Archive | December, 2017

And You See Me, Somebody New…

31 Dec

I’ve been pretty quiet, blog-wise, for the last 3 weeks.  It’s fair to say that, with the glute/hamstring injury taking time to settle, I was struggling.  Like a fair few other runners I know, running really helps with my mood, and when I can’t run I find I can feel up and down much more than usual.  The fortnight during which I didn’t blog was no exception.  I had been cleared to try some easy running again, but initially could manage only about 4 miles every other day.  Even then the last half mile or so could well be a bit painful.  It was hard not to feel despondent, knowing that I was supposed to be running 55 miles a week and following my training schedule, and that I am supposed to be racing 26.2 miles at the end of April about 90s/mile faster than I was managing for these 4 mile plods on the treadmill.  And I couldn’t really bring myself to blog about that at the time.  It would have been something written by Marvin or Eeyore.

Last weekend saw me begin to turn a corner, both physically and emotionally.  It started on the Saturday, with 5 miles outdoors which was actually pretty comfortable.  It made 2 hours in the gym on Sunday feel that bit more tolerable, knowing that perhaps I could at least do a short run outdoors every other day or so, and wasn’t stuck indoors, feeling I was going nowhere.

Monday was of course Christmas Day, and although I would usually run on Christmas Day I decided to make it my rest day this week.  I didn’t wake up particularly early and I’m not sure my niece and nephew would have tolerated waiting for me to do my strength and conditioning routine (an essential precursor to any run at the moment), run 5 or 6 miles, shower and then eat breakfast before they were allowed to open any presents!  On Tuesday morning I ran 6 miles.  And it felt pretty ok, even with the gentle undulations involved in running around the perimeter of the park near my parents’ home.  On Wednesday, still away from home and without access to a gym, I dared to run again, and things were once again ok: I’d survived running on consecutive days!  Things even felt ok after 3 hours spent sat in the car coming back from time with T’s family.  On Thursday I went to the gym for an hour and then on Friday I ran 8 miles steady.  Running for over an hour felt like some sort of breakthrough.  And again, there was no adverse reaction.  On Saturday I went to the gym for an hour and a half, and then this morning I ran 10 miles steady.  My legs were a bit tired afterwards, but no adverse reaction so far.  I probably should have squeezed another 30-60 minutes of cardio work in at the gym at some point this week, but I think that as I’m doing quite a lot more strengthening work at the moment my leg muscles are certainly getting a workout (I’ve been told I need to do some new, tougher glute exercises, and to focus on working my quads a bit more as – like many runners – I’ve got strong hamstrings but ridiculously weak quads).

And so farewell to 2017.  I was hoping it was going to be a great year for running after a disappointing 2016, but instead it’s been pretty tough.  I’ve achieved none of my goals!  But I think what I have learned is that as I approach 40 my body is beginning to change.  I can’t train in the same way I could between 25 and 35, and in particular my muscles seem to need that little bit more time to recover from tough efforts and niggles.  I think this means that London 2018 is going to be a bit of an experiment in how well I can race off slightly fewer miles, but supplemented with gym-based cardio cross-training.  Certainly in January and February I think it is going to be smarter to do 4 or 5 runs per week, and 1 or 2 gym sessions than to try and get back to 6 running sessions per week too quickly.  40 or 50 miles per week with 2-2.5 hours of cross-training will be close enough to 60-70 miles of running per week (I hope!).  It’s a bit frustrating to be starting the New Year playing catch-up, but there it is.  It’s much better to be running a bit than not running at all.

I don’t want this to turn into a round robin update pastiche, but I’ll finish by noting that away from running it has been a mixed year, with too many reminders of quite how fleeting life can be.  It has certainly made me take stock about what really matters (and, let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter whether I run 2.45, 2.55 or 3.05 for the marathon next spring.  The world will keep on turning and life will go on).  Chief amongst my blessings has been T.  He may not make very regular appearances in this blog, but he is a brilliant support to me in the background, and without him the ups and downs this year has thrown at me would have been so much harder.

Thanks as always for reading, and see you in 2018 x


If Only I Could Turn Back Time…

11 Dec

On Monday, after a round trip to Worcester, I did 5 miles steady.  Things didn’t feel great.

I had a massage on Tuesday morning, and my suspicion that things hadn’t felt great for a reason was confirmed: the glute, hip and hamstring were really, really tight.  My sports masseur very gently suggested that this ‘continuing to run’ phase was not helping the injury heal.  I think I’d begun to realise this (having spent a few weeks in the Denial Phase of Injury), but it was still pretty gutting.  The rest of Tuesday was pretty hectic (a meeting, a hearing, then going to a concert with T, having inhaled dinner beforehand: apologies to the restaurant that we selected food on the basis of speed of preparation…), so there was no time to train, and Wednesday saw me working until 9.30pm, so was a rest day by default.  I had a second treatment session on Thursday, and things were a bit more positive, but I was advised to consider further rest if at all possible.  My tentative suggestion of an easy run on Saturday didn’t get the warmest reception.

After spending Friday feeling sorry for myself (2017 has been the Year of the Moderately Severe Injury, after all, and if I’d been sensible enough to take a few days’ rest as soon as this flared up I could almost certainly be running pain free again by now), I returned to the gym on Saturday.  20 minutes on the cross-trainer (fine), 20 minutes on the rower (not entirely sure that was great for the glute) and 20 minutes on the static bike (ok, apart from being extremely dull).  I returned on Sunday and did 15 minutes on the rower (definitely sure this is not great for the glute), 45 minutes on the bike (ok, but still very, very dull) and 1 hour on the cross-trainer (yes, definitely ok, and actually seemed to loosen the glute/hamstring up a bit).  I also learned that my triceps are really, really weak, as they have been tired since that first gym trip.  Food for thought in terms of overall strength and conditioning.

So, here I am, so-say due to start my build-up (for various reasons I’m actually spreading the 18 week programme over 19 weeks which means today is day 1 of my schedule), and it looks like the gym is going to be where my training takes place (at least in part) for the next few weeks.  I’m seriously contemplating whether I should do some of my recovery runs as cross training at the gym for all or most of this build-up, bearing in mind the injury problems in my last marathon preparations.  In the past I have run reasonably well off 4 runs and 2 cross-training sessions per week, and it may be that losing that little bit of training specificity is the trade off for getting to the start line without further injury woes in the next 4.5 months.  We shall see.  It would certainly make me mentally strong having coped with all that boredom!

I Am Not (very) Worried, I Am Not Overly Concerned (possibly…!)

3 Dec

So, I began Monday with 7 miles steady.  The hamstring/glute didn’t feel great, but I don’t think my pace was too restricted.  Tuesday I ended up having rather a lot of reading to do, so took a rest day.  On Wednesday I had an early start as I was in Plymouth, but I squeezed in 6 miles after work.  All of the sitting down travelling didn’t help, and I felt pretty creaky during that 6 mile run.  Thursday wasn’t brilliant, either, when I did a 5 mile run after work.  I was starting to feel a bit despondent that such short runs on the flat were giving my gyp.  That probably affected my decision on Friday to do some violin practice rather than train.  That, and the fact that after a memorial service I needed the emotional release of playing some beautiful music.

On Saturday morning I did a 7 mile run, and although things were better on the flat than they had been earlier in the week, hills (only 2 of them) were still a problem: I could definitely feel a ‘tug’ when I either lifted my leg to run uphill or tried to extend my leg to run downhill.  Sigh.  It lead me to decide that racing cross-country in Pembrey today was not going to be a Good Idea: the travelling coupled with undulations and a potentially slippery course just sounded too likely to set me back, and with marathon training due to start in earnest all too soon, I had to look at the bigger picture.  I declared myself unfit, and just did 15 miles steady instead.  The hamstring/glute probably felt about as good as it has until about 11/12 miles and then began to tire and tighten a little.  And there was still a bit of grumbling going on when I was sat down working this afternoon, but overall the last 2 days have shown some tentative signs of improvement.  Now, that is in the context of having done only 40 miles this week, when marathon training is 55-70 miles per week, and all of that running has been very steady, when marathon training would include at the very least some strides, but I guess if I can manage 55 miles steady per week whilst the injury resolves I’ll take that.  My body certainly doesn’t seem as robust of late as I would like, but fingers crossed this injury is not as severe as I feared.  So, I guess I’m a bit worried, and slightly concerned, but hoping that perhaps I’ve turned a corner…  Safely, of course!