Every now and then…

Every now and then the stars align. Something magical happens and you have a really great run.

I’ve had a few struggles with my training of late, and I clung to the hope that one day all the hard work would start to click and fall into place and I would finish a run feeling on top of the world. As each run passed I almost became subconsciously resigned to the idea that this is just how my runs were going to be from now on – a struggle, and even painful at times.

So on Tuesday evening I was caught completely off guard. I was spurring myself on for an evening run throughout the day which is unusual in itself. I got out after work and as soon as I started running I could tell. This, was going to be a good one.

Mentally I felt great, breathing was steady and not too heavy, pacing was spot on. My legs weren’t heavy, my calves didn’t get tight and there was next to no pain in the arch of my foot. Even the weather was pretty perfect. Can I get a WOOP WOOP.

I’m so grateful for the timing of this uplifting run. The Virgin Money London Marathon have started to send out their acceptance or rejection magazines to everyone who entered the ballot earlier this year. Having such a good run under my belt (finally!) has given me some much needed motivation to tackle this training head on and really go for it.

I vant to suck your blood!

It turns out I have “the vampire bite”. A term for a very painful foot injury.

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One of the reasons I deferred my entry to the 2014 London Marathon was because my feet were causing me so much agro and it didn’t look like it was going to get sorted in time for race day. The problem being that my right foot would consistently ‘go to sleep’ after around 25 minutes of running. Every time, without fail. It would gradually get worse and creep up my leg before I had to walk it off.

When this happened I desperately sought advice from many different people in an attempt to still get to the starting line of the marathon. I got various pieces of advice, none of which worked. Here’s a list of what I tried:

  • Wear thinner socks.
  • Loosen those laces. Your feet expand when you run and the tight laces are restricting blood flow.
  • Tie those laces up differently to allow for more room in the middle of the shoe.
  • Loosen those laces some more.
  • Laces are now so loose that I can’t tie them up. Buy elasticated laces.
  • Buy a pedi-roller and try to remember to use it every evening before bed.
  • Get a gait test at my local running shop, shell out for shiny new trainers.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch.
  • Cry.
  • Eat Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Stretch some more.
  • Fork out for sports massages on my calves to increase blood flow to my feet.

Here I am many months later, and while it looked like I may have turned a corner, the arch in my right foot is now quite sore – all the time. If I get up after sitting for any length of time I spend about 30 seconds hobbling around like an old woman from the stiffness and pain.acupuncture-for-plantar-fasciitis_full

Que an appointment with a fully fledged physio therapist. Even though it was expensive I highly recommend it. She analysed my running behaviour, how I walk, my posture, the shoes I wear to work, and even what my working day looks like. After trying out some stretches her verdict was that I have plantar fasciitis (the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to your toes.) It’s been damaged partly from overly tight calf muscles and is now causing shooting pains when I’m walking anywhere.

She’s given me lots of handy tips of how to manage the pain and massage it out in ways that I can do when I’m sat at my desk at work, along with extensively stretching my calves when I’m not. So for the next few weeks my life will revolve around my calves. I’ve been ordered to lay off running for the next 3/4 days and then I must only do a gentle 3 mile run to see how the stretching has affected my foot before deciding the next course of action.

On the bright side she did give me the green light to go shopping for some new sandals that will better support my feet so, every cloud!

 

If in doubt, join a running club

One of the main things that has kept me a runner over the past few years is being a member of my local running club. I heard about the Striders when I was going along to a gym-lead running group in Rochford, the gym stopped running it but one of the runners recommended I try out one that meets twice a week along the seafront.

For a small annual fee to secure your membership and benefit from discounted entry into races, I joined the Leigh-on-Sea Striders club. What struck me about this club was the community spirit that I hadn’t really experienced in running by myself, other than at a 5km race for life I ran back at uni. As much as I enjoy my solo runs, there’s a lot to be said for running with a group.

Safety

In the dark winter months particularly, after a long commute back from London I feel much safer being part of a group of 50 or so other runners running the same route, with leaders to make sure everyone is accounted for.

Moral support

This can mean the difference between cutting a run short if you’re ‘not feeling it’ and proving to yourself that you can do it. I have lost count of the number of times when I have acknowledged that I would have stopped for a cheeky walk had I not been running with other people at the same pace as me.

You’re forced out of your comfort zone

Case in point: this week the Wednesday session was based on running sprinting on the sand, and doing squat thrusts (eugh!). This is a method of training I would have happily steered clear of if I wasn’t part of a club. If you’re on your own it’s much easier to stick to what you know and what you think is within your limits. When you’re part of a club you soon realise those limits were just… pathetic.

Knowledge base

There are people who lead each group session, plus many other members who are extremely experienced runners. They’ve done every method of training you can think of, run countless races of varying distances (from a 5 mile cross country up to ultra-marathons across a desert), they know about stretching, nutrition, running technique. You can guarantee that combined they’ve had every injury going and they’re more than happy to offer tips and advice to those who are seeking it. Beats Google any day.

It’s fun

The people in the club don’t take themselves too seriously, and try to inject an element of fun into the training (from cheering passing runners as we’re stretching in the cool down to donning fairy lights on the last session before Christmas). The fact that our club has been dubbed “the drinking club with a running problem” sums up the atmosphere of the group!

My week in training

There’s nothing really of note for me to write about for my blog so I thought I would do a round up of my “training” over the last week. Probably not at all interesting to anyone besides me, but one of the tips someone gave me is to record what I’m doing, so that I have something to look back on and see all my progress on those days when I have a really bad run. So here is a summary of my training log, bonus points if you recognise the heading references:

Que? Is nice day today! – Saturday

Busted out a few moves on the dancefloor after a Fawlty Towers Dinner with the family. Not sure this really counts as “training” in the traditional sense. Oh well.

Today I swear I’m not doing anything – Sunday

Spent the day in my pyjama’s alternating between episodes of Friends and Fawlty Towers. Got a second wind around 5pm and dragged dad out on a 5km run along the seafront. All that effort was balanced out by a few glasses of Pimm’s watching the World Cup Final. Win-win! (Well, not for Argentina…).

“I work out” – Monday

Unleashed the gym bunny in me and ran intervals on the treadmill (45 seconds fast, 15 seconds recovery, for 20mins) as well as core and leg strengthening.

Relax – Tuesday

Time to be all zen with a lunchtime yoga session at work – Namaste!

Best thing I never had – Wednesday

Hump day fail. Had every intention of getting to the Wednesday night club session, but the sucky commute home stopped that. It’s probably just as well, I heard the session was based on Kenyan Hills – yikes!

Now push it – Thursday

Gym time again! This time a higher incline for my intervals, more squats and planks to get that core strong.

Who run this motha? – Friday

ME! 5 mile run today – BOOM. This is my longest run since…January? So it’s quite a significant achievement (and not to mention, on the hottest day of the year). photo (2)

It’s onwards and upwards from here folks.