Posted May 24, 2020

The Great Running Experiment

Last July I spent about 11 days in Australia, which was a fantastic experience overall, however on my trip back home I experienced a few travel woes. Essentially, I wound up making a broken field sprint through the Sydney airport to make my connecting flight from Melbourne to Vancouver, as this post outlines.

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My connecting flight from Melbourne to Sydney was somehow cancelled and I was rescheduled to a flight an hour later, which was then summarily delayed by a half hour, turning a 2 and a half hour transfer into a mere 45 minutes. With scant time to wait, I ditched my check bag and sprinted from the domestic terminal to the train to the international terminal, somehow got on the wrong one that took me a stop away from the airport, got off, went to the other platform, waited an ungodly amount of time for the train to the international terminal, and sprinted to try to make my flight back to Vancouver. The ticket I purchased just seconds ago to get on the train didn’t work to get into international departures, and not having time to fight I jumped the turnstile, summarily being scorned by the ticket operator and fully expecting police to try to stop me. I came to realize I was much like Jason Bourne in that I also can run at a dead sprint for about 3 minutes before my hands start shaking. Making it to security 10 minutes after my gate had opened and was boarding, I begged and pleaded to get through fast, then sprinted through the duty free and shopping mall section of the terminal, sweaty, flustered and slightly rage-y if you’ve ever had a 245 lb Canadian sprinting directly towards you, you’d be wise to move aside. Fortunately many did. Not all. I’m agile like a cat though so my shuck and jive lateral steps came in handy during my open field break completely with bouncing backpack and mild chest cold. Only a few Shoulder checks occurred, but they were gentle as a Rocky Mountain breeze. Moving sidewalks are made for moments like these, and just like Kelly Clarkson singing that namesake song, I was hitting all the right notes and by which I mean screaming “fuck out the way!!!” As I barrelled purpose-driven towards my gate. I made it with mere minutes to spare. Zone 4 was already boarding, and now hot, sweaty, and unable to think clearly at all, I managed to make my flight. Now to ponder how to retrieve my checked bag which is likely twirling like a pretty princess on a conveyor belt at domestic arrivals in Sydney. This photo is the aftermath.

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Now whether it was the sudden onset of a jacked 240 lb Canuck sprinting for the first time in years, the following 14 hours on a plane while being unable to stretch or walk out the leg, or the fact that there weren’t any bars open in the Vancouver airport that Monday at 7am when I landed to douse the foot with sweet sweet bourbon, since that event I’ve had some chronic soreness in my right foot. I’ve met with orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, physiotherapists, witch doctors, shaman priestesses, and even an old guy in a back alley who was collecting dandellions. Everyone gave their clinical insights and recommended treatments, but still it remains.

Now it’s nothing major, more of a mild annoyance that pokes it’s head up like a gnarly whack-a-mole when ever I get out of bed or start walking after sitting for a while. It goes away in about 10-15 steps, and hasn’t affected my workouts much, and if I was to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “what is that? Feels weird,” and 10 is having my foot gnawed on by a grizzly, while also being on fire, and the grizzly is on fire, and everything is on fire, I’d say it’s a solid 2 or 3.

The last 2 months have allowed me to be on my feet considerably less than in the previous year, so the amount of rest I’ve had should have been sufficient to see proper recovery. Nope. I’ve done eccentric loading protocols, dorsiflexion protocols, hip mobility work, rolled the plantar fascia, trigger pointed, shockwaved, dry needled, and epson salt bathed, to no avail, so now it’s time for something a bit more experimental.

Sometimes tissues just need to be loaded and go through an adaptation to stress to see improvement. We see this with chronic tendinopathy all the time, and also it’s how muscles see hypertrophy and recover from injury, while also getting jacked and awesome in non-injured states. Tissue adaptations are simply a continuum from injured to elite performance. The only difference is the level of stress, volume, velocity, and recovery needs at each stage, so manipulating those variables usually produces the results you’re after, as long as you’re paying attention to progressions and not going to crazy with things too soon.

So as a result of this, I’ve decided to experiment with myself and do a running program to load the foot to kind of force some adaptation in it with stress that it hasn’t been used to in a while. I’ll preface by saying choosing to run is like choosing to have a facial with a garden rake, or like being slowly flayed, Ramsay Bolton style from Game of Thrones, but that’s where we’re at in this quarantine world.

So the plan is to start very slow, which is my running style. I’m not unlike a bison when I run, so speed intervals are laughably not even a presence in this program. I’m putting in 10 minutes, every 4th day, to give some stress but ample recovery time between bouts. The goal is to monitor symptoms and return to a fully baseline level after each run before trying the next.

After my first run last Tuesday, I felt pretty good. I mean, as good as someone would who hadn’t chosen to run willingly in the past 5 years aside from a sprint for his life in a Sydney airport a year ago could feel. There was some mild muscle soreness through the shin and thigh, but it was pretty similar to the left leg, so no issues there. The foot was tight, but didn’t last longer than the morning constitutional with the dogs.

Yesterday was run number 2. Same route, same time, same buffalo. Today the foot is tight, similarly to after the first day, but I expect it to go away as the day of walking, lawn mowing, and errand running take their course.

So we’re going to see how this plays out. It will either make things immeasurably worse, or somewhat better, but there’s no better way to figure it out than to just do the thing. Maybe I’ll lose all my gains, which after all the quarantine snack foods might not be a bad thing.