Monthly Archives: April 2011

Zeds

My worst fears for a weekend of worrying about how poor work performance is weren’t quite realised but far too much time was spent considering what could, should and needed to be done which resulted in a daftly early start to get me on site as soon as it was daylight to allow inspections of buildings before the daily bedlam commenced.

So it came to pass that by 5.30 (pm…I lasted a bit more than half an hour, honest!) I was well ready to come home and, while my mind was eager enough to run, my spirit and body weren’t.

Still, having unloaded the car, dug a bit more vegetable patch (the previous owners have dumped quite literally tons of shingle, rock, gravel, roof tiles, car disc brake pads, more shingle, occasional car light bodies, paving slabs and lots more besides under a thin skin of soil right where I want vegetables and fruit – it takes hours to dig a square foot, seive the contents and seperate the waste…a small plot is taking months to get through as a result), eaten, done the washing up and got changed, mind overcame body and I got out of the door.

A plod (and it was just that – the slowest individual mile of the year to start) past the pub, onto the Greensand Way and around the corner made me feel a bit better and I picked up my heels and plodded in a bit more style past several dozen youths, each pair seemingly having a competition to see who could insert their own tongue down their partner’s throat furthest without making them gag, before I realised I was most of the way to Tesco where I needed a pint of milk.

Or two. Or rather four – two for me, two for work.

And a packet of biscuits.

So I stopped in the supermarket equivalent of an explosion in a synthetic fabrics emporium, purchased said items and rounded the jaunt off with a joggette up the road and home.

And feel much better for it.

No matter how bad work gets if my foot continues to heal and I maintain a reasonable level of fitness then satisfaction is but 3 miles away after a swift plod. I like running. If I can just make running like me again then happy things might occur over the rest of the year. I’m due into the podiatrist again in a couple of weeks to see how progress on my foot is. Not bad, I reckon – wonder what she’ll think?

Ps. I’ve been trying a Trion:Z wristband like a few other bloggers – I’ve only had it just over a week but am worried I like it already…will continue to test it for a couple more weeks and check I’m not losing my marbles regarding good things to report but first impressions are nothing but positive.

1424.08 miles to go.

A quick dash

Apologies for I am late in blogging yesterday’s outing which, in turn, was a late run considering the amout of bits I still had to do in the day. That’s “had to do” in a wanted to achieve way rather than “had to do” in a life or death importance style before a certain jogging, blogging girlfriend pulls me up on not having to do my silly little listed items each day.

Bah.

Anyway, having helped dad get half his shed construction done which took a little longer than planned and having finished mowing the lawn, a brief outing across country was in the offing…anything, really, to raise my monthly running total above 12 miles and elevate me into the “at-least-I-can-run-occasionally” camp rather than the post injury not enjoying it much because it’s not as fast as cycling camp.

In fact, that may be a bit over optimistic. I say “post injury” – my foot is still capable of sending pain jolts whenever it fancies but it’s much less intense as well as being less frequent. Which, while good, isn’t where I want things when I start thinking about races I had planned.

But enough. The outing went for 0.25 miles along the road, off road for the next 3 miles before returning on the final tarmac stretch where I came in. The one section of lane in the middle of the run was outed by turning up the hill instead of down it and staying on the verge until turning around in the uppermost field and easing down the neighbouring field to return to the footpath track. Very nice it was, too, except the effort needed to go up the hill on the verge instead of on the tarmac.

In fact, the whole off-road running thing is more testing than pure road outings if only for the concentration needed to dictate accurate footfall, but since this is where my injuries seem to start from, maybe it will be good in the longer term again.

Anyway, 3.5 miles was enjoyed in a not as good as it might be but good enough way, I have no aches or pains to report, my foot is still behaving nearly a day later so I think I’ll lable it a success.

1427.51 miles to go.

Midweek mayhem

One thing that’s good about exercise is the way it allows my mind to be free of any amount of calamity that befalls me in other areas of my life.

Work, at the moment (despite the employer being great) is utter shite. Seemingly unable to attain any targets set there’s a long way to go, a lot to do and it won’t get any easier. Thankfully I have an ability to bury myself into activities away from the job to make it all seem a little bit less like a horror clip on repeat. And apparently the upshot will be a fitter individual.

Yesterday saw me cycle there and back again. A lovely day forced me to do it, honest. The journey in was a little easier than normal, the journey home (despite being about an hour later than planned) went swimmingly and proved to be thoroughly enjoyable. It would be better if it was only 12 miles each way instead of 16, though.

My foot seems ok while cycling and I seem to have eased most of the pain away while walking around at work so tonight called for a gentle trot out to see how progress is going on the running ability with little pain. As excuses to run away from the work headaches go, I can think of few better.

After a bit of garden clearing my trainers were laced and off I set for a late evening plod around the local lanes before heading around the local estate as it got properly dark.

The first mile was somewhat odd in as much as I was unable to settle into a rhythm despite feeling relatively comfortable and the Garmin trace, now downloaded, shows very odd quarter mile splits culminating in a daftly fast overall mile. No wonder a rhythm wasn’t found, I feel. Mile 2 was better but less comfortable and by mile 3 my foot was beginning to feel less able to relax into the strides unless I focused on it and little else. A good result is this mile being the only one at or about target pace. A bad result is that I shouldn’t have to focus on a foot to avoid pain in it.

Still, damage limitation seems fair since as I type, there’s little going on that shouldn’t be in the pain stakes and hopefully a recovery will be swift to allow another weekend run.

I say weekend run since I’ve decided that I can’t get near to what I need to be doing at work so I’ll be going in on Good Friday but plan to cycle again as a bit of a change to just turning up. Twice in a week will test how my fitness is coping with the miles but I’m sure my pace will drop a touch if only because of the continued assault on similar muscles.

It’ll be interesting, if nothing else.

1488.96 miles to go. And if the cycling miles can be as pleasant as Tuesday’s, bring on each and every one of them. I’m sure they won’t and that I’ll fail my attempt but it’s nice to be enjoying the effort.

Small improvements

Having left my sore calf and slightly ailing leg to find their way to recovery for a day, I decided they needed to propel me the 16 miles to work followed by the 16 miles back on Friday and very well they did, too.

I’ve settled into the rhythm (well, after 3 journeys that’s stretching it a bit, granted, but the logic works, honest!) of a non-rushed trip to work (16.8mph seems to be the established norm – all three trips have averaged within 5 seconds, the latest being the quickest by 1 second per mile average…that’s a whole 16 seconds quicker than last week for the journey…phew!) which, considering it has the greatest downhill profile of the pair, is pretty sedate, to be fair. Which enables more effort for the return journey and the corresponding uphill bits. This, last Friday, allowed an average return speed of 17.5mph. Now bearing in mind that for all but the first return trip I’ve been blessed with all but zero wind, the logic of the pacing seems to work.

But I’m still not fully on it the next day, so Saturday was a relatively sedate affair prepping for today’s return to running.

The foot and calf have responded well to massive massage and kneading – the leg eased from the pain within pretty quickly; the foot has responded to the invalid insoles and some further massage while sat down. To such an extent that for the 13 miles I was on the bike after lunch, I was almost over-eager to get out for a short plod.

So, upon returning home, I tucked the bikes up in the garage and got some trainers on for a loop to Tesco via the country lanes (and the long cinder path, to maintain my percentage of off-road mileage).

It took a good while to find my running form again, feet slapping through their paces until I did so, but once I had, I reverted to longer strides, fully rolling through my paces with conscious effort to use the full availability of my left foot. And despite the pain of recent times, I felt relatively few twinges of hurt.

It was all very encouraging, really. I’m finding plenty of easy pace which must be due to the fitness being maintained by the cycling (a slow foot fall and easy strides averaged out at 7.39/mile, according to the trusty Garmin…far better than I was aiming for, despite not really having an aim but for a pleasurable 3 mile plod) and my recovery at home consisted of a quick stretch as I undid my laces and a squeeze of the foot to confirm that no pain was lingering in it. By the time that was done, tea was in the cup and a lawnmower was being prepped for phase two of the day’s action – the back lawn.

A jolly satisfying outcome, all told, then.

I’m hesitating to enter any races apart from the Crisis run in June at the moment in case things go bad/I get overambitious and ruin myself again but there are a few I’d like a crack at. There’s a 5k series in Ashford that I might attempt the odd outing in; a 10k race through the woods 4 miles away in Hamstreet; the Stelling Minnis 10k 5 or so weeks away; all told, several that might be fun. But since the leg was broken next week last year (if that makes sense…the marathon being a week earlier this year and all that) and I’ve had a shit February and March, I think my aim is to merely continue improving, carry on enjoying every outing I can, and enter a group event (I won’t really race if I’m not really prepared, I feel…I don’t seem to be very good at competitiveness) if the timing and mood seems right on the day.

Roll on a great summer.

1524.21 miles to go.

Pathetic

Since Friday I’ve basically continued my cycling outings along with returning to work and phasing in my insoles to encourage my foot to recover as hoped for following the podiatrist experience.

I sacked off the run planned for Sunday mostly due to the foot flaring in pain with any heavy footfall – I simply want it to heal properly so I can get back to enjoying the summer outings on it.

My attitude to bodily recovery hasn’t stopped my urges to run, however, and tonight things simply got too bad to resist…I was putting in little jogs up the site at work, I was itching to go so badly, and combining this with one of the kids at work saying he’s enjoying his runs at the moment, I could put it off no longer.

So having got home and done a little bit in the garden, eaten the best chilli pie ever cooked, washed up and trimmed the first section of hawthorn hedge to the front of the house, I decided it was time to go.

Just a little outing was planned and, since time had pushed on to about 8.20, a short one at that.

But an outing.

So off I set, up the hill to the church. Nice, steady pace…really slow considering it’s a return run, in fact.

So why oh why  oh why, despite this, and along with focusing on nice clean strides to protect the foot and make sure everything is balanced and even, did something go “ping” in my right calf? “Ping” enough to stop me in my tracks and instantly start a “shit I’ve got cramp” wake-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night cramp style massage? Right deep inside and at the base of the muscle, too. Not funny. Remotely. At all.

So unfunny, in fact, and so infuriated was I that I massaged the life out of it and finished the run at a trot so at least if it is serious I’ve got something to remember it by.

The rest of the outing was uneventful, I guess. A few zings of feeling in the foot owing to a renewed oddness of gait carrying the calf were to be expected, for sure, but by the time I got home the foot felt surprisingly ok.

And instantly upon getting in I hit the calf with a massive massage and a good roll of my “Stick” which is like the Mother Tereza of muscular problem cures…if that doesn’t cure things, I’ll simply give up!

Fingers crossed for a less painful morning tomorrow. Please don’t let me have another niggle as the summer rolls in!

Besides, I’ve still got 1578.54 miles to go.

A run. Short but sweet.

Following a thoroughly pleasant week away from work during which the only poor weather was on Tuesday and having done far more mileage on my bike than I normally would in a desperate effort to maintain some form of fitness, I really wanted to go out for a run this evening if for no other reason than to see if I still could.

The podiatrist on Tuesday gave me hope for recovery and the bio-mechanical assessment and gait analysis gave me at least an indication of what’s wrong in my running form so I’ve taken it upon myself to start running again pretty much now. It’s been 6 weeks, after all – plenty long enough in my mind, if not my body!

The invalid insoles I was given have been put into my New Balance trainers – very lightweight racing shoes which I hope will encourage me to tread lightly, think about my stride and footfall and assist recovery without masking errors and further foot damage before it’s too late.

And on top of it all I selected a route along the Greensand Way, a (predominantly) off road footpath that is conveniently located by my front gate. Off road running with odd insoles and new(ish) trainers. Hmm…right back to the good old days of running cross country in the snow in Doc-Marten boots with Richard when he was getting fit for his entry into the army…completely mis-matched apparel for the terrain but all about the feel of the run, not the image! My hope is that a forced change in terrain as well as the podiatrist bits and pieces may change things for the better in the long term so mechanical aids can be dispensed with…cavemen didn’t need odd insoles, after all (who said cavemen normally died around my age, too…that’s simply not fair!),

And today, Matthew, it felt good.

I’m not running fit by any stretch (I did an out and back and took 28 seconds longer over the “back” than the “out”) but it wasn’t about the time or the effort involved, really, merely about the foot and the getting out there.

The little road bit went swiftly, the effort involved in running on dry trails was partly increased by me not being used to the change in stride needed to avoid holes, lumps and many, many stiles which, while prepared for, still amused the part of my brain that calls for steady running above all else. I wasn’t sure whether to do the last link that was explored on Wednesday and decided not to since I reckoned just over 3 miles was enough of an outing to see if I am up to running properly again yet.

It was hopefully a good choice.

My plan is to go for another short outing on Sunday and, next week, to investigate the path that surrounds the site in Rye – not sure how long that is but it has about a mile of pavement involved, I think, so may be a bit more of a test on the foot than this local one. I’ll see how it goes.

At the moment, though, all is feeling reasonable enough. Fingers crossed it remains that way tomorrow.

1613.16 miles to go.

Foot repair, cycling and age related problems

Today is the day my mother chose many, many years ago to expel me from within so today, mostly, I have been getting older.

As well as celebrating the fact by taking the old folks (and Cathy) to the pub, I’ve got the week off to enable me to see the dentist, get my eyes tested and have a haircut. What a rock and roll week. The icing on the cake being a visit to the local (affiliated to the running track shop) podiatrist to see what isn’t right with my running.

Lots, really.  Several people have been urging me to see someone who knows things over the last couple of years and I’ve dabbled in the past but not really commited until something’s gone wrong and while nothing drastic has changed this time, having to have 2 months off running for an injury is frustrating. So off I went.

Turns out my shoulders are fine, my arms work ok (seems podiatry isn’t the only string to the medicine woman’s bow!) and I don’t have any twisting or odd movement while I run but, largely as a result of my bandy legs, I do foot-strike a bit oddly. Some of it may be down to carrying myself oddly to protect the previously fractured right leg from damage but, while my right foot does most things correctly (slight oddness of alignment between ankle and shin but it self-corrects through foot strike and toe-off), my left rotates weirdly after lift off, strikes awkwardly, doesn’t roll through powerfully and lifts before the toe pushes off, throwing everything else off kilter.

Basically, through the punishment (not much…I didn’t go far!) of no rest days through Janathon, the effects have been exascerbated to develop into (and I’ve forgotten all the technical terms through not writing them down when she offered!) swollen fluid sacks that seperate the ligaments that control the bits around the metatarsal bones resulting in rubbing, pain and the inability to run cleanly.

Simply put, I need to run less and recover more. And heel strike more but I shouldn’t change my running style for fear of other injuries, she says…but I developed away from heel striking as I got faster (it’s all relative to a sloth!) so maybe I’m going to slow down for the longer more intensive runs and be sensible, returning to heel-strike form if I can and see if that manages things without recourse to the alternative…which is what I’ve got to give a try…I’ve now got some invalid style shoe inserts to try over the course of the next month to see if that encourages proper foot use.

So, summing up, I run like an invalid and now I’ve got the shoes to match. Yay! But I’ve also got a doctor’s letter excusing me from overexercising. More yay! (unless I correct things. Bah!)

So I reckon that my cycling will be the way to avoid middle age stomach spread for the majority of my miles. I’m enjoying the bike at the moment – I’ve put over 30 miles in just during the last 3 odd days, so it isn’t a hardship. But it doesn’t quite give the same satisfaction as a run.

So I’ve instructions to try the insoles slowly over the coming week before gentle running and increasing things while staying comfortable until a visit to see how things are doing next month. That I shall do. And monitor how things are developing on here in the meantime.

1649.16 miles to go. I haven’t been cycling that far, I’ve barely scratched the surface (but the garden is looking good!)