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?

Running Lately

So last week I  felt pretty rubbish. I mean, it was a kind of unspecific rubbish. Like I felt overwhelming tired and really nauseous when I woke up in the morning but then I’d feel relatively fine (asides from tired) in the day. In a parallel universe these symptoms might suggest pregnancy, but yeah: NO.

And when it came to running it was awful. I ran 10k on Tuesday and it was such a grind.It was a combination of the tiredness/bug thing and the fact that I’d done some heavy squats and glute workout at the gym the day before. So my legs were basically giving me the finger (what a sentence…).

On Thursday I ran with Mike and, as we were both doing the D Day 10k on the Sunday, we decided to do our long run that evening together. But those 10 miles, Jeeeeeeeesus. I felt bad for Mike as I was just dragging and literally counting down every 0.1 mile.I was glad to have run with Mike though as I’m almost certain I’d have binned this run had I been on my own.

Then at parkrun I felt terrible again. The only way to describe it is like I was trying to run 6min/miles and failing.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

But I was running over 8min/miles…and failing. In the end, I just stopped looking at my watch. I chatted to a guy who fell in step with me and that helped take my mind of the struggle. As the run went on though I felt more alive.

I finished feeling a bit better than the previous week, in 24:03.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

As I headed back to my car to grab my barcode I saw a girl who was still running suddenly fall over. At first I thought she’d injured herself and tripped but then I saw she’d basically almost fainted, like I’d done the week before.

I ran over to help. Others who were still running stopped too but as I’d finished I said I’d look after her while they carried on. She was OK but a bit out of it. She was adamant to finish so myself and another girl helped her walk the last 400m of the parkrun to the finish while she lent on us. Then I guided her to some shade and gave her some water. Eventually she felt a bit better and I told her about my wobbly the week before. Happens to the best of us 😉 I think she was OK in the end, just a bit overly hot.

Happily it was my friend Geoff’s 250th parkrun (amazing, right??) so there was lots of cake.Cake definitely helped improve my mood and how I was feeling. Sitting in the sunshine in the cafe as well afterwards was fabulous. I’d taken Alfie with me to parkrun and he’d been immensely spoiled and fussed over by some very helpful volunteers, my friend Carlos’ daughter and Mike’s daughter. So I had no reason to rush home. A few of us also managed to plant the seed of having a BBQ in Mike’s mind. He’d just oomphed up his garden and bought a BBQ so really it was an absolute necessity to test it out on such a sunny day.

A few of us reconvened a bit later for lots of tasty food and just general chilling outness, of which, again, Alfie was able to join.It was a modest selection (*cough*) of burgers, sausages, ribs, pork chops, lots of chicken skewers, a rogue couple of turkey skewers and chicken wings. It’s entirely possibly that I ran so well at the D Day 10k the next day purely because I was so well fed. Either way it was very tasty and a nice way to spend the afternoon.

So this week I FINALLY went to speed training. Occasionally, when I’m feeling good, I’ll go out and do my own speed training session. There’s a killer hill near where I work and I tend to use that as some hill training on my own from time to time. But recently I’ve lacked the enthusiasm. On a Tuesday night I’ve gotten into the habit of just plodding round 3-4 miles.

But I’m adamant to make more of an effort. I’m always wary about speed training with others as I’m scared I’ll push myself too hard and injure myself. I’m so competitive that I’ll try and keep up with people and won’t listen to my body. That said, when I train on my own I can be lazy and lacklustre when it comes to speed… so there’s a balance somewhere but I’ve yet to find it. For now I’ll try and get to speed sessions once every two weeks? It’s entirely possible this won’t happen, but at least I’ve acknowledged what I need to do…*sighs*

So I ran the 1.5(ish) miles to training and then did a hill session with my running club. We did two different hills and paired up with someone else. One person would sprint up the hill and back down and then their partner would do the same, giving the first person some recovery time. We did this for two different hills which kept it interesting. But wowza it was tough! Check out my splits though – never have I had such a fast pace for me.I paused my watch during each recovery and obviously I was sprinting the entire time (and so many downhills) so this is why it looks so fast. Pretty cool though. Afterwards I ran back home. So a fairly tasty Tuesday night run!

I’m definitely feeling better compared to last week, of which I’m obviously very pleased about. I’m just under 13 weeks away from the New Forest marathon and feeling in a very good place. I’ll be starting to increase my long runs soon and I just hope that everything continues as smoothly. With me, you never know. I’d like to think that I’m being sensible though in my training but I guess we’ll see!

What’s your favourite speed session?

Do you run when you’re not feeling 100%?

Do you often get tired during the week? I tend to get quite a solid amount of sleep. I get up very early (5am four times a week) but find I naturally get tired early so am in bed by 10pm which tends to give me a solid amount of sleep.

Goals and future races

I’m currently puttering around with my running not really doing much in the way of actual training (though some could easily argue this is no different to normal anyway..). What I mean though is I haven’t mentioned any upcoming races or goals.

Obviously I’m still aiming for the six World Marathon Majors (just Chicago and New York left). This is an ongoing goal and realistically won’t be completed that soon sadly. Though the temptation to book onto a tour company and do New York this year heavily pressed on my mind, I’ve decided to be sensible.

As a side note, in general, I’m quite good with managing my money. I keep an eye on it using my “Money Master Spreadsheet” (basically Excel) which keeps track of all my bills, monthly expenditures and general spending. I don’t tend to randomly buy things or go outside my means (random legging purchases aside). Credit cards are paid off at the end of the month (hello extra Tesco points using my Tesco credit card!) and life is quite easy for me, not having any children or crazy overheads. I know that I’m currently very fortunate.

However, where I tend to be a bit more “laissez faire” is when it comes to holidays. Memories and experiences are always something I’m happy to spend money on. However, as tempting as doing New York this year would be, it’s not entirely sensible in the great scheme of things.

There’s no rush for me to complete the Majors within a certain time period and though I look longingly at people on social media who have achieved that incredible Six Star medal I need to remember my time will come and I don’t need to do everything IMMEDIATELY.

So the New York Marathon is likely to be next year. Or the Chicago Marathon (they’re a month apart). It depends where I’m at in life and money. Either way the intention is to be getting my medal in 2019 (hopefully). So, no rush indeed!

Though obviously I still love marathons and always like to have one coming up… so the plan for this year is to do the New Forest Marathon, September 10th.But I’ll be running it with my friend, Mike, who’s aim is to get a sub-4. He’s missed out twice sadly. By rights he really should get a sub-4 but for whatever reason it never translated on race day. So I’m hoping I can help him out and help pace him to that target.

Obviously a marathon is still tough, whatever time you do it in, so there are no guarantees (well, there are no guarantees I’ll even make it to race day with my track record but wishful thinking and all that). But the intention is to run it with him and help him get there by keeping his pace in check and chatting to him on the way round.To add a little bit more complication to it, the New Forest Marathon is somewhat undulating. But, on the plus side, a lot of our club will be there as it’s where our club championships will be happening. The whole weekend is full of different race distances so hopefully a good crowd will be there to support and cheer.

And if this goes well… I’ve also signed up to do the Bournemouth Marathon a mere four weeks later. The idea for this (blue sky thinking here) is that I will be able to pace Mike to his sub-4 for New Forest and then run Bournemouth however I fancy.

I feel like I have unfinished business after getting injured during this marathon a couple of years ago. So another decent shot at it would put some demons to bed. Bournemouth is relatively flat so attempting a ‘good’ time might be on the cards, though I’d just like to get through that finish line actually running this time!

That said, this is me we’re talking about. I’m probably biting off more than I can chew so what actually happens in the autumn is anyone’s guess. But the intention for now is that I’ll be training for the New Forest Marathon to run with Mike and then judge how I feel afterwards about Bournemouth.

So that’s the plan. I’ll start marathon training proper in June I think but I’m already hovering around 10-11 miles for my weekend long run so I’ll probably keep around 10-13 miles for a bit and then begin to build them up towards the end of June. But it’s all very relaxed right now. Hey, I might even get on that speed training wagon at some point!

Until those marathons, I have a couple of 10ks *shudders*. I really wanted to do the 5 miles Beer Race I’ve done three times before but I was too slow in signing up. So instead I’ve signed up to the 10k D-Day race in Portsmouth at the beginning of June. I’ve done it before…I didn’t enjoy it because it’s quite a boring course but it’s super flat so might be a good place to get a good speed session in and see where my fitness is at. And then in July I have another 10k (the Newham Great Run). For someone who vowed not to do more than one 10k a year, I seem to be doing a few of them!!

What races do you have planned?

Do you have any unfinished business with any races?

Have you ever paced someone at a marathon?

Post Marathon: time off and what’s next

I’m still riding the happy wave of Chester Marathon. I’m so pleased with how it went and it’s given me a bit of a boost with what I could achieve going forward, which is of course onwards to another marathon.img_3207I’m not massively eager to bash out a ridiculously fast time or try and beat my PB (which was still around 4 minutes faster than Chester) but I’d quite like to do another really focused training segment where I include some actual workouts, like tempos, intervals and hill sessions, rather than the very relaxed running I was doing this time around. Though mentally it was nice to run without any real pace aims or targets, I really enjoy the process of seeing my paces get faster and just feeling more confident in my running.

My next marathon is Tokyo at the end of February [insert scared emoji]. I signed up with a tour company a while ago as I knew I wanted to do it at some point and I really have nothing stopping me doing it. Of course it’s ridiculously expensive to do it this way but I get a guaranteed entry (which is good because Tokyo is very, very hard to get into through the ballot, like London), flights, accommodation near the marathon start, transfer to and from the airport, some meals and I’m with other runners and a guide to help us get about. Seen as how I can get lost pretty much anywhere, I think this is probably the wisest approach in such a culturally different foreign country!

I think my parents (and my friends) are quite concerned about me getting lost there. Me too, me too. My dad jokingly said he’d put a tracker on my phone to make sure he knew where I was…though actually I don’t think he was joking. So being in a group of people and basically handheld through the process is perfect for me! Originally I was going to go with a fellow Marathon Major enthusiast but he selfishly bailed on me – apparently Boston is more important *cough cough* 😉

So Tokyo is the aim and, as ever, not a given because of my injury proneness. And unlike Boston, if I did get injured I wouldn’t still go as the trip is purely for the marathon with a bunch of other marathoners so how fun would that be if I couldn’t run? But anyway that’s a long way away at the moment.

For now I’m enjoying a bit of time off of running and gym-work. I don’t think I’ve had a week off from the gym for a long, long time so it was a nice reset for me during my week away. But don’t get me wrong though, I was looking forward to getting back into it! I do love going to the gym and having my normal routine.

In terms of running, I have no races in the plan apart from the Gosport Half Marathon (I sign up every year as it’s literally around where my parents live and the past three times I’ve been unable to do it due to injury. I almost didn’t sign up for fear of cursing myself), 10k near Christmas just for fun (I say “fun”, 10ks are never fun for me) and an obstacle course race thing with my friends in a few weeks but that’s not really running. I might take another week off of running or do the odd plodding about. I haven’t really made my mind up. My calf needed a bit of time post-marathon to feel happy again and it’s basically fine now but I don’t want to jump back into anything too soon. I’m also keen to address why I keep having this calf/shin issue. I’ve managed to get rid of all other issues (*touch wood*) but can never fully stop this when my mileage gets higher so I might have a gait analysis done.

But basically October is a chill month for me. November will ideally be when I’ll gradually build the mileage up again for Tokyo. Then it’ll be all go again! I also have a place at the London Marathon next year (Good For Age) but it’ll depend on Tokyo whether I do it or whether I defer.img_5915It’s all a bit fuzzy right now and nothing is ever set in stone for me.
But I feel very content and happy right now just bumbling along without a plan. This will change soon I’m sure as I start getting itchy feet…

What are your racing plans?

Do you like to follow a training plan or go off piste from time to time?

Have you had a gait analysis done before?

Marathon Training and Reigate Half

So my next marathon is the Chester marathon. Obviously nothing is a given with my track record for injuries, but I’m hopeful as ever Winking smile

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Ideally I was going to really go for it and aim to get near my PB from Liverpool marathon (3:24:06) but after the hamstring debacle and only recently getting back into some normal running I think it might be wise to just give it my best with no pressures (I think this is my mantra for most races if I’m honest). I don’t want to plod around it easily but I don’t want to kill myself in training or in the race. So we’ll see.

In terms of the details of my training… Well, nothing much will really change compared to previous marathon cycles. Four days of running: one speed session (hills/fartleks/tempos/intervals), one easy run (for mental sanity), parkrun and a long run. Ideally I want to get to 18 miles and do that distance twice.

I also only have one race in the lead-up to the marathon, a half marathon (my second favourite distance to run). A half marathon race is usually quite standard in the lead-up to a marathon so I’m always happy to schedule one in. I’m taking part in the Reigate Half Marathon which is two weeks before Chester (18th September). So, depending on how my training is going, it will be a nice one to blast out some speed or test out my marathon pacing.

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The course is a good one in that it’s one lap of a fully closed route that goes through some nice rural countryside and picturesque country lanes and it’s relatively flat. It’s chip-timed with a technical t-shirt and medal. Yep, sounds good to me!

Intersport Run Reigate organise both a 10k and a half marathon and has raised over £150,000 for charity since 2014 which is pretty fantastic, right? It’s also achieved silver in the UK’s best half marathon category in The 2015 Running Awards. Pretty cool.

I’ll be running as part of the Run Reigate blogger team, which is fairly exciting as you can imagine. The half is about five weeks away which is nice as it means I can continue to get in some good solid training and be more than ready. As part of the blogger team I get a very nice goodie bag to help me with my training which includes:

  • A Fitbit Surge (super excited about this as I’ve previously had a Fitbit but they’ve since hugely upgraded them. I love that it has an in-built HR monitor and gives phone notifications)
  • Brooks running top and shorts
  • Brooks trainers
  • A spa day at Nutfield Priory (including spa treatment, use of facilities / gym / pool / sauna and lunch) – because that’d be very much needed during marathon training!

I also get to write a few blogs over on their blogging page.

This is obviously all amazing in itself but I’m actually really excited to have a half marathon in my diary as I haven’t done one in a while now, and especially one I’ve never done before. I’ll be about three weeks out from Chester so it’ll be really good to see where I’m at with my training and test out things like nutritional decisions (number of gels) and what I’m going to wear (i.e. avoid the dreaded chafe or over-heating).

I’ll continue to keep you guys updated with my training as always and also if you fancy reading my posts over at Run Reigate I’ll let you know when they’re up Open-mouthed smile

What’s your favourite distance to race?

Do you like to plan in certain races as part of your training?

Do you use a fitness tracker?

**Full disclosure: Run Reigate have offered me free entry into the race with the goodie bag in exchange for writing about my training on my blog and their blog. All opinions and training decisions are my own.**