Attending Gym

I maintain three blogs; this one (obviously), an arty one for my business and a motoring one for the club of which I’m secretary. It takes a lot of time of which, generally speaking, I don’t have much! I’m working my way through them this morning.

However,  here I am! And I bring with me tidings of reasonable cheeriness.

Since I last posted I have been attending Gym. I tried to approach it in a similar way as I used to my running, but I seem to have less inclination towards Gym as I did running through woods in the early evening light. The urge to Gym isn’t as strong. It’s more of a necessity than a dedication. With maybe a bit of determination thrown in.

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Yes, that’s me, smiling as I cycle away. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.

On average I go to the gym three times a week. I walk, I bike and I swim. In that order too. I don’t know why, it just became ‘Routine’.

I started walking 1km on the treadmill at a slowish speed and now I can walk 1.25km at a less slow speed. Well, let me be honest here. I can walk 0.5 km, then I painfully limp the remainder. I’m just building up the amount of pain I can endure.

Cycling has never been an issue. I could stationary cycle 10km even when I was at my most injured; these days I’m following a walk with a cycle and sticking to 5km so that I don’t break myself. I’d hate for that to happen. Again.

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Then, with wanton abandon, I haul my sorry ass to the pool. I love swimming, really love it, but I really hate getting changed. I’m longing for the day when I can step into a changing room like Mr Benn and, as if by magic,  emerge ready for the pool and then ready for home, without need for a soggy towel or a squirt of talcum powder.

Multimillionaire Duncan Bannatyne can rest easy; I’ve signed up for a year of Gym. The way I’m going, I can’t see me running through the woods any time soon!

 

The First Comeback Kilometer

Today I walked an entire kilometer, without stopping.

An entire kilometer!

My last, post-injection, walk was a quarter of a kilometer, but today I managed a full one. Go me!

I’m using the treadmill, to ensure that I don’t jar my back (under doctor’s orders!) and it was kept level. It wasn’t easy. The last quarter was painful, but I was determined to finish on a round number! Being a tad obsessive isn’t always a good thing!

I followed it with a tough bike ride; last time the bike ride was easy – this time my thighs were letting me know that they’d also just walked the furthest they had in a year!

I was so proud, I logged the distances on Map My Fitness and tweeted and shared my achievement.

It is, however, a really beautiful day and I would love to have walked that kilometer with Murphy, down through the woods. The uneven ground makes this a total no-no and I have to content myself with progress made on a treadmill in my own backyard whilst watching old episodes of Star Trek.

And I am content.

I walked an entire kilometer!

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Small Gains

Yesterday I walked to the pub. I was so excited about it, I put it on Facebook and my friends congratulated me on my huge achievement. I had walked to the pub! It was a considered walk and, at times, strange as I adopted a cycling type step to help me through the soreness towards the end. I got there though and going back was altogether easier, thanks to the few shandies I had!

The pub is barely a quarter of a mile away.

Since my lumbar nerve root injection two weeks ago I’ve not noticed any real difference. I was told it could take up to two weeks to take effect. Last week I walked the dog from my shop in Dumfries to the parcel office and back, which was a huge achievement, but I suffered afterwards and had clearly overdone it. Until yesterday I hadn’t really tried again.

This morning, as a I rolled over, my back gave an almighty crack. It’s done this before and in the back of my mind that crack is the undoing of the natural bone fusion which will mean I don’t have to have surgery. I hate it. And I’m partly too frightened to find out and partly too mortified to go to a very busy neurosurgeon and tell him that “My back cracked.” If I mentioned it to my husband I know he would dismiss it as nothing and I’d feel foolish, which is why I’m telling all of you instead – like admitting guilt to a secret diary.

However, despite my enormous crack (I thank you!) I actually feel fine this morning. No soreness in my hip or legs, just a nagging pain in my back which I feel more and more these days. I lay on my left side for the first time in a year and a half this morning. I can’t remember looking at the bedroom from that angle! Today, as it’s gloriously warm and sunny and my day off, I shall attempt to mow the grass out the back (which neither of us has yet attempted this year and which is in danger of being declared a Nature Reserve!)

I’ve approached a couple of gyms in the town about membership. I’ve never joined a gym for anything other than casual membership, so to commit to a year’s worth of use is a big step. The two I looked at were like chalk and cheese, one tiny and crowded – the other huge and roomy. Despite a slightly larger cost and being slightly further away, I’m going for membership of the bigger gym. My initial idea was that if I went to the nearer and smaller leisure based gym, I could leave the dog in the shop on hot days and walk there. The further away large chain gym will mean me having to drive out and then drive back to collect the dog. It’s not too far and he’s used to being at the shop.

I got on the scales yesterday for the first time in ages and got a very pleasant surprise. I’ve not been dieting, or even watching what I eat, and lately have been bringing a lot of takeaways home, but I’ve actually lost weight! I’m still a full stone heavier than I was when I was running, but less than I was post-Christmas. I think I’ve actually been too busy to eat!

Tonight I shall buy myself a swimming costume. The two I have are yonks old and should be consigned to the bin. I shall also get out my running leggings and see what still fits! Mr Khan, the neurosurgeon, was very specific in what I’m allowed to do and said I’m to try treadmill walking (initially on the flat), stationary cycling (I’m allowed to use the Spin Bikes too!) and swimming using a variety of strokes. When I start to improve I can join a pilates group and use a hilly programme on the treadmill. I know I’ll feel as if I’m starting again at the gym, but I shall make a point of wearing every half marathon T-shirt I’ve won, just to quietly let people know where I’ve been.

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On the road to recovery

Seasonal Greetings!

Up until today I hadn’t felt much like posting here, mostly because there wasn’t much to say. I was injured and I wasn’t running and I was grumpy because of it.

Today I travelled along the road to recovery. Not far, but far enough to lift my spirits and make me feel a bit more human. A bit more like a runner again.

On my last trip to the chiropractor on Monday of Christmas week I saw for the first time genuine concern on the face of my chiropractor as everything he suggested previously had failed to work. I was in as much pain as ever and the pain killers were making me ill. I’d had to stop taking them and resort to prescription grade ibuprofen gel. It wasn’t handy and applying gel to your hip and leg isn’t easy when you’re working! Not to be beaten, Super Chiropractor reassessed my pain and discovered that it wasn’t so much my underdeveloped glutes that were causing the bursitis, but the tightness of my iliotibial band and also the sartorius muscle which crosses from the hip to the inside of the knee. It was that combination that was making the bursa inflammed. (The bursa is a fluid filled sac between bone and tendon, protecting both, which when inflammed causes injuries such as Housemaid’s Knee, Tennis Elbow and Runner’s Hip!)

IT Band and Sartorius muscles, together causing friction at the hip, aggravated the bursa sac and caused the pain.
IT Band and Sartorius muscles, together causing friction at the hip, aggravated the bursa sac and caused the pain.

I left with heavily bruised hip, outer leg and inner knee, but also with tools to fix this myself.

Through self-massage and pressure point therapy I have managed to loosen both muscles to the stage at which I am now, just about ready to run again. My legs are black and blue, but it’s been worth it. Even the look on my son’s face as he came in to find me using a suspicious looking battery powered hand held massager on my IT band was worth it.

On the day after Boxing Day I walked for 30 minutes through the woods I love to run through. I struggled a bit towards the end, as it was uphill, but I recovered quickly and it was by far the furthest I’ve walked without painkillers or being in agony for a month.

Today I felt confident enough to attempt a treadmill run. I had it in mind to run for 10 minutes and assess the damage, deciding then whether to run on for another 20 minutes. I ran a slow 9 kph for most of the run, finishing, as ever, a bit faster! I walked for 3 minutes to warm up (the cabin was frozen up after the coldest night so far this year!) and then ran for 4 minutes and walked for 1, repeating this until I reached 20 minutes of running. Walking for the minute meant that I could constantly reassess how I was feeling. The only thing I noted was that my posture was a bit stooped and when I stood tall I felt better.

My distance and speed are naff, of course! I ran 3.3 km in 26 minutes (3 minutes warm up walk and 3 minutes cool down walk), so just a couple of miles.

But, after the last six weeks, they were the sweetest two miles ever!

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I’ve foam rollered my IT band and I’m off for a hot bath now, followed by some massage and an ice pack or two. My fingers, toes and eyes are crossed that this is me getting back to fitness.

My 3 Rs: Recovery, Reassessment and Reinvigoration.

After almost two weeks of enduring a cold and struggling to do much more than get through a day’s work, I’m ready to start running again.

At least I think I am!

I’m actually sitting here changed and ready to run, waiting on my iPhone charging before I head off…to the bottom of the garden and my treadmill. My cold is still firmly lodged on my chest and it’s causing me to cough, which of course affects my breathing. I frightened myself a week past Sunday when I ran the Fleetwood Half – I really shouldn’t have run feeling the way I did. But I did.

I’m heading out to the treadmill so that I am in control of the distance, the speed and the location. I’m trying to be sensible!

I’ve looked at my running programme and I’ve decided to follow the finisher’s plan again. I’m not in the right place (yet) to look at improving. So far every half I’ve done since doing the Great North Run in 2012 has been worse. I just want to finish one around the 2:20-2:24 mark. I’ve not been far away, but far enough to make me feel as if I’ve been running backwards for a while. And I realise that there are valid excuses for this; valid excuses don’t make me feel any better.

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The cunning plan.

So my plan looks a bit like this! Long runs of 4, 12.5, 4, 14 and 5 miles before my race, all at 2:30/1 ratios and 11 min/mile pace hopefully giving me a 2:24 race time.

I’m trying to lose a bit of weight so I’m watching my calorie intake and portion size and plotting these on the My Fitness Pal app. If I lost a stone I think I’d be happier as well as lighter. I don’t look in the mirror wishing I was a stone lighter, I look OK, but I feel as if I’m ‘hauling ass’ at the moment. I’m naturally heavy. I don’t look my weight, I don’t think. People are generally surprised to hear how heavy I am and I realise that I am probably more muscly than a lot of the people who are surprised.

I know I need to tone my core; I do keep going on about that! I will try. No promises on that!

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Lastly I am going to restart the Kinetic Revolution 30 Day Challenge in an effort to loosen myself up. It was working, but I had to stop. I will try and fit in the 15 – 20 minutes a day!

See you later!

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Heading down to the gym, on a perfect running day – sacrilegious!

Running Long and Tapering Down

Today saw my last long run of this training programme. After today I’m on the taper.  And, to my relief, I’m feeling…

G-R-R-R-E-A-T!

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The weather forecast for today was dismal, so imagine my surprise to see sunshine and blue skies this morning. The weather gods were obviously smiling, so, after a breakfast of porridge, bananas and honey and having done my email duties for the morning, I set off. I had decided to run a tougher route than just along the fairly flat shore road. It’s my 4 mile loop which, if run again, becomes a 5 mile loop. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but if you take into consideration that if I’m doing a 4 mile run I walk to warm up and cool down adding the extra distance. If I run right round it’s 5 miles. Honest it is.

The run starts with a first mile which is mainly uphill. I always find that tough when I start off; my legs aren’t properly warmed up and my calf muscles are still too tight. However, I soldier on. After that the route undulates with some good hills to climb and descend. It’s a good route and I prefer to run a loop than go there and back. The only issue with this route though is that it tends to flood and yesterday we had some pretty nasty rain. I was expecting the worse.

The worst bit wasn’t as bad as I had expected, although as this road is being used as a diversion route for a farm which is cut off at present thanks to roadworks, it has suffered a bit. The road was pretty broken up in parts, with massive holes on either side; I feel sorry for the folk who live round there. The holes, predictably, had filled up with mud and rainwater and with the increased farm traffic the sloppy mud was being distributed all over the road. It was unavoidable and my lovely Brooks trainers are no longer quite as lovely; they are drying as I type, in the hope that the dirt might brush off. We’ll see.

I had taken with me my 33 Shake chia seed gels and my Camelbak with ¾ of a litre of water with a High 5 Zero tablet in it. I had been just using water, but I felt that I needed an extra boost. The High 5 Zero tablets had been sent out by the Edinburgh Marathon Festival organizers with my number, so I felt duty bound to try them out and I liked them; not too juicy tasting, salty if anything, and gentle on my stomach. I was a bit concerned when I got home though to discover that I had almost all of my ¾ litre left – I’m not drinking enough. I need to watch this, especially if I’m racing in warmer weather.

I planned to take my gels at miles 4, 8 and 12 but after mile 8 I forgot and ended up taking it at mile 9 instead. In the end I just didn’t bother taking the third one – I was managing fine with what I’d taken. Maybe the drink was helping there. I like the chia seed gels, but they are a bugger to swallow in a hurry when you’re a bit out of breath. I always take them on my walk breaks, but I inevitably run out of time. If I’m honest this is putting me off them and I’m wondering if I can do anything about it. I might contact the makers and see what they suggest.

By mile 8 the forecast weather had arrived and it was throwing it down. I stopped to call my son at home as I’d left two machine loads of washing on the line and knew that it would be soaked again by the time I’d run the last of that loop home. I decided at that point to head home and complete the run on the treadmill. The wind had picked up and the rain was extremely heavy – it wasn’t worth slogging out another loop. I may be mad, but I’m not crazy!

Having set up Star Trek on the DVD player I set off to boldly go (again) and boldly went with the Voyager crew. I felt surprisingly good and even ended up increasing the pace in the last couple of kilometres.

With my 14 miles complete in about 2:39 I had a rushed lunch of scrambled eggs, toast and humous and a strawberry soya milkshake and a quicker shower before heading into town to do the weekly shop! As a result, I haven’t sat down much, which might explain why I’m feeling so good! I honestly don’t feel pained enough to have run 14 miles – maybe that will come tomorrow!

But I hope not!

So now the taper begins. I’m pleased to have run my last long run before the race – I’m looking forward to saving my legs a bit. I’ve got two 30 minute runs to do this week, then a 5 mile run next Monday and two final 30 minute runs and then it’s race day!

After last week’s podiatrist downer I have some good news. I went to see my chiropractor (he of the Vulcan death grip) and told him what the podiatrist had said. When I got to the part when I relayed that I’d been told basically to give up running he stopped me. “Don’t give up running,” he said “Running has given you so much. Strength, confidence, achievement – don’t give up!” It was what I needed to hear. All athletes get injured. I don’t have the financial backing that elites have, but I do have a very good chiropractor who listens to how I’m feeling and helps me. Sometimes I need to work through injuries and having his support, as well as Jeff Galloway’s running plans, help me do that.

After all, if a 14 mile run leaves me feeling like Tony the Tiger, I’d be daft to let that go!

 

 

A Cautious Running Tale

After last week’s disastrous run and subsequent enforced rest (yes, I was a really good girl and actually put my feet up all week – I was really THAT worried!) I was more than a bit concerned by the prospect of today’s eight miler. Although R.I.C.E. and massage had helped loosen and heal my calf and Achilles so that walking was no longer painful, I hadn’t tried running since Monday last; a full week had passed by. I was finding that I could largely cope during the day, but coping left me tired out at night. I even passed up a party on Saturday, which isn’t like me at all. I was  being ultra cautious.

So this morning I decided, after asking opinion on Facebook – my Jiminey Cricket – I opted for a treadmill run on the basis that whatever happened I would only ever be just within crawling distance of home! I also opted to run:walk 1:1 ratios – that’s one minute of walking to every one minute of running. I was going to finish without beating myself up; last week I’d had to take time off work because of my injury and I wasn’t doing that again!

Mr J C  aka my Facebook friends!
Mr J C aka my Facebook friends!

Having set up the DVD player (Star Trek Voyager season 2) I also set up my Jeff Galloway app for the speed and interval calls. The pace was incredibly slow, I don’t know why. It was asking me to run at 8.9 kph, a pace I’ve never run at. I sped it up to 9.7 and then straight to 10.3 where, apart from a short time when I thought I was doing well and cranked it up to 11.3, it stayed. I wasn’t out to do a fast eight miles – I was just out to do eight miles and survive it!

Four kilometres in I got the chance to try my new gels from 33 Shake . These are made from chia seeds – the super powerade that the South American Indians use to fuel their running. The gels come in a pouch in a dry form, to which you carefully add water (or juice), shake up and leave to gel for 10 minutes and then they’re ready to go.

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Apart from being a bit crunchy (being used to smooth and sticky sugary gels) the chia gels are great. These ones taste slightly of vanilla, Madagascan vanilla to be precise. They took maybe a bit longer to consume than a normal gel, but not by much, and I had no unpleasant after taste or indigestion. They are gluten and dairy free and also vegan. I had been a bit worried about the coconut palm sugar, being also nut intolerant, but the 33 Shake guys were very helpful and explained that there is actually no nut in the palm sugar. It’s just sugar.

All in all the gels proved a great success. I took one at 4km and another at 8km. Normally I wouldn’t had been so gel hungry but I’d had a bad night after a gluten reaction to something I’d eaten and that had left me “empty” – ask no more! I didn’t get a super strength reaction having taken the gels, but I was left with loads of energy, so I’m classing that as a win! I’ll get to test them more as my mileage increases. What I can tell you straight away is that they are easier to open (with a plastic cap that screws back on afterwards – I’m not one for littering the course, empty gels go back in my pocket!)

I can’t tell you much about my run. It lasted for just under two episodes of Star Trek. When I tried to increase my speed my knee started to complain, so I backed off and completed the run comfortably. I wasn’t being a hero today!

I’ve cooled down and stretched out, enjoyed a massive chickpea and avocado salad. I’m feeling pretty good and I’m looking forward to a trail run on Wednesday, fingers crossed.