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?

Runner’s Christmas Wishlist

I know every blogger is doing a similar post but I personally quite like them as they give me ideas of stuff to buy for (runner) friends or stuff I want to ask for for Christmas. None of this is sponsored and yes some of it is from Wiggle, where I work, but I’m not being asked to write about and, no, I don’t get commission (damnit).Runner wishlist

Hyperice Hypersphere Vibrating Massage Ball

This is what I’ve asked for from my parents for Christmas. As it’s from Wiggle I get a discount which helps as I’ll admit, it’s quite pricey. But (and I’m now fairly certain you’re sick and tired of me saying this) as I’m an injury prone runner I’m always on the look out for gadgets and witchcraft to keep me running 😉hyperice-hypersphere-massage-ball-sideVibrating foam rollers are *apparently* better than regular ones (random study I found starting to explore this area, I will preface this with I’m no scientist) and as I really get on well with using a tennis ball I thought this would be the ideal upgrade. I’ve read a lot of very positive reviews and I do find regularly foam rolling helps keep me less tight and niggle-free. I will do a review of it once I’ve given it a few goes.

T-Rex Medal hanger

Weirdly, I’m a big fan of dinosaurs. I actually wanted to be a paleontologist when I was growing up after finally getting over my extreme fear of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park when I first watch the film (side note: I’m really proud of myself for spelling paleontologist correct first time round. Other side note: I genuinely had a big fear of dinosaurs growing up. To the point that I couldn’t sleep on my own for a few weeks and my sister had to make up a bed in my room, not that she could have saved us if indeed they did attack. I was a sensitive child with a very active imagination). ANYWAY, so the dinosaur-themed medal hanger really appeals to me.

I don’t actually hang up my medals at the moment. They’re in a box. I wouldn’t want to hang up all my medals, just a few prized ones. Or maybe rotate them. I don’t know. But it would be nice to have them up.

Garmin Fenix 5 (with HR monitor inbuilt)

I almost, almost bought this watch when I started at Wiggle. I currently wear a Fitbit Surge as my ‘step counting’ daily watch and then wear my Garmin 225 on with this when I run (double watch lovin’). I love my Surge, don’t get me wrong. It looks less like a convict’s tag than some of the other fitness trackers and more like a proper watch and it tracks all the stuff that I like geeking out over (sleep, steps and heart rate). But it does bug me having to put on another watch to track my runs. Yes I could track my runs using the Fitbit but it really wipes the battery and the Garmin is ultimately better at tracking runs in my opinion. The Garmin Fenix however does everything so I wouldn’t need to wear two watches. Yet it’s over £300. And after I crashed my car and all the other stupid stuff that cost me money because of my stupidity a few months ago I can’t justify the cost. But it’s still on my wishlist if I win the lottery.

Aftershokz Titanium

OK technically I have these already. But I’ve been meaning to talk about these a bit more on my blog because I love them. If mine broke tomorrow I’d buy a new pair pronto. I know some runners can be a bit sniffy about using headphones when you run (and God forbid you use them during a race…) but I actually love listening to podcasts and music when I run. Obviously not when I run with other people, but certainly when I’m on my own or when I’m running a race where I either need to run fast and need the motivation or where I need to zone out a bit (like the middle section of a marathon) I really find it helps.Aftershokz-Trekz-Titanium-Wireless-Headphones-Slate-GreyWhat I really like about these headphones is that they don’t go inside or over your ears but rather behind your ears. The sound travels through your bones by vibrations so you can still hear external sounds from around you as well. So they’re a lot safer; you can hear traffic, cyclists and people. It’s also great in a race because you can still hear marshals and the crowds and feel the atmosphere. They’re also partnered with England Athletics and are OK’ed by the UK Athletics to be allowed to be used at races.  Yes the sound quality is somewhat compromised but that’s to be expected and a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

parkrun Plastic Barcodes

After my idiotic barcode mix-up it was certainly wise of me to upgrade my current situation. I did used to have a plastic ‘credit card’ barcode but I lost it and then stuck to the printed out paper version (and there began my mix-up). So I recently re-purchased the plastic card again. I keep a couple of paper ones around the place (in my purse and in my car).

The plastic card is far better as it’s obviously more weather-proof than paper (and sweat-proof). It’s a worthwhile investment if you’re a parkrun nut like I am 😉 The key fobs are great too.

Bardou Immaculate Spray Dry Shampoo

As someone who works out quite a lot and has long hair, washing my hair has become the bane of my life. Specifically blow-drying my hair. So I invested in some very nice dry shampoo. Yes Bastiste is good (as is Boots own brand FYI) but I really hate how it can leave little streaks of white in my hair. Yes I know you’re supposed to brush them out but it doesn’t seem that easy – and also, continually brushing through my hair is just going to make it more greasy!BARDOU_Immaculate_Spray_Dry_ShampooThe Bardou one is a lot better and smells amazing. For those brunettes out there, it is perfect (Yes I know Batiste do a brunette one but if I get it on my forehead I look bruised).

Nathan The Hipster Running Belt

I love my running belt. It sits flush to your body and doesn’t bounce. OK you can’t get a huge amount in but it fits at least three gels and an iPhone all at once (generally what I take for a marathon). Sometimes it might ride up but otherwise it’s perfect..Nathan-Nathan-Hipster-Running-Belt-Belts-And-Wallets-Black-NA-91516-1

Adidas Supernova Sequence BoostCaptureAfter recently switching to ASICS Gel Exalts as my Boosts went over 400 miles I’ve realised how much I truly love the Boosts. The ASICS don’t feel right at all. Not as bouncy… so I’ve re-bought the Boosts to go back to that ‘running on the clouds’ type feeling. I love them.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Do you use dry shampoo?

Do you foam roll?

The superstitious runners

Us runners (and sportspeople in general really) are funny people. We have little quirks and beliefs that can make us do and think in ways that in normal life would be seen as odd. If you asked me if I was superstitious I would laugh and say “don’t be daft”. I believe in science, logic and rational behaviours. But on examining my behaviour a bit closer I’ve found that’s actually not entirely true.

I genuinely worried in the lead-up to the Gosport Half Marathon that I would get injured. And not just because I’m injury-prone, but because I’ve never been able to race it due to injury and believed I was (yes, go ahead and laugh) cursed. Every time I mentioned Gosport I would say something like “well, if I get there” or I would touch wood and say “fingers crossed I make it”. This is ridiculous and defies all logic. But I’d still do it.Further to this, I’ve constantly being touching wood, pleading and praying out-loud for my good running streak to continue. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope of good luck. My time to get injured is approaching… despite the fact that NOTHING niggles. Every run feels fine. My legs are working as they should. Yet I wake up every morning and tentatively step out of bed. The running god works in mysterious ways, they might decide to smite me down in my sleep. I could wake up and find my knee niggling or my calf throbbing. So far I haven’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it won’t. THERE IS NO LOGIC.

And I don’t think I’m alone in weird behaviours or worries. I know people who have lucky shorts. People who have to have the same morning routine – and not because that’s what works for them, but because doing anything different might mess with the running universe.

I’ve been running in the same pair of Adidas Boosts for a number of weeks now. They feel fantastic. I love Boosts. But they’ve acquired over 400 miles now and this is dangerous territory for me. I like to change my trainers after around 300 miles because I’m convinced anything more will encourage injury. However I’ve been running so well lately that I’m scared to change. What if these magical trainers are the reason I’m not getting injured? And then I change them, boom! Injury strikes.But I have a brand new pair of ASICS sat waiting for me to transition into. I should swap over to them but I’m just scared.Runners are so easily freaked out and probably over-worry that little bit too much. Just before the start of the Gosport Half there were a gaggle of us runners (the technical term for a group of runners I believe) chatting away trying to keep our mind off being cold. Someone pointed to someone else’s laces and said “your laces look a bit loose”. This panicked the runner and sparked her into a frenzy of lace untying and tying at speeds never seen before. We all then quickly examined our own laces, just in case a loose lace epidemic had begun.

It made us consider what other statements could panic a runner just before the start. I suggested “ooh your knee looks a bit swollen”. Sure to get the eyes bulging and the heart pumping. Or “your Garmin’s just turned off”, or “Where’s your chip?”. Just so many ways to freak a runner out. I don’t advise it.

Before a marathon I always have the same thought when I put my shoes and socks on: “The next time I take these off it’ll all be over”. I always think it and it always amuses me (slash terrifies me). I also think things like “When I next shower I’ll be showering away the marathon sweat” (the best kind of sweat in my opinion). Or “This time tomorrow it’ll all be over”. In a weird way it helps me normalise things and relax me. Like, “This too shall pass”. It’s just a few hours. It’ll be over with before you know it. And life is going on as normal despite your OMG RACE TIME craziness. It’s almost obscene to see normal people out and about doing normal non-running things, or smelling bacon being cooked somewhere – WHO IS EATING BACON WHEN I’M RUNNING THIS INCREDIBLE RACE?? Normal people. It helps put things into perspective. Running, races… it’s all inconsequential at the end of the day. You get a PB, you don’t get a PB, you run a race, you don’t run a race. Sometimes it helps remember these things before things get that little bit too serious, or stressful, or no longer feels fun. I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person!

But us runners aren’t normal people. We’re special. With all our craziness, superstition, over-thinking, over-analysis, over-sharing. And though I do all these things, I’m still happy to call myself a runner. Crazy or not. But, for a little while longer please, can I be a runner and not an injured runner for once? 😉

Do you get paranoid about injuries?

Are you superstitious?

Do you have any pre-race must-do rituals?

Rants and Raves #36

Things have been fairly busy round here but I thought I’d drop in a little Rants and Raves posts because I do like getting these things off my chest 😉

Rant: So I bought new trainers straight after the Tokyo Marathon because I thought I’d like a fresh start and all that jazz. I’m a Mizuno, Brooks and ASICS fan, but I do tend to favour Mizuno. Or at least I did. I’ve actually been loving running in my Brooks Adrenaline GTS’s but Mizuno’s are a bit cheaper and in general I seem to wear them more. So for around £50 on Amazon I found my usual trainers and went for them.They’re the Mizuno Wave Paradox 2 – in such a lovely colour. I wore them on a few of my post-marathon runs and then hurt my ankle/lower calf. Since then I’ve not worn these trainers again. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the trainers that caused my injury and most likely was the fact that I jumped straight back into some tough running less than a week after a marathon…but my irrational brain doesn’t want to wear the trainers now! I know this is ridiculous. My Brooks will be seeing the end of their time soon and it seems ridiculous to buy another pair of new trainers just because I’ve convinced myself the above trainers aren’t good. Does anyone else get these irrational fears (almost superstitions) about things like this?

Rant: Easter eggs sitting in my living room but aren’t for me.Ahh the daily temptation. I’ve bought a selection of eggs for family and friends and I did this early so there wouldn’t be an issue closer to Easter. On that note, isn’t it ridiculous just how many eggs are sold over Easter? Supermarkets have stacks and stacks of them and yet still they’ll be a dearth of supplies the closer it gets to Easter. It does make me worry about the amount of food packaging waste generated…I hope people recycle where they can.

Also, let’s ignore that that’s a Lindt reindeer and not a bunny. I was going to buy a bunny when my mum told me she had one I could have instead as my parents don’t want any eggs or chocolate as they’re trying to be more healthy. However, it turns out she had a spare reindeer instead – from Christmas. *Sighs*

Rave: Being an adult now (well, in terms of my age anyway I suppose), I don’t get many Easter eggs. My parents still treat me to one. I’m very cheeky and ask for a ludicrously expensive one. However because I’m all “sad and alone with no one to love me” (I believe this is how my mother thinks of me now) they buy this to make up for things (“things” being that very generic and all-encompassing term for the fact that I’m still single). Behold the Extra Thick Patisserie Egg from Hotel Chocolat.

It contains *clears throat* two egg halves, one 50% milk chocolate and pecan praline to be like a pecan pie and the other caramel chocolate, mascarpone, yoghurt and pinch of salt to be like a salted caramel cheesecake. And the full of chocolates themed as puddings, such as carrot cake, treacle tart, Eton mess and fudge sundae, amongst others. The hardship will be trying to not eat this all at once – I think I might die of sugar overload otherwise.

Rant: And speaking of being all single and alone (by the way, this is entirely tongue and cheeky – I actually am very happy right now. If you intend on pitying me, please leave immediately), I have one dress that I can’t wear unless I’m getting changed at someone else’s house.It’s impossible. I can’t do up the back. I can’t do it up before I get into it because it’s too tight then to get over my shoulders or hips, and I can’t reach around because the buttons are tiny. When people make dresses they need to consider single people!

Whew, actually quite a few rants today!

Natruflex Supplement – The Naked Pharamacy

And lastly I have a review from a company called The Naked Pharmacy. This company is a “natural pharmacy dedicated to evidence-based natural medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals” [Source]. I was sent the Natruflex product.

This contains a high strength of turmeric and black pepper which provides a daily dose of 760mg total Curcuminoids and 19mg Piperine (95% strength of both active ingredients). Apparently these give joint and muscular benefits, reducing discomfort. The supplement also contains magnesium.

The supplement is gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and not tested on animals.I had a little look on examine.com (which is a great website for checking scientific claims of supplements) and it seems there’s some evidence behind curcuminoid as being helpful to the body. But I’m neither a pharmacist nor a doctor (or anything science-related) so this is a very laymen point of view. I can’t say I’ve felt a huge difference but it is something I’d continue to take as I know how good turmeric is supposed to be for inflammation and, let’s be honest, I need all the help I can get to avoid injuries!

And finally, a lovely little Rave to finish off with. SUNSHINE! At the beach no less! Good days are coming, wheeee!

How are you enjoying these sunnier days?

Do you use turmeric to boost your body?

What Easter egg, if any, are you planning on eating?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the supplement from The Naked Pharmacy for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

A few things to talk about…

Impending marathon aside (THIS Sunday, Chester Marathon in case I haven’t said it enough times…), I’ve been feeling rather positive and upbeat lately. OK in general I’m a positive and upbeat person anyway so this really isn’t that much of a change.

I’m a very much “glass half full” kinda girl. This can definitely work against me at times though when I think things like, “Oh I’m sure I’ll find my way back from my run in this unknown-to-me place, I don’t need to check my route/map” or “I have loads of time before I need to leave for this important appointment…”. But in general I think being optimistic is far better than pessimistic. Just my two pence (pence? Cents? Don’t know but I’m British so “pence” it is!).

After that random tangent… let’s crack on with some stuff on my mind.

New trainers: What is better, right? Actually they’re not that new anymore really but I haven’t mentioned them on the blog I don’t think. As part of the Run Reigate blogging experience (check out my race recap; it’s a great event!), I was gifted Brooks trainers to help me train – the dream scenario right? Thankfully I got to choose which trainers as I’m quite sensitive and injury-prone. I went for the Brook Adrenaline GTS trainers, which I’ve had previously but have since retired due to too high mileage.img_4897

I love the colour of these – minty gorgeousness! These trainers are ideal for me as I need support for my rubbish flat feet to stop me over-pronating. I know people argue that pronation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I am very flat footed that I do need support. O’m continually working on strengthening my arches… though it is ongoing and painfully slow (though I’ve made a lot of improvements, hurrah).

Anyway, the trainers are very springy and supportive and I love them. I wear them alongside my Mizunos Wave Paradoxes. I’ve yet to decide which to wear for the marathon though…decisions decisions.

elete Holistic Hydrate electrolytes: I read about this initially from Lauren’s blog and was intrigued. The company reached out to me after I commented on the blog post so I happily got to try it out myself (for free, in exchange for a review).img_5435elete Holistic Hydrate is a zero calorie and zero artificial nasties product that is used to add to water in order to hydrate effectively. It contains a balance of magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, which are all key electrolytes, as well as over 60 other naturally occurring trace and ultra trace elements.img_5434Why are electrolytes important? Well in fairly basic terms, electrolytes help keep the body functioning as muscles use electrical impulses to do certain things and so we require a number of minerals in electrolyte form (ionical charged minerals) to help this happen. The electrolytes help keep the fluid and pH balance in your body. I’m not a scientist (obviously) so that’s about as far as I’ll go with this, but the website has lots more information. Basically electrolytes can help maintain hydration, prevent muscle cramps, sustain energy and endurance and enhance mental focus.

I’m a big fan of using electrolytes during and after running. I really like this product for many reasons. One because it has the decent line up of electrolytes and two because it’s practically tasteless. I say practically only because if you don’t dilute it with enough water it can taste slightly salty. However this is easily eliminated by increasing the amount of water you use (2.5ml teaspoon of elete to one litre of water is ideal, I can barely taste a difference). You can also add this to food!! It’s such a small dinky bottle as well that i can take it with me to races or in my handbag. Very very handy. Just a few drops and boom, your water is upgraded. Love it.

Getting the itch to speed train: This whole marathon cycle I really haven’t done any proper speed workouts. I’ve done some very informal fartleks and speedier parkruns, but in general I’ve just ran however I fancied. Now this has been fantastic and also sensible due to my hamstring niggle/issue that I was still feeling the effects of months after Boston. It didn’t hinder my running or cause me pain but it was definitely an echo and made me think twice before pushing things. (Incidentally, my hamstring is 100% fine now thankfully! *Touch wood*)

My times therefore haven’t increased dramatically. I’m minutes away from PBs in most distances. But I’m OK with that because I’ve enjoyed injury-free running and I’m not PB hunting anyway and, finger’s crossed, I’ll get to this marathon unscathed and hopefully finish similarly.

The half marathon the other day did get me itching for the buzz of a speedier run though. I decided to head out the other evening and do some intervals on my own. I did a mile warm-up which gave me a chance to see how my legs were feeling and whether mentally I was up for pushing things. I was, so decided to do three fairly fast (for me at the moment) 1km loops, with 1km slower loops in between.1k-intervals

My speeds aren’t exactly crazy fast (for me) but it’s encouraging. After this marathon I’m going to be trying my hardest to put more effort into doing speed workouts. So going to the track workout sessions with my club and doing hill sessions. It’s not with a view to smash out PBs but rather to change things up as I feel like my running has become a bit stagnant and my paces all blur into one. It’s nice sometimes to feel that “omg I’m going to die” burst of speed and the feeling of satisfaction at the end of a session.

But, like I said, after the marathon and that very much assumes I’ll survive it uninjured! And we all know, that’s not a given for me!

Do you do speed workouts regularly?

What are your favourite speed workout sessions? I love a good hills session.

How do you stay hydrated?