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.

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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 😉 )

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…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.

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

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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?

 

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Instead of Running Dublin Marathon 2016

I did not run today’s Dublin Marathon this year for the first time in 6 years. It’s been emotional folks, I’m not gonna lie.

Driving home from the city on Friday night, I passed through part of the route, spying posters and traffic diversion signs warning of the impending traffic disruptions, metal barriers stacked nearly on pavements patiently waiting to line the streets before sunrise on race day.

I actually cried.

Laughing at myself – while crying – but crying all the same.

I love the Dublin Marathon more than any other race I’ve ever done but unfortunately due to ongoing stress fracture injuries in my feet, I had to give it a miss this year. Today was the big day, with over 19,000 runners due to take part, making it the biggest Dublin Marathon yet. This year marked the first time the race has been run on the Sunday of the Bank holiday October weekend, having been moved from its usual spot on the Monday, and the result is that numbers increased by approximately 6,000 participants. Huge.

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St Stephen’s Green was picture perfect autumn yesterday as I strolled through it on my way to do some light serious shopping.

And what a day it turned out to be. THE most perfect autumn day – bright, blue skies, cool but not too cold, hardly any wind and beautiful autumn sunshine. Excellent running conditions and I could just imagine crossing that finish line, meeting up with family and hanging out in town afterwards with Dublin its very finest. Alas, at least 19,000 other people would get to this today. All that happiness and achievement makes me very happy indeed!

I considered going in to cheer on the courageous marathoners but in the end I decided against it, as I’d likely just end up crying on the sidelines and feeling bad about my stupid, seemingly endless injuries. I’ll happy to cheer at other races, but this one is the one closest to my dumb sentimental heart.

Instead, I decided a more positive approach would be to do something at the same time as the marathon in some kind of sympathetic companionship with the marathoners. So, I got up early and headed off on a long cycle into the countryside, beginning at the same time that I would’ve been starting the marathon!

It’s a little sad, I’ll admit, but you know what? Who cares?!

From Naas, I cycled to Sallins, Clane and straight on to the Baltracey crossroads, where I turned left for Timahoe. I swung a right turn in Timahoe and headed out across the bog road for Clougharinka, which turned out to be gorgeous. Honestly, I just noticed Cloughrinka on a map one day and liked the sound of the name, so I fancied cycling there to have a look at the place. It’s a teeny village but the area around it is all trees, ruins and bursting with colour at the moment.

From Cloughrinka, I turned toward Edenderry (another place I’d never been to in Ireland!) and from there, I turned right in the town across the bog road toward Rathangan. The first bog road was fine but this one… aye, it was never-ending! I could see from the map that it was just this long straight road but I didn’t think it would actually feel that long… but unfortunately the road surface was fairly poor and made for heavy cycling. Boy was I glad to get to Rathangan! Having cycled through Rathangan many times before, I knew it would be a speedy route home and I was able to re-focus and just pedal for home.

100 km round trip – making this the first time I’ve ever ridden 100 km! I know that’s not much to some people, but it’s a big milestone for me and it really makes me appreciates how the professionals will ride between 200-300km a day in the Tour de France AND with insane mountain climbs AND cycling at twice the speed that I would. Not to mention day after day after day.

Gladiators of men, if you ask me.

After my cycle, I had a long hot bath (complete with coffee and chocolate, if you’re curious 😉 ) just as I would have done if I had done the marathon today, followed by something to eat and a good movie while elevating my tired legs.

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I also dropped into M&S to get a bread roll. Where’d all that other stuff come from??? #TheM&Seffect

Today was not the day I would have liked it to be back in January, when I first signed up for the Dublin marathon but with a little bit of effort and enthusiasm, I turned what could otherwise have been a very sad day, into something very positive.

Injuries happen. Life happens. Things crop up that get in the way of good plans and the path we’ve laid out for ourselves. It’s okay to get upset, it’s okay to get angry and it is okay to cry. But get back up, shake yourself off and always have another run at it. Just never give up and never give in, because it’s a beautiful day out there and you are NOT going to want to miss it.

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Accidentally stumbling across this in M&S is also partly responsible for the joy I’m feeling right now. Never seen before in Ireland!!

Well done to everyone who braved the Dublin Marathon today, you incredible people you. Huge congratulations and enjoy your well-earned time off and celebrations. What an achievement, be proud!

Dublin Marathon 2016

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Are you running the 2016 Dublin Marathon? If so, you are a lucky, lucky person in for a beautiful day of running. A great day to be alive! For those who are not, due to injury or otherwise, I commiserate entirely with you, being benched myself this year for the first time in 5 years.

The Dublin Marathon is without doubt, my favourite day of the year – trumping Christmas and my birthday, just to be clear. From the terrific route, unreal atmosphere and the best magnetic crowd support, this road race is, in my opinion, unrivalled on the Irish running scene.

What Do You Need to Know?

With just 7 days left until race day, the countdown to the start of the Dublin marathon 2016 has well and truly begun. Runners will be crossing off the days on their calendar as they pace themselves through the final days of their taper and preparing mentally as well as practically.

To help you out here’s a few things to keep in mind from now until Sunday:

Tapering – It looks easy on the running schedule when you see it written down and compare it to all of the other weeks of training you’ve done, but in it’s own peculiar way, it is one of the hardest weeks of training you’ll do. Personally, it wrecks my head…but I know it works and is worth the mental turmoil so just try to relax, take lots of deep breaths and trust your training plan.

You will all have your own versions of a taper plan but general rules of thumb are to incrementally reduce your overall weekly mileage 2-3 weeks before race day, maintaining the number of days you run and the usual level of effort involved in each session – but reducing the number of miles you would normally run in each session. You’re aiming to rest your legs and allow for increased repair and recovery by doing less miles, but you simultaneously want to keep your legs sharp and maintain pace memory.

Don’t freak out. Don’t be cranky. And try not to lose it. Every year, I do this – unusually high levels of energy due to less running coupled with pre-marathon jitters is a recipe for a jumpy runner! You have been warned.

Toast Honey

Food – By now you’ve practised with different food (and drinks) before, during and after training and hopefully too with races. The week before race week is NOT the time to start experimenting with new things. It’s coming to the end of a marathon training cycle and it may well be the case that you’re getting bored of your banana on toast or bagel with honey…My advice?

Suck it up.

You can eat something different next week – when you’re not about to run 26.2 miles and subject your body to massive physical demands which significantly hinges on the digestive system and your body’s ability to produce energy.

Don’t make it harder for yourself. Trust me when I say eat the foods that you know work and leave experimenting to the next cycle of training.

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Tried and tested.

Carbo-Loading – On a similar note, there is a lot of advice bouncing around about “carbo-loading” before a marathon. 2 things:

  1. White – In the days before a marathon, it can be good to reduce the amount of fibre you normally take in as this will make it easier on your digestive system on race day. For this week, it’s okay to switch from wholegrain everything to white everything.
  1. Don’t Stuff Your Face – Carbo-loading does not mean simply add extra high carb foods to your daily intake. Aim to increase the percentage of carbs in your normal daily intake of food, rather than just adding it on as an “as well as”. Eating excessive amounts of carbs, particularly on a week when you’re running less, could leave you feeling bloated, heavy and might affect your weight- the last thing you want after all your hard work is to end up feeling like crap on race day.

Gear

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Get EVERYTHING ready well ahead of time. No need for stress.

Make a list of everything you plan to be wearing on race day, as well as anything you need before and after the race. A throwaway top for waiting around before the race, a black plastic bag in case it’s raining (and a cap), food and drinks for immediately after the race, dry clothes… Try to think of everything now and get it all ready a few days before the race. This always helps to calm me and it gives me plenty of time to think of anything I might have forgotten. Leaving this to the last minute the day before a race can make you frazzled. Again, unnecessary hassle and wasted energy.

The Expo – The expo in the RDS is always great and I love chatting to visiting stalls about foreign marathons, like in Scotland or France and browsing through all of the running bling. But be selective – don’t be tempted to spend too long on your feet. More wasted energy and glycogen seeping away!

Expo 1
Abandon all hope ye who enter here…

Route

This year will see the route remain the same as last year, having incorporated a few changes in last year’s edition to accommodate ongoing Luas works. A few tips:

  • 2 Mile – Watch your pace after you pass the 2 mile mark. You’ll come along the quays of the Liffey, cross over and head uphill on Blackhall Place. It’s early and you’ll be a combination of nerves and wanting to set a good pace BUT Blackhall Place up into Stoneybatter is all uphill so don’t push too hard. Be patient here.
  • 3  – 7 Mile – Mind the Incline (again) This is a more subtle gradient than Blackhall Place and because it’s early on too, you might not pay as much attention to this as you should. Listen to me when I say this – IT IS ALL INCLINE THROUGH THE PHOENIX PARK as you make your way along Chesterfield Avenue. DO NOT worry about your pace and DO NOT push too hard here. I did that a few years ago, being anxious about not getting too far behind my goal pace in the early miles and the result was my quads blew up after 16 miles. Once you’ve left the park and passed through the great crowds in Castleknock, there’ll be a sharp left turn and a nice downhill. Just be patient for it.
  • 21/ 22 Mile – Clonskeagh and Roebuck Hills – Heartbreak Hill. Beware Be aware that there is a climb awaiting you as you turn onto Clonskeagh Road and make your way up Dublin’s version of Heartbreak Hill around the back of UCD. There’s a Lucozade station to look forward to here so focus on that, just keep tapping forward and keep in mind – once you get over this hill, you’re downhill onto the Stillorgan road and on the home straight. This is always a favourite point in the race for me – it’s at this point I know roughly what time I’m going to finish in and more importantly, I KNOW I’m going to finish the race and I can really start to suck up the atmosphere and just enjoy every last minute of it.

Relax. Marathon day is reward day. You’ve done the hard part – the weeks and weeks of early mornings, late evenings, speed sessions, long runs, disciplined diet and social life. Now is your time. Now is when you get to do what you love most – lace up your runners and run one of the best marathons there is (if you ask me!). If your nervous, that’s ok – it would be frankly quite inhuman if your body was not nervous about what you were about to physically subject it to. Nerves are natural. Nerves are good. But control them and don’t let them take control.

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Chill time people, don’t fight it.

Rest. As much as you can this week, don’t walk if you can drive and don’t stand when you can sit. Sleep properly and early. And do not fill your extra time with spinning classes, housework or clearing out your storeroom. Your goal this week: avoid spending any energy you don’t need to. Energy conservation is your mission should you choose to accept it. Regular stretching and foam-rolling are also good to keep your muscles from getting too tight.

Enjoy This Time. You’ve spent ages getting to this point and often we blitz through the run-up to a marathon fretting about getting organised. It doesn’t need to be that way. Sit back, soak up the excitement and look forward to Sunday.

Because it is going to be truly great and you are not going to want to miss it 😉

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Fitzwilliam Place, starting line. Best place to be this Sunday at 9am

Are you one of the lucky ones taking part in the Dublin Marathon this year? Best of luck to you and would love to hear from you if you are! Go n-eiri an bothar leat!

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

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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…

 

Foot Fault

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Foot injuries in runners are among the most common running injuries encountered and unlike some of the others out there, they can be particularly debilitating. You might be able to tolerate (even though you shouldn’t) a strained calf muscle or sore knees, but you can’t run on an injured foot.

Feet are amazing.

Each foot takes the entire weight of your body and force of the running movement for every step you run, absorbing up to an estimated 110 tons of cumulative force per mile and then again just using one single foot at a time, transfers this force to the front of your foot, from where it pushes off again to propel you forward. A single step while running creates an impact force approximately two to three times your bodyweight. That’s a lot of weight, a lot of force and a lot of pressure on your feet.

It’s perhaps not surprising that overuse injuries in the foot represent a hazard for runners with poor form, who push off from or land on their feet in the wrong way. Correct running form can be an annoyance to those just wanting to get out there and run but its role in preventing injury is fundamental. It’s amazing how different people react to you when you talk about running form, depending on whether your audience are runners or non-runners – the latter will scoff and dismiss the topic, instantly judging you to be an obsessive, anal, running bore, while the former occupy the extreme other end of the seesaw, recognising the absolute importance of form.

Foot injuries among runners are either bone or muscular. Common muscular injuries include plantar fasciitis and tendinopathies of the midfoot and forefoot.

Then there’s your bone injuries caused by overuse, which might involve:

The metatarsal bones

The Navicular Bone:

 

Ignoring injuries is not to be recommended. I would be the first to put my hand up and own up to pretending that I did not feel something off in my foot during training for the last while, that that burning feeling along the outside of my left foot is “just a niggle” and “grand”. DO NOT DO THIS.

Denial.

I stuck my head in the clouds and left it firmly up there for the last two (ish…I wasn’t counting) months and hoped that the increasingly frequent burning pain along the outside and underneath of my left foot would just vamoose of its own divine accord.

Shockingly, it did not.

Delay.

I was at the peak of a marathon training block and had only 4 weeks left until race day. My thinking was that if I could just mind the foot with ice baths and lots of rest in between runs, I’d be able to manage the niggle and make it through to race day. In other words, I did that thing that everyone says not to do – put my desire to run a race ahead of my long-term physical health.

DO NOT DO THIS.

Yes, I “managed” the niggle by being able to do my runs at a not intolerable level of discomfort in the foot and yes, I did manage to run the marathon. But… the pain/ discomfort did grow increasingly more acute as the weeks progressed to the point where I could even feel it after walking only a short distance. I could hardly walk after the marathon and spent the next few days with a necessary limp.

Being a Dumbass.

I decided to rest completely from running for 4 weeks to give my foot a chance to heal. It has been 5 1/2 weeks since then and the injury is still here. I can feel it when I walk, I can feel it when I stand and I can even feel it when I’m sitting down and the foot is at rest. I let it get worse, ignored the symptoms and now I’m facing the prospect at not being able to run again for months.

Finally, copping on.

I visited a Podiatrist/ Chiropodist today, who was unable to offer a diagnose or advice, (but who did provide a wonderful service to my feet!). She noted some swelling in my feet and the areas of discomfort I described to her, suggesting that my orthotics might be in need of adjusting after so many years – and that they could be causing excessive strain to be placed on particular areas of my feet. She recommended a visit to the physiotherapist and perhaps an MRI.

I made the first appointment I could get to see the physiotherapist where I first got the orthotics made and where I have since gone for other running related niggles. Suddenly I feel the urgency to get this seen to properly.

Suddenly I feel a panic that this pain is not going away and that I may not be able to run for months.

Suddenly, I feel like I should have reacted more suddenly many months ago when I first noticed this “niggle”.

Suddenly, I don’t feel like a hardy, tough, badass, brave running heroine.

Suddenly, I feel like a fool.

Don’t you be a fool too. Please, if you feel a niggle, get it seen to. Because suddenly, a niggle won’t be a niggle any more.

To follow me on this injury diagnosis journey, come back soon where I’ll be giving a run down on my upcoming physiotherapy appointment and outcome…. For more detail about running injuries in the foot, this article is quite informative, as is this one.

 

How To Rest on a Bike

I can’t run.

Not entirely accurate. I can run but I’m deliberately not running at the moment because of a self-imposed post-marathon running embargo which is meant to facilitate optimal recovery, repair and biological regeneration. Yay. I sometimes picture in my head the little blood droplets nipping around my body (with little determined work faces and hard hats and tool belts…) going to work, repairing all my muscles and tears. Tangent- sorry.

The second reason for the present running lull is a borderline stress fracture on the base of my left foot. Boo. No one like a stress fracture and this runner bee is no exception. Very annoying but what can you do? It’s there and it’s been niggling away ever since my marathon training mileage started to peak a few weeks back. I did the usual ice baths and strengthening exercises but it persisted nonetheless and I’m loathe to ignore it and let it deteriorate further. So now that I have the opportunity to rest it properly, I am.

A couple of things to note:

I hate resting.

It is taking every bit of discipline in my being to restrain myself from going for a run.

The only way I can see myself sticking to not running is by replacing it with something else. Hello cycling. It’s been about 4 months since I was last on my bike, which tends to happen when I’m marathon training as I just don’t have the time or the energy for the bike once the mileage cranks up. But I do love my bike and I love heading out on a quiet morning for a few hours and exploring the county.

I’m not a fast cyclist and I probably have terrible technique but I don’t know much about technique and I cycle alone so neither of these things really matter to me. It calms me, in a similar way to how running calms me and it gives me space, to get away from the busy humdrum of home and all the madness of real life.

So while I hate not being able to run, I love the opportunity it has gifted me with and I plan to enjoy it.

You know what they say about linings and clouds.