Run run run

I’m back running, and after my scare from last week where I had to halt my run on 10 miles with a bad knee, I’m now good.

I was worried when I got to the ten mile mark, but passed straight through without issue; in fact my leg actually felt completely pain-free for the first time since October.  It was a lovely feeling.

I’ve been doing hip-flexor exercises all week, and rolling my ITB to try and loosen thing up – and it’s worked well.

I had to give my leg a rest this week, so apart from cycling I’ve not done any short runs.  I expect this next week to have a couple of commute runs to work, and will finish it off with an 18 mile run next Sunday – the pinnacle of my training and two miles short from where I’d really like to be.  However, I think it’s fair that I amend my plan to match my situation.  If I’d had fewer injuries I’d probably have done more – but back look put paid to that!

Excited, happy and a starting to get a little nervous.  Please sponsor us at if  you can spare some cash for this good cause!

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Do I knee’d a miracle?

This last couple of weeks has been quite good fun.  I had an awesome week preceding my 30th Birthday celebrations, with a few short runs that both felt amazing and had a decent average speed.  It was great to commute to work twice in a week with a run, and given that I had zero ITB pain it felt amazing.

Unfortunately last weekend (with a beautiful 30th Birthday Party up at my parents,) I didn’t make enough time to get a long run in.  This was doubly stupid given that Karly had managed to convince me to take a couple of days off to relax and recuperate.  In hindsight I should have run, but I also should have kept up my stretches.

I’ve always figured that I can deal with pain, but what I can’t deal with is discomfort.  Ever since seeing a wrinkly elbow on an old lady walking down Dovehouse Parade (a row of shops near where I grew up in Solihull) I’ve had something against elbows, especially straight ones.  When the elbow is bent the skin is taught and nice; I don’t like that extra foldy flabby stuff.

The same has been true of my legs.  Back in 1999 when I broke my femur, it isn’t the pain of the accident that I look back and reflect on, but the months of physio afterwards when I was made to do hamstring stretches.  I don’t like straight limbs – but I’m now acutely aware of the importance of stretching.

On my long run today (I did the Thames Path, Boat Race route given today’s event) I manage to get to just over 10 miles when my right knee decided to flare up again.  I’ve not been keeping up with my stretching and that’s stupidly causing this problem.  It’s frustrating because I know that I have the capacity to stop it from being a problem, yet need to force my willpower to find the solution.

The mindset needs to be for me to focus on getting these stretches done.  Sensibly I stopped as soon as I felt the pain, and given plenty of rest over the last few hours the pain is almost non-existent.  My plan tomorrow is some hot yoga and swimming, along with a tonne of stretching to try and mitigate my stupidity.

This has got me thinking though, as to how many other people out there share my mindset?  We’re the generation of ‘instant gratification’ and one of the first parts of getting over a problem is to accept that you have one. One of the joys I get from using Strava is the fact that I can look back on my cycling/running activities from the last few years and see how far I’ve improved.  Sometimes those improvements are negligible, but only having the benefit of time allows me to see quite how far I’ve come.

Is there an app or implementation out there that can help with stretching?  It would be ace to be able to track the range of motion in my limbs; to have something tangible to work toward and something that gave me a record of progress so that I knew my efforts are having a positive effect.  Maybe that’s just my mindset, but what do you guys do to keep motivated?

Back in the game

Nobody tells you that after not running for quite some time you start to feel guilty. It’s horrible when logging into Strava only to see other people’s exercise. However, it does mean when you pick it up again you get the feeling of ‘Strava-Love’ all over again.

I’ve definitely run a lot less than I thought I would have done at this stage of the plan, but I’m pleased that I’m back up at a distance I think is acceptable. I did a half marathon in training, two weeks ago, and then last weekend I ended up doing more cycling than running – but still squeezed in a 5 mile run. That was long for me at this time last year, so things are picking up.

I’m in for the Colchester half marathon this weekend, and it’ll be good to do a race where Karly’s family can come and shout some support. I’m disappointed that I won’t be gunning for a personal best, but I want to really focus on getting the miles in my legs so I’m ready for the London Marathon – it’s now only 6 weeks away.

The plan is to get a load of smaller runs done during the week, with a few running commutes for the next 4 weeks. I’ve also got my 30th birthday next weekend, so heading out early on the Saturday morning for a long run. I’m not sure when to stop the alcoholic beverages (initial plan was to not drink in my 30s until I’ve run a marathon – but given the risk of injury and missing this year’s marathon, that’s no longer a pledge I wish to take!)

Anyhow – early night before the run tomorrow. 9 am start.

Injury Update

It’s been just over a week without any exercise being registered to Strava. My ankle has been slowly recovering, with plenty of Rest, Ice, & Elevation.  It’s been a bit of a weird one as each day I’ve woken up with a lovely ankle, only for the swelling to increase throughout the day, then pain to return in the evenings.  It’s now mostly pain-free, but slightly tender around the ankle.  Hopefully I can get back to some slow jogging next week, and then back for the longer runs next weekend – though I won’t be running the half marathon on Sunday.

Hopefully I’ll get back in the game very shortly, having sorted out some physio exercises from Nuffield Health to sort out my body.

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There’s been a bit of a gap since I last wrote. That’s not to say I haven’t done some lovely running; I did an 8.5 mile slow run over to Canary Wharf to go do a #Psycle spin class two weeks ago, followed by a long run on the Sunday… …and that’s when things started to go wrong.

On the Sunday run, we left with the Chasers to do approximately 15 miles, leading Wandsworth Town, along the Thames path, and turning around with a short, medium or long loop of Richmond park.

As we set off, I was enjoying it – I had been unwell for a week previously so took some time off, but soon got into the groove and felt comfortable enough. I was pushing 8.30 a mile and my feet felt comfy (weirdly, if I haven’t been running enough, I feel it in my feet.).

I’d been a bit confident, and done 3 1/2 miles to each the start of the long run. 8 miles into the longer run was actually 11 1/2 miles for me.. oops. I just felt loose – that I just wanted to stop, and my right leg was tightening up on the ITB, causing pain on the outside of my right knee.

I soldiered on for another 1/2 a mile, but decided to call it a day to prevent injury. I arranged a video appointment with my GP and he put me in touch with a physio from Nuffield Health. After a phone consultation (getting me to do funky exercises over the phone and describe where the pain was) they gave me a load of exercises to do in order to loosen the ITB, and told me to leave it a week before running on it again. Evidently once the ITB is tight it pulls the rest of your leg out of alignment, unless you loosen it before running again the misalignment gets accentuated and you just make the problem worse.

With the exercises being done twice a day as prescribed, I decided it’d be worth getting back on my bike and cycling to work. This is where I managed to get my latest injury. On day 2 of cycling in, I went to unclip on my left foot and managed to fail; on my second attempt the foot came out – but but this point I’d strained my ankle slightly. I’ve done this when I first started cycling, so I put it down to a short break in cycling and not having the strength in the leg, nor the right unclipping angles…

I then decided that I’d done enough rest for the ITB and enjoyed one of the nicest commutes I’d ever done by running to work with KJ on Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately I think with my slightly weakened ankle from the unclip fail, I aggravated the problem.  Come Friday afternoon my ankle was starting to swell up and I was starting to feel sad.

Ah well, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation to the rescue.  It’s been 48 hours and although it’s definitely not ‘fixed’ – the swelling is down and I’m hoping I’ll be fit and ready to start cycling by next week (although with drastically loosened pedals) and running in two.

London to Brighton

With my last day of freedom before starting my next new contract, I wanted to do something memorable. Checking up on the weather all week, Friday seemed clear enough to do a jaunt down to Brighton. I’ve done it a few times before, but it’s always been with quite a large group of people quite a bit slower – I decided to do it today with a mate at a bit of a quicker pace (although not as quick as we’d initially hoped).

The morning didn’t begin particularly positively, with a stop just 10k into the ride to check my mate’s right shifter. It had jammed, leaving him in the easiest rear cog in the back. We paid a quick visit to Dean’s Garage in Beckenham, where a lovely bloke called Chris helped fit a manual shifter to the crossbar – he didn’t have any old school 9-speed shifters in stock.

After an hour delay, and a train to catch at 1432 from Brighton, we set off at some pace, following the initial route of the Dulwich Paragon intro ride loop that we’d done back in Jan 2014 and then heading west at it’s most southerly point to join the ‘official’ L2B BHF route. It was a great route, and a much better way out of London that the official L2B route.  I’ve set the route on Strava if you want to try it:

The shifter wasn’t quite as ‘tight’ as we’d hoped – with the gears jumping at each bump unless the lever was held in place – so we couldn’t really get up much of a rhythm.  There was also a pretty horrible headwind through most of the way, and with greasy wet-roads and 16% downhill, there wasn’t really much benefit gained from the brief downhill.

Once we’d joined up with the L2B route I realised I was finding it a bit tough – just before Lindfield I had to get out of my saddle to get up a short-sharp hill – even in my lowest gear I couldn’t stay sat down.  Had I lost all my cycling fitness that badly?  Eek.

Just as we got past Haywards Heath and could seen the Green Monster approaching I had a bit of a revelation.  I was finding the uphill surprisingly difficult, even at a relatively slow place.  Checking my rear dérailleur just before getting to Ditchling, I realise that my indexing was out and I’d been missing my three top gears for the whole ride.  Muppet.

Brighton Pier

It was a pretty poor ascent up the beacon.  At this stage I didn’t have much in the legs, and crawled up like a snail.  It had been a pretty dry ride, but once at the top there was the ominous threat of rain pulling in – and a chilly breeze hitting us off the sea.  We made our way down to the seafront and arrived with just under 94km covered in 4h30 of moving.  Back to work on Monday!