A happy knee, a happy Anna

FINALLY somewhat of a positive update with ACTUAL running.

I don’t want to jinx anything, of course, but I genuinely feel like I’m (mostly) out of the woods with this knee injury. Obviously things could easily regress back and all go wrong again but at the moment things are looking very positive.

At the weekend Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The week before I’d run a tester mile and another tester two miles and my knee had responded well. So three miles was my next challenge. I could have run the three miles on my own but I really wanted to do a parkrun as it had been so long and we could go for brunch in the amazing Parade Tearooms a short walk away.

Kyle’s mum, Sarah, came with us to support. She’s just started the Couch to 5k programme and was building up to do a parkrun herself. She wanted to see what kind of runners parkrun had and to reassure herself she wouldn’t be right at the back (she definitely wouldn’t be).

The great thing about parkrun is that firstly no one is ever last because of the tail walker and that the run is full of all different kinds of runners, of all different abilities, shapes and sizes. While she has seen a parkrun before, she’s never really watched with the interest of a potential runner.

I woke up and my knee was feeling amazing. It felt almost normal. The ever-helpful Steve Bonthrone had given me some great advice going into this run. He said I should try really hard to visualise and think about the best run I’ve ever had. This way it’ll keep me positive and stop me focusing on “how’s my knee?” or that I think I’m injured and will expect pain. This was fantastic advice.

There’s so much about having a longer term injury that’s in your head. The way you think about yourself, the issue and how much pain and discomfort you believe there to be – or expect there to be. Having Sarah there hugely helped as well as I could chat away to her about her running and her worries, which made me completely forget about mine.

It was very cold. But I do love a cold, dry and still morning for a run. You know you won’t be cold for long. We wedged ourselves within the middle – Southsea gets so busy! There were 657 runners, which is crazy. It’s a narrow area to start and a lot of bollards, fences and people to be wary of at the start so if you ever want a PB here you really need to be as much in the front as you can.

The first mile was an absolute dream. It was like the best kind of running – I felt smooth in my running and with not even a hint of difference between my legs. Through the second mile it started to feel a bit harder and I got a slight niggle just under my knee but it wasn’t concerning and it didn’t last. Whew! More than anything it was just tough on my endurance. Three miles is a long way, eh! 😉

We finished the run and my knee still felt good. Halleluiah! My time was 24:24.

To be honest, I could have gotten 28 minutes and I’d have been just as pleased! Times right now don’t matter (arguably, do they ever…).

Then we walked to the Parade Tearooms and met up with my parents for brunch. It’s lovely that Kyle and my family get on so well 🙂 My dad and Kyle ordered the fry-up while Sarah, my mum and I ordered the Jayne Salad, which is just a BEAST of a salad.

It has chicken, bacon, potatoes, coleslaw, beetroot, corn, tomatoes, berries, onion, carrot, lettuce AND a mid-way hidden layer of cheese. This salad is not for the faint of heart. The waitress even said “you can box it don’t worry”. Oh pahh-leeeease. I will be fine. The two mums however, epically failed and had to box over half for home.

It was a lovely morning, and I felt so happy and relieved that the run went well. And for the rest of the day and days after it still felt good. THANK GOD!

I had another run on Tuesday at lunchtime planned with Kyle. It had been so long since I ran at work. In fact, even people I didn’t know at work had been commenting on my lack of running! So it was so nice to don my gear and head out in the cold sunshine at lunch and go for a run. And while the run was hard work (my legs were feeling heavy from the gym) it was so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air. Yesssss!

A more sensibly paced run

So my next run is planned for tomorrow… long may this streak of good running and happy knee continue.

Do you enjoy running when it’s cold?

Do you find your parkrun getting busier and busier?

The comeback?

Well honestly, I can’t wait for a post that isn’t about my hamstring. It’s had FAR too much air time.

It’s been a highly frustrating process, I can tell you. I’ve felt a bit like I’ve been banging my head against the wall. Some days feeling good, some days feeling very grumpy. Some days the gym helped and some days it didn’t. I removed every exercise that seemed to aggravate it but still it wasn’t improving.

Long weeks of no running

So it was time for a second opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I really rate the physio I’ve been using and he’s helped me during many niggles in the past, but after seeing him three times and it doing nothing, I needed to do something else. Time is of the essence.

Handily someone at work recommended someone to me. A sports therapist who comes to your house – VERY appealing. (If you’re in the South Coast area –> Claire Bennett). She was able to come Friday evening after I got back from work which was perfect.

I explained my issues to her, she examined the way I stood and moved etc. and then told me that my pelvis was misaligned. I was twisted in the way I was standing. This was putting pressure on my hamstring – keeping it stretched – and causing my glutes to pick up the slack and overworking them. All the discomfort and feeling like I’m restricted makes a lot of sense now.

She worked her magic and, I kid you not, I felt better literally straight away. Not perfect or fully healed 100% but SO much better. The analogy I use is that it’s like I’ve been scuffing my toe for ages because it’s been moving wrong. After fixing it to move right, the toe is no longer being scuffed… but the toe is still battered from all the scuffing and needs a bit of time to recover and get back to being a normal toes (does this make sense??).

She even said I could do parkrun the next day – which I was so excited about! I cannot tell you how happy I felt after seeing her. She literally made my day. EIGHT LONG WEEKS of this.

So the next day Kyle and I headed to Southsea parkrun. I wasn’t going to blitz it and if it hurt or felt really off I’d stop. But it already felt so much better so I was feeling confident. The physio did warn that I would ache a bit and it wouldn’t feel perfect so I had to remember that.

Kyle was going to run with me and keep me at a sensible pace. After a bit of a delay due to some delivery lorries being in the way of the course, we began.

Yes it didn’t feel perfect, yes it still niggled a little, but my range of movement was so much better and it felt like it was better. It did feel achy and the run was tough going – fitness and the pounding on my legs. It reminded me how quickly you lose everything. Anyway it’s too early to tell for certain and I’m sure it’ll take time, but I’m feeling positive.

We did just over 26 minutes and I finished smiling. Kyle found it super easy of course and revelled in being the fitter and faster one of us (when we’re both at our fittest though there really isn’t much difference to be fair).

Then we celebrated by getting brunch at the Parade Tearooms. Brunch for me being the Jayne Salad. IT IS THE BEST SALAD IN THE WORLD.

It is ginormous. Roasted new bpotatoes, bacon, cheese, coleslaw, cucumber, tomatoes, salad leaves, strabwerries, sweetcorn, onion, beetroot and I added chicken… It’s wonderful.

Anyway, fingers crossed my hamstring keep improving and I’m able to actually begin training.

What’s your favourite thing in a salad?

How long has been your longest time off of running? I think mine was 11 weeks.

parkruns and training

I haven’t been as “on it” with my blog latey so I thought I’d do a little recap of things going on over here.

Unsurprisingly to many and disappointingly to myself, speed training has not been happening. The intention and motivation is definitely there but a few things have gotten in the way.

I did actually turn up at a speed training session with my club, Hedge End RC. The problem was I did a few miles beforehand as I arrived early and my legs were just not playing ball. It was a tough grind just to run easy. I thought after the first mile they might loosen up and things might feel better but it was such an effort to keep going.

I know what the issue was. I did my killer stair machine workout that morning (my personal trainer recommended adding this in to increase hip and glute strength). FOOLISH. Very foolish to try doing this the morning of a potential speed training day.

I saw some of my friends who tried to persuade me to stay but I knew it would be a mistake. I would either just flop in the session or I would push too hard, motivated by everyone around me, and then burn out during the week. So I canned it and went home. Weak willed? Or smart? I’m not sure.

Then the Southampton Half happened and that rinsed me…and then this week I wasn’t well yesterday (female problems I won’t bore you with) so settled for a gentle 6 miles at home instead.

Despite all this, I do feel like I’m making gains at parkrun – the marker that I test my fitness on. A couple of weeks ago, Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The real reason was because we wanted to go to the Parade Tearooms afterwards (that GIANT salad… I live for it), but also because it would be nice to do a flat parkrun rather than the godawful Havant parkrun close to Kyle’s where we were staying.

Whereas Kyle was a bit more sensible and decided to have more of a gentle parkrun the day before the Southampton Half I decided to just go for it.

I started and my legs were a bit “meh”. It was tough to get going but I pushed on. There was no real wind so that was something. I managed to push the pace and was VERY chuffed with my final mile.

I got 20:22 which I was buzzing about. I’d hoped to be around 20:30! I’m nowhere near my PB (19:40) but it’s a good sign going forward and good motivation to DO SOME SPEEDWORK.

Last weekend we were at Netley Abbey and coincidentally it was the cricket pitch course. Known as the “Marmite course” because it’s five laps round a field… dull but flat.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I was ready to give it another blast. My legs, however, were not. I started running – going out fast – and quickly realise woooahhh no this is not going to happen. I cannot maintain this.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I pulled it a little bit and tried to just maintain a tempo style speed. It was a total grind though.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

Kyle wasn’t far behind me and that helped motivate me forward. Not that I mind Kyle being faster than me or overtaking, but it’s nice to use that as something to keep me pushing on.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

My friend Mike, who was out due to a hamstring issue, kept cheering us both – telling me where Kyle was and then telling Kyle to get a move on. It helped us both for definite! It boosted a bit of friendly competition.

I feel a bit bad as I told Kyle it was five laps, but it’s actually 5.5 laps so when we got to the fifth lap Kyle had already begun his sprint finish… and then realised actually he still had a chunk to go.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

He’d have probably caught me at the end. He’s far more powerful at sprinting than I am.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I scraped 21:13 and it felt very much a tough grind, but hey ho I will take it! Had a little pose next to the INCREDIBLE castle and dragon carved in to a tree chunk in the new “fairy garden”. Wowza.

I was very pleased to enjoy some EXTREMELY tasty rocky road at the end made by the lovely Alana. I had two pieces and then some chocolate cake in the cafe. All before 10.30am – that my friends is a winning Saturday!

So there we have it, my speedwork update… or lack thereof. I will endeavor to do better!

How do you do with consistent speed training?

What determines if you’re going to push at a parkrun or not?

What’s your favourite rocky road additions? I love a bit of biscuit in there.

A missed opportunity, giant salads and refueling with cake

This weekend was fairly busy, but full of many of my favourite things.

On Saturday Kyle and I headed to Southsea parkrun to meet up with my running friends Michelle, Mark, Billy and Aaron. Unfortunately Michelle wasn’t going to be running as she’s injured (get better soon!) but the other guys were.

Kyle and I arrived a little bit late and as we’d parked a mile away we had to run quite sharpish to get there on time. We arrived with five minutes to spare and then spent too long chatting to the guys for us to realise it had started! Oops!

So this meant we were all pretty much dead last to start, which proved rather tricky. The first 30 seconds or so were us just walking and then trying to infiltrate into the crowd of 600 runners (when did Southsea get so popular??). But this helped ease me gently into the run. I then spent the first mile basically umm’ing and arr’ing whether to push the pace or just plod along.

Mark dashed off ahead and though I attempted to follow for a bit I decided to instead just to run on my own and see how it went. For the first mile I weaved in and out of people and after a quick sprint to get in front of a crowd I realised I didn’t feel so bad and decided to maintain the faster pace.

We got to the turnaround and as I headed back the way we’d come (Southsea is an out-and-back course) and I realised there was no wind. Usually you get one direction being really good and then you turnaround and you’re suddenly hit with the full force of the wind that you didn’t realise was there (such are a problem with the straight out-and-back promenade parkruns).

However, there was no wind. I mentally kicked myself. What a missed opportunity for a flat wind-less 5k! Ahh well.

I managed to get my pace a bit quicker towards the end (God the pain of a hrder 5k…urgh) and finished 22:01. Just shy of a sub 22 minute parkrun. I was pleased anyway to have put a bit of a burst in towards the end.

After finishing, we all lamented at what a shame it was that none of us had gone out with a fast time in mind. I mean, we hadn’t set ourselves up very well by not paying attention at the start of course!

Then we walked over to the Parade Tearooms to have some brunch. Predictably it was quite busy (it’s so popular there) but after a short wait we got a table.In true Anna style when ordering Kyle’s brunch I decided to hear what he wanted and then order something completely different. No idea why! I quickly had to change the order with the lady on the till (who didn’t look too pleased at first but I managed to explain what kind of idiot I was exactly and she seemed to soften a bit and find it funny).

So Kyle did in fact get his pancakes (and not the full English) and I got my beloved Jayne Salad. An epic salad of proportions I’ve seen no where else (bar maybe America where portion sizes are RIDICULOUS).

This was my kind of salad! Chicken, cheese, coleslaw, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, carrot, cucumber, fruit (yep) and lettuce. You needed quite the strategy to eat this without it toppling everywhere. A Jenga salad if you will.

The next day I got up a bit later than I would have normally as I really wanted a solid lie-in and having lost an hour from the clocks going forward it meant 10am. I felt really well rested and ready to hit my final long run before Manchester a week later.

I headed out with the intention to run 13 miles, but with some wiggle room if I fancied going further. Generally I’ll run 13-16 miles the Sunday before depending on how I feel. I’d given myself enough time to do up to 16 before I needed to back to shower and get ready for afternoon tea with my mum for Mother’s Day. So no pressures, just relaxed running however I fancied.

It always takes a few miles for me to get into a run (which is why I think I much prefer long distances than to 5ks or 10ks when I’ve basically just warmed up), but as I got into it I realised I felt good. Not just physically but mentally as well. Like it was good to be outside, good to be running. It was fairly warm so I was glad to be wearing a vest and also happy I’d put some sun cream on my face.

As I got to 7.5 miles I stopped at my trusty dodgy tap for a drink before heading on. I was listening to the BBC 5 Live movie review podcast and was chuffed to hear the review be so good for Kyle and my next planned movie, Us. I know it’s going to be scary, but knowing that Simon Mayo is a big horror movie wuss and still enjoyed it has hugely helped calm me a bit. I really enjoyed Get Out so fingers crossed it doesn’t traumatise me like Hereditary did.

When I got to the point of making a decision between 13 or more miles I decided to push on. It was partly me feeling like I was good to run further but also down to the fact that the 13 mile route was a bit rubbish whereas the longer route was nicer. Though it was more into the wind annoyingly.

I finished the run feeling strong and happy. An ideal last long run before a marathon! Then I quickly got myself together ready to go for afternoon tea with mum.

Handily it was just a 20 minute walk to the village to Donny’s where I’d booked a table for us.

We were quite excited as we hadn’t had afternoon tea for a while and it’s something we both love to do (ALL THE CAKE).

We’d both gone for ham and mustard sandwiches and they were crustless tiny little things. I mean they were tasty but very small. Now for a reasonable human being that’s fine – afterall, you’re having a scone and cake afterwards, but for a greedy person like me they were quite dinky and didn’t really touch the sides. I’m not a fan of cutting crusts of bread either – such a waste.

Such a lovely mum x

The scone was delicious. A little pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream – divine.

I mean, again the portions were fairly small and the scone wasn’t warm, but these are MINOR details from an afternoon tea connoisseur like myself 😉

The slice of salted caramel cake was so divine. Very sticky with a rich flavour to it. My mum had lemon drizzle and she loved it too. Handily I got to eat her icing as well as she’s not a fan (I love this about my mum – I’ll always get her icing, especially good for Christmas cake).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Do you like afternoon tea?

What’s the last long run distance you’ll do when you’re tapering?

What’s your favourite kind of salad?

Southsea parkrun, my kinda salad and back to long running

This weekend, though not entirely as I had planned, was a good one!

Friday night I stayed at Kyle’s and we decided to give Southsea parkrun a spin as Kyle had never done it before and there was a tearoom nearby we had been meaning to go to for ages.

It was, as I’m sure the rest of the UK was aware, very cold Saturday morning. But happily very sunny and not that windy – not bad conditions for a coastal parkrun. We decided to park about a mile away so we could have a gentle warm-up beforehand. Not that it warmed us up much at all! By the time we arrived at the start we were still cold.

We stood at the start and listening to the pre-run briefing and heard what we already were aware of, having just run down the promenade. There were large patches of ice, both visible and black, around the start section (and consequentially the finish area as it’s a 1.5 mile out and back straight route). The event director implored everyone to do a “Michael Jackson Thriller style walk” at the start to avoid any slips and the marshals were stood on the main ice puddles to help.

My leg had felt good all week and I decided to see where I was at fitness-wise. I wasn’t going for a full on “ruin myself” style of run but I did want to push the pace a bit. Kyle was less keen to do a fast run so we decided to run separately. I had my Aftershokz ready and was feeling good.

We started and ran carefully through the icy bits – as everyone did – and then as we got to the clearer sections started to push the pace. I felt very much in control and happy at 7.15min/miles. I remember thinking how much I was enjoying the run. My legs felt strong, my breathing relaxed and the sun was shining. Asides from my hands being cold (I had to wear my thinner Nike gloves rather than my thick eGloves, which someone had recently nicked – story for another day), I was feeling good.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get my headphones to play my music but actually I really didn’t mind. I was happy to just listen to my breathing and the noises around me more clearly. We got to the turn around (1.5 miles) and this felt very quick to me. I was feeling goooood. It was nice to acknowledge that fact mid-run – rather than feel like “omg this is fast I want to die” kind of feelings I usually get during 5ks or 10ks.

At the turnaround I knew I could then look out for Kyle, who I assumed was taking it a bit easier so would be coming the other way. However as I continued to run the opposite way I couldn’t see him. As I got further down the line of people coming the other way and he still didn’t appear I realised he must be very close behind me. I tried to look behind me but couldn’t see him. It did help spur me on as I didn’t want him to overtake me (though in reality I wouldn’t have minded and this is a highly likely thing to happen in the future as he’s getting stronger and stronger).

I ran with another guy for a bit until, as I felt my speed increase, I managed to push on ahead. I also passed two females. I thought there was another one ahead so I tried not to get too excited and lose my focus (and controlled breathing). I haven’t been a first female in a while. I finished strong with 21:29, my fastest parkrun since October! Turns out I was first female as well, which was a nice bonus. And a royal flush negative split!

Kyle finished 21:34, very close behind me. A solid run for the two of us. We then jogged gently back to the car. And though there was a huge temptation to go to the Tenth Hole for brunch (as we were parked just outside) we drove the two miles or so down the road to the Parade Tearooms. Though the Tenth Hole is brilliant (those cakes!), I’ve been there quite a few times and we really wanted to try this other tearoom.

I pride myself in doing my research before I go somewhere for food and I’m so glad I did. Though I was tempted by the usual full English breakfast (which Kyle went for – with extra toast) I instead went for the Jayne Salad. Yes, a salad. Yes, a salad on a cold morning. But hear me out. This was no ordinary salad. I joked to Kyle saying this shouldn’t be called the Jayne Salad it should be called the ANNA Salad. The portion size was right up my street!

Piled high (to the point it was actually tricky to eat) with salad, roasted baby potatoes, coleslaw, chicken, bacon, cheese, beetroot… it was GINORMOUS. And exactly the kind of salad I would make if I was making it myself.

It took me ages to eat and I can happily say I was stuffed by the end (yes I ate it all – I read a review on Trip Advisor that someone took half home. Wow, way to go Anna you pig).

Kyle thoroughly enjoyed his fry up – quality over quantity (whereas the Harvester breakfast is very much quantity over quality). And of course we had to take two slices of cake (well, traybake) home with us.

I genuinely stood in the queue having a mare of a time trying to decide what to order. The tiffin? The salted caramel shortbread? The “junk yard” cheesecake? The Crunchie cheesecake? The fudge cake? The Bakewell slice? I almost had a breakdown.

In the end I went for the tiffin. A giant triangle slab. Kyle went for an equally large slice of the salted caramel pretzel shortbread. We took them home to give our stomachs time.

I won’t lie. All I needed was the time it took to bathe and get dressed for me to be ready to eat the tiffin in one with a cup of tea. Hollow legs… human dustbin… greedy. All of the above. It was DELICIOUS. Caramelly, chocolaty, full of raisins and biscuit… so flipping good.

That evening I was supposed to go to my friend’s hen party and see Dreamboyz (like Chippendales I believe…) but my mum needed me to stay in and help her as her left hand is basically useless after her accident (she’s left handed) and my dad wasn’t going to be in. It was a shame to miss the hen do but I appreciated a quiet evening in with my mum instead.

At least it meant I got a solid night’s sleep and could crack on with my long run in the morning without feeling hung over. A silver lining at least! I headed out with the intention to run 10 miles but as I got going I realised I felt good and if it continued that way I’d do 12. I’m lucky to have good routes around me that I can shortern or lengthen my route as I go.

As I got on to the seafront promenade at Hill Head, away with the fairies listening to a podcast, I didn’t see the four very familiar dogs and my parents suddenly appear in front of me. Alfie went a bit mental suddenly seeing me, bless him. I stopped and chatted briefly before heading on – Alfie tried to join but my parents managed to wrestle him away.

So the 12 miles went really well. My leg felt fine. Only my endurance struggled I think, but that’ll come back in time. The weather was perfect. Cold but still. I felt very happy and (god I hate this word) blessed to be running again.

How was your weekend?

Do you ever order a salad?

What’s your favourite tray bake?