Understanding the run injury protocolJune 30, 2010
I raised one eye brow (yeah, like I can do that) as I downloaded the Garmin from my run. It’s my second land run. Everything went fine. It’s been about 5 weeks I believe. But something is different. My typical pace for an endurance run is 8:30-8:40. (as a reference my tempo pace is then about 7:15-7:20). The data was there from the run, endurance run average pace of 8:09.
Someone attributed it to the cooler weather, my muscles being looser……. the last time I ran the temps were the same, and with the extra bike volume there ain’t looseness going on here.
I am not going to get excited until I have a 60 minute run under my belt but…. the run injury protocol….. it works. The Wizard has several examples, he could rattle them off to you all day long. But I am understanding that it does work, and that perhaps it’s not something to ignore. Should following a week of the protocol when you are not injured be part of recovery? something to think about.
The Wizard is very public about his protocol, but I have gotten a lot of questions about what it is, so let’s break it down.
The article I am referencing can be found right here.
The whole premise of the protocol is this:
“The basic concept is that a triathlete’s gluts, hamstrings, and quads get adequate stress on a daily basis from bike training. The only major movement (relative to running) that is neglected is hip flexion. Another less significantly neglected area would be the calf (soleus and gastroc), although this does get some stress through cycling. These identifications make it intuitively obvious that if you are not running and would like to stay in “run” shape, you must keep these areas engaged and fit.”
Now additionally as this all relates to Ironman,
“The other major piece of information that we have to use to our advantage related to IM racing, is that bike durability plays a significant role in being able to run well off the bike. The simple way to say this is you want to be trained such that you get off the bike as fresh as possible as if you were just toeing the line of a marathon. Wait a minute, you are!! It amazes me how many people forget that very simple fact.”
Think about that for a minute. How well do you run off the bike? What’s your half marathon time? I will use one of my athletes, Alexa as an example. Her stand alone half marathon time in April was a 1:50. This past weekend she competed in the Tupper lake 1/2 Ironman. Her previous best 1/2 Ironman was a 5:40. At Tupper she ripped off a 5:16 with a half marathon time of: 1:50. THAT is a well paced bike, and THAT is evidence of how good her bike fitness is right now.
If the run split is too far off the stand alone 1/2 marathon time, then that is an indication of poor bike fitness / poor bike execution.
I use that example to demonstrate just how important bike fitness is. Not speed, but endurance, remember that speed actually comes from a very deep aerobic base. This means riding slower on the slow days. If you average 22-23 miles per hour on race day you likely should be hanging back around 16-18 in training. But this is an entirely separate post. We certainly don’t dictate training on a bike by mph. DUH!
Working the run injury protocol helps that bike fitness become even stronger because in an Ironman it’s ultimately what you need to run the marathon. If you can run a marathon off the bike that’s within 10 min of your stand alone marathon time, you’ve done your bike homework then. Most people fall into the trap, if they see this gap, of thinking they need to run more.
Back to the protocol.
Here are what Jesse outlines to be the key components for the protocol (with some comments inserted by me)
1) Take half of your planned run volume and add that time to your bike mileage. This will improve your bike durability a huge amount and therefore help you run better, or arrive at the marathon start fresher.
If you currently bike 6 hours a week and run 3 hours a week, you would take 1.5 hours of running and add it to your weekly bike volume, which would then equal 7.5 hours of biking. Now we still have 1.5 hours of running to cover….
2) Take the other half of your planned run mileage and add that to devoted time of engaged hip flexor work. This can come in the form of water running, Power Cranks on the bike, or kicking in the Of those, I’d have at least half be pool running. While pool running, execute the workouts just as you would have if you were real running except note that pool HR zones are typically about 10% lower than on-land run zones. This is due to the venous return you get from the water pressure in the pool (like wearing a giant compression sock). Your body just doesn’t have to beat as much to move around the same amount of blood.
So let’s say you devote 30 minutes per week to hip flexor work, eccentric calf raises, and possibly powercrank work (using 30 as a round number). Then you’d use the additional 60 minutes to run in the pool. Pool running is tricky. We used to really emphasize emulating running form in the pool. Most athletes don’t do it, they do a form of treading water. Think about marching in the pool (deep water). Bring the knees up, press the heel down. Engage the hip flexors is what we are trying to accomplish. Stop trying to move from one side of the pool to the other so fast, covering 25 yards pool running does not equate to minute per miles of running.
3) Spend three days a week doing Calf raises and hip flexor exercises. Just 3 sets of each on each day is sufficient for these.
I think there is a tendency to want to do more, so try to limit it to three days a week. Get yourself some cuffed tubing, the cuffs go around your ankles and march. Calf raises, eccentric. On a step. The criteria the Wizard used for me was that I had to be able to complete 3 sets of 12 without pain. We waited until then.
Jesse’s got several examples of this protocol working. I am hoping that I am one of them. Was the 8:09 a fluke? I will believe it when I see a few more runs at that pace. What I am really focused on now is returning to the roads safely. This week it is 3 X road runs separated by a day of pool running. I am very sure I could run a good 1/2 marathon at the Mussel next week off the bike, but I know again, the right thing to do is the Aquabike. Steelhead is right around the corner, so I have to be patient. I write that more for me than for you. Have to keep myself honest!
So the run injury protocol is a way you can keep your training moving forward. Just because you can’t run at the moment doesn’t mean your game is over. And it certainly does not mean that you still can’t run your best.
Still not sure? Hang around for a bit, let’s find out.