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.



I hate long runs!

I have been thinking recently about how I feel now that Spring Marathons are in full swing and that I have pulled out of the Milton Keynes Marathon.

I am full of admiration for everyone who has made it through marathon training this winter. The weather has been foul and the cold has certainly contributed to some of my niggles.  How anyone finished a 20(+) mile run in the sleet this March with the added wind chill is amazing.  I didn’t even manage to get out for one lap of my 20 mile race let alone 5!

I am a little envious of everyone’s successes so far and that wonderful feeling of achievement that many friends will get when they complete their marathons over the next few weeks. It all takes hard work and putting the hours in on long runs. It was trying to fast forward and catch up my long run distance after injury that made me admit I was over doing it and postpone my marathon number 2.

I am tempted looking at other marathons later this year or for next and still hold ambitions of improving my marathon time but I think too much about the ‘whens’ and ‘ifs’ of the training and best timings with other commitments.

So my thoughts always come back to long runs and I have to admit that I just don’t like doing them. I can’t help but think that maybe if I liked them a little more I might not have been so quick to drop out of my marathon training.  I am happy to run 8 or 10 miles (and race a half marathon) but over that and I get a bit of a mental block and dread them before I start.  It was at the 12 mile point (or maybe it’s the magic 2 hour curfew) of a long run when I admitted to myself I was bored, cold and fed up and probably trying to push myself to hard too soon after injury (so got on a bus) and made my decision.

I then had a bit of a running slump week.  I cross trained and went to BMF where the runs are short before picking myself up with thoughts of shorter races.  I did manage to force myself out for a long run last weekend because the odd long run is still a necessary evil for half marathon training.  However even with a pre planned 12 mile route my legs somehow brought me home after 10 miles!  I dragged out another mile looping the block before I had enough muscle aches and pains to justify calling it a day.

Fortunately my recent saviour of my running mojo has been BMF run club.  I’m lucky that BMF Hyde Park is one of the BMF parks that holds a run club for members.  I’ve meant to go ever since I’ve been a member and after 6 or 7 years I finally ran out of excuses! (Dark won’t kill me and being home at 7pm for dinner and bed time for my sons, now 16 and 14, isn’t an issue anymore.)   There I have really enjoyed running some fast intervals.

It’s hard to describe the buzz I get from it which I don’t get from long runs.  I know it’s going to be hard work beforehand but don’t get that feeling of dread.  It’s amazing how you can blast out a km or more at best effort, thinking you’re ‘all-in’ but after 90 seconds recovery bounce off to do it all over again, and again. Running in the dark doesn’t bother me and it’s great to be running at my pace but within a group.  Fortunately both times I have found myself well placed mid-pack where there is the challenge to chase the front-runners and comfort of not being at the back.

The tired feeling after speed intervals is better too!  I sleep so well afer a tough speed session and my muscles feel happily tired rather than being painful and stiff after long runs.  Speed is giving me a spring in my step.  It’s great to find some pace again and my legs are feeling lighter now that I am leaving the slow shuffling heavy legged long slow runs behind me.

Good luck and well done to everyone who has or is about to run a marathon in the next few weeks.  If like me it’s not happening for you either this time, our time will/may come!  Or maybe as with many things in life, each to their own, embrace our differences and maybe admit we are more suited to other distances.


I have been reviewing the situation

and have made a grown up decision… I am not running my second marathon at Milton Keynes on 6th May this year.

I am just not prepared enough. Several small niggles and silly injuries have made an impact on my mileage since Christmas and although now back into training properly, I realised this week that my plans to increase my long runs in time to be marathon ready are too optimistic.  I was pulled up sharply with ITB pain on Tuesday after my long run this weekend. Too much too soon without a solid base of a couple of months good running behind me. Just comparing recent mileage with my monthly totals in the 4 months before I ran Rutland Marathon last Autumn is enough to show me what’s missing. Cross training has kept up my fitness levels and started to improve my all over strength but neither can help me go from 0 to 30 miles running a week quickly without getting even more injuries.

I will continue with my planned build-up races, dropping back to the 16 mile option at the Hyde Park 20 and look forward to racing the East London Half in April and then move on to some 10K races after that. I will also be continuing with my TRX training and plyometric exercises which I’m learning with my PT and really enjoying, especially as I can see the start of some noticeable toning effects!

I suppose I could, having already entered the race and with no deferral option, still go ahead and run it with less training and a get round run-walk strategy. I would however like to go into number 2 marathon at least as well-trained as I was for the first. I’m not such a seasoned marathoner to be able to take part for the ‘fun of it’ or ‘on a whim’ without any impact on my body not to mention the fact it would take a bloody long time!

In addition I now discover that race day is the day before my Son’s first GCSE exam. Not that I’m much use to him revision wise (he’s been educating me about 20th century european history) nor nagging! But there are times, as the parent of a teenager, when you just need to be boringly there, available, in the background, doing nothing much.

Marathon not quit, just postponed.


The thing about marathon training

The thing about marathon training is that just getting through to the end of the training plan is as good a mental preparation for the race itself than anything else I can think of.  What with injuries, bad weather, colds and flu to mention but a few and I haven’t started on the list of things day-to-day life can throw in our way.

I’ve had to be adaptive, realistic and strong to keep going with strength work and cross training (I nearly came to like spinning) and not give up and sulk.  Fortunately Milton Keynes marathon is a few weeks after many of the other marathons so I have a little more time than others to play with.  I have jumped from week 6 of 16 week plan A, to week 2 of 12 week plan B and after 3 weeks off running, nursing my painful piriformis (backside) I’m back!

I missed a Half Marathon the week before last and was getting anxious about the Bath Half Marathon next weekend.  However I’ve built up my mileage over the past 10 days and managed a good steady 10 miles on Sunday so Bath is on, albeit with a new game plan, (based on 2 weeks training and a 10 mile longest run), to get round and enjoy it rather than chasing a PB.


No running, no blogging

Oops it’s been a while since I last blogged.

It’s because I haven’t been running and when I can’t run I get grumpy and listless and don’t feel like writing, nor much else for that matter.  Anyway, if I did blog it would be pretty dull and all about my whinges, whines and injury woes so you haven’t missed much.

So I’m all cured and back running?  Not quite.

I haven’t run for over 2 weeks and a painful test mile last weekend made it clear that I shouldn’t run 3 miles let alone 13.1.  No Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon for me this weekend.  I had hoped to be able to run it slow as a training run but there’s a big difference between being under trained and unable.  This race must be jinxed for me! I entered it last year and never made it because of family commitments.  Better luck next year – I really do intend to run it one day!

I’ve kept busy with cross training to keep up my efforts to lose weight as well as keeping up some level of fitness.  I’ve swum, had some  TRX PT sessions and made it to my first ever spin class.  Now I know why I run and don’t cycle! I’m uncoördinated enough on a static bike!

I’ve treated my injury, (piriformis pain) with sports massage, ice, heat and stretching plus my PT sessions have concentrated on stretching and strengthening my hips, glutes and legs.  The exercises have certainly helped. The day after a particularly tough PT session I foolishly took my wobbly legs to a spin class.  Afterwards was agony! However the more all the other muscles in my bum and thighs hurt the less pain from my piriformis.

My next Half Marathon is now Bath in 2 weeks.  I was beginning to panic about being ok to run this one as well, especially after a bad mile run test on Sunday.  Today, however, suddenly the dagger pain in my bum has been replaced by a dull ache.  I don’t know which of the various treatments has been useful or even if it is just my piriformis has finally relaxed after time but for a few easy warm up runs things felt better and I’m feeling optimistic.

Don’t worry I won’t do anything foolish, like dashing out a 10 miler or anything.  I still plan to swim and spin this week and start building up the running slowly.

Hopefully for the second time I will learn my lesson and start doing all my stretches and strength exercises regularly. AND keep doing them when I get back on form and not waiting until I’m injured again.


It’s that time of year again to…


Well it is cold and dark most of the time and just so tempting to stay on the sofa reading a running magazine or lie in and not go out running. I can also keep very busy browsing the web looking at running shoes and kit and even manage a bit of christmas shopping for others while I’m at it!

However the hibernating and ‘reading around my subject’ option is not going to keep me lean (less fat) before the inevitable Christmas excesses nor make the start of marathon training in January easy when long runs start at 9 miles.   I will have to muster some motivation to get out there.  How many miles per mince-pie?


Recover and sort out those niggles. 

So while I can’t crawl into bed and hibernate I can make the most of a quiet period and while my mileage is low make sure all my niggles are completely sorted (and ask for tokens for a sports massage for Christmas).  Rather timely I was sent the following after my marathon to review…


 I’d seen and used Deep Heat and Deep Freeze before for warming stiff aching muscles and icing joints and tendons. Deep Relief was new to me.  it’s a combination of Ibuprofen and Levomenthol for cooling, pain relief and calming inflammation.  I found it very effective in enabling me to run pain free after my marathon and since then in helping healing and I continue to use it after harder BMF sessions to relieve my Achilles and prevent further inflmmation.

Get some winter kit.

So I have dug out my winter kit and finally found where I left my running gloves, after buying a new pair!  It’s not just long tights, sleeves and layers to keep warm but worth thinking about items for visibility. I often get ready to go out for a run and realise that I am completely dressed in black.  Sportshoes.com have good advice for keeping safe in  the dark and low light.   Wear florescent clothing for low light conditions like fog or drizzle and when it’s getting towards dusk.  For dark wear something with reflective materials in strips, trims or logos  to reflect drivers lights in the dark so you stand out clearly.

They sent me this Ronhill beanie in fluorescent orange to try.  It adds an essential touch of bright colour to my otherwise dark running kit and is a lovely soft thermolite fleace material which is cosy, stretchy, to pull down over my ears and doesn’t make my head too hot and sweaty.


Sign up for  Janathon.

It is the best (only) way to get me out and running in the new year.   Run (or do some other form of exercise) and blog every day in January.  There’s great banter and community support between participants and some fantastic blogs to read plus a wee bit of healthy competition!