Gradually does it – a comeback?

Time for another update on what’s been going on recently with my knee.

So the last you heard on the blog was that I was getting some solid advice from Steve Bonthrone (Twitter: @pt_steveb) and I was planning another run.

Well, I attempted three miles after such a good week with my knee and it sort of blipped a bit and niggled a lot afterwards. I had a mini-meltdown (it was long-time coming to be honest). But after some ugly crying, I got a grip and re-assessed the situation (this was entirely down to some level-headed talking to from Kyle and my parents – I take no credit here in any rational arguments of the situation).

Essentially, what I assumed was a gradual comebackin my head was skewed with what “gradual” actually means to me. Three miles is not a wise move to attempt as a way to test my knee. I must remember I’m not the Anna fresh from marathon season with all the miles in my legs. With the time off I’ve had from running (10 weeks before I attempted to get back into things over Christmas) my body is no longer used to running. Trying to jump back in with what I consider to be short runs didn’t work because, no shit Anna, three miles is no longer a short run for me.

So I scaled it back, on Steve’s advice, and tried one single mile instead when my knee felt good again. The mile went fine. Afterwards it was much better so I felt very encouraged.

Two days later (Thursday) I tried two miles. Again it felt fine during the run. Afterwards it ached a bit and the next day (today) it aches a little. But it hasn’t got terribly worse and in general things feel OK. While this, I guess, is good news, I can’t get excited too quickly because my knee still isn’t as good as the other knee.

The thing is, I work in absolutes in my brain. Is my knee GOOD or is my knee BAD? There’s no in-between. However, there is in reality. I want a run to feel perfect or I want a run to feel rubbish. I can work that out in my brain how to feel then. But having the run feel good but still my knee is niggly or a bit achy after… what do I think?

I know my brain is over-analysing and over-thinking and I’m expecting too much from my comeback, so basically I need to CHILL OUT. The fact that running itself is feeling OK is a win, and unless it suddenly feels painful I think I can take it as a positive and continue building (G.R.A.D.U.A.L.L.Y) the miles up with no issues I’ll be OK.

So my plan is to continue with the good stuff Steve has advised me to do, the rehab I do at the gym and being less hyper-critical on how things feel. I’m hoping to attempt a gentle three mile parkrun tomorrow. If things continue with as they have been next week will be something similar… no sudden jump ups in mileage. Sensible Anna is back in town.

What’s a short run for you?

Do you ever have melt-downs? I’m a very emotional person it seems!

Knee update

I’ve been fairly quiet on the old blog recently due to the obvious matter of not doing much running as of late. I probably owe you guys a bit of an explanation of where I’m at with that (if you care!).

So post-Chicago Marathon I had a full nine weeks off of running due to my knee giving me a lot of grief. Grief when I walked, grief when I would bend down and even grief just lying prone in my bed. After a few physio appointments with different people, different diagnoses, a clear MRI (“structurally perfect”  apparently), lots of rest… it did eventually get better. Better in terms of daily life mostly. Bending my knee completely was still super stiff and uncomfortable, but walking was fine. Running? Nope.

After lots of trial and error, advice from people with more brain cells than me, and Internet searching, I found some good rehab exercises to get my affected leg stronger. As it had been quite a while that I had been feeling discomfort my brain and muscles were now protecting the movement on that side and had consequently those muscles had weakened. I added lots of single leg strength exercises several times a week to get it back up to strength.

Previously these exercises would be too painful to do. Now they were fine (rest does help, imagine that!). And the difference between the two legs was obvious. I mean I’d clearly done a good amount of strength on my left leg post-hamstring issue before Chicago and my poor right leg was now lagging behind. Ah injuries, don’t we love them and their patterns? So this time I worked both legs consistently (slow clap for Anna).

The good days of my leg were now outweighing the bad days. Things were looking up. And perfectly in time for the Christmas parkrun. Not wanting to ruin anyone’s Christmas (or just annoy people in general) I decided to do my first run BEFORE the parkrun so if it went badly I could skip the parkrun and just enjoy Christmas, rather than it potentially go badly and then feel a bit pants about it. However, both runs (easy 5ks) seem to go quite well.

The trouble was afterwards. My knee felt very niggly, grumpy and tight. It was like taking a step back from where I had previously been. I foam rolled, I iced (does any of that ever work? Mentally I needed to do something) and it slooowly got better again but reluctantly. Frustrating.

During this time of year it seems every runner is doing something (races, festive parkruns, 12 Days of Christmas running bonanzas, etc.). It can be mentally very difficult to be injured at this time. You want to join in, you want to be out there running along looking like a pilock in your Santa’s hat. It’s a great time to run as well because you’re so well fuelled from all the chocolate, mince pies and festive treats 😉

And being the stubborn idiot I am, as soon as my knee felt reasonably better, I tried another run. During the run I knew it wasn’t working. It didn’t hurt per se but you know when a run feels crappy. Something wasn’t right. My knee felt off and like at any moment it would start to hurt.

This entire injury period (and my hamstring too) I’ve felt like I’ve been very controlled and not done stupid stuff that Past Anna might have done. But here I regressed. I ignored my family saying wait a bit longer, I ignored Kyle asking what the rush was. And I ignored that my knee wasn’t feel super great. I just wanted to get out there and be part of that world again. And of course I made things worse.

So here I am, almost two weeks from that last run. I’ve been sensible, consistent with my rehab and not pushed anything. I also had the very welcome and helpful advice from a friend on Twitter (the super Steve Bonthrone: @pt_steveb) who gave up over half an hour of his time on a Saturday to video call with me.

He gave me such good advice, talked through my issues and gave me some new exercises and stretches. And things have gotten so much better. To the point I don’t realise anything is different with my knee until I try and bend it very firmly or crouch down and put a lot of pressure on my knee (I avoid this obviously). I’ve also taped up my knee using KT tape (and the help of Kyle and a YouTube video).

I need to bite the bullet and try another run now. I feel strong, my knee feels stable and good and mentally I need to test it. It feels so much better than it did before the other runs. But I feel so scared and worried it’ll regress. It’s so difficult to know when to start again. I hope I’m making the right decision. Finger’s crossed.

Do you find icing or foam rolling helpful when you’re injured?

Do you ever use tape for injuries?

Things I’m loving – December

Christmas is ALMOST here. I cannot wait. We have our work Christmas do tonight, Kyle and I have a day off tomorrow and we’re seeing Star Wars. Things are pretty good!

I thought I’d do a quick run down of some things in December I’ve been enjoying.

I was recently sent two items from the website Born Tough to review. A pair of tracksuit bottoms and a matching jacket.

I went for the rose colour which I think is really subtle and pretty. The fabrics are super soft, stretchy and fit nicely. The material is relatively thick. I went for medium as I was advised that the sizing runs quite small. They fit perfectly. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of matching items but actually I quite liked how this looked when I put them both on.

The jogging bottoms are high waisted with a draw-string waist and have contoured markings on them to sort of enhance your assets.

I like the jacket’s thumb holes too.

All in all I lovely set!

I would wear when mooching around the house as well as going to the gym (the bottoms are very squattable and easy to move about it). They’re super comfy and flattering – and not a bad price at all!

I’ve also been loving my birthday cake flavoured tea from Bird and Blend.

It’s verrry subtle but delicious. It’s basically a rooibos tea with a hint of vanilla-y sweetness. I’ve been using my mum’s David’s Tea mug to brew it which is super handy. It has a tea strainer sieve thing that sits on top to let the tea leaves move around and brew.

I’ve actually nicked the mug from her so she won’t be getting that back now 😉 She doesn’t even use it so it’s fair game in my opinion.

I’ve also recently being wearing my new trainers, the Hoka Arahi’s.

They’re super cushioned and bouncy. They do take a bit of getting used to but so far I’m pleased with them.

I’ll be testing them out soon for a… run. Yep. An actual real-life run will be happening soon. I’ve been working hard at the gym on my single leg strength and rehabbing like a pro (well I hope I have anyway) and things are feeling A LOT better. Whether that translates to a successful pain-free run, WHO KNOWS. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And on the subject of running… I was sent my Six Star certifcate from Abbott.

I have a digital copy and a very nice thick paper copy. I guess I should frame it or do something exciting with my medals but for the moment I’m just pleased to have it.

Anyway, I hope you lovely lot have a wonderful Christmas! Eat lots of food and enjoy yourself 🙂

What are your Christmas plans?

Have you ever tried Hokas?

What’s your favourite tea blend?

Full Disclaimer: I was sent the jogging bottoms and jacket for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

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.**