Countdown: Two Weeks to Go

Numbers UP!

Two weeks today, hopefully I’ll be putting my feet up after completing 13.1 miles in the Royal Parks. Race number has arrived, charity vest is at the ready, and with a few more physio sessions lined up between now and then, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be racing on Oct 7th.

The ITB is still causing some discomfort, but I managed 10km (with a break for added stretching) this morning without wanting to throw myself in the Serpentine. So provided Emily brings the chat, my ibuprofen lasts and these agonising foam roller love ins pay off, all will be well. I’m doing about 20 minutes a day with the blasted thing (10mins in the morning, 10 in the evening). I’d say we’re getting a tad co-dependant. Stella is not happy and took another chunk out of it while I wasn’t looking.

I’ve managed my prescribed exercises all week, mainly as the trainers were gathering dust due to the annual seasonal cold that has been going around, but I’m really hoping they help in the long term, and I don’t get told off by the physio again!

The REGIME as imagined by Stick Man 

Rock and Roller. A Horror Story

On Sunday I managed 13.5km of my planned 17km long run before the Dreaded Knee won over, and through gritted teeth I had to admit defeat. After much debating about walk/ running home and even trying a few yards at a time I knew the game was up and limped to the bus stop in a sulk.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with ice packs at the ready, developing an autumn cold and feeling sorry for myself. I had come to the realisation that no amount of Green Giant frozen peas were going to sort out this particular issue. I had an idea this may be the Insufferable IT band causing all this worry, but I had to seek advice from the professionals.

And I was right. Thankfully by some miracle granted by the running gods, I got myself an appointment on a day’s notice. and some tough advice to boot.

The diagnosis? In order of pain brought on by physio massage (I screamed. Like a baby)

  1. Rock hard, aching calves brought on by too many days tottering about in high heels and not enough stretching. Apparently this is also why I’m not getting faster, my calves aren’t able to generate the power  because they’re TOO STIFF. I blame Kurt Geiger 
  2. Inflamed IT band from non-engaged glutes. Yes I have a  LAZY ass! Oh and, not enough stretching
  3. Very tight hip-flexors from, you guessed it, not enough stretching AND cycling up hills in France 

My physio thinks we may be able to do a ‘patch up’ job for the Royal Parks, provided I take nurofen for  two weeks like fiend and do my exercises/ stretches every single day. Twice. At least. And come back to see her for more torture, aka treatment. Serves me right. Really should’ve down the stretches, starting about 2 years ago.

Oh and meet my new Best Friend – the Foam Roller. Welcome to the House of Pain. I screamed like a baby, again.

Resting. While I choke back tears OF PAIN
Getting acquainted. Pre-excruciating, blood curdling screams

Stella found this new development somewhat unnerving, attacked the foam roller and then tried to sit on me while I was doing my stretches. I might make her stretch with the roller if she tries that again. Not a helpful coach.

Stella is suspicious

I’ve also had to take one last, long look at my beautiful collection of heels as they are now, verboden until after the race, and even then I suspect my physio would suggest not on a daily basis. There goes my cost-per-wear theory. But an excuse to buy new shoes. So not a terrible day.

Wicked Witch Flats – serious toe cleavage

Good Week, Bad Week

No good deed goes unpunished, past few weeks have certainly been proof of that!

Having got back from France relaxed and fitter than we were before we left, we discovered Stella the Dog wasn’t very well and shipped her off to the vet to get her checked out. Thankfully she’s fine, dosed up on antibiotics for a mild bug, but the vet did notice that her poor paws are looking a bit worn and has suggested she only run trails. No more pavements. Or I need to buy her some Nikes.

Coach: On sabbatical 

So I am currently without a coach. But I managed a decent five and half miles last Tuesday, trying out a new route via Hammersmith to shake it up a bit.

Wednesday a few of us braved the wilds of North London to visit Move Three Sixty on advice that Hannah Richards had passed on when we met during one of Sweaty Betty’s Run Britannia events.

We met with Claud Serjeant for our assessment who quickly worked through analysing our postures, videoing our running styles (cringe!) and checking our footwear. He gave us some invaluable insight into where we were going wrong, what the aches and pains were pointing to, and how to correct them. It’s all about the glutes! Oh and the hamstrings. We came away with core strength exercises and stretches to begin working into our training schedules. So many ‘ah ha!’ moments around balance, symmetry and kinetic movement, I wish I had brought a notebook!

Saturday I had my first Yoga class of my beginner’s course at the Life Centre. Ninety minutes of basic stretching, postures and some interesting new types of breathing (who knew?!).

The Life Centre in Notting Hill

Armed with new stretches, (mad breathing) and awareness of posture, Emily and I banked 15km with a pretty decent pace for 7:30am on an unseasonably hot Sunday morning. And all seemed well, up until about 13km, when my knee started to complain and its been niggling on and off just a little too much for me to ignore. After all of that!

I managed only 3 miles this evening, before it started playing up again and now I’m a little injury paranoid. It may just be a par-for-the-course ache, rather than anything more serious, but nevertheless I am icing the knee with as many frozen peas as I can get my hands on. Oh and eating chocolate pudding, I hear it has pretty good healing properties. I may just take another rest day with the Coach.

Chocolate Pudding. Good for knees

A French Affair

Last week I packed my running shoes along with my passport and headed to Plaisance in France, for a week of indulging in cheese, catching up with family and perhaps even fitting in some cycling between the running sessions I had planned.

Most of that went according to plan. We took a leisurely train to the Aveyron region via Toulouse, settled into the holiday mood and arrived at our destination suitably relaxed and full of french pastry. And as a result I was itching to get some mileage in to hopefully balance the butter intake and ease out the stiffness that comes with long train journeys.

I needn’t have worried, it didn’t take long to get ourselves sorted out with top-of-the-range bikes, creative itineraries, maps and Garmins, from the wonderfully effervescent  and knowledgeable Claudia Koch who owns and runs Cycling Magnolias, a cycling tour company based in the beautiful Les Magnolia’s hotel in Plaisance who we booked our holiday through.

Les Magnolia’s Hotel

One or two long bike rides wouldn’t mess too much with my running plans, I thought, I can include in my ‘cross training’ days and perhaps one or two meandering trips around the country side on my recovery days. Surely? Best laid plans and all that….

I have to admit, the running was forsaken in favour of the beautiful bike I found myself in possession of for a week. It wasn’t the easiest first day, I fell off four (!!)  times while I got used to the straps on the pedals and I earned myself some spectacular bruises, but after that it was a match made in heaven. Beautiful countryside to explore, minimum traffic and breathtaking views.

My lovely hybrid for the week 

My trainers were almost left in my suitcase, I just wasn’t planning on having such fun on the bike and the running sessions were quickly forgotten.  Of course I was suitably punished by finding new and interesting muscles that ached like nothing I have ever experienced having hit the hills or trying (stupidly) to keep pace with my uber-fit cycling-guru father.

Dad and I on top of the hill en route to St Izaire (75km round trip)

So, by the end of the holiday I had clocked up (almost) 200km on the bike and a very disappointing 10km in actual running, one session on an early Tuesday morning post thunderstorm to shake out the stiff cycling muscles. Of course I am blaming the heat  and the fact that those hills can only be conquered with bikes. My legs on their own just couldn’t cope!

I also blame the cheese. I can’t run on a full stomach. But I can cycle.

Cheese. The overriding theme of the trip

Back in London and I am contemplating buying a road bike. But like any affair, I can’t quite see how it would fit into my ‘real’ life in London just yet. To much traffic to contend with, the issue of storage, the expensive kit that comes with it. So I’m back with my first love, simple straight-forward running and hitting the pavements back in training for the Royal Parks.

But there may be a triathlon in my future… wear did I store my swimming cap again?