Coming out from the slump

Last week was rubbish, I’m not going to lie. After my fabulous weekend in Wales I came back to reality with a bit of a bump.

I decided to not go to the gym at all during the week to see if that helped my leg. By Thursday (a week since my last gym visit) I was going a bit stir crazy and my knee felt no better so I decided to go to the gym on Friday morning. But I arrived demotivated and feeling crap. I did some deadlifts and half-hearted core work before deciding I couldn’t be bothered. I left in a foul mood.

My dad picked me up to go to work that morning and he asked how I was… and I just burst into tears. Pathetic, I know. I just felt so down about not being able to run and the pointlessness of going to the gym to do injury prevention strength work when I’m injured. I felt so direction-less. OK I don’t need to worry about the Boston marathon (YET) but it’d be nice to just be enjoying my running without pressures or training plans and using the gym as a supplement to my training.

My dad, bless him, went through the problem with me step by step. Can I run? No. When can I run? I don’t know. Is it in the next few days? No. OK then forget about running. What’s the point in every day wondering and worrying about running if it’s clear my injury isn’t going to magically heal over night? My initial estimate of six weeks is proving to be correct, even perhaps optimistic now. For my mental sanity worrying about running isn’t going to help. I need to do exactly what I did last year and focus on something completely different.

On Saturday morning I still went to parkrun and I still felt a bit down.

Netley Abbey parkrun

It’s depressing everyone asking how the injury is…and the look of pity of fellow runners when you say “yep, four weeks and counting of no running”. But I enjoy seeing everyone and the social side of parkrun so I’ll continue to go and volunteer (trying my hardest to not be the bitter grumpy injured runner).

Hunter wellies

Alfie, as usual, loved racing around and got himself thoroughly wet and muddy. After closing down parkrun, a few of us went for a hot drink in the cafe. As I had Alfie I couldn’t go in to the cafe but Mike said he’d get me my drink, which is usually a peppermint tea. Bless him, he came out with a green tea… I’ve had green tea quite a few times and every time it’s made me feel really nauseous, despite really wishing I could drink it. But never look a gift horse in the mouth I thought I’d give it another go. It tasted nice… though I did feel queasy driving home, but not as bad as usual so this is progress!

I had a Halloween party that evening but I was in such a bad mood, being all grumpy and just wanting to slob out, I decided to not go. I did feel bad but the last thing I wanted to do was dress up and try and be sociable. You know when you just want to hibernate away and watch rubbish TV? Well that was me Saturday night.

It was the best thing I could have done because I watched, and was seriously inspired by, some YouTube videos of health and fitness vloggers (I’ve never really got into YouTube but now I’m hooked, it’s like reading blogs for the lazy!) and decided to pull myself together and get my pathetic grumpy bum to the gym the next morning and get a new focus.

Gym selfie

I planned out a heavy leg routine and just went for it:

Legs day

(No judgements on the weights please, this was hard for me)

I literally spent an hour and 45 minutes in the gym just going through these leg exercises, taking the adequate break between sets and monitoring my knee carefully. The ironic thing is, my knee doesn’t bother me in squatting or deadlifting at all so I could do all this without any pain.

Cable machine

I also got one of the fitness instructors to show me how to use a machine (the leg press). He was very helpful and I didn’t feel like just a “stupid girl” for asking – better to have proper form and complete exercises the way you should than be too embarrassed and injure yourself. Plus, this is what they’re paid for! You don’t need to pay a personal trainer to explain how to use a machine/perform an exercise.

I came out of the gym pumped and in such a better mood. I know I’m a broken record and I’m sorry about that but it is hard when you love something so much and suddenly you can’t do it. But I thoroughly enjoyed the gym and now I’m just going to continue strengthening my body, not just for running but in general and for my mental sanity. I enjoy lifting weights. It’s not running, but it’s the next best thing right now. I detest cardio machines and think the best way for me to spend my non-running time will be doing something I love, not desperately slogging away on a machine in the hope that my fitness won’t decline (that ship has sailed anyway). Plus one of my gym days is going to include some strength-based cardio, like my own version of Body Pump, where I’ll use high reps and low weights to get my heart rate going but keeping things interesting. The other days will be focused on my legs & glutes, shoulders & arms and back & chest. Though I’m just seeing how it goes and what I fancy doing right now.

Basically I’m feeling more happy about things. I hope I haven’t droned on too much about not running… Onwards and upwards to a more positive place!

How was your weekend? Any Halloween events?

When you go to the gym, what do you focus on? Cardio or weights?

Do you watch Vlogs? Any recommendations?

Rants and Raves #22

I can’t believe how quickly October is flying by! It’s almost Halloween – I thought that was ages away until I realised I had a Halloween party this weekend and didn’t have a costume… Anyway, here are my latest rants and raves.

Rave: I forgot to mention in my post about my trip to Wales that I got ID’ed for entering one of the beer tents at the Food Festival!! This made my day. I’m only 27 so really this ins’t that big a feat but in my head I believe she thought I was under 18 😉 Bahaha!

Rant: Since realising how close Halloween actually is I’ve just bought a costume for parkrun. I have no idea if I will be able to actually wear it to run in though and I’m thinking it will be too cold to stand and marshal in. *Sighs* Well it’ll do for the Halloween party anyway on Saturday night so it’s not a complete waste… I also bought a (very cheap) costume for Alfie as well. “Costume” sounds quite elaborate, but it’s really more of a jumper. If I can’t run and wear my outfit then Alfie will be coming to parkrun again and will be wearing his. He doesn’t know it yet 😉 I reeeeeaaaalllllly wanted this one but they didn’t do his small doggie size.

Halloween dog costume

Plus I’m pretty sure he’d pack his little bags and leave if I attempted to put him in that (but how cute, seriously??).

Rave: These little chocolate cupcakes are so scrummy!

Salted caramel chocolate

I wish I’d bought more from the sweet shop in Wales. The salted caramel one was to die for.

Rant: DNS’ing the same races I’ve DNS’ed for the past two years. How weird is that? I’ve now been injured at this point in the year three years in a row. It’s getting a little silly now. I wouldn’t have signed up so far in advance but these are really popular local (and cheap) races. Who was I to know Bournemouth would cause me such an issue? (Probably every other sensible runner in the world who suspected I was running too many marathons too close together…).

I’m desperate to run the Gosport Half marathon (in a few weeks time) as it’s literally where my parents live and where I’ve done so many long runs before. It goes along the coast and has the view of the Isle of Wight, which is rather nice. But it seems this one, as with the Lordshill 10 mile this weekend, it’s not meant to be.

Rave: I’ve entered the Chester marathon for next autumn. I know, I know. So far away but it was cheaper to enter now than to wait and I like having things down in the diary.

Chester marathon

I was tempted to do Bournemouth again as it was such a disaster for me this year, but marathons aren’t like 5ks or 10ks that can just do at a drop of a hat and I want to do lots of different ones rather than revisit the same ones. Chester was voted as the UK’s number one road marathon by Runners’ World in 2012 and 2013 so should be good. I can also time it nicely with a trip to Shropshire with my grandparents and parents (that also means more parkrun tourism, wheee!).

But next year I will not cluster marathons together either and ensure I have proper breaks afterwards. Oh the wise words of an injured runner…

Rave: I signed up to Tribe Pack to test out their snack boxes.

Tribe Pack

The concept is like graze where you get a box of snacks delivered weekly/monthly/etc. and it’s a surprise what you get. The range of snacks include things like seeds, dried fruit, cereal/protein bars, etc. all made by Tribe. In a box you get two bars, two trail mixes, a ‘discover’ snack and a Tribe Life magazine. My box contained Tamari Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin,  hulled hemp and chia seeds and tamari), Tumba trail mix (pumpkin seeds, almonds, organic goji, toasted coconut), Organic Mountain Berries (sour cherry, raisin, goldenberry, goji, aronia, barberry & wild blueberry) and a Baobab bar (superfruit energy bar) and a Wild Apricot, Pecan & Lucuma bar.


Use the referral code TRIBE42383 which will get you a pack like I got for £1 (I would also get my next Tribe Pack for free).

Rant: Still no running. I could go on and on (as you can imagine). I had an extremely deep and painful massage on Monday though which I’m still feeling the effects of so I really can’t judge. The person I saw said try in a week but I won’t unless it feels absolutely fine walking, which at the moment it (intermittently) doesn’t.

Rave: I’m hoping to see Spectre tonight. And I have six free cinema tickets from my bank as part of the bonuses I get with my account. I foresee lots of film trips happening… I’m actually not a huge James Bond fan but the film does look good and I feel like I need to see it because I’ve seen so many of the others. Plus, Daniel Craig. And Nandos.

Rave: When I was in Wales I bought myself a pack of four pastry forks.

Pastry forks

Basically they’re little forks with a sharp edge that you use to eat cake. As a regular cake eater I thought it would be nice to have the proper utensils to fully enjoy the experience. I’ll be keeping one in my handbag at all times of course.

What are your rants and raves of late?

James Bond: yes or no? Who was the best Bond? I like Daniel Craig. Less cheese but still a lot of smooth moves.

Are you doing anything for Halloween? Any costumes?

Current injury status

Yep so I’m still injured. I really only have myself to blame for this as I consciously made the decision to finish the Bournemouth marathon, despite being in pain.

At around 16 miles I chose to carry on despite my race now becoming a run, stop, stretch, walk repeat affair. I was in pain – not a niggle, not a discomfort – genuine pain, to the point that I had to stop running and walk the entire last two miles as the pain was far too much.

Having suffered with the dreaded IT band injury before I’m well aware of the timelines of these sort of things. Last year I took off a total of six weeks – though not all of those weeks were because of the injury. I decided to not start running again until I was mentally ready, not just physically ready, because I was fed up of the continuous injury cycle. I’m pretty sure it was four weeks though before I was entirely pain-free and discomfort-free.

My current injury is pretty much following the same pattern. I remember feeling the same pain, even two weeks later. What’s frustrating is that towards the beginning and middle of last week it was really improving, but then a sharp trapped-nerve like pain began sporadically when I walked (I remember this pain as similar to last year around the same time as well). I haven’t tried running and I’ve kept away from cardio apart from a few bursts on the bike… I wonder if that might have niggled it further but it genuinely felt fine during and after. So I’m just holding my nerve and not panicking as I know I could be in for two more weeks of not running.

I had some swelling after the marathon which has gone down a lot, but there’s still a slight puffiness to the area where the IT band joins in the knee.  Basically I just need to get rid of the last inflammation and keep stretching it.

Gym-wise I can carry on with what I was doing which I’m glad about. Squats and deadlifts feel absolutely fine, though I’ve gone down a few Kgs in weight for the squats to be cautious. And I’m avoiding anything like the elliptical machine or stepper to avoid unnecessarily aggregating things.

I know I’m going to lose running fitness but I’m not bothered. Yep that’s 100% truthful. This year I achieved more than I thought I would and I had no real goals for after Bournemouth anyway (until next year anyway). Perhaps my only annoyance is that there’s a 10 mile in a few weeks time that I would have liked to have raced as I’ve never had a good 10 miler but I’ve conceded defeat. Taking that out of the equation also takes off any pressure to try and start running too soon.

Really though it’s the mental side of things I’m struggling with. The need to get outside and just run. To feel the freedom of outside, the fresh air and the mental freshness I get when I run. And I miss the social side of training runs with my club and running at parkrun. Of course I can still volunteer at parkrun but it’s not the same. You’re on the sidelines watching everyone do what you’d love to be doing. But the weeks will pass and my leg will heal.

What went wrong? Well, I don’t think you can ever know for sure but it was probably down to not following simple injury-prevention strategies. I’m so angry at myself. I was so smug about going to the gym and strength training that I forgot the other side of things as well. I’m an injury-prone runner and can’t neglect the basics of stretching and foam rolling.

I can’t remember the last time I foam rolled before the injury. I used to be really good at it. Sure for some people they don’t need to do it, but for me I know I do. I need to do everything I can to lessen the impact of running on my body. And going to the gym and lifting heavy weights and then running on tight and sore muscles is stupid for me. Other people can get away with these things, but I certainly can’t.

It’s funny because though I’ve been running properly (I don’t count my treadmill years) for over three years now and I’m still learning lessons. I just hope that I can stop making such simple mistakes in the future. For now though I’ll continue to go to the gym and enjoying my strength training, trying not to focus on how much I’d just love to run right now.

Do you foam roll regularly?

What exercise mistakes have you made in the past?

What injuries have you suffered?

Injury update and the plank challenge continues

Hey guys. Well I certainly feel more positive now.

I saw my physio yesterday and she checked my knee out, bending and moving it, watching me squat and walk on the spot. Thankfully there’s no structural damage. Whew! Apparently my knee cap is moving slightly to one side when I bend it and this causes friction and discomfort.

She massaged my leg and then ultra sounded the affected area to treat the inflammation. She said I was definitely doing the right thing not doing the marathon. It’s a huge undertaking on a healthy body, let alone one that’s a big niggly like mine at the moment. But she said I should be fine for the Paris marathon. In fact she was very confident I’d be more than OK by January.

I’m going back to her next week for another session and she told me not to run in the meantime. To be honest, I am so focused on repairing myself and wanting to do well next year that I’m OK with that. Yes it’s rubbish, but I’ve got the bigger picture in my mind.

I am fully aware that when I properly getting back into running in January I will be slower. Long runs will be harder. But I have a base fitness and muscle memory, which I will try and maintain through regularly rowing, bike work and lots of strength training. Let’s be honest, I have years ahead of me to work on PBs 😉

It doesn't always work out


The plank challenge is getting very real over here. I am now able to do a 5min 15second plank. I can’t even believe it!! I now have to have music to get me through. I made Ben film me as I was convinced people (my fellow plank challengers at work) wouldn’t believe me. I probably won’t put that on the blog as, let’s be honest, it’s a pretty boring video!! Ben got a bit narked just sat there filming as well haha.

He did get on board though and did a 2min 30second plank as well. I am seriously impressed.

Amazingly my dad also attempted the plank challenge. Bless him, he’s not fit at all and has continually battled with his weight. So imagine my surprise when he managed a full one minute plank!!

Dad plank

I’m so proud of him. He said he felt muscles working that he didn’t even know he had!

And in the spirit of November almost at an end…here is what my lovely husband currently looks like with his Movember attempt.

Ben's Movember

Yep, that’s the man I married and love. The Mexican porn star lookalike. God help me.

Physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor – have you seen any? Technically my physio is an osteopath, I fully trust her opinion and guidance and she knows my running history.

Has anyone you know been affected by the Movember epidemic? I can’t wait for December…

Have you take time off running or a specific exercise what was it like getting back into it?