Nobby (Hashizume) and many other luminaries of running have said it repeatedly: “There’s really no such thing as junk miles” and Arthur was fond of saying “even if you do fifteen minutes, you win.” This never meant to say that you should be doing too much slow mileage, in fact, Lydiardism is very much holds the opposite ethos towards aerobic running, but it does mean that no effort, however little, is wasted.
When you are injured, keeping this in mind helps you through when you start the road to recovery in earnest. Once inflammation has settled enough that you can resume some level of activity without risking instant regression of your condition, it’s important to build up patiently and gradually. This is hard to do when you learn to adopt an attitude where “anything below an hour or anything below forty minutes is a waste of time” or you scan your watch painfully and lament the slowness of your pace.
I too face these demons but have been injured enough times to know to set them aside and just get on with whatever meagre work the joints and muscles will tolerate. For instance, I have been running again since last Wednesday every day. Some runs have been as short as 3k while I’ve slowly worked myself up to 10.5km. It’s not without risk and you find yourself obsessively listening to every little sign of disgruntlement. For me, it’s the right hip flexor, psoas, and upper quadriceps as well as the posterior tibialis that still send some concerning input back. But largely things improve day by day and workout by workout but the smallness of each step proves a great test of one’s commitment to the sport.
The truth is that despite these sessions being well below the distance and speed normally required for training benefits for me, I feel slightly fitter than a week ago already. If nothing else, these slow “testing-the-waters” jogs at least help stop the rot of inactivity.
The second part of my attempt to optimise the time spent injured has been to return to weight I had during my last aerobic conditioning phase before I had ballooned to 71.5 kilos by the beginning of August. The success on this front continues unabated as I’ve now dropped to 68.8 kilos. My fat percentage has dropped from 11.1% to 9.3% (another 0.1% from last week). It’s not without costs for while I’ve dropped 1540 grams of fat, I have also shed 640 grams of lean muscle according to the data from my scale. Whether this works out to my advantage is hard to say, but I’ll keep trying to minimise muscle loss as I shed additional kilos.
Is this hysteria? Not if you ask Mark Wetmore, the successful Lydiard coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, who says the following in the aptly named chapter “Skeleton Dreams” in Chris Lear’s “Running with the Buffaloes”:
“In Wetmore’s opinion, the emphasis on weight is not overrated: “Leanness is underrated,” he says. “I tell people, “Go look at Track and Field News. See what those people look like. You should look like a skeleton with a condom pulled over your skull.”
“The day we found out he (red: Batliner) got hurt,” I said, “I’ll save a spot for you, but don’t get fat,” and he gained ten to fifteen pounds. When you’re a fifth-year senior in the last–chance saloon, how could you not check? Every day! He attributes the weight gain simply to carelessness. “He wasn’t careful, that’s all. On a macro level, his inattentiveness hurt him. He was 25 to 30 seconds behind where he could have been just because he had an extra ten to twelve pounds of weight.”
Batliner ran 31:39 for the 10k NCAA which placed him 63rd (!) . The thirty seconds would have put him close to thirtieth that year. (Lear 2003).
I’ll let that stand as the last word of the day…