Running Update

This week I’ve been super sensible. My calf was causing me a little bit of annoyance last week so I’ve taken just over a week off.

It’s frustrating to me because it felt absolutely fine during the marathon, during and after. And then when I started running again when I got home it felt fine. Even my eight miler was great. My hamstring was *slightly* niggly, but my calf felt normal. But the week after my two shorter runs didn’t feel good. My hamstring was also annoying me and so was my calf (both same leg). I decided the safest thing was just to stop running to let it rest.

I have Marathon Talk Run Camp approaching which I’m super excited about and want to get involved in (which is next weekend). I also have the Reading Half Marathon mid-March which I’d like to be fit for. I say “fit” as a relative term here. I won’t be PB-chasing as I’m not in any sort of shape for that. But I really like the race and want to be able to give it a little bit of welly.

So taking the time now rather than later is the wisest decision. The hamstring thing is interesting to me. I’ve had this issue since just before the Boston Marathon. In general it’s fine. It crops up occasionally in long runs at the end and is especially noticeable when I sit down for long periods of time (it’s basically just below my bum at the top of the hamstring, and niggled there and my foot recently). But mostly it’s not there when I run or in daily life. I found that avoiding direct hamstring exercises like deadlifts really helped. It’s a shame as I really enjoyed doing deadlifts, especially heavy deadlifts. But I’d rather run without issue so it was a sacrifice I gladly made.

Anyway, being the idiot that I am, since Christmas I’ve been adding in more hamstring exercises. Nothing heavy but some lighter, higher rep hamstring focused work. And this niggled it each time I did it. And yet I carried on (because I’m essentially an idiot). It aggravated my sciatic nerve.

Anyway, I wonder if the calf issue was made worse because of my hamstring being all angry – whether it’s annoying the calf directly or my calf overcompensating because my hamstring is feeling rough. I saw my physio (fully recommend if you’re in the Portsmouth/South Coast area) last night and he agreed that it’s probably all connected (as everything in the body generally is…). He commented that my hamstring injury area felt like “spaghetti” with the scar tissue. Bleurgh.

He worked on my back, “stretching” my spin (which was bizarre let me tell you), manipulated a few things, massaged and did acupuncture so I’m hoping that will help. Her didn’t seem too concerned though. I’m planning on doing Upton House parkrun tomorrow (yessss my “U”!) with friends so fingers crossed eh.

So needless to say I’ll be avoiding those pesky hamstring exercises that cause me issue. I won’t be bossing out any fast running either…but I hope to be getting back into more consistent running. But I won’t hold my breath 😉 I’m just going to jinx it all by being to hopeful.

Any advice on hamstring/calf/sciatic issues always welcome 🙂

Have you ever had any sciatic or back issues before?

Are there any exercises you avoid?

What are your weekend plans?

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?