running blog


Running Analysis

Back in Action UK kindly offered me a complimentary Running Analysis at one of their London clinics last week. A quick read of their website beforehand and I realised that this was just what I needed after the poor start to the year that I’ve had with endless niggles.

‘Frustrated by that nagging injury that’s stopping you exercising? Well, it could all be down to your running style, the way your feet hit the ground, or as simple as a tight hip flexor.’

We started by talking about my running, previous injuries, current niggles and discussed hip flexors,  glutes and ITBs, stretching and foam rolling.  Julia observed me standing and doing single leg calf raises and squats checking my balance and hip stability. I generally have tight calves and achilles, because I midfoot strike, and we discussed the need to strengthen my calves and achilles by doing these exercises regularly.  She examined my legs, particularly the side of my left calf and knee which I had pain and cramp in on my recent race and answered my questions about the proper use of heat or ice in recovery.  Julia advised me to engage my leg and glute muscles before exercise by doing squats, lunges or a bridge with good posture.  This will fire the right muscles for running and promote good form when running.

I was then observed running on the treadmill.  Some of the feedback for improving my form is,

  • Work on a ‘parallel foot strike’ (as if running on tram lines) as I tend to run as if on a tightrope and this movement of my legs across my body can put strain on the ITB.
  • Slightly increase my stride length so my foot hits the ground at a good angle.
  • Keep my shoulders down and arm movements back and forwards and not across the body twisting my torso.
  • Be more aware of my left side as my right leg leads. When I concentrated on my left leg my running did become smoother and more efficient.
  • Making sure I ‘kick up’ my legs a bit more behind me to gain momentum for the forward stride so I don’t rely on my hip flexors to propel my legs forward.

I’ve also come away with a mental list of  key exercises and stretches to support my running, some like squats, lunges, calf raises that I know I should to be doing.  In addition the bridge for glutes and hip flexors, with a ball between my knees to keep hips knees and feet in line and to roll down from the bridge vertebrae by vertebrae to release tension in my back.

A very useful, informative, fact packed session from a friendly, professional physio practice with lots of running and sports expertise.  Some new information gained as well as useful reinforcement and reminders of things I should do for strong injury free running.

Hopefully I won’t be in need of physiotherapy for running injuries too soon but if I do I know who to call.



Saved by the Llama

Viceathon (one mile run for each glass of wine in April) came to an end and I finished like most participants with debt (10 miles) carried over into May. However it was still a success!  I ran 67 miles in April, a period when I was feeling very unmotivated, distracted, busy and weary which is at least double what I might have run.  It also made me think about how much I drink when I had to own up to every glass of wine.  A useful exercise.

Now we come to the Llama.  Somehow or other during Viceathon and many conversations on Facebook it came about that salvation (and the erasing of all debts) could happen if we could report that we’d seen a Llama whilst out on a run!  So I was very glad to discover this fine Llama while running on the Isle of Wight at the weekend!

It’s just as well because I had begun to notice, and worry about, a recurrence of my hip/glute niggles towards the end of the month on a long run.  I have probably run a few too many ‘junk’ miles just for the sake of it (a glass of wine or two) and have neglected my exercises, stretches and sessions with my foam roller!

So my approach for the rest of my training for the Bupa London 10K in a couple of weeks is to train smarter.  Rather than bashing out the miles I’m now combining BMF classes (where there are plenty of opportunities for short sprints) with shorter more focussed runs with race pace intervals.  I will still do a longish run each week.  I’m using the 10K training plans from Bupa Running as a guide, using the structure of the intermediate one, running 4 days a week so I take 3 important rest days but am using the long run distances from the advanced plan because I am already running that sort of mileage.

I’ve found the regular injury Q &As on the Bupa Running Facebook page very interesting and a useful reminder of my need to stretch and do my exercises as well as getting some useful tips and alternative stretches from replies to questions.  Advice I have received is the importance of getting a Podiatrist gait assessment for my pronation issues, and not just self-treating with insoles from the internet. I’ve run 600 miles in the ‘temporary’ insoles I got last summer from the physio…oops! And all my niggles are coming back.

So please feel free to kick me if I don’t report that I’ve got that sorted out before Juneathon starts because otherwise running every day will mean there’s a high chance I will end up injured again and then spend the summer feeling sorry for myself and blogging about nothing but my woes and running injuries…Zzzz.

You have been warned!


Waiting Rooms

This morning I spent far too long sitting in a hospital waiting room while youngest son was having his teeth cast, measured photographed and X-rayed by a trainee orthodontist. As usual the danger with me being at a loose end, is I start thinking. My thoughts concentrated on the fact that I was wasting much of the day when I could be getting on with work, my to-do list, christmas shopping or going for a run. And I’d missed my BMF class!

However, one thing I decided I could have used that time productively for, is to do my daily exercises which I have undertaken to complete everyday in December. It’s a challenge/committment from the twitter community and shared with some of my running buddies. It’s early days to know whether I’m getting any benefit from (minimum) 1 minute holding the plank, 10 press-ups, 50 squats and 50 lunges each day. However the discipline of doing something every day (and the added reminders and support from twitter) is also encouraging me to add the exercises my physio gave me after my recent injury.

So, was I brave enough in a busy waiting room to quietly assume the plank position, complete 10 press-ups, 50 squats and lunges? I’m afraid not… even after twitter encouragement of ‘risky’ planking and talk about being the first person to be run over (by a toddler in a plastic car) or used as a coffee table while completing their #plankaday!

Joking aside, why not? why is it that seeing someone exercise in certain situations is considered odd? Looking around the waiting room I couldn’t see a single adult (including me) who wouldn’t benefit from a little more activity. Maybe it’s time group exercises in waiting rooms caught on…


What injury taught me about running.

Now I am back to normal (fingers crossed) after my injury I promise to blog-no-more about injury and Physio, (after today) …. phew you say.

Between 19th July and 29th September I was barely able to run.  It was a shock, having managed 5 plus years running injury free, and I assumed I’d be back running in a week or two. However it took a fair bit longer and although very frustrating (to put it mildly) it did teach me a few lessons about myself and running…

I realised that,

  • Running is important to me (I missed it and cross training didn’t cut it for more than a week or two)
  • Running gives me energy and motivation to get on with other things (away from the lure of the couch)
  • Running keeps me happy (and nice – ask my sons!)
  • Running keeps me sane (see above)
  • Running gives me an outlet for my competitive nature (grrr)
  • Running gives me ‘me’ time (an hour lost with my music and not a peep of the word.. Muuuuum?)
  • Running helps give me an identity other than wife/mother/p-t worker (and lets me reconnect with who I was before all of the the previous)
  • Running keeps me in shape
  • Running has brought me new friends

And learned that

  • My weight and waist-line are influenced more by how much I run than how much I eat and drink
  • My foam roller should be my friend (twice a week on the ITB!)
  • I need to do regular strength exercises to support my running (every other day squats lunges and the like)
  • I need to stretch very regularly to support my running (daily, after every run and must not forget my glutes and hip flexors)
  • I need to pay attention to my running form and posture
  • I need to wear the right shoes/orthotics
  • Regular sports massage and trips to the Physiotherapist are a worth while investment
  • PBs are not the be all and end all (time to get real girl, you’re getting old)… (well until I’m back!)
  • I’m looking forward to running a Half Marathon at an easy pace,  just because I can! (I missed Run to the Beat) so I’m delighted to make my local,  Royal Parks Half Marathon at any pace.

Whist thinking about this post I have had a clear out and ended up reading a back copy of Runners World (which I wont be ditching) and found a relevant article on  ‘Adding Years to your running Life’ by Julia Buckley, April 2011.  Many of he tips outlined were very pertinent and I have recently learned to adopt.  As for the rest I will be re-reading and taking note…


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!