Monday, 12 May 2008

Inspiration on the run

Last week was pretty good as training weeks go. We both managed to do all our runs, clocking in a total distance of about 83km (50 miles).

Wednesday's morning run was extra special. As we approached the Houses of Parliament we saw another runner, with a prosthetic limb (a "blade" to be exact). He was pretty damn fast - probably about twice as fast as Jo and I (at least). He gave us a wave and a smile and carried on. Jo commented that it put into perspective any pain or discomfort we may be feeling during our run. We carried on running and then he caught us up as we waited at the Vauxhall Bridge traffic lights (about 2 kilometres later) - and we got chatting. He was very friendly - a very positive character with an easy smile. He had run the London Marathon a few weeks ago - his target had been to run sub-three hours....he had been well on target at the half-way mark but a blister on his limb had slowed him down. He finished the marathon in 3 hours and 14 minutes. The guy's name was Abdifatah Dhulolow; we managed to find out more about him on the Internet.

To cut a long story short. He came to the UK as a refugee in 1998 and in 2004, after complications with his leg (injured during the Somalia civil war), he had his leg amputated. So about the time that Jo and I began our running - this man was embarking on a much tougher battle, learning to walk (and run) with an artificial leg. It puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

Thursday's run was a stop-start affair because Jo got a stitch a few kilometres into the run. The inner organs hangs from several ligaments attached to the diaphragm, the muscular "plate" between chest and abdomen. Liver, spleen, stomach, small intestine and colon form a weight of several kilograms, hanging from the diaphragm. The impact of every step forces the inner organs to move downwards. Additionally, the diaphragm moves upwards on every expiration to force air out of the lungs. This continuous up/down stress may cause cramp in the diaphragm, i.e. a stitch. A stitch occurs most often on the right hand side because of the liver being the heaviest organ, and therefore the one stressing the diaphragm the most.

We tried stopping several times, and Jo also tried leaning forward to ease the pressure on the diaphragm, but it was to no avail. The stitch kept coming back.

In future we should try a more advanced approach. We need to synchronise the breathing pattern with our running, and exhale when the foot on the non-hurting side touches the ground, i.e. when you have stitch in your right hand side, try to exhale when your left foot touches the ground. By keeping this breathing pattern the diaphragm moves downward at the same time as the liver, hence decreasing the stress.

After the half-way point on the run Jo needed to adjust her rucksack as it was rubbing at the top, against the back of her neck. By adjusting it down (so that most of the weight was on her hips) we seemed to have eased her stitch considerably - hence the 2nd half of the run was considerably faster.

Also on Thursday I began to have problems with a toothache which is still plaguing me with problems as I type - saw the dentist yesterday. Apparently I have an infection - so I'll be on antibiotics for a week and then in a few weeks time I can expect some canal work (the root canal type, as opposed to the Regent's canal!). Better get myself mentally prepared for the pain (physical and to my wallet!). Anyway - the outcome of the toothache being that my sleep was badly affected for the past few days but we stuck to the running schedule. Now, however, I'm feeling pretty tired and sleepy - I suspect that's a side-effect of the medication (and possibly the start of the hay fever season!).

Over the weekend we decided to mix socialising with our training. When you're training for a big event like the TransRockies it's easy to get self-absorbed with the training and end up with no or little time for friends and family - we want to ensure we still make time for family and friends. My brother, Satpal, and his wife, Parm, live in Camberley (it's about 35 miles South-West of London - about an hour or so drive from the centre of London). We decided to catch a train to Guildford (about 25 miles south of London, also about an hours drive from Central London) and then to run to my brother's place (a distance of about 30 kilometres/19 miles via the route we picked).

The aim was to run to Satpal's, go out for a meal, stay the night, run locally on Sunday morning and then catch a train home. So on Saturday morning we had breakfast and packed our rucksacks with plenty of fluid, a change of clothing, an extra running kit for Sunday and toiletries (which in my case was just a toothbrush, whereas in Jo's case it was considerably more!!). We caught the train to Guildford and were off an running at about 10:15am.

We left Guildford via the canal, heading south (Camberley is North-West of Guildford) to join the North Downs Way (a well marked walk in the chain of little hills just south of London called the North Downs). Then we ran along the North Downs Way - heading West. It was a brilliant path - soft underfoot (sometimes a little too soft, i.e. sand) and with great scenery. It was very peaceful, apart from the other (very friendly) walkers, runners or mountain bikers. It was also very hilly which suited us perfectly as we need to get some hill training in. It was in fact amazing how much the hills impacted us - hence shows there's no room for complacency in our training.

We initially tried to run for five kilometres and then have a walking break but this was too long a run section in what was turning out to be a very hot day (in the mid to high 20s I reckon), so we opted to do four kilometres and then have a walking break - we stuck to that for most of the run but we did also have quite a few stops to check the maps as we were unsure of the route (neither one of us had ever been down this leg of the North Downs Way).

At a village called Seale we left the North Downs Way and headed north. We crossed the Hogs Back to Ash and picked up another canal heading north towards Frimley. Years ago (about 15 years to be precise) I used to work in Frimley - so for me it was a bit of a trip down memory lane.

Eventually we left the canal (just before Deepcut) and headed north to Camberley. We arrived at my brother's place some four hours after we set out...about 30 minutes later than we had hoped. I indulged in a beer (or two) and we chilled out and had a lovely lunch in the garden. Later we went for a nice meal and then we on the Nintendo was a perfect day.

On Sunday we went out for a 10km run with Satpal - let's just say it was considerably harder than our usual runs (because of the hills and the pace). We rewarded ourselves with a pub lunch. All in all a superb weekend

I woke up on Monday and my body was aching...not from the running, but rather from playing on the Wii. I think it was mainly the Wii Sports Boxing...that opponent just wouldn't stay down, no matter how many times I knocked him down (but I, deservedly, won on a points decision)!!!! ;)


Blogger Georgie B said...

I read your post with trepedation and excitement... with trepedation because it is now painfully clear that you guys are far ahead of two " elite " old men athletes in your training status / approach. We'll have to think about this.

With excitement because I have had stomach pain for almost 5 years and after numerous cat scans and mri's that showed nothing apparently wrong with me.... my doctor(s)basically said that I would have to live with the chronic pain.

Your explanation of the diaphram / ligaments and organ attachments strongly infer that there might be a running modification that I can make to help my situation. Thanks for a new avenue of diagnosis / treatment to explore.... as I said, it is exciting.

Be well.... Cheers !!

14 May 2008 at 01:35  
Blogger Sat Sandhu said...

Ah sorry George - I know it can be worrying when you see how much running others are doing :(

Basically our aim is to get to a level whereby running back to back marathons is easy - so that we "just" need to worry about the mountains and the altitude! I'm pretty sure we're ahead of schedule so don't worry if you don't think you're where we are...after all the official training plan only kicked in a couple of weeks ago.

I really hope the running modification helps with your pain. Let me know if it makes a difference - Jo had a stitch during this morning's run and it cured it.

Take care

14 May 2008 at 10:32  

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