Monthly Archives: September 2014

Patience and Injury

This week my attention was drawn to an article on Twitter which was tweeted by Balance Physio:

So I had a little read of the article and thought I’d try and apply the main points to my injury experiences over the last year (or more!).

Practice Gratitude

I’m grateful that right now I’m starting to run a bit more. Yesterday I managed to run continuously for 30 minutes with no screaming from the left achilles or the right calf. Today I am grateful that things don’t seem to have been flared up. I am so grateful for this that today will be a rest day or a cross training day.

I am grateful that my injury has not needed any investigations or surgery. I am grateful that I am relatively young *cough* and my body still seems to heal if it is allowed to. I am grateful that I have been able to do other forms of exercise to help me keep my fitness levels up.

I am grateful that right now pulling on my trainers for a short run is a realistic prospect. Embracing all the positive aspects have helped my mind set no end during this period of not being able to run all the time.

Be mindful of what is making you feel rushed.

Races were making me feel rushed. I rushed through rehabilitation to run the London Marathon and really it was detrimental. I haven’t been able to run since then and I managed to make my Achilles tendinopathy much worse.

When I was still considering running Berlin yet again I felt the feeling of being rushed and wanting to force my body to be ready. But injuries cannot always be rushed and so I decided to pull out of Berlin and other races that I had planned this year. Races were panicking me and making me feel pressured. Making the decision not to do any races this year means I have been able to concentrate on rehabilitating my injuries.

Make yourself wait.

As a Physio I often come across people who want instant results for their injury. One session is all they believe they will need to get back into their training. Most of the time I end up disappointing them. But as a runner this is something I have also had to learn and very much the hard way.

The body heals when it heals. We can nourish the body, make the conditions of the body as optimal as possible but realistically an injury will settle if we make ourselves wait. It is frustrating and it makes you angry but I found that addressing the point above helped me to get on board with the waiting. I had time again and I wasn’t rushing for anything. I have been able to give my injuries the time they need.

Embrace the uncomfortable.

I see this one in terms of ‘acceptance’. My injury has taken me so far out of my comfort zone, more than anything else mentally. My comfortable state would be to try and continue running and feel normal. But that definitely won’t work so instead I have embraced the uncomfortable fact that I have been injured and that my body isn’t capable of what I want it to do right now. It feels so unnatural to do this at first but at some point you have to come to terms with it. And when I did I was able to follow my plan of rehabilitation an awful lot better.

Do a little deep breathing.

I would never have thought that Mindfulness and meditation could help me with my injuries but they have. The meditations, deep breathing and emptying my head of my worries linked to injuries and races have gone a long way to helping me with rehab and trying to get back into training. I have found far more patience with my run/walk sessions and I have been sticking to my rehab plans far more than I ever have before. My sleep patterns are also better and I think good sleep is key when getting over a long term injury.

I’ve accepted that it is unlikely that I will run any races again this year. I have adjusted my goal to be back running properly to the end of the year, possibly into the start of the next. A few months ago I would have been distraught by this prospect and I would have tried to run over the top of my niggles. But I’ve discovered with a little patience I have been able to run again and patience might just get me back running sooner than I thought.



The Lardy Runner: Tarte Au Citron (And Doing Things That Scare You).

There are a few things that I have been nervous about and never really got round to trying. One of those was cycling on the roads and seeing as I’m well on my way to conquering this fear I thought I’d take on another one: making my own pastry.

The Great British Bake Off has a lot to answer for. I watched the pastries episode and immediately felt a craving for a really tangy lemon tart. A little hunt around the internet lead me back to the BBC site and this recipe by Mary Berry. I did have a little search around but as I’ve had success with Mary’s recipes in the past I decided to give it a whirl. There were lots of firsts going into this recipe. My first fluted tin, my first time using baking beads and my first time making short crust pastry. The nerves I felt about making this tart weren’t too dissimilar to standing on the start line of a race and the effort over the course of making it left me feeling as drained as I would after a long run.

I set my expectations pretty low and called it an experiment. Which meant when the pastry went wrong for me the first two times I wasn’t too upset.

Wrecked pastry is lovely with a cuppa.

Wrecked pastry is lovely with a cuppa.

I put all my hopes on my last attempt. With a dash of faith and a little bit of attention to the finer details of Mary’s recipe I managed to produce what could pass as and definitely tasted like a Tart au citron. Phew.

Ta da!

Ta da!

I was ridiculously happy with my first attempt at pastry. As per usual Mary Berry’s recipe was spot on and the filling of the tart was absolutely delicious. Not sure I’d make my own pastry as  a regular thing though. I found the whole rolling of it and fitting into my tin pretty tough. But maybe it just takes more practice.

On the other hand the cycling thing is definitely taking off. I’m not sure I’ve made the full transition to fully fledged bike babe yet but sometimes you need a little nudge to take things to the next level. And so I took another leap of faith and entered this:

And not just entered it. Gone for the fully loaded 120km distance. I figure I’ve got until next June which time wise is a longer preparation time than either of the marathons I’ve trained for. I’m sure I’ll be able to fit plenty of Tart au citron into my training regime. I just might not have the energy left to make my own though.



Cycling and Snapping

After owning a bike for a very short period of time I am fast becoming addicted to cycling. I have always felt that running was freedom to me but cycling has taken that feeling to another level. Gradually I am becoming more confident on the bike and I am starting to venture further and further, like a little bike bird leaving the nest. My favourite route at the moment sees me cycle from my village and past houses, farms and many fields and live stock.

This warm September weather has been perfect for cycling and it has been blissful riding through the local lanes. I am lucky that I live in a rather beautiful place but from a car you can’t truly appreciate it. Right now I am just enjoying pedaling gently through the country side and every now and again I have felt inspired enough by the views to stop, drink it in and take a picture.


wpid-20140906_154920.jpgI love the way the greens and blues fall into each other, blending on the horizon and I love glancing to each side watching the landscape as I cycle by. Cycling has enabled me to get in the hour long training sessions that I haven’t been able to do through running but it’s become about more than just exercise. I feel really peaceful on the bike and I think mentally I gain a mindfulness sensation similar to what I feel when I am running well. I have also been able to explore an area that I wouldn’t be able to on foot too as the routes I’ve taken aren’t really safe for runners.

I have started looking into sportives and races and rides that are being held over the next few months, and I’m not saying I won’t enter something on my bike but for now I’m quite happy enjoying my new found freedom and peace of mind on two wheels. No pressure, no training regimes, just pedal and snap.


I Became A Rugby Mum

Yesterday I became a fully fledged rugby mum. My 6 year old son has been training with a local club since the start of the year. This month he was registered as part of the Under 7’s age group and yesterday he had his first experience of tag rugby against another team.

If I’m honest I hadn’t been looking forward to this day, not because I’m worried he’ll get hurt (okay maybe a little bit), but because of attitudes of other coaches and parents. We are very lucky that the coaches on our team are friendly, encouraging and supportive. I have heard rumours that opposing coaches are not always this way, even when coaching children this young. I have even heard that parents, both mums and dads, can let emotion get the better of them or even become aggressive. I was concerned that I would be met with this yesterday.


Going In For A Tag!

Turns out I had nothing to fear. The referee, coaches and parents of all teams yesterday were encouraging of all the boys and girls playing. Supporters from all sides enjoyed watching their kids play and there was no aggression or side line coaching from anyone. I was relieved. All the children enjoyed the games and they didn’t even seem overly concerned as to who had won or lost, they had simply enjoyed being active and being part of a team. This for me is the most important thing. If at any point I felt my son was putting too much pressure on himself or he felt pressurised by anyone involved in his side I think I would have to withdraw him and find another team. Sport at this age should be all about learning new skills, making friends and having fun and fortunately that was what I saw yesterday.

My son had a fantastic time at his first game. He spent time with his friends, cheered on his team mates and showed a really good attitude towards the other players and the referee. Yesterday was a learning experience for him and he appeared to enjoy every moment of it. We are all really proud of him.

When we came home yesterday I found this picture which had been posted by Bath Rugby. It sums up some of the worries I had about yesterday and I think its sentiments can be applied to kids’ sport whatever it is.



Running To Billy Wynt.

I have been in such a funk with running of late. While trying to remain upbeat and positive, it can be mentally draining to keep up the rehabilitation. I have been quite impressed with my focus of late and my patience in sticking to my run/walk programme. It has been joyful almost to wake up the morning after a run and find that the tendon isn’t causing me to limp and that the calf on the other side isn’t tight and painful. So go me!

However sticking to the plan hasn’t prevented me from craving more. Running round a field has become boring and frustrates me. One of the reasons I run is to be outdoors and take things in. I needed to mix the rehabilitation up again. And I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to run to Billy Wynt!

Billy Wynt is the remains of a 13th century windmill which stands at the highest point of Llantrisant village. Llantrisant is a hilltop settlement and people are thought to have lived there since the 6th century. The hill itself has an elevation of 174m above sea level. I did a little bit of map research and found that from my house to Billy Wynt would be roughly 2 miles. I quibbled and then decided this was well in my range for a run/walk of 5 minutes on/1 minute off. There was the possiblity that all the hills would drive my calf and tendon nuts but I’d got to the point where I though ‘f**k it’, I’ll deal with the aftermath. The excitement of running up somewhere really high was over riding injury worries.

wpid-20140904_171056.jpgI set off with my phone in my pocket so that 1) I could document my run and 2) in case I needed to phone my husband to come and rescue me. As I run up Llantrisant hill I couldn’t help but feel that I had underestimated how steep the climb was going to be. But instead of judging I allowed myself more walks when I needed them and slowed my pace when necessary. When I got to the centre of Llantrisant I realised that I didn’t know where Billy Wynt was so after some running back and forth over the cobbles I asked a passer by who pointed me in the direction of a row of pretty little cottages. At the end of the row I came to a gate with a path that would take me to my intended destination. 



The trails were narrow and steep so I decided to walk up them rather than trip over. I was convinced I was going the wrong way but as I looked up at the top of the trail I gasped. I had found Billy Wynt but it was the view from the top that took my breath away. 



It was after 6pm so the light was changing and the effects it had on different parts of the valleys. 


wpid-20140904_174354.jpgI also managed to interrupt two wild horses having a wee cuddle so obviously I took the opportunity to have a picture with them.


This run was important to me because i felt like I had achieved something. This month I will be a DNS at Berlin but it really doesn’t matter. I couldn’t have run it even if I had wanted to. Injury has meant that I’ve had to completely shift my goals around. However by doing this run I found that even though I can’t race I can set myself other little challenges to keep my interest in running alive and burning. I didn’t come straight back down from Billy Wynt. I hung around by this ancient site, drinking in the views and imagining the way the landscape in it’s shadow has changed over hundreds and thousands of years. 

Before long I realised I was getting bitten to buggery by flies and gradually made my descent. As I ran home the legs were heavy thanks to all the ascents and descents. A guy ran past me close to my house and told me to ‘keep going love, you’re nearly there’. And I could have got annoyed and felt patronised but I didn’t. Instead I thought to myself  ‘I’ve just conquered Llantrisant Hill and run to Billy Wynt’.



Disordered Eating

Last week I spoke to a woman who described how she had nearly fainted recently because she hadn’t eaten enough. This woman was very active in her lifestyle but was terrified of putting on weight. While we chatted it turned out that she was surviving through the day on little more than a few crab sticks, a few crackers and some salad vegetables. She was aware that her eating habits weren’t right but she was concerned that at her monthly Weight Watchers weigh in she would have gained weight. This was a woman in her sixties. 

In my job recently I feel like I am coming into contact with more and more people, mainly women, displaying disordered eating habits. Not an eating disorder per say, but an attitude towards food and eating which is well, disordered. Maybe it’s because as a physiotherapist we spend a little bit longer with our patients giving us the chance to delve a little deeper into individual lifestyles. Not long ago a colleague of mine treated a woman in her fifties who was a decent club runner. Unfortunately she had been suffering recurrent injuries related to over training and possibly too many races. Following a bit more questioning my colleague felt she had to address the nutritional aspect of this woman’s lifestyle as a possible reason for her recurrent injuries i.e. she wasn’t eating enough to match her training regime.  

As a health professional I worry that the latest crazes in diets could lead to many more incidences of disordered eating which can in turn lead to other problems. Last year I remember someone at an exercise class I was attending embarking on a diet challenge. She proceeded to nearly faint at one of the classes which lead me to question whether she had been eating enough. I myself have tried the ‘Paleo’ way of eating and I found my own eating became disordered: I started to question everything I was putting in my body and felt guilty for anything resembling a carb. Without realising started to restrict the amount I was putting into my body. I soon decided that this way of eating was not for me. There are lots of articles that sing the praises of the paleo diet for endurance athletes but 1) I didn’t really want to lose any weight and 2) I found that a protein based diet made me too full to ingest adequate amounts of calories to fuel my training. Again just my experience but it was an eye opener for me as to what my body could handle and what it couldn’t.

From a female perspective the long term effects of disordered eating are also a concern to me. Weight training and weight bearing exercise are well known to help build a stronger skeletal system but if you’re not fueling the system that helps facilitate and repair that system then you are going to make yourself more susceptible to injury. The female athlete triad is well documented among dancers and young collegiate athletes but I wonder if we might see more cases of it among amateur endurance athletes such as marathoners and triathletes. Disordered eating for long periods can lead to cessation of periods. In the short term that can mean more niggling injuries but in the long term, if not addressed, could become as serious as osteoporosis. 

I do feel that there is a lot of judgement and guilt around food and whether you ‘eat clean’, whether you have carbs or if you juice or don’t juice. For some, like the woman above, it has become a daily struggle for her to try and eat properly for fear of gaining weight and the added fear of being judged for that. The consequences of that is that she is making herself unwell and I really really felt for her which is why I’ve written this post.

I don’t have the answers as to whether any particular diet is the right one but I feel that as we are all individuals we need to find out what works for us and the establish the diet that helps us to function at our most optimal level. And if you are able to do that, fuel well, stay happy and train injury free then hopefully you are less likely to need an appointment to see someone like me!


Run, Walk, Camp.

Blogging has been a bit hit and miss for me over the summer. I have had two little people around who have occasionally required feeding, watering and entertaining. There have been day trips and den making and baking and swimming and other ‘ings’ that have taken priority over blogging. There was also issues with a dead laptop and the small problem of a written off car to deal with too so the last few weeks have been about dealing with many other grown up things too (sometimes being a grown up sucks).

But we are all in one piece and the boys have largely forgotten about the accident, save for the occasional comment about where we were crashed into, should we drive past in the hire car. I was achy for a few days, more through being stressed out and worried than anything, and tried to continue with my latest rehab approach of run/walk.

Because calf and tendons have been such a disaster for me of late I have been using the run/walk approach for my injury rehabilitation. Finally I have seen sense and instead of seeing it as a failure on my part as a runner I have started to see it as long term investment in my recovery. I am still hyper aware of my achilles tendon on a daily basis, I have too much somatic focus on it, but with run/walk I have discovered that there is very little pay off from a session. And with some patience and a mixture of surfaces I am back up to roughly 30-35 minutes of a 4 to 1 run/walk ratio. Huzzah!

A few days before we went on our holiday I felt a bit run down and had the sniffles. Instead of listening to my body I dosed up and ran anyway. Always a fatal mistake on my part. This resulted in a full blown chest cold and a very ill me packing for a trip where we would be sleeping in a bell tent. I considered taking running kit but with the way I felt I decided it would be futile. Instead I self medicated, took all my warm clothes and went to Wiltshire for our family holiday (secretly wishing I could go back to my own bed and join them later in the week).

I’m so glad I didn’t stay behind because I had the best time. We stayed on a fabulous camp site called Botany Camping in Warminster. Instead of pitching our own tent we opted to stay in one of the bell tents. Ours was pink and had plenty of room for the four of us. We visited Longleat over two days, had a trip to Frome and spent the rest of our time playing and sitting by the camp fire toasting marshmallows. I even got over myself and used the composting toilets. There were no power points for phones, no distractions and the boys made friends with other children on the site. It was a blissful week.

2014-08-28 09.49.49



However while we were there I couldn’t stop my thoughts turning to running. I would look out the car window wondering where the paths and trails of Warminster would take me. It looks like a wonderful place for runners. I’m really keen to go back that way and I would happily stay at Botany Farm again with the addition of some running kit and trainers, and maybe another trip to see the animals at Longleat!