Less is More

Minimalists will tell you that less is definitely more (and probably end the sentence with “darling”) and in my case recently it’s certainly had to be. I’ve had to cut right back on my mileage, run mostly indoors whilst watching TV (to alleviate boredom) and monitor my Plantar fascia/calf/Achilles like a state registered nurse. However, as I enter the last week before my half marathon, that seems to have paid off.

Today I had my last “long” run to do, a 5 mile taper. I decided to run it completely off road on trails close to home with my trusty hound. It was a good decision. The wind was up and had I run along the shore road I would have surely been running into it either going out or heading back. The trees afforded me shelter, most of the time. In fact it was a delight running through the trees as Autumn is starting to creep in. There are a few golden leaves on the ground already, scattered like confetti at a woodland wedding. The sun was out and the temperatures were ideal for running, not too warm, not too cold. Baby Bear weather.

I had new toys to take with me! A new armband to replace the one I’ve been using for the last goodness knows how long, held together with sellotape, and some gorgeously comfy earphones to replace the cheap ones I’d bought from Aldi that felt as if I was wearing drawing pins.

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My armband is an Armpocket i25, which is big enough for my iPhone in its Mophie Juice jacket (giving me double battery power at least), my keys, gels, dog biscuits and a small country, I think. It’s roomy, shall we say! It’s dearer than a lot, but I wanted something big enough to carry my phone in the battery pack as my battery just isn’t up to lasting the distances I am currently running.) I paid £17 including postage from eBay, but I was prepared to pay £25 for one, if I had to. I rarely replace this kind of thing, but having a waterproof jacket for my phone is essential when I run in the middle of nowhere.  The earphones are Karrimor bought from Sports Direct at a knockdown price of £4.99. They made up for the armband.

I had loosely planned to do two laps of a route that I thought might be around 5 miles, but ended up changing this slightly as I ran. It wasn’t a fast run, trail runs rarely are, but it was a solid run with only planned walk breaks and a decent off road pace. My split times are fairly consistent, which is great. That’s the first time in ages that an outdoor run hasn’t disintegrated into a limp! My data is here, if you feel the need to look!

My foot held up fine, although I am starting to feel it now as I had expected. I’ll be limping for the evening, but it should be OK by tomorrow morning. I’m away for a bath shortly and then I’ll ice my heel. It’s becoming a well-kenned routine.

So I’m on for Sunday’s race, providing nothing happens between then and now. I won’t be looking to beat any personal bests – I’ll be happy to finish without any problems. I will be taking regular walk breaks and won’t beat myself up over the time.

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I will be wearing these nifty things, bought after seeing them on Facebook. They are called Event Clips and are a replacement for safety pins. They don’t break the fabric, but pinch it between the front and back of the clip, holding your bib number securely (hopefully). I’ll report back on how they performed.

I’ll leave you with some photos I took on the trail as I head off for a lovely, bubbly bath!

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Miles, Feet and Inches

Since I lasted posted, which was a while ago now I know, I’ve continued to battle with PF. I’m pleased to say that it’s dramatically better and I’m able now to run reasonably pain free. I get the occasional pain, which is like a small sharp jab, but that’s all.

Of course I have had to reel my mileage right back, splitting long runs by running half in the morning and half in the evening. I’ve tried to keep running, but have run mostly on the treadmill. Today I completed 12 miles by running 7 this morning and 5 tonight. It was meant to be a 14 mile run, but 12 was enough.

The reason for this wasn’t to do with my PF. My PF foot was fine, although after this morning’s run it had started to ache a bit when I was wandering around the shops today. No, my reason for calling the run short was that I had a large blister on the base of my little toe on the other foot!

On Saturday I was out at a Soul Night and the floor in the function room had been newly laid and it wasn’t easy for me to dance on it in my shoes, so I took them off. I didn’t realise but the seam of my tights was stuck under my toe and a blister gradually formed as the night went on. Really, I should know better. I’m 49 years old!

On Sunday I discovered what had happened and burst the blister. It was fine and I thought that was that. This morning’s run was fine and I did it without any real problems (apart from running out of Star Trek DVDs to watch.) However when we were shopping my toe started to sting so I stopped and removed my sock only to find that the empty blister had welded itself together to form a point! I bought a gel plaster, which has helped a bit, but not enough to stop me from limping.

My number for the Great Cumbrian Run has arrived. It’s sitting in the envelope and I’m still undecided what to do. Today was my last long run so now I am on a taper. If I can get outside to do some short pain-free trail or road runs I’ll be very happy. If I’m in any doubt I will pull out of the race. I would hate for the problem to be exacerbated by racing.

When 12.5 became 9 and a bit!

Hi everyone!

I’m back to training, to a fashion anyway. My Plantar Fasciitis pain hasn’t gone away yet. I’ve been doing all the necessary stretches, massaging, icing et cetera. I’ve even been to see the chiropractor, which was as much as date with the devil as anything I’ve done. That man knows how to hurt me. I’ve renamed many of his clinical ‘moves’ to names which I feel are far more descriptive. The ‘Vulcan Death Grip’, for example, sums up the shoulder massage I get.  ‘Knife Ripping Through Skin’ amply describes the move he does to break up lactic acid and send it on its way. And what is worse about that one is that I have to do all the work. He presses down on a certain spot and my movement causes the pain. And the release, it has to be said. Painful as it is, it works.

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After visiting him on Thursday I was sure that by Monday I would be on for a long, slow run. Friday’s short run got delayed and delayed again and I found myself running on the treadmill on Sunday. Sticking with the longer run: shorter walk ratio I achieved a good 5k with ease. I was happy to try my long run on Monday.

As I’m now just a few weeks from my half marathon, The Great Cumbrian Run, I thought it prudent to more or less abandon the intensive training I’d been doing and just train to finish the race. This meant ditching the mileage and intervals and looking at shorter distances. This would have been fine after me doing 14 miles last week (and suffering for it) had the alternate plan not asked me to do 12.5 miles this week.

I set off in my new trainers, complete with off the shelf sports orthopaedic insoles (from Aldi, nonetheless – the bargain hunters paradise) and set off for an easyish long run. It soon became apparent that my insoles were too high. My right foot didn’t even feel as if it was in the shoe properly and after a couple of miles I stopped to remove the insole. My foot felt as if something was stinging it and when I looked the insole had been pushing my toes against the top of the shoe and I had my first (in four years of running) blister forming!

I carried on with one insole in supporting my bad foot for about half a mile. As my right leg is the shorter one and the left foot had the lift in it felt as if I was running with one high heel on. The insole had to go. It was either all or nothing. After removing the second insole I felt more balanced, but I could immediately feel that my arch wasn’t being as supported as it was when I was running before. What I should have done is popped in the insoles that I’ve been wearing in my ordinary shoes; they are a far smaller fit.

I ran 5 miles reasonably well, keeping fairly well to the the 7 minute: 40 second intervals and maintaining an 11 minute mile. The weather had been great – cloudy, a gentle breeze, not too warm and then suddenly the sun broke through and the temperatures lifted. Little was I to know that this was to mean that worse weather was to follow. I cursed the sun as I headed out to turn at 6.25 miles.

At the turn point I checked my phone and was a bit disappointed to see that it had only 50% battery. I wasn’t sure if that was going to last and as it was a new battery I was even more annoyed. I’m going to have to use my Mophie recharge system and get a larger armband to fit it in or carry the phone in my backpack.

As I started back the sun disappeared and the wind got up. I was running into it and watching the clouds forming rather too quickly. By now my foot was really aching and I was starting to limp as I ran. I was determined to make it back though and tried to push on through the pain.

And then the rain started. Just gentle drops at first, almost refreshing.

By mile 8 it was hammering down and it had started to thunder in the distance. All of a sudden I could envisage the headlines…

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…well, a headline similar to that, with me in the frog’s place. Poor frog, by the way.

With my foot now really hurting, me limping along and the rain bouncing off the road I decided to call home and get my son to collect me. At that precise moment my phone went flat. And, as I turned round to check my phone our postman drove past and waved back at my frantic waves to cadge a lift. I had no choice but to limp to the nearest house and hope that someone was home.

I actually ran another mile and a bit before slowing to a walk and walked another half mile or so to the next house which was annoyingly only a couple of miles from my own house. The lady of the house took pity on the dishevelled runner dripping rainwater onto her lino and happily gave me use of the house phone. Luckily my son had not left for work and zipped round to collect me. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had to cut a long run short and I’ve never had to be collected before, which might tell you just how sore my foot was at this point. I could hardly put weight on it.

It’s a day later and I’m walking again. The whole massage/icing/stretching routine couple with the use of the inserts that work have helped to straighten me out again, although I could hardly walk last night and this morning. I’m not annoyed by only completing 9 miles (and a bit) because I did well to complete those 9 and a bit miles in a reasonable time. My pace suffered but was still around 11:15 mile pace – not far off my intended 11:00 mile pace.

What I am worried about though is the fact that I may not be ready (or able) to run my half at the beginning of October. I’ve decided that until I feel confident I shall continue to split long runs in half and run one in the morning and one at night. That was if I can’t do the second half I’m not in the middle of nowhere (without a phone!). If that means that I have to do short loops, that’s what I’ll do. If it also means that I have to prepare on the treadmill, well it’s better than not preparing at all.

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On an upnote I’ve entered the Great Winter Run, the 5k race I’ve done for the last two years with my non-running husband. It’s a toughie, climbing Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano in Edinburgh, but I’d love to do a sub 30 minute time on it having done 35 minutes as a chaperone and felt able to do more. That’s something to look forward to and focus on.

Onwards

The Other Half

That’s it – 13 miles done. Well actually that’s 22.69 km done, which is, according to my conversion app, 14.1 miles. Yaay, go me. That’ll be why it seemed to take so long!

My foot is officially killing me. I really struggled through that last session, still running for 7 minutes and taking 40 second walk breaks. It meant that although I was running for longer I could run a little slower. I still maintained 10:36 pace, which is faster than my best half marathon pace by far.

I will now rest up. I’ve stretched, dinner is cooking and I hear a bath calling my name. A wine bottle also seems to be trying to attract my attention, so I must see what it wants!

Halving the Pain

My foot pain is continuing to cause havoc to my training plan. On Wednesday I’m meant to be running a local 10k, but as I seem to have forgotten to enter it (as my number hasn’t yet arrived) I’m seeing this as a bit of a God-send.  I’m now wearing orthopaedic inserts in my shoes and these seem to be helping although it was frighteningly awkward when I first put them in. If they are making me walk ‘properly’ I must have been walking like a chimpanzee before, that’s all I’m saying.

If I’m on my feet for any length of time my foot starts to really ache, so in order to get my miles in I’ve decided that I have to split my long runs until my foot is healed. This might take some time! Last week I was due to run 13 miles, but I postponed it in the hope that I could do it today. The weather is perfect for outdoor running (a tad windy I’ll grant that) but I’ve chosen to run on the treadmill in the heat of my un-airconditioned cabin. My reason for this was that the shortest loop I can run here is 5 miles. If I started to have problems I had a long way to walk home. It made more sense, with a foot injury, to run on a slightly cushioned surface and concentrate more on my cardio fitness. If I got into difficulties I could just walk into the house. In order to compensate for being on the mill I decided to run for 7 minutes and walk for 40 seconds.

With season 1 Star Trek Voyager set up on the video and my Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app on my iPhone I started off at a steady pace. The 7 minute run intervals were no bother at all and although I could feel my foot aching at times, it didn’t get too painful and never caused me to stop. I completed just over half of the overall distance, 7.22 miles, in 75:57 – giving me 10:31 pace. I’m happy with that.

I’ve got a car to detail and some ironing to do and then I’ll do the remaining distance to another episode of Voyager. I already feel better for having done a good chunk of running so when I get the whole 13 miles done I shall be ecstatic.