Taking the good with the bad.

I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks (not like me, I know…)

Been a very busy Bean with training really picking up the distance and pace now.

The week before last (week post back/neck injury) was brilliant. The first week in about 6 or 7 weeks that work commitments didn’t hamper my training schedule.

6 mile Tuesday (walk jog run)
x trainer Wednesday
6.5 mile Thursday
X trainer Friday
Physio Saturday
16 mile Sunday.

Fantastic. I was feeling on top of the world. My distance run was consistent and leg pain free.

Then: a miracle.

For the first time since training began in July last year, I went for my Tuesday run this week and managed 5 pain free miles.

I even managed to spell the word Balls with my GPS. Which I think might be my best success to date.

I could have kept going but I had eaten my emergency Snickers too close to run time. So ended up feeling particularly sick.

This week ended a bit differently. Due to weekend plans, my usual distance run was brought forward to Saturday morning. Early. It didn’t go fantastically. For a start, I was slow. The weather wasn’t great. 14 degrees and muggy. Immediately I knew I’d judged nutrition wrong. Should have gone savoury. Sweet is just rank when it’s humid. Last weeks 11 minute mile average was replaced by 12.5 minute miles. I had opted for long sleeves as it was forecast to heave it down. It didn’t. The sun came out. But not like last Sunday in 16 degrees and sunny with a breeze. This was hot, humid and MIDGE CENTRAL. Not fun. I did manage to make 10 miles before I had to take an ibuprofen for my hips. Which are beginning to hurt very badly on longer runs.

By mile 10 I realised that the route I’d planned was shit. Not only would I have to retrace steps, I’d pass my house with 4 miles still to go. BRUTAL.

18 miles in 3hrs40 mins. Not brilliant but it marks the beginning of the end of my real endurance training.

4 hours is the plan for next Sunday. And if I can get to 20 miles that will be a huge psychological barrier met. Which would significantly reduce my anxiety. I hope.

This week will depend entirely on how quickly I can shift The Plague which I woke up with this morning. I was warned early on in my training by part time Super Hero and full time Iron Man @ironpugsley that once I hit 18 miles (honestly think the man is psychic) I’d struggle with my immune system. I can’t decide whether he’s jinxed me or not.

Either way. Here I am. With my temp finally below 39 degrees. Feeling a little sore and sleepy but not as horribly sick as I was earlier.

If I can shift this I will be on my way to my last big run before my birthday holiday and the start of tapering.

I also got my race vest this week from Maggie’s. A scary moment.

Watch this space for Race Pack arrival!

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Weekend of rest with VLM

Bugger. Spoke too soon. 

Almost as soon as the words “better not get an injury now..” left my mouth, I threw my neck/back/shoulder out. An old niggly injury that likes to rear its ugly head when I’m run down or tired. I woke at 4.30 am to the familiar and unwelcome breathlessness and pain shooting through my back and arm. FUCKING AWESOME. I’ve not had a real proper relapse for 2 years. Just little niggles here and there that I’ve managed to iron out with Pilates and yoga. This episode had been brought on by stress, burning the candle at both ends and generally pushing myself a bit too far. My body was screaming “STOP. I’M SUPPOSED TO BE A TEMPLE. THIS IS TOO MUCH”. Unfortunately instead of listening, I was shouting back, giving it “BE QUIET WE’VE GOT WORK TO DO”.

I managed to make it to work on Friday but pain levels were an 8 and not decreasing with movement. I realised I was also being an insufferable bastard. So I went home and luckily had pre-booked physio for my hip that night anyway. PhysioDan decided to leave the hip this week and focus on spinal alignment and sorting out the muscular tension. OUCH. Nothing quite like a man using his bodyweight to crack your spine… I swore VERY loudly. 

Rest was prescribed on the weekend I was due to complete my first 3 hour run. I have always been organised and the thought of now only having 3 weeks left before tapering starts to get up to 4 hours, fills me with pure anxiety. 

Friends and family are still full of encouragement and I’m about to break the £600 mark on my fundraising for Maggie’s Centres

I had planned on running on Saturday so I could have Sunday to chill out and watch the VLM. I’m watching it anyway with many tears, fears and nerves. I’m also getting twitchy. Desperate to get out and run again. Thursday night’s bad run is still fresh in my mind and it’s making me really anxious. 

The plan this week (back permitting) is:

Monday:Pilates

Tuesday: Easy Run for an hour

Wednesday:Gym – Core & Cross Trainer

Thursday: Race Pace Run for an hour/6miles

Friday: Gym – Core & Cross Trainer again

Saturday Physio/Rest

Sunday: 3 hours. 

Fingers crossed I can get back out there this week and nail it. Watching the VLM is incredibly inspiring and emotional. Fuck knows what state I shall be in 6 weeks today when I’m standing in my starting pen. I’m actually getting terribly excited…

 

Enduring Endurance Training

This is going to be a bit of a moan, this one. So, if you’re feeling at all intolerant to whining, please read no further. 

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced over the past few months is The Bad Run. They are common. Especially for someone who spent the majority of her life previous to this adventure horizontal on the sofa. The Bad Run will never get easier to cope with. When less than 2 miles into a run my legs turn to lead, it is very hard not to lie down in the park, cry, throw a strop and go home. 

Not to sound dramatic but, (this sounds dramatic) I’ve been in varying amounts of pain since the start of January. Little niggles here and there especially my shins, big niggles in my hips, and MEGA niggles in my brain. My body was not that of a runner. By any stretch of the imagination. But I’ve forced it to run, to keep running, to keep going to the gym, to eat better, not to drink as much booze, not to lie about on a Saturday afternoon eating Mini Cheddars and watching Sex and the City. So my body is changing. It’s getting thinner, stronger and better. But it fucking HATES me for it. 

“Of course you hurt, you’re training for a Marathon. It’s GOING to hurt”. 

The pain is a constant reminder of The Battle and The Body’s Hatred. It also serves as a reminder of the battles faced by the people I’m running for. And that is what is keeping me going just now. With 7ish weeks to go, I must FIGHT the pain. I must try and tackle the fact that most of it is in my head and that the physical pain that is caused by rubbish hips and a dodgy gait will go away after I’ve run 26.2 miles. I can maybe hopefully start running to enjoy it as opposed to meeting endless targets. 

The people I’m running for don’t get that relief, though. Their pain may be temporary, but for some it will be permanent. They don’t get to hang up their Asics in 7 weeks time and say “until next year, legs…” they have to cope. 

So I will cope. Because I will finish the marathon (by hook or fucking crook) and then I can go home,eat all the cake and take shit loads of painkillers and sleep for 2 days. 

Anyway. So. The pain is annoying. And something I’m really struggling with. I’ve binned off the compression socks now on anything less than 10 miles so that my muscles stop relying on them. 

This Saturday I plan on doing my first 3 hour run. Which is so hilariously frightening that I giggle every time I think about it… 

I’ve stopped listening to music on runs, so that I can get to know my breathing rhythm and learn to zone out and learn to think through the aches and pains.

Following some long and incident free runs, tonight was a real fucking struggle. I’d planned 6 miles or an hour. Whichever came first, but at 5 miles I had absolutely no willpower left. So, with a screaming agony sprint finish, I limped to a standstill in the sunshine and wept like some kind of fucking mental. Not all runs are bad, I must add. I have had good runs where I’ve felt magical and invincible during and after. And some of The Good Runs have been 10+ miles. 

I AM SEVEN WEEKS FROM MARATHON AND I’M STILL HURTING. 

I envy those of you out there who run pain free. Who enjoy it and never have a Bad Run. Who can trot along at 8 or 9 minute miles without dying. It must be lovely to get home and stretch and feel totally brilliant. I do sometimes, until I sit down and stand up again. I am longing for that. And PLEASE tell me that you have Bad Runs too….

Maybe it will miraculously happen before May 25th or maybe it won’t. Either way, I will finish this bastarding thing.

 

Recovery & The Beginning of the Dry Spell

This blog will be two weeks worth of revelations rolled into one. Lucky you, Mr & Mrs  Reader…

Recovery is important.

I know. Shockingly new information, right?

I seem to be incredibly good both at underestimating and overestimating my body. Some days I am really impressed with it’s tenacity. And then there are the days I’m reminded of it’s fragility.

I had one of those days last week…

Boyfriend and I had planned to donate blood in the evening. Something we do at every opportunity. I never usually change anything in my routine on the day. I eat regularly and drink plenty. Except I didn’t on Tuesday. Unless you count a bacon sandwich and 1/2 a giant tub of toffee popcorn, 300ml of water and a few sips of Pepsi as good nutrition… oops. And then there’s the fact that I’m training 4 times a week at the moment. Something that is entirely new.

Off we went (I felt fine. Just a bit tired) and went through the usual checks. My iron level was normal. Good, in fact. But the needle prick to test levels made me queasy – not normal.

Through in the big, cold gym hall, a nurse says “just a sharp scratch” as she inserts the largest bore needle I think I’ve ever seen. Again. Normal. But for some reason I have to grit my teeth and the pain explodes through my arm. Something I’ve never experienced with donation before. (If you’ve never donated blood before, do not let me put you off. This is not normal)

After a few minutes, a concerned nurse tells me I need to squeeze the ball in my hand harder. The blood isn’t coming out quickly enough. A machine is going ape shit beside me. In the time it has taken my Other Half to come in, wait, donate, and be released, I’ve only given 300ml. Pathetic.

I finish eventually and gingerly make my way to the recovery area where the Tunnocks tea cakes await.

I do not feel right.

Sitting at the table, I grab OH’s hand and say “I’m fainting” he replies “you’re not, you’re just panicking” and then I’m out.

Proper faint.

That’s what dehydration will do to you.

A human body of 60-70kg has around 4-5 litres of blood. I gave 650ml. Which isn’t lots. But while I’m training and pushing my body to it’s limits, I need as much as I can get. It takes the average human 3-4 weeks to get back to normal amounts of blood. While the fluid is made up quite quickly (from what I’m told 48 hours ish) the red blood cells take longer to re-produce.

So by being dehydrated in the first place, I had already lengthened my recovery, which in the end took 8 days, by the way. 8 days of feeling completely drained (‘scuse the pun) and like my body had no juice.

This leads me to my next adventure. The Hen Weekend.

My dear friend is getting married in July this year and as one of her Bridesmaid’s, I was invited to 2 nights of girly madness in Edinburgh this weekend. I decided this would be my final foray into the land of booze until May 26th. The day after the Marathon.

Not to be deterred from my training plan, I decided I would do a long run on the Saturday. I knew after our crazy night out on Saturday night, this Sunday would be out. (How right I was)

I planned to keep Friday limited solely to carbs and maybe one or two small Prosecco’s. That went well… I managed about 6 hours sleep until the fuzzy mouth woke me up. Luckily one of the other Bridesmaids is training for The Half in Edinburgh so we had planned to run to Portobello and do a few miles of the route that morning. We left at 7am thinking it would be lovely to wake ourselves up.

It was not lovely. We had to turn back after 5.8 miles as I was about to fall asleep in a bus stop.

So I learnt that running after 6 glasses of bubbly, 2 of questionable wine and 3 gins is not brilliant. And I’m still paying with pain in my hip flexers from gunning it a bit too hard to begin with.

My final night on the booze last night, was fairly spectacular seeing a record breaking early-to-bed fail of 11.30pm having chased my best friend down Leith Walk holding both our shoes and 2 bags of chips… My feet are in tatters from 6 inch platforms and I have a shooting pain in my neck from all the many, many, MANY shots of Whisky…

Needless to say, I’m quite looking forward to the next 7 weeks of total sobriety….

 

From here onwards, my body will become a temple… (after this bowl of mac and cheese…)

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