Training of course, but why Part Zero? Well after a fairly dreadful autumn and early winter with a succession of colds culminating in a full blown flu I’m starting to get back into a bit of running form, aided by a week in Lanzarote at the end of January and finally a few weeks of consistent running. But it’s also time to think about my weaknesses which may prevent me from training effectively over the next 6 months.
The first of these is core strength. I sporadically do core work but despite it being the easiest kind of training to do – can be done in a half hour in front of the TV – I seem to skip it far too often. I think a good strong core will be crucial for long distance running, as the stronger the core the longer good running form can be maintained. Have a look at the picture below which shows frames from a video of me running (on the lovely blue La Santa running track). The way my pelvis drops away from my standing leg (see how the waist-band of my shorts tilts) really demonstrates how weak my core is! This also ties in with the discomfort in my right-lower-back which I have a lot of the time.
So much work is required on strengthening my core and glutes. As well as the home-based core work on the floor and the swiss ball I have also just started doing hill drills to build up run-specific strength; bounding (maximum distance, like leaping over puddles) and springing (maximum height, jumping over logs). As this is quite a short intense session it’s perfect to do in a lunch break, or would be if there were any hills in central Manchester! I considered using the ramps in a multi-storey car park but for now have settled on Jutland Street which is a bit short but certainly steep enough.
The other concern at the moment is my ankles. My left ankle – which I twisted at the start of August last year, 3 weeks before the Ridgeway – is still troublesome, with a restricted range of motion laterally. This means that I have a much higher chance of going over on this ankle when I run off-road. So along with an embargo on off-road running this month I have been doing frequent ankle mobility exercises using a theraband, taking in plantarflexion (toes away from shin), dorsiflexion (toes to shin), inversion (twist foot to inside of leg) and eversion (twist foot to outside of leg). This seems to be working and I hope to try an off-road run next weekend. I’m stull suffering from limited dorsiflexion in both feet though, no idea what the cause of this is or really how to treat it, other than stretching and some eccentric heel raises. We shall see.
Anyway, enough of the slightly negative stuff, my long run is up to 20 miles as of yesterday and I’ve had a couple of runs which have felt really smooth. Coming up in 4 weeks time is the Edale Skyline so I’d better get back out into the hills again soon.