You’d think that after decades of modern running and sports science that we’d have reached a few consensuses wouldn’t you?
Last week I went along to Runners Need in Holborn to hear from Sam Murphy (see previous post), Brad Jones and a chap from SiS and another from Brooks. During the two hour seminar I learned a few new things: don’t stretch after long runs – especially the marathon itself – it just worsens the microtears in your soft-tissues; tendon injuries show no inflammation in their pathology and that SiS gels are isotonic so you don’t need to sink a load of water with them at the same time.
I also picked up a free running magazine Running Free which I sort of guessed would be a bit cheap and cheerful and so wasn’t surprised when I discovered a rogue apostrophe in Fiona Bugler‘s editorial. Reading it on the train I found another article by Andy Dubois where he dismissed static stretching. Which I think was the final straw for me. Why is there so little consensus on even the basics of running and training? Surely after decades of research, millions of miles run and hours exercising we’d at least have come to some irrefutable conclusions about biomechanics and physiology?
Listening to the chaps on Marathon Talk (regular long-term runners) I’ve heard them assert that they never or rarely stretch. Last night Brad Jones told us never to stretch a sore tendon, other sites tell you to do just that to avoid the build up of scar tissue. Then there’s Mr. Dubois telling me not to hold a stretch whereas everything I’d heard before then said hold for 30 seconds. Oh, and if you’ve got a tight tendon you might be advised to stretch this out or you might be told that stretching is bad.
My physio tells me to use ice and heat cycles to flush out toxins and encourage repair. Other sites tell you to never heat an injury that is probably inflammation. Brad Jones told us last night that there is no inflammation in tendon injuries so heat and ice are just pain management tools and not restorative/curative at all.
I realise everybody’s body responds differently but surely we’re not all that different. Is it just the consequence of limited amounts of research? So perhaps there are just a handful of decent studies on this stuff? When there are billions of pounds invested in sport around the world I simply can’t believe this to be true.
But all the time there is no consensus I find myself scouring the web looking for the elusive magic answers for the constant round of tendon and muscle soreness that has plagued the second half of my marathon build-up.
On Sunday I ran for 3 hours, somewhere between 32.5 and 33.5km [20.8 miles] (depending on my Nike+ data vs. Runkeeper’s data) and today (14 March) I am pretty sore. Once again I ran too fast and ran too many hills. Next weekend is a half marathon speed session but I failed to get into an organised race so will have to trace out a measured and flat course. This will give me my final benchmark time for London by running it through the McMillan calculator.
And so, to cheer us all up, have a look at some poor lads who’ve been requisitioned to model their girlfriends’ creations on Etsy: Sad Etsy Boyfriends.
The reason you are told not to stretch a sore Achilles tendon as unless you know exactly what is wrong with it, you could end up making the problem worse. There are people who have managed to rupture their tendon by static stretching it either when not properly warmed up or from cold.
Personally I would do as your physio tells you. If they tell you to stretch it after you have exercised in a certain way, or during the day from cold (when you are in fact stretching your calf muscles) then do so.
And the only way to decrease muscle soreness during training is to have plenty of sleep and rest i.e. keep of your feet as much as possible. Taking ibuprofen before long runs may help as well but unfortunately it’s guess work whether it will help you or not. Plus do all your long runs off road. Living in the borough of Kingston this shouldn’t be a problem as there are river trails and parks to run in.