Saturday, 4 October 2014

Great Scottish Run : Should I stay or should I go?

This week was my designated taper week  before tomorrow's Great Scottish Run. My original plan for taper week fell apart last Saturday when I bruised the ball of my right foot whilst running a storming race at the Trossachs 10k, and then made things worse in the evening by over straining my calf fatigued calf muscle when feed the family rabbit that lives in pen in our garden. Rolls ones eyes, I can run 95 miles but I can't even feed a rabbit...  I wrote about this sorry tale in my previous post Triple Taper Trouble but in a comment after I recalled the best scene to encapsulate my predicament:

After being savaged I couldn't even run away, and had rest up for the week rather than do my usual taper.  My injured calf began to clear up right away and was pretty comfortable by Tuesday.  The ball of left foot was still sore though so I stayed off my feet avoiding walking and running.

The only training I did this week was to go out for a cycle on Tuesday putting in a 30 minute interval session.  The session was broken down into 20 second sprints followed by easy cycling.  This was a surprisingly tough sessions for my quads but didn't stress my calves or balls of my feet.  All seemed to going well - one step forward!

After my cycle I put my kit in our washing machine, the door was playing up worse than usual and wouldn't lock and required a sharp kick with my left foot to get it to lock and start functioning.  The kick worked, but was a bit too sharp and right afterwards the ball of my left foot started to hurt.  Argghgh!!!! 

Through the rest of the week I've rested up, no more fights with washing machines or rabbits and by Friday my calves seemed completely settled, and my the right ball of right foot was back to normal, and my left well on the way to settled down.  I tried out a few calf raises and couple of short 20m strides and everything looked to be good to go.  Yay :-) 

All I needed was two more healing sleeps and I'd be back ready to race...

Then the night demons struck at 3:30am Saturday morning.  I awoke from a dream and went to turn over and got a shooting pain right down my right calf.  It was like the full length of a muscle fibre had just gone ping.  This woke me up pretty quickly, I couldn't believe how I could injure myself just rolling over.

I ended getting up, massaging my calf and found my upper calf a little knotted, and the whole calf a bit tender, and painful when stretching it when flexing my ankle pulling my toes towards my knees.  My left calf was a bit tender too.  Both had felt fine for several days, and had felt strong, I hadn't done any training to stress them.  Perplexed I tried my best to relax the muscles and relax mentally, and then got back to sleep.  Sleep in theory being the time when our bodies repair damage so if was to have any chance of fixing myself in time I couldn't short change this aspect of the healing process.

Thankfully when I got up this morning the level of discomfort from my right calf had gone done substantially.  It still felt tender and highly strung, but I could walk pretty comfortably, so perhaps all not lost quite yet.

Today I did two walks, one flat one of 40 minutes this morning, and another one for an hour this afternoon that included walking part way up the Callander Crags.  The views were mixture of beauty and devastation - the damage from the storms from the beginning of the year is still evident.

View from the lower crags path looking towards Loch Venachar

On the crags path looking back towards Callander, first sign of storms

Another 100m up the path, having climbs over two trunk covering path, view below path

Further up, swathes of forest just felled like match sticks
The park rangers haven't touched the crags path yet, so it's impassable without scrambling over lots of trunks that cover the path.  If you want to know why the Crags race has been cancelled twice this year one only needs to look at these pictures.

After these walks and some more massage my right calf is still sore by it's certainly quite a bit better.  I've tried a couple of short 10m jogs and haven't pulled up in pain, I'm not confident enough to risk running further today though.

The woodland up on the crags seem like nature is mirroring what is going on inside my calves.  From the outside it all looks normal and healthy, but inside muscle fibres/trees have are in a bit of mess in places.

Which brings me to the big question.  I'm I fit to run tomorrow?  I don't know how to answer this one yet.  The obvious one is to say pull out and not risk it creating a more serious injury.

The less obvious answer would be to look at what is actually going on in muscles right now.  Just how bad could you damage your muscles fibres by just rolling over in bed?  Were the fibres just not healed and ready to fail on a smallest load?  Or perhaps it's just scar tissue that's binding muscle fibres together that has torn and the core of the muscle fibres is likely still in one piece.

Another possibility is might be that it's my central nervous system that hasn't properly wired itself up after muscle repair earlier in the week.  Could the nerves serving my muscles be wired up in faulty way having not been exercise much during the healing this week?  Could the walks today helped develop the neural pathways required to coordinate these newly repaired muscles?

For me to run tomorrow I have to believe that scar tissue and CNS issues are the primary cause for this hiccup and not a injury to the muscle fibres that will need to do the heavy lifting tomorrow.

Will another nights sleep fix things?  Will adrenalin hide the discomfort and allow me to run when perhaps I shouldn't?

I still really want to do the race tomorrow.  I still would love to lower my half marathon PB.  I haven't run a half marathon since the Buchlyvie half in 2010 when I ran 1:28:58, as I've lowered all my adult PB's at other distances this year so know if I'm fit I should be able to beat it comfortable.

Should I stay or should go (and run!) ?


  1. Well done Robert. Happy with 1:29:02 ?

  2. I am totally shattered this evening, put everything into the race, mixed emotions about the time. Learnt lots today, although will need a few days to make sense of it all. Definitely love trails more than city road racing.