How I recovered from injury

So, touch wood and all that jazz, but it appears I’m back in the game. I’m running again!

And yes I still stand by the fact that I don’t regret running ALL THE MILES in Austria… it just confirms to me what I already know. I’m injury prone and I should gradually build up my miles and I probably shouldn’t run more than two days in a row.Inline image 1

My running was going so well…then Austria happened (follow me on Strava here)

What I do regret however is running a race a couple of days after getting back from Austria. Though I didn’t race it and it was only 4 miles, it wasn’t ideal and was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back (well, the straw that duffed my knee up). I really needed to take a good solid week off, maybe even two, before attempting to jump back into things. But there we go. These things happen. I annoyed my knee to the point that running after that was a big no-no.

The area of the knee affected was the inside bit, nearest the other knee if that makes sense. It wasn’t swollen but it was just very uncomfortable when I tried to run, or stretch it. I’m almost 100% certain it was just a simple over-use injury caused by the mileage and downhill running.

I’m actually quite proud of myself for not overly panicking about the situation. I saw Kyle, my local friendly sports massage therapist, a few times and had some acupuncture.I stopped running and avoided anything in the gym that caused me discomfort or pain. This was mainly any sort of jumping or lunging. Thankfully I could still use the elliptical machine to maintain a level of fitness (still meant to be marathon training… 10th September, New Forest). I also focused my leg days on my quads – nothing too heavy, but I did find this made a good improvement. It might have been increasing the blood flow to that area to help the healing process and also strengthen an area that needed a bit of “building back up” – but this is literally me guessing and just the fact that I took time at the same time (causality confusion and all that). I’d love to pass on some quick wins and magic pill that solved my knee pain but, as with the majority of injuries, it is really about rest. And, surprise surprise, it worked.Inline image 2My first run back was a frustrating two mile run. Towards the end my knee started to niggle but after I’d stopped it wasn’t any worse than before. So I took things gradually by having enough non-running days between this run and my next. Three miles this time, and far better.Inline image 3As I said before, my plan is for a gradual inverse taper to the marathon. Ideally I’d love to hit 16 miles (possibly 17 or 18) the week before but I’ll play it by ear and how my knee is responding. I’ll be running this marathon slower than previous ones as I’ll be running with my friend Mike and he’s aiming for a sub 4. But a marathon is still 26.2 miles of pounding and endurance so I can’t go into it feeling blasé or that it’ll be easy. No marathon is easy!

But finger’s crossed I’m back in the game. Being surrounded by runners at work is amazing, of course, but it also generates an almost unbearable feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). I can’t wait until I can do some runching eventually…

Have you ever done an inverse taper for a marathon?

How do you cope with being injured?

Have you ever regretted a run/race?

Food, fitness and finally RUNNING

I don’t think I’ve ever woken up on a Saturday and looked forward to Monday morning at work before. This is very strange to me! I mean, I didn’t hate my last job or dread going in but I never felt the excitement and genuine interest that I currently feel. Long may this last!

As I said, my posts are a bit few and far between right now as I find my new schedule and get my life in order…but for today’s post I’ll recap the weekend as it was a pretty good one!

I spent Friday night with my parents and had a very much needed long sleep and lazy morning with them on Saturday morning, walking the dogs down the beach and catching up. They wanted to know how my new job had gone and all that jazz. Though I obviously missed going to parkrun it was really nice to spend this rare Saturday morning with them for once.

A bit later I headed to the gym and had a really good session, if I do say so myself. I came up with a circuit-style workout that I did four times, and it definitely got the blood pumping and the endorphins racing.

  • 5 minutes on the rowing machine
  • 20x step ups
  • 20x lunges (w/barbell)
  • 20x squats and barbell overhead raise
  • 20x Swiss ball hamstring curls
  • 20x Swiss ball jackknives
  • 20x bench bunny hops

I then followed this with 25 minutes on the elliptical machine watching Iron Man 2. I’ve seen barely any of the Marvel films so I’m using my cross training time to catch up. So far I’ve done Iron Man and half of Iron Man 2 – only 9,000 more films to go 😉

That evening I headed out for another burger and ice cream-full evening with Andy. This time we were testing out 7Bone Burger Co., which is another Southampton burger-based restaurant (I believe there are a few around the place). This was a bit more low-key but very busy. It was literally packed! We luckily found a nice table and surveyed the menu.

I chose the Prince Charles is Overrated burger which came with a 10oz beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles and dirty spread (mayo-based yumminess sauce). I ordered frickles to come with it (fried pickles – ABSOLUTE dream).

And I think Andy ordered the Ronald’s Revenge (mustard, double cheese, fried onions) and chilli cheese fries. We also shared some halloumi fries.

So comparing these burgers with the burgers from last week at The Rockstone… I can say that the burgers themselves were better at The Rockstone – a bit more “meaty” and substantial. The 7Bone Burgers disappeared very easily and very quickly. However, the meal itself was better at 7Bone because of the entire package. The frickles and the halloumi fries were literally heaven.

Andy kindly shared his fries with me and they were AMAZING. I mean, I’m not really a processed cheese fan but my God these were another level.

We let things settle before walking over to the handily located Sprinkles for a deja vu moment of finishing off the meal with ice cream again. This time I decided not to go for the behemoth sundae that I went for last time and stuck to a slightly more modest pudding in a jar.

I had the Guilty Pleasure, which contained gelato, melted chocolate, strawberries, brownie bits and caramel popcorn. Actually it was a little bit of a disappointment as quite a chunk of the jar was just cream and strawberries. I got major food envy of Andy’s jar which contained freshly baked cookie bits. Ah well, you live and learn.

Ooooof, what a meal! I was stuffed (again). Enough burgers and ice cream now for a while please!

The next morning I headed out for my first “long run” in a while. I’d run twice in the week to good results – minimal knee discomfort and nothing getting worse post run. So I decided to up the ante and go for the big one. SIX MILES. Jesus, calm me down. Six whole miles. Only five weeks to the marathon… PANIC.

Not quite. I’ve been here before where I’ve been injured and my well-laid marathon plans have been scuppered. So I’m familiar with this process. Inverse taper to the big day is the way forward. The only thing that will hold me back is if my knee decides to not play ball.

I’m quietly confident at the moment though as it felt pretty good during the six miles. The first mile was a bit uncomfortable but then it was absolutely fine. I was tempted to go further but thought NO ANNA, don’t over-do it. Keep calm and level-headed and just build those miles up slowly again until the big day.

What really made me happy was that I felt very comfortable running at a good pace. I don’t appear to have lost any major fitness in terms of cardiovascular-ness (technical term there). I just need my body to get used to the impact and pounding of running on pavements again. The elliptical machine is all well and good keeping my fitness in tune but it does nothing for allowing the ligaments etc. to adjust to that ground force.

After the six miles I headed quickly to the gym to top this up with 35 minutes on the elliptical machine to kind of replicate a longer run. I felt a bit weird turning up to the gym already sweaty but hey ho. Needs must. Then it was a quick dash home, shower and head to my parents to go over on the ferry to Gunwharf for a mosey round the shops and then a walk into Southsea for lunch.The Southsea kite festival was going on which was really cool as well. So many crazy kites!SouthseaI love the photo of the man behind me wearing his very cool purple sparkly cowboy hat.

We then found the delightful Algarve Grill restaurant and had Portuguese-style tapas. Oh god, ALL THE FOOD.I was actually looking for something a bit lighter after the big meal the night before… but these things happen. I had sardines, meatballs, chicken skewers, these meat breaded pouch things and a pork dish (pork pieces cooked in a very delicious butter sauce). I was STUFFED. Happily we had quite a walk to get back to the car (all the way to Gunwharf, then over on the ferry and then to the carpark from there) so it had time to go down! Though I was shattered by the time we finally got back to the car. I’d done almost 30,000 steps!

Whew, that was a big post! Hopefully going to get back into some regular posting so watch this space 😉

How was your weekend?

What’s your favourite burger side?

What’s your favourite Marvel film, if you have one? I really like Thor but I’ve heard Captain America is really good.

No running

I mean, obviously this was going to happen. Going from 30-35 miles to a straight jump to 50 miles in a week is going to cause me, the delicate injury-prone runner, issues. That said, I regret NOTHING. Austria and all the running was amazing.

I have to say, I do somewhat regret last Sunday’s wholly unnecessary race which I’d forgotten I’d entered. I shouldn’t have run it but because I’d agreed to drive two friends down I felt compelled to still do it. My legs felt niggly and tired beforehand. I should have known better. My knee started niggling a little during that race and so I took the week off to let it settle…then decided to test it at parkrun.

I turned up early, as usual, to help set-up and in true English summertime style, it rained. I felt grumpy, tired and nervous about my knee.And, as expected, I began running and it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t painful per se, just stiff and uncomfortable. I was pretty sure I could carry on running but it would probably make it worse. So I stopped 0.5 of a mile in and called defeat.

Lots of lovely people asked if I was OK and I assured them, grumpily, I was OK and just playing it safe. Then I went and sat under a tree to shelter from the rain. I should have stood and cheered but I was, well, grumpy and it was raining. I know, pathetic.But I went to the cafe after helping pack away, again in the rain, and got back into a happier mood with my running friends. Can always count on running buddies to get you out of a funk! Especially ones who bring you cake that you miss at the local league races on a Wednesday night. True friends indeed!

After breakfast (yes I had both cake and breakfast) I headed to the gym as I still wanted to get a workout in for the day after the failed run. I managed 30 minutes of boredom on the elliptical machine and some strength training so not a complete wash-out. Though obviously I’d preferred to have run!Then I headed to my parents to go for some food and a cinema trip. We went to Nando’s because we wanted a simple and fairly healthy meal (my parents are trying to be good). I went for my standard whole chicken, salad and corn. It was delicious. Probably not that healthy portion-size wise but ehhh.At the cinema we saw Dunkirk. I’ve been wanting to see this film since the first trailer and Christopher Nolan is just a genius. And with such good reviews since it’s release I was pretty confident we were in for a good watch. It was incredible. I was tense the entire time. A fantastic film. I’m usually not a war film fan but this was something else. An important watch as well. I liked that there was minimal backstory to the characters and it was purely about the events taking place. And Harry Styles wasn’t bad surprisingly!

Sunday again was no running. I wasn’t foolish enough to attempt going for a run and decided a walk down the beach with my dad and the dogs was a nice way to get the day started before heading to the gym for another dull dull cardio session. More for my sanity than trying to replicate any sort of marathon training. It’s always nice to get a good weekend sweat on.

And then I had a date on Sunday afternoon, of which I will leave you guessing on how it went 😉

But back to running… my knee thing isn’t that serious. Previously I might be freaking out, moaning and getting all sad about it. But I’m realistic in knowing a bit of much needed rest from running will be enough. It doesn’t hurt when I walk, it just feels a bit off when I run. I’m not going to Google like a maniac how I can make things better or any quick fixes. It’s just time.

I know exactly why it’s happened. I jumped my mileage up a fair chunk and ran six days in a row (which I never do – I barely run more than two days in a row). The running I did was intense with lots of gradient and terrain changes. It is what it is! Though I do do a lot of strength training to minimise injuries (my injuries are so much less than previously!), it can’t quite shield me from mountain running consecutive days. I don’t regret Austria – of course not. And I still have seven weeks before the marathon so all is good. Sensible may be boring, but it is best. Better a couple of weeks off than making things worse and getting to the marathon broken.

How was your weekend?

How do you cope with being injured?

What film did you see last in the cinema?

Double BBQ and the first proper long run

This weekend was another busy one. On Friday evening I headed to Bristol to stay over my friend’s house. I was quite stressed out and in a bad mood as I left but after chilling out to some music I got back into a happy place and was ready for a weekend of fun.

I’m always fed so well at Kate and Jamie’s. I never stress out that I’ll be hungry or I won’t like what the make as they know me quite well 😉 The next morning I had a lazy lie-in until 8.30am and then we got ready for yet another obstacle race, the Rough Runner 10k. I love doing these kinds of race with Kate and Jamie because they’re such good fun.The races are very relaxed and we go into them just looking to enjoy ourselves. We run as a group and tackle each obstacle together, motivating each other and of course laughing when someone face plants or falls off an obstacle. It’s really not that serious and doing races like this is a nice change and something that keeps me from getting fed up of road race after road race. I love my “normal” races but a change is always needed once in a while!

I’ll recap that in a separate post as it deserves it 🙂 After the race Jay manned the BBQ while Kate and I popped to the supermarket to grab some salad bits and pudding. Normally we’d go out for a meal after a race but as it was such a nice day (oof I got sunburnt during the race), a BBQ seemed like a far better plan. Jay is like the BBQ master. They always host an annual BBQ every year (coming up in July, whoop whoop!) which I always look forward to so I was really chuffed to have an early taster session.There were sausages, burgers, chicken pieces, ribs, pork belly and lamb pieces. I was in heaven! They really do do a great spread.By the time we sat down we were all ravenous, having had breakfast over five hours ago! I ate a bit (*cough* a lot) of everything and felt well and truly refuelled and restored. But obviously a bit of pudding was required too to fully finish the meal off nicely.Ooof such a good pudding. A salted caramel cookie topped with brownie and salted caramel ice cream. It was delicious. And so I drove home in a very content state of satisfaction. As always, a fun time had been had in Bristol!

I’d originally planned on getting up super early Sunday to get my long run in before it got too hot but actually the temperature was a lot cooler and it looked to continue that way the next day. So I treated myself to another lie in (8.15am) and headed off for my long run at 9am. I always walk Alfie beforehand to help wake me up and warm my legs up. I never usually have breakfast before either. I just make sure I’ve eaten enough the day before (see above…) and I like to run fasted as when I race I do use fuel so the boost is so much more pronounced on race day. This might be rubbish but psychologically it works for me.

I started off the run actually feeling pretty pants. I felt tired, my legs felt heavy and I was fairly demotivated. I was doing a usual long run route around the seafront area of Hill Head and Lee-On-Solent and I was genuinely dreading how far I had to go. Being so familiar with the route made me just dread it even more.

But I was listening to a really interesting TED Radio Hour (a podcast which looks at a few different of the TED Talks with an overriding theme). The one I was listening to was about robots and how that might affect the future of jobs and the economy. So it kept me amused and the miles ticked by a bit easier. As always, after the initial few miles I felt better. It wasn’t as hot but it was very windy but the wind was mostly coming across me so wasn’t too bad and kept me cool.

I carried some water with me and filled up at my usual dodgy tap on the seafront promenade (it looks suspect but doesn’t have a “no drinking water” sign… I’ve drunk from it several times and never had an issue but I always refer to it as a dodgy tap as I’m not entirely sure) which is at about half-way.I felt good after finishing the run but very tired. It’s the longest run I’ve done in a while and I think it’s on of those “ahh this feels like marathon training” runs. Glad to have ticked it off!

And then I had another BBQ with my family. My sister and her fiance came over so it was nice to them as well. My sister was lamenting that she’s put on weight. She’s the person who has never exercised, smoked and always eaten fairly badly (a diet of pizza and cereal would be an accurate description) but never had weight issues. She’s always been quite slim (I think my sister and me are quite lucky in that respect. I know I exercise a lot but I’ve never had an issue with weight even when I didn’t exercise and ate terribly at school). But recently the medication she’s been on has caused her to gain a bit of weight and she’s facing a situation she’s never had before (bar when she was pregnant). I tried to give her some advice but seen as how she hates exercise and, in her words, “likes cheese a lot” it might be tricky! It’ll be interesting to see her change her eating habits… 😉 (I’m allowed to say this as she’s my older sister!)

The food and family time was great. But I’m shattered now!

How did you spend the weekend?

Do your friends ever cook you dinner?

Do you carry water on long runs?

parkrun, long running and a natural body polish review

This weekend was a really quiet one. I had no plans for once and it was a great time to catch up on house chores and jobs and have a chilled weekend.

I went to Netley parkrun on the Saturday morning. It was a warm morning but windy. I took Alfie along again with me. Now that it’s summer it’s so nice to be able to bring him so he can have a good run about while we set the course up. I don’t always bring him with me to parkrun though because I have to have someone to look after him while I run. My running friend Mike has been bringing his daughter, Kelci, to parkrun lately and she enjoys looking after Alfie, which is very helpful.I always feel so mean leaving Alfie at home while I go off running on a Saturday morning, especially when the weather’s so nice. So I’m very grateful for Kelci helping out! They’re planning on getting a dog of their own so it’s good practice.

I headed to the loo for a quick pre-parkrun pee to find a gathering of people and locked toilets. The person who normally unlocks them was late. Suddenly my desire for a wee intensified, purely on the basis that I might not be able to relieve myself! One of the parkrun regulars, an older and lovely lady, stated rather elegantly that she was “off to find herself a bush”. She said it in such a dignified and polite way it made me chuckle. Luckily though it wasn’t that much longer before the caretaker showed up with the keys. Whew!

And then onto the start and a squinty selfie.The sun was shining and I was fancying a time of around 22-23 minutes. With the wind and temperature I knew realistically breaking 22 minutes wasn’t going to happen, especially after having quite a heavy week of running for me (the intervals on Tuesday and a nine miler with my friend on Thursday evening). As soon as I started running I knew I should have had a warm-up. Why don’t I ever learn? Trying to run fast straight from the start never works and I feel terrible on mile one. It wasn’t hugely busy as the Endure 24 event in Reading was on and a lot of my club and other local clubs were doing it. The Isle of Wight Festival was on as well.I got stronger and felt better as the run continued thankfully (which is why I should warm up!). I waved to Kelci and Alfie on the way round, not that Alfie took a blind bit of notice as he was having far too much fun sniffing and playing with Kelci.The photographer, Chris Stapleford, took all the running photos this week so a big thank you to him. He said to me afterwards that I was one of the few runners that consistently smiled all the way round. Well, I don’t know quite about that as every photo I seem to be looking very serious!!In the end I got 22:05 which I’m chuffed with (damn those 6 seconds though…).Netley parkrun always seems to be a bit short on the Garmin because we go into the trees for a bit of it and it messes with the satellite. We’ve been reassured it’s accurate after several times measuring the course but it does annoy me when Strava thinks it’s 3 or 2.9 miles.

My running friend, Kate, was running with a buggy and she mentioned afterwards how she finds it annoying when people overtake her, cut in front and then slow down right in front of the buggy. I never really considered what running with a buggy would be like and it was interesting to hear Kate’s perspective. I always tend try to get past buggies as it can be annoying to get stuck behind one but Kate’s a fast runner so it must be very frustrating when people will assume she’s slow and just hurry past and then slow down again in front of her simply because she has a buggy. I know it bugs me when people do it to me on the motorway. If you’re going to overtake, maintain that speed afterwards!

I munched on two cookies afterwards (I do love it when it’s someone’s milestone!) and helped clear the course. Another solid parkrun complete.

The next day I had a long run planned with Mike and Kate, aiming for around 13 miles. As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying running with others and obviously running with Mike is good training as we’ll be running the New Forest Marathon together eventually (me pacing him).

Happily we met at the very socially friendly time of 9am (I like my 8am lie-ins on a Sunday!). It was a very warm morning so we all took water with us. We stuck to around 9 min/miles which felt comfortable but not as comfortable as it might have felt on a cooler day.Annoyingly I stopped my Garmin and saved it again when we crossed for some lights. SO annoying. The route we took is a really boring and annoying route, one I only do if I’m running with others. It becomes more undulating in the later part of the run which is never fun. But it did the job. For Mike to get a sub-4 we need to be running around 9 minute miles for the marathon, though the plan is to start a bit slower than this and pick it up later. I think he found the run quite tough but we’ve only really just started marathon training and it was a very hot day. Plus I think we’re both conscious of how we run the day before at parkrun will definitely have an effect on the next day’s running, so that’s something to bare in mind going forward.

And now onto a review of a body polish I’ve recently been using. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare I’m somewhat…lacklustre? I don’t really have a “routine”. I used to be really good about cleansing and toning, but now? Eh…not so much. I just can’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have good skin (asides from the occasional spot now and again) and I don’t wear make-up so really I don’t do much else than wash with water. When it comes to the shower I just use a shower gel.

I find though I do get a bit of dry skin on my legs so moisturise those after showering. So when I heard about the Beauty Kitchen’s Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish I was quite intrigued. I’ve found in the past exfoliating can help with my dry skin and this sounded like a really nice product. It contains minerals and naturals oils for detox, exfoliation and rejuvenation. It’s also never tested on animals and suitable for vegans.I use a scoop of it when I’m in the shower and basically rub it all over my legs in a circular motion. You can feel the grainy texture of it working with (against?) your skin as you do so. Then I shower it off. It does take some showering to get it off though as it is quite oily but afterwards my legs felt so silky! And the smell is heavenly. I don’t use it every time I shower because who has time for that!? But I try and use it once every two or three days and honestly it feels quite indulgent.My only annoyance is that it leaves little black flecks in my shower that I then have to use the shower head to wash away. But it’s worth it as my legs are super shiny!  It’s available from Holland & Barrett at £14.99, which is quite pricey (especially for someone who leans towards the cheaper shower gels…). But you only need a small scoop each time so I can see this lasting me a while. I love how natural the product is too. Thumbs up!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a skincare regime?

Do you have routes you’ll only run with other people on?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the body polish for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**