Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Pushing on through

I haven't stopped running, but I have not been blogging about running for a long time.  Following my Spring races and a knee injury I hit a wall.  I had no inbuilt motivation, had no races to train for, and so the inner voice that always says "Leave it 'til tomorrow" won out.  On average, I have made it out running twice a week, and each time for a 5K run.  Nothing to write home about there!

When I was on holiday in Ireland recently, I faced a dilemma.  The deadline for registration for the Royal Parks Half was looming and I needed to commit, or not.  I had been leaning more towards dropping out - I'm not completely convinced longer races are my thing, plus I had a raft of other excuses that sounded almost plausible - almost!  I was seriously contemplating entering some duathlon events instead.  I dithered.  I talked to my Dad (a veteran Marathon runner) and finally decided to just do it. Yeah!  (I think).

And the training has commenced.  So far I have managed two very hilly runs around the north side of Cork city, a couple of flat 3 milers back near my home in South Yorkshire and my 'long' run on Sunday was 5 miles.  I have a looong way to go to get my mileage up to be able to run the 13.1 miles required of me on 6th October. 

Here's the thing.  I seem to remember enjoying running.  I used to insist that the first couple of miles were the worst, then things clicked into place. I'm not feeling it now.  It's all hard.  It's tough.  I'm having to really drag myself out and keep talking to myself in my head to keep myself going. So now, I'm on the trail of the buzz.  I want it back again.  Meanwhile - Keep Running!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Clumber Park Trailblazer 10K

Bad races...everyone has them from time to time.  Unfortunately, today was my turn to experience one.

When I booked my place in the Trailblazer series, I had envisaged a lovely day out for all the family.  How silly of me - I had not factored in the British weather.  Last night, the BBC website had forecast heavy rain all morning (double raindrops out of a black cloud - according to the chart! Up to an inch of rain in some places) so Hubby and I decided I that the support crew would give today a miss.  Thankfully, a friend of mine was also running and her family had made the same decision, so we travelled together.  This made the lack of support crew situation more fun.

The Trailblazer race was exceptionally well organised.  Registration was swift and pain free, and there were plenty of toilets close to the starting line (which is one of the factors that determines a good race for me!!)  There would have been plenty for the family to see and do - had they come - and it didn't rain!  Never mind.

I set off in the Green Wave of runners (which included a Stag Do!)  I knew from the start that my form was not good.  I made the mistake of setting off too fast, and then ran into problems with my knee at 7K.  I ended up walking parts of the last 3K, so I was really pleased with my time of 58:05,  and to be honest,  when I crossed the finishing line I was just so relieved that it was over.

I can offer many reasons as to why I was slower that I would have liked today - recovering from a knee injury, having only run 4 times in the last 3 weeks, and the fact that I am not used to running on a muddy, trail surface.

It was weird not having anyone to greet me when I finished.  I crossed the line, received my medal and picked up my honking great Helly Hansen good bag (definitely the best goody bad I've had so far).  My friend ran in a different wave to me, so while I waited for her I went to the massage tent and had a lovely knee massage.

Maybe I need to give my knee more time, but I am beginning to wonder if I will be able to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon I have entered in October.  I guess time will tell.  Right now, I feel like deferring my place, but it is only hours since I crossed the finishing line!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Post Race Ramblings

I did it!  I'm so pleased I made it in a good time, but also so pleased it's over.  The emotional build up to a new distance can be exhausting in itself, without adding in the effect it has on your body.

The North Lincolnshire Half-Marathon was a well-organised race with some nice touches.  Race HQ was based in Glanford Park, home to Scunthorpe United.  It was easy to get to, there was ample parking,  plenty of toilets with queues that were not too ridiculous, hot drinks were being served, good baggage area manned by the scouts and there was even a stand selling sports wear and gels (ideal for me as I had packed everything except my energy gels!)  There was a 3/4 mile walk along an urban trail to the start, which was not ideal, but necessary to fit the distance in for the race.  The course itself was lovely and flat, a little windy for the first 7 miles, but we've had strong winds for weeks. The course took us along some narrow roads and through lovely picturesque villages where residents had come out to cheer us along.  The finish was great - the last 100 metres brought you into the football ground and onto the pitch.

As I entered the ground, I fought hard to hold back the tears that were threatening to overwhelm me with the relief that I had achieved my goal, and that the pain was finally over.  My knee was in agony.  The last 2 miles were really tough and I felt the pain spreading from the side of my knee to underneath it.  I looked up into the stands and searched the faces for the 3 blondies that are; my hubby, my daughter and my son.  Again, I fought back tears of emotion as I was reunited with them.

6 days on, and I think my knee is starting to forgive me and return to normal!  Time for some real healing and strengthening now.  I have a 10K race at the end of May in Clumber Park, Nottinghmshire, (http://www.rwtrailblazer.co.uk/notts.html) but that shouldn't put too much strain on my knee.  It's October I need to work towards.  I have entered the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London (http://royalparkshalf.com/) where I will run and raise money for http://www.scope.org.uk/

However, I am enjoying a little break from running...but I won't leave it too long.  Another day or two and I will squeeze myself back into my dry-fit lycra and hit the road again!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Musings on Half Marathon's Eve

Tomorrow morning, I will attempt my first Half Marathon.  I have worked my way through a myriad of emotions over the past couple of weeks; fear, self-doubt, fear, determination, fear, acceptance and more fear.  My training has not gone to plan.  Only last Sunday did I manage my first ever 10 mile run.

Before Boston, I was going to chicken out.  I wasn't hugely motivated, I was worried about my knee (I still am) and I just didn't think I could do it.  Then Boston happened.  Obviously, as a human being,  a devastating event like the bombings really makes you think and reassess your personal freedoms.  As a runner it has also made me think.  It has made me thankful for the freedom to run.  I have niggles and aches, and really I would rather not haul my ass out of bed at 6:30 on a Sunday morning so that I can push my body to its physical and mental limit, but....I am going to do it.  I am not running for Charity this time.  When I need to dig deep for motivation, I am going to think of those who lost their lives, those who will never walk or run again, and the runners in Boston who were not allowed the freedom of crossing the finishing line.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Stretching really is important!

I must admit that up until now, I have rushed my stretches.  I have spent minimal time on this important preparation and conclusion to a run because I am impatient (It's a character flaw). Unfortunately with me, most lessons need to be learnt the hard way, but I vow to now respect the stretches and dedicate more time to them!

Runner's Knee is caused by a tight ITB (iliotibial band).  This is what I seem to have.  Mid-week, I went out for a run (my knee seemed fine) but the knee pain started at 3 miles into a 5 mile run.  The pain, coupled with a bitterly cold, gusting wind made it my most miserable run to date.  I walked large parts, as I was barely moving forward when running and had really had enough.  As a result, I now HATE the wind!  I will happily run in snow and rain, but the wind does me in.
I tried to focus on the words in this picture, but it made no difference.  At that moment, I didn't care if I was becoming stronger.....I just wanted to get home!

I consulted the folks at www.fetcheveryone.com and a kind member suggested a page with iliotibial stretch exercises I should try.  My brother, who runs a Crossfit gym (check out his gym) in the USA, suggested that ITB, along with other problems, can be traced up or down stream (so it could be stemming from hips or ankles)

With all of my new gained knowledge, I did some of the ITB stretches and hip mobility stuff before my run today.  My expectations were very low. I was only going to do 3 miles, but once I got going and realised that everything felt right, I kept going and had a great 7 mile run.  My knee hurt at the end, but I did more ITB stretches when I got in and seem to be OK.

Apparently, ITB is a common problem in runners.  Hopefully, now that I am aware of it, I can keep it in check.  (A foam roller has been ordered!) ....so I'm now only slightly behind with my training for the North Lincolnshire Half Marathon but at least I'm running!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Runner's Knee

So, it looks like I have an injury....

It manifested itself towards the end of one of my toughest runs to date.  Tough, not because of the distance, but because of the WIND!

The plan had been to run at least 8 miles this morning, as I need to get training for the Scunthorpe Half marathon at the end of April (http://www.northlincshalf.co.uk/).    I was feeling good, despite the weather, and managed fine on the crunchy snow that hadn't yet thawed on the canal path.  I coped (just about) with the 2 head winds I ran in slow motion into!  When I finally reached the relative safety of my village, I started a 'limpy run' because my outer knee was hurting so much.  I cut dead my plans of an 8 miler and settled for 6.5 instead, and home!

My knee has niggled the past few runs, but it has made it clear - it won't be ignored anymore! I consulted Dr Google and found this information on knee injury:  http://therunningbug.co.uk/training/injury/b/weblog/archive/2012/03/21/knee-pain-identifying-and-treating-knee-pain-in-runners.aspx

Hopefully, with a bit of rest, stretching and massage, this 'Runner's Knee' will pass and I can continue training for my first 13.2!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mixing It Up

"If all you do is run, you're bound to get injured"

This is something I read a long time ago, and then filed at the back of my mind.  I have been road running for a quite a while now, without doing anything else.  The intention has been there - I've meant to go swimming, go to Yoga or a Kettle Bell class, but somehow, I've always chosen to don my trainers and hit the great outdoors for a run.

This wise snippet has worked its way to the fore of my memory recently as I have started to HURT!  I have 'body niggles' that I can probably attribute to  running, so I decided it was time to mix it up.  After hearing lots about Kettle Bells, I decided to give them a go.

I first tried the Kettle Bells (along with the instructional DVD) on Saturday morning.  It was not a success. I was grumpy to begin with; I'd had a bad week at work and the bad feeling hangover was lingering, the kids had woken up at the crack of dawn (when all week I'd had to haul them out of bed) and no doubt the dog had also annoyed me (she usually does in the mornings!) Anyway, I opted for the Kettle Bells work out instead of a run. I went into a different room to everyone else to exercise, but my son kept running in front of me shooting imaginary Clones, the dog thought I wanted to play with her when I was stretching, (the Downward Dog stretch nearly resulted in Flattened Dog as she proceeded to lay under me!) and my daughter decided to get involved and match a kettle bell to each family member (8,6,4 and 2KG became Daddy, Mummy, Big Sister and Little Brother).  Then kids then started to fight over the kettle bells.

So I switched off the DVD, pulled on my trainers and was off into the great outdoors for a 5 mile run. It was bliss.  It cleared my head, and reminded me that while I am running, only the pain can get me.  (Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional - Murakami)  Nobody can ask me for hot chocolate/brioche/Weetabix or to sit with them while they are on the toilet!  It's just me and my head!

I'm going to heed the advice of the pro's and work on strengthening my core.  I know that running on its own will lead to problems, and I certainly don't want that....(there will be no escape if that happens!)  I have since done a Kettle Bell work out, but picked a time when the kids were at school and I only had the dog to contend with.