Not the weekend I had planned

My plan for this weekend was to go to Liverpool on Friday night.

One of my close friends has just moved from Brighton to Liverpool, which makes visiting a little trickier. Happily though I live very close to Southampton Airport and I found that flying to Manchester and then getting a train from there to Liverpool was the quickest way. Driving would take over 5 hours and the train was £150+.

So on Friday after work I headed to the airport (handily my parents dropped me off as they were off to do some late night shopping in West Quay nearby). I was looking forward to catching up with my friends and also squeezing in the Princes parkrun that is very close to her house.

However, after being delayed the airline then announced that the flight was cancelled. Oh. And the next flight wasn’t until 8.50pm, which I’d be lucky to get on considering the great stampede of disgruntled customers to the customer services and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a train from Manchester at the other side later that night. So in the end I cancelled the trip. It was really disappointing but we’re going to try again to catch up at some point. My parents were able to swing by and pick me up after their shopping, which was so handy! And I’ll apparently be refunded AND compensated for my cancelled flight, so there’s a silver lining at least.

On Saturday morning I met Kyle, his brother, his sister and his mum (who would be supporting, not running) to do parkrun at Portsmouth Lakeside instead. Because I wanted to still be cautious of my calf post-niggle, I decided to take it easier. I wasn’t in the right mindset to push the pace too much anyway so I was happy for a slightly faster than gentle amble round.

Kyle shot off and I was content to run on my own and concentrate on how my leg was feeling. Hmmm, not 100%. I tried not to let it bother me – i.e. not go into full Anna Panic Mode. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t feeling as good as it had during the week. Maybe because I was going faster than I’d run then? I don’t know.

Our friend Connor was also running so there were a good few people to smile and wave at as we went round. There are a few out and backs so you can see where people are through the run. Kyle was far ahead and I wondered how fast he’d do it in. He’s very much going for the shorter distances and I’m almost certain he’ll be hitting a sub-20 parkrun soon.

I finished in 22:53 which was good for an easier run. I didn’t feel like it was too much of an effort. Kyle finished first out of us, then Connor, then Zack, Kyle’s brother, then Lucy, his sister, followed by Connor’s girlfriend. Everyone but me managed a PB. I was made up for Kyle who got an incredible time of 20:31! Though I did say he looked far too comfortable and happy when I first saw him just after the first mile… ūüėČ He has more to give!

Kyle, his family and I then headed to Harvester for one of their epic breakfasts – the “All In”. This is basically all you can eat. You can have up to FIVE of each item – including unlimited toast and cold and hot drinks. I forwent the chips (!!) and hash browns and stuck with the modest portion (ha!) of four sausages, three bits of bacon, three eggs, two black puddings, beans, two tomatoes, two mushrooms, a slice of toast and a breakfast muffin.

The toast was done by one of those self-service conveyor oven things. I got it wrong by putting in my slice of bread twice as I wanted it a bit more toasted. Proper charred bread – which Kyle’s mum said she’d eat as she loved burnt toast. WHAT?! This blew my mind.

Afterwards I headed home and got loads of little annoying, niggling little jobs done and felt very productive. Kyle popped over later and we enjoyed a cheeky takeaway and an evening watching You, which we’re really enjoying. It’s creepy but absorbing.

The next morning Kyle and I were going to do eight miles together but after my calf felt a little niggly during parkrun I reverted back to my paranoid runner state. Instead we headed out for four miles. Kyle had just bought himself a Garmin 235. He had previously relied on his Apple Watch and using Strava and after Strava had cut off his run for some reason the day before he decided to push the boat out and treat himself. I’m still amazed by the fact that he ordered it in the afternoon and by 8pm he had it. The wonders of Amazon Prime eh!

It was so windy! Though it was lovely and sunny, that wind was both strong and very cold. I kept the route as much away from the seafront as possible to avoid too much blowing about. Though we did stop to take a photo on the small section we went along. Such a beautiful day.

My leg was feeling good so we decided to make it up to five miles. Nice and easy. I was sad not to have done eight but I’m happy that I was sensible (OK this did not come that naturally to me. It took a bit of Kyle talking to me to make me see sense…).

So not quite the weekend I had planned in any way but still a lovely one.

Have you ever had a delayed flight?

What watch do you use for running?

Does anyone else like eating burnt toast??

My first run in two weeks

So my first run back after my niggle was successful.

My calf and hamstring felt fine during the run. I did 10k, which is probably a bit too far for a first run but I was fairly confident everything would feel OK and I had back-up plans to drop to 5k, or 4 miles, or 5 miles if things went pear shape. It just felt SO GOOD to be out again.

I felt a bit like a coiled spring ready to go as I got into it. Having done some bits on the elliptical machine I don’t think I’ve lost a great deal of general fitness (though of course sharper end parkrun speeds yes I will have – I’m OK with that) but I could tell my joints were like “oh hey ground”.

I then ran another 10k two days later and it felt even better. YAY. I just now need to monitor things and be sensible on this comeback. Obviously I want to run ALL THE MILES IMMEDIATELY but I know from experience this isn’t a great approach. Must remain calm and not get overexcited.

I have the Barcelona Marathon on 10th March. So I’m about 6.5 weeks away. As long as everything continues to go as it is and the niggle doesn’t spark up again or get worse I should be fine. I’m the queen of the inverse taper. As long as I can get one long long run in (ideally 18 miles, amongst some 14-16 milers) I think I’ll be OK. I have no great plans to smash myself to pieces. Instead I want to have an enjoyable run and a lovely holiday with Kyle. Five weeks later is the Manchester Marathon (why do I do this to myself?) so maybe I should aim for a faster (faster but not PB) time there? WHO KNOWS.

I also have the Marathon Talk annual Run Camp again in February which I’m excited about. What I’m not excited about is the lonnnnnnng drive up to the Peak District (no longer is it based at Sandy Balls, wahhh!), but happily I’m driving up with a friend. Lots of lovely MT friends and I’m sure some new ones too.

I’m excited to see a different run camp location. Sandy Balls was great but having done it four times now it was getting a little samey. Plus the Peak District is just beautiful so it’ll be nice to run there. And do the Bakewell parkrun. As someone who adores cake (had you noticed…?) I think this is just fitting.

So lots of good running-related stuff to look forward to. But I’ll whisper that quietly in case the running god decides to smite me down again…

How do you come back after an injury?

Have you done either Barcelona or Manchester Marathon before?

Have you ever been to the Peak District?

A non-running update

So I haven’t been running for about two weeks.

It actually hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Of course I’ve missed it. I’ve missed my lunchtime runs with Kyle, my parkrunning at the weekend and the lovely long runs on a Saturday. It has been sad in that respect.

I had a hard week last week with my granddad not being very well. My parents dashed up to see him in North Wales, while I had to stay behind to look after all the dogs. It was hard only knowing what was happening through phone calls and WhatsApp but there wasn’t much else I could do sadly. He’s such a strong man (he’s on Strava regularly walking and cycling!) and very competitive and strong-willed, so it was upsetting to have things change so suddenly. But because he is so strong-willed I really hope that he can pull through and get back to a relative normal.

Running would have been a great way to kill off some tension and stress, but I had to remain sensible and not make the niggle worse. Instead I was rather over-sensitive and delicate through the week – tough for all those around me I’m sure!

But with regards to the niggle, I’d rather take a bit of time now rather than have that insidious injury cycle that I’ve known far too well in my time. Instead I went to the gym a couple of times after work and the weekend to use the elliptical machine while watching Roma on my phone (a slow, black and white foreign film. Very good but I’m glad I watched it in a place of limited distractions).

What is my niggle exactly? I’m not sure but I know I’ve had something similar before. I’m almost certain it’s to do with my hamstring which has always had a weakness and why I can no longer do heavy deadlifts, It causes my calf to become quite uncomfortable and stiff, and can even make my foot feel a bit off. It’s like a nerve thing rather than a muscle thing. It just takes time and TLC to calm it down, and luckily it pretty much has calmed down.

Kyle has been lovely and helped take my mind off of not being able to run. He even came to a gym class with my on Saturday. Normally I’d be missing parkrun and being a bit grumpy about that, but instead we had a lovely lie in until 10.30am! Though to be fair we had a very late night after watching Glass and then going to Red Dog Saloon for ribs and chicken wings.

We went to a midday circuits class. I love going to the circuits classes. Yes they are super hard and intense, but because you’re only doing one exercise for 50 seconds and then changing you can get through it. It’s so varied and there’s always a good atmosphere with the others in the class, I really do enjoy it.

It was Kyle’s first time going (and I won’t lie, probably his last!). Though he used to do a lot of strength training in the past with his brother, this was an entirely different kettle of fish. Without sounding awfully patronising, he did really well. But he was a little broken afterwards (and a day or so later too). It did make me feel somewhat good that I’ve conditioned myself to not find the classes ridiculously hard – I mean, I’d be pretty rubbish if I was destroyed after each class despite having gone for so many months now! Though I should probably look to challenge myself each class and push up the weights to make it harder…

So I’m going to attempt running today. My leg genuinely feels normal, so I’m feeling rather positive. But we will see. Fingers crossed.

How do you cope with not running?

Have you ever gotten your partner to run or do a workout with you?

What was the last film you went to the cinema to see?

Oh how I’ve changed

Running and I have come a long way. Not just in terms of PB’s or times or parkrun tourism…but in terms of how it affects my life and my views on it.

My yearly calf niggle has cropped up again. This always happens from time to time and to be fair I’ve had a good run (ha) of not having any issues so it was really only time before it happened again. I’ve done a lot recently – three marathons very close to each other. I can feel my body saying “can we please have a rest?”. I like to think I’m good at judging this, but clearly I need something to actually stop me. I’m good, but I’m not that good.

Of course I’m a bit bummed out – I love running. I do it frequently through the week and enjoy the freedom, the endorphins and the mental “ahhhh” I get from it. It makes me sad when suddenly I can’t run, or can’t run as much, and when things aren’t feeling as good as they felt before.

But that’s all – I’m bummed. I’m not distraught, or depressed, or feeling angry. I know this is my fault and I know I just need a bit of rest to clear it up. Time and TLC (tender loving cake? No?) and I’ll be back in no time. It’s a nice reset and refresh for my training if anything.

It did make me think though. There was a time when running was everything. Where getting injured literally ruined my week. I would become very down, very sad and everything else became tarred by the same darkness. Looking back I think this is because I was putting a lot of eggs into one basket. My happiness was quite dependent on my running. If I didn’t run, what else did I have?

Not to sound too pathetic, but a big part of my life was to do with running. I hated my job (the job before this one) and felt unfilled, lost and indifferent. I clearly didn’t have a marriage that was working (though at the time I kind of just ignored this, assumed all was well and didn’t question niggling doubts or feelings). I had my family and friends, but I was very focused on my running and became somewhat isolated in the relationship I was in. It wasn’t healthy.

Then when my marriage fell apart all I had to focus on was my running. Running would get me through the hard times. And it did. I love running for that. I was able to put a lot of emotion into it and use it to strengthen me mentally. It hugely helped and I’ll never regret that. The only problem is when you use running to make you strong, to keep you going and to enjoy life… when it’s taken away things become hard very quickly. What do I do with myself? How do I define myself? How can my body be so weak? Why have I failed?

I had no happy job to keep me focused. A lot of my friends are runners. My whole social media was just about running. My spare time was about running.

Today things are a lot different. Of course I still love running. It’s a huge part of my life. It makes me very happy and I love doing it. It’s one of the reasons Kyle and I got together – it brought us a closer than just talking in the office at work. I hope to always have running. But the difference is, I have so much more to me now than just running.

I have a great boyfriend. I have a fantastic job I enjoy. I love the gym and pushing myself there – the strength gains and being one of the best in circuits class some days. I still have running friends but I also spend quality time with non-running friends – and the close running friends I have are always there for me with or without running. I use social media for more than just talking about running (heyyyy Instagram food accounts). I don’t define myself by my running. It doesn’t control my happiness.

So yeah, I have a niggle. But hey, so what?

Is running a big part of your life?

What’s a niggle you always seem to get?

I’m a rubbish runner

“I’m a rubbish runner”. Not matter how many marathons I run, how many miles I clock and how fast I can do a parkrun, I always have this thought swirling around in my brain periodically.

I seem to live life perpetually disappointed in myself with running. I love running. It’s part of who I am. I believe I will always run, as long as I’m able. Whether I will always run marathons I don’t know – but for the moment, I love them and will continue signing up to them (notice I say “signing up” and not running, because signing up to a marathon does mean I will in fact run it).

So why am I disappointed? Ehhh. Despite loving running, running doesn’t love me. It plays a cruel game with me where I run well for a period of time, lulled into a sense of false security, then BOOM, injury will strike and I’m out of the game. I’m so fed up of this cycle.

I do a lot of strength training to keep myself strong. I go to the gym throughout the week and work on my glute strength, my legs and core. And don’t get me wrong, it has HUGELY helped me. I rarely seem to have niggly issues or full-blown injuries with my knees, hips or IT band. These have always plagued me in the past before doing any gym work. I was just limping from one niggle to the next. Always trying to foam roll away the niggly pains I’d get on a weekly basis.

But I still get hit with injuries that I don’t know how to deal with and strength training hasn’t seemed to helped. For example, my left calf has always caused me issues when I get into higher mileage. It’s also very sensitive to changes in footwear it seems. People have advised calf raises, but actually my calf strength is good (as tested by different physios) and doing calf raises only tightens my muscles further. It’s possibly something due to having fairly flat feet, or something else bio-mechanically “wrong” with me.

And then my hamstring. Since before the Boston Marathon it’s been bugging me on and off. It doesn’t hugely affect my running thankfully (though I’ll occasionally feel it crop up towards the end of long runs)… until I do something stupid like attempt deadlifting at the gym and ignore the signals of my body telling me “erm, maybe don’t do that?”.

Thankfully it seems my injury woes have subsided for the moment (*touch wood*) and I’m gradually making my way back into¬† running again. I’ve been sensible and taken things slowly and not jumped back into running too often. I worry a little how Marathon Talk Run Camp will go this weekend… but I’m confident I can take things easy and not be too tempted to do too much. Who knows though.

So back to being a rubbish runner. These feelings are both down to the frustration and disappointment I feel with myself for just not achieving what I’d like to achieve. And also down to that horrible, horrible thing called comparison. Seeing what other runners are doing… seeing them hit crazy high mileage… seeing them run every day, twice a day… I don’t care about times thankfully, but the sheer ability of being able to push my body to run as often as I want without issue. Entering races and not wondering if I’ll even make the start-line. Talking about upcoming marathons with the constant inclusion of “if I get there”. Because for me, I can never guarantee injury won’t strike.

I don’t think I’m a stupid runner. I don’t think I take risks. Yes I’ve done stupid things and yes some injuries have indeed been down to mistakes I’ve done. But I’ve since become a paranoid runner. A super careful runner. A runner who second-guesses every run I do, every pace I hit and every race I enter. Can I? Should I? Will I?

I’m sorry to vent so much and be such a bore. I know my injury woes can’t exactly be that enthralling and I can only apologise for not being as exciting as other runners out there smashing out all the miles. I only hope that a take-away from my blog can at least be that if you find yourself feeling rubbish, I’m here too feeling the same.

How often do you run?

Do you compare yourself to others?

Do you ever feel not good enough?