A foggy outlook … and a wardrobe crisis …

Everyone’s been posting their ‘Look at my year’ summaries on Facebook – I looked at mine, and was impressed at how it knew the highlight of the year – finishing my first ultra event, from London to Brighton last May. How did it know that?

I did 11 marathons this year – most of which were part of my training for L2B, and most of which hurt. My repaired knee has never been completely 100%, so I’ve expected the odd twinge now and then, but I think over the months I’d been re-defining ‘twinge’ and ‘niggle’. Once I’d completed L2B with no more big events to aim for, I began to accept the pain as an actual injury, not a niggle, and something that was not getting any better even once the big training miles had dropped off. So I DNS’d my last 3 marathons of the year, reduced my running to Parkrun once a week, and took to two wheels, cycling and the Elliptigo – which is going quite well, actually. The mileage is increasing, and I’m hoping that before long I’ll be able to join the Sunday Girls Road Club on their slower rides. I’ll enjoy the company, if they can put up with the ‘wooshing’ noise of the Elliptigo that, to be fair, is probably drowned out by my panting for air, anyway. The cycling is fine – although I think I’ll always see road cycling as one big faff – there’s so much preparation that popping out for a quick workout hardly seems worth the effort. Therefore cycling is always a big investment of time and so the preserve of weekends. (This is wrong – surely, is there some ‘man-up’ness to be had here?).

… but my knee still hurts, even when I’m in bed or just walking into town …

As for events, well who knows? A while back I entered three marathons next year, including Milton Keynes and Paris, but I’m not so desperate of missing out on a medal that I’d risk more injury. My running coach has kindly said he’ll keep me a slot open until my knee gets better, but I’m still waiting even for an initial assessment. “Go through the army”, they said, “you’ll get better care” – that was in August, and I’m still waiting for an appointment. I don’t doubt that they have some great resources available, and they will be ‘pro-running’, which I can’t guarantee with an NHS consultant, but the waiting is frustrating. More frustrating is the unknown – maybe my knee can’t be fixed and even Parkrun will have to stop. Maybe I’ll get some amazing knee guru who knows exactly what all the issues are and by September I’ll be back running regularly, better and stronger than before … maybe, maybe …

There’s another ‘maybe’ to factor in as well – tomorrow I am meeting with a psychologist for the last of a set of tests to assess my suitability to donate a kidney – to someone, anyone. Presumably the psych assessment is to check that someone who wants to do that for someone they don’t know is actually sane. How do you find out if a person’s motives are ‘pure’ – is ‘pure’ that the right word, ‘appropriate’, ‘healthy’? As a psychology teacher myself, I’m intrigued to know what the latest in sanity testing actually looks like – still subjective guesswork, I expect.

So if I pass that then I will have one big operation coming up at some point in the New Year – its difficult to know when, because it depends on when I am ‘matched’ with someone at the top of the waiting list, and if they are healthy enough for the surgery themselves. If its sooner then I’d have a chance of being fit and ready to do Paris marathon in April, if its later, then perhaps I could wait until after Paris marathon – if I’ll be able to run marathons at all next year … if, if, if …

So while I wait, what do I do?

  1. Keep running and wait until the doc says ‘stop’?
  2. Stick to two-wheeled workouts and quit running altogether (can I even do that?)
  3. Stop all weight-bearing exercise and take to the couch – I’m struggling to motivate myself anyway – and just do press ups and sit ups sometimes
  4. Swim (back to the straw hair scenario – least preferred option)

and with regard to my wardrobe, do I

  • Keep wearing last year’s event T-shirts and maintain the belief that I am, in the present tense, still an endurance athlete, with the entitlement of wearing such garments
  • or go to Next, and buy clothes that don’t have a sweaty mileage criteria and shed my ‘athlete’ identity, as far now, I barely qualify?

So in summary, I feel a bit lost, again, because I don’t know what’s ahead so I can’t prepare / train for it. One thing that has changed, though, is that I do feel the need for exercise now, and can get myself out there just to feel better, and not just because its on a training plan – and that is definitely progress.

So here’s to 2015 – whatever its going to be !


All systems are Go! ElliptiGO!!

2014-11-23 14.47.29Rest is a funny thing – I’ve been very gentle with myself the last four weeks. I know too many people who beat themselves up something chronic if they have a lazy phase or just a down week … My last long run was in Crete in October – and after that I decided it was time to scale everything right back and see what rest would do to my poorly knee. Rest was ok, actually – I wondered whether I’d end up the lazy couch potato I was before I ever got into running, but I’m happy to say it seems that I’ve shed that skin forever now.

The outcome of the rest was ‘not that much’ to be honest. The post-run pains have gone, but the longer term symptoms show no signs of letting up. I’d been starting to accept that my marathon days were over – the double marathon at Cleethorpes was a DNF and I’ve deferred Portsmouth until next year. I’ve even let go of Paris … a little … but that’s months away, and I have a plan … of sorts …

Its called an Elliptigo, and its basically an elliptical trainer on a bike. I’ve been lusting after one for a loooong time, and then I found a demo model on eBay and – bingo, somehow I pressed ‘Bid’ and it was mine, with about 3 seconds to go!! This was followed with a whole week of waiting for it to arrive, then waiting to return from my weekend away, and then waiting for a week of night time back pain to go away. This was all very frustrating – a new toy and no time to play, but this back pain frightened me. I’d never experienced spasms so bad that any position in bed was painful, and even breathing became difficult. Of course, the modern girl that I am, I Googled it and diagnosed myself with all manner of eroded / spongy disc problems, only for the GP to say it was nothing, and the car crash (shunted from the back by a doctor, of all people!!) had not caused the pain. (There goes the compo … ah well, it was nice thinking about it). On reflection, I don’t suppose that doing 70 sit ups in 2 minutes after weeks of doing none at all was sensible, and it was the day after that the pain started … oops  – you live and learn.

Over the past few days I’ve learned that if I don’t stay in bed past 7 o’clock the pain isn’t too bad, so it was time to ElliptiGO!

The website says you can cruise at 15mph, 20mph if you really push it, so I thought a few outings on my own, and then I’ll be able to join my local girls only cycling club on one of their shorter rides. 15 mph? Ha! 10 more like, and it’ll be a while before I get up to 25 miles. Yesterday I’d planned a 12 miler, but after just over 2 miles I was done in, so turned round and headed for home.

But I was not downcast, because I was out of breath, and smiling, from ear to ear. It was a great first workout, so job done. I had plenty of work to do, to improve my form and of course build the miles, but I was off. Happy Days!

On top of that those nice people on Facebook pointed me toward a 30 day challenge that for once sounded like something I wanted to have a go at. No, I’m not on commission, but Kinetic Revolution’s 30 Day challenge promises to ‘transform your running’, and I figured that a structured programme like this would be the perfect accompaniment to my new exercise ‘main course’.

So today is the 1st Dec, and Carol and I did our Day One of the 30 Day challenge together, with the agreement that we wouldn’t have our advent chocolate until we’d done our exercises. On top of that I managed a full 6 miles on the Elliptigo and I’m feeling quite chuffed with myself!

So what now? Well, my son and I have to get to our 50 and 100 Parkruns for Christmas Day, so that’ll be at least one ‘proper’ (steady) run a week … and other than that, I’m hoping some kind of plan involving the Elliptigo might just be enough to get me back to the odd marathon now and again … and maybe if the army or the NHS ever sort out my knee, then maybe Comrades can go back on my horizon …