Going Further

Going further

In running, there are certain distances you become accustomed to. 5km, 10km, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon etc. These are milestones every runner grows to know intimately – you learn to recognise how you feel at certain distances and what to expect physically and mentally at different points, the result being that you develop a kind of mental store and psychological toughness that helps you be better the next time. But when you’ve ran enough races, you also learn to know how you can expect to feel at the end of certain distances. For example, even though I haven’t run for over a year, I can remember exactly how I would feel after a 5km parkrun Vs. how my body feels after a half-marathon race Vs. after a marathon.

With Cycling, I find it a lot less clear cut. I could cycle an 80km today and be in bits tomorrow. Or I might cycle 100km today and be up for cycling another 70km tomorrow, no bother. There have been some days recently when cycling 37km to work on back to back days has just knackered my legs. But where is the sense, I ask you?

Apart from being able to draw the obvious conclusion that the harder the ride and more effort you put in, the more it will take out of your body and the slower it will be to repair and refresh. And the hillier the cycle, the tougher it is – also going to tire you out more.

But generally for cycling Vs. running, there are no milestone distances to focus on – or maybe there are and I’m just out of the loop! Oh well…

Some cyclists seem to work with time, rather than distance. You cycle for an hour a few days during the week and then go for a three hour ride at the weekend, for example. I don’t work that way. I like to map out a ride beforehand and then see how long it takes me. Next time, I try do it faster. That’s what motivates me. I’m less good with a “three hour ride” because for me that’s just a licence to sit on my ass and flooter away three hours coasting along at my ease.

So I stick with distance. Up to this year, I’d never ridden over 100km, with the longest cycle I’d have competed being around 91km. So I cracked out mapmyride and mapped a few 100km -ish cycles and worked my way up to them. Then I did a race a few weeks ago which involved a 105km spin around Carlow and over Mount Leinster. I loved it.

Today I took a spin from Naas to Kilkenny, travelling through Athy, Carlow, lovely Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown along the way. The weather was a bit crap to be honest with dark clouds, some rain and a headwind most of the way… but I was happy out just to find I could actually make it all the way to Kilkenny. Needless to say when I arrived in Kilkenny 3 hours 41 minutes later, I was delighted with life and Kilkenny was buzzing with people, despite the rain.

Image result for kilkenny castle raining

I had booked to get the train back from Kilkenny to Sallins and had a bit of time before my train was due. I knew exactly how to spend that time.

Cupcake Coffee Kilkenny.jpg

What is cycling, if not really good coffee and cake?

Cupcake Kilkenny.jpg

After all, it’s the worst kept secret in cycling that the only real reason cyclists actually cycle is for the coffee and cake. And it’s worth it every time 😀

Image result for the pantry kilkenny

After wandering around trying to find a coffee shop that I could safely leave my bike outside without fear of it being pinched, I came across the Pantry on Kieran St., which was exactly what I was looking for. Really good coffee and a good selection of homemade baked goods, as well as soup, sandwiches and hot lunch options too. I really just wanted somewhere to sit down and rest my weary bones for an hour, while indulging in a much looked-forward to pick me up.

Image result for the pantry kilkenny
Nice design and good, friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong.

The staff were lovely, the coffee was excellent and my cupcake was just grand. The bun could have been fresher and the icing was a bit over-sweet, but I was starvers so it tasted great anyway. Good spot and I’ll be back again.

Next Up. Now that I’ve gotten past the 100km mark, I’d like to build on that and be able for greater distances. There’s a clatter of 200km events in Ireland that look fab but I’m a long way from being able to remain upright for 200k. But it gives me something to aim for – oh, you know how it goes… citius, altius, fortius… better.

Good Pains in Strange Places

autumn

I’ve started going to the gym and for the first time in a long time, I’m bringing back strength and conditioning sessions in a big way. But boy, it does hurt so good.

Strength and conditioning is an area I confess to having neglected in all my years running. Lifting dumbbells, doing squats and squeezing out a few press-ups are all the types of exercise I would typically hate. I always felt they were boring exercises- like sport without any of the joy. Coming up to marathon training time, I’d resolve to make sure I did at least one proper session per week and then also including a few exercises in my everyday post-run routine, such as heel lifts, wall-sits and planks.

Image result for weights gym

But in all honesty, I probably have not been doing as much as I should have been doing and now that I’m out of (temporarily!) the running game and sitting on the sidelines, injured for the foreseeable, I can’t help but wonder if I had been more diligent about my strength and conditioning training, I might not be injured right now. I might still be running about blissfully ignorant and injury-free.

I’m not a shoulda, coulda, woulda person though, so I bring this up as topic not to dwell on the past but to learn, plan and build for the future. I want to be stronger, I want to be faster and I always want to be better. (I don’t need to be higher 😉 )

Scone.jpg
…and I always want to eat scones.

What’s the Plan?

Joined a gym, had a personal consultation and have a training plan. 2-3 days a week, I’ll be doing an hour of strength work, mixed with a short interval of cardio. In addition to that, I’ll be out on the bike at weekends and as the days start to get longer, I hope to get out a few mornings or evenings before or after work. I hope to get in one or two swims during the week too.

My program consists of:

  • Chest presses
  • Leg presses
  • Step-ups
  • Planks
  • Russian Twists
  • Face Pulls
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep Dips
  • 15-20 minutes cardio (I’m having a go at rowing to try something different…)

Nothing revolutionary here – and if you’re a runner, you’ll probably be very familiar with most of these exercises. What I like particularly about this program is that it aims to build a basic level of strength and it also incorporate specific exercises that will be good for running, when I start back.

Leg presses will help develop the quad muscles as well as the glutes – also excellent for cycling (and my butt!)

Step-ups are a simple but excellent strengthening exercise that every runner should be including in their daily routine –  as well as the exercise helping to work the glutes, quads and your core, this move also helps to develop good balance and running form. I quite like doing these too.

Image result for step ups

Planks and Russian Twists – work your core/ abs mostly but planks are an overall excellent strength exercise.

Image result for planks exercise

I did the full program for the first time during the week and while I enjoyed doing that night… oh my sweet Lord, did it hurt the next day. I know since not being able to run for 10 months, my arms, abs (and general upper body) have just gone to flop. You just don’t use your arms that much on the bike and your entire upper body is more or less stationary for the entire ride – you don’t use it at all the way you do when running. So right now, I have NO upper body strength. It’s pathetic.

I could not lift my arms above waist height on Thursday after my weights session on Wednesday night. And there were aches and tendernesses in back muscles and shoulder places I have never felt before. Have you ever seen a person trying to massage their own back muscles? Not an attractive look. I cared not!

So onward and strong-ward! If you are also someone who has been avoiding strength work because you too find it boring and tedious, please PLEASE heed my advice and just do it anyway. Find a way to get it into your week – if you’re not someone who enjoys lifting dumbbells or churning out squats, then go to a class like bodypump or bootcamp. Ignore this element of your training and it could end up costing you dearly – both literally or figuratively.

Let me put to you this way – would you rather spend your hard earned wages on physiotherapy, MRI scans, doctor’s appointments, blood tests and consultant visits (still with no diagnosis or end in sight…) OR on the entry fee to the Boston Marathon?

Easy, right?

 

Let’s Talk About Feet (again)

Image result for feet
Full disclosure-these are not my feet but I love this picture. Happy feet or what?!

I’ve talked about my feet so many times on this blog that I’m starting to feel they have more of a presence than I have on here. In fairness, their drama, trips, days out, dates and life in general has been far more exciting than my own of late…

For those who don’t know (and have been saved that pedi-saga) I injured both feet in the run-up to the Paris marathon 2016, in or about March last year, which has resulted in me being benched from running for nearly 10 months now. Since then, I’ve seen numerous physiotherapists, a GP, a chiropodist and two orthopaedic surgeons who specialise in feet – all of whom have given me a different diagnosis in terms of the source of the pain in my feet. The first physio told me it was soft tissue damage, “just a battering” from all the marathon training. The second physio (from the same clinic) told me it was NOT a soft tissue injury at all, rather it was more likely a rheumatological condition, possibly rheumatoid arthritis.

On foot of what physio no.2 said, I visited my GP who ran blood tests which confirmed no inflammatory markers in my bloods. So, she ruled out the possibility that the cause of my foot pain was rheumatoidal. She referred me on to an orthopaedic specialist who specialises in foot problems on the basis that the pain could be a result of a stress fracture. On inspection of my feet, this orthopaedic surgeon was of the opinion that indeed the source of my foot pain was most likely a result of a stress fracture – 90% sure it was a stress fracture in the 5th metatarsal – to be precise.

Image result for cute doctor cartoon

Went for an MRI… went back to Mr. Ortho… no stress fracture, anywhere in my feet. He then promptly informed me that he could do nothing further for me given that the problem did not appear to be a bone problem nor could he offer any opinion on what was wrong with my feet.

At this point, I cried.

It had been 9 months of different experts, with wildly different views on what is wrong with my damn feet. And here I was, after spending a chunk of money on all these guys and having not been able to go for a run in so long standing in a car park outside a hospital thinking I’m never going to be able to run again…. and not one person can tell me what is wrong with me. So I cried. With my Dad (who had kindly come with me to the appointment) looking at me like I was crazytown.

Surgeon.png

This week I went to see another orthopaedic (foot) surgeon for a second opinion, which if nothing else, was hilarious. What my mother calls a good old-fashioned surgeon- glasses, dicky bow, abrupt, utterly unsympathetic, impatient and entirely forthright and opinionated – I loved it. After examining my feet, he took the view that I have basically bad feet. I have splayed, wide feet, with bunions, swelling in the forefoot and collapsed arches – basically, all these factors combined mean that the mechanics of my feet is all off. He told me that the custom orthotics I had made many years ago were useless on their own and that they would not be effective without accompanying exercises to make them work.

So what did he decide should be the next step? A physio! No, but not just anyone, he specifically recommended a Dublin physio who has worked with Athletics Ireland specialising in sports injuries with good experience. Given that this glowing referral came from a man who strikes me as exceptionally hard to impress, I’m expecting great things. I’m honestly very excited and feeling more positive about this than I have in months.

I have an appointment in 2 weeks time and I can’t wait. In the meantime, I also have an appointment to see a rheumatologist to investigate my Reynaud’s and just to rule out any rheumatoidal cause of my foot pain.

For the moment, I am still cycling away at weekend and early mornings before work, when I can. The mornings are slowly getting brighter earlier and the days are starting to stretch out and I can’t wait for those long Summer days… I also just joined a gym to action my new year’s resolution to get stronger this year. Strength and conditioning is an area I’ve neglected for a long time and I’m hoping if I can work on it, it might help with my feet/ knee/other injuries going forward.

Injuries suck, no doubt. I miss running massively. Word. But for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to feel like there’s hope that maybe some day in the near (ish) future, one of these experts will tell me it’s time to run again.

And what a wonderful day that will be. Happy running folks, enjoy!

Sheep Are Like Dogs

SHEEP

One of the great benefits of working a job that comprises of 12 hour shifts means that I have lots of days off and there’s nothing I enjoy doing more on days off than grabbing my bike and heading off into the countryside for a few hours. Relaxes me out no end.

Bike Sun
Look at that blue sky, I’ll defo have some of that, thanking you!

There have been a few times (just a few 😉 …shhh) when I’ve bitched and moaned up here about the wet, windy, temperamental, changeable and wildly unpredictable Irish weather so I thought it would be rather unfair if I didn’t also mention the days when the world decides to shine a light on the emerald green and make it glow. When the sun shines in Ireland, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. Period.

Today and yesterday were such days. Blue skies, hot as you like and a warm wind. Let me say that again just in case you didn’t catch the bold in that sentence. A WARM wind. The type of nice breeze that greets you as you step off a plane on the runway in Italy, France or Spain, to let you know that yes, you are now on your holidays. This is a big deal here guys, hence why it’s getting an entire paragraph dedicated to it 😉 We do not get warm air here, ever. Cold, freezing, wet, gales and gusts, yes – but rarely a gently warm breeze. Just lovely 😀

Starbucks
A pit-stop at Starbucks for a nice coffee & binge reading Procyclist is a must.

I’m loving cycling these days and have been out every day the last few weeks that I haven’t been working. Fresh air, spinning the legs and soaking up the views, the countryside and the many sheep who I meet out and about on the roads every day. I used to think I didn’t like sheep – no personality, boring and a bit ugly to be honest. But I now think I was being very unfair to our woolly friends and I’ve come to rather love them lately.

Image result for sheep curragh

As I was riding by the Curragh plains in the last few weeks, there are sheep on either side of the road, unfenced and free to roam wherever. As sheep are wont to do, every now and again, one sheep will stop nibbling on the grass on the verge by the side of the road, look over (you can actually read the entire thought process as you approach them coming up the road) and decide he likes the look of the grass on the other side of the road better (so many cliches in here but it’s actually true for the poor buggers) and … off he goes wandering across the road to the other side, completely ignoring the oncoming traffic, cars, cyclists, you name it. There is no dog like sense to look left and right before crossing.

I’m sad to say that this is where sheep have failed to do their rep any favours because what happens next is ridiculous. As the adventurous sheep makes his little way across the road, his previously contented mates all stop nibbling on their patch of grass, look up to see where their friend has gone and … yep, you got it. They follow him across the road, also not paying a blind bit of attention to the mounting dangers coming either side of them.

Image result for sheep lying in green pastures
Ummm. Uh oh.

If I’m coming along my bike, I ring my bell to warn them so I don’t suddenly crash into them if they suddenly decide to make a break for it just as I’m passing by but it’s also to discourage any such feats, period, for their own safety. In the words of a wise man, stupid is as stupid does.

When they’re not playing the kamikaze daredevil on the roads, my sheep are lovely. This morning as I was pedalling away, most of them were lying down on the grass, eating their bit of grass (they are always, always chewing, geniuses in how to keep their metabolism up 🙂 ) heads up in the air, enjoying the breeze and the sunshine on their faces. Chilled, cool out and enjoying their day. Much like how dogs sit and enjoy the sun on a nice day. Very cute. Fancy getting a few sheep now, so I do.

Image result for sheep happy in sun
Chilling out, looking cool.

Stuff you should know – Until I can get a few sheep, I have to content myself with cycling and adventures on my bike. I’ve had my Carrera for a few years now and while it has served me very well as a beginner cyclist, I feel I’m ready to step it up a gear and make a bigger investment so I’ve been bike shopping. Just a few more Ts to cross and Is to dot and I’ll be all set to tell you all about the new 2 wheeler. CANNOT WAIT.

Speaking of spending money and bikes, I’ve also ordered a turbo trainer in advance of autumn/winter and the upcoming change of weather, as well as daylight hours. I reckon I’ll get a lot of use out of it, though I hope to still be able to do most of my cycling outdoors as much as possible. My review of the Tacx Vortex Smart will be coming up soon.

As if I haven’t spent enough money yet… I’m also shopping around for a little holiday at the moment but as ever, I want to go everywhere and cannot decide where to go. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

Happy Thursday!

Cycling v. Running Fuelling …Protein Bars: Comparison & Review

cycling vs running fuel

Fuelling during exercise is something I’ve been experimenting more with lately since getting more into cycling. With not being able to run for the past couple of months, I’ve had more time to mess around with cycling. I love cycling – not as much as running, I must confess – but it’s a decent second.

Running delivers a much higher level of satisfaction and physical satiety – for me anyway. But then cycling has its own challenges and the more I cycle, the more I’m drawn into the sport, wanting to delve further and get better.

Fuelling for a run differs from fuelling for a cycle. I AM NOT AN EXPERT by any means but rather I’ve learned by doing and one thing I’ve had a lot of practice at is eating and running. Eating and triathlon, eating and swimming, eating and cycling. Basically eating and sport. The basic principles are the same – eat before to maximise your energise stores, during to replenish diminished energy stores and after to feed your body, refuel and recover from your exertions.

Where these sports differ when it comes to fuelling is about what kinds of fuel you can take, how much you can take on and the timings. I don’t need much before a swim but the last thing you want is to get hungry and energy sapped when you’re 1km out at sea, so it’s important to have something before you head out. Timing is very important however and you should allow at least an hour after eating before swimming. I usually head out early on Saturday mornings for a sea swim and a banana alongside a small granola bar is usually plenty.

If I’m racing in a triathlon, I’ll have a banana and sip on Lucozade sport beforehand and tape another banana to my bike, along with an energy bar and maybe some cut orange segments. I can eat while on the bike, which allows me to have something after the swim, to keep me going on the bike and to set me up for the run. Likewise if it’s just a cycle I’m doing, I’ll carry an energy bar and maybe a banana on the bike and eat at regular intervals.

How is this different to fuelling while running? Essentially, this boils down to how much my body can tolerate and solid v liquid fuel. I have a low tolerance when it comes to taking in solid foods while running. I’m generally better off with Lucozade and energy gels for long runs rather than for example, eating raisins or energy bars. I’m okay with shot blocks and a few jelly babies, but only so much. If I get it wrong, nasty side stitches, stomach cramps and digestive havoc are not shy to make themselves known.

But…on the bike, I’ve found I can more or less eat anything and there’s no issue. No cramps, no stomach discomfort or issues… nada. Both involve diverting blood flow demands away from the digestive system during activity to the working muscles so you would imagine the issues would be the same. Perhaps it’s because the upper body is largely static and not bouncing about, jarring your entire human middle about and rocking vibrations through it every second for 2 or more hours, like a long run does. Just a thought 🙂

The Point of All of This Nattering: I’ve been playing around with new energy bars on the bike. No one needs to know that I actually just love trying new bars and that cycling is just an excuse to eat more of them 😉

Bar 1: Fulfil Peanut and Caramel Vitamin and Protein Bar

20160622_050341

10.3g carbs (1.8g sugar) and 20g protein. I am not a peanut person. Don’t do PB, wouldn’t be tempted by a bowl of peanuts and up until a couple of years ago, would have enthusiastically drop-kicked a Snickers bar into the middle of the Sea of Tranquility. So this fella was a wildcard.

20160622_050329

And glad I went wild too. Way nicer than I was expecting it to be. A nice bit of chew and eating in this and I found it really quite filling. Like a Snickers but not as sweet and less chocolate. But it won me over. I’ve been buying one a week ever since.

Bar 2: Torq Snaq Dark Chocolate and Orange Zest

20160625_174833

I’m an out-and-out chocolate orange nut so generally speaking if something delivers on the chocolate-orange flavour promise, I’m sold. This lad also boasts its status as a “cold pressed”, fairtrade, gluten-free product made from raw ingredients. So very much trying to be part of the in-crowd… 34g carbs (23g sugar) and 3.9g protein. More of an energy bar then than a protein bar.

Good strong orange zest flavour and a nice chewy texture from the raw ingredients. There were also a few sesame seeds in the mix which was unusual, not unpleasant, just not really significant. Wouldn’t have missed them if they weren’t there and might have preferred some form of nut in there instead if you were going to go to trouble of adding something else in just for texture. Just saying. This wouldn’t put me off eating another one, having said that.

HOWEVER, if it’s a raw chocolate orange energy bar that you’re gagging for, the Irish made SMRT Orange Cocoa Bar is nicer. (Clink the link for a review) Better flavour and texture AND only 6 ingredients: dates, nuts, raisins, unsweetened cocoa, nori, orange essence. Can’t argue with that.

Perfect snack food for the bike.

Bar 3: Nutrend DELuxe Orange and Coconut Cake Protein Bar

20160625_174907

This is a newbie on the market and I was particularly excited (yep, I do get excited about these little things…and no I’m not sad, I’m joyous) These bars come in a variety of different flavours including chocolate brownie, panna cotta, cinnamon roll, strawberry cheesecake and the one I tried, orange and coconut cake. Also gluten-free, low sugar and high in fibre. 20g carbs (3g sugar) and 18g protein – so not a high carb bar but quite low in sugar.

The flavour was interesting and actually very nice for a change, as you get sick of the same flavours over and over again. What I didn’t like about this one was the ingredients list, which was full of a whole waft of unpronounceable chemicals and syrups. For that reason, I probably won’t be returning to this product.

Bar 4: Maxi Nutrition Promax Dark Chocolate Mint

20160625_174916

When I’m not eating chocolate orange or just chocolate… I veer towards mint-chocolate. I have a particular soft-spot in my soul for mint-choc chip ice-cream (in case you were wondering 😉 … so I was more than happy to give this one a whirl.

I had no issue with this protein bar. Decent chew and fill factor and flavour was okay. It did the job. But like the Nutrend range, the Maxi Nutrition folks don’t seem to go in for any of your raw, natural, gluten-free malarky. More of a simple mathematical equation of how to produce the most efficient product to deliver lean protein in a nice portable wrapper. 23g protein and 19g carbs (11.5g sugar – 3 times as much as the Nutrend bar). There isn’t as much shit in here as in the Nutrend bar to put me off and the inclusion of caffeine is a definite plus.

Bar 5: Fulfil Cookies and Cream Vitamin and Protein Bar

Okay, this is not cheating by including 2 bars from the same range but rather in the interests of a decent review, I thought it would be only fair to delve a little deeper into the Fulfil range a bit more. That, and I just wanted to try it because it had “cookies and cream” in the title.

20g protein and 11.5g carbs (3.7g sugar). Another low sugar option and like all Fulfil bars, it helpfully delivers 100% of your daily requirements of 9 vitamins. I always appreciate that little effort. Most helpful. Like the peanut flavour one, I liked this bar and it also left me feeling quite full. Like the others, I broke pieces off this as I cycled and ate it a regular intervals. Happy enough.

My only issue with this and all Fulfil bars is again, the list of unpronounceable ingredients and the amount of them. Like the products, like the wrapping and would like to return BUT your current ingredients will make me look elsewhere for alternative products and I will buy them ahead of these every time.

20160625_174818

The protein and energy bar market is rapidly growing and as it does so, I will happily be sampling more edible goods and sticking my reviews up here to read for you guys.

Have a great weekend 🙂

Footy Mad

Anyone not aware of the footy going on at the moment? “Footy” translated, for all my non-Irish (and UK) friends is soccer. To the Australians, I believe it’s Australian rules football and I’m not even sure if the Americans use this word at all. But we do. Footy is soccer and GAA (pronounced Gahhh- need to really lean on that “ahhh” sound there or it doesn’t count) Yep that’s a tangent, but these are need to know facts if you ever want to visit Ireland and not sound like a prat.

Irish people are very judgmental like that. You don’t know how to talk about sport? Pfah, sure you’re only an eejit, now don’t be wasting my time while I talk to this man here about the real game. On with ya!

Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in the Euros last night, sending them through to the next round, shocking the nation and sending man, woman and child into hyper-happy mode. We’re all delighted with life today. We’ll be walloped next weekend by France but we know how to celebrate our victories when we get em 🙂 (you get this way when you back a team is consistently the one not winning but we’ll keep that in small text in a bracket today 😉 )

Well done the Irish soccer team!

On other matters, I’ve started a new job which involves 12 hour shifts, including nights and weekends so I’m in the middle of adjusting to all that at the moment. In the meantime, I had a follow-up appointment with my GP who had my full blood tests back. The highlights (ie.the bits I remember…) were:

  1. Cholesterol – 4.7 (This is fine and where we want it to be)
  2. Calcium levels – fine. I was surprised with this, with a family a history 0f osteoporosis and I wasn’t sure if running or my diet might have adversely impacted on my calcium levels, even though I am conscious of including calcium foods in my diet and taking a supplement. Delighted with this!
  3. White blood cells/ platelet levels are fine (meaning no infections or other illnesses going on there…)
  4. Hematocrit level – 0.32    …so I won’t be banned by UCI just yet. Lance Armstrong would not be impressed with this!) It is a little on the low side and would be better up around 40%. A low hematocrit level indicates anaemia.
  5. Sodium – 130     – ideally 135+…so not that low but still needs to be brought up which the Doc thought could be assisted by not drinking as much water.
  6. B12 – She thought this was also low and needs to be bumped up.

Overall the Doc was happy with everything and more importantly, she was able to categorically rule out any inflammation markers in my blood to indicate any rheumatological condition or cause of my ongoing foot pain.

This is a mini victory because it has ruled out a minefield of conditions that could have been the cause of my foot pain, many of which would be chronic, lifelong conditions. Phew. I feel very lucky right now.

However, the Doc wants to refer me on to a joint specialist to assess my feet and see if they can offer any insight and assistance.The situation at present is unchanged – foot discomfort and strain on the bottom, outsides, arch and particularly in the centre of the ball of both feet (below the 2nd and 3rd toes particularly), worsens to pain when walking, aggravated by resting feet on the ground or putting any kind of pressure on them and…. cannot run.

I am back cycling for a couple of weeks though, having nearly cracked up with not being able to do anything other than swim. I find it I keep it down to under 2.5 hours, it doesn’t make it any worse so I’ll content myself with that. For now 😉

This is stretching out far. too. long. But unfortunately this is a situation I don’t have much control over so I just need to do what I have to do right now and suck it up.

Oh and in the meantime, I seem to have found my new sport… cycleathon. Pretty sure that’s not a word but then spellcheck isn’t picking it up right now so I’m just gonna go with that. You swim, you cycle, you finish. Done. And then you can just watch all those other crazy fuckers run around while you sit on a wall and drink coffee. Hee hee hee.

Yes I am jealous and long to be one of those crazy fuckers too but if you can’t run, there’s always coffee.

Take your victories when you can my friends!

Insomnia Coffee Sambo
When in doubt, Insomnia it out. No complaints here.

The Feet: Physiotherapist Visit 1

Feet.jpg

I’m rabbiting on about my feet for the last few weeks and after a bit of a pity party (I can only apologise profusely!), I decided to flip this whole injury experience into a bit of a documentary and something to get stuck into, rather than stuck under. I’ll be writing about my journey through injury, treatment and hopefully HOPEFULLY recovery, in the hope that it may be of use to others and also, in the hope that I might learn more from it.

In my last post, I wrote about ignoring early niggles and warning signs of what turned into be a more serious injury during the time I was training for the recent Paris marathon. I also talked about self-treatment and how I floundered around in the dark for a few weeks, trying to deal with the injury myself, in the hope that some rest and ice would make it go away.

The Injury Of Which I Speak. 

3 weeks before the Dublin Marathon 2014 (October), I was coming toward the end of a long run when I felt an almighty pain across the top of my left foot which had been steadily getting worse since about midway through the run. I also felt soreness along the outsides of both feet. Physio examined me and diagnosed “hotspots”, which she explained as borderline stress fractures – areas that had become weakened by continuous overuse on those particular points. She prescribed cycling instead of running, ice baths twice a day and massage of the tender areas. I didn’t run at all during the 2 week taper but ran the marathon, without any pain. I was completely fine thereafter.

March 2016, about 16 months later, I start feeling tenderness in the same areas of my feet again. Very mild to begin with and I figured if I included regular ice baths, foot strengthening exercises and plenty of rest in between runs, it might be okay. Not so much. The soreness very gradually became more acute and occurred more often and I could barely walk after the marathon in April. After full rest for 5.5 weeks, I have not run but the soreness in my feet is something I can still feel even at rest and walking just aggravates it to limping point.

Taking Action.

My first port of call was the Chiropodist/ Podiatrist. I’ve been meaning to visit one of these folks for years anyway (cuz I have mangled feet) so if she was able to shed any light on my foot injury issues, then I was happy to give her a shot. I won’t go into gross detail but she made all my calluses and hard skin vanish and my feet are shiny and new, on the outside. As far as my injuries were concerned, she thought that my orthotics might be in need of updating and that an MRI might be a good idea. But she was not in a position to do any assessment and recommended that I see a physiotherapist.

The Physiotherapist.

I had my first appointment with the physio this morning and it went well, I think. My physio, Emma, did what physios do and stuck her thumbs into all the tight, tender areas in my feet and worked out the tightness in the joints. She thought that the bottom of my left foot was very tight and tender all along the strip, ie. the plantar fascia, and particularly directly under my middle toes. The outer area of both my left and right foot were also very tight and sore when she worked her fingers over those areas. However, she noted that the right foot was a lot less tight than the left.

The Diagnosis.

Emma the physiotherapist wasn’t able to offer a clear diagnosis, as is often the way with physios, I find, but in her words: “We shouldn’t necessarily jump to it being a stress fracture”, from which of course I heard “It’s not a stress fracture!” – I need to keep reminding myself that’s not what she said…

I asked her a million questions – poor girl probably felt like she was being cross-examined… but in my defence, I was nice about it 🙂 – to try to get her opinion as to what the actual problem might be. Emma thought that my feet appear like they’ve taken quite a pounding with all the running and training and likely just very battered and possibly just quite strained after all that.

From her feel of the feet, she thought it was more likely a soft tissue tenderness and tightness rather than a bone injury.

What the Physio Did.

Emma massaged and manipulated the joints in both feet to loosen out the joints and work through the tight areas. She then placed a wrap around the left foot which sent electric currents around the foot, which she said would help to relax the foot more and should help with reducing some of the pain. She told me I had a high pain threshold, which I’m gonna go ahead and brag about 😉

What Next?

I have an appointment to return in 2 weeks time where I will see John, the orthotics specialist at the same physio clinic and he will examine my feet again at that point, as well as checking out whether the orthotics may be contributing to my foot pain and whether they need updating. In the meantime, I am to continue to NOT RUN, ice baths every day, calf stretches and use a frozen golf ball to massage the bottom of my feet. She suggested halving the time I spend on the bike at the moment if cycling is aggravating the injury but reassured me that it should be an okay exercise to be doing while injured. Emma thought it would be a good idea to keep up some cardio, even while injured.

Conclusions.

Mixed. Obviously, it’s killing me not to be able to run and I may well kill someone else before this injury period is over… but I was so happy today when she suggested that it probably wasn’t a stress fracture. It’s the happiest news I’ve had in months! Yep, that’s how sad my life is 😉 I’m hopeful and optimistic that taking proper rest and following the physio’s prescription will lead to relief and proper healing, which will lead to getting back to running in the not too distant future.

Taking the time to PROPERLY heal and recover now may mean a stronger, better able body for running later. I guess it’s just my body’s way of telling me it reached its limits and needs a break. It’s time to listen to my body and give it whatever it needs.

Also means more time for car karaoke on nice sunny, summer evenings…