The Training’s Restarted!

You’ll be pleased to hear I’m still in a positive mood! After my two short runs last week I also managed¬† to cycle to the swimming pool, aqua-plod for TWO HOURS and then cycle home again. I felt brain dead after those two hours, but the cycle home helped wake me up, and then as I came back into the village I passed the postman who flagged me down and shouted that he had already tried 3 times to deliver a parcel that had to be signed for, so he’d loop round and try again. I cycled home so fast I beat him there, and he handed over my NEW SHOES!

Busy weekend (daughter being dropped at school in the early hours for her trip to Germany, son’s birthday sleepover and Mother’s Day for starters!) so couldn’t get out to try them. Then Monday morning dawned. Everyone was out, the sun was shining, the shoes were calling….

I set off for 4 miles. Everything was stiff, aching and complaining, but I carried on. After 2 and a half miles the stiffness was easing off. Shin was still sore but I was ignoring it. At four miles I was nearly back home, and I suddenly realised my shin wasn’t painful. I couldn’t feel anything sore there. It didn’t feel like someone was pressing hard on the bony part of my leg any more. Overjoyed I decided to press on and ran an extra mile. Shin started hurting again on a gentle downhill, and then again on the gentle uphill, but it gave me hope that this WILL clear up. One day!

So what shall I do today???

No More Moaning (for today!)

Sat down and read back my last few blog posts last night, and it even made *me* depressed! So, enough moaning, let’s have some positive thoughts & vibes here (man!)

I survived Monday’s epic 2 mile run, and by Tuesday my leg was still okay. Still a little sore, but definitely walk-on-able. More stretching and icing, and a decision made. I investigated the latest date to defer my entry for VLM. Turns out, the latest date is 22nd April 2012 – which is Race Day! This means I can continue to train for now and can literally decide at the last minute that its not feasible to do it. (You’re not allowed to defer if you actually start the race!)

Although this may be just putting off the awful decision I actually feel much happier, as I have a plan in place now, and a definite date to aim towards. As I was feeling happy I decided I would try (again!) to get some new shoes. Do you think these are bright enough?

Look nice! Thanks for the photo, Sweatshop ūüôā

Actually, I haven’t got them yet – they’re being posted to me. Good things come to those who wait – so after spending around 2 hours in the shop, and then waiting for them to arrive, that MUST mean they’re going to be good!

Came home, and was inspired to pull on my (old) trainers. Optimistically set off for 3 miles – and survived! Leg was a little stretchy-sore again, but I stopped after every mile to have a stretch and then walked for a minute. Iced and ibuprofen when I got home. It was okay last night, and certainly no sorer than usual this morning.

It is lovely to be out in the fresh air again (even if it was murky-foggy air) and one incident reminded me especially of how much I love running in the countryside where I live. Running down a track with hedges on each side, I heard a rustling under the hedge on my left just ahead of me. I slowed down and saw a small bird running (looked like a young pheasant maybe) and then a hawk swooped down from the top of the hedge and sank its claws into the young bird’s back! At the sound of my shuffling feet the hawk stopped, turned, looked at me, and the released the bird and flew off. The young bird looked stunned at its escape and scuttled off to hide under a different hedge instead.

You don’t see that driving around in your car!

Tape Tattoo and a Henna Tattoo

So since the last time I posted, I’ve been very good and doing my homework regularly. Lots of stretching, lots of cycling and lots of aqua plodding. I’m sure this is a really good rehab exercise, but its sooooooooo boooooooooring! Monday last week I cycled to the pool, aqua plodded for 1 hour 50 minutes, then cycled home. Can’t wait to get back out on the roads on my feet!
Was back at the Physio on Tuesday, and all is still healing up nicely. She dithered as to whether she should order me not to run for another week, or whether I could take it carefully.¬† I did the ol’ puppy dog eyes, so she said she’d tape me up and I could have a go. The result of the taping is shown in the photo. Attractive, no? Most people on seeing the photo thought it was an ill-advised tattoo. I think it looks like a target for a stalker to aim at. Anyway – its supposed to support my leg so I can run without causing damage.
Got home, got changed, and I was OFF! Being very good I just set off on my little 3 mile loop. Took it very slowly, and plodded along. It was feeling slightly sore and stretchy, but the Physio had said I would just have to run through the ‘stretching’ pain. By the end it was feeling quite sore, so I got showered and changed, and immediately took ibuprofen, slapped on an icepack and put my foot up.
By Wednesday, I was limping again. Was so upset I nearly cried.
Thursday I was back on my bike and plodding in the pool, but I was so tired and fed up I only lasted an hour.
Friday was preparing for the weekend and removing my tape (OUCH!), and the weekend was spent at a large family wedding. Hence my second ‘Tattoo’ of the week! This is much prettier, and is a henna tattoo (or Mehndi). This should last a little longer as well!
Back to this week, I set off on Monday for just a 2 mile plod. Leg was feeling sore and ‘stretchy’, but not too bad. Took ibuprofen, iced, and compressed it, and asked many people to cross their fingers to hope it will be okay. By this morning, its still a little sore, but not limping sore, so HOORAY!
Just realised this blog was supposed to be a record of my training for my first ever Marathon. A way of capturing my thoughts, feelings and emotions. However it seems to have descended into a wallow of injury and self pity. Ho hum!

Still cycling, still stretching, still icing

So another week has gone by, I’m another year older, and I’m still not running. Another visit to the Physio put paid to that!

Actually, there was good and bad news from the Physio. The Bad News is that I can’t run the Bath Half. Fair enough, its in just over a week’s time and I’m still in pain. As they put it, my focus is London, not Bath. I can easily run Bath next year (just need to pay another ¬£39 – eek!)

The Good News is that she could tell I’d been doing my stretches, the pain has moved lower down my leg (apparently this is a good thing – but I’ll have to take her word for it), and is less than last week. This was apparent because I didn’t manage a vertical take off from the couch this week when she pressed on the sore bit. She was impressed with the bruises on my legs from where she’d poked me last week – “like a peach!” she remarked. After running on a treadmill with 2 Physios standing behind me, looking at me legs and making comments (a girl can get paranoid, you know!) the conclusion is that my running isn’t as bad as they thought it would be, over pronation isn’t too bad, and my back was stiff.

Back was solved by more pushing & grunting (the grunting was me!). I have to keep up my stretches, and have been given some more to do. I should keep up the cycling and aqua running (as apparently there are still one or two people in North Wiltshire haven’t had a laugh at me yet). Next week I’m going to be taped up – I tell you, these Physios are sadists!*

Anyway – out on the bike yesterday for just an hour, as that’s my bottom-pain-threshold. Past a lovely Victorian school building (I think!) Took a blurry photo, then promptly dropped my phone. Sigh!

Today I should be doing my cycle-aqua run-cycle combo again that I first tried last Friday. However, in a classic spot yesterday of ‘retail-therapy-is-still-therapy’ I am waiting in for a delivery which includes PADDING!!!

Maybe I should do some more stretches whilst I’m waiting …..

* So what does that make me, who pays to go and see them???

Last Chance – Thy Name is Bicycle!

I have been good. I have been following the Physio’s advice. I have been doing my stretches, I have¬† been applying ice and popping Ibuprofen. So I thought I’d better also get on me bike and keep my fitness up whilst I can’t run.
After dithering around (as usual), I made it out on my bike on Thursday. 12 miles in 1 hour and 6 minutes is not very impressive, but my backside was shouting at me by the end that it was quite long enough! Mental note – add cycling shorts and/or new bike saddle to my birthday list! I set off thinking I would hate every minute. However, after a while I cheered up, and was just appreciating being out in the fresh air again. Cycling certainly seems much faster than running, and I was amazed how quickly my watch was ‘beeping’ the miles. As I was riding on roads I often run down, it felt like I was on the wrong side of the road – a most disconcerting experience.
Following on from that success, I set off today on an even more unusual experience both for me, and for my local swimming pool. May I introduce my Flotation Belt? It was to enable me to go and do ‘Aqua Running’, a strange form of torture involving bobbing about in the pool, performing a ‘running’ motion, thus propelling yourself through the water.
If cycling felt fast moving after running, then aqua running was slow motion! I felt a total dork approaching the pool side with my attractive belt in my hand, but fortunately the pool was fairly empty (apart from the tots in the shallow end). Once I was happy that I was wearing the largest float in the pool, I slipped into the water and set off. Yes I felt stupid, and yes it was boring going sooooooo slowly, and yes people did have a bit of a stare at me. However, it was a good workout, and after 50 minutes I felt tired which is good.
My birthday weekend is fast approaching, so enough fun for today. Time to hide the grey hair and smarten up for a weekend of celebrating moving up into the next age category for races!

Meet the Physio

B&T, meet Mrs Physio. Mrs Physio, meet B&T.

Sadly, after my last despondent post, the Shin Splints have not improved. After a week’s NOT RUNNING, I could still feel it, so took a week off for some high altitude cold weather cross training. (Yes – I went skiing – hooray!)

Came home, and thought I’d just try a little trot round the block on Sunday evening, as all was feeling good. Put on my lovely new shoes and set off into the sunset. Sounds very theatrical, but the sunset soon became ‘night’, and the short cut through the field turned into a wade through a swamp (how much rain had they had whilst we’d been away???) On the down side, my leg started feeling sore after only a mile. Decided enough was enough, and on Monday morning booked an appointment with a local physio, as recommended by a good friend of mine.

Being a worrier, I now had 24 hours to panic in a “What will the physio do?” “Where will I park?” and the eternal worry –¬† “What should I wear?”. Kind friends on Runner’s World advised me, so on Tuesday morning I grabbed my shorts and running shoes, stuffed them into a bag and shot off.

What an interesting hour it was! I’ve never had someone poke, prod and then just stare at my legs for so long, whilst muttering “Interesting!” Turns out I was right, it is shin splints. Curiously though, my Physio thinks it my lovely new shoes which are to blame. Turns out my ‘wonky’ right leg, the one that wobbles all over the place when I run, has a lovely arch, so no obvious reason to over pronate on that side. My left foot, however, has a really flat arch, and is the one that would need the support. She thinks the new shoes are supporting my left foot okay, but giving too much support to my right foot, leading to the shin splints.My new shoes are stiffer than my old ones, so she also thinks I’m having to work harder to run in them. Sigh – sometimes you can’t do right for doing wrong!

Funniest (and most embarrassing part of the session) is when she asked to see my running shoes, and I pulled my hastily grabbed trainers from my bag. Remember that muddy field I ran through on Sunday? Well most of it was still attached to my trainers as they came out of the bag, but then proceeded to drop onto her desk, carpet etc. Fortunately she just laughed, as I shamefaced tried to sweep up the mud droppings.

So, she’s given me some stretches to do, and ordered ice and ibuprofen and NO RUNNING this week. Cycling and swimming have been suggested as alternatives …… hmm! Another appointment next week, when she’s booked the room with the treadmill in – my nemesis!

Week 5 round-up – Ice and RICE

After all the excitement of Slaughterford 9, I knew I had to take this week more steadily. Also my legs were shouting at me and creaking in unusual ways – always a worry. So Monday morning I set off on a very gentle Recovery Run. 4 flat-ish mile in 50 minutes – that’s taking it easy! It was also freezing cold, so I considered it a full immersion ice bath as well.

Tuesday – I missed this run (I was going to write that I skipped this run, but it sounded rather too energetic and I don’t want to give the wrong impression). Reckoned 3 runs in 3 days would probably be too much.

Wednesday – Still freezing cold, still feeling creaky, so 4.5M in 48 minutes. Felt looser after first 2 miles, and also ran a little faster in order to warm up.

Thursday – didn’t run again, as saving myself for my Long Run on Friday.

Friday – schedule said 2 hours LSR, so off I set. It was -5C when I set off, so I wore my cheap rustle-y sweatbag running jacket. Set off on the 1 mile short loop into town, and just happened to pop into the public loos there. Well, there was no way I would be popping behind a bush further down the trail in those temperatures. After 2 miles, I was passing the car so dropped my jacket off. Kept new attractive fleecy headband and gloves on for another few miles, then was amazed I’d warmed up enough to stuff them into my pockets.

I ran down the canal to Lacock. Really beautiful, they’ve done so much work on the canal, and most of it was frozen solid. I passed 2 swans swimming protectively in a hole in the ice they’d made – only about 1 metre wide, but just enough for them and no one else. I wasn’t going to argue with them – much too scary and too close to the tow path!

In Lacock my right shoe was feeling loose, so I stopped and tightened my laces. Only took a few minutes, but felt really chilled when I stood back up. I had to rummage in my pockets and put my gloves and headband back on. I was feeling tired and ‘heavy legged’ on the way back, but pleased that I’d run my 10 Miles in 1:59. Back home, I did my usual stretching and had a lovely HOT shower until I felt human again. That’s quite a lot of water!

By Saturday morning though, a particular spot on my right calf was really sore when I walked. So sore that I couldn’t walk without limping. the pain was a weird,sick-in-stomach type of pain. Fortunately I had nothing panned, so retired to the sofa with an ice pack and my laptop. Much Googling later, decided I have Posterior Shin Splints. Ow!

Cue the RICE part of this week – Rest Ice Compression Elevation. Not too hard to lounge on the sofa, watching the first snow of the winter start coming down. By Sunday I was rather bored, and started feeling quite sorry for myself. Pain was less intense, and I was no longer limping, but it wasn’t the magical overnight cure I’d been hoping for.

Today is Tuesday, and I’ve stopped rubbing in Ibuprofen gel and removed my crepe bandage. I’ve ordered a compression calf sleeve and am trying to be more positive. I can still feel it like a tightness when I walk, but am pencilling in a possible trot-around-the-block on Friday, but only if its totally recovered.

Sorry this week’s blog is rather down hearted, but I’ve been feeling quite down and despondent. Hopefully on the up again, and promise to only post when I’m feeling happier.

Slaughterford 9 January 29th 2012

I had been dreading this race for weeks, ever since I entered it in fact. I had wussed out of entering it for the past 2 years, and in December 2011 decided this was the year I would do it. It is, after all, the closest race to my home. In fact I regularly run part of the route of the race as one of my ‘short’ routes.¬†
 
So why so scared? 
 
Well, this race has a formidable reputation. Just beyond where I live is a very steep valley which I avoid when I run because its just too steep. And muddy. And I’m sure wild animals live out there. In fact the stretch of¬†the¬†route that I run is the track where I was attacked by a ‘psycho¬†pheasant’ last year. Proof! The route of the race goes right down to the bottom of the valley, back up part way, even further down then practically vertically up to the finish. An uphill finish – how cruel! In between all these hills the route is mostly off-road, which at this time of year means lots of mud. Oh, and the 100 metres along the over-knee-height By Brook is, erm, refreshing to say the least.
 
So, it was with very mixed feelings I arrived at race HQ, and parked in a muddy field, with the temperature at 1C and gazed around at the fog. Not so much of the view-admiring to day then!

See – I did make it there – and I have a rather cool race number to show for it!

The race went as I’d expected. My family had cycled from home and cheered me on around 2 miles, complete with my hat which I’d¬†inadvertently¬†left at home, but which I no longer felt the need for. At about 3 miles we ran through Slaughterford itself, and on seeing my friend who lives there I managed to drop off my gloves as amazingly even my hands were warm by that point. After that, the hills started. My trail shoes were rubbish – I slipped and slithered up (and down) the muddy hills (although to be fair – everyone else was as well, so maybe it was just too muddy even for trail shoes!)

Although I was running on my own, there was a group of about 6 of us running at around the same pace so we did chat a little when we had the breath to do so. I was glad of the company, as the fog meant I completely lost my sense of direction and after Slaughterford had no idea where I was. I was extremely appreciative of the marshals. I’ve never been so pleased to see a hi-viz vest appearing on the far side of a field through the fog. They must have been freezing standing still for so long, but were all cheering and encouraging. Hoorah for them!

The stream-wading was breath taking. Literally. I’m not good at cold water, and the gasps I emitted as I got in must have been highly amusing for everyone else. It was a mud slide down to the brook, but fortunately the stream bed was stony so no chance of slipping once I was in. The limbo under the over hanging tree branch was a nice touch, but the quagmire as we got out of the stream was shoe-suckingly-tastic.

The final hill was nearly too much for me. Even walking up it I had to stop for a second to catch my breath. It was lovely to see my family again at the top, waiting to accompany me up the final hill to the finish line. I even managed to run this last bit (just in case there was a photographer at the finish line!)

So it is with pride that I am (still) wearing the T-shirt that I really did feel I earned. However I think I need to make an addition with a permanent pen under it, saying

“NO I FLIPPING DIDN’T!”

Is this Hilly enough?

So Week 4 Run 3 in my schedule said “40 Mins Hilly”. I chose this route – do you think that is hilly enough??

Pleased with 3.13 Miles in 33:50, as it really is a steep hill on the way back up. No more runs now until Sunday, when I face the notorious ‘Slaughterford 9’ race. That’s going to count as my Long Slow Run for the week, as although 9 miles probably isn’t quite long enough, I can guarantee it will be slow! Looking at the amount of rain we’ve had this week so far (coming down again now as I type) I’m thinking snorkel & flippers might be appropriate gear.

Still, keep thinking life’s all about new experiences so really have to do this race. Its certainly the race that’s closest to home, and will certainly be an experience. Not necessarily an enjoyable one, however. Another new experience I’ve volunteered for is writing a race report for Women’s Running magazine. Not for the Slaughterford 9 (don’t want to put anyone off) but for the Bath Half Marathon in March. Sounds less muddy and less tiring than Slaughterford 9!

I will return after the race and let you know I’ve survived … hopefully!