Can a midfoot strike cause Achilles tendonitis?

A few days ago I read an article at Science of sport about whether heel-, midfoot- or forefoot-strike were most efficient in running.

http://www.sportsscientists.com/2008/04/running-technique-footstrike.html

It was very interesting and made me think of my present situation with injury and everything. Since 2009 I’ve believed that a midfoot strike is the best, no matter what speed. Now I guess some of you will go “I can’t believe this guy! Hey honey, have you heard?…” But since I haven’t had any injuries until recently I haven’t thought it to be bad at least.

But it makes sense – I have pressed myself  hard in very short time. I did that during the spring when I ran races with short time in between and at the same time  increased my speed. midfoot strike would make the calfs work hard making them tight. If I always run like that even on the easy runs maybe the calfs never get to rest enough. At least it could be an explanation to my injured achilles.

Anyway, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to adjust my strike a little. So on my last run I forced myself to land on the heel. Just slightly, hardly noticable. Though I did feel a great difference. For the first time I felt the cushion in my very flat Adidas Adizero CS 🙂 And also, I didn’t get a single niggle. Afterwards my calfs weren’t one tenth as tight as they usually are. It was even hard to get anything out of stretching them. I also noticed that my cadence still didn’t change. I were at 90 strides / min. The thing is, I’ve read that at a stride of 90 you force yourself to land on the midfoot. Well, according to the article above I guess that is only applicable if you run fast enough. It would be very interesting if they would film one of the elites running slowly (like I do) to examine how they land.

Since my little experiment worked so fine I will try it again on Saturday 😉

Tue 12 July – Easy run in fuzhou

41:04 – 8.12 km – 5:04 min/km – 150 in avg hr

 

 

Supercompensation – it’s a give and take

Supercompensation
Supercompensation

No running today – it’s been resting day. Before I started on the running feedback program at time-to-run.com I ran 6 days a week – always resting the same day – always doing the same running exercises the same days of the week.. That was all I knew by then. I had read a lot about running, though. What makes you a faster runner? What gives endurance? Techique of running – biomechanics.. From all that I thought it was just to make a mix of everything and see where it went. Actually, I think it went pretty decent, looking at my performance back in Summer of 2009 and the Summer of 2010. I never thought I would come that far in only a year 🙂

But, but.. There was an awful lot of things I didn’t know too. I knew that I didn’t hold the key to success – that’s why I kept on searching… One day my path crossed time-to-run.com. I thought “Why not?”, started an account and began filling in my data. I haven’t regretted a single time I signed up there. The trainer there giving feedback “TheEd” holds a lot of secrets of successful running and he’s very keen on looking into every single unique individual case. One of the first things he opened my eyes for, which I didn’t know, was what hypercompensation is. Hypercompensation is the key to success when you want to improve as effectively as possible.

I’m neither a scientist nor an athletic expert, so please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in what I am to write 😉 I’d appreciate it.

To try to explain it shortly – when we workout, we brake down ourselves. This gives a signal to the body to get ready for some hard work. It starts to compensate the lack of ability by building itself up. When it reaches the peak where your ability was during the last workout it thinks “oh, no.. I won’t go there again – we need to bring some more juice this time!” and then builds up itself some more.. The peak reaches a little higher over the last peak – that’s supercompensation. If you are able to time each higher peak you will go on supercompensating higher and higher..

Supercompensation
An explaining picture of supercompensation

Of course, for our bodies to be able to do so, we need to give it proper rest in between – hence the easy runs and resting days :). And that is also why the programs at time-to-run.com isn’t symmetrical in exact weeks – it’s supposed to find those supercompensating peaks and give you a full load when you’re there.

If you want to dig a little deeper into the subject of supercompensation, do visit this Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercompensation

Tomorrow I’ll do the 5k paced run – hope I’m in the peak 😉 And also, I hope to find a nice place to do it, because I’m not really up for the treadmills I’ve been using earlier to be honest.

Take care y’all!!

What is the 500 workout, why is it so good?

Well, to answer the question briefly – it’s a kick-ass workout, building up core strength along with being a very good cardio workout.

It consists of 12 exercises focusing on the major muscle groups in the body. The idea is to do them one after the other, which perfect technique and as briskly as possible (without letting down on technique, of course). You can’t go on to the next if you haven’t completed all the reps on the current exercise. But.. You are allowed to split each exercise in as many parts as you need to be able to complete the whole set.

The BodyWeight 500 Workout

  • 50 Prisoner Squats
  • 50 Pushups
  • 25 Jumps
  • 25 Stability Ball Leg Curls
  • 50 Stability Ball Jackknifes
  • 50 Step-ups (25 reps per side)
  • 25 Pull-ups (NO substitutions)
  • 50 Forward Lunges (25 reps per side)
  • 50 Close-grip Pushups
  • 50 Inverted Rows
  • 50 Squats
  • 25 Chin-ups (NO substitutions)

As time passes and you build up your core strength, you should be able to complete the workout in lesser and lesser time. A good idea is to time yourself and try to beat yourself 🙂

I like this workout since it always is a challenge. And it feels like a great asset in the running since it doesn’t build big muscles, only leading to a strong body all over. Another advantage is that the only equipment you need for it is a chinning bar (I have one that is mountable in a doorway) and a stability ball – and the weight of you own body, of course 😉

Here’s a video instruction of the workout made by Craig Ballantyne, who has created the workout:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_5TX_uoagg&feature=player_detailpage

Except for the 500 workout, which I did during the evening, I did my 30 minutes of easy running today at lunch. It felt good to take it easy, though I didn’t feel overly tired in the legs from the 1k intervals yesterday 🙂

Detailed Garmin data

Day 9, 1st sub 40 10k round
easy day of 30min running

Lap Distance Time AvgPace AvgHR MaxHR AvgCadence
1 6.41 35:55 5:35 133 143 90

Recent memories and thoughts about the near future

Today when I downloaded all our photos from our digital camera (Don’t know if you do the same, but we end up with an overpacked camera with not a single byte of memory left at the moment where you need it to be empty the most)

Christian Schmeikal after Midnattsloppet 100821, Gothenburg
Me after Midnattsloppet 100821, Gothenburg

I found a few pictures of me taken after Midnattsloppet 21 August this year in Gothenburg.It’s nice to look back at something with a smile, still pleased about the performance back then. Now, of course my aim is much higher than what I managed then, but then again, I didn’t have professional coaching to lead the way then either 🙂

Recently I’ve been thinking about which races I should run next year. I know that me and the family most probably will move to China in around May. I’m about to sign up for 13 months of work there for the company I work for. Until then I really want to get through a couple of races to see what I’m able to achieve. I have a few in mind, which right now are:

  • Sun 20 March GöteborgsVarvets seedningslopp … 10,55 km
  • Sun 27 March Premiärmilen 10,00 km
  • Sat 2 April Startmilen 10 km 10,00 km
  • Sat 30 April Lerumsloppet 10 km 10,00 km
  • Sat 7 May Springtime Mariestad 10,00 km

I’ve asked TheEd how he think I should plan for them – when I should start with the sub-program and so on. I’ve also asked him if the Bodyweight 500 strength training I did regularly during the autumn is beneficial for the running performance and if, when I should do it. Anyway, there’s a lot of good things to look forward to 😉

I ran the 75 minutes run today. It was during mid day and it was really bright outside, so the snow almost made me snow blind.
Another thing I’ve been thinking more and more of is a technique detail. I’ve read that it’s better for both running economy and preventing injuries to have a midfoot step. I think I do. I’m not sure, but it feels most at the midfeet and almost nothing at the heel when I step down. Last year I read that most elite runners have a running cadence of around 90 strides independent on which speed they ran. To get to that, they adviced to try to take baby steps. Recently I’ve read that having a high cadence is beneficial for mid foot step since it forces you to step down underneath your body instead of forward it… Anyway, when I read it last year I thought I should give it a go, so I started to take smaller and smaller steps. It really felt great and I think that I still have that in some way to thank for my progress during the first year..

Link to detailed Garmin data

Day 6, 2nd build up
75min easy and totally relaxed – time on feet

Lap Distance Time Avg Pace Avg HR Max HR Cadence
1 13.52 1:15:13 5:34 133 148 90

Waddle – what? (Day 10, build up)

I had some questions for Gavin who keeps me on the right track in my running training through his the forum at time-to-run.com. You can read my post here

How to run

Anyway, I wrote

“Hi Gavin!

I’ve been thinking about when you are talking about finding the right balance in the running. What exactly do you mean by that? Could you please explain further…

And.. Do you think my ambitions of running a 10k sub 37 next year is managable?”

And

“Is the 65% effort of last 15 min on day 9 of build up an increase or decrease in effort from the other time of the run?”

And the very informative and thorough answer I got from Gavin was

“In reply to the various questions

Q: About the percentage of effort in the build up program.. Is it % of max Hr, or % of Max HR – rest HR and what % is normal running in the build up

A: OK .. we normally gather the data over a period of time from your feedback and what we assess is the best hr to achieve the various training variants .. so if you take your pulse for the 2k session normally the 4th 2k and the 4th to 5th 1k of the 1000m session will give you a high working pulse .. taking that pulse and then a rough estimate would be about 10 to 20 bpm slower than that pulse for a 60 – 70% effort
however in saying that .. your easy runs when doing the 3 week cycle would be closer to 140 and a more paced run would be around 150. (this from the data given so far)

However during the build-up period when plain old aerobic is the goal we can look at 130 to 140 bpm .. however runners do sometimes find this difficult but if you able to discipline yourself to run at that relaxed pace then you are laying a good foundation to build upon ..

so .. u know u are doing well if you keep your pulse below 140 on easy runs

Q: What is getting the balance right

A: The balance in your running is related to a healthy balance, not driven by obsession but enjoying the running while still trying to get the results. And from a training capacity, it is to understand what the significance of the various training cycles are .. the off period is to allow for your body to recover and for the mind to come out of the intensity of running. Further to getting the balance right is to have running intensity when it counts the most .. Championship events or an event to achieve a Persona Best (PB)

During the Build Up, the balance is relaxing on your aerobic runs .. its very much a ‘birds and flowers’ running time .. mental relaxation is at a premium, there is no intensity to your running, you doing a foundation to build on for the future and hence why running below 140 is most important .. learning the ability to ‘waddle’

thereafter when you move back towards the 3 week cycle you have a desire to work and to achieve the pace in the 2k and 1k sessions, you begin to drive and work towards goals and the balance achieved from the build up and the new intensity gives results on the days that count

and in answer to your 37 minute 10km ambitions of whether you can achieve this .. Yes, if you get your balance right.

I hope all this helps, as it is the essence of knowing what easy running is about during the Build up, to getting the balance right

Enjoy and soon may you be wanting the pain of the 2k session

Cheers

TheEd”

That got me thinking. Maybe I’ve been running my easy runs too hard every time since I started running. I know I’ve never run at an avarage HR of 130. That somehow got me convinced that I would do that today. I knew from my last run that it is a hard thing running very slowly when you’re not used to it, so I thought I’d better run after my Garmin watch.

When starting out slowly it wasn’t impossible! Actually it felt quite comfortable and relaxing after a while. Of course I felt a little struggle and strain after around 7k, but it wasn’t a bad feeling. And I never had the feeling I needed to push myself or slow down to up/downhold the pace. If it wasn’t for some of the minor hills in the trail I think it would’ve been possible to keep the avarage heart rate below 130.

This all of course meant my pace wasn’t much to look to, but if this is the way to go – I will go there. 🙂

Day 10 – 1hr easy and totally relaxed – at ease through out

Time – Distance – Avg Pace – Avg HR – Max HR – Cadence

1:00:00 – 10.46 – 5:44 – 132 – 147 – 89

PS. Found a picture of me from the Lejonruset race at 2010-11-21. I’m the one to the right. 😉

Christian Schmeikal climbing in Lejonruset 2010-11-21
Me (the one to the right) climbing in Lejonruset 2010-11-21