The one legged runner

When I started to work with Roddy knee pain was robbing him of the enjoyment he got from his morning run.

A 2:30 marathon runner, he really felt he wasn’t running freely.

The pain wasn’t crippling him but it was always there.

Some days it was barely noticeable but on others, it was like toothache nagging away at him.

But always worse after a longer run.

He couldn’t comfortably get into certain positions in his yoga classes.

Especially those that required a deep flexed knee position..there he got a sharp pain.

And even the child pose was really uncomfortable.

He was one of the classic “uninjured” injured athletes I see regularly. 

You can still train and play but you don’t feel like you used to.

The years haven’t been kind and accumulated niggles are having an impact.

Movement is a bit restricted.

Nothing seems to flow the way it used to.

In part due to tissue adaptations but mostly down to the behaviors you’ve learned to allow you to keep on trucking.

Great on the one hand…it allows you to keep training but, eventually, a real handbrake in terms of performance.

There often isn’t a need for big changes or to take a complete break.

It’s much more about finding the gaps in your training and filling them…

Checking how you move and work on any glaring restrictions…

And helping you solve the problems yourself.

Roddy, like many, had lost the ability to balance on one leg.

As soon as he got into that position he felt like he’d fall over.

Yet being comfortable here is essential to pain-free running.

It’s your mid-stance position.

If you are unable to get there you’ll load your leg very unevenly.

What you start to see are three compensations when you are running.

  • The knee flexes too much when your foot hits the ground
  • The knee extends too fast.
  • A lateral drop of the pelvis on the support leg

These aren’t just limited to runners…

Pretty much anyone with knee pain will demonstrate them.

The reason for this?

A lack of posterior knee stability.

You need the calf and hamstring working as a team to prevent the early knee extension.

This in turn places you in a position where the whole leg is working better.

You don’t get excessive knee flexion.

The glutes then have time to do their job and the lateral tilt disappears.

And like I had planned it that is where Roddy is now.

Not just running without any pain but running faster.

Yet his training isn’t geared towards running faster… he’s all about enjoying his running having left his competitive days behind him.

But here’s the kicker…

He’s running around 30 seconds per km faster with no extra effort.

How’s he doing this?

Because he’s got two legs again.

For the last few years, he’s pretty much been running on 1 leg.

His injured leg barely contributed to pushing him forward.

He says it’s most noticeable on hills where he feels a lot more powerful and doesn’t slow down anything like as much.

If your knee pain has been impacting your ability to train…

If sitting for long periods means throbbing pain around your knee…

Or your knees are starting to go snap, crackle, and pop when you stand up.

I’ve put together my top 3 knee pain exercises here for you to get started.

My Top 3 Knee Pain Exercises

There’s a dead whale on the beach

What’s the best way to dispose of 8 stinking tonnes of rotting whale carcass?

I’ve no idea either.

But I know it’s not the way that Oregon’s highway division decided to do it.

Back in November 1970 they had a 15m long, 8-tonne humpback whale wash up on a beach.

And nobody could think of the best way to deal with it.

Bury it on the beach?

Nope, it’ll eventually resurface.

Chop it up?

They couldn’t get any volunteers.

Blow it up?

Yeah, let’s blow it up.

I mean, I get it, it’d be quick and easy.

Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to play with dynamite?

And that’s what they did.

They planted a metric shit tonne of TNT around the carcass and blew it up thinking it’d all go out to sea.


They ended up with 8-tonnes of putrifying whale flesh raining down across half a mile of beach…

And the film crew who were there to report on it for the evening news.

And the “let’s blow it up” approach is what a lot of people do with their training.

Goong for the big bang approach with Metcons everyday…

HIIT as their only conditioning…
And maxing out the big lifts every session.

It makes sense in some ways, less time commitment…

No getting bored cruising through an easy zone 2 cardio sessions…

Max singles are cool.

But as the video shows, it’s doesn’t always work out well.

Now, none of these approaches are gonna leave you covered with rotting whale guts…

But you don’t need to knock your pan in every session to make progress.

If you limit the “blow the whale up” approach for a couple of sessions a week you’ll do way better.

Filling in the other days with easier sessions.

Ones that allow you to work on other aspects of your fitness…

Like zone 2 conditioning or lighter hypertrophy work in the gym.

Both of which support the big sexy max effort sessions.

They might be the kind of sessions that don’t get like when you post them on the ‘gram but they are the cornerstones of your success.

Limit going crazy to a couple of times a week and in 6 months time you’ll be emailing me about the mad PBs you’ve been setting.

I nearly forgot. Here’s the video

Don’t be a weekend (only) warrior

“Jump in the shower

And the blood starts pumpin’

Out on the streets

The traffic starts jumpin’

With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5”

I bet you’re singing along in your head with Dolly as you read.

At the time Dolly was starring in the film 9-5 office working hours for many were morphing into 8-6 and beyond.

And, at the same time, we were seeing the start of the first real fitness boom. (Funnily enough helped along by her fellow star Jane Fonda.)

But with time through the week in short supply more and more people started to double up at the weekend. 

And the idea of the weekend warrior was spawned.

Unfortunately throwing the kitchen sink at the weekend and trying to cram all your activity into two days is a bad idea. 

One that is likely to set you on the path to injury.

So I had to laugh when I saw a piece in Runner’s World about “crash training”.

Crash training has its roots in cycling and is where you do 2 or 3 days of harder than normal training.

This can mean longer or harder sessions or longer AND harder. The idea is to do more than normal for a very short period of time.

But this is done off an already solid base of work. 

And every now and then it wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve heard.

Yet the article was talking about it being a good idea if you have a job that makes big time demands on you.

That chucking in a couple of big days at the weekend to make up for doing nothing through the week.

And it’s one of the more stupid things I’ve heard. 

It’s a terrible idea for anyone in that situation.

The last thing you need if you’re putting in long hours is a crazy hard weekend of activity.

Far better would be to “Micro-Dose” your training across the week.

If you are time poor through the week I’d much prefer you did daily short sessions with a little bit more at the weekend.

Cut things right back.

And, ideally, get the sessions in before work.

If you’re lifting pick 2 big movements, 1 lower body and 1 upper body, and do some solid but not hard work.

Conditioning? A 30 min easy run before work and you’re done.

Then at the weekend, you can put in a single bigger session if you want to…

Or you can relax with your family knowing you’ve hit the bases through the week.

He ate a whole Chihuahua!

He ate a whole chihuahua!

Well not exactly.

But first a random factoid alert…

Chihuahuas were actually bred for eating.

Anyway, I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guy was talking about how much fruit and veg he ate.

When he totted it up it came out as the equivalent of an adult chihuahua…

Or 2.5kg of fruit and veggies every day!

Now I like my fruit and veggies…

And I’m definitely an advocate of getting your 5-a-day…

But 2.5kg of fruit and veg is extreme.

And, to be fair, he did admit it wasn’t for everyone.

He also went to pains to point out that he didn’t wake up one day and start eating that amount.

He built up to it over a few months.

But the jump in, all guns blazing approach is one many adopt when they start a new programme…

And then wonder why they crash and burn.

It happens with beginners and more experienced athletes.

They’ll jump into a programme without having done the preparatory work.

Then 3-4 weeks in they find they can’t tolerate the sessions and get injured.

It’s why periods of base building are essential.

You can’t work hard all the time. 

There need to be periods of downtime.

Weeks and months dedicated to laying the foundations on which you build to a PB.

These easy periods are what allow you to run faster or lift more.

Too often runners fall into the trap of thinking it’s the intervals, tempo runs, etc that build their speed but it’s not.

Slowly building up the volume and gradually increasing the intensity IS the route to success.

As you work in tandem with your body’s ability to adapt, your ability to do more improves.

You can tolerate harder running sessions.

Add in lifting in the 80-90% range.

Perhaps start using harder, more intense plyometric drills.

Not only that but it’ll be easier to sustain.

So, like the Chihuahua muncher slowly built his veggie intake, take the time to build your base.

You’ll be surprised how much faster and stronger you get as a result of taking your time.

Golf And Back Pain

Golf and back pain don’t quite go together like bread and jam but back pain in golfers is common. One of the biggest reasons for back pain in golfers is an inability to generate sufficient force into the ground. In fact, it’s not just the ability to create this force but to maintain it through the swing that is the big factor.

Golf is a sport of extremes in terms of movement. There isn’t really another sport that requires you to maximise your rotation in the manner golf does. Any kinks or flaws will reduce your ability to rotate. Continue reading “Golf And Back Pain”

The best cardio workouts for over 40’s

What are the best cardio workouts for the over 40’s?

A better question would be…what is the best way to structure a conditioning program for the over 40’s?

Which would then prompt the reply, what are your goals?

Your goals ultimately determine what your conditioning program needs to look like. If you play 5-a-side football regularly then your program will look different to someone who wants to run 5k fast. They, in turn, will look different to someone who takes part in BJJ.

What they all have in common is that they are based on a strong aerobic base and less volume than you did in your 20’s.

stair run

Continue reading “The best cardio workouts for over 40’s”

Foam Rolling – how to get the most out of it.

Foam rolling went through a phase a few years ago where it seemed to be essential in any warm up. It has now fallen out of favour and isn’t seen as essential to a warm-up anymore. Foam rolling was never essential to any warm-up but I still think there can be a use for it.

I find it useful when used at home if feeling stiff/sore and it makes it easier to ease into larger ranges of movement. My preference is still not to do any foam rolling in a warm-up. This is based primarily because there often isn’t a foam roller about or there isn’t the room.

foam rolling Continue reading “Foam Rolling – how to get the most out of it.”

Training equals Rehab

Training equals rehab, rehab equals training is a phrase that was coined by the American physio Charlie Weingroff. For me, the phrase means that rehab and training do not stand separately from one another. They are a continuum that blends seamlessly together. Parts of the rehab process sit at one end of the spectrum and parts of standard training are at the other the rest sits in the middle being neither one nor the other. Properly progressed rehab should resemble basic strength training and properly performed strength training has an injury preventative aspect. Continue reading “Training equals Rehab”

Preparing for a marathon

Marathon preparation is a lengthy one and it is worth spending some time planning it. If you have just finished one or a half marathon and thinking about your next challenge. It may be stepping up to the marathon or looking at setting a PB in the next marathon. Whatever challenge the next race is it’s worth setting some goals and formulating a training plan.

It’s estimated that for those tackling the marathon around 90%, yes you read that correctly 90%, will pick up some sort of injury. This is simply down to the training being tough. You need to get used to spending a lot of time on your feet and it gets to the stage where a short run is 5 or 6 miles. Not all of these injuries will be significant in terms of lost training time but it still highlights how demanding the training is. Continue reading “Preparing for a marathon”

Achilles tendinopathy – what can you do to keep running

Achilles tendinopathy is one of the more common running injuries and I mentioned it previously in post TOP 5 RUNNING INJURIES. As I mentioned there it is pretty much an overuse injury that can be avoided, for the most part though not always, by good programming. If you gradually increase your training load it is possible to avoid overuse injuries as you are training within your capacity to recover before the next training session. In doing this once you get to the tough part of the program the hard training in itself has a protective mechanism, as described by Tim Gabbett here.

running up hill

Continue reading “Achilles tendinopathy – what can you do to keep running”