Monthly Archives: January 2013

Get the Slap On (or not).

Make up and running. (This could be one for just the ladies but I know some of the chaps out there like to dabble). So yes, make up and running. Do or don’t? To be a painted up glamour puss or a natural beauty? I’ve been guilty in the past of being a bit snooty about the ladies who choose to pop a bit of mascara and blusher on before a run or race but I think I’ve had an attitude change. I think make up, including nails and hair, are all about your game face and ritual.

Everyone likes to prepare before a big occasion so why should running a race, a fairly big huge occasion, be any different? Before my marathon I found the exact shade of nail polish to match my Macmillan Charity vest (Seven Dials by Nails Inc if you really want to know). I defuzzed (definitely more for the girls) and applied my moisturiser and sun screen. It may sound strange but applying my nail polish the night before, with under coat and top coat no less, somehow made me feel ready. If it is possible to feel like that the night before your first marathon! It was my ritual and it relaxed me and my nails were a pretty awesome shade of green.

I may have imagined it but many years ago I saw an interview with Sally Gunnell, the former Olympic 400m hurdles champion, and she talked about making sure her hair, make up and nails were all right before going into a big race. And at London 2012 athletes were not shy about their manicures, braids or their little make up touches. They obviously felt more ready with those things. If sitting down and applying nail wraps, hair dye, braiding hair or getting out the eye pencil for a flicky eye made them game ready and perform to the best of their ability at the biggest event of their lives then who are we to judge? Compete at the Olympics? Yes she did and she looked damn fine doing it too!

Ok so we’re not all aiming for the Olympics. The majority of us are way way way way below elite level but for us amateurs we will find our own ‘big event’ and for that you want to be ready and for everything to be just right or as near perfect as it can be. I’ve had an attitude change and decided that make up and running are not mutually exclusive. Neither should exercise and femininity if you want. There’s no evidence yet that it makes you faster but I like to pretend, however you probably have to be a little bit sensible about it:

Nails painted? Yes. Fake eye lashes? Possibly not as the glue might melt due to the heat and you’ll look like you have two spiders crawling on your face.

Tinted moisturiser with protective SPF and a bit of blusher to make you feel a bit brighter through the nervous nausea? Ok. Fake tan? Probably best not to unless you want to look streaky after the first mile of sweat. You might have another 25 miles to look like a tie dye jump suit.

A bit of tinted lipgloss? Ok then but I’ll leave my Chanel red at home because I tend to wipe my face a lot when I run. Big red Joker face is going to make other people run faster, away from you!

So wear make up or don’t wear make up for your run. It really doesn’t matter as long as you feel prepared and ready. If that’s your bag then don’t worry what other people think. If they’re worried about the make up that you’re wearing to run then they’re not thinking enough about themselves, which in running is a major error. You’ve got to run your own race, lippy or not.

(As a side note I don’t tend to wear a lot of make up for running but I do love make up. My favourite blusher is Nars Orgasm. But I definitely think someone should invent a blusher called Just Run Glow because everyone looks amazing after they’ve been out doing some exercise).

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Running: My Friend

When I saw the question what does running mean to me I struggled. Right now I’m injured and I haven’t run for *does mental calculation and counting on hands* gazillion  eight or nine weeks. It seems like forever so thinking about running, the running I’m not able to do and the potential races I’m missing makes me incredibly sad. What I should do is flip this and look at it from an injured runner’s perspective.

Running is like a good friend. Running has been there for me through good times and bad, the highs and the lows. Running was there to help me through the rough time I had trying to support my husband through his depression. Running was there after my children were born to help me through my occasional baby blues, discover the ‘old’ me and put the ‘mum’ me to one side for about an hour. Running was there when I required a much needed confidence boost. At times running has helped my own mental health and that is why I think it means so much.

Running has given me moments of joy and elation. Running has made me leave my comfort zone and has lead me to travel the UK to find myself outside comfort and in that special zone that only runners know about. I am grateful for what running has brought me. So not running right now is like gradually losing contact with someone I have been close to for many years and it’s hard. I feel like a bad friend of running and that soon I won’t be able to refer to myself as a runner any more.

To try and stay close to running I have attempted to maintain contact through material things: buying running gifts that I cannot use right now. But that just makes me feel a bit empty. It’s just running stuff and it is not a substitute. I watch people running on the TV on the odd occasion it may be on but this pulls at my heart strings too. Buying running magazines seems to be difficult, as if I’m watching my friend enjoy something that I cannot be part of.

But then there are the blogs of other runners which seem different. Keeping in touch with running by reading about what other people are up to, their running journeys and their highs and lows. Their races, their training and sadly their injuries too. I have discovered that blogs can help me keep in touch with running through other runners. Even though it occasionally makes me want to tear my hair out and cry with frustration, it also makes me want to cheer people on to their well deserved goals too.

Blogging about running myself has also helped me document achievements and the unfortunate depths of injury. As I continue I hope to document more of my training runs as I return so I can go back and reflect and adapt and change as running needs me to. Because sometimes all relationships need work.

I have been running for a long time and running means so much to me: my solace, my sanity, my health, my fitness but blogging is a new addition to it that I think might be a nice fit. I don’t think I have many readers but the comments I have had have always been supportive and at times given a much needed boost. A bit like my Nike Air Pegasus that are gathering dust in the cupboard *sob*. I don’t want this injury to be my last memory of running and I don’t want my blog to be injury focussed so I hope, really hope, that I can be back with my friend running soon.

Dispelling Myths: Running and Arthritis

A few weeks ago there was an article from the Telegraph newspaper doing the rounds on Twitter. The premise of the article was actually pretty good. It extolled the benefits of weight training for women. Not the typical equipment you might find at the gym but free weights and weight lifting. It was entitled ‘If you want to get in shape, ditch the lady weights and hit the iron’. You can find it here.

I agreed with what most of the author, Dr Brooke Magnanti, said. I agreed with her that you need to lift signficant weights to tone up and become stronger. I started lifting heavier weights during my marathon training and I think it helped me to remain injury free. I agree with her that women are being lied to about diet and exercise and that women have pretty much been brain washed to believe that you can get a Jessica Ennis type body in 4 weeks. More like 5 years and the rest. And she’s right that power lifting makes you feel great because it does. It’s intimidating at first but once you learn the skills and lift progressively higher weights you start to feel amazing. I’d recommend any woman try to learn some weight lifting techniques because it’s not just for men or Olympians.

I was really enjoying the article but then she went and ruined it for me by saying this:

‘Something you can still be doing well into old age, when every marathon runner has had a double knee replacement already? The iron.’

In layman’s terms she is implying that marathon running causes osteoarthritis of the knee. I was incandescent. I am a runner and I am a physiotherapist and I have done my fair share of reading around the subjects and I’m here to tell you right now she is talking UTTER BOLLOCKS.

I went away and did a little research and it was very easy to discover, if you look in the right places, that running has no direct link to causing osteoarthritis of the knee. Many review papers have found that runners are no more likely to develop osteoarthritic changes in the knee and hip than non runners. More research is obviously always needed but anecdotally I have never treated someone who had knee arthritis because of running. Following knee injury playing rugby and football, yes. Being overweight, yes. Hereditary factors, environmental factors, yes. But oddly, or not so oddly enough, from running.

I’m not suggesting runners are immune but there is no evidence that the action of running itself directly causes arthritis. As mentioned above there tends to be other factors contributing such as foot wear, poor muscle power, poor form, poor posture and training errors but not just running. To suggest that in a national paper is a powerful myth to perpetuate and one that has no truth in it. In fact running and other weight bearing exercise has been shown to increase bone density and production of joint fluid so it may in fact hep to prevent osteoarthritis.

So put the thought that running will damage your knees to the back of your mind because it simply isn’t true. I’m not singing the virtues of one exercise over another because to do that is unhelpful. If we stopped doing a sport activity because of potential risks or urban myths then the nation would be even more unfit and overweight than it already is. Just know that marathon running in itself does not lead directly to the orthopaedic surgeon and a couple of joint replacements.

Here’s a link to an abstract from one of the articles I looked at in PM&R, the journal of injury, function and rehabilitation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22632690. I also searched the archive on the British Journal of Sports Medicine which is a great resource.