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?

Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Review

As I mentioned in a previous post, recovery is so important when it comes to training. For people who are, dare I say, a little obsessed with running and exercise (yes I fully include myself in that camp), we’re always after ways to get back to training as quickly as possible. There are no quick fixes obviously, not without becoming a full-time elite who has the beck and call of physios, dieticians, trainers, coaches, sponsors etc. etc., but there are small things that can make a difference and help us mere mortals out.

I’ve been sent the new Deep Heat Massage Roll-On to test out and I was quite intrigued by it. I’ve used the heat patches before and found them quite effective but as a one-time use thing, not exactly cost-effective. The gels and creams are all a bit messy… So a roll-on sounds perfect and travel-friendly!

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Deep Heat is used to ease and loosen muscles. This is a new format as it’s applied through a rollerball applicator. It’s a drug-free way of reducing muscle tension and DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness), increasing blood flow and without any stickiness. A key ingredient of the roll-on works by activating the TPRV1 receptors in our skin which alert the brain to a sudden change in temperature at the site of application. This can help realign muscle fibres and break down adhesions and scar tissue. Ideally it is to be used post-exercise or on injury-spots to help with rehab. You can even use it pre-exercise to help loosen muscles up ready to get going.IMG_8457

Thoughts? I really like this. The roller ball is great as it’s provides some good massage into niggly, difficult-to-get to areas (hello hips). Massaging with your hands is all well and good but having an actual ball thing is perfect. I often use a tennis ball to foam roll so this was a perfect for me. It was also perfect when my foot was niggling me.

It gives a gentle heat to the area and feels very similar to the cream. It has a light fragrance but definitely still smells like Deep Heat, though it’s not unpleasant. The lotion comes out very easily as you roll it onto yourself but my only qualm with it is if you want to really use it for massaging the area then they’ll be lots of lotion coming out. It makes the area of skin not sticky or greasy but just, well, covered in the lotion. I would then have to use my hands to massage it in a bit more. This isn’t that much of an issue as more massage isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s also very handy to take with you to races or pop in your gym bag.

The rollerball is available from Boots, Tesco and other pharmacies and supermarkets for £4.99.

Do you use Deep Heat?

Do you get regular sports massages?

Do you warm-up before exercise?

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

My first experience of reflexology

I had heard of reflexology but never actually had any sort of reflexology treatment before. In fact, what I knew about reflexology was quite sketchy. It’s a sort of holistic treatment? A massage? Relaxing? Those were my first thoughts.

When the Association of Reflexologists offered me a free treatment in exchange for an honest review I was intrigued and quite keen. Beforehand they sent over some information of what I was to expect, as really I had no idea.Aor_Logo_colour Greysale

Essentially it’s a non-intrusive complementary holistic therapy. It works on different points of the body, from the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears which are believed to correspond with different areas of the body. In a similar vein to acupuncture, reflexologists work these different points to influence the entire body, aiding relaxation and improve well-being.

A lovely lady, Jackie, from Calming Influences came to my flat to give me a 40 minute foot-focused treatment. She came with her own super comfy reclining chair, towels and choice of creams. She had a very calming presence (as you can imagine!) and talked me through what was going to happen. I apologised profusely for my runner’s feet of course 😉

She gently massaged my feet, while explaining different things to me. She gave me a foot map to have a look at while she worked. I found this fascinating. IMG_7739I found it quite hard to believe that a pressure in my toe could influence something like my hormones or sinuses, but it was interesting and so very relaxing. The massage was divine. I’m used to the hardness and pain of a sports massage so this was just wonderful. She would push on different areas, knead my feet gently and just generally massage them all over.

I’m not a big ‘believer’ in holistic therapies… However, I do believe that our body is a whole and that something from one area of the body can affect an entirely different area (my flat feet for instance can cause my back and knees issues, and studies have shown headaches can be caused by pressures elsewhere in the body, etc.). I’m also a fan of acupuncture and this is very similar.A0 Reflexology Body & Feet whiteAnyway, whether or not I was swayed by the logic or beliefs behind the treatment, it felt amazing. I was so relaxed and my whole body just chilled out. Jackie was fantastic and answered any questions I had and informed me when she found a ‘bumpy’ area which could reflect something else happening in my body. For example, the area reflecting my ears was bumpy, as was the area corresponding to my stomach. I can’t say I have any issues in those areas but it was interesting nonetheless.

I honestly could have fallen asleep but I was keen to stay awake and enjoy the treatment. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Normally I feel very awkward in massages but Jackie made me feel very at ease. After the treatment she encouraged me to drink lots of water through the day and that I might feel a bit ‘funny’. But for the rest of the day I felt great. I’d definitely have it again and I’ve recommended it to my mum who adores foot massages.

Have you ever tried reflexology?

Do you enjoy massages?

How do you relax?

**Full Disclaimer: I received a free reflexology treatment in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Cake (of course), champagne and a whole load of shopping

Other than cycling and swimming, the weekend was still a busy one. It started Friday night with Ben getting a sports massage from our local friendly sports therapist Kyle.

IMG_6729 I must say, there was an element of pleasure in watching my husband get a deep massage, rather than it being me this time! He bared up well – no major swear words or serious grimaces.

Then, after swimming and parkun on Saturday, we got ourselves nice and dapper ready for my mum’s birthday. What better way to celebrate than to take my parents for champagne afternoon tea?

We went to the fairly local MacDonald Botley Park hotel. Champagne afternoon tea It was very posh. We had little dainty sandwiches, two (two!) scones each and small dainty cakes. As I’ve had my fair share of afternoon tea and I feel I can judge these things quite well now 😉 I must say it was very nice. The scones were superb. Personally the cakes, though tasty, weren’t the best I’ve ever had. I much prefer a big slab of one particular cake rather than tiny portions of different cake (there was a chocolate coffee thing, slices of lemon poppy seed cake, plain sponge and fruit cake).

Can we just continue to talk about cake a moment? I’ve fallen off the wagon and into the dessert trolley it seems. My previous one week without cake only heightened my need for it. Things weren’t great last week.

Wagamama's dessertWell obviously they were great taste-wise, but not great for my sugar consumption!

I went to Wagamama’s with work friends and after feeling rather saintly (but still a tad hungry) after my chilli chicken salad and miso soup I was persuaded to look at the pudding menu – well, I hardly need persuading! This then resulted in two of us ordering a stupid amount of different puddings. It was being expensed by work and some people weren’t having pudding…so it all evened up. In the end I had the above chocolate fudge cake, half a white chocolate cheesecake, I had some coconut ice cream, raspberry ice cream and a try of the passion fruit cheesecake. Needless to say I felt a little full afterwards. It was rather funny to watch people’s faces as my work colleague and I demolished a table of puddings.

But I think I fully put to bed my incessant craving. Obviously I then had afternoon tea on Saturday but I’m in a good place now with my cake love – it’s manageable 😉 Though I did have a baking fail on Monday when I attempted to make a chocolate peanut butter brownie to take into work the next day.

Baking disasterI think it’s probably safe that I can’t really bake very well. Who knows how many cakes I’d try to make in a week otherwise? Dangerous for both bank account and waistline.

To be fair, after I scraped the burnt bits off it looked a little better. A bit of melted chocolate drizzled on top sort of livened it up as well. But cutting it the next morning was a proper arm workout. It was a brick, there’s no denying it.

But can I just say: there was none left on Tuesday evening. Not such a fail after all? Or maybe my office are that desperate for baked goods…

Jumping back to Sunday, Ben and me had a lot of shopping to get done. New trainers, new trail shoes, a tent (for our upcoming 24 hour race in June – I’m trying not to think about that right now), camping chairs and walking boots.

New trainers - Mizuno NirvanaWe both successfully got the new trainers (Mizuno Nirvanas for me). It’s funny because I went with the intention of changing from Mizuno’s as that’s what I’ve always had and I thought I might need a change. I’m a serious over-pronator so always have to go for a stability shoe. But out of all the ones I’d be advised to try and had a little run in, the Mizuno’s felt the best. Saucony’s felt very rigid and the Brooks were second best but just not as good.

We got the walking boots done and dusted too.

Walking boots These are for our upcoming trip to Snowdonia to see my grandad (who is a qualified British Mountain Guide and used to do crazy amounts of rock climbing, mountaineering, and still goes mountain biking and lots of walking – as well as the slightly less exciting golf ;-)). He’s taking us up Snowden (or at least pointing the way) so we needed to be prepared. We’re very excited!

And other than Monday’s cycling and Nando’s extravaganza, that’s pretty much it!

What’s been a recent baking fail for you?

Have you ever ordered more than one pudding off the menu? It felt so indulgent and extravagant!

Have you been hiking before? Anywhere nice?

Long weekend

I think I speak for most people…

Friday

And in the UK we have a Bank Holiday Monday. Woohoo, three day weekend! Well, four day weekend for me as I’m off today!

I have recovered somewhat from Sunday’s half marathon adventure…though my legs were hating me Monday morning. I did nothing on Monday in terms of fitness. Getting out of bed was hard enough! But Tuesday evening I thought I’d brave running club. I knew if I tried running on my own I’d really struggle with motivating myself from now just crawling along the pavement and having a nap in the gutter. It wouldn’t have been pretty.

So I ran the mile to running club at a nice and easy pace and was surprised that it wasn’t too bad. And as luck would have it it was an easy session because the club had a league run the next evening (ha! which I would not be going to – need a break from races for a few weeks!)

Anyway we did 5 x 1200m with 3-4 minutes recovery between each. I was faster than I expected! I was tailing behind the speedy bunch and ahead of the slightly slower bunch so I was all on me own running along which did kind of suck. But on the last lap the speedy bunch took pity on me and forced encouraged me to do a ‘snake’ lap with them (we run in a line, the last person then has to sprint past everyone to get to the front, and it continues like that until the end – there were 5 of us in total). I really appreciated the encouragement from the others so this worked a treat.

Then a two mile leisurely(ish) run home.

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Definitely wouldn’t have done that on my own I assure you!

This morning I had a one hour sports massage that I got through Groupon. Ahhh I love it. I hate it. It’s painful. It’s good. As well as my legs, the lady did my whole back and as she started I was like “pfft like I need my back doing – it’s my legs that are the issue”. Jeeze clearly I have back issues. It was PAINFUL. I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from screaming. I think it’s part of being British and maybe my personality that I don’t like showing pain or making noises of pain. When she asked how it was I could only squeak.

Now we’re off to Essex to visit Ben’s dad. We’re planning on engaging in a bit of Parkrun tourism by doing the Chelmsford one, and somehow manage a 10ish mile run around where Ben’s dad lives…errr I see trouble ahead. Or at least a phone call to Ben going something like this “Ben, I’m lost. Come pick me up please.”

Right, time to go!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sports massage: love it or hate it?

Are you OK with showing you’re in pain? Even when I stub my toe or something like that I don’t like showing I’m in pain. I get embarrassed.

How long does it take for you to recover from a race? I’m feeling pretty much back to normal now thankfully. Well, let’s see how the Parkrun goes I guess!

Do you run when you go away to different places? I love seeing new places this way but my navigation sucks.