Thursday 23 December 2010

Christmas tags

All of a sudden I have been tagged with a set of questions by not one, but two fellow bloggers! The questions are slightly different, so I've decided to put them all together in one Christmassy post. So thanks to Alma and akjenniekt for tagging me, and here goes...

1. What is your favourite time of day to run?
Like many runners, I prefer first thing in the morning. If it's a short run, around 3 miles or so, I'll get out of bed and go before breakfast, but for anything further than about 4-5 miles, I need to eat first and go about an hour later. I am a person who can do very little on an empty stomach. I love being outside when the world is just starting to wake up, and I also find it a great way to start the day. If I don't run in the morning, I might struggle to fit it in, and end up not finding time.

2. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Well, I really enjoy teaching English as a foreign language, so I wouldn't particularly want to change that. I like the idea of becoming a personal trainer though - I'm just not keen on the cost and time commitment of retraining...

3. Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Oh yes, many. I absolutely love chocolate, and rarely go a day without it. I'm also very fond of biscuits and cake in general. The main meals I cook and eat are fairly healthy, but it's the puddings that let me down. (I don't feel very guilty about it though).

4. How and why did you start running?
I was always useless at running at school, and had no stamina at all. But one day a few years ago, I read in a book about a running programme where you started by interspersing 1 or 2 minutes of running with walking, and built up gradually to 20 mins of running. I'd always liked the idea of running, so I decided to try it, and after about 10 weeks or so, to my astonishment and delight, I was able to run for 20 mins! I enjoyed it so much, I started doing it regularly and kept increasing the distance.

5. Do you have any special Christmas time traditions?
Pete and I are just starting to create our own family traditions with the children. We usually stay at home for Christmas Day. The kids will open their stockings from Santa in the morning, and then we'll play a couple of games and go for a short walk while lunch is cooking. We have roast chicken, as none of us are very keen on turkey. Then, (if I have my way), the main presents under the tree are finally opened and savoured after lunch has been cleared away and washed up. After Christmas we tend to drive down south to visit as many relatives and friends as we can fit in over New Year.

6. What race/event are you most looking forward to in 2011?
Well after the last few months, I'll just be thrilled if I can run at all! I'd love to do some local half marathons, and 10ks, but I haven't planned anything specific yet.

7. What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2010?
This is easy - my first marathon! I really enjoyed the training and most of the race itself, and I'm still amazed that I managed to complete all 26.2 miles. I never thought I'd be able to run as much as 3 miles when I first started running, and I must admit, those last 6 miles were pretty tough. Unfortunately, I didn't do much else after that, and I've spent more time on the physiotherapist's table than pounding the streets in my trainers...

8. What are your goals for 2011?
I just want to get back to running regularly. If that goes well, I'd love to beat 2 hours in a half marathon race.

So I need to tag a couple of other runner bloggers - step forward Amy, Char and Fudgey.

I've wrapped all my presents now, and bought all the food we need (I hope), so I'm feeling pretty Christmassy. I'm really looking forward to the kids opening all their presents in a couple of days' time. I wish anyone who reads this blog a very merry and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

At a Christmas market last week

Monday 20 December 2010

One wedding and a birthday

Last Tuesday (14th) was my birthday, and my thoughtful husband did his best to make it a good one. On the day itself, I had to go to work, and I was going out for dinner with a group of ex-colleagues for Christmas, so he gave me my presents on birthday eve. I got one of these!

It's an i-touch, (not a phone), and it is fabby! It means I can keep a load more music than on my previous little i-pod mini; as well as photos, videos, games, and it also has a camera and video camera, and can connect to the internet! It was an unexpected and over the top gift, so I was really excited.

Working on my birthday wasn't the best, and with busy weekends before and after, we didn't celebrate in any special way. But on Wednesday evening, Pete came home early, and brought a chocolate cake to share with the kids - yum.

On Wednesday morning, I finally managed to attend a snow-free physio appointment, and got the go-ahead to try a run again. I'm not getting carried away with excitement though, as this will be my second attempt to run again since this started. So on Weds evening (just before the chocolate cake), I wrapped up warm and stumbled out on the snowy pavement for a little run! It was quite odd, as I've been wearing my orthotics almost constantly for a while now, and I've got used to them when walking. But when I started running, they felt really different. They will change the way I run, so Ms Physio said I should expect a few aches and pains, and to start slowly.

Anyway, I managed a whole mile in a speedy 11 minutes. I ran on the road as I didn't want to add ice and snow into the mix. It would be just my luck to slip and get a new injury. But it was lovely to be out running again, and the best birthday present I could have wished for (apart from the i-touch of course...).

I'm going to take it as slowly and carefully as I can, as I'm not convinced that my heel is much better. I still get the same pain occasionally, and I'm pretty sure that if I start running a lot it'll come straight back. But I can't bear the thought of not running for another few weeks or months. I'm not too bothered about getting back to the speed and endurance level I was at before, not yet anyway. I just want to be able to go for a run, a few times a week. Otherwise I am going to balloon, what with all the Christmas food coming up - mmmmmm.

I also had the opportunity to stuff my face this weekend, as it was Pete's sister's wedding. Despite heavy snow all over Britain and some horrendous travel disruption, we were lucky enough to fly to the South of England and back without too many problems.

It was a white snowy wedding, and unfortunately the evening party was cancelled due to the weather, but there should be some beautiful photos taken outside. There was red wine, goulash, lasagne, a mincemeat tart, fruit cake, cup cakes, chocolate mints (all of which I sampled), and on Sunday morning, stomach ache.

Now there's only a few days until Christmas, and I feel totally unprepared. The snow is back, although not as bad as before, and we need to get to a supermarket! I must think about what we're going to have for Christmas day lunch...mmm...

2 excited wedding guests in their party clothes

Monday 13 December 2010

A small thaw

Due to my useless hurty foot's refusal to heal, it's been about 3 months since I went running with my JogScotland group. On Saturday night, it was our annual Christmas dinner, so I tottered down the road on the icy pavements to the restaurant to see everyone.

It was a really good evening, with friendly company, delicious food, plenty of wine, and our group awards. Each year, the group leader makes a short speech reviewing what has been achieved during the year - mainly involving races - and she gives out awards to those who have done something special, e.g. most improved runner, most dedicated runner, most spectacular fall etc. This was my second appearance at their Christmas dinner, and last year, I was a newbie to the group, and sat wondering what I might achieve in 2010.

However, the round-up of running was rather depressing for me this year. The high point was when we got to May and the Edinburgh marathon was mentioned: I got a round of applause from the group for my first marathon, which was sweet. But as we went over the rest of the year, there was a list of races which I had entered but not run; run last year and wanted to do again; or just planned to run for the first time.

It made me realise that the last few months of this year have been a total write-off as far as running is concerned. I'm glad I did the marathon, but I wonder if all those extra miles were responsible for the various injuries I've had. I was running really well in July and August, right up until I got the pain in my heel which I haven't recovered from yet.

Anyway, the snow and ice of the last few weeks has meant that I probably wouldn't have been running much even if I'd been fit. At the end of last week, we finally saw a rise in temperatures, and a lot of the snow melted away - hooray! Since then though, it's been freezing - literally - and the roads are very icy, and the rest of the snow is hanging around like a bad smell. We are forecast more cold weather, and more snow at the end of this week - nooooooooo! I hope the weathermen are wrong!

Icicles on our roof which have gone at last!

Monday 6 December 2010

Still snowing, still shredding...

Having been snowed in last week and with all of us in our little flat instead of at school or work, we were really pleased on Sunday to be able to dig out the car and drive it to the supermarket! The roads weren't too bad, there was some definite melting and thawing going on, and there seemed to be sunlight at the end of the snow-tunnel.

Then we got up this morning. Unforecast and unwanted, there was a new, thick layer of snow. We battled through to school, but they had to close around lunchtime. We had heavy snowfall all morning, until about 2pm. By then, the paths and roads were covered again, the trains and buses were all cancelled, and I was thoroughly grumpy.

It is supposed to warm up a bit at the end of the week, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Although Robbie was pretty bored with staying at home all last week, he did have fun joining in with me and Jillian. Emma often starts the first few exercises, but she gets bored very quickly. Robbie has been great though - he stayed for the whole routine (level 2 of the 30-day shred) for 6 days in a row! I was impressed. (Disclaimer - of course he didn't actually do any of it seriously - I'm not a maniac).

Strength training with homemade 'weights'

Every day he asked 'Is it the same one again?', and then he had a constant running commentary that was always the same : 'What is Julian doing now?' 'She talks too much' 'Julian's not doing all the exercises properly, is she..' 'What are those people in the back called?' 'I need to hold on to a piece of furniture for this one' etc etc. It was fun doing it together, if a little off-putting.

Princess Emma joins the party

This morning, while he was briefly at school, I did Level 3 for the first time. Blimey. That was HARD WORK. It was manageable, but only with me doing the suggested 'beginner modifications' in some parts. Having used some new muscles digging the snow off of our path on Saturday, I was already aching before I started, and I'm sure I'll wake up to a whole new set of aches tomorrow.

Stretching out in the cooldown

I've got my postponed Physio appointment on Wednesday, but if Emma's playgroup is still closed (and it is tomorrow), I'll have to postpone it again. So no progress on the foot for the moment. I must admit, I'm not particularly tempted to run in knee-deep snow and freezing temperatures, so perhaps it's good timing!

Needing to 'hold on to a piece of furniture'

Thursday 2 December 2010

Snow joke...

Well, what a week it's been! The snow that arrived on Saturday was just a tiny taster of what was coming, and it has snowed every day since. We have been well and truly stuck for the last couple of days, with the car buried under a blanket of white. Robbie's school, Emma's playgroup and my college have all been closed all week, while Pete managed one hellish day of commuting. I have never seen snow like this.

Our 'road'

We are totally unprepared for such large amounts of snow. The kids don't have waterproof trousers or snowsuits, and neither do I, and we really wish we'd bought a sledge before they all sold out! It's crazy here.

Sunset this afternoon

We managed a walk to the local shop on Monday, but it was so cold, and it took so long that I told Pete to turn round and take the kids home before we got there, while I went on. On Tuesday we managed to post a letter (just) and on Wednesday, we stayed in all day.

The cycle path

Today we set off for the local shop again, in need of food supplies, but we met our neighbours on the way, and they told us that the shops are out of bread and milk, as the lorries have not been able to deliver. So we had a little stroll in the snow and came back.

Our village

Tomorrow we'll all be staying at home again, and then I'm hoping there'll be a little thawing over the weekend. It is forecast to stay very cold though. Meanwhile, I rescheduled today's physio appointment for next week, and I've been doing Level 2 of Jillian every day. In fact yesterday, I did that as well as 20 mins of Davina's Cardio-box! Must have been cabin fever...

An 'arty' shot!

Monday 29 November 2010

Snow Excuses

With the arrival of Pete's parents on Thursday came a few days off of exercising (well I wasn't going to star jump around the living room while they read the paper), and a weekend of pre-Christmas indulgence. This included a huge tin of chocolate biscuits (Cadbury's, no less); bottles of wine with dinner; hot chocolate in the local cafe, etc... the list goes on. After they'd gone, I also had a lunch out with the school Mums, which involved more wine and also, profiteroles.

This early festive naughtiness was capped off yesterday with our first snow of this winter, which put a stop to the vague plans I had to get out on my bike. It also left us unable to get to the supermarket before lunch, so we had to raid the freezer for sausages and frozen chips.

In front of our house

More snow is forecast for the next few days, so I won't be getting out much, but yes, I have to concede that this is no excuse for not doing my DVD. I can't let Jillian down any longer. Meanwhile, although inconvenient, the snow is quite pretty.

I love a snow-covered tree

Monday 22 November 2010

Level 2

After 6 consecutive days of doing level 1 of Jillian Michaels' shred (and 9 days altogether) I decided it was time to up the ante and try level 2. So on Sunday I did. Yikes! I was definitely more sweaty than after level 1! It's still quite do-able, but there are a few sections I have to modify because they just hurt.

I'm definitely getting more toned, and it fits into my daily routine quite easily. After taking Robbie to school, Emma and I come home and she watches while I get all sweaty and achey, and she joins in with some of the exercises, until she gets bored. We sort of have fun, but I think I'd rather be running.

My fitness mat in my 'home gym'

Thursday 18 November 2010

2 long weeks...

Usually spending a large amount of money on running accessories is enough to put a smile on my face, but this was not the case today. I had an appointment with Ms Physio this morning. She had decided that since a long period of rest had not improved my foot situation, it was time to try something else. So she ordered me some orthotics, which I picked up today.

They are to be inserted into my trainers to change the position of my feet, to take the pressure off of the heel. I tried them on, and they felt pretty uncomfortable. They feel really bulky just under the arch. So my instructions are to break them in over the next couple of weeks. I have to get my feet used to them on a frustratingly gradual basis - 1 hour wearing them today; 2 hours tomorrow etc. This is because the change in my feet's position will affect the mechanics of how I run and walk.

Look how thick they are!

Eventually, I should get u
sed to wearing them so that I don't notice them anymore (hopefully), and then - and only then - I might be ready to try a run. So I've got an appointment in 2 weeks' time, to see how I get on with them.

I can't believe I've got to wait another 2 weeks! To be honest, I wasn't expecting to start running straight away, especially as I still get some pain in my heel even without running. But 2 more weeks! By then it'll be 12 weeks since I first got the pain (or as Pete put it, a quarter of the year!!!!). Horrendous.

Meanwhile, I've been doing Jillian's shred, and I've managed 5 consecutive days this week. I also had a 6-mile bike ride, so I'm keeping thi
ngs ticking over. I know the bright pink insoles look really cool in my trainers - I just hope the expensive, uncomfortable things work.


Monday 15 November 2010

Pigging out

Not the healthiest weekend. On Friday morning I chose to concentrate on a bit of Christmas shopping instead of going for a cycle. The shops are already getting busy, so I want to avoid having to go too often in December - I hate crowds.

Then that evening I had a babyshower to attend. It was with my Jog Scotland group, who I haven't seen for a couple of months, since I haven't been running. Two of the running ladies are pregnant, and we had a fun evening of games, chat, red wine, sausage rolls, pizza and cupcakes.

Then on Saturday I was working all day, so no time for exercise, and in the evening we had friends round for board games, pizza and beer. On Sunday, the opportunity for a rare lie-in was somewhat more appealing than a bike ride, so I missed out again.

After that I was feeling like a right lazy, greedy piggy, so in the afternoon, I managed to fit in 30 mins with Jillian Michaels and her DVD while Pete took the kids out. It was a relief to do some exercise at last. It wasn't the best session though, as I started jumping around shortly after a delicious and very filling lunch of sausage and bean stew. I don't think I did my digestion any favours there.

A new recipe we'll definitely have again!

This morning I am back on track having got up at 6.30am to do 30 mins of Pilates, and after taking Robbie to school, I came back and did the Jillian Michaels again. I know I'm going to enjoy indulging in plenty of great food and drink at Christmas, so I need to keep on top of things a bit until then, running or no running!

Thursday 11 November 2010

Lacking inspiration

I've been feeling a bit uninspired about blogging this week. The distinct lack of running has made it increasingly difficult to contribute to a blog with the word 'runner' in its title. I haven't done any running at all since the last post - I have been very sensible, well done me - but I haven't been sitting on the sofa eating chocolate all week.

While I wait for my foot to stop mucking about and behave itself, I've been sticking to the cycling and the DVDs. My short term goal is to do at least 30 mins of structured exercise a day, and in the long term, I'm hoping to tone things up a bit, and improve my balance and core stability. This should hopefully help to prevent injury when I get back to running (but I won't hold my breath).

On Sunday I wrote out a plan for the week, and I've more or less stuck to it. I'm mixing pilates; Jillian Michael's cardio, strength and abs routine; and cycling. Although I'm not as aerobically fit as I was when I was running regularly, I think I have noticed a bit more definition in my biceps- yay! No doubt the six-pack will be making an appearance soon...

My busy exercise diary!

And yesterday I went to see Ms Physio to break the news that the foot pain is back. She has decided that the next step is to order a pair of orthotic inserts for my trainers. They'll arrive next week, and then I suppose I'll try running again. I'm not feeling too optimistic though. I can't imagine it'll be as simple as that...

I'm not too upset about the lack of running at the moment. I'm trying to see it as an opportunity to do other things, and to give my body a break from its various running injuries. I'm hoping that if I keep up the other stuff, I really can tone some muscles up and build my core strength, which will all make me fitter overall. On the other hand, if Ms Physio does give me permission for a run next week, I'll be out there like a shot!

Thursday 4 November 2010

Staying in with a DVD

Since my foot started playing up again, I have done NO running. Yes it's back to the old cross-training, as I wait for the heel to heal. I've enjoyed all the cycling I've been doing, and it's close to running in the sense that you get to enjoy fresh air and scenery, and it's aerobically good. But it's harder to fit into my week. It's dark in the mornings and evenings now and I haven't got lights. Even if I did, it feels too dangerous.

So I've come up with a new plan! DVDs! On Monday morning I woke up early and couldn't get my ipod to work. I stomped off to the living room in a bad mood, and did a bit of web-surfing in the dark and quiet. Then it came to me that I could fit in a 30-minute work out quite easily at that time, before anyone else gets up. Unfortunately the only fitness material I had was on VHS, and although our video still works, it's all pretty old and I've done them to death.

A quick look at Amazon, and I'd ordered a strength and cardio DVD. I wanted something to do straight away though, so I headed to the shops, and got a pilates DVD. I haven't done pilates before, but my core stability is frankly an embarrassment, so I thought it'd be good for me.

On Tuesday morning, my alarm went off in the darkness. I felt really tired, but dragged myself up and did 40 minutes of engaging-my-trunk type stuff. I was sweating away when I noticed the clock in the living room said 6.05am. What? I'd set my alarm for 6.30am. In my second dopey moment in the last 2 weeks, I realised I hadn't changed the time on my mobile phone when the clocks went back at the weekend. Doh. I'd got up an hour earlier than intended! Still, plenty of time to cool down and shower afterwards...

I was a bit concerned about whether the workout was challenging enough. That was until I woke up on Wednesday with the aching abs from hell. Yikes! All sorts of funny muscles have been screaming at me!

So in a run-free few days, I've done over 10 miles of cycling, 30 mins of pilates, and 30 mins of 'cardio-pump' (whatever that is). I'm thinking about a cheeky 3-mile run soon, just to keep my hand in. The foot feels ok most of the time, but I'm pretty sure it'll start hurting again if I start running again. Even so, I think if it's going to hurt anyway, I might as well keep my fitness up with a bit of running. Right? Right?

Any recommendations for DVDs? Should I try a run? Suggestions and advice gratefully accepted (but not necessarily adhered to...)

Sunday 31 October 2010

It's back...

On Wednesday I had an appointment with Ms Physio. It was really positive as there seemed to be no recurrence of foot pain, and she said I should keep doing what I'm doing, building the miles slowly and icing the foot after running. As I left we both said we hoped not to see each other for a while!

So on Friday morning I got up at 6.30am again, and went for my second 3-mile run since starting again. It was fine, although I felt as though as I was running fairly fast, assuming I was well under 9 min/miles, but when I looked, I averaged 9.09m/m. I iced the foot like a good girl, and went about my day...

Then on Saturday Pete dragged me off to a running shop (Me: 'Oh go on then'). He got some high visibility stuff, and I decided I could do with another pair of running tights. As we were browsing away, I started to notice that my heel was hurting again. As the day went on, it kept hurting, it hurt when I went to bed, and it still hurt when I got up this morning.

I had planned to run 4 miles or so, but I switched to the bike instead. I don't know what's gone wrong - I've been doing everything so carefully, and it was over 30 hours after Friday's run that it started to hurt. I've kept wearing shoes during the day, not going barefoot, as instructed. I wear trainers most of the time to support the foot as much as possible. The only other thing I can do is stop running again...pah.

Anyway, I had a good cycle in the sun, I did 12 miles and it was a glorious day. I'll play it by ear, and if the foot feels better tomorrow, I might try a run on Tuesday.

In other news, I've been celebrating Halloween for the first time! When I was a kid it was never a big deal, but the kids had 2 parties to go to this week! They've had a great time dressing up, and they made pumpkins with Pete, and I even made pumpkin soup for dinner with the innards!

I need my little witch and wizard to sort out a magic spell to make my foot better and get me running properly again. Heel Reparo! Plantar Fasciitis Evictus! Stupid Pain Awayo!

Tuesday 26 October 2010


Since my physio appointment 2 weeks ago, in which I was given permission to try running again, I have managed no fewer than 5 runs. The mileage has been pretty underwhelming: I started with 1 mile; followed by 1.3m; 2m; 2.5m, then finally this morning, I reached the milestone of 3 whole miles! Woo-hoo!

Of course I am being very careful, running fairly slowly most of the time, and icing my foot after every run as well as every evening. The good news is that my foot felt fine for most of the running, but the bad news is that I can sometimes feel a little something there afterwards - I wouldn't go so far as to call it pain or even discomfort - but there is something. At least I think there is...

After the 2.5 mile run on Sunday, I felt a bit depressed. My foot was ok, but I had got so out of breath, and actually struggled to complete the distance! I realised that even when my heel is fully recovered, it's going to be a long road (ho ho) back to where I was before. Although the cycling has helped me not put any weight on, it hasn't been enough to maintain my previous fitness. For today's 3-miler I went quite a bit slower and it felt easier.

My consolation is that I don't have any races planned, and there's no rush to get back to a 2-hour half marathon. It's just me being impatient. Now I've started a little bit of running, I really want to do more. This morning I dragged myself out of a cosy bed at 6.30am to venture outside in cold drizzle and pitch black darkness, and it was great! I loved it!

I did a stupid thing though. I've more or less decided that the cause of my injury in the first place was old, worn down trainers, and I bought a new pair which I've been wearing for every run. As it was early this morning, I snuck out quietly without disturbing anyone, getting dressed in the dark in the clothes I'd put out last night. When I got home, everyone was up , and I mentioned to Pete that I'd had a bit of calf pain, and he pointed out that my trainers didn't match. I'd worn a new left one, but on my right foot (the one with all the injury - duh), I'd been pounding on the oldest and most worn out (and not used for running in for a few years) trainer in the whole world. What an idiot! Lucky it was only 3 miles!

Spot the difference...

I don't think I'd have noticed if Pete hadn't pointed it out. I hope my sleepy dopiness hasn't had any detrimental effects on my recovery...

Saturday 23 October 2010

A long cycle and a short run

This was that most scary of weeks - half term! With no school or playgroup to occupy the kids, I knew I'd struggle to fit in much exercise this week. However, on Tuesday they spent a few hours at the childminder's and I managed my longest bike ride yet - 17 miles!

Good old self-timer!

I planned a route that he
aded into Edinburgh, and down to the canal. Despite having lived in and around Edinburgh for 6 years now, I had never been to the canal before! Of course I got a bit lost and had to carry the bike down some unexpected steps, and ask a runner for directions, but I found it after about 5 miles.

The weather was overcast with a few spots of rain, and to be honest, some of the canal path was not particularly stu
nning. It was fantastic to be on such a flat path though! I'm so used to hills, this was a lot less effort. With the grey skies and overhanging trees, I pootled through the semi-darkness with no clear idea of where I was, when suddenly I came to this little aquaduct. I stopped to look at the view, and the sun came out. It was gorgeous! There was a river below and beautiful countryside all around.

I had a moment of pure enjoyment and took a minute to appreciate being surrounded by such amazing scenery. Ooh, it was lovely! Anyway, I ended up leaving the canal path a bit sooner than intended, and was lost for a while, but made it home in about 2 hours altogether.

Then on Thursday, I decided to try another run in the evening. I hadn't run since Saturday, when I'd felt a slight pain in my foot, but by Thursday it was feeling fine. This time I did 2 whole miles. I had so many little niggles: sciatic pain, ITB ache, wheeziness, general tiredness, a runny nose... but none of it bothered me because my foot felt fine!

Since then I have felt a little soreness
in the heel though, so I'm still being careful, but I'll try another run tomorrow, I think. Then next week, Robbie'll be at school, Emma at playgroup, and it should be a bit easier to fit in the running and/or cycling - depending on my foot of course...

Fun in the woods!

Monday 18 October 2010

A little running (but not as we know it)

So as predicted in my last post, I have finally been for a run! On Friday at 7am - it was still pitch black outside! - I ran a mile in 10.48m. It was quite enjoyable, and contrary to my worries, I had not forgotten how to do it. Phew. I felt pretty good afterwards, but later in the day, I started to feel a little discomfort around my ankle again. It's got to the stage where I can't tell if it hurts or if I'm just imagining it. I iced it just in case.

On Saturday I walked into town and back for a haircut - only about 3 miles in total, but I think that may have aggravated the foot a bit. That evening I tried a second test run. I was getting bored of going slowly already, so I banged out a mile in 8.48m, then jogged home for 3 more minutes. At the start of the run, I could feel a tiny niggle in my heel (just how it started last time), but as I sped up, the pain went away. It wasn't so much that I was ignoring it, but I couldn't tell if it was really hurting or just paranoia.

So that's the state of my running! I'm not sure what to do now. I was confident that I could get back to normal, but it seems that I might need yet more rest...grr... Part of me thinks that if I just take a couple of months off running, I should be able to get stuck in seriously after Christmas and it'll be worth it to get rid of this bloody injury. However, that part is being shouted down by the loud pushy part of me that wants to try a longer run this week.

Still, I'm not too sad about it as I had a really great bike ride yesterday. I did 12 miles, which took me to 30 miles last week. I went down to the beach:

And then back along the cycle path that goes right past the back of our house.

It was a sun-free morning, but the trees still looked beautiful, and I love riding over the crunchy autumn leaves...

There was no-one around so I cycled home with my camera in my hand taking shots from the bike.

Where do I go from here? I'll probably try another run this week to see whether anything hurts or not. It's half-term here, so no school or playgroup for the kids, which means fitting in bike rides will be tricky, but I'll fit something in when I can.

A silly video from the bike!

Thursday 14 October 2010

A Green Light

I'd been looking forward to today's appointment with Ms Physio. I usually do anyway, as we get on quite well, and most of what she does makes me feel better. However today I was feeling particularly optimistic as my foot's been feeling so much better.

My hopeful mood was slightly dented when I found a tender spot around my ankle, until I realised that it felt the same on the other foot, and is just a tender area. Paranoia...

After a bit of prodding and poking, she pronounced that I can indeed get back to running. Hooray! But wait - not so fast - the first session is to be (quote) 'a 5-10 minute plod'. Blimey. If, and only if there is no pain, after a day's rest I can attempt 15 mins, and then increase each run by about 20% each time. So begins the slow road back to fitness.

I'm not surprised though, I knew I'd have to start slowly, but I thought it'd be 2-3 miles rather than 1 or less. We runners seem to be impatient when it comes to rest and recovery. I've spoken to a few recently who've described running through injury or doing too much too soon and making things worse. So I'm determined to ease myself back in carefully.

Tomorrow morning I'll be lacing up my new trainers and heading out for a 10-minute jog. I probably won't even get sweaty, but I'll just be praying I don't get any pain...

Monday 11 October 2010

Baby baby baby!

Well I had an unhealthy but fab weekend in Essex meeting my new nephew! I ate fish and chips, sausage and mash, fried egg and chips, as well as loads of fudge, chocolate and cake. This was all my sister's fault. Tom just stuck with milk.

Me hanging out with Tom

Tom is a great baby, who is pretty content most of the time, and has been putting in some fantastic long sleeps - good work for a 3-week-old!

Happy on his playmat

The weather was very warm for October, and we had 2 beautiful sunny days. We managed a couple of short walks in between Tom's feeds.

Brightlingsea at High Tide

No doubt I've put on a pound or two, so I went for a 6mile cycle with Emma on the back of the bike this morning. Unsurprisingly my average speed was a lot slower than usual with that extra weight not helping get up the hills.

After our cycle

I really hope to be back running after my appointment with Ms Physio on Thursday. Meanwhile, it should be a week of cycling, healthy eating and plenty of sleep.

Never wake a sleeping baby...

Thursday 7 October 2010

A bit of a cold

Ugh. Last Thursday I started getting a sore throat, and I've had it for a week now. I've been feeling pretty rubbish for the last few days, so this week, I've decided to just take a week off. Normally I would have gone for a bike ride yesterday, but when I woke up I was tired, snotty and really achey, so after dropping Emma at playgroup I headed to the shops instead.

I haven't done any exercise since my cycle on Sunday, and I haven't been eating particularly carefully either. This weekend I'm going away, so there'll be no cycling then. But I'm not too bothered - it's not as though I'm an elite athlete (far from it!), so I'm going to get on with some relaxing. If you're going to get a cold that stops you from training, it might as well be at the same time as an injury, right?

My foot's actually feeling a lot better, and I'm beginning to think that I might be allowed to try a run soon (please please please!!). My next physio appointment is next Thursday, so I'll be hoping for good news then.

Meanwhile this evening I'm indulging in some great tv - BBC3's 'Are you fitter than a pensioner?' This hilarious show takes 4 unfit British youths, (aged around 20), and flies them out to Sun City, Florida to spend a week with some obsessively fit oldies (aged around 70). The impossibly chirpy and generous oldies force the grumpy, lazy slobs to eat healthily and take some exercise, and the programme culminates in some kind of race of young against old.

It's a very light-hearted and jolly kind of show, and the tiny but toned American pensioners are quite inspiring. I hope I'm still running and exercising when I'm 70! The programme usually ends with tears as the seemingly changed-for-the-better Brits bid farewell to their mentors. Needless to say, Pete is out on a Thursday evening, which is why I can get away with this viewing...

Anyway, tomorrow I'm off on a plane to London to visit my sister and meet her 3-week old baby boy! I can't wait to meet little Tom, and I won't be missing my Sunday long run this weekend.

Can't wait to give this little bundle a cuddle!

Monday 4 October 2010


Yesterday was the first ever Scottish Kilomathon - a 26.2 km race (about 16 miles). I entered this race a few months ago, as the route was likely to go through my home town, and when the route was published, I was excited to see that it would go directly past our house! The race was made up almost entirely of routes which I have run in training, so I thought that would be to my advantage.

Of course this was all long before I hurt my foot, and yesterday I had to resign myself to cheering on friends and encouraging the other runners from the sidelines. It was quite a novelty to be a spectator for once - if I go to a race it's usually because I'm running in it, so I quite enjoyed standing by the road and clapping and shouting to the runners. It wasn't very crowded and in my little village it was very quiet, so a lot of runners smiled, waved back, shouted 'thanks', or even had a little chat.

I dragged them out in the drizzle to keep me company

I think I managed to see most of the people I knew who were running, and I even spotted fellow blogger Fudgey who seemed to be running well! Emma and Robbie did a reasonable job of applauding and cheering people on, until they got bored and started collecting acorns (Robbie) and sitting in puddles of mud (Emma). I was a bit disappointed not to be running, but the next kilomathon is scheduled for next April (to fit in with preparation for the Edinburgh marathon), so I hope I'll be recovered by then to enter that one.

A drinks station at the top of our road!

Meanwhile I've been cycling, and my average speed has gone from about 9.8mph to 10.1mph. I did try to push myself in te
rms of speed, so it obviously had some effect. After a particularly hilly route on Friday, my thighs were in agony all day Saturday - clearly I hadn't been 'peddling hard enough' before, as Dan commented on my last post! I also managed to squeeze in 8 miles before the kilomathon yesterday - I would have liked to go further, but I had to get back before the roads closed.

In fact living on a race route made me realise how much work goes into staging these things. Signs are put up in advance, people are notified, then traffic cones line the streets, roads are closed off etc - at 8am yesterday the marshalls were at their stations, the St John's Ambulance were out and the drinks were being set up. Later in the afternoon we saw trucks driving past collecting the traffic cones and signs as the roads got back to normal again.

It must take a lot of organising. Next time I run in a race, I'll be more aware and more grateful to the amount of work behind staging the event.

Thursday 30 September 2010

New routine

As September draws to a close Robbie's doing full days at school, Emma's started playgroup (or as she says 'paygooop'), and I'm firmly back at work 2 days a week. In the chaos of family life, we are settling in to some sort of routine.

When Emma started at playgroup about 4 weeks ago, I cycled there with her on the back of my bike (about 1.6 miles), then went straight for a bike ride in the sun. It's downhill most of the way there, which is great because she's quite a heavy weight on the back, and I obviously remove that weight before I come back uphill. Initially I thought these 2 mornings a week would provide an opportunity for an occasional cycle to complement the running.

However, with my foot injury, the cycling has become my main form of exercise. In fact it's my only form of exercise, apart from the odd bit of free weights in front of the telly to keep my arms toned. So every Wednesday and Friday morning, Emma and I strap our helmets on, zoom down to playgroup where I drop her off, and then I go for about 7 - 10 miles cycling.

My little passenger

I do enjoy cycling, but it's not the same as running, and it takes a longer period of time to get the same fitness benefit (time which isn't easy to find).

I went to see Ms Physio yesterday, and it seems as though improvement has occured! I'm not limping as much as I was, and she said that the original plantar fasciitis has more or less gone, and the pain I'm getting now has been caused by limping - mainly hobbling round 13 miles of the Great North Run, but also walking around every day. I've put strain on the tendons in my calf, and that's where most of the pain is now.

I've found that wearing a small heel on my shoes helps, as there is no pain there and I don't limp at all. Ms Physio has given me a little insert for the heel of my trainers, so I'm walking around with no pain most of the time! I'm still a long way off running yet, but I'm glad there's a bit of progress at last.

Meanwhile, I'm embracing my new sport wholeheartedly with a few purchases...

I miss shopping for running stuff, but this'll do!

Sunday 26 September 2010

An unhealthy weekend

Well I only cycled 16 miles this week, did no running of course, and very little walking, as I've been limping since last Sunday's run. Instead, I went out on Friday night to see my husband's awesome band play at a birthday party and had a couple of beers; went to the theatre on Saturday night and ate an ice-cream; then today we had a party for my Robbie's 5th birthday.

Plats Combinats, with Pete on guitar

I failed to do any exercise at all this weekend, despite the lovely weather, and today I pigged out on party food. There were apples and grapes on the table, but I chose to ignore them and went for mini sausages and hula hoops instead. It was great though; we had a couple of friends round with their kids, and Pete organised some serious party games. After some snacks, we shared out the birthday cake, and had a game of pass the parcel which involved a chocolate treat at every layer. Yum.

Birthday boy

So I've probably put on a few pounds this week, but I'm not going to worry too much about it. Hopefully I can shake the weight off with some hilly cycling and being more careful with what I eat next week. I am missing running, but trying to be sensible and let my heel heal in its own good time... Meanwhile, I can't believe my little baby is 5 already!

Fun and games

5 years ago tomorrow...

Thursday 23 September 2010

Big v Small

I'm talking about races of course.

When I got the opportunity of a place in the Great North Run, I was quite excited, and felt it was something I couldn't pass up. As a race with a ballot entry system, I knew it would be hard to get a place again. This was by far the biggest race I've ever been involved in - 54,000 runners, the biggest race in the UK, the biggest half marathon in Europe etc. I've watched the live coverage on tv a few times over the years, and knew I'd want to do it one day. (Of course I couldn't know that I'd be running it with an injury and a limp...)

So my expectations on Sunday were pretty high - not for my performance, but for the experience of doing this particular race. However, it ended up being a bit of an anticlimax, and I've found myself wondering why. Here are some of my reasons:

Why bigger isn't better
1. Accommodation - by the time I got my place at the beginning of June, all nearby hotels and B&Bs had been booked up for ages. The nearest we could find was over 30 miles away from the run, and it was still full of runners!

2. Traffic - there was a lot of it all weekend. Pete had to drop me off near the start very early to beat the jams, and then when he tried to drive to the finish, he kept having to turn back as a lot of the roads were closed for the race. We also had a bit of a queue to leave the car park afterwards.

3. Congestion - the run itself was insanely busy. For the whole 13.1 miles it was difficult to get past other runners, and there was an lot of elbowing out the way going on. It was also really hot from the heat coming off of other runners!

Apparently I'm in this photo!

4. Inexperienced runners - I don't want to sound like a running snob, and I'm aware that I'm not exactly a serious athlete myself, but the trouble with people who don't run year round in other races is that some of them seem to stop and walk just after the first mile marker. Obviously that's fine - some people walk the whole thing - but if you're going to start walking at mile 1, don't start the race in a pen with people aiming to finish in 2 hours! I couldn't believe how many walkers I had to dodge so early on, especially with it being so crowded.

5. The finish - it was so busy and we were shepherded from one place to another. I wanted to go back down the course to meet Pete and the kids, but spent ages trying to find the way out. Different officials gave different directions, and eventually I had to run across the race, which was still full of runners.

6. Cost - ok, so I didn't actually pay it as I had a charity place, but big races charge some ridiculous prices compared to smaller ones. Charities often put a huge minimum amount of sponsorship that you have to raise too, and of course it's difficult to get an entry without finding a charity to run for.

Some good points
1. The crowds - for me, by far the best thing about bigger races is the fantastic support. I don't think there was a single stretch of this race that wasn't lined with crowds cheering us on, giving out sweets, food and drink, spraying the runners with a hose etc. They can really make such a difference, so thanks to you all!

2. The goody bag - I suppose you get what you pay for, but at least after a big race you usually get something to refuel with, a medal, and a t-shirt. I like to get these mementos to remind me of the day.

Featuring the Tyne Bridge, which was the best part of the run.

What do others think? Big events or local races? Whenever my foot allows me to, I'll be looking for some smaller runs next - no more than 500 runners if possible!