Monday 17 January 2011

My rookie mistake needs proper recovery time

Due to my injured leg, I spent pretty much the whole weekend sat on the sofa.  I was getting very bored & frustrated by Sunday afternoon, so decided that as the important thing about the long run of the week is getting used to being on your feet for a few hours, I'd try and achieve something, and although I couldn't run, I'd go for a 3hr walk.  It turns out I'm a bit of an idiot.
I got about 1.5miles into this walk, when the pain in my leg became nearly as bad as when I was I turned round and hobbled home :(

After doing a bit more online research, I've self-diagnosed my injury as Achilles Tendonitis.  It's my own fault - after doing so little after my half marathon on 5th December, I launched myself into lots of running come January, and have made the rookie mistake of increasing my mileage too quickly.  I thought that as I've been running a fair bit all year, it'd be fine...but clearly it wasn't, and then I ignored a niggling Achilles problem and carried on running, and now I'm limping when I walk and in pretty much constant pain.  I should count myself lucky that it's not more serious - an Achilles rupture could have seen me out of action for months!

I'm really concerned though about not being able to run and getting behind on my training plan. It can take a good couple of weeks to properly recover from this, and at the moment, it's just getting worse - although I appreciate that my walking stunt on Sunday didn't help.  I've got my next half marathon in 6 weeks and had been really hoping to go for a PB...never mind trying to get my PB in the marathon in April which is my most important goal at the moment.

However, I'm just going to have to accept that if I don't rest properly now, and push my training back a couple of weeks, it might stop me distance running completely....for ever.... If I let myself recover, maybe I'll not be able to run the next few races, but I will be able to run in six months time, which has to be much more important!

Friday 14 January 2011

I've been hit by the big "I"

I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.  I was hoping for later.  Preferably much later, like after I've finished both marathons by the middle of May and I can happily contemplate not running for a month.

I did not want it to happen with two half marathons left to run and 92 days left until the big 26.2 in London.

Unfortunately though, over the last week, I've been aware of a niggling pain that was only present when I ran, and this morning it's gone and shown itself as an injury.  I've not been injured for about 8 months I think, since I had some problems with my hip, which a few sessions of physio and strength training fixed.  I ran through that one and got better, so I'm hoping this one is minor and I can get over it in a couple of days...always the optimist ;)

At 1.5miles into my run this morning (after pushing through a dull aching pain from the start that I figured would go away if I kept at it) I found myself pulling up after an acute pain ran through my lower calf muscle, radiating out across my lower leg...a bit like I imagine it would feel to be stabbed.  After the initial pain wore off, I gave it a rub, did a bit of stretching, prayed to all the gods I don't believe in, and tried to run a bit more.  Unfortunately, I was limping, I couldn't get faster than a jog, and every few paces, the stabbing came back, which buckled my leg.  I gave up and hobbled home :(

Once home, I grabbed the frozen peas and iced for twenty minutes, and am now wearing a compression bandage.  The pain seems to have gone now and I can walk absolutely fine, but I'm worried in case it comes back when I next run - I have no idea of the cause or what it is that's damaged, but I'll rest tomorrow.  I do really wanted to get my long run in on Sunday but will just see how it goes - at the moment, I'm very unsure as to what the next week's training is going to be like!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

I'll run later...

I woke up two hours late this morning...yep, that's right...two whole hours!  Not quite sure how I managed to ignore my klaxon of an alarm clock, but seems I did.  So, no time for a run for me this morning.

I spent all day saying to myself that I'd have to go for a run in the evening when I got home from work, but 90% of the time I've said that in the past I've never done it.  Put me on a sofa and you've lost me!  Even once I got home at 8pm, I kept saying that I was going for a run later...but in the back of my mind I wasn't sure I believed myself.  But yes, I'll go later...after I've checked Twitter...after I've watched the recorded Glee from last night...after dinner....

Then, when later rolled around (about 9.40pm) I found myself getting ready, and come 10pm I was actually out on the road, running!  Although I only did 4.5 miles, it was an interval session, it was hard, and now I'm feeling very, very pleased with myself :D

Monday 10 January 2011

A very good start to the year

I'm feeling (a little bit) like a new person.

The last week has gone so well, and I'm now feeling really motivated, enthusiastic, and a bit slimmer too (over half a stone according to the scales!).

The training has been going really well, and despite having a cold this week, I've been up at 5.30am each morning I've intended to be, and finished a decent paced 10 mile run yesterday. The 10 miler was challenging too because there were many opportunities to shorten my route and head home, and I had to struggle with myself to keep going and follow the long way round, but go the long way round I went, I achieved my 10 miles and am feeling very pleased with myself ;)

I've also managed to overhaul my diet as and that was always going to be the hardest thing for me to achieve.  This time though, I've really approached the "healthy eating" resolution differently to the many times I've tried before - this time it isn't about losing weight, it's about fuelling myself.  Giving my body all the nutrients it needs to function properly, and to help me run to my potential.  I've made a lot of changes, but my new way of eating includes lots of fruit and salad, two servings of dairy every day, some seafood instead of chicken all the time, upping my water intake to hydrate myself, the odd smoothie, and reducing the very frequent indulgence in chocolate and cake! 

I think the key to this that will keep me on the right track though is that I haven't actually cut anything out.  We had fish and chips from the chippy on Friday night because that's what we do every week and I always really enjoy it.  I had some chocolate when friends came over on Saturday and when I was feeling peckish last night after a healthy dinner of a lovely bean and lentil soup, I quite happily had a slice of the cake that's left over from Christmas.  But they were the only occasions I treated myself, and to be honest, that was enough.  I'm also keeping in mind the Runner's World tips for weight loss - adding the cinnamon to a yogurt to boost your metabolism is my favourite - and hopefully that will help too!

The scales confirmed just how poor my Christmas diet had been but have rewarded me with a massive weight loss this week, although sure that will slow down over the month.  

BUT....I know that I mustn't get too carried away with the whole dieting thing.  

As a runner, my energy needs are far in excess of someone with a more sedentary lifestyle, and the carbs I consume are still really important.  A bowl of cereal every morning and healthy carbs with most meals is something I just couldn't function without and no amount of weight loss would be worth reducing my energy and ability to run.  As I said, everything I'm doing at the moment is concentrating on me becoming a better runner...not about showing off my ribcage ;)

Thursday 6 January 2011

Inspiring post about depression & running from Charlie Dark

What follows below is an amazing blog post from Charlie Dark, a musician (and runner) I follow on twitter (his twitter ID is @daddydark) which I thought deserved sharing in it's entirety, about running, depression, and what it all means for him.

"Yesterday saw the first RUNDem Crew gathering of the new year and a return to our new home from home the mysterious Mile End Stadium.  Situated about two to three miles east of the Nike 1948 sport it's a track in the middle of a park in the arse end of East London but it rocks and is most definitely one of London's best kept secrets.  This post however is not about the track or Run Dem Crew or any of the usual stuff that preoccupies my time these days.  It is however running related so if you find that boring then come back next week when normal random service resumes.

There have not been many bright moments in my life over the past decade and anyone who really knows me well outside of talking to me on twitter, dancing to a record I made or played or listened to my poems will know that I suffer from depression and have done for the best part of my life. I keep it well hidden but it manifests itself in weird ways and has a tendency to rear it’s head at strange and often inappropriate moments. On paper my life is pretty sorted with all of the trappings that come with hard work, passion and a thirst for keeping things moving. I’m lucky and consistently thank the spirits above for keeping me safe in this minefield we call life but as rapper Nas once remarked on the classic banger Whose World Is This ‘I need a new N*gga for this black cloud to follow because while it’s over me it’s too dark to see tomorrow’
My initial reason for taking up running was to improve my cardio and loose a few pounds before embarking on a national tour with my one man show ‘Have Box Will Travel’. Seeing as I was playing about twenty different characters and being directed by the ever energetic Benji Reid I needed something to ensure I was going to survive a year of hour long shows with mucho jumping about and physicality. Football meant the organising of flaky friends and I had no cash for the gym so running it was. What I never expected to find was the mental side of running and as a man who has never liked taking medication I was more than happy to swop the ‘happy pills’ for a more holistic approach to depression management. The buzz of being outside in the open air devoid of mobile phone and any responsibilities was a blessing I shall never forget. But then the running became a job and with the success of the Run Dem Crew suddenly this private thing that I used as a way of escaping the world suddenly brought it’s own pressures. In a nutshell back to square one but this time stubbornly refusing to seek help or go back on medication again. I just don’t like the thought of taking a pill and waiting for my mood to lighten knowing that to work it’s magic it’s playing camera tricks with my brain. 
In 2010 I met four people who I can safely say changed my life around for the better and helped me chase away a particularly large dark cloud that had been following me around for the best part of the year. They know who they are so need no mentions here but despite their love, advice and encouragement the final part of the jigsaw was still not falling into place. Deep down I still felt slightly empty with a big hole where my heart should have been.
When you get to my age and position it’s difficult to find anyone willing to share your woes with. In general people just think you are moaning or ungrateful for the cards you have been dealt and it can be a lonely world dealing with the demons all by yourself. So I run for the endorphin rush that chases the clouds away and when that doesnt work I run harder.
In the tail end of last year I signed up to run the London Marathon and set myself some new targets of a PB of 3.45 and a sub 1.45 half marathon. In order to achieve these times it dawned on me that I ‘d need to really buckle down to training and completely overhaul my approach to food and what I put into my body. I’d never thought of my body as a machine before but through research I’ve concluded that everything I put into my body will have an effect on how I run on the day of the marathon therefore it’s time to fix up and start eating properly.
Food and my body have always had a perculiar relationship, as a child I was mad skinny and the butt of many a joke and even my family were on my case about my lack of weight. Once I left home I just started eating nonsense in a bid to put on weight and believe me it worked it a big way. I was never crazy overweight but I was definitely carrying a little hand bag around my middle.
Anyway enough of the back in the day stories, with a new year dawning many people are making resolutions to hit the park and get fit . Being three years ahead of the pack my fitness is already there so the question is what next. The whole diet and intensive training schedule has been freaking people out with regular questioning of why I’ve got so hardcore of recent on the running. The answer is a simple why not? I just want to know how fast I can go with the correct preparation. Contrary to popular belief I am not obsessed or losing my mind.  Instead running has replaced a whole heap of other forms of expression for me. I used to live for the DJ moment, loved making beats in the studio and collecting sneakers like a millipede. I figured that if I could rock a crowd with a mic or a turntable then I could be a someone but somewhere along the line it just didn’t seem as important to me anymore.
Running is the only thing I have in my life that I am in control of. I am no longer at the mercy of how good the records are that I play or how a poem is received . If I have a bad run it’s because I didn’t prepare myself appropriately but if I have a great run I know it’s because I gave it my all and really pushed myself to cross the finish line. On Tuesday evening I ran with Run Dem Crew and ran the best run of my life, 7 miles dead with a target pace of sub 7 and a half minute miles which is exactly what I have been training to achieve. Indeed the best legal high I have ever experienced and a far safer option than being described ‘Happy pills’ by the doctor. For the first time in a long while I felt free and unburdened by pressure. I wasn’t running away from life but running towards my future with a smile on my face and chasing upside down rainbows. All in all a great start to the year and a definite highlight for the targets ahead.
To be honest I’ve got no idea why I’m telling you this but I just felt it was something to be shared. So if you want to know why I run I’ll simply say this.
I run for the challenge
To remind myself that I am not immortal
For the moment of indecision when you body wills you to stop and your mind wonders if it can carry on
I run for those who will never be free
I’m not running from my past I’m running towards a future where the black clouds can’t follow
But most of all I’m running for me
Over and Out Charlie Dark"

I can't accept that I'm ill

It's been coming for a few days now, but this morning I woke up to find my body was trying to tell me that I'm ill.  I ignored it, and went for a run anyway, and actually got on pretty well.  I got up to a decent pace, stopped sneezing for the duration, although my nose was still streaming, but as I'm perfectly capable of breathing through my mouth I got on ok ;)

A couple of hours later though, I'm starting to feel really quite awful.  This is not good!

After a lazy Christmas, I just can not afford to have any more time off from training.  I'm sensible enough to know that if the virus or whatever it is i've got moves to my lungs then I have to have a break, but unless it gets to that, I have to just keep going and make sure every session counts in case I do get really ill. I had bronchitis a month before my last marathon attempt and sure that's partially to blame for my terrible time.  I do hope it doesn't happen again - the London marathon is in 100 days!

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Need a treadmill?

I'm selling my Weslo Cadence M5 electric, fold-up treadmill on ebay. I haven't used it for a year because I'd rather run outside but it works well and would be a bargain if you like the comfort of running inside while you watch the TV.  It's collection only from Billericay, UK and the auction ends on 9th January at 17:20 GMT.

Do the gadgets really make me a better runner?

Until this summer,  I didn't have a GPS watch and quite literally just ran a certain distance and then ran home again when I was training for my first two marathons.  It was all a bit haphazard, and although I did the tiniest bit of fartlek, 'cause I've always quite enjoyed that, the benefits of interval training, tempo runs, and making such my long run was at the right pace were all an absolute mystery to me.

However, this summer, I bought myself a Garmin 405 on the recommendation from a fellow runner from Twitter.  I fell in love.  I'm sure this little gadget improved my running pretty much overnight and in the races that I have done, I think I owe my improved times (in part) to having that constant reminder that I'm not going fast enough.  My problem, you see, is that I'm very lazy, and so easily slow down to a jog without really realising that my pace has evaporated - with my watch on, I keep an eye on my pace, and manage my runs much more effectively.  Added to that of course is the very convenient distance tracker, and being able to study your run when you get home again, but that, for me, is an incidental bonus.

On my first three runs of this year though, I have run without my watch.  I wanted to ease back into my running after I (almost accidentally) took a couple of weeks off over Christmas, and so thought I'd just get out there and run.  No iPod either which I pretty much always take out with me too. Just me...

But now I'm a bit confused.

My Garmin is frustrating as well as amazing.  I have to keep recharging the battery pretty much every evening.  I have to take my gloves off to operate the touch sensitive bezel.  I have to keep looking at my wrist every two minutes when I'm wearing it to check my pace and it keeps me, if not 100%, then 90% focussed on the task in hand.

This morning on my run something happened that I've not experienced before.  I was running up a pretty challenging hill, that usually causes me to take a rest at the top, in a dilapidated bus shelter that's very conveniently placed.  As I got near to the top and could see the shelter, I was thinking, as I usually do:
"....keep going, just a couple of hundred yards, and I'll be done...just a minute more...keep going, it's not that painful, just up to the top...keep going, and then I can stop.  Keep going, and then you can stop....."

And on I ran.  Then I started thinking of something else, and my mind wandered.  I was thinking about work and completely forgot what I was doing -  when I came to again...I was half way down the other side of the hill! I didn't need to stop after all, despite the fact that pretty much every time I run this route, I think I absolutely couldn't put another step further without a rest.

So, without the running aids, and the constant focus on the run itself, I actually became unaware of the pain and the effort - I think I should start running a bit more often without the gadgets.  That must just be what I need to keep going!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Back to proper training

Well we're four days into the new year, and I'm back on the wagon and in the right frame of mind for training, as well as back to work for the first time since 23rd December.

I'll admit the alarm going off at 5.30am this morning was a bit of a shock to the system, and getting out of bed was a mammoth effort...and going out in the cold and dark for my run wasn't that much fun....but I am pleased  to have completed my second run of the year, albeit not as quickly as I would have run before Christmas...and feel that the cobwebs have been blown away.  I have stiffened up a lot over the last couple of weeks though, and this morning I could barely touch my toes!

We recently got a yoga programme for our Wii and I think that it might be worth giving it ago - I've always been pretty sceptical about doing yoga or pilates, but think that if I'm really going to change my body shape (be able to touch the floor with the palms of my hands and protect myself from injury) it's worth giving it a try and think when I get home I'm going to do just that - before you know it, I'll be able to get my feet behind my head too! ;)

Anyhoo, after four weeks of carb, fat, sugar and alcohol overload, I'm looking forward to drinking lots of water today, having a salad for lunch, yoga this evening and running again tomorrow.  Just over 100 days until the marathon!

Sunday 2 January 2011

Must stop eating like I'm a waste disposal machine!

December is always a bad month for my diet and my figure but I think this year I've really outdone myself.

On 5th December, I weighed 161lbs - today I am 169.8lbs!  That's an absolutely obscene increase in a month, and I really am quite appalled with myself, but what did I expect?! Scoffing mince pies, chocolate and unheard of quantities of cheese every day throughout December has resulted in me putting on 8 pounds since the beginning of the month and now I feel (and look) in very bad shape!

Today is where I reign myself in, and start to eat like a runner - I'm determined not to go on a diet, but I am gonna to start fuelling my body, rather than using it like a waste disposal machine.  I'm running marathons in April and May, and without eating properly I'm not giving myself the best chance to achieve what I know I can.

I'm just about to head out for my first run of 2011 - I'd better make sure it's a hard one!