Tuesday, 30 December 2014

(Don't) Keep Holding On

Time for round two of running intervals, yesterday was changed to bike intervals but today I am back to running on the tedious treadmill.

I see people all the time doing things on a treadmill that I do not and I wonder if they are right or not. First up is intervals where the person leaps upwards at the end of the intervals and lands on the outside of the treadmill off the belt. This looks a simple move, alas it was not for me. Switching from the speed section to walking saw me have a very near miss which would have seen me fly backwards off the treadmill… grrrrrr. How do they do it so seamlessly? For now I will stick to just adjusting the speed accordingly until I am once again blessed with auto speed buttons on the treadmill which my gym does not possess.

The second thing I notice a lot and have never once been inclined (no pun intended) to participate in is the speed walk on a high gradient whilst gripping with white-knuckled fear to the top of the treadmill display…. Why? This cannot be good for your back and surely it negates the whole point of working at a gradient as your body is tilted with the treadmill and therefore are you not just doing the same thing as if you were on the flat??

Please can someone explain this to me…..?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Pudding Burning Intervals

I had passed through the festive season, my waistband expanded and my keenness for exercise renewed after nearly the whole of December feeling unwell and suffering from various bugs and viruses. I decided with another week before I returned to work I would hit the gym or at least exercise with daily regularity to get me back towards fitness. The weather, expectedly chilly for this time of year I decided I would opt for treadmill running, and as this is incredibly dull for any distance I opted for intervals as these not only seem to pass much quicker but they are good for improving fitness.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Traditional Run

Since introducing my brother to Parkrun a few years back it has become a sort of tradition that when he comes home for Christmas (he lives overseas) that we attend the Christmas Day Parkrun (or the one closest to Christmas that also coincides with his visit). Hi then fiancé and now wife also joins us on this run. Today we were going to add another sibling to the run but sadly our younger sister had been struck down with a mystery illness rendering her unable to move from her nest of blankets.  

We arrived to gear some other runners discussing how todays route would be run backwards – and no not actually backwards – just in the other direction and therefore had a slightly different start point. It was also the Christmas themed fancy dress run so it was nice to see so many festive outfits and Santa hats bobbing around Norman Park when we started to run.

I hadn’t run for about a month but as this was tradition I donned my kit and lined up the rest making it clear to my brother and sister-in-law that they should not worry about leaving me behind as I was likely to be walking some of it. We started together and soon enough the gap between us widened and the runner of runners increased.

Trotting along my brain started to work overtime; should I just drop out and meet them at the car? this shouldn’t be feeling this difficult, I do have a lot of cooking to do when I return as today was our early Christmas Day…. As I piled on reasons (not excuses) to bail out I realised that I was on the last lap and it would be silly to stop now however sluggish I was feeling.

I reached the final stretch, put in a bit of a sprint – probably not to look at but that’s how it felt – and somehow managed to finish inbetween a couple who had run the together. I grabbed my token and went to find the others to record our finishing positions. I saw plenty of Petts Wood Runners around wishing the Happy Christmas and seasons greetings as we departed the part to head home for our festive feast.

Glad I finished, and whilst not delighted with the time at least I was started to run a little more regularly again which is a very good sign of my slow recovery.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Garmin Free Parkrun

From time to time it is probably a good idea to throw off the shackles of modern technology and just run to how you feel, not worrying about pace or time. Well today was one of those days but more because I wasn't sure where my Garmin is currently residing and I didn't have enough time to look before I left for Orpington Parkrun.

So with a slight cold, a naked wrist and the right amount of layers (lessons learned from Wednesday night) I lined up at the start with the other Saturday morning parkrunners ready to see what happened. It would appear that my pacing was pretty similar with or without the watch as I noticed the same runners around me as I had on previous visits to Orpington.

My cold took its toll just after half way round and I decided to walk for a short time whilst blowing my nose and spluttering along. I started to question if this was a good idea but I kept going and started to trot along again trying to make up some time. On the third and final lap I was just needing things to be over, I had no idea of time except a father and son combo who usually came in about 1-2 minutes ahead of me had already overtaken so I suspected I was heading for a little over 30 minutes.... a way off my PB but at least I am getting out on a semi regular basis if not every week.

At the finish I was delighted to grab a cuppa and a small piece of some very delicious bread pudding... yum diddle and made up for my lack of breakfast this morning!

My results text message came through later with a time of 31:30 and 3rd in my age category, okay still nowhere near a bronze in real terms but for now I will take it.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hypothetical Hills

Time to belt up!
Despite contracting a mild version of the man flu currently circulating my home it seemed like a good idea to text our hill training guru Emma just hypothetically to see what time she would arrive at ‘the hill’ for tonight’s session. She advised, hypothetically of courses, that it would be around 8pm.

So, sitting on my sofa I decided I must get off my bottom and “stop watching crappy TV” (another Emma quote). Into my kit I got, with one too many layers – the downside of not running outside for a while was that I forgot how hot I get when layered up.
I drove part way and then got out to run, timing it just perfectly to meet with the 14 other hill runners approaching from Summer Hill (the fools!).
It turns out, the session was having a bit of a shake up this week and we were taking on Kenyan style hill reps which includes running up and down hard for an extended period (6 minutes) before a break rather than run up and back then alternating with a partner.
I am happy to say I managed to keep moving but my mental enthusiasm was sadly not matched by but ability and endurance which has sadly lessened since being injured. A huge plus though was how great it was to be out with old friends from the running club, encouraging each other and just to see some of my lycra-clad buddies!
Glad I made the effort, now to keep it up….. Hypothetically Emma I will be there next week x

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Contains Glass

Determined that as part of my running rehabilitation programme I would go to ParkRun at least once a month I was headed back to orpington again this Saturday morning. 

In the car park I spotted some fellow PWRs - Bromley was not on this week die to the fireworks which meant there were greater numbers this morning. I palled up with Julia (Glass) as we headed over to the start point. I was momentarily disarmed when we introduced ourselves when she asked my surname and then said oh yes with a knowing lilt!! But as I said I am quite prevalent on social media so despite not being at the club for a while I am 'known'!!!

We set off together, just short of a beautiful Border Collie running with his owner. We settled into a comfortable pace with a little chat. I realised how much I missed the Tuesday night group runs, perhaps I will brave it soon despite the dark evenings. Meeting new people, sharing stories, tips and advice, this is what I loved about the club most.

Back to the race.... First my shoelace came undone, annoying, so I had to pause momentarily to toe it back up.... Not an issue for the winner when he lapped up, laces flapping in the wind. If only I lifted my knees that high I might never need worry about a lace based self tripping incident again. I caught back up with Julia and we trotted along happily for a while at a fairly even pace. As I entered lap three I had pulled ahead but felt I was running through treacle, my watch was of no use as I had managed to stop it a mere 3 minutes in so had no idea how I was doing and if I could keep under 30 minutes. 

As I approached the end I stepped it up, focussing on the next runner and catching up with her, I thought I may catch her but she saw me coming and as we sprinted neck and neck to the finish she just pipped me, I still had no idea of the time. We shook hands and headed to the refreshments. About a minute behind was Julia so we enjoyed some delicious bread pudding (only a little slice Monika!!!) and a cuppa before heading home.

The cheater! A note on the teenage lad who has clearly been dragged along by pushy parents, he walks a lot, cuts corners off the course, mopes around. I think he needs to just say no!! If he is not going to do it right then don't do it. You can't go through life cutting corners, you will get caught!! He cheats but not so he is noticed.... It's just a bit odd or teenage laziness!! 

By the time I had returned home and run my bath there was a text message on my phone, I completed in 29:59 lucky I had that sprint finish to help me scrape under the 30 minute mark!! 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Work that Hyde

So this week I am away with work, at our office on the outskirts of Manchester, I will be living like Alan Partridge, alone in my hotel room but wait, this is an opportunity to use my evening to boost my fitness. 

I ensured I had booked a hotel with a decent sized pool and a gym. This was going to be a mega fitness week. On arrival this evening, I checked in, got into my kit and went straight to the gym where I opted for a 5km treadmill run, start as I mean to go on. As expected I am slower on a treadmill as it's always too hot for me running indoors. But after 35mins I had completed my target distance and then made my way to the free weights. 

As the week progressed I swam every morning before leaving for work, had two more gym work outs, two body pump classes and one spin class. So by the end of the week I was feeling pretty darn pleased with myself. 
The spin class was tough, the first in months, and it did leave my back a little sore afterwards.... One to watch I think so I will keep trying to strengthen my spine before I tackle spin again. I did enjoy it though and as I had been chatting to the instructor beforehand he gave me three cheers at the end, odd but nice to get some positive encouragement from strangers!!! 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Return to Parkrun

It was time to man-up, it was time to get out there and run in a situation I knew I wouldn't give up, flake out or make excuses to stop. It was time to go to a race.

I opted for ParkRun, no pressure, other runners to keep me moving and local. I decided to try out Orpington ParkRun as despite being my closest and having recently hit the two year anniversary I still hadn't managed to run here. 

Much smaller turnout than Bromley but still a decent sized field I arrived feeling a little nervous. Having dusted off my Garmin, grabbed my barcode I made my way to the start. I saw the familiar face of Simon (my former run buddy for many races) and felt a wave of reel if as I could have a chat to him rather than worrying about the run ahead. We chatted and eventually set off together.

It pleased me after a while to hear Simon's voice, offering words of encouragement, to himself, others, who knew, but this is one of the comforting things about running with Simon and put me in a good headspace of remembered events run with him in the past. 

After two laps I started to lag behind him but was still running and happy enough that I could keep it up and get round eh course without walking. Entering the final lap two young lads of about age 8, both called Thomas overtook me.... Gosh darn those speedy little legs of youth!! There was a little competition hotting up between them as they neared the end. It was interesting to hear their parents differing techniques..... Thomas 1 who ran with his dad was being told to use this and beT the other little boy, Thomas 2 who ran with his mum was being told it was not a race and to not worry about the other little boy. In the end as they raced for the lead they crossed the line at the same time - both ahead of me!!! 

I came in shortly after, under 30 minutes and not having had to walk. I was happy with that, it was a good start, it was progress. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Running Scared

After some positive running experiences through the summer I have been experiencing increased pain in my lower back again when I try to run.

I want it so bad but I am genuinely terrified of setting myself back again. When will this be over when will I be able to seriously start the process of building my fitness and stamina back up?

I have been hitting the gym more, swimming and taking classes such as pump with weights half of what I used to be able to manage in fear of doing some damage and setting myself back. Having short easy treadmill runs - which I am still not a fan of, give me fresh air and the open road anytime.

So today I finally built up the courage to get out and about in the local streets. Concerned I opted for a walk warm up, two blocks of 10 minutes running with a 1minute walk break in between then a walk cool down. I had originally I planned to do 3 sets of 10 minutes but my back was twinning by the end of the second and I had to be sensible #ihatesensibleliz 

It was a start, I made it out, I didn't collapse or my spine combust. I need to stop being scared though and make this more regular. I want to but I don't want to make my injury worse, it is taking so long to recover that I just want it over.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

No Thunder Run for me

So for the last three years around this time you have been treated to a long and adventurous journey as I have embarked on the annual Adidas Thunder Run as part of a team which then decreased and decreased leaving me as solo runner last year. 

This year I have planned to go back, hoping for better weather and to beat my solo achievement of last year running 10 laps through thunder, lightening and mud slides. 

This has been my most bitter disappointment that has stemmed from my back injury, wanting so badly to attend the event which has become one my absolute favourites and a yearly staple in my running calendar. There was nothing that could console me as I spent the weekend grumping about..... Adamant that when the entires opening for next year I would be back and I would claim a solo PB.

October 2014: entries opened, filled and closed.
They did so at midnight, it was quite absurd and signing up was a laborious process of being kicked out and trying time and time again to finally be told I was on the waiting list. Yet more disappointment. Then I received an email a couple of weeks later telling me that all names from the waiting list that would have a place did and I had not been successful, we'll this sucks ass. So I am p!ssed and rightly so, mostly at the silly cow who wasn't paying attention and has screwed up running for me for 19months now..... I hope your premium is through the roof and your car is plagued with expensive glitches as this is the worst I can wish upon you.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Waterway to have a good time

After our mini break and racing last year in Chamonix it was time we had another break with the our good friends (and my oldest friend of over 30 years). This year we would be boating on the Norfolk Broads, just like Alan Partridge although without a cow landing on us I hoped. 

This trip was not about running or a race but we were all (with the exception of my good husband) keen to get a run in. So on a slight hangover, myself and the Bonds hit the canal path around Wroxham to get in a cheeky 5km run before breakfast. I was still easing myself back into running with my back injury so I opted for a run/walk technique. 

Quickly running out of canal path we headed inland and onto some lovely country roads, our out and back point as is often the way finishes at the top of a steep incline but at least we got to run back down! 

I was pleased to have got back up to 3miles again two weeks on the trot although my back was not convinced of this after such a long departure from running any kind of distance. It is slow going but I will get there I am sure, just frustrating it is taking so blooming long.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The park where Robbie Williams played!

Each year the DMU netball girls get together for a reunion... We see each other in the meantime but this is the weekend that has been in the diary for the last 9 years and boy how we have changed!!

In the early days it was pretty much carnage as we took various cities by storm in the way in which only the netball girls can. As the years have gone by we still hit the town, a force to be reckoned with but a few years something changed.

Two of us had become runners, then as the years passed another one started running and another. This year as we woke early the body clocks of working career women and not students 6 of us donned our kit and hit the park for some running. My goodness how we have all changed!!

As you can see from the picture this was no ordinary park either, the blue plaque told us that non other than Robbie Williams had lived on this road in his childhood, so we set off delighted to be running in the park where the Take That and solo artist had probably scraped his knees and squealed terrified at the hissing swans as he rounded a corner and came across them unexpectedly.... Or maybe that was just us!

I love that we have changed, I love that each year another one of us calls themselves a runner, here's to next year, the 10 year reunion and let's see if we can't get everyone out for the morning run!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Just what the Doctor ordered

My treatment has progressed and I am seeing my Physiotherapist and also my Chiropractor who between them are making great progress with me. I had been tasked with gradually building up what I can in terms of running and getting my body prepared to once again take impact. I have moved from the lazy bike at the gym (officially I believe it is called the recumbent).

Phase one was to do a 10 minute warm up, followed by 30 sec run and 2 minute walk, repeating and building gradually over the weeks. By the time I reached my last appointment with the Physio she was happy for me to continue to build on this with me reaching the prolific heights of 2 mins running with 30 sec walks in between, sandwiched between 10 min walking warm ups / warm downs.

It is great to be making progress but still frustrating that I am not able to run like I am used to. These runs are all taking place on the treadmill unfortunately. It would seem that my confidence to go out and run is a little damaged in case my back starts to hurt. I consider it altogether much safer to run on the treadmill where there is an emergency stop button. This is a sign of my annoying alter ego, Sensible Liz (also known as boring Liz).

My regular Chiropractor appointments have become less terrifying as my adjustments are not such loud crunching noises now as more satisfying little pops! In fact I look forward to them for the most part as I find my Dr most entertaining yet knowledgeable.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Missing Runner

Every time I go to write my blog I get stuck, hard to know what to write about on a running blog when forbidden from running!

So, I am not running but I am doing everything I can to get back running. Arguably the biggest mistake runners make is to go back to soon after injury... I am was and still am determined not to do this.

In January 2013 I made the decision on a cold day to drive to the gym for some cross-training rather than run in the cold after fighting a pending cold it seemed the sensible decision. Choosing to go straight on at the lights rather than left and towards home could have been the biggest mistake I made when it comes to running.

A short while later I was sat in traffic, it was start stop, then a woman (distracted by a pedestrian running across the road behind her) drove straight into the back of me. I was jolted forwards and back again and somewhat shaken. I have had lower back problems ever since.

Jump forward almost two months I finally got an appointment with a doctor as recommended by my lawyers, weeks later again I got the report and was able to start treatment with a physiotherapist. The exercises were helping and complimented by attending my personal training sessions where we focussed on getting the strength back into my core.

I was unable to train and was having to pull out of and defer races left, right and centre, including the London Marathon. Towards the middle of summer I tried to run again, tackling races with little or no training including the Mont Blanc Marathon… well I had booked flights, accommodation and had my support crew in place. My time for this was more than double my usual marathon time, but who cares, it was an amazing experience.

I didn’t run much more after this as my back started to bother me again, coming in waves, I was learning what I could and could not do (this former much less than the latter).

In December I saw another doctor to review my lack of progress and whilst waiting for the report I started receiving chiropractic treatment which I am still receiving and my back finally, but very slowly seems to be improving.

I had to cancel my deferred place for the London Marathon – meaning this is lost for good. There are too many DNS's next to my name

I tried to do a parkrun (5km) during February at a very slow pace and was unable to move comfortably for about a week. Now I am restricted to swimming, the recumbent bike, slow walks and using the swiss ball. Quite a change to running and you certainly have to be more wary of your diet when you cannot just run it all off!!!

I am missing running a huge amount, having only come to it 5 years ago it became a huge part of my life. I miss running with my friends, working with the beginners groups and feeling healthy.

The next race that was in my plan was the Addidas Thunder Run where I planned to return as a solo runner and beat my 100km distance in the 24 hours (praying for no thunder storms). At this point it looks pretty unlikely that this will happen.

I will run again, FACT!


Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Cowardly Lion

Two months since the last visit from my brother and once again he wanted to take on Parkrun, I said I was happy to go but not having run since his last visit and being quite afraid to try knowing how much it had hurt me then so I would be there in a supervisory capacity only, to hold water shout encouragement and lend him my Garmin.

We returned to his favoured course at Norman Park, Bromley Parkrun where he and his fiancé has set their previous PBs.

It was nice to see some familiar faces and lots of the Petts Wood Runners taking part but as ever I this was tinged with the disappointment of not being able to run… boo hiss to the woman who cannot drive! (except into me causing this daily frustration)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Too Much, Too Soon

This weekend my brother and his Fiancé were staying and as is now the norm when they visit we headed off on Saturday morning to Parkrun. We opted for a new location for them and decided to attend Greenwich – in Avery Hill Park. This park being where we used to go as youngsters when visiting our grandparents and where we used to fly kites. Good times and happy memories.

Vowing to take it easy we set off and my pace felt comfortable as I made my way around the 3 lap course. Into the third lap and I think I realised then I have pushed too hard, my back was in a significant amount of pain. I didn’t stop though, I walked for a while and completed the course.

The rest of that day I spent mostly resting with a hot water bottle pressed against my lower back and not surprisingly slept fairly badly.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Caution Slow Runner

After my super keen and clearly too ambitious run I opted for a short out and back close to home. Without incident (and I should hope so too) I ran out and back again at a very cautious pace to try to minimise impact on my back.
It is increasingly upsetting that I am unable to run like I used to.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

False Optimism

Into the New Year and determined not to let the injury keep on holding me back, one year since it happened and it would seem that my back is still not in a happy place. I have had another meeting with the Doctor who has acknowledged my recovery will indeed take longer than 5 months, very insightful to suggest this at 12 months post event!

Feeling somewhat positive in my abilities (and perhaps deluded) I set off on an old favourite of a trail near my aunts house. An out and back route, fairly flat and all on a nicely cushioned peat path. I reached 5 miles comfortably at an acceptable pace, I saw many horses and families on bikes on this popular trail.
Although as I reached the halfway marker it did begin to rain… hmm no way to cut the run short and besides I have run in worse than some drizzle so I pushed on. I was feeling my pace started to dwindle a little towards the end and my back did not seem at its happiest.

On my return, I commenced stretching and a soak in the bath… all helped but as the day wore on my back was not feeling great. I may have gone too far.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Tale of Jeremy Puddle Duck and Sh!t Stream Avenue

In his element!
I woke up to get ready for my morning run with Jerry, already from the sounds of the rain lashing against the window I knew this was going to to a cold, wet and muddy run. My advice last night had been 'wear black socks' which can only mean Jerry intends to drag me through mud.

I checked on facebook just to see if there was a message from Jerry to cancel, alas there was not so I got ready and with one more check just to be sure he was going to meet me in the downpour I left the house. It was raining but I was soon warm enough and resigned to the fact that although the weather was cack I was out and running, the first of the New Year and with my good running buddy so all was well with the world (if not a little soggy).

Pair of Puddle Ducks
I arrived a few minutes early and waited under a tree, except when I saw another runner and did a weird fake out run to the bus stop and back. Before Jerry pulled up and left out of his car ready for action and we headed straight into Scadbury with Jerry's opening gambit ringing in my ears, words that always strike fear into the hearts of those who know him "I have a new path to explore".

We followed a route that crossed with one we had previously run and that merged with a recent run of Jerry's that took us to the St Pauls Cray Meadows, a place I never knew existed but quite a find for a runner as plenty of good paths and opportunities for circuits to add on 'lollipops' to the route. We were soon off the meadow and heading down the ridgeway towards the 'new path'. Path indeed it was a path of sorts, currently disguising itself as a dirty old muddy stream, we galloped in at full pelt like two delighted puddle ducks, galloping and sploshing our way through. Comment was made on the odd colour, as we reached the end we understood why, there was a stables and outside a huge pile of straw, horse apples and silage. We declared this path to from then on be known as Sh!t Stream Avenue.

Thoroughly delighted with ourselves and the new path we were on the return route, I was beginning to struggle but I was dragged along to get the 8 miles I had been promised and before long we were back at the car. I was dropped home where Jerry was rewarded - after removing poopy socks and trainers - with my own special homemade Christmas cake and a coffee.