Not as bad as I feared, thank goodness!

After my kick back run on Sunday my stiff right ankle became stiffer and stiffer, to the point that I could no longer walk without a pronounced limp. To say I was worried was an understatement. I couldn’t decide exactly where the pain was coming from, which made dealing with it difficult. Depending on what was causing the pain I was to stretch, or not to stretch. Dilemma City!

I tried icing my heel and ankle and used an stretch band to work on the mobility of my foot. I even stopped running in an effort not to make things worse. I haven’t run since Sunday. I wore a heel lift which took some of the pressure off my Achilles, which was sore and worrying me most. I don’t need injuries now, with just two weeks to go before the Great North Run. Yesterday I could no longer deal with the mental stress and rang for an emergency appointment with my chiropractor.

I described my pain; basically it felt as if I had a tight band around my lower leg. I’d been probing and had identified nodes in my calf that were painful, taking my thoughts away from Achilles Tendonitis. My chiropractor listened and then got the baby lotion out.

Oh no, not the baby lotion!

Those of you who have endured a sports massage will understand my fear at the sight of baby lotion! This indicates that the next few minutes are going to H.U.R.T.

And they did.

My chiropractor identified, almost immediately, that my foot was virtually immobile. He thinks that I had somehow jarred it before my last run and, as a result, was running in a compensatory style which caused the rest of the problems. He worked on improving my range of ankle movement, including a few quick adjustments, and then looked at my shins. That’s when I hit the roof. Aside from childbirth, I don’t think I’ve felt pain like that. Needle sharp rips down my leg followed his slippery hands, excruciating but gradually getting easier with every movement. My calves got a similar treatment – just as painful, but I knew that one was coming!

I left with better ankle movement and a lot less pain. My Achilles is slightly swollen, so I need to ice that for 15 minutes a day, but it’s nothing to worry about. Last night my ankle looked puffy, but elevation sorted that out. I still have a less stiff ankle, so I still need to work on improving its mobility and I’m allowed to stretch it out once its warmed up.

So, here I am. I still haven’t run this week so I’m planning an easy treadmill run tonight, just to test it out. Fingers crossed!

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A Greek Leg-end, Magic Miles and Soldiering On.

I do try hard with my titles – does it show? The meaning of each should become clear as you read. Bear with me!

After Monday’s long run I was left a little sore (I may have mentioned this already), but elated by my time. To be honest, I no longer care how well I run the Great North Run. I understand from others that it’s unlikely that I will better my PB as it’s so busy. Over 40,000 other runners will be doing the same thing – that’s a massive field and my experience of even tiny races has shown that people just don’t know how to get out of the way. So, I’m not expecting much.

I did a recovery run on Wednesday. It was raining so I just used the treadmill and watched a movie as I ran. I turned the music off the Jeff Galloway app and just listened to him telling me when to run and walk whilst watching The Time Traveller’s Wife (again); it made a pleasant change from The Matrix. I ran approximately 2.5 km at 9.5 kph and 2.5 at 10.3 kph. It felt good and I was pleased to just be running.

On Friday I was due to run again, but I just didn’t feel like it. That doesn’t happen often and I wasn’t going to force myself to run if I didn’t feel right. This is meant to be a pleasure, not a torture! Instead I relaxed and watched a long awaited biography of George Harrison which I’d recorded in November last year!

On Saturday morning I suddenly realised that it was, in fact, Saturday and not Friday as I’d thought. This is what comes of basing your week on days that you run! Because I had run on Monday instead of Sunday my entire week was a day off! This all said I had to run on Saturday morning before heading to work because if I’d left it I could have been running Sunday morning, less than twelve hours before. I’m a firm believer in rest days. I opted to run on the treadmill again, for quickness more than anything.

I ran with Jeff’s app, running at 10.3 kph until the last three minutes during which I gradually edged the speed up by a kph until I was finishing the last minute on 13 kph. Even on my easy runs I like to sprint finish.

One thing I did notice though was a stiff right ankle. Initially I thought it might be Achilles and those of you with knowledge of Greek mythology will know that Achilles was a bit of a Greek legend. My Achilles, of course, is more of a ‘leg-end‘. (It doesn’t get much better, believe me – you can leave now if you want!) I remember catching my ankle awkwardly in the week and it’s been a bit stiff since. I’m trying not to panic about it, but the very last thing I need now is an injury.

Yesterday was Sunday and, in the middle of a very busy day, I decided to get my long run in. This was a step back week, with a prescribed 4 miles. In the middle, though, was a Magic Mile challenge and, with my previous experience of Magic Miles, I was not looking forward to it, especially as my ankle was still not quite feeling “right”. However I set off mid-afternoon in warm and humid sunshine with my coach (hubbie) biking alongside me in semi-silence. I ran my usual 4 mile route which takes me uphill for the first mile and then undulates for the next 2.5, before finishing on a steep hill. I can certainly pick my routes! I set off too fast, running at 8 minute/mile pace, and had to consciously slow myself down. Trouble is now I’m starting to feel stronger and the temptation is to just speed up, but I really don’t want to pay with consequences at this stage in my training. I have no idea if I could maintain a faster pace for any decent length of time, but I’m not willing to test it out just now.

Once I’d almost finished climbing the mile long hill out of Ruthwell Station Jeff announced the start of my Magic Mile. I stopped, cleared the Garmin and set off. I tried not to check my pace, but listen to my body – trying to judge how fast it could go for the next mile. The route was hilly, so I wasn’t doing myself any favours other than benefitting from some downhill sections. I ran it reasonably hard and finished it in my fastest mile time so far of 8:58. I’m pleased with that because it’s a PB for a mile and I also felt that I could have pushed a little harder, even on that route. I felt strong and I know that my semi-silent coach thought it was good because he actually spoke. That puts me bang on pace for a 2:20 half marathon, which is great.

I finished the rest of the run at an easy pace doing half a mile more than asked, just to get me back into the village.  All in all, if I add the times and pace together, I did 4.51 miles in 48:59, giving me 10:51 min/mile pace – easily under my 11 min/mile target.

My ankle today is stiff. Not sore, not Achilles tendonitis sore, just stiff so I’m using ibuprofen to take away any possible inflammation, doing my mobility exercises and stretches and considering strapping it up for next weekend’s 14 miles long run. It concerns me, but, as I said before, I’m trying not to panic. I plan to soldier on in a relaxed, not quite regardless state of mind. I am not panicking, really, I’m not!

When Twelve and a half became Thirteen point one – a post by Pooh Bear

As I drove into town following Monday’s run I was planning exactly what I wanted to say today. I’ve long since forgotten, which may be a good thing now that the dust has settled. I’ve a feeling this might be the shorter, less rambling version of events!

On Sunday I was due to run 12.5 miles as per my Jeff Galloway finisher training plan, but someone had other plans for me on Sunday and sent heavy rain just as I was due to set off. I waited for a while, but it didn’t show signs of stopping, so I did my tax return instead. Hang on, who really IS in control here?

I had to run on Monday morning before going to see my chiropractor, basically because I couldn’t see the point of seeing him before I ran! It was drizzly, but only that.

Now, this is where my ego kicks in. I looked at 12.5 miles. Boy, that’s tantalisingly close to 13 miles isn’t it? Just an extra half a mile, 0.5, not much at all. And, as luck would have it, if I added another tenth of a mile I’d have done a half marathon. It was too much to bear. I had to run the extra six tenths and see what my half time would be!

I had planned a simple there and back route, running from one castle to another! I guess not many people can say that! The route took me along the shore road, up into Bankend village and turned onto the Glencaple Road. My turn around point was just short of the turn off for Caerlaverock Castle. It wasn’t flat and there were a few steep bits, but it was quiet so far as cars are concerned.

I had a light carb breakfast of spelt toast, waited an hour and then set off.

I listened to Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app. It paced me perfectly, although when my first mile was completed in 9:40 I wondered if I had it cranked up too fast! It evened out after that to around 11 minute miles, some faster, some slower. One thing I have noticed though is that without the GPS turned on the app is taking me further than the prescribed miles. I must be going faster than the app anticipates because I hit my target miles far faster according to the Garmin.

My new Brooks Ghosts felt like slippers. I love them. I run better in them, more easily should I say. The effort required to push my wee legs forward has been lessened. I realise now that I might as well have been running in high heels the way the Asics held my heels up. The Brooks allow my heels to sit down and I’m running on my mid foot more than my heel. I’m getting less aches and pains in my legs, with no knee pain at all on Monday.

The weather was typically Scottish. I went out wearing long tights and a vest (my No Meat Athlete vest to be precise!) and a reflective arm band because it was so dull. It drizzled lightly and then the rain became heavier. By the time I’d reached Bankend (5 miles) the sun was beating down on me! Once I’d turned and headed back it dulled down again and then the cloud and sun played some peepo game!

Miles 1 and 2 were sub 11 min/mile pace. Miles 3 and 4 were exactly 11 min/mile pace. After that I started to slow down a bit. Mile 5 was 11:14, not bad, but Miles 6 and 7 were both 11:42. My only thoughts on this were that I was running up hill a lot more until turning at 6.7 miles. I was, however, running up the hills!

I took my Maxifuel Viper Active citrus gel at mile 7. Previous to that I’d only been sipping Lucozade Sport, an Isotonic sports drink. I don’t know how much it helped, or if I was heading downhill significantly more, but I completed mile 8 in 10:17, my second fastest mile! I remember that mile because that’s when I had my runner’s high. Everything was wonderful. I was running with ease. The sun was shining. The birds were tweeting and the bees were humming. I had a total Disney moment and felt great!

And then came miles 9, 10, 11 and 12. I held my pace at around 11 min/miles through sheer determination. I WAS going to finish with a sub 11 min/mile average. I kept forcing myself on by looking at my watch and seeing the average getting closer to 11! At some points I was running under 9 minute pace before taking a walk break. I still didn’t know what effect this would have on my overall time; I just hadn’t worked that out! I was getting tired and light headed and, for the very first time, I thought I was going to be sick. I held off the feeling and pushed on.

By the time I hit mile 12 I could see the village again. I’d tried to time my turn around so that I would finish before getting to the village, mainly because there is a hill coming into it, a long draining hill that I really didn’t want to finish on. I miscalculated. In my enthusiasm to get going I started off in the village and still turned at the same spot. As I rounded the corner I knew that I was going to finish on the hill. I pushed and pushed. My pace got slower and slower as I tried to sprint up the hill; I had no sprint left. There were no people there to encourage me, no line to cross, just what was in my head and the slow ticking of the odometer as the hundredths of a mile passed.

I stopped the watch at 13.1 miles.

2:23:41. A new PB.

I was 11 minutes faster than my last half run completed in October 2011. That’s a minute faster for almost every mile! I am very pleased with that. If I can only replicate that come the Great North Run I’ll be very happy. If I can’t, I have this as an official PB at least. But who knows. Could I run faster?

On walking back to the house I realised just how much energy I’d used up. I stopped briefly to read the  village notice board and started seeing stars and feeling decidedly unsteady. I got home as soon as I could and popped a potato into the microwave to bake. Ten minutes later I was sitting down to Jacket Potato with Lemon Humous with a glass of soya milk. It was my 80%:20% carb:protein recovery meal. Very simple, but very effective.

I didn’t run at all on Tuesday. Truth be told, I could hardly walk without pain!  After visiting the chiropractor on Monday afternoon I felt a little better, and managed to relax in the hot tub in the evening,  but soon stiffened up during the night. Tuesday, my birthday, was sore! Today, Wednesday, I feel fine, although I did pop a few ibuprofens yesterday!

I’m about to head into the gym for a treadmill recovery run, nothing too tough. I’m saying this out loud so that it goes into my tiny brain! I am, after all, a bear of a very little brain!

New Shoes, New Limits

After my meeting with my chiropractor last week, everything started to make more sense. Yes, I run far better off road than on. I’m more relaxed and my posture is totally different. I realise that the terrain has much to do with this, but so does my shoe. I run off road in old Nike Alvord 7s that probably stopped being made five years ago, but bought them from the Nike Outlet at Gretna just last year. They’ve only got 100 miles on them because my off road running tends to be only 3 miles long.

When I was on holiday in Harrogate last week I went along to Up & Running in the town centre. I wasn’t running yet because my back was still sore and I was certain that I needed to heal properly before going out again. A few days missing running are neither here nor there. I did a fair bit of walking to make up for it.

The guy at Up & Running was extremely helpful. He put me on the treadmill and videoed my running style wearing Brooks Ghosts. Not wanting to say anything against the analysis of my style done previously, he wondered if my style had changed significantly. Read into that what you will! In any case I do not over-pronate; if anything I have a neutral footfall. I don’t toe strike either though. I land mid foot, which is good. I watched the video with him and was really surprised how straight I run. I’d always imagined that my right leg, the twisted one, would kick out more, but it doesn’t really. I do a good job of straightening it out and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s very strange watching yourself running!

The short story is I left the store with a pair of Ghosts, a free pair of socks and good wishes for the Great North Run.

 

I didn’t test them out until Sunday when I ran into Harrogate and back for a 4 mile run. I’d forgotten that it was a Magic Mile run and I wasn’t really up for one, if I’m really honest. I should have just run my 4 miles at 11 min/mile pace and enjoyed it, but I did try to do a MM and failed miserably. I didn’t really know where I was running, I was crossing roads constantly and having to stop to do so and I wasn’t physically fit enough! My MM came in at 10:24, which is abysmal for me.

I did enjoy the easy run back though and I love my new shoes. They are comfortable and I had no issues at all and, wonder of wonders, my back was totally cured post run. I’d gone out feeling a bit tight and stiff and returned without a twinge.

Yesterday I took my dog for a trail run on my usual 3 mile route. It was very warm and humid and I said to my husband that I was just out for an easy 3. My Garmin had died so I took Jeff’s app and listened to the music – not something I do often on the trail. I started off easy and just ran. It was a lovely evening and I was enjoying myself. I found my running easy and I felt strong, even the uphill sections were easier, although I should have known that something good was happening when my core started to ache. When I finished I realised that my easy 3 had turned out to be the fastest 3 I’ve ever done off road. 3 miles in 30:19.

It’s lovely when that happens.

The Day after the Chiro

This morning I’m a tad sore. Understandably when you think how my poor back was manoeuvred back into place yesterday, albeit by the gentlest of hands. I’m taking it easy, still taking co-codamol even though they seem to upset my stomach and I’m not planning any running today.

I did ask my hubbie to put the exercise bike into the Wee Gym as I may have a few kilometres on that later. I’ll see how it goes.

I’m a big fan of listening to my body, although I realise that running 11 miles on Sunday having cricked my back wasn’t really harking what it was trying to tell me. I’m obviously paying the price now, although how much worse I’ve made it we’ll never know. I suspect that I haven’t added much to the load.

In an effort to lift my spirits Life yesterday sent me my Great North Run number!

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It was a slightly scary, but welcome sight, making the experience a little bit more real. However, I’ve now started to worry about logistics which those of you who are long term readers will know that I can be OCD about arrangements! We will be staying at Whitley Bay on the weekend of the run, so I need to spend time working out how to get to the start line (I don’t care about getting back!) on time for a 10:40 start. I need to work back to see what time I need together up, have breakfast and get my kit on. I know, it’s August. I have a full month to worry. Dear God.

I would welcome any advice from locals and veterans of the GNR!

Silver Linings

What a 24 hours I’ve just had.

Yesterday morning, in helping my hubbie to put together our old Citroën van for a huge Citroën gathering this week, I twisted awkwardly and felt my back “pop”. It was a sickening and familar “pop” and I knew it was the start of something sinister, which might make it difficult to understand why I then went out to run 11 miles. Truth is, I honestly thought that running might help loosen the muscles that had already started to go into spasm.

I had decided to split my 11 miles into two runs so that I could fit them into a busy day. I chose to do 6 miles in the morning and 5 later on in the early evening. In doing so, I also managed to get the best of the weather, which was a bit of a bonus. I decided that I would run along the coast road and turn back midway. Yesterday was just about clocking miles, not about time or route or hills or anything else. The coast road is pretty flat and that was fine by me.

However, I almost didn’t start at all. My first few steps were excruciating, there is no other word for it. I felt sick. I was dosed up on co-codamol and had applied ibuprofen gel to my twinging back, but it was hardly working by then. However, I carried on – in the blind hope that things would get better. It did. Whether I have codeine, paracetamol, ibuprofen or natural chemicals to thank for that I don’t know, but I got into an 11 minute mile pace fairly easily. One thing I have noticed though is that Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app runs behind actual distance. For all I’m keeping to the 11 minute mile pace, following the beat synced music and taking the prescribed walk breaks, I’m still running faster and covering more distance than Jeff thinks I should be. I don’t, however, use the GPS on the app, worried about using my my phone battery and rely on the Garmin information for distance, time and pace. It might be more reliable if I were to turn the GPS on.

6 miles in 66:43.

The second session came after I had raced across the region to put up an art exhibition. I was tired and my back was really starting to hurt, but I was determined to get my miles in. I ran the same course at the same pace.

5 miles in 55:44.

I was then treated to dinner at the pub with my favourite recovery drink of Guinness, of which I had several pints. I slept well.

The Grey Cloud

When I woke up, however, the cocktail of pills and the Guinness had worn off and I was in a self-imposed straight jacket. I struggled to sit up in bed and couldn’t get out. I was in a lot of pain. Touching the tender area I could feel the protruding lump of a vertebrae. The surrounding muscle was solid, in protection. I managed to get an emergency appointment at my chiropractor’s surgery at 12:30 and before that I had to struggle back to add some items to the art exhibition (including a large table!) I had an interesting morning, to be sure!

The Silver Lining

The chiropractor was a stand in as my usual one was on holiday and, it turned out, she was a God send! After I explained what I’d done, including admitting to the 11 mile run, she revealed that she was a triathlete! Thank you Lord!! Someone who understands!!! Short story is that she fixed the spasms and lumpy bits and then went on to tell me that I was wearing the wrong running shoes. In a short space of time she had established that I was an anti-pronator, who lands on her toes and has a high arch that flattens out. Since I started running I had thought I was a heel-striking over-pronator. What a revelation! She recommended that I ditch my Asics and invest in a pair of Brooks. I’ve got stretches and pelvic rocking to do and I have to not run for a few days, but she says I’ll be fine and wished me luck with my GNR training.

So here I am, in recovery mode. I have the Olympics on the TV and a nice cup of tea to hand. Every now and again I have to get up and stretch and go for a wander – none of this feet up malarky apparently! I have a golf ball under my left foot to help to stretch the plantar fascia muscle which is too tight (also possibly attributable to my shoes) and tomorrow I am allowed to test out the second hand Everlast exercise bike that I bought last week for £30!

My next run will be on Sunday. I am taking this seriously. I have a kick back week with a 4 mile long run to do, one mile of which is meant to be a Magic Mile. If it’s not, I’ll not be worried. I am pleased to be walking without a wince.

Goodbye Low, Hello High

OK, so here I am at the end of what was apparently my ‘rest week’. I guess I’ve never called it that before; to me rest means rest, not just lower mileage. So in my eyes here I am at the end of a low mileage week. There, that’s better.

Pedantic Pete gets it right!

So this week has me looking forward to 11 miles at the weekend, after two short runs in the week, one of which I’m just about to go and do.

Last week I did my two short runs, one on the treadmill and one through the mud in the woods, as well as a longer run. I had to leave my shorter long run (pedants unite!) until Monday as I was busy on Sunday right through until late. I mapped out a route using roads I know well, but haven’t run in that order before. It kept me on my toes trying to remember the route, but it was a nice run. I look at friends routes sometimes, ones who live in towns and cities, and see no elevation to speak of, just flat road running. I just don’t have that luxury. My “flat” running is never close to being on the level. I always have hills, no matter which way I go! The only way I wouldn’t would be if I ran the village half mile up and down. B.O.R.I.N.G. So I looked at what I could run and came up with this:

 

It’s a 4 mile loop that is as flat as I can get. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Deceptive though. Look at the same elevation in Garmin Player:

That’s the run I know!

In any case, that’s as flat as it gets, which is fine – at least I’m hill ready!

I did my 4 miles in a steady 44:12, which gave me a nice pace of 10:25. I set off too fast, I know that. I was listening to ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ by the Manic Street Preachers and couldn’t find the right pace. Sounds silly, but there must be an odd beat to it. My first mile was 9:40. I’m supposed to be running my long runs at 11 minute miles, but only the last two were that slow. I’m not worrying too much about that.

Today it’s still raining after an almighty downpour last night, so the treadmill is getting a hit again, although I’m tempted to run it all on the incline. I’ll see how that goes! My treadmill has a manual incline of, we think, about 5% which might be a bit much for the whole run at 10 minute pace. I can see me jumping on and off the belt doing mid-run adjustments!!

I’m also picking up an exercise bike tonight, which should help with my cross training.

So, 11 miles on Sunday. I’ll see you on the other side!