Road to Malaga Part II - Achilles trouble

I thought I would begin by detailing my progress to the World Masters Championships which commenced on 4th September in Malaga and concludes on the 16th. I'm due to race on Wednesday (12th) in the 5000m. There are a number of Kenyan athletes entered who have allegedly posted times this year between 13:57 - 14:24, much quicker than I have ran this season (14:46) - and quicker than my lifetime best of 14:05 (2011). I am currently seeded 8th. See registration list here

Kit check

On the morning of July 19th during a track session I felt a tightening of my soleus and achilles. I had planned to run 6x500m / 2 min rests, 3 mins rec followed by 6x300m/2 mins rec. I completed the first set in 86,82,80,81,79,79 without inhibition. However, on the first 300m rep as a precaution I decided to stop just 100m into the rep. The tightness had turned to an uncomfortable pain. I attempted a cool down, which I also cut short as I was now biomechanically compromised and changing my gait to try and maintain a jog.

Looking back I attribute the injury to the stresses of wearing spikes too often. Of course essential for race day, but on training in retrospect I could have worn racing flats instead and also ran the opposite direction round the track as to not subject the body to the same distribution of forces.

Following 4 days rehab I made tentative steps back to running. Beginning with 1 mile and adding 2 miles a day for the next couple of days I had to have 3 further days off. I resumed training once more running 1 mile again but adding 1 mile at a time for 10 days. The quality of the runs increased as the distances increased. I then progressed to a 7 miles tempo run with 3 miles warm up and 2 miles cool down, which was performed on a predominantly uphill route. After a few days of easy running I decided to run in the Wimbledon 5k Festival.

I have had treatment for the problem which has been taking a long while to recover. Acupuncture, Graston tool and general sports massage have helped as to have a routine of specific isometric exercises and heat therapy.

Wimbledon 5K Festival Wednesday 15th August
Despite the injury issues I was keen to prove to myself that I can complete a race so I took a late decision to contest the Wimbledon 5k Festival. After a good warm up of 5k I felt my Achilles and soleus were sufficiently warmed, primed and ready. I completed a few key stretches to ensure my readiness and made my way to the start line. I opted to wear racing flats and performed a 80m stride. Although the stride felt fast and fluid I felt a moderate level of stiffness centrally through my achilles but not painful enough to consider withdrawing.

Bringing up the rear of the field

Once the race began I settled at the back of the large field, I became aware of stiffness and mild pain on every foot strike. I felt as if me gait was somewhat unnatural. Passing 400m in 71 secs still at the rear of the field I just focussed on staying in touch. Lap after the lap and the stiffness didn’t worsen in fact subsided a little and I was running more freely but cautiously holding back. It felt as if I were on a tempo run just cruising round without urgency. I was competing only with myself today. I was battling with my mind which had been excusing me from even starting the race. The voice in my had been saying “ you don’t need to do this. You can drop out.” I convinced myself that I didn't want to go to Malaga not knowing what physical state was and that I must finish this race. This was just a stepping stone back and the next race will be better but only if you get through this. I finished the race in 15:15.03, a far cry from my seasons best of 14:46.18 recorded just 3 weeks after the London Marathon. I had hoped to better this time but it wasn't to be.

Up and Down 
Since Wimbledon things have been up and down. I haven't been able to perform any quality track sessions in the morning as I normally would as my achilles and soleus have been so stiff. The flexibility hasn't been there at all.

I began Bank Holiday week (27th August) attempting a track session in the late morning of 12x200m/100m jog recovery. After 2.5 miles warm up I performed the first rep which felt ok but nothing special in terms of time but that wasn't the purpose. The second rep was too painful to continue. I just couldn't get up onto my toes. I was being ultra cautious too by running in my trainers.

Later in the day I retuned to the track more optimistic things would be better. This time I managed to do all 12 in the following times 37, 36, 35, 33, 34, 33, 32, 32, 31, 32, 30, 29. Elated by this I continued running the next few days twice a day with an easy run in the morning and on occasions a bit more up tempo in the evening whilst running home from work. On Tuesday morning I ran 11 miles, and 4 miles of fartlek on the way home from work, which felt really good.

However, on Wednesday I ran 6 miles in the morning and attempted to run 1 min on, 1 min off in the evening on the way home form work. After a mile of easy jogging, I began the first effort but I didn't feel particularly fluid. On the 2nd effort I felt a pain at the base of my heal as if the Achilles attachment had been over stretched. I immediately wound back the pace and continued to jog easily and finally stopped two miles from home and caught the bus the rest of the way. That was the last time I ran that week.

I made an appointment to get some treatment from Mary who warned me that I will be sore for the following two days which was very much the case. I began the following week (3rd September) with an easy 5 miles and felt much better, and continued to run steadily the next day. Wednesday evenings run of 4 miles was great and relatively pain free I managed to nudge the pace to under 6 minutes/mile and felt I could have ran for many more miles. Unfortunately, the next day I felt very restricted on my morning run. Although, I managed 6 miles I wish I was closer to home and ran just 5. I skipped the evening run and sought the help of Mary once more for treatment on Thursday. This left me very sore and I limped for the following two days until after a Sunday walk which loosed things sufficiently to consider an easy short run of 5k.

This week
It's now Monday evening and I had another successful 5k easy run this morning. Travel and rest day tomorrow. Lets see what happens now on Wednesday......


  1. great post as usual, well done for winning the battle with your mind! Good luck on Wed!

    1. Cheers Russell! Feeling positive. Only 15 mins right. Easy!


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