Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 12 – The Secret of the Run/Walk

This week I may have actually learned something. After months of struggling with a calf injury, I think I’ve figured out the secret that will allow me to keep training for Ironman Melbourne.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journal every Monday as he trains for Ironman Melbourne.

Journal Entry 12 – The Secret of the Run/Walk

It may sound strange that someone who writes a training journal the entire world can read doesn’t like talking about himself, but it’s true.

I’ve been at this training game as a coach for almost twenty years now and I’ve never once made money based off anything I could do. Because the simple fact is that I can’t do anything physically well enough to do so. I make money off what I can get others to do. So most weeks when I sit down to write this journal I am bombarded by that little doubting bastard who lives inside all of our heads telling me that no one could possibly want to read whatever mediocre efforts I’ve made this week. Like I’m such a great athlete that the world is waiting desperately to read about my training week.

Except for this week. This week I may have actually learned something.

Last weekend I was in the United States for a lightning quick trip to a Primal Move workshop. This was a weird trip – I spent about thirty hours flying or in airports to be in the U.S. for only four days. I was expecting to be in all kinds of bad shape when I got home – jet lagged, stiff, sore, and likely still having problems with my calf. I do fly with my trusty 2XU compression socks on, but with the added injury I wasn’t sure how I’d be.

Imagine my surprise when I not only felt great when I landed, but after a few hours of catch up work I hit the pool and got in an easy swim – only 2000m, about half my usual distance, but not bad after an all-night flight and a weekend of exercise.

I went to bed early Wednesday night – after all I had been up for over twenty-four hours at this point, but woke feeling refreshed and surprisingly good on Thursday with none of the usual stiffness and lethargy I feel after normal overseas flights. I ran our 6:00am kettlebell training class at Hardstyle Physical Training as usual, then came home and geared up to go for a short test run.

Last time I ran I was sure I’d reinjured my calf and I was going to be off it for six weeks. However, some swift therapy from Matt Hopkinson at Glenferrie Physiotherapy soon had it sorted and the decision made to rest it while away but test it upon returning. As far as my running goes it was great, running easier than I can remember in a long time, which is a good indication that my fitness is there even if my running endurance may not be. However, close to home the calf started knotting up again and I feared that this whole project was about to go up in smoke.

So off I went to get treatment again and after a quick check Matt informed me that it wasn’t torn. I was able to hop on it, stretch it – all pain free – something that I wouldn’t have been able to do if torn.

His opinion was that my calf was feeling threatened by running. It was fine, fine, fine then instantly tight, but not painful. In essence my calf doesn’t feel threatened while running for a very short period of time, but has started to think that about fifteen minutes should be enough running for me. So it gives a little warning tug and reminds me to quit what I’m doing.

The body is amazing, huh?

So what’s the solution to go from here to running a marathon after an 180km (112mi) ride? The answer I found today was to take a couple of walk breaks while running. It seems so simple. I simply stopped and walked for about one hundred metres before starting running again. These little walk breaks allow my calf to relax and for my body to rest enough to make sure my form is perfect before starting running again.

Normally post-running my calves are tight, particularly in this stage I’m at now where I’m not really running frequently, but this afternoon they’re great.

So my lessons this week are two things:

All the focus on quality of movement at Primal Move really paid off. I spent a lot of time on hip and calf mobility as well as reflexive core stability and this pays off with any athletic endeavour.

As a beginner in this sport I need to constantly remind myself that I should train like one, regardless of my past. I always get people into running by using a walk/ run format and yet when it came to my own training I dropped the ball. Next week will confirm whether or not I’ve finally slain this beast of calf issues or not, but I’m confident that at last I can start moving forward again with my running.

Otherwise that marathon is going to suck.

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