These days I run just like Red Rum…

Red-Rum-on-Southport-BeachNo, not gallloping very quickly with a tiny Irishman on my back. Instead, I have decided to take a leaf out of the late, great Ginger McCain’s book by using the golden(ish) sands and azure(ish) shallows  that run alongside my adoptive, one horse home town of Southport to make my long runs a little more effective and enjoyable, while endeavouring to avoid more injuries.

After all, this is the training regime that enabled Red Rum to win a record three Grand Nationals. So if it was good enough for him, I’m bound to say that it’s good enough for me; especially as I generally look like an old nag that’s been ridden hard and put away wet after a training session anyway.

You see, having reached the age where it’s nigh on impossible to train hard and still make it uninjured to the start line of a few races every year, it’s definitely time to start training smarter; especially as this year’s big date with destiny is the Rat Race Scotland Coast to Coast. Naturally, that means spending more time making use of the sand dunes to reduce strike impact. But current thinking is that soft ground can be just as problematic as pavements, as it can allow the heel to fall below the level of the front of the foot, thus overstretching the Achilles, not to mention putting additional stresses on ankle ligaments.

My new and revolutionary (for those of a non-equine persuasion) method enables me to run on hard-packed sand that has a little bit of give, while providing my feet and lower legs with a constant cool dousing of salty water, not to mention some useful additional resistance.

Naturally, it’s too early to say whether this rare splash of horse sense is going to help keep me injury-free in the future, but while I’m obviously not going to be troubling the bookies at Aintree, I can at least report that my new Red Rum Regime (which may well be the title of my best-selling exercise book if this all works out), has at least managed to reverse the terrifying decline in pace that’s been afflicting me for the last 18 months.

If the truth be told, that still means I’m running at more of a trot than a canter, but at least it proves, contrary to popular opinion, that I’m not ready for the knacker’s yard just yet…


I love the smell of Deep Heat in the morning…

deep heat productsYeah, we’ve all been there: the changing tent before a big race, where the air is thick with the smell of nervous anticipation and Deep Heat.

I’ve been using the stuff for years now, mainly to help warm my muscles up before races or cold weather runs, in an attempt to avoid tears and strains. However, as I’m currently trying to rehabilitate myself following 7 months out with a stress fracture, I thought it was well worth looking into new research commissioned by the bods behind Deep Heat to see what their best-known product really does.

The scientific bit

Apparently, in the wake of Mo Farah et al’s exploits at London 2012, more Brits than ever have been heading out for a run and collecting a host of running-related injuries as a result. Incredibly, it also seems that no less than 35% of those surveyed do absolutely no warming up at all before exercise, while an astonishing 65% do no cooling down exercises at all.

Now look, as someone who’s been limping since March, I may not seem like the best person to lecture on the subject; but really, anyone who doesn’t have a bit of a stretch and a walk before going for a run has got to be out of their tiny mind.

I’m certainly going the whole hog in order to get myself through the delicate stages of rebuilding my running muscles; which means Deep Heat rubbed into my thighs, calves and achilles, before a couple of minutes of gentle stretching and a 400m walk. And the stretching and the walk are all repeated once I’ve finished my (pathetically slow) run too.

Interestingly, according to the research document I have before me, Deep Heat helps to avoid strains because its combination of Methyl Silicate, Eucalyptus Oil, Turpentine Oil and Menthol will actually penetrate the skin, before “hydrolising to salicylic acid, which interferes in the synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins from arachidonic acid.”

Well, yeah, I’ve always figured that it was something like that. I mean, only a muppet would think that it just warmed you up a bit and smelled funny…

The really wimpy bit

As a recent convert to ice baths right before my leg went during an 18-miler, I’ll be using them again as soon as soon as my mileages get above the currently wimpy 4 miles through the dunes that I’m attempting three times a week.

However, I’m still using an ice pack on the most badly damaged muscles, followed by Deep Freeze (from those wonderful folks who brought you Deep Heat) to try and keep everything cool and pain-free, or Deep Relief (from yep, you guessed it) if I’m in too much pain after a run. And so far, it all appears to be working. (At the risk of lowering the tone however, am I the only one who’s pleased that, given their limited level of imagination in product naming, they’ve never taken range extension into the tickly cough market?)

It’s also a bit of a thought that I’m apparently now paying the same company to warm me up, cool me down and then kill the pain I’ve caused in between times, in much the same way that I’d be a tad suspicious if Glenfiddich started selling Resolve too. However, right now, I’m not sure I’d be running at all without these products…so it would be churlish of me not to give a big shout out to Deep Heat, Deep Freeze and Deep Relief, and offer them the 5 Jelly Baby rating they all so richly deserve.