DIARY: Snakebites and Australian rhythms

This has been a challenging week, “back in the saddle”, running every day except Thursday after the fartlek. I had clearly let my form sag a bit towards the end (easy to do on grass) and the body was tired, so I used Thursday to do another natural movement circuit, a continuous 60 minute workout consisting off:

  • 2 min: Bare foot box jumps (different variations) into posture squat
  • 2 min: Hamstring pulls” on the Reebok step
  • 2 min: “The Rocker”
  • 2 min: Overhead bar “step-throughs”
  • 2 min: Two-legged jumps on treadmill at 5kph leading into “perfect running” at 8kph with bursts of “exaggerated” hamstring pulls

This was a great workout and set me up for more easy treadmill running Friday morning before I went out on the trails in my Breathos for a 60 minute run. I tired at the end, so spend much of Saturday morning loosening up the body.

Then this morning I wondered what I would be able to do. The Achilles area was a bit tender, so I reckoned my form had deteriorated so I worked out the tension and then went for a run up the Glenmacnass Road in my Aquas. I keep the pace low when I feel that the body has reached the limit to how much force it can absorb at the time.

Things were going fine for 30 minutes but then I experienced the vaunted “snake-bite” in the right ankle which is often touted as the first step of Achilles tendinitis. I looked at it differently: I was just shoving too much force in there and getting a warning to stop. I couldn’t identify what I was doing wrong on the fly, so I managed the issue with some drills and got home just under the hour. I had clearly overreached a bit compared to my current technical abilities.

In the past, I would have done something silly like trying to stretch or ice the area. Instead I did a good few more ankle squats, had a good meal and an hours nap. I worked for a few hours then while watching the Olympics and then launched myself into a 20-minute “natural core routine” that Tony taught us in Cork. After that I decided to do another 40-minute natural movement circuit consisting of:

  • 2 min: Box jumps with 5kg weighted bar,  “bunny jumps” and stair running
  • 2 min: “The Rocker” – “Natural movement push-ups” combo
  • 2 min: Easy treadmill running at 6-8kph with some exaggerated hamstring pulls

So, 5 hours after experiencing the “snake-bite” that is often called a symptom of Achilles tendinitis, I could do a plyometric session and run easily on a treadmill. Tomorrow, my tendons and muscles will be in a better state because I did this and my movement patterns will be more normalised.

You really have to suspend all existing “common wisdom” to effectively deal with these injury signs. Stretching and icing the area, and then resting, would have been a catastrophic mistake which would have reinforced the tension in the area and created a subconscious “fear of movement” in me for the next run. This way, I worked the fear straight back out that evening. It’s like being your own “body-psychologist”.

Why Australian rhythms? Well partly because I needed something for the title but also because I noticed that this day was approximating my idea of a perfect day which is the rhythm Percy Cerutty ran his athlete’s through at Portsea with an easy morning run (one hour), a Noon strength and conditioning session (followed by a nap) before a late afternoon session (usually a quality run). I’d like every day to be like that. Perhaps some day..

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