Mildly disappointed in error.

I need to remember that memory can fail you. (Shut up). For starters, I hadn’t run Pioneer parkrun since March and had somehow forgotten a few of the small inclines of the course. That bend near the finish line past the stairs was never uphill, surely?!

I put out the marking cones for Anna before parkrun with Milly scooting alongside, so I’d had a mile warm-up, and then started out on parkrun. I didn’t look at my watch and just ran on feel, and my god the feel was ARSE. It felt like a whole lot of effort, a whole lot worse than running had felt like for a while.

My PB at Pioneer is 25:26, dating from September 2014 when I was training for Six Inch, and I sort of ignore its existence because it’s going to take a fair bit of effort to get back to that. So I didn’t really know what finish time I expected today.

I can honestly say I’ve been quicker at parkrun these past few months after I decided to take the attitude of “I will run Tuesday darkrun, Thursday from work, Saturday parkrun and Sunday long run. And if I don’t want to run, I’m still going to run.” (That said, tomorrow I’m volunteering at Masters Athletics so might only get 5km in). I realised I needed to start to make ‘not running to the schedule’ the exception rather than the rule.

Anyway, I know I’ve recovered almost completely from last month’s ear infection and this month’s chest infection (my resting heart rate is slowly getting back to normal), and my overall speed is getting back to pre-illness levels, but the effort this morning felt harder than normal.

I wasn’t entirely impressed with my time when I got to the finish, and it wasn’t until we were in Dome after parkrun that I looked at Strava and it said ‘trending faster’ for the Pioneer parkrun course. I scrolled through my past results and realised that the last time I was in the 27 minute range on that course was July last year, and prior to that was March 2015. So in retrospect, it was actually bloody good work. Hard work, but good.

We’ve been running at flat parkruns because Jez has got a training program and needs to hit specific pace targets for his runs, and Tony, his coach, plugs in a parkrun with a warmup and a cool down, but the paces required are more feasible on a flat course. Pioneer was a last night whim and while I’ve been going to Kings Park on the odd Thursday, I haven’t been doing anything like what you could call hill intervals.

Now I’m going to do more hill interval sessions on a Thursday evening, and so when I run Pioneer again next time, I’ll have done enough hills at effort to know what a solid effort feels like, and I won’t be stupidly, mildly disappointed at the finish line for no good reason.

Equal and opposite, multiplied

One of the realisations I took away from participating in Lauren Shelley’s Pilates for Runners class was if a body part hurt, the actual issue was never where the pain was.

My lower back hurt, but the issue was with tightness in my glutes, hips and quadratus lumborum.

My shins were sore, but the issue was with my rock solid calves.

My knees were sore, but the problem was with my rock solid quadriceps.

Way back in high school, when my patellas used to slide out of place, it was because of my strong iliotibial bands and weak adductors.

My hip wouldn’t stretch out, and it was because the psoas muscle on that side was way too tight.

I had a sore heel one day, and in an attempt to relieve it, I foam rolled my calves. The foam rolling didn’t feel like it was working and distracted, I kind of rolled around on the foam roller, up my leg until my butt was perched on the roller. Bam! I felt this pulse of pain fire down my leg, and slam right into my heel. With some judicious Googling, I worked out that I must have had a knot in my piriformis, and it was pressing into my sciatic nerve running down into my heel.

I don’t know a great deal about human anatomy, but I have worked out that muscles need to both contract and extend. If your calf muscle is tight, it’s going to impact on the functionality of the shin muscles, and vice versa.

I have a sequence of stretches that I do regularly, in an attempt to free up all the issues, and sometimes I swear it’s like the Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly song.

In order to stretch out my hips, I need to stretch my hamstrings. In order to really release my hamstrings, I need to release my hip flexors. To release my hip flexors I have to release my quadriceps, but to really stretch my quadriceps, I need to have freed up my hips. To free up my hips, my glutes have to be released too, but in order to release my glutes properly, my hips have to be loosened up.

I have pretty much the same issue with every muscle in my lower legs and feet too.

So I end up doing each stretch at least twice. Release the quadricep a bit, to enable the hip flexor to loosen, and then stretch the hamstring so that I can then get stuck into my hips and glutes, to enable me to release the hamstring more. Once that has happened, I can get the quadricep really stretched, and also get rid of that last bit of hip flexor tightness, which enables me to stretch my hips and glutes out again.

Whenever I’m not completely certain why something hurts or aches or just feels ‘off’, I just do the whole sequence, and go through the Yoga With Adriene Runners Yoga video a few times, and at some point, I’ll usually succeed in releasing the stuck point, and be back to normal.

When I’ve done all that, if I’m still knotted up, I’ll go and get a good remedial massage and see if that’s enough pressure to fix the issue. And if I’m still broken after all that, then I go to the physiotherapist, because if I can’t run or move or do exercise, then my brain breaks instead.