Beating the Heat

I’m sorry that I’m not posting more often. I think I got out of the habit when I was unable to run (and a bit depressed about posting about not running) and it’s just difficult to get back into it. Especially as I have so much to rebuild.

It’s been so hot here recently that running has been largely out of the question, but this morning I decided to hit the trails early and get a couple of miles in. The sun had been up for hours, but it was still cool as I headed out of the door accomapnied by Murphy the Running Dog. He was happy to get out as the heat has largely stopped his walks too.

I’ve somehow managed to resurrect my old Garmin Forerunner 405 through a series of resets and battery drains. I am amazed that it’s still working! I’ve had it pretty much since I started running and the battery should be goosed by now, but it keeps resurrecting itself. The Jesus of Sports Watches!

I’m running a 45sec/15 sec split using LoLo’s 10k app. Two things to explain there: Firstly, I’m running for 45 seconds at 7 mph and then walking for 15 seconds at 12 mph. This averages out at about 11 min/mile pace on the road, a little slower on the trails. Secondly, I decided, in the middle of my second shot at the 5k app, that as I wanted to work up to 10k anyway, I might as well hop across to the 10k program now. I’m was on day 3 of this plan today, a 2 mile run. The 45/15 split means that I’m pretty much running continuously, but giving my extremely tight calves (and plantar fasciitis) a chance of getting to the end of whatever I’m doing.

In the trees the temperature was bearable, but as soon as I came through into the open I could see that both Murphy and I would struggle if I did my usual there and back route, so I decided to run around up to the castle and benefit from almost constant tree cover. Thankfully the midges were pretty scarce, so this was still a good decision. Apparently there’s a national shortage of midges because all of the puddles have dried up. I can assure you that there are still a few puddles on this running route, left behind as the sun never gets through, but the midges could be seen dancing in the sun and I just made sure my eyes and mouth were closed when I ran through them!


I got to two miles just past the castle and decided to just enjoy the walk back and cool down a little. My new running shoes, Asics Noosa FFs, are a little on the small size (even though I bought them in a full size bigger) – so I’ve not been wearing socks in them. Unfortunately a couple of tiny bits of grit ensured two lovely blisters today. I’m looking for a good pair of inexpensive trail shoes now! I’ve seen some Karrimore shoes at Sports Direct which will do, but didn’t want to pay the extra £4.99 postage to get them! I’m sure that our local store can order them in for free if they don’t have them in stock! I may have to invest in another pair of runners if the Asics prove to be just a bit too small.

I’m still attending Physio at the local hospital to try and help with my core strength, inflexibility and plantar fasciitis. I’ve got a shed load of exercises to do on a three times daily basis, which I sometimes manage – but often forget to do! To make up for this I’m also doing a Daily Yoga challenge, which I forgot to do yesterday – so that’s going well too. Jeesh.

I’m hoping that I’ll have got far enough through my program to run at Jedburgh in October. It’s the hardest 10k I’ve done (so hilly and windy!), but I enjoy the route and it would be nice to get back to doing something reasonably competitive. 5ks aren’t really my thing, they are too fast and I don’t enjoy them the same. (Although I do like the BUPA Winter 5k run up and round Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh! Maybe I just like hills!) I’ve always said that 6 miles is my distance, even having run at half marathon distance and beyond.

So that’s it. I have a goal. Get myself race fit for October and see if I can beat the hills of Jedburgh again.

Running in the Big Outdoors

The rest of the country are, apparently, enjoying a sunny and warm Bank Holiday Monday. It’s dry here and not blowing a gale; I’m confident that our two weathers are the  same.


I’m staying at my mother’s house near Stranraer in south west Scotland. We live about two hours away, still in the same region of Scotland, but further east. I’ve missed a couple of days of running through work and being here, so today I decided to head out for a run.

I’ve been re-following a Couch to 5k programme written by Jeff Galloway and mostly using the treadmill. I don’t really enjoy running on the treadmill and my poor old treadmill is starting to show its age. There is no treadmill at Mom’s house and as she lives right on the coast it was a no brainer to run on quiet roads. I don’t really know the little roads round here, so Mom suggested a circular route. It was quite short (I obviously run further than Mom thought I do!) and was part road and part trail, but it was lovely running outdoors!


I’m back to running intervals and I’d worked up to 3:1 run:walk intervals on the treadmill, but adjusted this to 2:1 for this first outdoor run for a while. I’m becoming quite sensible in my old age! It worked well and I covered 3km in about 20 minutes.


I’ve thrown all of my pre-surgery shoes away, runners included, because my gait has changed and the wear patterns were making me unstable. All of my running shoes were fairly worn anyway, so I didn’t feel as if I was throwing a fortune away, but I’m now left with one pair of runners – a pair of Sketcher Go-Runs which I didn’t enjoy wearing much before. They have a drop heel, encouraging me to walk and run on my midfoot and toes, and they are definitely helping with the plantar fasciitis which I’ve had since November last year. I’m due to go to see a physio tomorrow so I’ll wait to see what they say. I will need to buy a new pair of road shoes and a pair of trail shoes too, so a bit of gait analysis is required!



Back to It (again)

The latest road to fitness has proved to be a bit of a bumpy one. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that, nothing has been easy with running since I started again in 2011. Injury after injury should have put me off, but I guess that just shows what sort of a person I am. Stupid.

Persistent…determined, both far better words, but anyone who doesn’t learn from their ‘mistakes’, if I can call injuries that, must be a bit stupid. Or at least a touch mad. I settle for that. I’m a bit mad.

However, I’m back to it with a 2 mile treadmill run this morning. Plantar Fasciitis is a real enemy of mine and this time it actually lasted a good couple of months. At its worst point I even decided to go to the doctor, but events took over and my focus was no longer on a foot injury. That paled into insignificance. Sadly my wonderful father passed away following an all too short battle with cancer on Christmas Eve and his passing just brought me to a very abrupt halt in many, many ways.

Running has always been my time for mindfulness, long before it was trendy to call it that. I used to call it “Me Time” and on long runs especially I’d sort out a myriad of arguments and problems, chuntering away to myself as I ran along. These days, as my runs are far shorter, I have to pick my battles. Today I chose to run with no distractions and just let my mind wander. I’ve no idea where it went. I’ll go and look for it later. Where did I leave it, I wonder?

Today the weather is gorgeous here in Dumfries, with clear blue skies and bright, warming sunshine, and I’m away to have a quick shower before going back into the cabin where my treadmill lives and ignore it and start painting instead. The treadmill has seen me through almost 400 miles and its starting to show its age, squeaking like a demented rat at every footfall.

It does help to keep the other rats away though. That’s got to be a bonus!



One Step Forward

I’ve never felt more strongly that the old saying ‘one step forward, two steps back’ could apply more adeptly to my situation. From a post of near elation the other day, where I’d finally made tentative running steps on my trusty old treadmill after six weeks of inactivity, I struggled to walk any real distance the following day without that familiar searing pain in my left hip. It stops me dead, that’s how sore it is. I’ve been caught within sight of the car and unable to move any further towards it without several rests and tears streaming down my face. It’s no joke.

But today, after a few days of rest and recuperation, I feel well enough to give another short run a try. I’m nothing if not determined; I will get back on track. I’m actually thinking of a two mile trail run with my faithful running partner, Murphy Dog, and, if I can persuade him, my hubbie. Having hubbie there will restrict my speed and stop me from doing anything silly.

Last year I ran 473 miles. I had wanted to round that up to 500 by Hogmanay, but it wasn’t to be. 473 was my total and I’m proud of that. I’ve run further in a year and trained for less races, but it’s not the quantity that’s important anymore, it’s the quality.


2014 was a strange running year for me. I started the year with Plantar Fasciitis, which took an age to heal, and then picked up various injuries as I trained for three half marathons. I’d planned on a few more shorter races, but injuries and illnesses got in the way and I managed only a 5k and a 10k at either end of the season. I learned to listen to my body and opt out of races, missing two 10ks in mid-season. It took me a couple of frightening asthma attacks to start listening, but I got there. I finished the year with Bursitis on the hip, taking me into 2015 with a wince and a limp.

I’ve no idea what 2015 has in store for me, it’s probably better that I don’t know. I have decided to scale things down a bit though and just aim for one half marathon in October and concentrate more on improving my speed over shorter distances. I’ll be looking at more 5k and 10k races and I’m looking at some trail races too. Maybe I just overdid things last year and I’m paying the price now. I do vow to enjoy running in 2015, it’s the only resolution I’m making. Running with a smile has to be better than running with a grimace!

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.

New Kicks for a New Day

My last post was a bit down. I don’t apologise for that; it’s a reality that life dishes out downers and we need to deal with these and carry on. So I’m carrying on.

Yesterday I crossed the border, left Scotland and went to Carlisle in England’s county of Cumbria. Carlisle is just under 30 miles away, quite close by our standards, and a much larger place than our local town of Dumfries. I hadn’t intended to go to a running shop, but my chores led me in that direction. Honest they did!

I ended up gazing longingly at nice new trainers in Chivers Sports. I tried on about half a dozen different pairs, mostly Asics and Brooks – the two trainers I’ve bought in the past, and ran up and down the shop under the watchful eye of one of the salesman. He knew his stuff! I explained that I had been told that I was a neutral runner, but that I’d had Plantar Fasciitis and had the start of bunions on each big toe (requiring a wider fit). He wasn’t put off by my peculiar running style (flicking my twisted right leg so that I landed well) but noticed that my left foot rolled in slightly. I needed some support, but not the excessive support of the Asics I’d worn previous to owning my Brooks Ghost 5s.

Choices, choices.
Choices, choices.

In the end we were choosing between the Ghost 6 and the Defyance 7. I noticed that the Ghost  dipped away at the left big toe, making me want to roll more in that direction, but the Defyance had me landing square. It was a no-brainer: I choose the Defyance.


Brooks state that the Defyance has…

..that same amazing balance of the GTS…smoothly infused in the Neutral construction of this hybrid ride. From the reliable transition of the segmented crash pad to the adaptability of anatomical Brooks DNA and the adjustable eye row, this versatile shoe wins the all-around award every run.

After choosing, my salesman disappeared with my kicks for quite some time. It transpired that they keep records of every shoe sale to every customer and note down any issues that the customer has. My poor salesman had an essay to write! I eventually left with new shoes, at a discounted price and a discount card for future purchases.

So far as my running is concerned, well I’m almost ready to restart my half marathon training. I’ve been treading water a bit since Christmas, not wanting to put any undue strain on my left foot and re-spark my PF. I’ve done mostly short trail runs (up to 3 miles) and treadmill running. I’m enjoying trail running again, as is my dog!

Murphy in sniff-mode.
Murphy in sniff-mode.
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!

The excessive rain we’ve been ‘enjoying’ has made parts of this route very, very muddy, but it doesn’t bother me other than obviously slowing me down! My old Nike Alvords are looking really manky these days, but they dust off when the mud dries and they are still  comfortable. I’ve even started leaving my Garmin at home and not timing my running. It’s quite liberating really!

My half training starts next week, so I’ll have to dust off my Jeff Galloway training app. I’ve set it for 11 minute mile pace, which I know I can more than handle, and will adjust the walk:run intervals as I feel fit. I’m feeling really positive about things just now so let’s just hope that I can stay injury free!

Streaking Through to Christmas

First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been checking up on my progress and maladies since I last posted. Knowing that people whom I have never met care enough to reach out is very comforting.

I’m back running, albeit on the treadmill as our days are light for just six hours now and I’m working all of them. As Christmas hurtles towards us I’m also struggling to find time to run for any decent distance so instead I’ve reverted to my running pattern for this time of year – a run streak.

I have to point out, that's not me, that's Will Farrell. My hair is longer.
I have to point out, that’s not me, that’s Will Farrell.
My hair is longer.

My rules for my run streak are simple. I run every day. It doesn’t matter where I run, but I allow myself a minimum of fifteen minutes. That’s it. Run every day for at least fifteen minutes. Of course with warm up and cool down time it looks more like half an hour, but that’s the beauty of making fifteen minutes the minimum. I can find half an hour a day, but I can’t always RUN for half an hour a day. Sad as that sounds.

pink-elephant-trauma-recoveryToday I got up early and woke my neighbours up by pounding out my minimum on the treadmill in the cabin at the end of the garden. Apparently I can be heard for miles, although I think they might be taking the mickey. Or maybe my childhood nickname of Fairy Elephant might be more appropriate than I realised. I did a quick 2.6km in 15 minutes, giving me a respectable 9:15 min/mile pace. Go me.

My Daily Mile stats tell me that I’ve run 568 miles this year. I would have liked to have got a nice round 600 by New Year, but if I don’t I won’t be overly upset since I’ve had Plantar Fasciitis for half of it!

Talking of which, it’s still not properly gone away. I get heel ache after running and walking and standing. Nothing like as bad as it was and I do massage and ice it and, if it’s bad, I wear my night splint. All of this helps, but nothing has cured it completely. It is bearable though and I shouldn’t complain.

So all that leaves me to do is to wish everyone reading a very Merry Christmas! You can keep up with my run streak on Daily Mile or Twitter, just follow the links on the right of the screen.