The Day After the London Marathon

I just saw this video and it really cracked me up. Slightly worried that I’m actually already walking like this. I hate to think what I’ll look like on April 14th.

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The one where I’m Injured, not injured, injured, not injured …

Today I ache. A lot. Since I last blogged this has happened:

  1. I ran 12 miles. Yay!
  2. I put my back out running 12 miles. Not so yay.
  3. My knees healed. Yay!
  4. I ran a half marathon and now my knees ache again. Not so yay.
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Extreme knee taping

It’s fair to say that my marathon training has been turbulent. I’ve questioned myself, screamed in frustration, argued with my boyf, cried with pain and laughed in the face of strong head winds. It’s been a rollercoaster. And there are still seven weeks to go. I do not know how my nerves or knees will stand it.

Since my knee injury in November I’ve come close to deferring my entry to the marathon on at least five occasions and I’ve been inconsolable every time. Usually this outburst is followed by one pain free run and then I’m back to thinking I might be able to run the marathon.

Obviously this has caused me some stress and a considerable amount of anxiety. This is not good. At this point in my training I was hoping to be running long distances and looking forward to the day. Instead I’m a ball of anxious energy, liable to cry at any moment and I’m covered in freeze gel and heat pads.

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At the finish line – just need to run double that in seven weeks!

I just hope crossing that finish line will be worth it.

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The One Where I Commit the Ultimate Running Sin …

Sometimes with all the best will in the world you’ll lose your mind and commit a cardinal running sin. Last Sunday I went out for my long run without, dare I say it, going to the toilet. Blaspheme! Blaspheme! I hear you shout. Ten Hail Paulas and a slap round the face with a foam roller.

Well my fellow running friends, don’t you worry, I got my comeuppance 2 miles in when my stomach hurt so much I thought Freddie Krueger’s head might burst out. I managed to run another half a mile while I genuinely weighed up the notion of whether to shit in a tree or not. This is who I am now. When faced with the options of shitting in a tree and letting my entire family down just so I can complete my long run or go home go to the toilet, alarmingly I chose the former. Or at least I would have done it if there had been leaves on the trees and I hadn’t been wearing a neon jacket. Instead I shuffled back to my car with a face a painting of pure anguish and torture and drove home so fast I never went under third gear and I took all corners on two wheels. At one point there may have been smoke. I’m hoping it was the car.

This got me to thinking of all of the things I’ve learnt since I started running …

  1.  Don’t overdress in the winter. An extra layer will do. Once you’ve heated up you’ll feel like you’re running in the stuff you lag your pipes with. Nobody needs that.
  2.  Don’t be tempted to say hello to every other runner you pass. Some will smile or nod, others will look at you like you’ve just been dropped off to Earth on a spaceship, or they’ll write you off as a newbie. And for the love of God, do not try to talk to club runners during a race. They hate that. Save your jokes for the finish line.
  3.  Don’t buy all of your kit the instant you decide to run. The moment I see someone running in matchy-matchy, shiny new kit, I immediately try to beat them. And I’m not even fast. Or competitive. Just buy stuff as you go along. Having proper trainers fitted for your running style is a must. As is a good sports bra (women and men with moobs only). The rest you can buy as you increase the miles. Nobody like showiness. Nobody.
  4.  I’ve said it already but it needs reaffirming – never ever run without going to the toilet first. Nobody ever successfully ran on a poo. Don’t even try.
  5.  Running can be hard. You’ll have good runs when you feel like you can outrun deer – you can’t – and you’ll have bad runs where you run slower than when you first started. Mind games will start and you’ll have convinced yourself you’re not made to run. You are! You just need to stick with it. A bad run is usually a one off, an oddity like Timmy Mallet or Pop Tarts. Forget about it and plan your next run. It could be your best one yet but you won’t find out until you run it.
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Top ten things an injured runner will go through …

1. You’ll put yourself through pain …

Your pain threshold will increase as you’ll be constantly aware of that ache in your injury so you’ll be willing to try anything to make it better, like paying someone to stick needles in your ears. People will question how this will help you run a marathon and you won’t be able to answer them. You’ll start talking about energy sources and chi and you’ll lose your audience.

2. You’ll look like a Transformer …
You’ll alternate between icing and heating your leg in an attempt to stop the pain.  When you’re not emptying the entire contents of your freezer onto yourself, you’ll be strapping heat pads to your legs and looking like a Transformer. You may rustle slightly when you’re moving around at work.

3. You’ll pay for someone to pummel you till you bruise …
You’ll actually hand over money for someone to give you the most excruciating massage of your life. At one point you might even think about reporting your physio for physical abuse as it is so barbaric. Then you’ll pay her for her time and realise you’re insane as you count your bruises. My record is 11 on one leg.

4. You’ll try other sports …
You’ll try anything to get running again. Even taking up a new sport. You’ll get over your many shark related fears and end up doing 40 lengths in the same time your boyfriend has done a thousand or you’ll sign up for Pilates and ritually humiliate yourself in front of strangers.

5. You’ll learn more about your body than you ever wanted to know …
Every ache, pain, twinge or movement your body makes will be carefully monitored. Before you know it, you’ll be mentally pain scoring yourself and debating the differences between a pain and an ache. You will begin to drive yourself mad.

6. You’ll always have a giant rubber band in your handbag …
These rubber bands will go with you everywhere and you’ll find yourself using them wherever you are. I regularly took mine to work and used them at my desk whilst having meetings. Your sense of what’s appropriate and what isn’t will become a little distorted.

7. You’ll become best friends with your foam roller
You’ll become quite intimate with your foam roller as you spend more time with it than you do any friends or family. There won’t be a day goes by when you’re not watching the TV whilst rubbing yourself up and down that painful foamy friend. You’ll love and hate it in equal measures – much like a family Christmas.

8. You’ll redecorate your walls with training plans …
If you’re a planner like me you won’t be able to relax and wait for the injury to heal like everyone is telling you to. Instead you’ll find yourself churning out updated training plans like your life depends on it and the madness will only end once you’ve effectively redecorated all of the walls in your office/house.

9. You’ll become green with jealousy …
Even during a snow storm or a torrential downpour you’ll be jealous of other runners. When you see them out training, you’ll assume everyone you see is training for the same thing you are, and that you’re going to get left behind. This will lead to more training plans and a block booking of Pilates classes.

10. You’ll blog about every ache and pain …

You’ll begin to see everything as a blog post. Even when you’re laid on the acupuncturist’s table having needles put in your ears, you’ll be thinking about taking a picture to put on your blog. Another sign that you’re now insane.

 

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The One Where I Feel As If I’ve Run a 10km Olympic Final …

Okay, so 12 weeks before the marathon and I had expected to be running 12 miles on my Sunday long run, but yesterday I ran 6.2 miles and I felt like I’d just won Olympic gold. Having been injured and frustrated (and a nightmare to live with) for the last six weeks, yesterday was my first real training run post-injury. This time I didn’t have a dream that I could run, and I wasn’t tired after a mile. I had promised my physio that I wouldn’t over do it and that I would run for an hour tops, but in my head I had set myself the goal of running 5 miles, regardless how long it took me.

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Ridiculously happy pre-run

It took a while to get into a good pace as I constantly worried about my fitness levels and waited for the familiar twinge in my knee, letting my know my injury was still there. But the twinge never came and I found myself running a comfortable 10km, albeit very slowly. I was running on playing fields as I still don’t feel ready to run on a hard surface or up any kind of incline. Apart from getting stuck in a field and running around it three times till I found the exit, the run was pretty uneventful. Of course it was very muddy and I spent a lot of it running through water logged pitches, ankle high in ice cold muddy water. Once you’ve gone through one, you may as well just run through them all. So I came back pretty muddy. Normally this would bother me and I’d be swearing around the entire route, but I didn’t really care. All I could think of was the marathon. I can’t wait.

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A very muddy post-run pic

For Christmas my boyfriend bought me a new iPod for my marathon training, with London Marathon 2014 and my name inscribed on the back. Up until now, it’s been a painful reminder of letting people down if I don’t make it to the start line, but now I’ve started using it and I love it. Thanks boyf.

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My favourite Christmas present

I’ve got a half marathon planned for 23 February in Richmond. I’m hoping to get up to 10 miles before then and possibly run/walk the event so I don’t get another injury. The hard work starts here …

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The One Where I Run Like the Wind. And Turn Into Mystic Meg …

It’s happened. It’s only bloody happened. Let me take you back to the start …

After a few drinks and some seriously booze-filled dreams on Saturday night  – the kind you wake up from and daren’t open your eyes in case it’s all real  – I had an epiphany. I dreamt I could run without pain again. The dream was amazing. I was running fast, training for my marathon with a smile on my face and a spring in my pain free step.

And then I woke up and remembered that I’ve been injured for five long weeks and the dream was probably not a premonition. Or was it?

Reluctantly (I had a hangover) I got my running kit on – having to dance my way into my now rather tight running leggings – and laced up my trainers that have sat taunting me at the bottom of the stairs for weeks.

I didn’t want to run on the roads so I waited until I got to a patch of forest about five minutes away, hoping the soft ground will be better for, what I hoped to be, a recovering knee injury. One last check of my kit – still way too tight – before I took my first few steps. And I RAN! I ACTUALLY RAN. WITHOUT PAIN.

The feeling was euphoric. I remember thinking I’m running, it doesn’t hurt, I’m going to make the bloody marathon after all, and I possibly have a gift for the occult. Life was great.

My euphoria was only briefly interrupted by my over-analyzing why a man might be walking around a forest on his own, if not just to murder a female runner. I’d love to say this made me run faster, but it didn’t. After five weeks of no training, my fitness level has dropped considerably. I managed two miles before the dull ache in my knee got too much and I was struggling to breathe because I’m about as fit as a newborn baby. But it’s a start.

Tonight I’m going to dream that I have abs like Jessica Ennis. Can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.

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The One Where I Go For a Swim With a Shark …

This week my physio told me to try swimming. Little did she know I have a fear of water, a fear of sharks (I know there aren’t sharks in the swimming pool but occasionally I think I see one and panic) and a fear of people seeing me in my swimming costume.

Despite all of this I actually went for a swim at my local pool. Now I don’t want to discourage you from going to a public pool, but the whole experience was like being an extra in a really bad TV show like Benidorm or a contestant on the Crystal Maze.

I knew the whole thing would be a complete moment of lunacy the moment a child stared at me at almost point blank range the entire time I was getting undressed in the changing room. ‘You are a strong and confident young woman, you are a strong and confident young woman,’ I chanted to myself as she continued to stare. This made her stare more. Which in itself made me chant more.  Which made her stare more. Which then got me noticed by her mum. Which then made them leave.

So I was already a chanting, self-conscious wreck when I walked to the pool and asked the lifeguard for a float. Now I wouldn’t normally use a float, I can actually swim, but my physio said I had to kick my legs but as I can only do that froggy legged breast stroke thing, I had to use a float.

As mentioned previously I have an irrational fear of sharks. I am of the Jaws generation and have been terrified of any body of water larger than a puddle ever since I first watched it at what I now know to be an unsuitable age to be watching a gigantic shark terrorizing an entire town (thanks parents). Baths were traumatic and summer holidays to Tenerife blighted by my fear of the sea. Although I’ve got over the bath thing, I’m still frightened in swimming pools, particularly those where the deep end gets all dark and you can’t see the bottom. And I can’t swim over any kind of pattern on the bottom of the pool without thinking someone’s going to press a button and release a shark. This is thanks to a James Bond film which I also watched in my youth (again, thanks parents).

So, I came dangerously close to soiling my swimming costume when I was given a float that resembled a shark fin. Apparently I couldn’t have a normal float because the kids eat them in their swimming lessons (WTF?). I thought about this a lot as I swam along holding onto the shark fin, trying to tell myself I wasn’t being dragged along the pool by a Great White Shark.

I joined the slow lane and was quickly annoyed by people swimming one length and then chatting for half an hour before wheezing back to the other end at a pace my 90-year-old Nanna could outswim. At one point one of them actually cheered me and said well done when I finished my length, thinking my use of a float meant I couldn’t actually swim. Mortifying. I managed 20 lengths before I moved into the medium lane. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE. Now I had become the person getting in people’s way, bashing people with my shark fin and being overtaken in what I would consider an illegal move in a one lane anti-clockwise system. Dangerous.

Other things that didn’t help my swimming session were the middle aged men who kept coming out of the sauna, bombing in the pool and going back to the sauna laughing to themselves, finding out my boyf had done 62 lengths when I had only just done 30 and the trauma of forgetting how to get out of the changing rooms and having to ask someone where the door was.

On the upside, at no point did I worry what I looked like in a swimming suit.

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The one where I consider hacking my own leg off …

I’m really struggling to know what to write  because this blog is about running and I’m not actually running at the moment. And this is all thanks to my knee – the selfish little idiot. I’ve now developed such a severe hatred for my left knee that I’m slightly concerned one day I might actually hack my own leg off.

Apart from running about 10 meters in agony last Friday, I haven’t done any real exercise in weeks and it’s beginning to show. Everything feels tighter and the idea of getting into my Lyrca running kit fills me with utter horror. Even my baggiest of jeans feel tighter and it now takes at least ten minutes every morning to ‘dance’ my way into them. 

Sadly this new body shy me has coincided with my physio telling me to go swimming. SWIMMING! IN A SWIMMING SUIT! IN PUBLIC! Oh good Lord. I’m going tonight and think I might tweet Gemma Collins to see if I can borrow the swimsuit/evening gown she wore on Saturday’s night’s episode of Splash.

As well as the obvious mental decline, I’ve also developed a slight neck injury from constantly looking down to avoid my MARATHON TRAINING PLAN which screams at me from my notice board above my computer. And I’m dangerously close to punching the next runner I see. If only I could catch them. Surely everyone’s marathon training plans are like this? Aren’t they?

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The one where I don’t look like Jessica Ennis …

When I started running I wrongly assumed that within a few months I would have the exact same physique as Jessica Ennis. This did not happen. At first I put this down to the fact Jessica’s training was slightly more sophisticated than running two miles, vomiting behind a tree and crying all the way home. So I gave the ‘Get Jessica Ennis’ figure plan’ a longer scope. It’s now 17 months since I laced my trainers up for the first time and my figure still resembles a beer keg on legs. Stumpy legs.

That’s not to say my body hasn’t changed since I started running. No, thanks to pounding the pavements my toes look like a bag of Twiglets, I’m missing a couple of toe nails and during the summer months  I had so many bites on my legs I looked like I had bubonic plague. And that’s not to mention the bags under the eyes thanks to those early morning Pilates sessions. It was not mean to be like this.

I’m now 24 hours away from my Christmas party and instead of Googling party dresses I’ve been Googling the lighting in the venue to make sure my bubonic legs won’t be on show too much. If needs be I’ll nip behind the chocolate fountain and only come out once I’ve drained the thing. 

 

What I thought I would look like … 

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What I actually look like …

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