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Jun 20 2012

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Adapt & Overcome – Training Through Injury

Following on from her first training blog a few weeks ago, Anji Close has sent in her follow up as she continues to keep motivated and determined through injury

Adapt & Overcome

Training Through Injury

by Anji Close

Anji & Nell McAndrew

Wow has it really been 4 weeks since my last blog??! I ended my last blog by saying I was sticking to my decision to go to Manchester for the Great Manchester Run and I did. I had a fantastic but very emotional weekend. I managed to position myself at the front right near the finish line where I took hundreds of photographs, saw Haile Gebreselassie storm to victory and also witnessed one of the most dramatic collapses I have ever seen by a runner (I have since found out he was fine in case you are wondering). I was really proud to see John, Rob and Micky flying the black and white flag in fantastic times for TBH. I also managed to meet one of my running heroines Nell McAndrew who chatted to me about Tyne Bridge (she had heard of us!) and wished me luck for my recovery before signing my unused number. I am getting quite a collection of unused numbers.

Haile at Great Manchester Run

Anyway, following a dramatic finish at Manchester, an hour of him being “missing” and a very slow journey home, Rob Kirtley was diagnosed with a “matching” stress fracture and that week is where my recovery re-shaped and became more focused. I had dabbled a little bit with some aqua running in the first week of my stress fracture being diagnosed following recommendations from Kenny Mac and Dr Dan “118” Birchall. But Rob and I decided pretty much immediately after his stress fracture was diagnosed that we were going to do a plan, do it together and do it properly. We do love a plan.

Again following Dan’s advice I looked in to Dr Pete Pfitzinger’s research and plans for aqua running, and also sought advice from Alyson Dixon who last year came back stronger after 3 months of aqua running through a double fracture to her foot. Aly sent me the first 8 weeks of her plans from last year which came with her very own “health warning” however these warnings did not prepare me for the fact the chlorine would constantly give me a headache, rubbish hair, dry skin; nor the boredom, frustrations and the fact that AQUA RUNNING BELTS TOTALLY NACK.

Dr Pete Pfitzingers Aquarunning Plan

The plan developed into a mixture of sessions, the average week being two pace sessions (progressive by time each week), a “long run” at steady pace for an hour, a pyramid session and a progressive block of sets of 5 minute sprints. Alongside this are gym sessions focusing on upper body using TOPXT (arm bike) and core work 4 or 5 times a week, as well as sessions of 40 min swimming a few times a week. The first couple of weeks were really tough, building strength and conditioning into “sprints” that equate approximately 180 steps per minute, under water at pace. The legs start to get used to it in a way, although this week the session of 9 x 2:30s hard effort with 30secs recovery was a bit of a struggle!!

An excellent example of AquaRunning from YouTube

Some days even the thought of getting the belt on has made me want to tear my own head off just for something else to do, and there have been loads of sessions that I have felt like quitting half way through (long run today for example!) I would never wish this injury on anyone, but I am so glad to have had Rob going through the same thing at the same time so that we can train together and keep each other motivated. Perhaps my constant talking through our steady sessions may leave him feeling the opposite by the end of this though. Yesterday I just wanted to swim and not do our pace session and was just told GET THE F****** BELT ON ANJI. This is coaching at its simple best!

So, am I feeling a difference? Definitely. A photo my Dad took last week of me in comparison to a few weeks ago shows that my legs are shrinking and looking leaner, and in all honesty my legs have never felt this strong. I am itching to run although that still looks to be a long way off. I still have over a week left in the walking cast before I start walking “uncast” on my crutches. I have been here before with a stress fracture last year and I know how important these next few weeks are.

Of course I miss the real running so much. I have missed so much of the season and looking back it’s sad. Just last weekend I was supposed to be in Stoke for the Potters ‘Arf marathon and instead found myself in monsoon Newcastle greeting TBH back from the Blaydon all damp and glowing with PBs. My lovely friends at Trentham Running Club in Stoke autographed my unused number (can you see a pattern forming?!) with get well messages and sent me a race t shirt but you still wonder “what if”.

I have a few ideas of what I’d like my first races back to be but I’m not pinning anything on them in case I end up disappointed again. A few people at the club have said to me that I’m doing the right thing by trying to keep involved with TBH although at times it’s hard. Something inside me was not built to spectate rather than run! On the whole, I am lucky to have had such good support around me. As well as Rob encouraging me on a daily basis and my family and friends, I have had messages of support on Twitter from Charlotte Purdue, Robbie Elliott and Claire Hallisey as well as ongoing support from Aly Dixon, all of whom know the disappointments and frustrations of injury. The few negatives I have had have been from those that don’t understand what it feels like to be a born runner and to not have giving up as an option.

I would like to think that my determination to keep going through this can inspire anyone injured or losing their mojo to just stick with it, adapt and overcome. If anyone reading this would like to see the Aqua Run plan we have developed and followed, please contact me via TBH Facebook or at my Twitter page @EnigmaGirl81 I would be more than happy to share it with you.

Take care TBH, I’ll be back!

Anji Close

17 comments

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  1. Rob Kirtley

    what an excellent post Anji..!!

    thanks to you for keeping me motivated too !!! .. 180 cadence !! hard work.. I’m sure we will benefit from this !

    sick of the smell of chlorine .. want the smell of sweat back LOL :-)

    .. we will be back

  2. John JH

    Great read Anji. Glad to hear of progress. Keep plugging away.

  3. Diane

    Brilliant blog. You will come back fitter and stronger thanks to your determination and dedication.

  4. Anji

    Thanks guys xx

  5. alex lockwood

    great post Anji. Are there long term benefits to aqua running (i.e. when not injured) or is that a bit silly?

  6. Apples

    A really good and very interesting insight into the frustrations you must have, and how you are dealing with them positively. I think both you and Shades will come back stronger than before. Look forward to seeing you both back on the roads in TBH colours.

  7. Anji

    Thanks Apples.
    Yes Alex it’s great for cross training and resistance work without the impact. I’ve read loads about it and Shades and I are planning to build it into our training when we are back on the road xx

    1. Alex

      thanks Anji

  8. Steve cairns

    Well written: Keep the faith!!! ur doing all the right things: when ur injured u need to keep the routine of training and work on your weaknesses, turn these into positives so that when you are able to run again u will b fitter and stronger: Very important is to remember to plan ur recovery! Make it progressive and dont race till ur ready! I saw you at social after Blaydon but dont think i said hello: good luck:

  9. Anji

    Thank you Steve your support means a lot :-)

  10. sean kelly

    I remember the great Michael Johnson (double olympic gold medallist 200m/400m) being asked about how you keep motivated during a time of injury. In his usual, straightforward way, he said, “When you’re training, your goal is the next race or PB performance, when you’re injured, your goal is recovery. You work on your recovery as hard as you train for a race or PB.”

    It’s easy to say and it takes MORE mental strength to keep going and work on your recovery than it does to train for a race or PB..

    Good luck to you and Rob. We want you back, as involved in the club as ever you were and we want to see you striving for PBs again.

  11. Chewbikker

    Great Blog.

    I know how frustrating injuries can be but you can come back fitter, faster, stronger just make sure it’s at the right time for you. Hope you get back soon and start detroying some PBs

  12. Anji

    Thank you Sean and Craig xx

  13. caballo tonto

    Thanks for sharing your story. Most of us must have gone through a period when we were injured and couldn’t run. These are the times when we realise that PBs aren’t everything. All I wish for me, and you, and anybody else, is to stay injury free, so we can enjoy running for as many years as humanly possible.
    Good luck! I am looking forward to your first race report once you’ve recovered.

  14. Anji

    Thank you :)

  15. Wendy Marks

    Great to read your blog. I too am coming back from a foot stress fracture which meant no running at all for two months & my foot in a cast for 3 weeks. I ran at TBH Bridges of the Tyne last night – have run a parkrun at the weekend but this was my longest session at any sort of speed since early April. Not too far off pace but was struggling in the last mile. Just wanted to give you hope that you can come back and that it shouldnt take too long to get back to fitness – I’ve now been back 3.5 weeks. I also did aqua jogging when injured and do think this helped.

  16. Anji

    Wendy thats so reassuring. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog x

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