It comes down to reality

You know what they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you… In my case it’s the niggles and injuries that are lurking around every corner, just waiting to trip me up.

Since Sunday morning, when I woke up with what felt like cramp in the top of my right calf, I feel like I’ve been a walking accident, just waiting to happen. Marathon paranoia, that strange feeling that something untoward will happen and undo all the hard work, time and effort that has been expended getting me to this peak of physical fitness. OK, it wasn’t like it had a high bar to pass – it’s not like I’ve ever been an aflete or anything. The calf cramp is worse first thing in the morning or after being sat for any length of time – it seems to seize up, but is OK once I get going again. Maybe that’s why it felt fine when running, but hurts to even hobble when I get out of bed.

Then there’s the sore left foot. It’s tender to pressure on the top of the foot, and has a tendency to feel bruised when I’m wearing formal shoes. They’re obviously just that bit tighter or firmer across that area than my lovely running shoes. I have several pairs of worn through runners and seem to be living my life in these when I can. Unfortunately work, while being fairly relaxed about dress code, doesn’t tolerate trainers quite that scruffy (they’ve all had a fair few miles and muddy puddles under their soles, so aren’t in the neatest shoes in the world).

And finally there’s the left thigh complaint. Mainly about descending stairs. I suspect this is a result of not stretching on Sunday afternoon – and is just a grumble that will clear itself with a bit of a rest.

Rest, ahh, yes. Well that’s what I’ve been doing. First Tuesday of the month is book club, so no running tonight – and after that litany of woe, you can gather I didn’t head out for a run of any speed on Monday night – in fact I was tucked up and asleep not long after 9 pm!!

But, while on the subject of books, I’ve been reading a few running related ones recently. Possibly not the wisest choice of title was the book of first hand accounts of first marathons. The recurring theme appears to be being under-prepared and almost dying between miles 22 and 24. Yikes!! That wasn’t what I wanted to read.

I’m slightly more encouraged by the Muakami volume, “What I talk about when I talk about running” A factual account of both his attempt to run the New York marathon and his past running history, including his memorable races and philosophy on running.  He has been faster than me, but never set out to race other people, just accepted that for him the marathon was a personal battle. His aim was to run the best race he could, and be happy with that performance. A lot of it rang true and I liked this little book.

I’m assured I’m not alone dealing with the onset of paranoia. I’ve heard tales of buying dreadful shoes just because they’re flat, to eliminate the risk of turning an ankle – but haven’t yet resorted to that. It’s getting so close now that I can almost taste the race day nerves, although I am yet to have a running dream – but I rarely dream, so maybe I’ll be spared that symptom. The long runs are diminishing, with only 1 more 20 miler left to conquer. I have everything (metaphorically) crossed that this all happens and I make it to both the start and finish in one piece. Wish me luck and let the mind games begin.

S’Wondeful, S’Marvelous!

Just a bit of prior notice (in case the title didn’t give this one away) It’s going to be one of those waxing lyrical posts again!

Having got the week between Christmas and the New Year off means that I’ve been at home during the day, so have had the time to go out for a run in daylight. It’s amazing how much difference it makes to be out when its light. Everything seems so much brighter, lighter and easier than in the dark. The past 3 days I’ve run 3 times; you’ve already heard about Boxing day’s excursion, so two more to bring you up to speed on.

Speed might be the common theme here, it could be argued that both runs were too fast. But it felt so good!

This week should have had 4 Easy on Tuesday and 8 Easy on Wednesday, with 5 Tempo to follow on Thursday. But, what with Monday’s extra one, and having to do Sunday’s long run on Saturday (the in-laws are arriving Sunday and I need to be in to do lunch) the 8 and 5 have been shunted forward to Tuesday & Wednesday. I may head out tomorrow and do the 4 Easy anyway, but it’s not going to matter if I don’t.

Facts & Figures: Tuesday/Wednesday (warmup/pace/warmdown)
Distance – 8.05/ 5.1 (1.0/3.1/1.0)
Time – 1:32:47/ 53:01 (11:23/29:53/11:44)
Pace – 11:32/ 10:23 (11:22/9:38/11:45)

Tuesday I went round the lake, including the path that I know gets very muddy at this time of year. It makes for an interesting trip, although it was a bit like trying to run through custard at times. It is just easier to head straight through the middle than try tiptoeing around the edges, so I came back slathered in mud. Saw 2 other runners out, one who looked rather hot and bothered in a fleece top – seemed a bit much when I was out in just a long sleeve top – and pushed the sleeve up before too long had passed. Again getting out in the morning had the best of the weather – it had clouded over by the time I got back. Passed lots of walkers with either dogs or children as today’s required accessory. Lots of brightly coloured wellies and a few new bikes out and about (that would be with the children, not the dogs).

For an easy pace run, I ought to be at about 11:45 to 12:15 min/miles, not 11:30 ish. I knew I was going too fast, but it felt good and each time I slowed, I must have sped up again, such that I stuck around that pace for the whole distance. Not a good idea for all runs, but it’s not often I’m too fast!

Wednesday I didn’t get out until the later afternoon. In fact I’d left it a bit late, as it was distinctly dusk by the time I got back. For this run I decided to stick to the road, and head out of town towards the next village, staying on the ridge road. 1 mile warmup took me just past the farm, then I ran through the village until I ran out of path, and then back again. I’d set off for the Tempo section too fast, such that I turned having run 1.4 miles at under 9:20 pace. I knew I’d never keep that up, seeing I’d turned into the wind and up the ridge, but sustained a good pace and made the distance to 3.1 miles – 5k. And having managed that distance in under 30 minutes, that would be a new PB for the distance. Hence my earlier statements, probably a bit too fast, but it did feel good! I got to the end of our road 0.2 miles too soon, but carried on and made up the distance.

So two runs that felt really good. Pace was a bit of an issue, but I wonder if that might be in part due to being out in the day. Mid-week runs are usually in the evening, after a day’s work, when the body is already wanting to wind down. this week I’ve had the luxury of heading out when the body is just more awake and alert, so can manage the same run at a better pace. Either that or I have genuinely sped up – and I find that hard to believe!

Be careful what you wish for

At the end of my last post I said that I’d really like a few weeks of uninterrupted running. Well it hasn’t happened.

Monday morning I woke up with a stiff neck. Just like I’d slept a bit funny. I thought it would wear off, the way a cricked neck usually does. No. This has steadily got worse over the last few days such that Tuesday I drove home being unable to turn my head far enough to look in my mirrors – especially the near side wing mirror. Stayed at home Wednesday, and went to the GP. I’ve got torticollis – twisted neck. Thanks. I could have worked that out. It should ease, but if it doesn’t I could be prescribed muscle relaxants.

One thing has become rather apparent – it’s amazing how much work your neck does without you ever noticing. It’s only when it goes wrong that you realise quite how much movement relies on this. It hurts to move, it hurts to stay still, it hurts to lie down. I don’t deal well with pain.

However, late on Wednesday it did start to loosen. Thursday I could move about 45 degrees in each direction and it’s got steadily better since then.

So today I did run. Hurrah! In another pair of new shoes. Double hurrah!! These will be fed into training such that, come marathon day, they’re nicely worked in, but still fresh and bouncy. Same model, but a different colourway – white & flourescent yellow – you’re not going to miss me in them!

Anyway, back to the running. It was the club ladies run, followed by coffee & cake. I forgot to take the Garmin, but it’s a bit over 5 miles (depending on how much doubling back you do) and took us under an hour, which is a reasonable rate of knots. I did have cake, as it was Sarah’s birthday earlier in the week, and she bought carrot cake in to share. It was very nice and not at all too sweet.

Long run tomorrow, so see you then.

The going got tough

Club night. Did wonder if going out with Sally’s group was wise for a first run back with them after a break. And it was a bit tough at times, but I wasn’t left behind too badly. Wasn’t actually too cold, but there was a stiff breeze that cut right through. It was dark and beginning to get a bit cold by the time we got back though – may have to consider long sleeves in the near future.

An out and back, each in 2 stages. Out as a group to the flyover, then out & back to the other end of the village at your own pace, turning at 20 minutes. Then back to base as a group for a brief stretch. In places that was certainly speedier than I’ve done recently!  Ran the out being cajoled along by Sally, but came back with Hayley, both discussing niggles and what to do. She’s got knee issues, has been told she’s OK to run on, but it wasn’t feeling right at all. At least with an ankle I can exercise it, but what do you do with a knee? Then the conflicting advice on compression, and when to compress. Running does throw up some issues that a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t – but I’d still not give it up.

Distance – 5.9 miles
Time – 1:07:54
Pace – 11:32 min/mile
Best pace – 1.55 miles at an average of 10:54

Wore my new shoes, and they’re a little bit like running on podgy cushions underfoot, while, at the same time, being firm and grippy around the foot itself. Very nice, and a dramatic contrast to the old ones, which feel flat and soggy in contrast. It was dry out, so they are still pristine and bright on the outside – on the inside they may look clean, but they certainly don’t smell it!

If the shoe fits

Beautiful, pristine shoes (on the kitchen worktop)

It wasn’t until I was browsing some photos looking for something to head this blog with that I realised quite how old my current shoes are. Mizuno wave riders for the interested. They certainly don’t look like this any more!

There’s a general rule of thumb that you should change shoes after ~ 500 miles. Obviously, this is only a guideline, but it’s as well to keep a rough track of the miles done in a pair.

Showing some wear and tear and relegated to the doormat.

Having realised that my current shoes are no longer pristine (understatement) I wondered if that might be a contributing factor in my recent ankle issues. These lovely purple trimmed ones, with mega-long purple laces, are nearly a year old. Taking my usual weekly mileage as 15 to 20 miles, this means these must have at least  700 miles in them. hmm. Well that is obviously a reason to go shopping. Only slight issue is the way the shoe manufacturers seem intent on introducing a new shoe each season. Not content with just changing the colour, they seem to want to tweak the shoes’ design, shape or construction. It’s always presented as an improvement, but when you’ve found a pair that you like, you want the same again, not some version of them. So it is with a little trepidation that I set off for a new pair of shoes.

Startlingly white shoes!

But, after running on a treadmill for the first time EVER and having my feet videoed and my gait analysed (courtesy of TriSportplus in Huntingdon) I’m now the proud owner of a shiny new pair. Wave Riders again, on the “if it ain’t broke…” principle. 14s this time. They’re incredibly white and bright and I’m tempted to find a muddy puddle to dunk them in, just to tone them down a bit! They feel incredibly cushioned, which only goes to show quite how worn the previous ones were. Might need to find some pink laces for them though…