running blog


Sulking.  Janathon day 1. 

Happy New Year!

Hello Janathon, here we go again…

I didn’t set my alarm and lay out my kit for parkrun this morning because there wasn’t one. 

Not that setting my alarm and laying out my kit always results in me making the start of a parkrun, but today I really wanted to. I’d been excited when the Christmas and New Year parkrun events were posted and was planning all sorts of potential doubles for New Years day. But then Christmas plans got made and I realised we would be on the Isle of Wight over New Year and worse still the local parkrun were unable to hold an extra New Years Day event. 

I had a few fantasies about making the trip to some on the south coast but a 30 minute drive just to get to the hovercraft  (if it was running in the high winds) or to an overpriced car ferry before I even made it to Portsmouth made it unrealistic.  

So this morning I slept in. At some stage I had a peek at my Strava time line and there were already a few parkruns posted. I dived back under the duvet to sulk a bit more. By 10.30 another peek showed more and Facebook was full of parkrun double talk. Agghhhhh!  I finally figured I could sulk in bed all day (not very Janathon like) or get up and do some bloody exercise. 

An ‘any one fancy a bike ride’ got no response (yesterday was probably windy enough) so a run it would be.   I grabbed a map to find a suitably parkrun sized section of  off road cycle path to run and then procured a lift to the start point and pick up at the end so I could run point to point. 

My route planning was pretty spot on although I did stop my Garmin at 5K  a little short of the end of the path.  My own personal New Year ‘parkrun’ done.  (Maybe I should have planned to run back to complete the double…)

Janathon day one,  3.1 miles run. 


Happy Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Hope Santa brings the trail shoes or compression tights or Garmin or … that you have wished for and wishing you lots of luck for (smashing) realising your (running) hopes and dreams in 2012.

I didn’t have a target running mileage in 2011 (other than running more). I log my runs in miles but last week, by chance, I looked at my total for the year in kilometres and noticed that I was at 944. No choice really other than to round it up to 1000km! So last week I ran a couple of easy 10K’s and this week after school holiday distractions and getting ready for christmas I finally got out for a good 10 mile (16k) run today meaning I’ve only got 20k to run over the next 10 days to round 2011 off at 1000 km.

I might challenge myself to make it 1000 miles in 2012 however please note I’m saying that very quietly incase circumstances intervene or I change my mind!


VLM ballot

Well somebody is pleased to have a new fleece!

I entered the London Marathon ballot on a whim not expecting to get a place and being a little worried recently what I’d do if I actually did get a place!  Fortunately today I got the ‘Dear John’ response  and the commiseration fleece so no worries there.

I was actually disappointed for a few hours this afternoon, especially getting caught up in the hype and excitement on twitter when a few people heard earlier on that they had places.  I even researched other possible marathons in 2012 such as the new Milton Keynes Marathon.

However common sense has set in, having asked myself,  ‘Do you really want to run 26.2 miles next spring?’  Erm.. Not really!   I’m not even half marathon fit at the moment after injury!  All sorted.  I am going to concentrate on rebuilding my fitness and set myself a few goals to improve my 5K, 10K and HM times by running a few more of these races in 2012.

I always did say that I would run a marathon when I was very very old and therefore could have the excuse of stopping for a cuppa tea en route!


I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but..

For an outdoors running preferring, BMF addicted person I was fairly impressed (by a gym)!

Having recently rejoined the gym I was invited for the usual quick-start session with a member the gym staff to familiarise me with the equipment and give me a personal programme. I have to admit I was sceptical because the last time I went to such a session at another gym brand I was very unimpressed by the spotty youth who gave me the speeal and appeared to understand a lot less than I did about fitness and was also in need of the gym for a little fat burning even more than me!

However I’ve joined up at Virgin Active for a couple of months while I get my hip problems sorted (so I can swim in a clean pool) and went along yesterday to see what they could offer. I also thought it would be a good ice breaker for me and give me confidence in the gym using the machines I’ve not used in years since I used to go there when my kids were toddlers (anything to get an hours peace while they went in the crèche!).

I was asked my motivation for joining (help I’m getting fat!), fitness goals and weighed (oops) and measured (am 1cm shorter than I’ve been claiming for the last x years). Emma asked informed questions about my injury and physio and took on board my need for maintaining my cardio fitness without impact, suggesting cycling and cross trainer intervals and the use of TRX training for strength work (to support my running). She tested how long it took to me to cycle 1km, how many bench squats and press ups I could do in one minute so I had something to gauge progress against as well as body measurements.

I thought TRX was brilliant! Using straps suspended from the ceiling you do the standard strength exercises for upper body, core and legs (triceps and chest pulls, plank, squats lunges etc) pulling against your body weight for resistance. It gives an intense workout and I certainly felt the one leg squats and the lunges the next day even after plenty of rolling and massaging.

I left looking forward to getting back to the gym and started on my programme.

Today I had another Physio session. This time it was not symptom relief (to ease the painful tight bits) but in the gym to learn exercises to strengthen and correct my body alignment. It was interesting that some of the exercises I need to do are some I was given at the gym (one leg squats and lunges) but with an emphasis on keeping my feet knees and hips in line and my pelvis horizontal. Ouch ouch! I also got to use the torture table (I think those in the know would call it a Pilates table) for lots of core and hip exercises and simulating running while using the mirror to keep my core locked straight and not twisting and turning). (Usain Bolt is apparently a perfect example of running keeping core perfectly still – need to go watch him slow motion on U tube).

This evening although my glutes, inner and outer thighs are screaming from all the hard work I am feeling very positive that’s it’s all working really well and hopeful that I really can run the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Just as well because my race pack arrived today!


And.. when on my way out to the shops this afternoon I sprinted without thinking to catch the pedestrian crossing. And it DIDN’T HURT!!


Today’s purchase.

I limped through another BMF class today. There was a little too much running for my liking but that serves me right for promoting myself back into the reds too soon. At least I can now manage a moderate speed which is a vast improvement on last weeks full ahead slow. Actually the initial discomfort in my hip soon disappears once I get warmed up and moving (slowly) so I had few excuses for stopping to rest other than my burning lungs because of my complete loss of fitness!


I was back at the physio this afternoon where I purchased this new orange instrument of torture to reach parts of my over-worked muscles that the foam roller cannot reach. I also had acupuncture for the first time having some needles put into my ITB and glutes. Much much less painful than massage!

This evening I have declined the kind offer of DIY physio services from my younger son with a compass! I am sticking with my stretches, foam rolling and working out what to do with the rubber orange spiky thing!


Another month, another Physio and getting to the bottom of the problem!

Having paid my money I took myself to the gym on Monday for a swim, while working out how many times I had to go to make each swim the same price as the leisure centre. The gym hasn’t changed in the years since I left, except that our American Cousins have advanced in their take-over of West London because the ladies changing room is now labelled “Women’s Locker Room”.

There was only one other person in the pool and shock horror we actually had a brief conversation to joke about me swimming in her private pool! We were then joined by another swimmer but otherwise I had 45 minutes in my own lane. It was good to be back in the water and I challenged myself to swim a minimum of 30 lengths. My swimming lessons a few years ago appear to have been some value, I swam 50 lengths (1000m) mostly breast stroke but also managed 10 decent(ish) lengths of front crawl. Not bad after not swimming much since.

My arms and shoulders ached the next day! Maybe I should have quit at 30 lengths… all the same I went back on Tuesday and swam another 1km. This time I managed a little more front crawl. My main difficultly with front crawl is because I rush too much. However I’ve discovered that 10 lengths breast stroke before trying front crawl means I am sufficiently worn out to swim long slow and leisurely!

On Wednesday I couldn’t face anther day the gym on my own. So missing BMF and thinking my leg felt stronger I decided to give BMF a go. I joined the blues (beginners) for the first time in many years and was quite chilled to be almost at the back at a slow pace which was pain-free. I still put my all into the strength exercises and received a few raised eyebrows from newer blues because I could bang out 20 pretty good press ups without dropping to my knees (a girls gotta have some pride!). Despite my slow speed it still felt fantastic to be back, outside and with a great bunch of people and I realised how much I miss BMF when I can’t go.

The next day my leg/hip felt fine but the rest of me ached in true “not been to BMF in a few weeks style!” Yay!! However on Friday morning I was limping again with sharp pains in my hip and decided to stop putting off going to see a Physiotherapist.

I was impressed by the Physio. To cut a long story short, or to get straight to the bottom of the problem; my hips are not completely stabilised when I run because of weak hip, core and glute muscles and the excessive movement has caused stress on these muscles as well as my leg and ITB.

It was a relief to hear its nothing that can’t be sorted out and I was most optimistic that she suggested goals of me walking and running limp free, back to BMF regularly and being able to run HM distance in the near future. I will have more sessions (not too many I hope) to relieve and stretch out my hips and glutes and then in the gym to correct my various imbalances so I can run injury free in future.

Fingers crossed. Me participating in the Royal Parks Half Marathon looks possible, albeit with limited training. I’d better get on with my homework of stretches and foam rolling!


Got the T shirt but won’t be going there…

I got back to London to find that my race pack had arrived for Run to the Beat, the first of the 3 Half Marathons I have entered this Autumn. It includes a great T-shirt which focussed my mind that the race is 3 weeks on Sunday and I will not be able to run it.

My getting back to running after injury has stalled and I can’t yet run totally pain-free. A mile or two hobbling along slowly is about tops for now so no return to BMF yet for me and certainly no parkruns. (Insert sad face here). I am planning to seek more advice from another Physio next week and hope that I can at least contemplate taking part (slowly) in either or both of the Royal Parks Half and Great South Run in 5 and 8 weeks time.

I have also taken the rash step of temporarily re-joining the Notting Hill ‘Yummy Mummies’ gym (on a month by month basis) which I left 6 years ago when I discovered BMF. At least I can vent my frustrations there attempting to remember some of the finer points (breathing) of front crawl and have a go at spinning. OH was sceptical, reminding me that I never really enjoyed going there and used to be scathing about the unfriendliness of the majority of the other gym users. However, since then I’ve been toughened up by BMF so they will have to put up with the fact that I talk, (‘Morning!’), make eye contact and smile at them. At least it’s some form of exercise to try to maintain a bit of fitness (and avoid too much fatness) until normal running is resumed. Might also give me something interesting to blog about too!


Barefoot Running (and a lesson learned!)

For summer reading I bought myself a book on Barefoot Running. Part out of general curiosity but also for more interested research after my recent 3 week layoff from running because of a painful ITB injury and realising that possible prevention of future injury was orthotics plus stiff stability shoes. Now I hate any shoes that are too inflexible or heavy with a vengeance!


The trouble is that we have visitors staying here on the Isle of Wight with us at the moment which includes a houseful of teenagers/pre-teens. This means that I didn’t actually manage to read much of the book at first because, not only have I been busy but have also had to fight to get my paws on it as it has been passed around smirking teenagers. Some taking the mickey (think ministry of funny walks), others reading it and lecturing me on ‘how to run’ and many more sarcastic and derogatory comments.

Wednesday we were at Yaverland Beach on a pleasant but not too hot day, and my recovering ITB was feeling good so I decided it was finally time to have a first, post injury, short easy run. And why not barefoot? The tide was out leaving a wonderful quiet, long and wide stretch of beach with soft wet sand. For all their sarcasm the kids actually joined me (some more serious than others) and we set off at an easy pace barefoot along the beach.

My leg felt a bit awkward and stiff to start with but was wonderfully pain-free for the first time in a long while. The distance to the far end of the beach was deceptive; it was a mile to the end, by which stage I had lost all but one of my companions. We ran through the waves to make the turn point round a rock and headed back to the group. Then we were running against the wind so it was harder going with sand in our eyes and soon it was only me enjoying the run back. I remembered I should be taking it ‘easy’ so made myself pull up to a walk after 20 minutes, having run 1.8 miles.

What a great feeling running barefoot and to be running again!

Now later that day, or maybe it was the next morning? I finally read the pertinent chapters of the book, including, most importantly the part about BRES (barefoot running exuberance syndrome). Yes. The book is absolutely right. If you over-do it you will feel like someone is sticking daggers in your calves! On a brighter note I was very pleased that aside from the calves agony, my ITB was totally fine and also there was not a peep of niggle from my achilles. I read on to the following chapter and realised that the source of my pain was that a suggested first barefoot run should have been more like 5 mins not 20!

Today, after some home improvised ‘foam rolling’ (wine bottle wrapped in a towel) I managed to get my calves flexible and me pain-free and moving again. Undeterred from barefoot running I did another beach run today but kept it short to 3/4 of a mile.

Lesson learned? Yes. Read the dam book first before you venture into pastures new!

But, Yes, barefoot feels great and I will be continuing with this journey. Definitely where I can on beaches and other suitable surfaces from time to time to strengthen my feet and legs and improve my running. I am also going to go back to minimalist shoes.


Nomal service to be resumed…

After 2 weeks not running because of injury there finally is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I decided that after a week of leg/hip pain I had to seek professional help in order to get back running (and walking normally) as rest alone as going to take more than a while to fix things. Being on the Isle of Wight I researched Physiotherapists on the web and found a practice with a sports injury specialism in Ryde. Turned out to be a good choice, a very friendly practice. The Physio asked me the usual load of questions, watched me walk up and down barefoot and pushed my legs and hip around a lot. An hour later after having my ITB zapped with electrodes, lasers and massaged, nicely and very painfully and with insoles in my shoes I was already experiencing less pain.

I have some stretches to do, have been advised to see a Podiatrist to get more permanent orthotics for my fallen arches and am going back next week for a follow-up. Before that I am hoping to try a small run which has to be 25%. I’m guessing that for me that should be one mile at slow pace…

Later in the day after my appointment the shooting pain on movement of my leg had been replaced by dull muscle ache (result!) and being my left leg I can now use the clutch when driving without having to lift my leg with my hand! The next day my leg was practically pain free and feeling stronger and although the pains returned yesterday after walking a lot shopping in Newport a session with the rolling-pin (my massage torture implement of choice as my foam roller is in London. Actually it’s easier to inflict the necessary pain presure) has cured most of that.

Tomorrow I’m going to try the easy run. I think I’d better not listen to Audiofuel’s new release Adrenaline Junkie 2 for my run because the feedback from everyone taking part so far in the Adrenaline Junkie competition is that it is totally awesome and I know I will not be able to behave myself and run slowly and only for a mile. Boo hoo.

Anyway feeling optimistic about slowly getting back running next week and resuming my Half Marathon Training. I haven’t been totally idle. As a form of diversion I’ve been following the 100 push ups app and have been busy decorating. One small bedroom took a lot more effort that I anticipated but then I did seem to spend as much time scrubbing paint off the places it shouldn’t be as putting it on in the first place…


Now where did I put my Zimmer frame?

Ooh ouch I’ve gone and done it now.  Just when I thought my dodgy leg was back to normal after 3 days rest, I go out for  run on Tuesday and discover too late that I should have had a few more days rest.  Now I have a really painful hip and I am limping in a rather pathetic comical fashion!  Full ahead slow…Grrr, It’s horrible being practically helpless.  All the time scowling at passing runners.  (I promise I’ll now be more sympathetic when running on busy pavements at very slow limping pedestrians… they might be injured runners!)

My training plan on Tuesday said 4 miles easy at pace of 10.30mins per mile. When I first read the plan I had scoffed at the slow pace, (I normally run between 9 and 10 min miles for easy or long runs), but figured it would be appropriate on Tuesday to test out my leg and hopefully loosen it up.  Running wasn’t painful but I couldn’t run fast and the easy pace was all I was actually capable of.

After a bit of research I’ve worked out which bit of my anatomy is the trouble. My hip muscles are probably strained a bit and are referring pain to my glutes and quads. Caused most likely by general over-training/pushing my pace together with recent long periods sitting still on long car journeys to Devon.   The best remedy seems to be ibuprofen and no surprises, rest! Plus some stretching and strengthening exercises and easing back into things gradually…

It’s so frustrating as this is my last week in London for a while and my last chance to run here and be able to go to BMF.  Not to mention my Half-Marathon training plans and burning need to go back to parkrun!

Oh well, I guess its payback for not taking a sensible long break after Juneathon before HM training started.  I will just have to take the break now instead, chill out and then carry on with my HM plan, joining back in at week 3 or so.  We could do with some sun to make the sun-lounger an option!

4.06 miles 42.47 mins