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Cheating On Two Legs With Two Wheels

So, I have given in. I have decided to see what this bike lark is all about. I swore that i would be a runner only until the end, but a combination of injury and boredom of run/walk led me to the deep corners of ebay and the discovery of my new bike. I dithered over whether to buy it for a couple of weeks, secretly sabotaging myself with the wait, telling myself I was being daft. And then, last week I clicked on add to basket and took a leap of faith via my credit card and the added trust of buyer ratings. It was done.

Within two days I had my bike (thanks Parkers of Bolton). It was rather stereotypically ‘girly’ in colour for me (white with a dash of lilac) but beggars and mothers of two kids who only do part time work can’t be choosers, and this bike was a bargain. Don’t worry, I had done some research i.e asking friends and neighbours who are into bikes. It was all going to be fine. As long as I hadn’t done any sneaky growing since I was last properly measured aged about eleven (I haven’t).

When the box arrived via a very prompt Yodel delivery (bravo Yodel, who knew eh?) my 6 year old was straight in there, assuming the bike was for him. Cheek! He did the hard work of unwrapping all the corrugated cardboard and tape for me while I had a cuppa. Who says kids can’t be helpful? He realised that the bike wasn’t for him and immediately tried to negotiate a road bike from Father Christmas for himself. Then the bike sat in my back room while I waited for my husband to come home. Yes, this is most unfeminist of me but if you’ve seen the garage where the tools are, and where my husband does his wood turning, you would know it was safer for me to just wait.

I was wondering whether it would be a five minute wonder. I wondered whether I would back out in fear and return it. I have to admit I am terrified of riding the roads on a bike and having it sat there meant put up or shut up. I had to face a fear I’ve held on to for a very long time.

The first ride I did I happened to be chaperoned by my 6 year old who has NO FEAR OF ANYTHING (life really does change when you get ‘the fear’). We stuck to safe paths and he chattered while I wobbled like Bambi on wheels.

The next day I scarpered for a longer ride before he could sense that there was an impending bike ride on the horizon (seriously that kid loves a bike ride). I got my balance (and my courage) and bit the cycling bullet. And I think I’m now hooked.

I have never felt so invincible and yet so vulnerable at the same time. Tell a lie, I did have a similar feeling to that when I was pregnant. Maybe it’s the knowledge that your body is doing something rather amazing that makes you, well me, feel that way. A combination of what for me was the unknown combined with the excitement of my body doing something utterly different. It was exhilarating to hear the orchestra of wind around my ears building to a crescendo as I descended a hill with the air swirling around me.

It was simply amazing and I didn’t fall or get scared by cars (ok maybe I did for the first 10 minutes). I was out for an hour and I came home wobbly legged and deliriously happy, a feeling that I haven’t been able to get from running because of all my niggles. It was the most satisfying hour of exercise I have had in months. It was an absolute dream.

I’m not giving up on running but I really needed something to give me the endurance and training base that I’ve been lacking through being injured. Now that I have my cheapo bike ‘Paula’  (don’t ask, the name occurred to me on first sight) I can do that while gradually building the running back up. Plus after only a few rides I’m actually looking forward to going out and riding ‘her’ *add canned laughter here*. But don’t worry running, this is just something I need to do so I can come back to you with open arms.

Featured post

Running and Depression: A Vent

Before I start I should state a disclaimer: I do not have a diagnosis of depression. This post is not about me having depression. This post is mainly about how others see depression. I am no depression expert. I am just the partner of someone who does have this diagnosis and have seen first hand what it can do to someone’s health and well being.

A few days ago I came across a couple of tweets, the first of which I’m sure was coming from a good place:

‘Running is a great cure for depression, you can’t run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time’.

Another tweeter replied with:

‘If only depression was as simple as feeling sorry for yourself’.

I very nearly jumped into the conversation but I decided not to, it’s a topic for me that needs much more discussion than just a few tweets. However I’ve been mulling things over and I just needed to projectile vomit them onto this blog.

Firstly: if only it really was that easy. Two years ago when my significant other had basically decided he was done with this life, if only it had been that easy, that I just tell him to go for a run. He could have walked in from a few laps of the park saying ‘hey I’m all better now’. I would have dragged him out marathon training with me. If that was the ‘cure’ that the first tweeter was talking about then why isn’t everyone with depression doing it? Well it’s not that simple. Exercise can be an adjunct to the therapies for depression but it will never be a cure.

Secondly, to say that someone with depression just needs to go for a little jog to feel ‘less sorry for themselves’ completely undermines the condition. If someone is in physical pain from a chronic condition we don’t tell them to go for a run and get over it do we? Again exercise is an adjunct but we never expect exercise to completely reverse Type 1 diabetes or cure a tumour. No, because physical pain seems more acceptable and plausible to people than emotional pain. Emotional pain and mental anguish seem far harder for us to fully acknowledge. People are embarrassed by it and turn away from it. It is taboo to admit that you don’t want to be alive any more. Imagine that, at your lowest ebb, people telling you that you just need to ‘get moving and do some exercise’. Believe it or not, when I didn’t understand the condition as I do now, I tried to persuade him to do some exercise because I had read that it helps symptoms. Not when you’re down the rabbit hole though. No way.

Thirdly, I myself got a bit sick of the ‘he’s just a bit down’ and ‘what has he got to feel sorry for himself’ attitudes from people surprisingly close to us. Now, if I feel a bit frazzled from the day’s events then yes, possibly, a run might shift the clouded feeling I get. I get back from a run and I’m pretty much over it. But I don’t have depression. Depression isn’t something you can stick a patch on and expect it to be a bit better in the morning. The fact that some people insist on telling those with depression that they just feel ‘a bit down’ completely invalidates what they’re experiencing. People with depression need to feel safe to voice what they are going through, be heard, acknowledged and then tools and therapies decided on to manage it.

As the wife of a man who fell to some real depths I cannot imagine what people with depression have to suffer. I myself used running as a bit of a crutch to help me cope when it got tough so to this day I probably have quite a strong emotional connection to running. It’s why I miss it so much when I can’t do it. But no amount of running will cure depression. It will help manage it alongside medication and counselling, but please don’t tell the wife of someone with depression that you could cure my husband by taking him for a run. Just don’t.

Wheezy McWheezy Face

About three weeks ago on a trip to Spain for a friend’s wedding I had a dream. Well more of a nightmare. In my dream I was struggling to breath. Someone who I couldn’t see gave me an oxygen mask. I tried to breath deeply but I couldn’t. The faceless person gave me another mask and told me to try this one. Again I tried to take a deep breath and yet I couldn’t, nothing seemed to move. The faceless person told me I was doing it wrong and shouted at me. Panic consumed me and then I woke up and I was wheezing and I couldn’t take a breath.

I started taking my reliever inhaler, sat up, drank some water and made an attempt to calm down. My husband was passed out from all the booze and food of a long day at a hot wedding reception. I half thought to wake him but decided against it. After all what could he do? So I stayed sat up, eyes closed, intermittently taking my inhaler and eventually the wheeze eased enough that I didn’t feel panic stricken.

I didn’t tell my husband properly until we were home the next day and I felt safe. I don’t know why, maybe I didn’t want to be dragged off to a doctor while I was abroad. The day after we got home I went to the GP and was given steroids. Not the type that would make me beef up but enough to get my irritated air ways to calm the fuck down. They did help but I felt a little dismissed when the GP told me I ‘it was just a flare up’. So I saw the asthma nurse and she confirmed that I had had an asthma attack. She altered my medication slightly and gave me a new tablet especially for asthmatic hayfever sufferers. Honestly I love the summer but it really fucks me over. And then she gave me the kicker: no exercise or training for a month (not that I could anyway, I feel weak as a kitten). The nurse gave me an asthma management plan and a peak flow: if my peak flow goes below a certain level I have to go to hospital.

For the rest of that week I felt tearful and I cried a fair bit. I felt silly for crying but when I looked at asthma charity sites this is  normal response after an attack. I was cross with myself for not looking after myself and not taking my preventer medication as regularly as I should. I was tearful because I’d had a real fright and I didn’t realise how quickly an attack can come on. And I was especially sad because I can’t run. I’m still wheezy and breathless and my peak flow still isn’t great. I feel dreadful a great deal of the time.

We are so fragile. I can cope with injury a bit better than I can cope with this but this almost seems easier to accept. I can’t cross train with asthma. It’s not physically possible.  I have to be better. I have to be well. What I hope is that because I am a runner and  fit person my attack wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I had plenty in reserve to cope with it. That’s what I’m telling myself, that is my silver lining. I need to let go of the plans I had for races this summer and shift my goals for the Cardiff Half in October. There are always other races. Being able to breath is more of a priority right now.


Injured But Happy

Injured but happy. Those words are total opposites in running. How on earth can being injured and being happy co-exist?

About a month ago training was going really well. I had a place in the Reading Half Marathon and I was really excited to get back into road races. All my runs had been going well. I had kept my long runs at a conservative pace without going mad. Shorter, faster runs were feeling more like my old self again and I was feeling quite chilled out about it all. And then one morning I got up and there was a sharp pain in my shin when I walked down stairs. That pain was also there a bit when I walked. After a couple of days rest and some stretching and foam rolling I went out for an 8 mile run. Not even half way in I turned back. There was a pressure in my leg that was building and wouldn’t ease off. I didn’t feel distraught but wasn’t feeling overly confident.

I left my decision right until the last minute as to whether to sack it off. The day before Reading I tried a jog. Every step on my left leg brought on a searing pain on the inside of my shin. The decision had been made. No half marathon for me.

I didn’t cry, I didn’t get overly frustrated. I didn’t come to my blog straight away to moan or blub about it as I might have done previously (Note: nothing wrong with that, just highlighting a change in me here). Instead I carried on about my business, took some ibruprofen and shrugged my shoulders. The only thing that bothered me about it was that I would be unable to take my beginners running group as effectively and I hated letting them down. But shit happens.

The difference in me compared to a few years ago when I was injured is this: running is no longer my emotional crutch. I am happy in other areas of my life and I think it is because I have decided to unapologetically be me. I stopped holding back on the person I wanted to be. I enrolled on my MSc. I have set up my own physio clinic. I went after a volunteer job to be physio for a national squad and I got it. I stopped hiding myself in running. Instead running is something that I do alongside everything else in life. I stopped looking inward, stopped thinking about luck and bad omens, stopped overthinking running and stopped paying attention to social media. Yes it sucks to be injured but I accepted it and moved on. I did what I could do about it and then got on with my life while waiting for my injury to heal.

Four weeks post injury and I managed a pain free run today. I don’t even think I’ve been particularly patient but it hasn’t felt like that long since I had to rest. After I ran I was of course happy but I think I would have felt like that anyway. It’s weird to feel that I am happy. I went for a long time feeling so anxious and stressed that I never thought I would feel like this. I have the excitement of the new clinic and the work with Cricket Wales and it’s a really good feeling. Hopefully the leg has settled and I will be able to run again on the weekend but I’m being mindful about it instead of overthinking it. Plus there are other things right now helping to fill the place in my head that I had expected running to fill for so long.


New Shoes

As Paulo Nutini, that great Scottish bard sang ‘I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything is right’. He wasn’t wrong.

Despite being a physio of fair experience, a physio who often reminds clients about the importance of changing your trainers at the appropriate intervals, I appeared to have dropped the bollock on that myself. And the only thing I can put it down to is not writing down all my training runs and totally underestimating how much running I had actually been doing.

Last year I replaced my Saucony with an identical Saucony. I was focussing on the London Triathlon so in my mind my training had mainly been cycling and swimming, my two weak points. Running when it happened didn’t seem to be as important in the training diary that I kept. It was all about water and wheels. After the triathlon my regimented diary keeping seemed to tail off and again in my head so had my running.

About a week ago I started to have severe pain in my left foot, right under the big toe. I could hardly put my foot to the floor. I mentioned it to my other half, and when I suggested I needed new trainers he laughed and said ‘Nah, you’ve only just got those’. I felt like that too (although I’m sure he’s trying to stop me shopping) but the foot pain was telling me something wasn’t right. I looked at the tread and they didn’t seem overly worn. I did the squish test and they still seemed fairly robust. I then put my hand inside the left shoe and found a huge dent that was the size of my big toe, not just a little put of wear but almost worn through the trainer. How the ‘eff had I missed that?

I then went back through my training diary again up until I had stopped recording runs. I scrolled through Strava and discovered a fair few runs that I had completely forgotten about. But I had managed to convince myself I wasn’t doing that much running, because many of the runs had been so short that I had taken them for granted perhaps? So note to self…..


When I totted it all up I had about 300 miles on paper (good old pen and paper). That’s not including runs that have completely left my memory altogether. I must completely switch off for some of those runs and I really believe that. The Sauconys went in the bin and I found myself some neutral Asics at an outlet store (Macarthur Glen Asics store in Bridgend, what a discovery!). First couple of runs and all the weird aches and pains in my feet and calves have eased off. Funny that *head butts desk at own stupidity*

So the moral of the story? Keep your training diary up to date. It all counts. Slow, fast, long or short, those runs all contribute to improving you and wearing out your shoes. If I make a resolution to keep my diary and a note of the date I start running in new shoes I might avoid total shoe disaster next time. And in new shoes the Reading Half Marathon might actually be alright.




Bulls, Horns, Jelly Legs and Saying Yes.

As I’m sat here just now I feel like my head is in a bit of a spin. I have said ‘yes’ to something that I never thought I would. I have pounced on an opportunity instead of letting it pass me by and then doing the inevitable ‘what ifs’. No, no. Instead I said yes and got massive jelly legs at my audacity in going against my habitual ‘no, I can’t do it, what will people think?’ mind set. I hope that what I’ve done will work out but if it doesn’t, at least I can say I TRIED.

I have also said ‘yes’ to being a volunteer physiotherapist for Cricket Wales’ senior women’s team. Instead of wondering if I should do it and going over it and having an argument with myself I just applied and now I am physio for a national team. I’ve put myself out there and something amazing has come out of it.

I had an email from the PR people for the Reading Marathon and I said ‘yes’ to running it despite what other bloggers seem to think about people getting offered ‘free places’. I have been running loads lately and instead of letting my past injury woes scare me I said yes, yes I will run a half marathon.

I feel like a woman on a mission at the moment. At running club someone asked me how I fit everything in. I really don’t know I said. All I know is that I got sick of saying no to lots of things because of the fear and these jelly legs that I’ve got right now. But maybe the jelly legs are a good thing? It’s the same feeling I used to get before the gun went for an 800m race when I was 15 or at the beginning of my first marathon in 2012. These jelly legs might be a sign of good things ahead. Who knows? But at least I can say I’ve taken a great big bull by the horns and had a go. Saying yes is scary but it feels scarily good too.

I’ll just leave this here…….

Fast Track Physiotherapy's profile photo


A blog about some running type stuff.

I haven’t been blogging. Uni work is full on, things are changing lots work wise and so all the ideas that popped into my head to blog about have disappeared into a black hole before I could do anything about them. I’ve never really written a things I love/reasons I run post but all that is about to change. I am easily amused and laugh at my own jokes sometimes so if you read it and think ‘what a prick’ then fair dos.

  1. I love running because I can sometimes invent scenarios in my head that involve running. Sometimes when I run I don’t put my hair up and I imagine I’m a Soviet era middle distance athlete who has taken so many drugs that I beat all the cars to the traffic lights.
  2. I occasionally love running while listening to music. Sometimes if I listen to music I will do the dance moves with my hands if Steps or the Spice Girls are playing. I have dreadful taste in music, it’s a Tragedy (fnarr fnarr).
  3. I like running because right now I have the edge over my kids when we have running races. If we’ve had a ‘boys are better than girls’ argument I suggest a race to prove a point. I’m not sure what the point is but at least I’m winning for now.
  4. I love running because it makes me love my food.  I just had some fish pie and then I was still hungry so I went and ate some more all thanks to running. There is more room in my tummy for nice things.
  5. I love running because leggings almost become legitimate attire to wear to the school gate.
  6. I love running because wearing leggings with ridiculous patterns that you normally wouldn’t be seen dead in become acceptable.
  7. I love running because when I see patients and they mention that they run and they don’t expect me to know anything about running, I can impress them with my running knowledge of funky leggings and local parkruns.
  8. I love running because sometimes when I’ve been out ages my husband will give in and make dinner.
  9. I love running because when a prat in a van toots his horn or shouts at me I have a reason to invent newer and better swears for that idiot in my head. Running feeds my creativity.
  10. I love running because when the zombie apocalypse does happen I’ll be able to run faster and for a lot longer than most other people and will hopefully survive long enough to become involved in some kind of Walking Dead set up.

Not forgetting to mention the physical and mental health benefits but they’re a given right? When I have more time I’ll sit down and write a proper, far more intellectual and topical blog. This post is probably why they say never blog for the sake of blogging.


The Joy of Volunteering

If you read one of my last posts (it has been a while, whoops) you might remember that a new running group had been set up locally to me. I had offered my help and had started to lead a run mid week as I couldn’t make the other group runs. Following on from that though, at the requet of quite a few people, I have found myself coaching total beginners. People who have never run in their lives now want to try it and I am in the priveleged, trusted position of helping them.

For the first few sessions as a running leader I felt tremendously nervous. I would panic over whether a session was too much or not enough. Had I taken in everyone’s individual needs but also addressed the needs of the whole group? Would people feel a bit achy afterwards and not come back? Would it all just die off?

I’m glad to say that five weeks down the line people are still coming to my beginners group and the enthusiasm is still strong within my group of runners. They have been coming in rain, hail, frost and bitter cold which has surprised and amazed me. If one or two can’t come they actually seem disappointed. Last night we did our first ‘interval session’ where I got them to run a bit faster than usual and everyone was smiling. Nobody was discouraged and nobody felt they had to drop out. As we did our walk/run back to our meeting place I got them to take turns in deciding where we would walk to and where we would run from. And while they were doing this I realised I loved volunteering to help this group of non-runners on their journey to become runners. I felt proud last night and I couldn’t stop telling them how they had impressed me and how well they were doing.

I wouldn’t insult a coach with qualifications by saying I’m a coach. I’m a Running Leader volunteering to help others and it’s made me love running more than I ever have before. To see these people develop and improve in front of my eyes is fantastic and I feel humbled that they trust me to help them do it. It’s a time when it’s not about my running, it’s about helping others run and discover a like or a love for running that they didn’t think possible. I don’t want money or favours or things for doing this, I already have a job. Volunteering and helping this beginners group is purely, without a doubt for the love of running.

When Running Is The Problem.

I love running. I honestly really do. In my job I do my utmost to keep people running. I hate having to tell people they shouldn’t run but sometimes I have to for their own good and to enable any exercise therapy or treatment we do to be effective. Not everyone takes my advice and hey, sometimes people do get better with or without my advice. I can only go on what I find during an assessment and advise accordingly.

What I have found increasingly over the last few years is that with an increase in the running population has come an increased tendency for people to downright refuse to stop. They will continue to run even when there are a set of circumstances in front of them which are screaming at them to stop running, not permanently, just for a while.

I have had two cases in clinic recently where the best advice was certainly to stop running. But neither runner really accepted this. the compulsion to run was so strong that these runners were prepared to continue until any running at all was impossible. The most extreme of the two was a patient with a stress fracture so chronic that you could actually palpate the bony callus on his shin and hear the bone clicking when they hopped up and down. When I gave my diagnosis (which was confirmed by x-ray) the patient told me they had known in their gut for a few months that it was likely to be a fracture but hadn’t wanted to stop running, for fear of losing out on races and everything he gained from running. And yet the first question this person asked was ‘do I really have to stop running?’

I do sympathise because being injured is awful but I do feel that I’m increasingly in a ‘shoot the messenger’ situation when I have given advice to rest from running (that’s rest, not give up). I have had a patient swear at me because I advised them to rest for two weeks from running and to cross train instead. Actual aggressive language used because I gave a professional opinion. I may be good but I can’t speed up the natural healing times of muscle, tendon or bone. They all need their time to be appropriately treated and severity of an injury will always have a much bigger impact. Continuing to over load healing tissues will always mean things take much longer to heal, I don’t make this shit up.

Recently I have become aware of a personal trainer who is encouraging their beginners running group to run pretty much daily. Firstly, you’re going to put people off running because before long it will start to seem like a chore but secondly that is far too much for beginners who are just getting used to putting 4 TIMES THEIR BODY WEIGHT through their lower limbs. It’s making beginners over train and a study has found that training error and over training are the most common cause of over use injuries in recreational runners. In fact the most common type of injury among recreational runners is overuse injury, not sprains and strains. They are injuries that are unavoidable and yet more and more injuries like this are walking through my clinic door. (If you fancy a read that’s Taunton et al who published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2002, just to show again I’M NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP!).

Why this obsession with running hard and fast all the time? Why are people being made to feel like they have to? Running every day doesn’t suit the majority of runners and to do that I think you have to be a runner of great experience who has built up to it sensibly over a longer period of time. That’s why I felt quite glad that I saw an orthopaedic surgeon comment that people planning on training for a marathon should have been running 2-3 times a week in the 6 months before training commenced. The body needs to be trained to train, conditioned to be able to handle the task that is given to it.

So if you’re a runner who feels like they need to keep up with everyone on social media and feel guilty about not joining in with run streaks, please don’t. Think about what your own running goals are. Be smart with your training. Give your body a rest from the pounding it gets 3- 4 times a week with some cross training, pilates or yoga. And if you get a niggle or are concerned about any pain that isn’t your usual post run pain go and ask your GP or an appropriate clinician for advice. Some things can’t be diagnosed via Twitter.