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Bryan Wheelock

Programming Hill Sprints to avoid Achilles pain

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Bryan Wheelock
I'm in a bit of a time crunch so I've been getting back to basics with GST.   

My primary focus has been Rope Climbs, HeSPU, XR dips, handstand work and hill sprints.  

Or at least that's the plan.   

 

I can't seem to run the hill sprint without having pain in my right achilles at the insertion point.   

 

I warm up with 5 minutes of skipping rope then go to the hill in front of my house and run 6 repeats of a 100 meter hill. I feel I'm running 80% max effort, but apparently that's too much. I don't feel I'm pushing it hard at all, but the tenderness in my achilles says other wise.

 

I was doing this regularly last fall when I was playing competitive soccer and I had no pain.   

While I'm running and the rest of the evening, my legs feel great.   

When I awake, my tendon's really sore, but improves over the day.   

 

I know that tendons take 10 times longer to heal and adapt, so how should I program the hill sprints so my tendon's can adapt?   

 

 

If I feel tendon pain, how long should I wait before the next training session? 10 days?

 

I'm thinking I should just jog the hill for a month and then gradually build speed from there, but I'd love input.

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Coach Sommer

- Very good that you are being proactive about this.  Achilles that are continully abused have a nasty habit of developing tendonitis which takes forever to heal.

 

- For the time being you are your achilles' prisoner and it, not you, will decide what level of intensity is appropriate.  

 

- My advice is to, other than some light stretching, completely rest the achilles for a week.  During this interval I have found that heat, not ice, is most effective for initiating healing on the achilles.  This is an old ultra-marathoners' trick.

 

- If the achilles is feeling better than the following week, I would one run of the 100 meter hill and then see how it feels afterwards.  

 

- If it is pain free, then consider upping the next week's workout to two 100 meter hill repeats.  Then again evaluate the achilles and see how it is responding.

 

- As long as you are pain free, you may continue adding an additonal 100 meter hill repeat per week until you are back to your originally scheduled workout of six 100 meter hill repeats.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Bryan Wheelock

Thanks Coach for the excellent response.  

 

I will take a week before I begin training again.   I'm also taking Collagen supplements and creatine to help heal and hopefully strengthen the tendons.

 

Total immobility isn't really an option and the dog needs some exercise.

 

Would walking help healing by improving blood supply?

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Coach Sommer

Just keep the walking gentle and relatively flat and it should be fine.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Christoph Pahl

Yeah I have this forever achilles tendinitis (caused by an exercise of the streching guru in the forum - he proposed to trigger a cramp in the calf to absolutely intensify an exercise to correct foot posture. That was too much for me, but perhaps I did something wrong). After a year now it's already much better and in one more year I'll be fine :)

 

What I found extremely helpful when walking was wearing mountaineering boots. I know also an alpinist with that problem. He prefers now Himalaya and the Andes - in his expedition boots (which are very rigid) he's doing OK. 

 

I find your description (taking about a day to feel better) already worse than my problem. Honestly, I wouldn't expect you doing hill runs in the next one..two years, sorry.

Edited by Christoph

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Ronnicky Roy

Along with coaches recommendation, you might try playing around with different shoes for running. I know for me, when I ran hills in court shoes they would tear up my body. But if I used basic running shoes or even barefoot I was completely fine. No pain.

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Bryan Wheelock

New shoes were part of my problems.  I normally run in New Balance Minimus Zero drops. I bought some Luna running sandals and the decrease in padding seems to have created my achilles pain.

 

I thought I had put enough miles in for the tendons to adapt, but I was wrong. 

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Rowdy

When transitioning from shoes to running sandals or Vibram Five Fingers you should allow yourself about a month for your body to adapt. I have been running Vibrams for over 10 years and have never had an issue. Not only do the muscles and tendons have to adapt but your bones need to increase their density. I recommend never running more than a 1/4 mile for the first week each day, then 1/2 mile the second week, 3/4 mile and 1 mile a day the last week. Take it easy. It might take even longer than a month.

 

Now that your sore something I use to do when I would develop Plantars or Achilles tendonitis, prior to wearing Vibrams, is that I would walk on grass barefoot. I never walked more than a mile. The following week I would run easy no more than a mile on the grass. I continued to do this until I was pain free.

 

My cross country coach in high school had our team run barefoot on golf courses during the season. He said it prevented injuries. I never had an injury during the season only during the winter when I couldn't run barefoot on the grass.

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