Archive | January, 2018

Testing Times

28 Jan

Last week was a work-heavy blur of swimming and gym sessions, supplemented by 40 minutes of core, glute and rehab exercises each day. I was pleased that the ankle could tolerate the static bike at a fairly tough resistance level but also keen not to push things. It’s reached the stage where I want the next comeback to really work, and not get all happy I’m back running before being forced to return to the gym again!

This week was also work heavy, with a lot to read, 2 rehearsals and a (brilliant!) concert and sports massage to fit in. Although I managed my rehab work daily, I ended up with only 5 cardiovascular sessions in amongst everything else. But today’s was good. I was fairly confident my ankle was a lot better, and with beautiful blue skies tempting me, I tried a walk/run. Nothing drastic: I set my Garmin to bleep every 1/4 of a mile and walked the first minute, so that each run segment was between 90 and (as I became more confident) 75 seconds, but I covered 4 miles, and as I averaged 9m20s per mile, I’d guess the run segments were at normal pace.

It’s been a long time since a 4 mile run felt like an achievement, but today really did. I’m realistic enough to know that London is out of reach, but at least I can do some running again. The bit of me that was missing is back, and that is really rather lovely.


Not Much Like A Fish At All

14 Jan

So, last week ended on a pretty low note.  On Monday, as the pain started to recede, I joined the University Swimming pool, and started swimming.  The first few lengths I could really feel the ankle and was a bit worried it couldn’t even cope with swimming, but then the soreness eased off and thankfully it felt better after 30 minutes of swimming than it did before.  I followed up Monday’s swim with another 30 minutes on Tuesday.  I then went and had my sports massage.  O, my massage therapist, was able to show me some strengthening exercises I could start doing straightaway to begin to try and help the damaged ligaments and tendons heal, and to try and ensure I’m not losing too much strength from the big muscle groups that runners use (hamstrings, glutes and quads).  Wednesday was a long day concluding with an orchestra rehearsal, and my arms were a bit sore from the swimming, so I took a rest day.  I’d also been a bit disheartened that a total of 3.5 miles walking on Tuesday had left the ankle sore and tired.  In a typical training week my shortest run will be 5 miles, and there’ll be several miles of walking on top of that.  I couldn’t even walk my shortest run!

On Thursday I didn’t finish in chambers until 7pm, so I simply headed up to T’s for dinner.  The thing I find most annoying about swimming (apart from the fact I’m abysmally bad at it) is the time it takes: time to get to the pool, time to change, time to shower afterwards, changing, drying your hair, time to get home…  A 30 minute swim can easily take 90 minutes or more of a day!  Thankfully on Friday I was able to get to the pool again and the exercise helped me feel a bit more normal.  I miss the endorphins and – strange as it sounds – the pleasing gentle soreness in your muscles which tells you that you’ve trained hard.  I was encouraged by the fact that on Friday I was no longer the slowest person in the pool, although I have a sneaking suspicion it was because some slower people were around rather than that I had become faster in a matter of days.  It’s a bit like becoming relatively nearer the front of a queue because more people join it, even though there are still just as many people in front of you…

On Saturday I did 45 minutes in the pool, which I repeated on Sunday, to bring up a grand total of 3 hours’ exercise.  That’s something like 20-25 miles (if swimming was as intensive as running, which it probably isn’t) in a week when I should have done 63 miles. But there is no point pretending I could have done 9 or 10 hours of swimming this week from a base of no swimming in the months/years beforehand.  I’d have just added a shoulder/back injury to the glute and ankle injuries!  It does mean that it is highly unlikely I’ve maintained my fitness over the past week, but there it is.  It can’t be helped.

Thankfully the ankle does feel a fair bit better today.  Quite a lot of the swelling has gone and the range of movement is improving (sufficiently that I could do proper squats again today: hurrah!).  I’m hoping this means that from the middle of next week I can start to introduce some gentle cycling and time on the cross-trainer in the gym.  It has to be said I didn’t think I could miss the gym, but at least I am not as bad at things there as I am at swimming.  Oh, and the Farnborough Half Marathon next week is my first racing casualty of 2018.

Not A Light, Just A Train

6 Jan

So, the week began alright. 6.5 miles on Monday. Hey, it was January 1st, so that means the year began alright! I squeezed in 30 minutes at the gym on Tuesday but took Wednesday as a rest day as I was rehearsing that night. Thursday was a long day and so I plodded around 4.5 miles then caught up with some sleep.

And so to Friday. I decided to try 11 miles, with a view to 13 on Sunday if the 11 was ok. I felt a bit stiff and there was some hamstring tightness after a day at my desk, but I was moving reasonably well, nearly 8.5 miles in and then in an instant everything went horribly wrong. I felt myself lurch to the left as my left foot went under me, and then some sort of instinctive reflex must have made me lurch back to the right to stop me falling into oncoming traffic. After years of running and sprained ankles aplenty, although – after a couple of shocked, gasping minutes, where I grasped the railings as I winced in pain – I tried to jog through it, I knew this was a bad one. Several miles from home, with no phone, and unable to recall T’s number to even bother borrowing a phone from the kindly fellow runners who did break stride to check if I was ok, I began a lonely, painful walk back. It was pretty cold, and I was shivering violently by the time I hobbled to T’s. This blog post comes from the sofa, as I’m icing the cankle. Whether this has to spell the end of the marathon this year I can’t be 100% sure, but I’m realistic it is now in doubt. I’m not interested in just finishing: either I toe the line knowing I’m in reasonable shape for a decent time, or I don’t race. At least my accommodation is refundable until the last minute, so I don’t need to decide any time soon.