A Four Step Return to Pain Free Running

Stretch goal… get back to SwimRun

If you have a look at NVDP’s appendix in How To Skate, you’ll see there’s a heck of a lot of running in the base program.

Why would speed skaters do so much running? Honestly, I’m not sure. Probably because they liked it. Eventually, Nils’ base training switched to bike only and the rest is history!

Nils’ coach, Johan, has been helping me with my return to running. In addition to speed skating, he is an expert at rehabilitating running injuries!

We are applying his knowledge to my legs BEFORE they are hurt.



Step One: Hiking

Before I ever thought about running, I hiked.

Initially, pub-to-pub in England!

Eventually, in the hills around Hong Kong and on big mountains around the World.

I’m going back to the beginning of my athletic journey and starting with weekly long hikes. 3-4 hours is what I’m tolerating right now.

No poles & with a day pack: I am challenging my balance and training the muscles & connective tissues of my lower legs (the source of my injury woes for the last 5+ years).


Step Two: Stretching

Johan got my attention with…

Hej Gordo, are you familiar with the Hip Progression in Going Long?

I just laughed.

Going Long is the title of the book I wrote with Joe Friel.

If you look closely at the progression (linked here), I’m not only the author, I was the model for the pictures.

Once he had my attention, Johan had me stand up during our call and walked me through the following:

  1. Extend up on my toes // Lift toes while standing on heels – 4 cycles
  2. From a deep African/Asian Squat – move forward/back/sideways – 2 circles each way
  3. Camel Pose (toes back / toes under) – 4 breaths in each

Three cycles, takes 8 minutes.

Now, I want to stretch, but I doesn’t seem to happen.

My solution… Teach

When I coach my kids, we do my stretches.

During and after my stretches, I focus on how good I feel.

I log it in my training diary – show Johan, tick the box. I’ve also added it to my daily metrics (Y/N).


Nature Box in Boulder – Home Depot Special

Step Three: Stop Coddling My Feet

Because it was my lower legs giving out, I’d taken to coddling my feet. Johan recommended I try strengthening them instead.

Two methods to start:

  1. Put the Nature Box in front of the sink and stand on it when doing the dishes.
  2. Barefoot at home – I’ve been in Hoka Recovery Slides for a few years

It’s meant to be a gradual shift.


Nature Box in Sweden – Scandinavian Flair

2 miles Easy, then 5s Sprints on 5 min recoveries (x4)

Step Four: Just Stay Healthy!

There isn’t much running right now – which is the way I started in the mid-1990s.

  • No back to back days
  • 9-10 min per mile pace
  • Stop before I get tight
  • Add a bit of sprinting

Training is focused on:

  • Bike volume to build metabolic health
  • Swimming: capped at ~40 minutes
  • Strength work is reduced in favor of aerobic endurance

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