Enforced Rest (boohissboo)



...or indeed running

I haven’t run or cycled since doing the half marathon a few weeks ago. I can’t. I physically cannot run. And the chiropractor has banned me from cycling for the foreseeable. Until my wonky pelvis and feet are sorted, which may, nay inevitably will take some time…


As far as I understand it, I have a wonky pelvis and a left collapsed arch. This is causing all sorts of bother and discomfort.  So I’m seeing a chiropractor, which is just about bankrupting me – and have been advised it’s imperative I get referred to a sports podiatrist so I can have some proper orthotics made.  I will be interested to see how my GP responds to this request; my last GP obviously thought of running as some sort of luxurious commodity; the “medical” advice he gave was ‘stop running then‘. Akin to a mechanic telling you to stop driving your car, if the steering starts acting up. Or perhaps refrain from eating if all food makes you barf. If it hurts your eyes to read, stop reading. I wasn’t surprised at this approach; on asking for help previously with severe hayfever, I was advised to “buy a car, like a BMW or a Mercedes; one that has good pollen filters” and that was it. I now have a different GP.

It’s weird not physically being capable of running; I was forced into an exaggerated gait yesterday to avoid being run over (what would have previously been a quick jog across the road) and I was in pain for hours afterwards. 4 metres across the road. That was all.

So no running or cycling. I don’t think people quite understand how difficult this is; partly I have been relying on my bike to commute at least twice a week and therefore cut my weekly expenditure. Not just that, but now I turn up to work sleepy, grumpy and clumsy – albeit with tidy hair. When I cycle, I arrive alert, happy and energized; the only grump related to Bloody Stupid Motorists. And I have sweaty bike-helmet hair (but I don’t care).

Without running, I have no reason to catapult out of bed, no opportunity to listen to random playlists  on my ipod and no excuse to wear lycra. The result is I have been quite low. I stay in bed until the need to go to work and/or use the loo is too urgent.

My chiropractor suggested I powerwalk, but this is too uncomfortable and I will feel like an utter pillock. At least when running and the feral chav kids shout abuse you are out of earshot pretty quickly; there is always the option of running away.

I haven’t been blogging due to this lethargy. I knew if I was let loose on a keyboard then this is what would happen – a general moan and feel-sorry-for-myself-fest which I can’t imagine anyone is going to feel good about reading. So I will stop now. And I probably won’t be writing again until I’m fixed.





Half-Marathon; challenge completed! (for now…)


Feeling suitably anxious before the off...

On Sunday I achieved a challenge I set myself around 18 months ago – to complete a half-marathon.  I took part in the Coventry 2009 Half Marathon which was a ride of pure hell and utter exhaultation, comedy moments and aggressive self-doubt, blisters and jelly babies.

I picked up running most recently again around July this year, after having fallen off the wagon in 2008 with a back injury and succumbing to the evils of smoking once again.  I had entered the half for 2008 but pulled out after I knackered my leg tendons due to a wonky pelvis (medical term, that). This year, participation was threatened two weeks before the event by a behemoth of a blister on the sole of my foot which became infected and meant that I couldn’t walk for 5 days and subsequently I messed my legs up by hopping about like a looney. (If you would like photographic evidence of said blister, click here. It ain’t pretty).  The blister was caused by trying to run 10 miles in a pair of shop bought orthotics which I bought to correct over-pronation which was giving me considerable discomfort and pain on any distance over 2 miles.  Being as bloody-minded as I am, I ran through the nagging tingle of a baby blister forming on my sole, and kept going when this sensation had graduated to feeling like someone was holding a lighter to the sole of my left foot. Not my most genius moment and it goes to show the old adage of ‘no pain, no gain’ is a load of codswallop and bunkum invented by sadistic dunderheids.

It had been at least 12 years since I last faffed about with safety pins and a running number and the experience of pinning the number to my front brought back PTSD type flashbacks of throwing up with nerves before athletics meets in the 90’s.  On the morning of the race two things struck me as alarming : that I was awake at 6.30am on a Sunday and also that I still couldn’t walk without discomfort in my legs. I placed myself at the back of the sheep pen  in between Scooby Doo and Elvis and hoped that the combination of Scholl Sports Orthotics, Vaseline, Compeed and a tubi-grip would see me though. And I prayed to the gods of running that I wouldn’t get caught up by the demonic sounding ‘sweeper’ van who picks up all those too slow and/or lame to finish the course in time.

The most surprising thing about the race was the amount of people in their late 60’s and early 70’s, belting along at a pace I can only fantasise about. I think by the time you get to 70, there isn’t much resistant cartilage left, so it looked more like exaggerated walking than running, but fair dues; they all whooped my ass. The last 3 miles were the longest miles I have ever known. I’m not joking when I say at one point I was overtaken by somebody who was walking. I thought I was running; turns out by this point what had actually happened was that I had been transplaced into another dimension where time and motion had been stretched out twice as long. Obviously.

I did finish. My time was awful, but all things considered I think I did rather well. I have never been so exhausted as when I stumbled over the line;  I swear I had pins and needles in my teeth, my fingers had swollen up to resemble bratwurst and I was making breathing noises like an over-zealous telephone sex pest.  The first words I could get out (after “Banana!”) were, ” I am NEVER doing that again! That was horrific!” as I slumped onto a plastic chair and dribbled  down my front.

4 hours later I was searching for the next race. I think I may have an illness….

The Things People Say

…when I’m out running.

Due to being laid up with my now delightfully infected blister (a medic told me she’d only seen bigger blisters on house-fire victims…) I thought I’d list a few of the things I’ve had said/shouted to me recently, whilst I’ve been out running…purely for entertainment reasons.

* Why have you got a solar panel on your arm? (in reference to my iPod).

* That’s what you should be doing, that- lose a bit of weight ( said to heavily pregnant girlfriend pushing a buggy. He was swilling from a can of Carling. It was 10am).

* Run fat girl, run! (from giggly teenage girls smoking Lambert & Butler outside the chip shop).

* F*ck you! You’re a f*cking c***! (from cherubic-faced 7 year olds hitting a burnt out skate ramp with clubs. For fun).

* Oh well done you! Keep going! (lovely posh lady on canal tow path).

* Didn’t I just see you an hour ago?! (on my first 9 mile run. Felt so good to see the look of bewilderment on his face).

* Oh, just give up and walk! (said by saggy-faced woman dragging on a fag. Inexplicably down a remote country lane frequented by fly-tippers).

Blisters and Boinking (not bonking).

What I had planned for Sunday and what I actually acheived are very different. I was scheduled to run a 10-miler (my first), in hopefully around 1 hour 40. The weather was cool and dry and the route fairly forgiving. What actually happened was I couldn’t mentally get “in the zone”, I “boinked” after 4.5 painfully slow miles and I am now also host to multiple blisters, the daddy of them all being on my left arch and the size and shape of a Bernard Matthews’ Turkey Drumstick (Bootiful).

I can only guess at why I bottomed out after 45 minutes and the absolute best I could do for the remaining 6 miles was mostly walk, with a wee bit of half-arsed staggering thrown in to amuse the Sunday dog-walkers.

1) I just wasn’t physically ‘up to’ a long run today. ( kinda forgot I was suffering from a bug just 4 days ago).

2) wasn’t hydrated enough (drinking one pint of water beforehand was inadequate, seeing as I was parched when I got up).

3)I wasn’t mentally “up to it” either. ( For mystical reasons which evade my understanding, there are certain days in a month when all I really want to do is be indoors on a comfy sofa. I can’t get into the right frame of mind and really lack in stamina).

4) Half a bowl of bran flakes is not enough fuel to see me cover that distance.

5) I wore new shop-bought orthotics for the first time and although they worked wonders in that my left shin and ankle are pain free, it felt like someone was slowly burning a hole in my left foot. (Hence the behemothic blister).

Mustn’t grumble though; the pain and tenderness in my lower left leg has completely disappeared with the introduction of the orthotic. There has to be some compensation to pay for this I suppose (in addition to the heavy price tag of around £20) and that is that my foot feels like it’s been flayed. Tis only skin deep though – I would much rather I had an external problem than an internal one.

And as far as not completing my first 10 miler, I need only think back to May last year and my first venture out the house to embark on a ‘run’. 3 minutes in I was collapsed against a tree, making breathing noises like a telephone sex pest and convinced that my eyes had come loose in their sockets. I can’t expect every run to be better that the last.

22 days and counting…

Whoops.  I signed myself up for a half-marathon – 26th October, in Coventry.

Marathon shoes

The furthest I have ever run before is 8 miles, which I managed (miraculously) one week ago and didn’t die. (just).

So now I am slightly concerned that in 22 day’s time, I will find myself standing alongside 2000 ‘fit’ people with lean, beautiful leg muscles,  washboard stomachs, clad in hard-core runner’s vests and skimpy shorts and I will feel like I’ve gatecrashed a party consisting entirely of models from “Runner’s World” magazine. The reason for my confidence crisis is a vestige from my teenage years, when I was a member of an athletics club; in order to gain points in the league table, the coaches would enter me into events like “Senior Women’s 200m hurdles”  where I would gallop and limp around the track with all the grace of an elephant in leg calipers (I was off the day they “did hurdles” at school) and drag myself across the line as the other competitors looked on with expressions of concern and confusion.

There wasn’t a single athletics meeting I went to as a kid where I didn’t feel like dissolving into pure nervous energy; even PE lessons had my stomach churning for 2 hours before it started. Anything less than winning just wasn’t good enough for me; I put FAR to much pressure on myself to come first. I’ve had to learn to be happy with just taking part, after-all, run-walking for half an hour at 11-minute mile pace may not be the height of athletic achievement, but it’s a hell of a bigger achievement than sitting on the couch watching When Fat Pets Go Bad.

So this ‘race’ is going to be a HUGE learning-curve for me; learning to really run for myself, and not compare myself to others despite being surrounded by a crowd.  All I want is to get round the course without walking. Time and speed do not matter, just the distance.  Looks like I have a mantra there.

The Great North Run – from my sofa.

Stuck to the sofaDue to being dreadfully, seriously and earnestly “unwell” yesterday, (also known as cannot-be-arsed in extremis ), instead of being out running* 7 miles, I found myself ensconced on my rather too comfortable sofa, watching the Great North Run.  The “biggest” half-marathon in the world (yet still just 13.1miles – how is that?!) takes place in Newcastle and Gateshead and attracts it seems, in addition to the elite athletes, EVERYONE in the UK who owns a pair of trainers. (Well, maybe not the sort of people who wear their joggy-bottoms inside their socks). Everyone else though, was there.

7ft Bananas, Spidermen and Wonder Woman, running in 20 degree ‘heat’ (this is the UK), all looking exuberant and charged with the sort of maniacal energy that fun-runners sweat out of their over-worked pores. All running for their own personal causes and raising huge amounts of charity money in the process.  Instead of finding it boring watching 54 thousand-odd (some very odd) runners stream through the north east, I found it all engaging and quite emotional in places. The stories behind why people do this are truly inspirational and I felt humbled watching them.  It has toughened my resolve that I WILL do my own 1st half-marathon next month and even though I am not looking for sponsorship for the run (saving the begging letters for LEJOG 2010, naturally) I hope that just be being there and taking part (and paying an extortionate entry fee) that I will ‘do my bit’  to support running-induced joie de-vivre. I may even find myself running through Newcastle next year, dressed as a runner.

Good for the BBC, who continue to broadcast this extraordinary gathering of sweaty people. I was quite exhausted by the end and had to have a nap.

*For ‘running’, read ‘staggering’