I just need a moment

My blog posts have been a bit sparse lately. Maybe no one’s noticed but for me it’s become fairly obvious.

I love my blog and will continue to write it as long as it makes me happy. If no one reads it, that’s OK. I like documenting things and having memories of times to look back on. But lately I haven’t wanted to write.

My lack of running means a lack of content I suppose. And while I could write about what I’m getting up to, it isn’t really what I want to write about. My blog is about running. My life used to contain so much running, but recently my injury sagas just seem so never-ending that continually moaning and whining is just rubbish to read.

Oh hey Anna is injured again. Oh wow Anna is still injured. Oh look Anna is still moaning and whining. Get a grip.

When friends ask how my running is or how the injury is they do that thing where they look a bit sad, give me a pity smile and say something vague like, “oh dear, hopefully it’ll get better soon”. And what they’re really saying is, “let’s talk about something else because frankly this is boring”. I know it’s boring.

I know my friends don’t want to hear about my injury or lack of running. I know this. I try to skim over it with some optimism that I don’t really feel so the conversation can moved on to something else and so no one has to deal with injured Anna.

But I feel so down. I feel so completely and utterly down.

It’s been almost eight weeks that I haven’t run. Now I know there will be people out there who have far worse situations with their injuries but that is ZERO consolation to me. I’m very sorry for your injury but this is my blog so it’s only fair I can moan here. I need to because right now I feel like screaming.

Every morning I wake up and I test my knee. I see how it feels walking to the bathroom, walking down the stairs, throughout the day at work, walking Alfie. I wake up in the middle of the night and before rolling over to go back to sleep I’ll bend it, move it – what does it feel like?

It’s exhausting how consuming this is and I know I sound crazy. Running is so much a part of my life though. Obsessed? Maybe. But before this injury it was something I’d do 4-5 week, I’d see friends at parkrun, I’d have races planned in the calendar, runches to break up the work day, exciting food spots to finish long runs planned, long conversations about a negative split that I’m proud of.

Don’t tell me this isn’t going to last forever. Don’t tell me next year I’ll look back and laugh. I’m sat here living this right now. Don’t tell me start swimming or cycling. It’s not the same.

Let me scream into the void about my frustrations. This post isn’t about asking for help or advice. I don’t need someone to try and give me a solution. I just need to vent. I want to sit and cry. Cry for the lifestyle that I used to be enveloped in. Cry for the world I’m not allowed to be part of right now. Cry at the unfairness that some people can run without issue and some people cannot.

Let me do that without making me feel like it’s not worth crying about. Because for me, it is.

MRI results…

I had my MRI results for my knee on Thursday.

I was so worried and nervous. I didn’t really know what to hope for. If it turned out I needed an operation then at least I had a firm answer and could take strong actions to sort it. Yes it would take time (to schedule and then recover) and would be painful and scary, but at least it would (potentially) fix the issue. But to hope for that wasn’t making me feel any easier. I don’t want to have an operation. But equally I want my knee to feel better and so far nothing else has helped.

Anyway I sat in front of the surgeon and he showed me the MRI scans of my knee and told me that I had a “structurally perfect knee”. In fact, he was very impressed with how good my knee looked for someone who has run 20 marathons and so many miles. Instead of relief I just felt frustrated. It was like I was being told that the discomfort and pain was all in my head. I sat there literally feeling my knee aching while he said my knee looked perfect. What the hell.

He could sense my disappointment and reassured me that while having an operation was probably (relatively speaking) an easy option to curing the pain it wasn’t the ideal option. He said I should be grateful I don’t have to have an op and that usually this point of action ends up in needing another op later on down the road. And as a young (why thank you) female, taking a piece out of my knee wasn’t something he’d want to do even if I did need an operation.

But what now then? Well he said there was nothing else he could do for me and recommended a highly rated knee-focused physio. She sounded good and I rang her up and got an appointment for the next day.

She checked my knee and leg out and told me that, as we could now definitely rule out it being a tear or anything to do with the meniscus/cartilage, it was likely to be a misalignment of my kneecap. This was probably down to my calf and quad being tight. The calf wasn’t something I had considered, but it made a lot of sense. The trainers I’d changed to had made my Achilles and lower calves super tight, but I didn’t really suspect it an issue. But apparently this is pulling my knee from the bottom, and then my quad is pulling from the top.

The pain is due to my kneecap (or a specific part of my kneecap at least) being irritated. So she advised stretching (shock), foam rolling (shock), better trainers (happy days) and Ibuprofen gel specifically in the crevice of my knee where it’s causing issues. She gave me some stretches and massaged my leg and off I went.

This does all make sense to me, and of course I’m relieved I don’t have a tear, but part of me wonders if this is really it? Stretch more and foam roll? Are you kidding me? Asides from my calf, I have been stretching and foam rolling my legs weekly. Urgh. I just feel either incredibly stupid that it’s this simple or a bit cheated that it’s this simple.

At least I’ve been given the go-ahead to strength train my legs, albeit gently. So I’ve been doing TRX single leg squats and body weight squats, slowly and with good form. Maybe it’s a case of getting the strength back up to get the muscles firing appropriately?

I feel a bit at a loss if I’m honest. Sure I can try new trainers and do the whole “Ibuprofen reduce inflammation” thing but it feels a bit of a catch-all diagnosis, you know?

Anyway, I could moan and whine for too long about this. I need to gather my thoughts and see how things progress. On to something else…

I was recently sent a pack of TRR Nutrition supplements to try. It’s an advanced collagen supplement containing 10,000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen. Designed and created by a host of scientists and nutritionists (including Glenn Kearney, nutritionist to tennis superstar Andy Murray) with the aim to support joints, bone health and immune system. Collagen is a protein which helps form connective tissue in the body. We do naturally produce it but the production slows down, so adding it to your diet is a good way to pump it back up. The benefits are that is can reduce wrinkles (wahey!), support strong bones and keep your joints strong and flexible too.

So anyway I tried the supplements… I mean, I guess it was probably the best time for me to be taking it with all my knee issues. Of course I can’t say for certain but my knee has certainly improved from the terrible shape it was in after the marathon, though equally time and healing go hand in hand.

The supplement comes in a little bottle – it’s like a shot of health basically. Not only does it contain collagen but it contains turmeric (good for inflammation), glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and copper.

I’ll warn you though, it doesn’t taste great. I would advise taking it like a shot: quickly just swallowing it down. The cherry flavour is far better than the citrus, but it still has quite the turmeric flavour.

I am very keen to continue taking this as the research on collagen seems strong and it’s something in my comeback to running (is that ever going to happen…?) will probably help. I really like the ethos behind the company and if I can be 1% of the athlete that Andy Murray is then I’m on to a winner!

By the way, they currently have a 50% off sale right now!

Have you ever taken collagen?

Have you ever had an MRI?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the TRR supplements for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

My knee and I

So what is going on then with my running, or lack thereof?

Well, as I said in previous posts, not a whole lot. I haven’t run properly since Chicago – six weeks ago. I’ve attempted to run to see how things feel, like an “up the road jobby” with Alfie or an attempt at parkrun.

The attempts to run were never with any real belief that I would be OK. My knee doesn’t feel right but I wanted an insight into what exactly felt wrong. Does that make sense?

I went to parkrun on Saturday in my running gear but with the very low expectation of finishing. I had my jacket on a nearby branch to fetch when (not if, but very much when) the discomfort would begin.

My knee hasn’t been right since the week before the Chicago marathon when it randomly became swollen the Monday after the Bournemouth Half Marathon, despite having felt nothing wrong with it at the time or after. Since the marathon it’s been very stiff and achy. It also has a rather disconcerting click from time to time.

Seeing my physio helped to a degree but ultimately it remained stubbornly the same. I had tape put on it to see if it was a tracking issue of my kneecap but it didn’t really improve things. I also took time off completely from leg exercises (such as squats and lunges) and cardio.

The stair machine and swimming weren’t really bothering it but I couldn’t say for absolute certain. I mean it felt OK when I did it and afterwards, but who knows really if it was just prolonging the issue? So I stopped. But again, there was no improvement.

So after the recommendation of a sports therapist, I booked an appointment with a knee consultant and went to see what he thought. I did this privately. While I have a huge amount of respect and love for the NHS, I realised I’m not really going to be seen very quickly due to the nature of this injury. It’s a very low level issue compared to what I imagine other people might be suffering who need to be seen more urgently. I acknowledge that I’m very privileged and grateful to be able to take this road and get seen so quickly.

So last week I had my appointment. The outcome of which I knew would be needing to have an MRI. There’s only so much that can be diagnosed from the outside, an MRI would (hopefully) clearly show what was wrong – or at least cross out a bunch of things. I had my MRI on Friday… and now I wait until Thursday for the results.

In the meantime I’ve still been going to the gym. I’m avoiding squats and lunges but I can still work on keeping my glutes strong with hip thrusts, kickbacks, resistance band work etc. As Kyle has now been coming to the gym too I’ve been able to work on my bench press and get to a new PB of 34kg for 5 reps. I’ve never had the confidence to really excel in this area because the fear of dropping the weight on my face has been STRONG.

I’ve added cardio back into my routine again in the form of the elliptical machine, which doesn’t cause my knee any issues. I’d like to do the stair machine but because there is so much knee flexion in it I’m worried it might be hurting it without me realising. So basically, I’m just tootling along for a bit with no running or major leg strength work.

I’m itching to find out what Thursday will bring with the results. Worst case is that I need surgery. My meniscus might be slightly torn (which would explain the disconcerting clicking). Or it could be something else. If it’s surgery I’ll deal with that as it comes.

My plan of action is…well, to get a plan of action. I want to know what I can do and what I shouldn’t do. If they tell me I can’t run for 6 months but I can do X and Y, then you better believe I will be doing that with the focus to come back stronger. I just need to have a goal and a focus. I want to run so badly but equally I know I need to sort this issue out.

I have days where I feel like crying and pounding my fists because it doesn’t seem fair. I work so hard in the gym. I’m not stupid with my training. I eat well and recover properly. Why can’t I run all the miles and marathons like everyone else? But I give myself a little shake (well, in reality Kyle and my parents talk me back to reason) and I focus on the good stuff. Because there’s a lot of that in my life thankfully.

Have you ever had surgery?

What do you do instead of running?

Fun Ways to Get Healthier in 2020

Today I have a collaborative post with the new year in mind for healthy living. I hope you enjoy!

The new year is all about making goals and resolutions that put us on the path we want to be on in life, and helping us to be the best person we can be. But many of us rush into making ourselves promises that just won’t last, they’re things that leave us feeling restricted and like we’re going without and over time it makes us miserable causing us to give up.

Image Source: Pexels.com

Why not do things differently next year, focus on health but do it in a fun way. Make changes that will add to and improve your life, rather than leaving you feeling like you’re restricting or missing your favourite things. To be able to keep up changes long term, they need to be enjoyable to be achievable and it genuinely is possible to do this. Here are some ideas for things you need to put on your resolution list for 2020, to go about things differently this time.

Learn to cook

Our diet is of course a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, the foods we consume on a daily basis will be either helping or hurting our bodies. If you currently live off junk like takeaways and convenience food because you think that you can’t cook, something needs to change.

When you prepare your own meals, you have full control of exactly what goes into them. Unlike processed and premade foods, they won’t be packed with hidden salt, sugar or oil. Instead, you can flavour your food with things like tasty herbs and spices which give everything a kick while still being good to your body. Learning to cook can be incredibly satisfying, if you’re a total beginner you could join a local cooking class, or just find some easy recipes online and follow along to them.

As your knowledge and confidence grows, you’ll be able to start tackling more complex dishes. Being able to create flavourful meals from healthy ingredients isn’t just good for your health but for your wallet too. How much do you currently spend buying lunches at work, ordering takeaways or eating out in restaurants? It’s not to say you need to give up these things all together, but use them as a treat, rather than a way to live. You’ll enjoy the occasional indulgence much more, and the rest of the time have the satisfaction of knowing you made your own food, exactly the way you like it.

Have a think, what’s really so special about that pre- bought sandwiches, pasta or salad you buy every day anyway? What’s stopping you from making something very similar but healthier and for less money yourself? There are tons of recipes on Pinterest and blogs to give you inspiration, enjoy the process of learning and trying different ingredients and techniques. It’s really not as difficult as you might think to create food that tastes great. If you’re looking to get healthier and improve your skills next year, definitely put cooking on your list.

Find an activity you genuinely enjoy

Exercise makes you feel great both physically and mentally, if working out feels like torture then it’s time to switch up your routine. Find something that’s genuinely fun and enjoyable, it doesn’t have to be working out in a packed gym after work.

Why not join a rambling or dog walking group and spend your evenings going on long, scenic walks? Maybe you could join a dance class, a trampolining group, a hot yoga session or even go rollerblading or ice skating with the kids? Anything that gets your heart rate up and has you moving around is a good thing, so it doesn’t always need to be structured exercise.

You could even kill two birds with one stone, and socialise or do something else at the same time. For example, you could call up your friends and family and organise a game of rounders or cricket at the park, you’ll be so busy having fun it won’t seem like exercise.

If you’re a lover of retail therapy, you could book a coach to a new city and spend the day walking around shopping- you’ll rack up way more steps than you might think plus carrying bags adds a bit of resistance! Do some research into how to get the absolute maximum from your workouts so that you can have fun, be time efficient and give your body a real workout at the same time.

Instead of telling yourself you’ll join the gym in January (and then give up in February) think of activities that you’re going to enjoy and want to stick with for the foreseeable future. Think outside the box, and find out if there are any more unusual activities that you could try out. It could be anything from pole fitness to circus skills!

Practice hygge at home

Health isn’t all about physical health. We have to consider our minds too, mental health is so important. Something that we should all be doing in today’s busy and chaotic world is spending time relaxing and unwinding on a regular basis. This isn’t just a luxury, it’s fundamental to good health.

And relaxation doesn’t always have to be expensive spas and professional massages, there’s plenty you can do in your own home, on a budget. A hot bath with some salts, oils or bubble bath can help to lower blood pressure, ease tense muscles and give you a quiet place to relax. Self massage on your hands, feet and limbs can also be effective, you can purchase massage ‘shawls’ from places like amazon which massage your back and neck without the help of another person.

Sometimes hygge at home just needs to involve playing some relaxing music, putting your feet up and sipping some tea. It could be reading a book or watching your favourite tv show on Netflix. Anything that lets your mind rest and gives you a break from work and commitments is good for you.

Don’t let it lead to burnout, anxiety, stress and depression. Not only are these things bad for your mental health, but for your physical health too. It’s been long established that there’s a strong link between the body and mind, if one is affected the other can be too. Which is why when we’re focusing on health and overall wellbeing, it’s mental health we need to take into consideration too.

Socialise more

As humans, we’re social creatures. It’s natural for us to spend time in groups, however modern society doesn’t always work like that. More of us live alone, work alone from home and generally spend time by ourselves more than ever. In a world where we’re more connected than ever thanks to the internet its seems strange that we could be in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, however it’s definitely the case.

Do what you can to spend time with the people you care about. You might want to put yourself out there to meet new people, join friendship and meetup apps or start a hobby where you’ll be in contact with like minded people. It’s the people in our lives that really make it worth living. They give you support and advice when needed, offer another perspective on our issues and worries and encourage us to try new things which we probably would never have done.

Overall wellness should focus on mind, body and spirit and ensure all of our physical and emotional needs are being met. By being proactive and finding ways to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle, you could be prolonging your life and be a much happier person.

How do you plan on getting healthy, or improving your health next year?

Do you enjoy massages? I often only get sports massages rather than relaxing ones!

Do you like to cook? For me it’s something I find very relaxing.

What I’ve been up to lately

I feel like I haven’t had a proper catch-up post in ages!

I’m still not running but that’s a post for another day as I have a fair amount of uncertainty – which could be cleared up soon (potentially). But anyway, I’ve been busy eating lots of good food and doing fun things so let’s talk about that, eh?

A few weeks ago I went to visit my lovely friend, Charlotte, in Liverpool. Amazingly my plane took off from Southampton and landed in Manchester – which is one step more than I managed the last time I tried to get there!

Weird banana thing in the train station – there were loads of these all over the city in different styles

I got the train from Manchester to Liverpool and arrived safe and sound at her house. Charlotte used to live in Brighton which, from Portsmouth, is a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to get to but it’s nice to go somewhere new and spend time with her, so it was worth it.

I sadly was not able to do the local parkrun but instead enjoyed a rather wonderful lie-in instead (well, after 8am which for me is long). We then headed into town to mosey about.

We went into the largest LUSH in the world (actually the world). It was four stories!

It had its own spa it was that fancy. Charlotte and I actually had a guided tour round the spa and honestly if the lady had said she had availability there and then we would have signed up I think. It sounded divine!

We even had some vegan cakes on the top floor from the pop-up bakery, Nakery. Very tasty, but most definitely more healthy than indulgent. Lovely bit of cashew frosting on the top.

We shared this selection

What I also loved is there efforts for zero packaging at the Nakery.

For lunch we had an incredible meal in Almost Famous Burger. It was literally on the recommendation from a friend off of Instagram and the fact that it was chucking it down that we made the snap choice to head there. And what a good choice it was!

For lunch we had an incredible meal in Almost Famous Burger. It was literally on the recommendation from a friend off of Instagram and the fact that it was chucking it down that we made the snap choice to head there. And what a good choice it was!

I had the Halloween special which was a double bacon cheeseburger with a fried chicken burger on top and on top of that a corndog dipped in candied bacon. I mean, what even is life?

I’ve never had a corndog and it really was very tasty! It’s a shame it’s not really a British thing. The burger itself was very good. Charlotte and I also shared waffle fries with bacon dust and nacho cheese. Why have I also never tried waffle fries?! These were incredible.

Charlotte had a vegan burger and it looked equally impressive. She said it was good. What a win!

On the subject of vegan food, I also recently saw my friend Michelle for a vegan brunch at the absolutely wonderful Off Beet restaurant in the New Forest. I’ve been to Off Beet a few times and it’s never disappointed. Entirely plant-based and with such inventive menu, it’s such a treat to go there. They change the menu regularly according to the season and the food always looks so beautiful. The chefs are so good!

I had the No Eggy Omelette. It was filled with a cashew cream (there it is again!) and a fake smoked salmon made from marinated carrot. Honestly I wondered how they’d get away with that but it was SO fricking tasty. I really enjoyed this!

We also walked around the farm shop next door. Love that they sell ecofriendly detergents in a way that you don’t have to keep buying plastic bottles.

As always it was lovely to catch up with Michelle – someone who also struggles a lot with injuries. We had a good old moan 🙂

And then recently Kyle and I went up to Bristol to see more friends and enjoy a rather epic roast dinner. Having been on the carvery train for a bit, I was ready to have something a bit more posh. Quality over quantity I guess (though there is DEFINITELY a place for quantity when it comes to food in my eyes as you well know!). We went to a steakhouse called Pasture and it was INCREDIBLE.

Topped with parnsip crisp curls

I had pork and beef and it was delicious.

Served with it was creamed leeks and the most fluffy, crispy potatoes. I’m not usually a potato fan (very boring and bland in my opinion) but these were something special.

We were stuffed! But of course you do always have a separate stomach for pudding…

Chocolate brownie with a molten chocolate sauce, honeycomb ice cream and honeycomb pieces. I mean, anything served with molten chocolate sauce is a winner in my book. This was incredible.

So despite the lack of running, I’ve still been enjoying all the good food and fun times as I would normally. I’m of course desperate to get back to running but I’m being patient for now.

Have you been to Liverpool before?

What’s your favourite roast dinner?

What’s your favourite kind of burger?