Calf and running update

Let me first begin this with patting myself on the back for getting too cocky about running and basically jinxing myself. I’m well aware of the irony of my posts leading up to the calf niggle, believe me!

As always with niggles and injuries I was running so well. Then the calf became uncomfortable and my running took a nose dive. It’s one of those things. I can’t get too upset because I kind of knew my bubble of good running needed to burst at some point. I am after all still an injury prone runner.ASICSSo, the chain of events as far as I can see was that I changed trainers to ASICS after really enjoying a solid period of good running in my Adidas Supernovas. Both calves became super tight but I continued to run in them despite this and then decided, as they got worse, to quickly re-purchase the faithful Adidas again. But it appeared the damage was already done. This was during my time in Wales with my family and my calves felt tight on each run – the left more so.IMG_1697Then I ran the Portsmouth Marathon… calves not 100% but nothing terrible. Though speeding up at the end probably didn’t help things, nor did running so soon (and up a giant hill) a few days later.

I believe this is what we call a “dick move”. I only have myself to blame. My glorious period of amazing running convinced me I was a new woman and my legs didn’t need the normal recovery. And then the left calf became uncomfortable and no longer just simply tight. It felt “wrong” and almost painful in the back body of the calf muscle.

After a very uncomfortable Christmas Day parkrun where the calf was still unhappy, I took just over a week off. I ran on Wednesday of last week…still a bit grumpy but far better. Then I ran a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday (another dick move). It ached straight after the run on Sunday. A little panic ensued as I wondered, for the first time, if I could do Dubai (don’t get me wrong, I’d still go, I just wouldn’t run the marathon if I still felt the discomfort. I’ve run enough marathons now to care about DNS’s. I want to run long-term not just for a race. I’d enjoy my time in Dubai regardless).

I found a Physio nearby (South Physiotherapy Gosport – I can really recommend) and booked in for Wednesday. I planned on using the elliptical machine in place of running and my mind calmed and I felt quite chilled. Action plan in place. No point stressing. I know I can run a marathon as long as I’m not injured. I would just get rid of any time goals and hope to run an issue-free relaxed race.

By the time Wednesday rocked up my calf felt absolutely fine. I’d previously been feeling it when I walked Alfie or when I’d walk up stairs (pushing off from my toes caused it to feel very uncomfortable). To clarify things in my mind I decided instead of walking Alfie in the morning I’d run with him round the block (a mile). Firstly, Alfie thoroughly enjoyed himself! His very first whole mile of running – I’m so proud! And he only stopped once for a poo (necessary on his morning walk you see) and happily would have carried on after the mile. My calf? Absolutely fine. No discomfort. Now I felt silly.

I still went to the Physio appointment and explained the issue and the fact that it felt better now (who know show it would have felt after the single mile). The Physio examined it and got me doing lots of exercises. Then he massaged the area, cracked my back in different places, massaged my hamstring and did acupuncture all over my legs, glutes and back. He suspects I had a very mild calf sprain a few weeks ago (probably caused by the change in trainers tightening up my calves and then over-exerting my calf while it was still super tight).

He told me I could give attempt an easy run the next day (today). I’ve never had such a positive physio appointment. He was really thorough and super friendly. He also treats the RAF and Army – very cool.

So finger’s crossed for today’s run. The plan, if today’s run does indeed go well, is to run a gentle parkrun on Saturday and then run as normal the week after. No speedwork! In a perfect world I’d get a “long” run done the Sunday before I go to Dubai (21st – I go on the 22nd, the marathon is the 26th)… 10-13 miles maybe. Just to give me a bit of courage! But as long as I’m running discomfort-free I’m happy to crack on with the marathon.

Keep your fingers cross for me please!

Have trainers ever caused you an issue with running?

Do you calves ever get really tight? Mine are usually fine.

Have you ever had acupuncture?

Hamstring update and my upcoming holiday

I mentioned a while ago that I had booked to go on a fitness retreat to Spain. It’s next week!

I’m so excited. I haven’t been to Spain since I went when I was at school on a water sports holiday (why I chose that over skiing I’ll never know – I hate most water sports…). On a side note, that holiday was fairly amusing as I sleepwalked out of my tent when everyone but the teachers had gone to bed and had to be gently guided back to my bed. I only vaguely remembered the next day when one of the teachers mentioned it to me. Apparently I wanted to “get going” with the day. I’ve only sleepwalked a handful of times in my life, it’s not something I regularly do thankfully.

I have one of my close friend’s wedding to go to first on the Saturday. This was another case of Anna being an idiot and booking something without thinking. I completely forgot about the wedding when I signed up to the retreat. My flight is Sunday morning so it’s going to be a rather hideous wake-up post-wedding fun, especially considering the wedding is in Gloucester and I fly from Southampton. Thankfully my parents (who are amazing by the way) have offered to pick me up late Saturday evening and drive me home so I can get a bit merry without worrying about driving home again that evening.

Speaking of being an idiot, in true “Anna style” once again, I lost my confirmation email for my flight home from Spain and had to buy the damn thing again. I know I paid for it because it’s on my credit card bill (I booked way back in February). But I have no idea what airline or time or anything. It’s a rather cryptic credit card reference but after Googling it (as you do) I found out it was an Expedia booking… however, I have no history on my Expedia account of that booked flight. *Sighs* It’s a mystery only I could create. I did try ringing British Airways (as I’m pretty sure it was them that I booked with, through Expedia) but they didn’t have me down in their info. So I rebooked the bloody flight (costing exactly the same amount as it had before – confirming to my brain I had indeed bought the flight in Feb). Luckily it was rather cheap at £57, though not that cheap when you buy it twice. I need to hire an adult to look after my affairs, I just can’t be trusted.

BUT ANYWAY. My passport, this time, has happily not found it’s way into the washing machine (but give me time, I still have a few days to royally muck this up somehow). So I was going to discuss my hamstring a bit. It rather amuses me that this began as a very insignificant niggle that has now stretched on for quite a long time. Thankfully though I haven’t been depressed or stressed about it. But with this fitness retreat holiday on the horizon I do want to be as healthy as I can so I can join in with everything. Though I actually don’t know what “everything” is yet. It’s not running-focused, of which I’m glad about, but more to do with strength and nutrition. Apparently they also have the largest obstacle course in Europe there so I am SUPER excited about that.

I digress. My hamstring. I’ve had some really decent massages on it which have certainly helped loosen it up and improve the generally feel, but after a few days it goes back to feeling rather crumby. Running is uncomfortable, though not painful. It just makes it an unenjoyable experience with my mind constantly going “is it OK? Is it worse? Can I speed up? Should I slow down?”. My overthinking brain goes 100,000 miles an hour when all I really want is a relaxed run thinking about nothing.

I went to my physio to get it looked at because I was so clueless. I stopped doing all lower body exercises in the gym and I’ve reduced my running to one run a week (parkrun) and still it doesn’t improve. It doesn’t feel worse after running – should I continue?? I didn’t know.

I saw my physio (another standard Anna moment: I got my time wrong and arrived an hour early…thankfully he was free and slotted me in). He assessed everything down to how I stood, bent over, sat, my feet, my back, my hips, etc. Apparently my sacrum and pelvis were tilted towards one side and this could be causing my hamstring to be overworked. This would make sense as to why massage helped the symptoms but didn’t stop the cause, and so it would re-stress the hamstring again a few days later causing the discomfort again. He worked on these areas and ‘readjusted’ me. He then went through a load of exercises I need to do every day in order to stop it happening again. Ultimately it’s probably down to my flat footedness (isn’t it always?). So the exercises will keep my pelvis from re-tilting and will also help strengthen my feet arches. He videoed me doing them so I could remember the exact moves later on.image

He also lent me some handy wedges to help support my feet while I do these exercises to stop my arches falling. I won’t go through everything because it’s all rather dull (unless you’re me). But I’m happy to finally have some answers. I just hope it works! There are about four exercises I need to do each day (twice a day_ and though that sounds rather a lot, the exercises are actually very simple and easy to do (though the one above is the most complicated, requiring me to do about four things at once – hence my concentration on my face).

My hamstring feels generally better (he did also massage the area as well), though I’m still aware it’s not 100%. However, I’m wondering if I’m hyper sensitive to that area now and expecting it to be suddenly perfect right away is probably a bit optimistic. But he said I could start building up my running again and also continue with gym things – though deadlifts I should still avoid while I can “feel” the area. I feel happy now going to Spain Smile

Huge waffling post sorry!

Have you ever been given exercises by a physio?

Do you have flat feet, or ‘normal’ feet or high arches?

Have you ever been to Spain?

Calabrian preserves and running update

Right, before I get into any injury and running talk… I have a lovely little review of some Calabrian preserves.

I was sent a trio of typical Calabrian preserves from Artimondo.

The delicacies are produced by Sirianni, a family business founded by Agostino Sirianni in 1999 and located in Cittanova, a small hamlet in the province of Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Calabrian Preserves

The trio consists of (from left to right in the photo) Spilinga ‘Nduja sausage spread, Tropea red onion jam  and a black olive paté.

Spilinga ‘Nduja Sausage Spread

“‘Nduja is the most typical and traditional culinary delicacy of Calabria, Southern Italy. Its name comes from “andouille”, the French word for sausage, and it consists in a very soft sausage, so tender that it can be spread. Its unmistakable flavour is vigorous and piquant.Source

I made the mistake of putting a big blob on a teaspoon to try it out before using it in anything. MISTAKE. It is ridiculously spicy. Spicy in a nice aromatic way though. It’s lovely and flavoursome. I jazzed up some rather boring courgette spaghetti (courgetti – I hate pasta). I made sure to tame it down with a bit of cream cheese though as it was quite spicy. It’s apparently very good on bread and pizza (and of course regular pasta!).

Tropea Red Onion Jam

This is Italy’s answer to onion marmalade I think. It is SO good. I’m loving it. It’s lovely and sweet but does have a slight bitter twang to it, which adds to the flavour. It’s advised to have with grilled meats and mature cheese, so very much like a chutney on a cheese board or a ploughmans.TROPEA RED ONION JAM

To be honest, I’ve just been throwing it into stir fries and salads. It goes especially well with grated parmesan cheese (chicken, the jam and parmesan = SO GOOD). I have such a sweet tooth and love the savoury-sweet combo so this just rocks my world.

Black Olive Paté

I was a little confused about this one. It’s apparently a black olive paté… but I couldn’t see any black olives. And it didn’t seem like any paté I’m familiar with! It was more like an olive pesto. Again, it’s ideal for topping bread, pasta and pizza. I added it to courgetti again.Black olive pate

There’s a lot of oil in it but it’s so flavoursome and mixes really well with the ‘pasta’. It is quite spicy but not crazily so.IMG_5666

It went very nicely with tilapia (a white fish) and chicken as well. If you don’t like olives, you won’t like it as the olive flavour is very strong. I love the taste of olives so this really worked for me.

All three jars are £14.96 (inc. P&P anywhere in the UK). A nice addition to a meal 🙂

Now on to my run on Wednesday evening… I ran at an easy pace for three miles. In general it was quite tough. I’ve lost a lot of fitness and as I haven’t done any cardio (bar a few minutes of warming up before my strength workouts) or running for 6.5 weeks. That said, I didn’t need to walk and I wasn’t hugely struggling. Just the slower pace I was running was a lot harder than it used to be.

In terms of my knee and leg? Well to begin with everything felt creaky. Everything felt absolutely fine but as the run continued I just felt a bit off: tight and stiff, and towards the end a bit of discomfort cropped up. It left me feeling a bit unsure about how it went.

Post run thoughts

I was disappointed, I won’t lie. I felt 98% fine before the run so I thought that would translate into the run perfectly. Yes I know, rather naive! I got a bit grumpy and fell into a bit of a well of despair thinking I’d regressed. After the run my leg did feel worse than before but there was no pain, just tightness and discomfort. A niggly, slightly tender feeling basically. Though I was pleased to find walking downstairs caused no issue other than a bit of discomfort. Walking down stairs was the one thing when my injury was bad that would always hurt and cause me grief so the fact that stairs are no issue gave me hope.

I saw my physio the next day and he calmed me down. He said that the fact I felt no pain during or after was a very good sign. He said it was to be expected that it would feel uncomfortable and niggly. He worked hard on my whole left side and reassured me that the issue I had before (my internally rotated leg – because of the excessive tightness in different muscles) wasn’t there so I hadn’t buggered anything up. He even said a gentle parkrun on Saturday would be a good idea to see how continuing to run affected things. YAY!

I’m still nervous I’ll regress but I’m hopeful I’m on the path to recovery!

Do you enjoy Italian food?

What’s your favourite pasta meal?

What are your plans for the weekend?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the preserves for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

That boring gym person…

First and foremost, my thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating events on Friday in Paris. I woke up Saturday morning and couldn’t believe what had happened. It’s very sad and terrifying time.

Prayers for Paris

 

Saturday morning was very sombre. I headed to parkrun with Alfie where it was cold and overcast. No one was really in that jolly a mood considering what had happened the night before. Alfie though was carefree as anything and raced around the place and dove into as many puddles as he could.

Again I wasn’t running this week. I had seen my physio on Thursday and both he and I could tell there was a marked improvement from Sunday when I saw him for an hour and a half. On Sunday he assessed me completely and rather than finding anything wrong specifically with my knee, he said it was a combination of a tight calf, a tight hamstring and a tight back that was causing my left leg to internally rotate and aggravate my knee. On both Sunday and Thursday he worked into those areas and released so much tension. Now it feels like a bit of a niggle rather than the sharp and eye-watering pain I felt just last week.

I was tempted to run at parkrun but he advised against it, saying just take one more week. He showed this very cool Tensegrity model to demonstrate what was happening.

TENSEGRITY MODEL

All the wooden sticks are held together by elastic bands and when he pulled slightly on one elastic band on one side you could see how the entire shape changed due to that small amount of tension. He said this is what was happening in my left side. As I was still tight my body would have to change its biometrics to compensate and I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours. Great visual representation!

Anyway, back to parkrun where it had now started to rain. My friend Mark was supposed to be time keeper but he hadn’t shown up so I was asked to take over as I was otherwise just a marshal. Cue immediate panic as time keeping is not a job I’ve ever done before and a lot rides on it!!

parkrun time keeper

Mark did turn up in the end (and took the above photo of me, thank you!) but I kind of wanted to give time keeping a go so he kindly let me do it. At the start of parkrun, just before they sounded the whistle, we held a minute silence in respect for Paris. It was very moving as everyone stood there in silence. And then they were off.

Annoyingly I’d lost Alfie’s lead (I’d put it in the wrong parkrun bag that had got taken away to someone’s car) so I had to time-keep while also making sure Alfie didn’t trip anyone up when they finished. Mark took over at the end so I could help start clearing away the flags etc. with the other guys. I didn’t mess up, hurrah!

After clearing everything away I was cold and wet and though people were heading to the cafe I thought it best to just go home as I couldn’t take Alfie inside and it would be mean to either leave him outside or make people sit outside in the wet. I was sad to miss the hot drink but I got home and had some lovely hot porridge instead.

Alfie once again got a bath as he was covered in mud and then I got myself together and headed to the gym for my ‘legs day’.

IMG_6025

Lift, selfie, repeat 😉

Legs day is my favourite day. I just feel really strong and can feel myself getting stronger. It’s my escapism at the moment while I can’t run. Though I have to say midday Saturday is peak time! The weights area was packed but I was lucky to have a squat rack to do my thing.

I did:

  • Squats: warming up with 12 reps of 45kg a few times then one rep of 65kg, then seven reps between 4-10 from 55kg to 65kg.
  • Box squats: Five 6-10 reps 65kg-70kg
  • Deadlifts: warming up with a few 12 reps of 30kg and one at 62.5kg, then six reps between 4-6 from 62.5kg to 67.5kg.
  • Leg press: warmup of 20 reps of 46.7kg, then 8-12 reps from 67.7kg to 112kg
  • Sumo squat: warmup of 20 with 10kg, then four reps of 20 with 20kg
  • Ab work: hanging knee raises and then parallel bar leg raises

This took two hours in the gym! As I a) wasn’t moving and b) wasn’t going to Cardiff anymore I had some time on my hands and I really enjoyed just going through these exercises, listening to music and zoning out. The next day (and still today) my legs are feeling some serious DOMs.

Foam rolling

On Sunday I spent a good amount of time rolling my aches and tightnesses, which was both painful and strangely enjoyable. While rolling and stretching I watched the film Margin Call, a tense drama about the financial crash. I know that sounds quite dull but the acting was really good (Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, etc.) and I was fully engaged the entire time (no iPad/phone distraction at all – just the foam roller).

So my weekend was fairly low-key. I’ve become that boring gym person I’m afraid, but it makes a change from that boring injured runner…or that boring runner 😉 Hopefully next week I’ll be running. I have another session with my physio and finger’s crossed…

What’s your favourite muscle group to work on at the gym?

What fims have you watched recently? (New or old)

How do you recover from a hard workout?

Alfie’s first parkrun and some favourite things

I still have no date for moving. This seems somewhat of a reoccurring theme. For me it’s not too much of a bother aside from not knowing what weekend is going to be affected and not having any furniture in my lounge aside form a TV and a bean bag…For Ben it’s tricky as he moves to Switzerland at the end of the week and the money from the house sale would help for his side of things.

But anyway, another weekend gone by and I’m still in the house. On Saturday morning I still got up to go to parkrun, despite not being able to run at the moment. I like the social element to it and getting out in the fresh air so it was nice going down there, even if I was in “civilian” clothes.

parkrun selfie

 

It was a chilly and crisp morning so I bundled up nicely, knowing there would be no lovely run to heat me up. I took Alfie as well as I’ve always wanted to take him to a parkun but wouldn’t feel I could leave him tied to a bench while I ran and it wouldn’t be fair to see if he could run 5k if he’s never done that distance before.

IMG_5197

Annoyingly we were on the cricket pitch, the last for the year before the winter course, which was a pain to miss as it’s a great time to test the speed out. But to be honest I’m not in shape for a PB attempt anyway!

It was great cheering everyone on and seeing people looking strong so soon after the marathon last weekend (which so many from parkrun had done) and I didn’t feel sad I couldn’t run. I saw my physio on Friday and she wasn’t concerned. She said my muscles were very tight, especially my left leg, which with the wrong trainers probably just built up during the marathon a bit of a niggle that I then exacerbated by continuing to run further on until the end. I’ve been severely neglected my foam rolling (which I always do when I’m no longer injured…) and I’m one of those people who needs to do everything in my favour to avoid injury. Whoops.

She said it’s likely it’ll only be another week as long as it continues to heal as quickly as it is. I’m still a little dubious that it will be OK in a week but I’d rather be cautious than overly optimistic. I can go to the gym (but no squats) so that’s cool. I miss running but it is nice to have a break.

My weekend was really very quiet if I’m honest. Lots of cleaning, sorting stuff in the house and catching up on Dr Foster (did anyone else watch?? SO good). And I saw some friends on Saturday afternoon and had a nice catch-up.

With no real plans for Sunday I had a nice lie-in. I floated the idea of going to the cinema with my dad to see The Martian as I’d seen a trailer on Friday which looked really good and had heard it was a good film. He was keen and suggested lunch as well…with my mum declining to come we decided to go to Ranchos (which my mum would hate).Ribs Ranchos (1)

Ribs are pretty much my favourite meal. I had the ribs with a parsley and garlic sauce which was divine. My dad had steak.

IMG_5220

He had chips with his. I had nothing because did you see the size of my portion?? I don’t like things crowding my ribs experience 😉 As you can probably tell, we were both rather pleased with lunch!

The table next to us was an Asian family of three petite girls and, I assume, their dad. The amount of food they ordered (and the SIZE of the steaks the girls ate) was unreal. They had a large plate of ribs to share in the middle alongside all the sides, chips, mash potato, rice, and they just absolutely demolished it. I was quite impressed!

Anyway, we saw The Martian. I had a brief moment of embarrassment as after we sat down I headed back out to the loo (I like to get my seat first). I went towards the wrong side and stood, pretty much in front of everyone in the cinema, attempting to find the door in the wall (feeling my hands all over it to find the way out…)…then realising it was on the other side. In my defence, there was one of those Fire Exit signs in that area which I assumed meant exit. What an idiot.

I was a bit worried the film would be a bit dry and science-y (I enjoyed Interstellar but I found it dragged a little on the ‘science’ side – however unrealistic that science was!) but I was pleasantly surprised.

The Martian

It was really quite funny and I felt like the storyline didn’t drag at all. The music was great as well. Fully recommend! (I also loved when they talked about Project Elrond and Sean Bean was there – aka Boromir from Lord of the Rings!). I also found it amusing when at the start they were talking about “preparing for launch” and I heard “preparing for lunch” and I was thinking, come on guys there’s a time and place for that surely – you’ve got a criss going on?! Hehe.

I love going to the cinema and need to do it more often. And if there are ribs involved, well so be it! 😉

What film have you recently seen?

Do you enjoy going to the cinema?

Do you still like to be involved in running stuff even if you can’t run? I think for me it depends how long my injury lasts. If I’m going to be out for months and months then I’ll probably take some time away from running-related stuff because otherwise it can get a b it depressing to see what you’re missing out on. But short-term I like to stay involved.