Doctor’s Orders?

I have finally been to see a podiatrist. Halleluja I hear you cry – the woman has finally seen sense!

I wish I hadn’t.

For a start, as a new client, I was expecting a reasonable consult time. Instead I was shoe-horned (tasteful analogy, I feel) into a thirty minute spot and thrown out on the dot of half past. However in the thirty minutes (and counting) I was allotted we covered a fair bit of ground.

First of all I have high arches. This makes me vulnerable to Plantar Fasciitis because the foot is acting like a highly tensed spring. On top of this I also have naturally tight calf muscles and the two combined are acting on my Achilles tendon, pulling that as tight as it will go.

He told me to take up swimming. Running and cycling are the worse forms of exercise I could choose.

That’s not all. As a school/college kid I was very sporty and did every thing going. I was on the netball, hockey, cross country and football teams. During one 5-a-side football match I managed to break my big toe. Unfortunately the break has caused the onset of Hallux rigidus (basically a still big toe caused by arthritis in the joint) and a dorsal bunion. I’ve long since given up wearing really high heels because my foot doesn’t bend into shoes like other people’s seem to. It might not get any worse than it is now, although the bunion probably will.

On the good side I don’t overpronate. If anything I slightly supinate on my  left foot (about 2º). My right foot is neutral. Orthotics will help to correct this and also relieve the pressure on my calf/Achilles/Plantar Fascia. Off the shelf orthotics cost about £50 and last a few years, custom made ones can be as much as £350 but last forever. Having discussed it with hubbie I think I’ll make another (short) appointment and get the off the shelf ones. They come in different grades, so in a way they are custom-fit.


With all this in mind I’ve done a couple of short runs this week, one in Yorkshire before leaving and one with the hound on the trails near our house. Both were stiff and slow affairs of which we shall speak no more.

Today I was due to do a shorter long run – just 4 miles, but one of them was timed. I chose to run at 6pm when the sun was on the decline because today has been one of the warmest of the year here. Unfortunately it was also quite windy. I picked my 4 mile loop route because I haven’t been able to run this all winter owing to the wet weather; parts of the route were flooded and only the recent good weather will have dried the floods up. It made a nice change to run this again. However it was a slog at first – one and a half miles mostly uphill, even a low gradient gradually zaps at your energy.

The first mile was slow, purposely slow though. It was meant to be a warm up for the timed mile. When I came to do the timed mile I had to prepare myself with a wee pep talk which consisted of promising myself that I wouldn’t be annoyed if my timed mile was rubbish and reminding myself that I am recovering from injury, it was a windy day and that who the hell cared anyway if I did a slow mile. I did my mile in 10:31. On a less windy day maybe I could have knocked a bit off that, but the truth is I am just not as fast as I was a year ago. I’m trying to convince myself that my pace will return, but I feel sluggish and overweight and it’s getting me down. What I also need to bear in mind is that I am running shorter run intervals at the moment as well. Today was done entirely at 2:1 – not conducive to PB setting.

I need a confidence boost.

953277252_confidence_xlargeThe last two miles were just a jog home. Once I’d done them I was still half a mile from the village so I walked a bit to get my breath back and then ran back into the village at a far better pace than I’d done during the entire run.

Ironic that once the pressure was off I could run better. I’m sure there’s a message for me there.

Running into the Unknown – A Yorkshire Adventure

We’re having a few days away, camping not far from Ripon in North Yorkshire. It’s rather beautiful and we are being blessed with some glorious weather. We’re testing out our newly acquired trailer tent, having sold our caravan in search for something lighter and so more usable with the older cars we use during the classic car season. This little unit will be home to us on several weekends throughout the year, starting now and ending in October, so we needed to make sure it had what we needed.

So far we are very pleased with our comfortable and cosy trailer tent, which probably somewhat annoyingly I have named Trixie. Until it has a name, it’s not part of the family. Trixie was towed here by Etta, driven by Grant.

Yesterday I had a long run to complete, 11 miles into territory I wasn’t really familiar with despite having holidayed here a few times now. I bought an OS walking map of the area and downloaded a mapping app using the site wifi (all mod cons!) and planned a circular route from the campsite through several villages and ending up just outside the next village – the plan being that Grant would then come and collect me.

I set off quite late, after 5, once the heat had gone out of a surprisingly warm sun. My 11 miles were paced to take about 2 hours 15 minutes and the sun was due to go down at 8ish. It was tight, but I was sure I’d make it back before I needed a torch!

The route was gorgeous, taking me through some very pretty villages and past some very expensive looking houses. My first 3 miles were ok. My half pace is set for 10 minute miles, so my long run pace should be about 12-13 minute miles. I did the first three in 10:51, 11:26 and 11:25. At mile four I arrived at the first village, Bishop Monkton. From there I messaged hubbie that I’d arrived safely and that I had just 7 miles to go. I took my first chia 33Shake gel and headed off, following the ducks down the brook which runs through the village. I spotted my first and, as it had it, only fellow runner on the route – a rather athletic looking chap running the other way. I said hello, but got the chilly impression that had I not smiled and said anything my presence would have been ignored.

From Bishop Monkton I headed for Burton Leonard. The route was at this point quite undulating, no huge rises or falls, just nice quiet roads. However the hill up to Burton Leonard was a bit more of a challenge, but I put my head down, shortened my stride and just got on with it. My body felt good, quite strong and with no real aches or pains. I could feel my Achilles stretching, but it wasn’t painful.

From Burton Leonard I headed for Copgrove and on to Staveley, constantly checking the little scrap of paper onto which I had scribbled the place names and a rough map. I had also photographed the OS map with my phone as an emergency back up – I wasn’t going to get lost!

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Miles 4 to 8 came in as follows: 11:35, 11:58, 12:22, 10:55 and 12:20. From that you can see which were the hillier miles! At mile 7 I was flying. I felt great and the ground just seemed to melt away under my feet. My runner’s high!

When I reached the outskirts of Copgrove I stopped to take another gel. I’d managed to find a rubbish bin in Bishop Monkton to dispose of the last gel packet, but I had to hang onto this one until I was in the village centre. I see far too much litter around when I’m running; I hate it. If I can’t dispose of it properly I take it home, no matter how inconvenient that is.

Copgrove to Minskip was a slog, a real slog. It seemed to be a never ending climb, one hill after another – all good practice, I’m sure! but not really what I needed at the end of a long run! Miles 9 and 10 were 12:08 and 11:58. The last mile was torturous and, to make it worse, I’d hit the stop button on the Garmin by mistake and lost some time. However as I’d planned out the route before hand I knew exactly where to stop. When I reached the road end Jeff Galloway announced I’d “done a good job!” I wasn’t that far out. My pace on my last mile was 12:30.

Overall I did the 11 miles at 11:44 pace, with which I am very happy. It was lovely running through places I didn’t know, seeing sights I hadn’t seen before and going slow enough to have a good look. The weather had been perfect and I had plenty of light left to complete the run safely.

I walked/jogged to the end of Minskip and rang hubbie to come for me. It was another couple of miles or so to the campsite at Roecliffe and it would have been quite dark by the time I got back if I had walked. Not only that our last meal was lunch at about 2pm. It was now well after 7pm and I still had dinner to cook!

Today I’m a little bit stiff. My heel is a bit achy and without a freezer compartment of a fridge I have no ice packs. Instead I settled for a walk into Boroughbridge to work out any lactic acid and a limp back when I’d obviously done far too much! I do have some lovely photos though!

Tomorrow I’m due for a 30 minute run which I might do into town and back. We walked along the canal today which would be lovely for a run with the dog. We’ll see!

The Silent Runner

I may have been quiet over the last few weeks, but I’ve still been running. My Achilles heel problem quietly subsided leaving me with a tight calf, but that’s all. My lovely chiropractor has identified two trigger points on my calf and worked on those last week whilst I bit down on the treatment bed, but ultimately relieved the tightness.
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I’m back up to 9 miles and with six weeks to go to my first half marathon I’m feeling pretty strong. My speed is slowly coming back and my endurance is good. I’m running 2:1 ratios on trails and 2.30:1 on the road. This might sound odd but I’m happier running faster for short periods than slower for longer. I’m permanently running fartlek! I’m planning to increase the running intervals on longer runs. My shorter runs are either off road or on the treadmill, depending on what I can manage to do.

I’ve been testing out my chia seed gels and apart from them being a bit chewy, they are great! I’m getting into the habit of taking them regularly on long runs, taking only water with me rather than taking sports drinks. They are quite big, that’s the only drawback. I can fit two into my armband, I might manage three, but then I’ll be stuck. However three might be enough if I follow advice and take one on the start line.

Tonight I did a 30 minute trail run, about 2 1/2 miles, accompanied by my little dog and my mountain biking hubbie. I went out quite quickly, but backed off a bit coming home mainly because it’s mostly uphill and that places extra stress on my heel. I’m being sensible, looking at the big picture and listening to my body. It was a good run, a stronger run again. In fact each time I go out I feel stronger, faster, better. It’s a relief after months of injury.

Next Saturday, quite unbelievably perhaps, I have an appointment with a podiatrist. I walked past his door this morning and doubled back thinking it was about time I saw him. I explained that I was a runner coming back after injury and he asked me to come back, bringing my running shoes, orthoptic inserts and anything else I’ve used to help me. I’ll get the tow bar on the car then…

This week we’ll be testing our trailer tent in Yorkshire. I’ve got an 11 mile run on Monday, so I’ll be looking at the quiet roads and planning a route (and taking a map!) I’ve treated myself to some nice new Karrimore running vests, so I’m hoping the weather will be warm enough to wear them!

On the fundraising front I’ve managed to alter my page so that it doesn’t just follow the EMF Half. Instead I have a challenge page and I’ve raised £65 so far. If I raise £100 per race I’ll be happy, so I’m not far off the first target of £100 for this one. A bit of promotion wouldn’t go amiss, I suppose!

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