being held up by him, we are weaving a bit as the trod isn't just a single defined path, sometimes I make a good decision which brings me closer, sometimes he makes a slightly better one, time to go, and I make the move. Stretching out a bit over the bog, I overtake him, and am a bit concerned that he is going to come back. No such thing. Soon I am off by myself on the peat moors, and apart from the flags and the marshals I might as well be on my own.
Very soon I see just how far ahead of me the next runners are. Crikey- that's got to be at least, I dunno, 300 metres. Just keep it up. I go over the moor, and it just keeps on going. I know Yellowslacks is in a bit, but am astonished that the trod keeps going. And going. A little bit concerned now as I'm not sure how much energy I have left, I finally see Andy come into view, and the sharp descent into the stream, and back up out again. Now its down to Dog rock and Yellowslacks. Not my favourite bit of running.

There is a lot of sticky up rock and debris all over the place, which makes it not the greatest ground cover for fast running. I keep at it, heart hammering away, and bizarrely enough I see a runner in front of me, he must be tiring. I go slightly faster, but not wanting to burn out, keep it sensible. This is a long section, and as much as you want it to end, it just keeps going. I pass a few walkers, by now I must be a real sight, no top, knackered, feeling a bit ill from the exertion and generally the worse for wear. Sandra is at Dog rock and I'm catching the guy ahead of me, but I'm really concerned about everything that I CAN'T hear behind. Where are they all? Is there someone making a sneak attack? Don't look back.
Not looking quite so comfy on the descent Photo- Geoff
We go down the hill, me chasing this guy, still a way ahead. He stops to do up a shoe lace, and is up again, 40 yards ahead. Ah, I didn't need that kind of advantage, I was catching him anyway. Still, it makes it easier. 500 yards later, he's down again, tying it up, again. I feel like stopping and giving him a head start chance so that I can actually catch him fair and square, but realise that if I did that, I'd get caught by the guys behind me. So I pass him thinking... you really need to tie those up properly this time.

On and on, down and down. Past a couple more people with cameras, over the stile, down, is this guy catching me? I'm really hurting and dreading the final 300 metres down the bridleway. No one in front of me, over the last stile and its down Lightside. I'm getting a stitch and I can't go as fast as I want. My roclites seemed to be giving me enough grip, but I was bumbling down it like a newbie. Fatigue was beginning to take its toll. I've done this hill a few times as a hill rep place, and I always feel like hell when descending- today was no different. Down, through the gate and slam, it closes. I plunge down the path, waiting to hear a report from the gate as someone else comes through. I hear nothing, that's good.
Second gate- onto the bridleway, Slam. This is the final part, the home stretch, the place where the English Championships were decided last year. I was not going to get overtaken here, despite the over-riding feeling that I really really wanted to walk. No idea who is behind me, or by how far, that's not an option.

That last 300 metres down the bridleway went on for a lifetime. Legs pumping acid, lungs burning, stitch getting worse by the step, just a case of needing to finish. Last few yards and I "sprint" to the end, coming in at 51:42, 12th place. The next guy was at 52:23, so it was all in my head.
To be honest, at the end, its not a matter of you versus him, its you versus the clock, which is why I never look back. Imagination is more motivating than someone 40 metres up the track.

Finish. Feel sick. Apparently looking quite grey. Handshakes and all that kind of stuff and then a jump down and into the river, following Jules and his dog Brae, soaking the calfs and taking away some of the accumulated metabolic waste. More runners finish, and join us in the river, Jules tells us "not to worry" about the toxic leak just up river... as ever, not entirely sure whether to take him seriously or not. On balance, probably not. Gwyn comes over looks at everyone, then at his brand new shoes which appear to be not the worse for wear despite running over a peat bog, and takes them off before wandering into the river...

After standing around for a while cooling off, I head back to the hut to change into other shoes, and get massaging. There were a few who wanted some cool down treatment, which we were happy to oblige, I even met SBRT a fellow blogger and runner- nice to have met you sir- You'll have to re-introduce yourself next time though as I was still a little dazed from the run at that point!
Lynne took a few bookings from sore runners, and had a cracking time treating spectators and the like as I was out running.
Treating at the end

Well done to Gwyn for 3rd despite being a bit knackered from training too much. (I know what its like just moving to Glossop... you see hills and go run in them... and then realise you have to race as well), Jules for the V50 prize, and Gwyn, Mark and Jules for the team prize. Always good to get that at your home race.
Thanks to Gordon for the organisation, and to all the Glossopdaleans who were marshaling, and the people who I have nicked photos off. As I mentioned, Lynne was massaging all race and so wasn't out there with her camera.

What a fantastically knackering race. The fast start, the horrific hill (which I am now going to have to practice), fantastic moor crossing and a fast, potentially slippy descent. Its that last dash for the line that really takes it out of you though. Wow.
It might be amusing to do that race with a descent down Shelf, and an ascent up to Dog rock. That might be fun.
Who's up for that?!

(oh and if anyone else has any other photos that I can blag, please drop me a line- Chris, I tried to get a generic one of yours off facebook, but I can't get it...technophobe alert!)
(and apologies for the length, once I start writing I don't seem to be able to stop)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Thoughts on movement for postural information. Squatting.

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Quite a mouthful of a title, however, I hope that this will become slightly more clear as I ramble on.
We were over at Strength and Performance gym yesterday and I was beginning a new programme which is going to be going on for the next 4 weeks. One of the exercises here is the Front Squat, not a massively technical lift like some of the Olympic lifts, but technical enough to do you a fair amount of damage should you do it wrong.

If you ARE doing it wrong, and persist in doing it wrong, upping the weight because you think you can, eventually something is going to give. If your biomechanics are not very good, its probably not going to be your legs (the main bit that is doing the lifting) that are going to blow. Most likely its going to be your back.
Its probably quite a good idea to get the action right before you start piling on the weight and potentially doing yourself a mischief.
One of the reasons why I'm looking to squat with Sean and Z from S&P is because they have a perspective I do not. They are Strength coaches and can see a million different things about how I am moving and how I should be moving, and what I need to do to move correctly. Standing still, in a static position I don't seem to be particularly wonky, nor do I seem to be particularly prone to odd movements. If I Goblet Squat with a dumbbell, even with the movement, I appear to be quite well balanced and move quite well.

We started with a bare olympic bar, 20kg and some interesting things started happening. As you can see from the standing still with the bar relaxed across me, its dipping down to the left without me doing anything.
At the top there is a slight imbalance, left being lower than the right

During the actual squat, my hip flexors don't appear to be moving properly. The right side seems to move fine, and drops down into position, but the left side is doing something odd. The way I am moving appears to suggest that the Glutes or the Hamstrings are too tight and are preventing me from getting down into a decent squat properly. Because of this inhibition, I sink lower on the right, the left leg is slightly abducted, and my entire trunk sways to the right, but the shoulders dip to the left.
Double trouble.
during the squat, there is a continuing left/right balance problem
At the bottom of the squat, my body is swaying off to the right, bar leaning to the left, right ischial tuberosity lower than the left, left leg abducting out to the left.

Looking at the photos I decided to do a bit of stretching. Looking at my glute stretch, on the right I can get my knee to my chest easily, not an issue in the slightest. The left is a different story, but in an interesting way. I can't get my knee to the chest, but I don't feel like there is a stretch coming on in my glutes or in the hamstrings. It feels like my hip flexor area is "blocked", as if there is something in the joint that is not allowing full flexion of the hip. It's almost like the tissues are approximating because there is not enough space in the joint capsule. Because of this, the squat doesn't sit down as far as it should, and if I decided to ignore this, and carry on sticking weight on the bar, at some point, the compromised back would decide not to work and I'd end up in a pretty rubbish situation.

We have decided that for the moment, its worth looking at improving the flexibility of the hip flexors, which includes working on the lift pattern - movement will help improve hip flexibility, but not to increase the weight until I am closer to a more optimal squat pattern. I know a number of people that would have said - ah, we are close enough, I want to get my lift up, lets rack on the heavies... Not a good plan. I'm in this life for the long shot and want to keep my body performing optimally for as long as I can.
Look long term, think big picture.

(though sometimes, that has to be replaced with the "go big or go home" mantra...!)