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.

Ten Marathons Later…

My blog writing these days seems to be confined to those done on long car journeys. Here I am again, travelling back from Birmingham, iPad on my lap trying to recall what exciting running tales I have. This is more of an apology than an explanation, i.e. forgive me if it all goes awry.

Since retuning from our Lake District holiday my hubbie has decided that he would like to run more often and the lighter nights are allowing this. However his renewed interest in running has knocked my training programme into a cocked hat; how do I satisfy his enthusiasm and my need to improve? Basically I’ve decided that I can’t do both and if that means that my training programmes have to take a bit longer so that I can go running with the man I love, then so be it. Jack (remember my friend Jack) would say that I wasn’t committed, but he’d be wrong. I am a committed runner, committed to my marriage. That’s doubly committed in my book!

On Monday we ran a slow, but faster than last time, 2.5 miles. Just a there and back run in the cold sunshine. The sun was shining, but there was a cold wind blowing.

On Tuesday I decided that some speed intervals were required and so had Jeff Galloway. He drawled that today we will be doing some race pace intervals and, as the weather wasn’t good, I opted for the treadmill. I had put Jeff and his Easy 10k away, but now that the evenings are stretching out I have more time for longer runs and so out he’s come again. It’s nice having that structure. One of the other reasons why I’d stopped using the app was because it was pushing me too hard and I was becoming despondent. Scratch that. I was pushing myself too hard, as usual. I’d got my heart set on subbing 60 minutes for my 10k, from a 65 minute PB. Rather than aim for 59 minutes I was aiming for 55, attempting to knock 10 minutes off my time and I was near killing myself in the process! I am now wearing my sensible hat, have readjusted the app and it’s now set for 10 minute miles. With any luck one mile will be 9 minutes long! The difference, as I told my husband afterwards as we soaked in the hot tub (who needs ice baths?) was that I could easily manage the race pace sprints in the middle of the run, instead of struggling to finish them and sometimes even stopping to walk during them.

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With that under my belt I arrived at school on Wednesday to discover that the Olympic Torch Relay fundraiser that I thought was the following week wasn’t. A quick duck home to collect my gear and I was running laps of the grass playing field with primary school children. 7 laps equalled a mile so whatever I did had to be in multiples of 7. It was hard enough remembering how many laps I’d done of the running track the other week without having wee voices asking “How many laps have you done Mrs Hollis?” Running on grass is not my favourite,no matter how forgiving it is on the knees. It is a strength zapper. I wasn’t timing myself, but I did 5 miles in about 45 minutes. The school as a whole, with two other adult long lappers and some walking parents, achieved a total of over 270 miles, the equivalent of 10 marathons far surpassing their target of 5 marathons, one for every ring of the Olympic emblem. Their achievement can be seen on the official Olympic countdown site.

Some of the children hadn’t realised that I really did run; they looked at me with semi-scorn beforehand, not wanting to believe it. Afterwards some of them were incredulous that I’d run 35 laps. Some congratulated me with a pat on the back! Actually I was secretly pretty pleased with myself too. I’d arranged to run alongside a seasoned runner, a friend who is SO encouraging of my efforts that I was delighted to run with him. George has been a runner for as long as I’ve known him. It’s a standing joke that George wears some garish get ups and runs with headband and sunglasses regardless of the weather. He gives every race his all and can be heard puffing tothe finish line before he is seen, much to the concern of his wife! Before the holiday I’d joked with Linda, his wife, that we should coordinate headbands only to be presented with a special headband on Wednesday morning! George is my anti-Jack pill. George was ‘fresh’ from the Rock and Roll Half in Edinburgh the weekend before but that didn’t seem to slow his pace. He had a steady pace and I kept up with him for most of the way, stopping only for a swig of juice and two short walks. I ended up just one lap behind him and as he is a 50 minute 10ker that was good enough for me.

Since then I’ve not run. I will do at the weekend, but last night I travelled with my family to attend a funeral today and tonight we’re travelling home. Life gets in the way and it’s ok, my running is a pleasure and I will treat it as such.