running blog


New Shoes

it’s that time of year again….

time for Juneathon!

Have you signed up yet?

So in anticipation of running 100 plus miles in June I finally got myself organised for a decent running shoe fitting and some custom orthoics. I went to Profeet where I could get advice on new running shoes as well as get some custom-made orthotics.

Its been a while since I last went to a running shoe shop for a proper fitting. I’ve been buying my shoes on the internet and have been nervous about going to a shop because I’m totally wedded to my Saucony Kinvaras and have been afraid that any advice would be to return to something a little more supportive (heavy,stiff and horrid!) for pronation, flat feet…

Old Shoes

Fortunately I needn’t have worried. I’m running fine in my Kinvaras (with a bit of added support from insoles), and as I prefer lighter minimalist style shoes there is no reason not to continue to run in them even up to marathon distance.

My hour session included giving details about my running and injury history (with a cup of tea), being filmed running in my current shoes and then barefoot on the treadmill. Then a couple of barefoot runs over a pressure pad. Next was an examination of my feet and ankles to check flexibility and range of motion before impressions of my feet were made to make custom orthotics taking into account where I needed support.

The feedback was; I have normal arches, very mobile toes (my left big toe has joined my glutes in being characterised as lazy and is not engaging to give me a good toe off! Only those bits?). I pronate slightly when barefoot but was fine in my current shoes with insoles, my Achilles niggles could stem from tight calves because as a midfoot striker my calf muscles take a lot of strain. I need to continue to work on hip and glute strength for hip stability. I was given some suggested exercises to strengthen my calves, hips and glutes and encouraged to make sure good stretching and foam rolling were part of my routine.

Instead of buying a new pair of Kinvaras I decided to try other minimalist running shoes while I got the chance and was recommended the Brooks Green Silence. They felt really light and were good to run in on the treadmill.

New Shoes

So I settled on these as a change. They are a slightly wider fit which suits me and are cheaper than the Kinvaras, a big benefit knowing that one downside of minimalist shoes is they wear out quicker!

I’ve worn them in round the house, to BMF for a few sprints and for 2 longer runs this weekend. With orthotics they fit very well and are very comfortable. My only issue was getting the asymmetric lacing right at first but once sorted after 3 stops yesterday all was well.

So far so good. All set for Juneathon!


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!


A Birthday

No it’s not my birthday, I’ve given them up, having had too many significant ones already and anyway I’m being blocked by my older brother who has been 37 for years and years!  No, on 20th November my blog will be one year old! (yes Jogblog it’s nearly time for Janathon again!)

Rather timely, I am running the Gosport Half Marathon on Sunday and much as I’d like to celebrate the day with a Personal Best I’m not so sure it’s going to happen. I’m definitely getting closer to it but I think I still have a little way to go.  At least it’s a nice flat course so, cold sea breezes permitting, I hope it will feel fast and I can keep up my improvement streak.

I’m having to grovel a bit with my family because the race will result in them all having to get up before 7am on a Sunday because of my geographical naïvety.  (As you might have noticed most of the races I run follow a pattern, ie they are in Central London, easily travelled from Central London or on the Isle of  Wight.)  This year I even ventured across the Solent to Portsmouth for the Great South Run, so I assumed that Gosport, also being just the other side of the Solent, would also be an easy race to get to from the Isle of Wight. Hum…, turns out that in reality, with ferries, Sunday mornings and getting from ferry port to ferry port to race means that public transport looks problematic and driving the long way round (Portsmouth is a blooming island) by car is the quickest way to get there. Therefore (because of the dreadful price of IOW car ferry tickets) the team get to come along too!  (I have been nice and researched some interesting museums which will be open at the time for them to visit so it’s not all bad, other than teenagers and expecting them to move before noon and all that).

Anyway my training has gone well, I’ve certainly enjoyed some recent long runs, enjoying the time out on my feet with my music and surrounds, not noticing the time. However, recently I have noticed a few aches and twinges in my hip so have eased up this week taking tapering seriously.  It’s a bit of a reminder that I have started to neglect my stretches, foam rolling and exercises.  So for the rest of this week I will avoid the stresses and strains of BMF and will stick to a couple of slow easy runs followed by lots of stretches and rolling.  This morning I had a very enjoyable run, I had to concentrate to keep the pace easy and because of such a lovely mild autumn day in the park felt I could have plodded on all day.  I managed to drag myself home after 5.5 miles having planned to run 4.


Royal Parks Half Marathon

I made it! I was injury free, I ran it and I enjoyed it!

Weetabix and banana before dawn, (Why are races so early?) then off to meet fortnightflo, abradypus and plustenner at the tube station and a quick coffee before we made our way to the park. By the time I got to the station it was no longer raining and had warmed up so half my clothing was not required. I was relieved to find that I was not the only one who’d brought along the kitchen sink! We got to the park just after 8.30 and prioritized the loo queue over bag drop. We cleared bag drop just as it was time to head to the start pen.

My race plan was to get round and to enjoy it. I started with the others whose planned pace sounded ideal knowing, because of lack of recent mileage, I only had a few miles running in me at the sort of pace I manged last year. It was very enjoyable running with company and we chatted as we went along and the miles appeared to pass remarkably quickly. Abradypus pushed on ahead while we paused at the water stop at 4 miles and the rest of us carried on at a nice steady pace. I decided to check how I was at the half way or at 10 miles and whether to go on ahead at a faster pace. At half way I could feel my legs tiring and was very comfortable at the pace we were running and enjoying being free from the self pressure of clock watching and pushing myself on. Between 10 or 11 miles I probably could have upped my pace and gone on alone but was feeling a little lazy! Finally, just after 11 miles, when the others slowed for a brief walk break I decided to go on so plugged in my iPod and went ahead weaving through the slowing runners ahead. I pushed the pace for the last mile and ducked in just under 2 and a half hours at 2.29.45.

Thankyou plustenner and fortnight flo for the great company! A month ago you suggested I should come and run it with you if I could get back from injury and that became my goal. Mission accomplished, thankyou!

The beer afterwards tasted fantastic! Then it was on for pizza, another beer and post race catch up with Jogblog, helsbels and I like to count.

And for those intereted in the stats these are my mile split times…


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…


9.2 Miles!

It was hot, it wasn’t pretty, there was a bit too much wobble going on and far too much interference from my shorts riding up or falling down and sports bra rubbing in all the wrong places.  However,  I did it.  I managed to run 9 miles and by the end my legs began to feel like my own again and I think I can definitely say that I am finally back!

Big thanks to my young buddy who cycled all the way with me.   It was late afternoon/early evening and parts of the old railway line cycle path were narrow between overgrown weeds and quite deserted so I would have been a bit spooked running it alone.  He was good company we chatted, sang and whistled as we went along at an easy pace stopping every 2 miles or so for a brief water break.  It was strange running in the heat of a late summer evening with all the sights and smells of autumn.

At my last Physio appointment on Friday I was filmed running on the treadmill. The Physio was checking that my exercises were training me to keep my hips stable as I run and gave me some general feedback. I need to take longer strides so my front foot lands at a better angle and she also pointed out that my right foot curves as it comes forward because my toes are not pointing straight ahead.  I spent ages trying to correct my screw kick for breast stroke and now it seems I have to do the same for running!  Damn wayward right foot!

So while running my young buddy cycled behind me watching what my legs were doing and shouting out feedback!  Taking longer strides, engaging core and concentrating on brushing my right foot straight forward was hard work and results in me running at a faster pace.  Unfortunately I’m not fit enough to keep that up for too long yet!

I am now looking forward to the Royal Parks Half Marathon next weekend (beer and pizza afterwards with blogging buddies).  It won’t be a PB but I am certainly going to enjoy it!


To Half Marathon or not to Half Marathon

This morning I warmed up for my run with a boogie round the kitchen to ‘Night Fever’ (its OK, the boys had gone to school so did not suffer the embarrassment of witnessing my full disco routine!).  The forecast for hot weather today focussed my mind to get my run done early and I was also keen to run and see how my hip is recovering and coping with increasing length runs.  So I was revved up and ready to go.  Basically it depends on how today and another longer run of 8 or 10 miles at the weekend go as to whether I can go the distance in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 10 days time.

Last week I was exuberant to be running again and had a busy week doing 2 BMF classes, a 1km swim, a gym session, including 20 mins on the dreadmill, plus an outside run.  I found the run (my first decent run outside for 2 months)  hard work but after a tough couple of miles at the start things got easier and I was pleased to manage 4 miles.  I stretched well and was delighted to find my hip felt fine the next day and therefore bounced off to BMF where I got stuck in and enjoyed a bit too much sprinting! (You just can’t jog a race…  Well I can’t!)

The result was that by Saturday when I ran to the park my hip flexors were tight again and by the time I got there I was limping. On Monday after a day off I was frustrated to find running painful and limped through my BMF class.

A return to the Physio found that my hip flexors were slightly inflamed again, although not as bad and luckily the associated muscles are now OK.  On reviewing my weeks exercise we worked out that it is probably overdoing it and bursts of speed at BMF that are the culprit and if I want to get back to running half marathons I need to concentrate on strengthening and building up my running distance at an easy pace.  So no more sprinting 😦:(   (for a while).

The Physio stretched and loosened my hip out and the plan was to keep it slow and try another outside run, up to 5 miles, before my next visit to see how things are going.

Which brings me back to this mornings run.  All fired up with the Bee Gees I strutted my stuff out the door… I kept it slow, however the first 3 miles were horrible.  Really tough going, I just couldn’t get into a rhythm at a pace that didn’t strain my hip plus all the other bits of both legs were grumbling and aching after recent under use.  It didn’t help listening to ‘Tragedy’… “When the feelings gone, And you can’t go on its Tragedy…”   “With no-one beside you, Your goin’ nowhere”  Yes it was that bad! By 3 miles I had resigned myself to the fact that me running a Half Marathon in 10 days was impossible. I don’t know why   fortnightflo and plustenner  think I’ll need to go at a faster pace than them because on the basis of those 3 slow awkward miles I will have quite a struggle to maintain their pace!

The breakthrough came around 4 miles.  I upped my pace (It wasn’t sprinting, honest!), to clear a pedestrian crossing before the lights changed, which felt much more fluid and natural although I could feel a slight strain on my hip flexor.  I adjusted my stride and reduced my pace to slow again but then found that my running felt more natural and finally comfortable and enjoyable at the easy pace.  Typical!  I start enjoying my run just as I approach home, so I added an extra loop to savour the good running feeling and optimism about 13.1 miles in 10 days!

I started my run with ‘Tragedy’, but  finished on a high with my ‘Spirits Having Flown’! My favourite Bee Gees track.

“I am your hurricane, your fire in the sun.
How long must I live in the air?
You are my paradise, my angel on the run.
How long must I wait?
It’s the dawn of the feeling that starts
From the moment you’re there.
I’d like to take you where my spirit flies,
Through the empty skies we go alone,
Never before having flown.”

I reigned it in after 5 1/2 miles as promised making myself walk the half mile home to cool down.

5.6 miles,  64 mins,  average pace 11.30.

So the jury is still out on whether I’ll make my Half Marathon.  I’m going back to the Physio tomorrow and then will have to see how I cope with a longer run on Sunday or Monday.


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!!


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!