Friday 30 November 2012

Looking for a new stand for your race medals?

If you're trying to come up with a new way to display your running medals, it doesn't get any better than this, at least for Christmas! ;)

Photo pinched from an article on Runners World, and originally from someone very cool (I expect) called Amanda Jones! 

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Monday 26 November 2012

A hip replacement?

Today is the 16th day since my hip really blew up, and the 16th day it's been painful.

Since then, I've run just 11 miles in training, had two sessions in the gym with the personal trainer, completed the Luton Marathon, and gone through half a roll of rock tape.

The pain is getting better, slowly but surely, and today I had my third session with the physio.

She's given me some more exercises to do, and prescribed them twice a day to try and further build up the strength in my core, pelvis and hips.  The exercises are all very easy on the face of it, but doing them with the physio made me realise how difficult they are when they're done really slowly while properly engaging the muscles, and maintaining good form! I trust the physio, and am going to carry on doing what she's told me, in the hope that not only does my hip recover, but that the extra strength I gain from the exercises will help to protect me in the future.

Unfortunately, I've started to put on loads of weight because I'm eating as much as I usually do (if not more) but barely doing any exercise! Today I have recommited to sorting myself out, and if I can't run, I need to swim or head down to the gym to maintain my fitness, and I need to sort out my portion sizes. In other news, we've set a date for the wedding now, and so I have to start thinking about dropping a few lbs for that reason, as well as just to help my running!

I have the Saxon Shore Marathon on Saturday, put on by Traviss Willcox, which is an event I've been looking forward to for ages as it seems that lots of the usual suspects are going to be there, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone! As I got through Luton, I know I'll be able to get through this one, but will take exactly the same approach. No watch, take it slow and easy, and just see how I go. Let's just hope it's doesn't make things worse!

Monday 19 November 2012

The key to recovery is more running

I got myself to the start line at the Luton Marathon yesterday and very pleased that I also managed to get all the way to the finish! It was definitely one of the hardest marathons I've done as the pain in my hip really kicked in from about half a mile and lasted pretty much every step until I crossed the finish line 4 hours 12 minutes after starting.  I kept telling myself it was like I was running the second half of a 50 miler, and it was good practise to run through the pain.

Fuelling/hydration all worked out really well though, and I'm pleased with how I got on in the circumstances. I didn't run with a watch, as I wanted to run in line with how I felt, instead of trying to maintain a pace and although it was a little disconcerting I'm relieved I didn't have the pressure of trying to get a time.

Luton's a 3 lap marathon, and I started with the idea that if I needed to, I would pull out early at the end of a lap as the physio had instructed. It was strange to go into a race with a potential plan to DNF but luckily once I started running, I knew I couldn't seriously consider dropping out unless my leg dropped off! Anyway, it was a good day all in all, with perfect running conditions, and the event was incredibly well organised.  Particularly mention too for the many, many marshals who were, without exception, unrelentingly enthusiastic around the whole course.

I had my second physio appointment today - apparently my hip is actually better than it was last week even after the trauma of the marathon. I think the key to recovery is definitely running more!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

My trip to the physio

Norsey Wood. Photo from
My last run was on Saturday, and it was a good one.

Weather was cold but it was dry and fresh. I was mostly on the roads, but took a mile detour through the beautifully autumnal Norsey Wood where the path was covered in fallen leaves so you couldn't see where all the muddy puddles were - I nearly lost my trainer in a particularly sticky puddle of mud and my legs got covered - all good fun..  I started in daylight, watched the beautiful sunset, got home in the dark...

Perfect. Except that half way through, the aching in my hip that I've had for a couple of weeks developed into an acute and definite pain.  The rest of Saturday night saw the pain developing until I was barely able to move without being in agony.

Sunday the pain was still pretty bad when I walked. Monday, I called up my health insurance company and they put me in touch with a local physio clinic. I had a phone consultation (when they assured me it didn't sound like a stress fracture or anything wrong with the joint) and then, although it's been definitely feeling better than it was yesterday, I went to the Nuffield West End clinic around the corner from work, earlier on today.

I was full of nerves about what the physio was going to say. As part of the initial questioning, she asked me what I thought was wrong - I said it felt like an overuse injury but I didn't see how it could be, because after the Stort30, I've had lots of time off and my mileage has been lower than I'm used to, so in essence I've been resting! Therein though, apparently, may lie the problem.

Her advise was that with the type of training and running I've been doing, taking that time off may well have been a bad idea - muscle strength starts reducing incredibly quickly (didn't know that) and after a week or so of doing nothing, you can't just start running again and expect to pick up from where you left off.

She said by all means take a break from running, but if you're planning to start again after your rest, reduce the distances slowly over a period of weeks and then build up again slowly - it's all about gradual change. Everyone talks about increasing weekly distance by that magic 10%, but I've never thought about reducing slowly too - she said the only way you should really take a week off from running, after being used to 40 mile weeks, if you want to start up again the next week, is to replace the runs with strength work to maintain muscle condition. Now I know why the runstreak is the best way to go! ;)

Anyway, the outcome is that I have inflammation of my various muscles around my hip - the root cause is probably the imbalance in the strength of my core and legs between my left and right side that the physio identified.

So, I have some specific exercises she's told me to perform daily and I'm to go back next week. She also said I should carry on with gym work, but make sure I don't aggravate the area, and remember the difference between muscle fatigue and pain!  My insurance company has authorised 6 physio sessions which should be enough to really see some real improvement, as long as I make sure I actually do these specific exercises every day.

The best bit was at the end of the session when the physio asked if I had any other questions - I only had one..."would you say I could run a marathon this weekend?!"

She didn't say no, in fact she said I could...because experience had taught her there was no point in saying no. As long as I was prepared for it to hurt a lot, the area would become inflamed again, and that it would significantly hurt afterwards until the inflammation went down again, I wouldn't do any long lasting damage. However, she also just cautioned me not to be too disappointed if I had to pull out of the race.  But in my book, a DNF is better than a DNS, so guess what I'm planning for Sunday?!

Monday 5 November 2012

And i'm back...

My lack of motivation over the last couple of weeks has been pretty disconcerting, and on Saturday, the evening before the Billericay 10km, I was feeling it acutely - to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to turn up at the start line. However, I didn't burn my bridges - before going to bed, I set my alarm and plugged in my Garmin, deciding to see how I felt in the morning.

When I got up on Sunday, the rain was torrential...biblical even! It was very cold, windy and decidedly miserable.  I was seriously considering a DNS for the race. I sat on the sofa, looking out of the windows onto the garden for a bit, and had a good hard think. I've only had two DNS's for a half marathon because I had bronchitis, and for the Kent Roadrunner marathon which was 17 laps - after recceing the route the weekend before, decided that many laps of that course would drive me insane ;)  These were, in my mind, legitimate reasons for not running those two races.

I considered what my reasons would be for a DNS at the Billericay 10km. I couldn't think of a single good one - I just didn't really fancy it and couldn't be bothered with it - but I knew that if I didn't go, especially after not having run for a while, it could be the beginning of things going very wrong with my running. I knew I had to just pull myself together, and run.

So, I got on with it.  I dug out some kit, checked where the race HQ was, and jogged down there, arriving about 15 minutes before the start, already absolutely drenched to the skin. I  picked up my number and timing chip, and then went and stood in the rain just to get a bit more wet, jumping up and down to try and keep warm, until the starter hooter sounded and we were off.

This is the report I wrote on dailymile:

My first mile was very slow (9:38) partly because of the crowd and partly because my legs just didn't seem to remember what it was all about. The second mile wasn't great either but I was faster, and after getting beyond a stretch of narrow path where we were single file, I felt I was able to get a bit more into my stride and my legs seemed to realise that it was a race! ;) The rain was still torrential and as we got into the country lanes near the River Wid, it turned out that the road was flooded in lots of places - in the first place it came as a surprise, and the water was up to mid-calf...but we all ran through it, with shrieks and giggles at the shock of the cold! On we went though, and eventually found a bit of pace, and did the last half a km in an average pace of 6:43. Shame it was only a 10km, I think I could have done with a half marathon today, but I do think having a race was exactly what I needed, and I'm hoping that next week my training will get back to normal and my mojo will have returned!

This morning I'm feeling pretty good about the race. I'm a bit disappointed to have got a pen instead of a medal (yep...a pen - what's that about?!) and my trainers are still wet, but I can't tell you how glad I am that I went. I would have felt so awful if I'd not turned up, and I'm not sure how I would have made myself get back into training mode, but when I finally found my legs at the end of the race and got a bit of speed up, I really felt that I'd remembered that I love to run :) Roll on the Luton Marathon in two weeks....

Thursday 1 November 2012

Bloody wombats

For as long as I've been running, this has happened every so often but I wasn't expecting it at all this time...out of the blue it's happened again...I've totally lost my running mojo! :(

Morning after morning, and night after night I'm not going out to run. My schedule has gone out of the window, with only 23 miles banked last week, and only a gym session this week - no running at all so far!  I came home early from work yesterday because I felt so out of sorts, probably not helped but the fact that I'm eating terribly at the moment which is also making me totally lethargic and exhausted, which then turns the situation into a vicious circle.

Every day that passes I know I'm getting further away from managing a good performance at the Luton marathon that i'm due to be running in a couple of weeks.

I know this will pass - it always does - and tomorrow morning I will try again to get up, out and to shake this off...I'm still calling myself a runner, but to make that true, I do actually have to do a bit of running!