Running Track

2013 track races in review

Indoor races

12/Jan/2013 – Meeting Régional 2 (Coque)

In my first race for the year, I ran a 200m in 23″41. I finished first in the fifth heat, and overall 16th out of 39. Later that day, I participated in the 4x200m relay, where I was part of my club’s second team. We ran 1’38″95.

19/Jan/2013 – Championnats Indoor (Coque)

The indoor championships were a challenging day, with four races. I first ran a 60m, where I qualified for the finals by winning heat 4 out of 5 in 7″36. There were 39 competitors in total. In the 60m final I finished 5th and last, in 7″32.

On the 200m with 23 competitors in 4 heats, if I wanted to qualify for the final I couldn’t hold back all. I was seeded in the first heat with Tom Hutmacher who would later win the finals. I ran all out, and finished second in 22″97. I advanced to the final as fastest time-based qualifier (the 4 first sports already filled by the winners of their respective heats).  As this was my fourth race for the day, I was already quite tired and although I had a podium finish in sight (third place was within reach) I was bumped to fourth place by Wesley Charlet on the final meters. I still managed to do 23″01.

Outdoor races

13/Apr/2013 – Meeting TC (Arlon, Belgium)

I wasn’t sure how well my training had prepared me for the outdoor season – my sessions had been a little over the place with a mixture of sprints and long distance runs. I expected this competition in Arlon to be a low-key event, and it was. Warming up almost on my own should have been a tell-tale sign, but in the end only three people lined up for the 100m. I won quite easily in 11″62, with a tailwind of 0.7m/s.


14/Apr/2013 – Meeting Ouvert (Soleuvre)

One day after the 100m in Arlon, I thought I would see more competition in the first outdoor track meeting in my own country.

Most local guys elected not to run, however, and I should probably have skipped this race as well. The track is only 200m, which means the 100m end rather abruptly in gym mats rather than giving you plenty of time to slow down after the finish line.

I had an OK start and won with a narrow lead over Pol Bidaine. Our times were 11″56 and 11″67, respectively. Unfortunately, the abrupt braking phase into the gym mats somehow affected my hip placement, and even eight months later I can still feel some of the repercussions of that impact.


01/Sep/2013 – Meeting Ouvert International (Dudelange)

After not being able to sprint all out for a few months, I still went back to the track in September. I was still hoping to finish the season on a positive note, and while I hadn’t done much sprinting I’d done quite a bit of strength training and some longer runs to at least maintain a modicum of shape.

In the race, I had a pretty bad start and didn’t recover from that at all, finishing last in the first heat in 11″64 (with a tailwind of 0.9m/s, to boot). The race was won by Festus Geraldo in 10″98, which meant the gap was considerable.

22/Sep/2013 – Coupe du Prince (Luxembourg)

My hip was still bothering me, and as such I was happy to hear that my club had enough other athletes to cover the individual competitions at the Coupe du Prince. However, they asked me to participate in the second 4x100m team, whose goal was to save some points in case the first team didn’t finish or was disqualified. I thought I could manage that, so I taped up my various injuries, and ran 4th position on the relay which we finished in 48″33. While I would have considered this a very bad result in my competitive years, it needs to be taken in context of a club competition; plus we did leave three other teams behind us.


Achilles troubles and steps taken to alleviate them

The 8x300m training on Tuesday had me hobbling down the stairs in pain the next morning, bracing myself against the wall to minimize the weight I’d have to put on the left foot. Needless to say, the left achilles tendon was giving me a lot of trouble again.

Traditionally, over the course of the past ten years or so this is the point where I went on an extended break from athletics. Nowadays, I look back at training logs or GPS history from the months following achilles tendon trouble and am surprised that there is often no evidence whatsoever of athletic activity for weeks, maybe even months. While this passive approach might make some or all of the inflammation go away over time, it’s also easy to lose fitness and speed and basically ensure that I rarely reach ambitious goals. Basically, the achilles tendon is slowly improving while I watched the gains I worked so hard for over the previous months vanish.

Instead, I sat down the next morning and asked myself: “are you really doing all that you can to improve things?” All too often, it’s easier to admit defeat and feel sorry for oneself while not actually doing anything pro-active that might help make the problem go away faster.

So I decided that this time around, I’d try and make a better effort at fighting back. What follows is a break-down of the different methods that I’ve used, and intend to use more.

Electro muscle stimulation

Two large Compex electrodes on my left foot, with the Compex running in low-intensity “Capillarization” mode

Over the last couple of years, I’ve already experimented with using my old Compex electro muscle stimulator on the achilles tendon, running in low-intensity “Capillarization” mode to hopefully increase blood circulation in the affected area. It’s not a miracle cure, but it always feels like it’s doing some good; especially if I’m diligent about using it for about an hour a day. I used it for a total of 100 minutes on Wednesday (four 25-minute sessions).

Eccentric heel drop exercises

I also made it a point to do the exercises outlined in a Runners Connect article that prescribes regular use of flat-ground eccentric heel drop exercises to treat Insertional Achilles tendonitis.

See a doctor

Finally, after a long-lasting refusal to go see a doctor because of past experiences, I decided to make an appointment so I could get a professional opinion.

I was lucky enough to get an appointment the next day. The doctor diagnosed an “enthésite achille” (as far as my non-medical translation skills go, this seems to correspond to the English usage of “Insertional Achilles tendonitis”) and also sent me to get an X-Ray to rule out anything more serious (like a heel spur). Again, I was lucky enough to get this done on the same lunch break without either an appointment or a large wait at a local hospital.


Compression, cold and taping

In the evening, instead of merely plopping down in front of the TV, I got a large plastic trash can and filled it with cold water. I submerged the foot (the water went up over half of the calf as well) for ten minutes, and then later repeated this procedure once more. I’m hoping the cold and also the compression effect from the water will assist in further reducing the inflammation.

I’ve also started experimenting with kinesio tapes. While medical studies seem inconclusive on whether there’s much proven benefit, I’ve seen some positive effect not just when wearing the tape throughout the day but also during night. I suppose what helps at night is the compression effect of the tape that prevents the achilles tendon (and soleus muscle?) from going into its shortest possible position (toes pointed down, away from the body); which in turn means when I get up in the morning I feel less of that painful unstretched effect.


Of course none of the items outlines above are miracle cures. But if I can keep up all of them over the course of a few weeks (or better still, make them baseline habits for as long as I want to live an athletic life) the combination of several small factors will hopefully not just make my current troubles go away, but also assist in keeping them from coming back during future endeavors.

Running Track

Training Log 18/Dec/2013

Track training today. We started off with the usual 2km warmup on pavement (at a leisurely 6:15 min/km pace). The main training was 8x300m. The ground was covered in frost near the 100m, but given how the left achilles tendon was feeling I still opted not to use spikes. Throughout the training I was never really feeling it, and felt slow and sluggish; plus mix in some increasing irritation in the achilles tendon and it wasn’t a motivating evening. Timing-wise, I started off slow (ten seconds behind the leading athletes) and got gradually slower. Towards the end, my only motivation was to complete the training. I clocked in the 8 repeats in 54″2, 53″6, 54″0, 55″2, 55″2, 57″5, 57″0 and 56″6.


Hike at “Naturschutzgebitt Haard”

Distance hiked: 12,75 km in 2:25:17; with an average pace of 11:24 min/km and 293 m elevation gain.

Running Trail

9.6km run at “Naturschutzgebitt Haard”

Distance ran: 9,63 km in 1:10:33; with an average pace of 7:20 min/km and 287 m elevation gain.

Climbing Hiking

Hike and climb to Zwölferspitze (Secondary summit)

Ascent from valley floor (Neder) via Pinnistal, past Elferspitze on normal route. Scramble from Zwölfernieder to the secondary summit of Zwölferspitze (2562m) required some easy climbing (UIAA II). Return via panorama trail and cable car. 19km for the day, 1900m ascent, 1100m descent.

Climbing Hiking

Hike and climb to Elferspitze (Östlicher Elferturm)

Ascend from valley floor (Neder) via Pinnistal. Climb via Nordwand Klettersteig (rated “difficult”, “C/D”). 22km for the day, 1650m elevation gain and loss.

Hiking Injuries

Training log 5/Jul/2013

Friday was uneventful. During my lunch break, I walked to the fitness center (1.5km) and back (1.5km). At the gym, I did a variation of my usual program, and was glad to see that a gluteus exercise that I hadn’t been able to do well in over two months due to my hip issues was almost pain-free again.

After work, I walked to the hairdresser and back, for a total of 2km, therefore clocking a total of 5km of walking for the day.

Did quite a bit of Compex on the left achilles tendon, but it seems that electro-stimulation works better when the achilles tendon itself is sore, not the part where it connects to the heel (people on the internet seem to refer to this as “insertional achilles tendonitis”).

Road Running

Training log Thursday 04/Jul/2013

Once again, I woke up with a painful left achilles tendon, mostly towards its base at the heel. Walking downstairs was painful in the morning, but after putting on my Asics running shoes (with a positive heel-to-toe drop) things improved – which is to be expected, since the higher heel in the shoe means that the achilles tendon isn’t stretched as much.

During my lunch break, I threw caution to the wind and went for a jogging around the Petrusse and Alzette valleys. I was once again wearing my cadence meter , and contrary to Tuesday purposefully tried taking smaller steps. My average today was 84 steps per minute, an increase of 5% over the previously recorded 80spm. I was faster too, although that was probably caused by running on paved surface rather than forest trails. I ended up doing 7,47 km with a 5:45 min/km pace, climbing only around 115m of elevation.

The pain in the achilles was fairly noticeable in the first 1 or 2 km, but then faded into the background. Later on, I put the Compex (electro-stimulation) on the achilles heel and tendon and did three “capillarization” programs in a row, for a total of 75 minutes. The advantage of these is that I can do them while sitting at the office and working, since the program requires no input and all I need to do is kick off my shoes and lower the socks. I’m still not sure if the Compex is really helping or if it’s just a matter of placebo effect, but I always feel better afterwards.

Once again, I then came home and had dinner instead of getting on the stationary bike. I still feel like I could stand losing some weight, but food cravings are stronger than my willpower. The achilles tendon is feeling a little better tonight.

Hiking Injuries

Training log Wednesday 03/Jul/2013

On Wednesday, I woke up feeling like I was back in the year 2000. Meaning, my left achilles tendon was acting up again, and I had trouble even just descending the stairs to the kitchen after getting out of bed. Memories of the surgery that I had on the tendon in late 2000 after a partial tear was diagnosed came back; but of course then and now are very different times.

With the car requiring another visit to the mechanic, I was looking at 4.5km of walking from the car dealer to work and back. The morning walk to work went OK, even if the first few meters were once again painful. During my lunch break, I walked to the fitness center and did my usual program; including eccentric calf muscle exercises I’ve been doing regularly for the past half year and that, prior to the latest achilles episode of the past few days, have worked in keeping any major pain at bay.

After work I walked back to the car dealer and drove home, once again without major pain. I had been toying with the idea of riding my stationary bike in the evening, but instead upon getting home I ate entirely too many comfort foods and called it a day.