Halfway through training for SDW50 – more missed miles

A recap of the last four weeks of training. It's been an interesting month...

In my last South Downs Way 50 training update, I said I hoped to “bank a couple of 100km weeks,” and also “remain injury-free.” As you can probably tell by the title of this post, neither happened and it’s been a frustrating and inconsistent few weeks of running.

As the graph below shows, things were going OK until week seven when, well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Cipro no no

Before diving into my recent running history, I’m going back to the start of the year. In January, I had an infection and was prescribed antibiotics in the form of ciprofloxacin.

I don’t know what prompted me, but I researched the side effects of it. I was expecting the usual like nausea and diarrhoea, but no, those pale in comparison to the tendon ruptures and tendonitis that fluoroquinolones (like ciprofloxacin) are capable of.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of pages online from medical bodies and health organisations saying the same thing: ciprofloxacin increases the risk of developing tendon issues during treatment and for months afterwards.

As someone prone to tendonitis, this made for uncomfortable reading and I wasn’t prepared to take a risk. Thankfully, my doctor didn’t take much persuasion and prescribed me doxycycline instead, which have fewer side effects.

I started taking them on week six and was then hit by the fatigue train. The first few days were tiring and running became a slog, so I ignored the training plan and went for time on feet instead.

Reaching 100km while not at my best was at least something to be happy about.

Mileage for week six of training
Week six mileage (well, the km equivalent)

Back at it

Strength training is dull. Nobody likes it, but most of us do it to prevent and reduce injuries. So it’s ironic that, while doing a simple kettlebell workout, my back spasmed and sent me crashing to the ground. It also rendered me immobile for a couple of days.

The classic ibuprofen and co-codamol combo didn’t help, but what did was to keep moving, even if it meant I was shuffling around like a decrepit gargoyle. What also helped was the arrival of the Compex Mini I had won in a Wings for Life competition.

A Compex Mini and can of Red Bull, courtesy of Wings for Life
I’m loving the Compex Mini so far

It’s a great bit of kit that stimulates muscles to improve strength and also reduces tension to relax them. I’m still getting used to it, but so far I’m impressed and I’m confident it helped heal my back. Expect a glowing review in the near future.

Missed miles? Meh

So, I missed almost an entire week’s worth of training. Oh, well.

Even just a few months ago, this situation would’ve sent me into a bit of a panic, but I’ve come to accept that most runners encounter at least one hiccup on their path to the start line.

Illness, injury or fatigue can leave you feeling anxiously behind, but it’s best to try and channel that energy elsewhere. I know it sounds like a cringey motivational quote on a kitchen wall, but you can only control what you can control.

Runners are reluctant to miss runs as they worry it’ll affect their race preparation. But sometimes a break – enforced or otherwise – can be beneficial. A day or two, even a week or two, can provide an opportunity to return mentally and physically fresher, stronger and enthusiastic.

And in my case, it meant I could finish off the antibiotics without fearing a code brown situation…

We go again

After week’s rest, I decided to do a tentative test run to assess the back. I did run-walk workout of 7 × (4 mins run; 1 min walk) and all went well, with no aches or pain.

It’s always hard to know how best to return to running after an injury, but since I’m training for a 50-miler, it’s more beneficial for me to prioritise mileage than fast workouts. Thankfully, it’s also easier to run easy miles after an injury (or extended time off) than intervals or tempo sessions.

So this most recent week was about establishing consistency, evaluate any soreness or pain, and get the legs used to running again.

Nearly 88km for the week and 30 of those were along The Ridgeway, which was full of ankle deep and energy-sapping mud.

A muddy Ridgeway near Chinnor in Buckinghamshire
The Ridgeway National Trail – is it summer yet?

Speaking of mud, I’ll be doing the Amersham Ultra in a couple of weeks. The race is notorious for being mucky and wet, so I’m going to treat it as a supported long run and I won’t be aiming for a time.

And in terms of training, well…

I’ve not followed the plan for over a month. I think I’ll keep it fluid and listen to my body by seeing how my legs and mind are feeling every morning, then plan my run for the day.

Hopefully I’ll be back with a more positive update next month!

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