Preparing the Calves for Speed Workouts


Having a running blog can be a lot of fun when things are going well. It’s great to be able to talk about running accomplishments and exciting workouts completed.

However, it can be a real drag when the injury bug hits and running becomes painful. This is why my blog postings have really fallen off and I apologize for that.

The good news is that things are, in fact, getting better. The side-lying adductor exercise has really helped to stabilize my pelvis and my runner’s knee issues are much improved. The balloon blowing routine also seems to have helped my upper trapezius, but it is still not 100% perfect.

In dealing with all of these aches and pains, my training has taken a turn for the worse over the last few weeks, but I’m still planning on running in the hood to coast and race in late August.

Preparing for Future Speed Workouts

The challenge for me right now is to be able to run a few speed workouts prior to the race. As many of you know, it is very difficult to race very well if you only do easy, steady state running.

In order to maximize potential it is so important to run at least a few V02Max and lactate threshold workouts. Of course the problem with these workouts is that they put a lot more stress on the body than easy running and increase the chance of injury.

In order to lessen the injury risk, I am going to try two things when performing speed workouts in the next few weeks.

No More Concrete

First, I’m not going to run intervals on concrete. Concrete is really one of the worst surfaces on which to run. Its inherent hardness increases the stress on the lower leg and feet muscles tendons and bones.

Unfortunately running on concrete is easier for me because I try to do a lot of my running at work during my lunch hour. There are no dirt trails or synthetic tracks near my work. In order to get to a track, I’m going to have to run interval workouts in the evening after work.

Certainly not ideal, as I like to get home as soon as possible and see my kids. I will have to figure out a way to run the workouts as efficiently as possible.

Strengthening Calves

My second focus is to make a conscious effort to increase the strength of my calves. Many runners make the mistake of jumping into speed workouts without sufficient calf strength.

The increased pace of intervals and fast tempo runs forces the calf to do much more work than it is usually asked to do during easy runs. This can lead to a pretty nasty shin splint and achilles’ tendon issues.

In order to increase my calf strength, I am going to take the advice of Coach Jeff Gaudette over at RunnersConnect. He has a great article on prepping the calf muscles for speed work and racing.

One exercise that looks especially appealing is the eccentric heel drop.

I will also use the achilles’ tendon strength program in the Runners Connect Strength Training Program. Hopefully this will lessen the chance of injury.

I really hope that I’m able to get together a few good weeks of interval and tempo run workouts prior to the end of August. It’ll make the Hood to Coast race more enjoyed. I will certainly keep you updated.

Postscript – February, 2015

The 30 Minute Runner experiment ended after this post and never restarted.  The reason? Injuries.

One of the primary concerns I had with running workouts on only 30 minutes per day of running was the chance for injury.  Without higher mileage and long runs, I was worried that my body would not be strong enough to handle speed workouts.

This concern was validated.

When I started doing to 10-20-30 workouts, I simply did not have enough strength in my hips, hamstrings, and calves to handle the increased intensity. This led to multiple injuries and frustration.

I still think that the 10-20-30 workout can be a good way to obtain some high intensity training during a busy schedule, but it is critical to put in some base work – including runs over 30 minutes in length – prior to commencing the workouts.

So, in the end, the 30 Minute Runner experiment ended up being a failure. Unless a runner is blessed with tremendous biomechanics, I don’t see how it is possible to train for a fast 5k race on 30 minutes per day – with sufficient speed training – without getting injured.

Take a look on my new series on using the Egoscue Method to prevent the kinds of injuries that I sustained during the 30 Minute Runner Experiment.


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