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Centre of gravity

The start of the Vicary Road hill on Mark's Run
After feeling so bad for what was only a short run yesterday morning, I decided it might be smart to run a few kilometres as a warm-up for this morning's Terrigal Trotters run.  So, at 5:30am, I headed off to the nearby Haven to run a few laps.  It was hard to imagine, as I hobbled along, that I would soon be running at five minute kilometre pace with my fellow Trotters.  My most recent injury, the right arch, seemed to be the least of my worries.  It was the older chronic right knee and Achilles injuries that were causing me the most grief.

I have a theory that if one of my Achilles tendons is sore, then I don't stretch it as much as I drive off with that leg, my stride shortens and my centre of gravity is further back than usual.  The consequence is that my running form is less efficient and it takes more effort to maintain a certain pace.  As the Achilles loosens up, the centre of gravity moves forward and running efficiency improves.  On my warm-up, my form was anything but efficient, and my Achilles was very sore, but I didn't try to force it (see earlier post titled "Managing a chronic Achilles").  Instead I just hoped that if I took it easy for the first kilometres of Trotters' "Mark's Run", the Achilles would loosen and I would be able to cope with the very significant hills later on the route.

Mark's Run passes through the very tranquil Erina Valley
As it turned out, the Achilles didn't loosen up to the point where I could stride out and feel balanced until after 10 kilometres.  Prior to that it was manageable running downhill and on the flat at slower speeds, but I was well back in the field.  When we reached the tough hills, which would normally be a strength, I just had to take them very gingerly and avoid putting any severe pressure on my right ankle, trying to prevent the Achilles from stretching too far.  It was frustrating and unpleasant.

The last 4km of the run were actually quite enjoyable as I finally began to run properly, and at a reasonable speed, for an old bloke.  The Achilles problem comes and goes, and it's not always possible to work out what triggers it.  Maybe I tie the shoes too tight and they grip too firmly on the tendon, or maybe it's running on an uneven or soft surface.  Eventually, I suspect more surgery will be needed.

Tomorrow's 42km trail run will be a challenge, but I will be running slowly and in a different pair of shoes.  I'm keen to do the run both because it's through a beautiful part of the world, and because I need some long runs to build fitness.  One bright spot today was that, although I could feel some sensitivity in my right arch, it continues to improve and seems to be the least of my current problems.