Monday, 29 March 2010

w/e 28/3/10 – All we need is a little patience

Patience is a virtue apparently. Never one I’ve particularly possessed or been keen on possessing. If I want something, I try to make things happen. “Patience is a virtue” has always seemed to me to be the motto of the “lie back and wait for things to happen” brigade.

But patience is just what I’m having to learn at the moment.

Firstly, another trip to the osteo on Friday. The knee is really coming on well, and I’ve had a couple of decent hill runs where there has been no reaction at all….excellent! The ankle is healing although,as you would expect, it is still a bit limiting at this stage.

But I kept the appointment so he could have a look at the Achilles again. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it’s been worrying me. And, typically, you suddenly get a couple of high-profile Achilles tendon ruptures in footie matches on the tv!

So he had a look, declared it a lot less worrying than the previous week and, to some extent, reassured me that, out of the fairly decent number of people he sees with Achilles problems, well over 90% go on to a full recovery and only a very tiny proportion end up in rupture.

Which is not to say I won’t, but I’m doing all the right exercises, massaging the area to promote blood flow, reducing my running and upping the bike to reduce stress on it….nowt much more I can do!

So, having had a green (or at least amber going to green) light for resuming training, I got stuck into a run on Friday afternoon. Only a shortie, a bit sore from the Achilles having been prodded and poked, but enough to convince me that the knee is over the worst and I can start to get going again.

And I was looking forward to the weekend. I’d made the decision (in my own mind) to run Midgley Moor very slowly. Possibly even offer to be sweeper. And then Sunday was Blubberhouses Moor 25 miler. A chance for a lovely day out with Kirsten, some decent mileage and a feeling like things were moving again.

So it was a wee bit of a blow when I went down with a sickness bug on Friday evening! Friday night was spent in the bathroom or my head in a bowl, not sleeping! No chance of running Midgley, but I kept shoveling food in hoping to be fit for Sunday. Some hope! Lethargic is not the word, wiped-out is more suitable.

So another good weekend’s running missed, but it was great to see Kirsten have another good run at Midgley on Saturday (me and Rufus strolled around the lower part of the route) and then very proud of her for getting out and doing 25 miles on Sunday. She looked shattered last night! :-)

Hopefully I’ll pick up this week and get some good training in. We’re off to the Lakes Friday if the weather’s ok and this is the planned start of the training towards 19 June. Wish me luck!!

I did manage a couple of runs this week though! There was the run Friday, plus I headed out on a club run on Tuesday night, up onto Midgley Moor on a dreadful night, dark and wet. I loved it :-) It might have had something to do with the group being me and 6 ladies? ;-)

Plus a couple of sessions on the turbo trainer, of all things. This is going to become a more prominent feature of my training, not just between now and June, but from here onwards. I have to face facts, I’m getting older, I’ve got some injuries that belong to the “older runner” category, and if I want to prolong my running as long as possible, I need to mix it up a bit and take the weight off my feet quite literally.

So from now on, the plan is never to run more than 5 days a week, and cut that back to 4 in tough weeks. The balance of training will be on the bike, and I wouldn’t mind starting back in the pool as well. It’ll be interesting to see the effect it has…there are some very good runners who do most, if not all, of their training on bikes and they swear by it, both in terms of stamina and speed. Speed? Ah yes, I remember what that is, I used to have some in the dim and distant past!

So patience it is. Patience in getting over this run of bad health, patience in building up the mileage at a steady pace again, patience in seeing off this Achilles problem, and patience in changing my training routines and waiting to see the results that brings…….

Total for the week…..11 miles and 1,500ft! Plus 45mins on the TT!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

w/e 21/3/10 - Little by Little

Little by little, the time goes
Little by little, the days pass by
Little by little, the air clears
Little by little, I can breathe again
I can breathe again --

An inauspicious week's training, in terms of where I should be right now, heading towards that date in June....but a leap forward from where I thought I was going to be.

Little by little, that's the key right now I think. Too much too soon and I'm going to set myself back very quickly.

The knee - another trip back to the osteo, having done the exercises, and it's definitely feeling easier although there's still a slight niggle that seems to increase when going up steep slopes. Nowhere near as bad though. Osteo said it felt a lot smoother, but did warn that it was "early days" and to be cautious.

The ankle - the best recovery I've ever had from a badly sprained ankle. The bruising has pretty much gone, there's a little pain with the foot twisted, but the proprioception seems to have returned remarkably quickly :-)

The achilles - well it's certainly proved to be an achilles heel! I thought I was pretty much over this, but a speedy type session with Kirsten on tarmac on Wednesday night saw it flare up again on Thursday. When I saw the osteo on Friday, he was more concerned about this than the knee! In particular he warned that there's a "nick" in the tendon. Now this MIGHT be the way it's healed (I suspect so) but it's clear that there is a chance of it snapping at some point. Nowt much I can do though, apart from carry on regardless, and back off if it feels overworked or tender.

So, in all, 3 runs for the week - which is 3 more than I expected at this stage!!

Tuesday - a gentle 6 miles, initially along the canal to Hebden, then up over Erringden Moor and down into Mytholmroyd and home. Lovely day for it. Felt awkward to begin with, favouring the right leg badly. But it felt easier by the end to be honest.

Wednesday - the idea was a speed session for Kirsten, with me trotting around. But of course, I joined in!! Lampposts....lovely!!! Quite a long session, and Kirsten started out at a reasonable pace....but gave the game away by talking immediately after finishing one of the longer reps....mistake!!!! "You shouldn't be able to talk so're not putting enough effort in!" :-)

So the rest of the reps were run at a noticeably quicker pace...and there's no doubt the leg speed is there for her. Just more training, more speedwork in particular,and an appreciation of the level of effort you have to put in when you're running fast :-)

I enjoyed the session as well. I used to love speedwork when I was down in Shropshire. And it does improve you. But it also takes a hefty toll on the joints etc when you're on tarmac. Hopefully, with the lighter nights, we can do some sessions on grass.

I rested for a few days then, to let the achilles calm down a bit, then went out for 5 miles or so on Sunday afternoon. And, significantly, this was the first run back with proper off-road and a wee bit of climb. Along to Foster Clough, around to Old Town, back past Churn Milk Joan, through Midgley, and down. A nice run, met Richard B at Joan and had a nice chat. Knee twinged a bit on the steeper ups, but was fine on the down...and the ankle held out fine :-)

So, it's cautious, but the comeback is at least underway. I'll see how it progresses this week. Run planned tonight, possibly a trot out tomorrow, then an LDWA event at the weekend.

I can breathe again.......

Total for the week - 16 miles and 1,500ft

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

w/e 14/3/10 - In the here and now

In the here and now,
between sensation at the nerve-ends
and the arrival of information at the cortex
time elapses

No time to be looking back, looking down, thinking what have been or feeling sorry for myself. There's so much to do, and so much to look forward to in life (for ALL of us) that it's a crime to waste any of it in self-pity.

Back up off the floor, dusted down, clinging to hopes of getting back out there sooner than I could possibly have hoped....but just as importantly, determined to make the most of my time anyway, and celebrate and enjoy all that's good in my life :-)

A lovely weekend away to take my mind off things (thank you!) and a chance to remember that you CAN enjoy yourself even if you're not running....yes, really!!! :-)

A trip up to the North-East coast of England and the South-East coast of Scotland, two lovely walks, time together, time with Rufus the dog, a few pints, some nice food...and smiles :-)

Kirsten and Rufus on the beach :-)

The cliffs of St Abbs Head

What a handsome dog!!

Baring his teeth and wrestling with the seaweed

I'm not letting go, and neither is Rufus!

Friday, 12 March 2010

I'm tough, rough, ready and able

To pick myself up from under this table
Don't stick no sign on me, I got no label
I'm a little sick, unsure, unsound and unstable

But I'm fighting my way back

One week one.....and of course there's no way I'm giving up without a fight. I'm not saying I'll be there at the Moot Hall on 19 June...but I'm certainly not discounting that I will be!!!!

And if I need any inspiration......Kirsten's onto the entry list for the Scotland 100!!!! Which is actually 105 miles!!!!! What an amazing lass, what an inspiration, what an example to follow. Running for one year...and doing 100 miles.....and she will do it!! I have no doubt!!

How can I not fight on? And believe that I'llbe fit and ready come June?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

w/e 7/3/10 and beyond....There But For The Grace of God.....

Last week , I read Nick Ham's blog and really felt the pain (both mental and physical) and frustration he was experiencing.

Let's face it, we've all been there. And there's nowt you can do but be sensible and work your way back bit by bit.

And I thought "there but for the grace of God go I".

One week on...................

Last Friday, I bent down to put a DVD in, felt a bit of pain in my knee, thought no more about it until it bothered me after 21 miles of last Saturday's run...but still presumed it would be ok.

It isn't. It's continued to bother me and, although I've tried to ignore it, I know the pain is coming from deep inside my knee, around the lateral meniscus area.

But, being a fellrunner, I decided to test it out today. I headed along the cycle path to Mytholmroyd, and it felt ok. In fact, it only hurts when load-bearing and at one particular angle.

So I went up the path to Erringden Moor. On the way up, I slipped and a shot of pain went straight up my leg and left my head spinning. Ok then, sensible thing is to head down and get it looked at.

Which I did, but finding it no problem on the downhill, I got a bit of pace up....but didn't reckon with the fact that my running gait had changed to accommodate the knee.....and next moment, I was heading for the floor and hearing the popping of ankle ligaments as my foot gave way.

I lay on the ground in pain for about a minute, wondering if I could get up....but of course I could. I limped down, got a lift home, and started RICE immediately.

But it was a bad one. As bad as time I did that ankle in the OCT, and that kept me out for 2 months. Realistically, it may be the same....and that's a lot of training to miss in advance of the BG.

But, worse than that, this knee pain isn't going away. This will test my resolve. I swore, after having surgery on that knee previously, I wouldn't rush to do it again. What now? Can I/do I stick to that? A trip to the osteo first to see what he thinks, and I'll take it from there.

But I'm already facing up to the fact that all the March and April plans are probably out of the window. The BG is certainly delayed, if not postponed until next year. The plans are in tatters.

I've faced quite a few mental battles these last couple of years, in one way or another. This might be the most trying and challenging. But I'll stick with it, I'll be back. I'm a fighter when my back's against the wall. I will respond in the only way I know.

So folks, no updates for some time unless something miraculous happens....but just remember, there but for the grace of God........

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

w/e 28/2/10 - We Step Outside and Face the Poisoned Weather....

The tiredness hit this week. In a big way. And I guess it's to be expected. Over 100 miles and 12,000ft last week....what did I expect?

In truth, looking back as I did the other day, I think I'm "ahead of the game" at this stage this year. What I have to be careful of is not burning brightly now, only to fizzle out in April/May. That certainly happened a couple of years ago, when a BG attempt was a possibility. I piled up the miles and the long days, I put in a pretty hard effort at the Old County Tops and....the legs went, and didn't feel the same again all summer.

But this is two years on, and there's nothing truer than the fact that every year of putting in climbs does steel you for the road ahead. Your legs don't forget, they adapt. And I'm hoping that's where I am this year. I'm ahead of where I was last year because, a year on, the legs are ready for it without needing too much base to build on.

The weather's getting frustrating though. Another missed opportunity to pop up to the Lakes this week, based on the fact that I'd have needed ice-axe and crampons rather than fell shoes. Spring can't come soon enough now, and some midweek trips up for 2-dayers in the Lakes.

The only downside of the week is that I've ended it with a slight niggle....a pain somewhere inside the right knee when descending, and a little fluid on that knee in response to the problem. I don't think it's serious, but it needs a bit of nursing so my lovely idea of heading to Sedbergh for a race on a Tuesday afternoon is abandoned. Hopefully I'll be fit and ready for the weekend.

But, as for the week in question, it started with a couple of rest days, to get over the previous week. But by Wednesday, with a Mercia friend coming to stay, it seemed a good idea to head to club night, having told him all about the great group who go bat-running.

So we turned up at 7pm to find.....nobody bat-running! I'm not sure what's happened these days. A year ago, I seem to remember 20+ out most Wednesdays, now it's getting down to 4 or 5 regulars and, obviously, this week, just 2 of us. Very poor.

Still, we made the most of it, heading down into the valley, all the way back up to Stoodley Pike, in new snow, down the Pennine Way to London Road, back to Mankinholes, down into the valley again, and up to the golf club. A smashing run, just disappointing that nobody else wanted to share it.

Thursday turned out to be another rest day, running ditched in favour of a good tea and chat.

But Friday, we headed over to Pendle, for a half tour recce. Pendle's one of my favourite places around here, and it seemed a good place to take visitors. It was looking like a tough day though, with low cloud and persistent rain.....which changed pretty quickly to snow as we headed out of Barley.

By halfway up, it had become a blizzard and was settling up to around our ankles, with a driving wind from our left, making things cold and uncomfortable. We ploughed on (snowploughed on!) regardless, the snow getting deeper and deeper, to eventually arrive at the trig point. But, as we tried to peer into the howling gale in the direction we needed to go, we made our decision...down!! It was not a day for heroics, and Pendle felt every inch as big as a high Lakes fell today! We slithered down, back to snowy Barley and cake and coffee in the cafe, before heading home.

Saturday was a little better, and a big tour of the moors was planned. We headed off over Midgley Moor and across to High Brown Knoll, which was boggy, slushy and cold. From there, we dropped down to Lumb Falls, then across to Walshaw Farm, Widdop, Gorple and picked up the Pennine Way there, following it over to Blackshaw Head. Here we picked up the path down Jumble Hole Clough and down to the main road.

We followed the Hebden route up to Stoodley (where the path from London Road has been vandalised by a digger, presumably doing "repairs" :-/ ), then along Dicks Lane, across the moor and down into Mytholmroyd. It was here that I felt the first twinge in my knee, nothing dramatic, but noticeable.

Nevertheless, one more climb to do, and we headed up over Scout Rock before dropping down to the house - a tough run, in tough conditions.

Sunday saw me head out on my own, despite the knee, to go and put in a few reps on Stoodley. I managed 4, and saw one other nutter (you know who you are!) doing exactly the same.....the things us BG attempters have to do :-)

And that was the end of my "easy" week. Again, I hope I'm judging this right. In the past, my easy week has been next to nothing. This time, it's not far off a normal week. But that feels right to me, especially since I want to up the training from last year. Only time will tell. Hopefully the knee will settle quickly and I can push on hard.

The week ended, as ever, with a lovely couple of pints in the Fox, with an incredibly tired-looking Kirsten, having just returned from her 50-miler in Norfolk, before picking up a curry and stuffing ourselves full of lentils, veg and chappatis whilst we could still stay awake.

Total for the week - 39miles & 9,000ft

Monday, 1 March 2010

w/e 21/2/10 - Do You Dream of a Journey, Taking You Back to Your Home...

…Where the cry from the heart of the Highlands lives on

A wonderful week’s training in a wonderful place. Back in my spiritual home, albeit a new area for discovery.

We headed off on the Sunday to stay in Perthshire and recce a set route ;-) with the plan being to cover 80+ miles over 5 days. Kirsten had found a great place to stay – a hostel a mile outside Aberfeldy, which we had to ourselves for the duration of our stay :-)

And as we headed over the border and into more remote and wild scenery, I felt uplifted, as I always do when I make this journey.

I actually flew once, taking a plane to Inverness before hiring a car….and, sure, it saved a wee bit of time, but I vowed never to do it again because you miss the journey, the transition from wild Borders country, through the tenements and dire greyness of Glasgow, to the first glimpses of the big mountains of Loch Lomond-side until you finally arrive on that narrow twisting road along its shore, before descending into Crianlarich,which is truly the “gateway to the Highlands”.

But this time, we headed off a different way, going east towards Stirling from Glasgow, before taking the road over the Pass of Ledi and down into Killin (and memories of a glorious snowy group trip up there a few years ago) , before heading past Ben Lawers and Loch Tay to arrive in Aberfeldy.

I’ll blog separately about the week itself, there’s so much I want to record that it would get a bit much in the midst of all this.

But suffice to say, we ended up covering about 70 miles of the route. Throw in a few loops back etc and my mileage was 93 for the trip, together with 10,400ft of ascent.

Having travelled back on the Friday afternoon, then travelled down and back to the Midlands on the Saturday, I was feeling tired on Sunday!

But, of course, being so close to 100 miles for the week, I had to go out again!! So a trip from home, over to Stoodley, across Erringden Moor, down into Mytholmroyd and finally back up over Scout Rock, gave me another 10 miles and 2,000ft to take me up to my biggest week ever.

Which, to be honest, has left me shattered, but I know it will pay dividends in due course. Following my 3 weeks build-up, 1 week cut back training method, the last week of February should be an easier week….about time too!!! :-)

Whereas, for Kirsten, having done over 80miles last week, it’s a 50-miler for her on Saturday 27th…..I’m glad I don’t have to do that!!!

Total for the week – 103miles & 12,400ft

Update: Kirsten continues to amaze and inspire me, by not only completing her first 50-miler (no problem!), but also coming back 1st Lady!!! YOU STAR!!!