Monthly Archives: February 2013

Running and Happy Again

It is 8.06pm and I’ve been back from my run for about 20 minutes. It’s my fifth run back in and I’m feeling ok. The back didn’t niggle and I didn’t feel my hamstring twinge as I ran. I am happy. I feel happy that I ran and I felt happy during my run. In fact at one point in my run I closed my eyes (not wise during a night time run) and I just let the feeling of running again wash over me.

It’s been hard not running for the last few months, especially as running and I had become so entwined during my husband’s illness. Running had become my emotional crutch. I was dependent on running to feel good about myself and I have been bereft without it. So I was grateful to be able to run gently like I did tonight.

There was no pressure on me to check a GPS watch for pace. I wasn’t trying to beat a time. It wasn’t even a training run. It was just me happy to be running and enjoying it after being injured. And for the first time in months a sense of relief came over me as I realised I am probably over the worst of it. The body heals. The body repairs itself. That run tonight felt wonderful. Life felt good.







Running Obsessions This Week


Yes just running. I’m gradually getting over my injury and I have run about 4 times now. I started with a route that’s about 2.5 miles but I built up to a 4.5 mile run on the weekend. In the dark, in the freezing cold. This is how desperate I am to run right now. For the following days I had DOMS but I welcomed it. I haven’t had DOMS for so long, that deliciously painful twinge in your quads as you walk downstairs. Usually I would curse it but it was a sign that I had managed to do some exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m ‘back’ yet but I feel like I might be getting somewhere. The only thing now is that I can’t stop thinking about running, where I’m going to run and when I’m going to be able to run.

She Runs Windsor

As I’m starting to get back into things I decided I needed a running goal to focus on. For months I’ve been in a running limbo. A running no man/woman land. March and April races were far too close so I looked for something in May and this race came up. It is long enough away for me to get some training in but not too far away for me to flounder and become demotivated. It will hopefully encourage me to stick with rehab and training.

I didn’t fancy signing up for a half marathon or marathon right now as confidence is still low but this 10k in Windsor Great Park in May looked like a great re-introduction to racing. I’ll be able to take the family and it should be a nice course. If you’re in the market for a women only race then go to and sign up. Hurry up though, until tonight it is £25 to enter, after midnight it will be £29. Excited!


I sing in praise of Physios. Yes I am a physio but this is about being on the other side of the plinth. NHS physios, Private physios, sports physios, to you us runner’s are grateful for listening to us, treating us and never saying I told you so when we fail to follow the advice given. Three cheers for all the physios out there who get us back out the door running.

Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 8

Imagine you bring home a pair of pure white Asics Trainers. Imagine you have left an open case of felt pens in the room. Imagine your children got hold of the pens and attacked the pure white trainers. I think you’d come back to something like this!

I am OBSESSED with these trainers  A little chat on Twitter revealed that even though they are stated to be Triathlon racers there are a lot of runners who have these. If I could have these I think I’d be tempted to take up triathlon. I think they’d be fab for the St Lucia Triathlon I’ve just heard about. So Asics if you can hear my thoughts send me these and I might consider taking up triathlon. Honest, I would. I’d even go and buy a bike.

Mo Farah

The post race interview that Mo Farah gave with a US TV channel exploded on social media after his record breaking win in New Orleans. The poor woman interviewing clearly has never heard of Mo. Or the Olympics possibly. I also wonder whether she was aware of Google. But anyway despite the clear lack of knowledge by the interviewer Mo was polite and styled it out, showing again what a nice guy he is. He even defended her on Twitter after the poor woman got trolled. Good for him!

His Twitter feed also gave me giggles in the week. Being a double Olympic champion doesn’t protect you from the mishaps of parenthood. He managed to fall asleep with all his children on the sofa while his wife was out. Comical panic ensued on her return. If you’re not already following him on Twitter then you really should.

Running Blogs and Runners on Twitter

I am loving the world of running blogs and the running people I’ve chatted to via Twitter. So much so that I signed up to the running blogging event Write This Run. It’s looking to be a great day of listening to experts talking about running and blogging. Via the organisers Liz and Laura I’ve come across some fantastic bloggers and Twitter people. Marathon Widow DiariesMind Over Matter and Flake and Cake are only three of the blogs that I’m really enjoying. Check out my blog roll for other great exercise and running blogs.

The social media running chat is also addictive. It varies from interval sessions, miles covered, advice about training kit to hysterical chats about toilet habits during long runs or races. You probably had to be there eh!

If you’re looking to follow some runner’s on Twitter just check out the people I’m following or search the hashtags running or runchat. Do it. Do it now!

Here endeth my running obsessions this week!


Lorna Jane Active: Sports Bra Review

A little while ago I wrote about running mantras and how they can motivate you. Within that post I included an image of a sports bra by Lorna Jane Active, an Australian brand that is now available in the UK. A couple of weeks ago my back was feeling better enough for me to start a few short runs so in celebration I ordered the Determined Bra to try out.

Now I’m fairly fussy when it comes to sports bras. Some bras claim to be high impact and to absorb all the wobbles but when you try them on it’s like the bra can’t actually be bothered. And because my exercise is predominantly high impact I need a sports bra that’s going to work as hard as me. It’s not even that I’m particularly well endowed at a 32B (thanks kids). Even so when I wear a sports bra I like to feel like I’m a medieval woman who has bandaged her breasts down so tight that she could enter court and masquerade as a boy. My Shock Absorber bras have always done this for me so I never thought I would stray from my usual brand. If I’m honest I was a bit worried that the new bra would be a let down like others before it.

I had picked the Determined bra because yes, I had been impressed by the mantra by the same name along the rear band. The bra was £40 but at the time of purchase there was a special Valentine’s Day discount of 20% which brought the price to £32. This combined with free delivery for purchases over £30 left me an extremely happy customer. What can I say, I’m easily pleased. I ordered the bra on a Thursday and it was with me by the following Monday. Speedy delivery, what’s not to love?

I wasn’t able to get out for a run straight away but I dashed upstairs and put it on under my normal clothes. I think this is a nice test for sports bras to see if you can get away with wearing it doing your usual day to day activities. I had ordered an XS size by using the sizing scale on the Lorna Jane UK site and it tallied right with my bra size. It was easy to get on with no awkward contortionist manoeuvres or attempts to fiddle with fastenings. I was able to slip the bra over my head with ease. There were adjusters on the straps if required. I thought the extra padding might annoy me but it actually felt quite comfortable and under my t-shirt gave a nice silhouette.


I left the bra on and carried on playing with my 3 year old and doing the school run. By the end of the afternoon I realised that I had forgotten I had the bra on. A sign of a good bra is one that you are not aware that you are wearing and I can definitely say this was the case with the Determined bra.

Crunch time came that evening when my husband came home and I got my first chance to go out for a run. As I’m just getting over injury it was a short one. I was concerned that I would become aware of this bra as soon as I started running or that the padding would make me overheat in that area and annoy me. But nothing. Nada. Good, firm support. No jiggling and no strap irritation. It as a cold evening and I think the extra padding may have helped!

So far so good but how would it come out in the wash? I followed the instructions according to the label but I did wonder if the pads would move or become misshapen  Again I was proved wrong in my scepticism. The bra washed really well, the bra maintained it’s shape and I was able to use it for a slightly longer run on the weekend. Again the bra was supportive and gave me no issues with rubbing or irritation.

Overall I think this bra is a really good buy. The price is what I’d expect to pay for a decent sports bra. The styling is flattering under clothes and I would wear this as a day to day bra if I needed to. The bra was comfortable during my steady runs and I was really happy with it. I’m not sure though if it would be suitable for someone with a larger chest size who needs more support than me. This probably highlights the need for a proper sports bra fitting if you’re not a seasoned runner and you’re not sure what your body shape requires in terms of fit and support.

I really liked this bra and it is a great addition to my running kit. Lorna Jane Active are still fairly new to the UK but if all their products are like this I think they’ll do well. Hopefully I ‘ll get to try some of their other products when I’m in the market for some new running tights or even the leopard print bra, because you can never have too many sports bras!

20130223_172514On another note, the running has been going ok. Coming back from injury is hard but I’m definitely Determined. If you don’t believe me read my bra!

For Lorna Jane’s full range of work out gear, which covers yoga, running, gym, dance and leisure, visit

Continuous Effort

‘Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential’.

– Winston Churchill.

This quote obviously isn’t by a runner but I think it applies nicely to the runner mentality, especially for runner’s who want to get better. I also think it applies to the injured runner. Who’s injured  Oh yeah, that would be ME!

It’s been continuous effort to try and move around without crying.

It’s been continuous effort not to give in to the thoughts creeping in telling me I’m daft for running and that I should just give it all up.

It’s been continuous effort not to do something silly, like try running too soon, and injure myself further.

It’s been continuous effort to stay positive and stay motivated.

It’s been continuous effort to stick with all the physio’s advice and continue with the exercises even when I felt I was going no where.

It’s been continuous effort not to lose my temper about the whole situation.

It’s been continuous effort over a period of three months to try and get myself better and ready to start running again.

Getting over this injury has been tiring physically but mentally it has drained me. I’m starting to feel more hopeful after being out for my fourth run and my rehabilitation has progressed in the right direction. What I also hope for is that all this continuous effort will be rewarded with more running which I can eventually turn into a training plan with some actual goals. This continuous effort can’t all be for nothing!

Motherhood and Running

After having children I didn’t think I would get back to running. I had suffered so much with back and leg pain during both pregnancies that I couldn’t imagine it would ever be possible to run again. My deliveries had been caesareans, each with their complications which meant an extended recovery time after the births. I didn’t foresee ever having the time or the inclination to do anything more than a short jog. What I also didn’t foresee was that motherhood would give me a focus and determination for running that I didn’t ever think I would have again.

Don’t misunderstand me, prior to having children I had plenty of ambition and drive but nothing like I’ve known since I’ve had them. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I bemoan all the wasted hours pre children with all the missed opportunities but motherhood has led me to focus my energies and manage my time more efficiently. Post motherhood I also found a physical and inner strength I didn’t know I had.

It is an urban myth that some women become better athletes following pregnancy. There is no scientific evidence but there are plenty of anecdotes. The US Olympic high jumper Chaunte Lowe has two children and in interviews she has stated that she was physically stronger post partum, being able to squat way above the 225 pounds that she used to squat pre children. I also heard a quote attributed to her in which she said that following birth she no longer feared pain.

Having had a traumatic first labour I can relate to this. My labour experience has helped me during training and with hard runs, including my marathon. When you’ve experienced nearly 40 hours of pain that burns through you and causes you to roll your eyes to the back of your head and you come through it, there comes a realisation that the pain from a hard run is nothing. My labour experience helped me to manage training pain, to acknowledge it was there and to embrace it, in the knowledge that it will be gone in far less time than having my first child. Fear, gone.

Being a mother and being a runner are two separate facets of my being but they so often come together, overlap and complement each other. Being a mother doesn’t mean I’m soft or that I’m going to let my competitive side go. Being a runner doesn’t mean that my competitive side boils over to affect my parenting. But being a mother and being a runner have given me attributes that help the other. Running helps me to be fitter and stronger for my children. Running gives me energy. Being a mother helps me to find the time for running and training when the schedule looks otherwise jam packed. The mother in me will find a way to run, just like I find time to fit in play dates and homework. Pre baby I wouldn’t have, I think I was a bit lazy using work and post graduate study as an excuse. But not any more. Mothers and runners just do.

There is one aspect to being a mother and a runner that will never change. Running will always come second to being a mother. There will always be runs missed because my children need me. Runs might have to be shorter because you don’t always have the time to do the run you wanted to do. And if at any time running impacts on my ability to be a good mother (I don’t really see that happening) running would have to go.

I read an interview with Paula Radcliffe today. A screw in her ankle has come loose and she needs to have another operation which could end her career but her first concern is for her children:

“I just want to be able to run and play with my kids,” she said. “I’m not even thinking about getting back to running a marathon again.”

Most mothers who run aren’t multiple Olympians or world record holders but I think we can empathise with how she feels. For me this is the juxtaposition of being a mother and being a runner. In my life they co-exist side by side, both giving me great joy in different ways, but when all is said and done if one thing has to come second for whatever reason, it will always have to be running.


My Running Obsessions This Week

There have been many running related topics rushing around my brain this week. I have many things I want to blog about at length but for my first post this week I wanted to share some of the running related subjects I’ve been getting excited about! I’m still officially injured so I’m allowed, indulge me.


Following my back injury the gluteal muscles on the right side are no longer buns of steel, more like buns of jelly. Pain has inhibited the muscles so much that my glutes are quivering at the top of my thigh in fear of all exercise. For runner’s this isn’t a good thing. In basic terms our glutes help with weight transference from trunk to lower limb, stabilise our pelvis and help with our propulsion. Right now I can barely single leg squat on my right. So my new rehab obsession to get back to running is working my glutes like they are the latest running revolution and everyone’s talking about them. My glutes need a BOOST (sorry Adidas).

Avocados and Pine Nuts

In between all the hen weekends, birthday celebrations and weddings I’ve had recently I have, honestly, been trying to eat healthily while my body heals and repairs. I have no idea if avocados are good for runners but I know they have plenty of the ‘good fats’. Pine nuts are full of protein for repair and I’ve been combining both of these in chicken spinach salads or popping the whole lot in a pitta or wrap. When you’re injured it’s all too easy to eat junk but these foods have been a tasty alternative to hitting the cookie jar.

Lorna Jane Active

Lorna Jane is an Australian brand that is now available in the UK via Active Instyle. Their designs provide a feminine twist on the standard running gear of vests, capris and tights. Adding mantras to their clothes give them an added bad ass runner girl feel. I’ve just purchased the ‘Determined’ sports bra and I’ll be blogging about it once I’ve given it a jog round the block.

determined bra

European Indoor Championships

The 32nd European Athletics Indoors Championships will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden over the weekend of 1-3 March. The buzz is building quite nicely for me with the UK indoor trials and last weekend’s Birmingham Grand Prix event. On the weekend we saw Olympic GB athletes like Mo Farah smash it. Today British Athletics announced a strong looking team although they failed to include any male 1500m runners. Paula Radcliffe was on Twitter slamming this as ‘totally ridiculous’ and I have to agree. GB have plenty of decent male middle distance runners. Seems a shame not to field any. They can’t blame Charles Van Commenee for any selection mishaps this time!

Jenny Meadows

Jenny Meadows missed last year’s track season through injury but she’s back! She made her comeback at the Birmingham Grand Prix on the weekend and has been announced as captain of the GB & NI team going to Gothenburg. Jenny goes as defending champion having won the 800m two years ago. Jenny is a talented, tenacious athlete and it’s exciting to see her back!

Go Jenny, go Jenny! Picture from

Mary Cain

Mary Cain is a 16 year old high school student from New York. Mary Cain is a middle distance runner. Mary Cain is coached by Alberto Salazar, the same man who coaches double Olympic champion Mo Farah. Mary Cain is breaking records all over the place and can run 1500m in 4.11.01. Mary Cain is 16 YEARS OLD. The world of running needs to get excited about Mary Cain. I hope she’s the real deal and I hope as she develops, she’ll be looked after and we’ll see her competing on the European circuit. There’s a strong team of U20 women in the UK right now too so female middle and long distance running has some exciting prospects in the years leading up to Rio 2016.

Mary Cain. Image from

So these are my running obsessions this week. Happy training.

The Second Run Back

I went for my second run since I was given the all clear from the physio. The first run had felt fantastic probably because of the pure exhilaration and adrenaline at being about to run again. Going out for the second run I think I expected too much in terms of fitness and the niggles I was going to feel. I had probably picked the wrong time to go to, having been to the physio earlier that day for a treatment which often flares my back up slightly.

I headed out for my small loop which is 2.5 miles. I had felt fairly good during the day so I was sure that I could manage 2 loops. I really don’t know who I was kidding. Firstly I had more niggles around my hip and buttock which seemed to get tighter as I ran. My legs felt heavy. I felt weak as a kitten, with the legs of a newborn foal as I hit the pavement. I had no bounce. My bounce was gone. My usual light running style felt laboured.

I totally misjudged how I felt and my optimism fell away. How on earth did I think I could manage a second loop? I’ve done nothing, NOTHING, for almost three months. It’s not going to be over night. Last nights run was definitely a case of mind over matter and in this case the mind was a bit more willing than the body, which amused me because it’s usually the other way round. I should be grateful though. I am back running and the niggles and heaviness I feel right now will gradually wear off the more I do. I’ve just got to listen to my body, try not to get over excited and ahead of myself mentally. I’ve only just started back. I don’t want to aggravate things and set myself back for another few months.


Running Mantras

I love a good mantra me. They can be short and snappy to give you a sharp pep up during a particularly hard gym or interval session. Or they can be long and philosophical to give running a bigger meaning and help us understand why we’re getting up at 6am to run for 3 hours. With the collision of the worlds of running and social media mantras are constantly doing the rounds and people find inspiration from them all the time. I’m a big fan of ‘Go hard or go home’ and ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’ (the latter which I first heard in a chronic Back Pain Rehab group about 6 years ago). I also love the phrase ‘If you don’t look a mess then you didn’t work hard enough’, mainly because it’s true. If you’re not a hot, red, sweaty mess at the end of you training then how can you expect to improve?

Mantras motivate us and keep us going when times are tough. My personal favourite, that I chanted to myself during marathon training, was ‘Cup of tea, cup of tea’. I even chanted it during bad patches in my actual marathon. I would chant it and visualise the warming, safe, sweet cuppa that would meet me at the end. It was such an inoccuous phrase but it gave me a distraction and weirdly a motivation to get to the end. It may not do much for others but it was my own little mantra. Liking tea obviously helps. I have since christened this mantra the ‘Mrs Doyle’.

T-shirts with slogans and mantras are everywhere and runners love them.They announce our intentions for the run ahead or declare our love of the sport to the world. If you go to Parkrun then a t-shirt might tell the running community how many times you’ve got up on a Saturday to run a 5k. Unfortunately I do like the occasional lie in so I doubt one of those tees will ever be mine.

Slogan t-shirts aren’t always too obvious either. Well not to me anyway. I had a Nike tee which said ‘Kiss My Airs’ and I hadn’t thought anything of it until my Mum pointed out that it sounded like ‘Kiss My Arse’. I was instantly horrified. I know I’m competitive but I wouldn’t like to be rude about it!

Whilst in injury limbo I’ve discovered some mantra running wear that I’d like for my hundredth running comeback. The Australian sports wear line Lorna Jane is now available in the UK and while I was checking out their site I discovered some great mantras on their running gear. I’ve picked some that are probably relevant to me right now in my current return from injury phrase. This post injury running gift list is growing and growing!

Singlet £37

Singlet £37

determined bra

Bra £40


Akira tights £62

What’s your favourite mantra or phrase that motivates your running?

Baking Gingerbread Runners

Today is the first day of half term. Today is also the day after the day after my first run back after injury. I thought I’d feel awful but surprisingly I feel ok. No back pain, no leg pain and no tingling or numbness. I want to be delighted but I don’t want to tempt fate.

As it turned out I wasn’t able to get out to run as the boys were home with me. Plus I thought it would be sensible to let things settle after Saturday’s run. Instead we made gingerbread men.




I got in and had a go at decorating too. Even managed to get a running man in there. I like his little Nike swooshes.


Tonight I might try a few strength exercises and if all’s well I might consider a jog tomorrow. I need to run off those gingerbread men!

The First Run Back: What’s bad might make you better

I had a session with my physio last week in which I posed the million dollar question for any injured runner. ‘Do you think I can try a run?’. My physio Zoe is brilliant. She’s honest, she doesn’t mollycoddle me and she doesn’t patronise. This may be because I’ve worked alongside her and we have a slightly different dynamic from a typical physio/patient relationship. It must be difficult treating someone who is a ‘spinal pain specialist’ and sometimes I’ve self diagnosed myself with all sorts of nonsense. Knowledge is good but pain can make one a tad irrational especially when you’re not sleeping. I think Zoe has known this and she’s always reassured me that I would get back to running.

So in the week when I asked the question she replied that she didn’t see why not. I had been swimming with no real pain back lash. Overall I was better. She suggested to try a jog just so we could establish where I was in my recovery. Half of me was pleased and the other half of me was terrified. The last time I had run was an eight miler nearly eleven weeks previously  Would I be up to running? How would my fitness be? Could I handle it? Would I be back to square one? So I went aqua jogging instead. Running but not running. The running motion but without any possible consequences.

During the rest of the week I thought about running but if I felt my back twinge or had a tingle in my calf I rejected the idea as ridiculous. I also bargained with myself that I didn’t have the opportunity with the boys being around and my husband working a bit later in the evening. So I left it. Then Saturday came and for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about going for a run. I pondered how my back felt and it was ok. I had no leg symptoms. I then said it out loud to my husband ‘I think I’m going to try a run’. There was no confidence behind my statement. I couldn’t quite believe that after all those weeks of pain and lack of sleep I was actually considering it.

I took myself upstairs and took my favourite pair of running leggings out of the drawer. For some reason I hugged them. Yes, I hugged my running leggings to my face and chest and I nuzzled them. Because I had missed them. I had missed this process of going upstairs and getting ready to go out running, picking out what to wear, the most appropriate gear for the weather that day.I had missed my running rituals. I changed into my running gear and then sat on the bed contemplating, asking myself if I was doing the right thing. Inner voices arguing over what to do for the best. Running won. I needed to know how running felt again. And so I went.

I ran for just over twenty minutes. It wasn’t fast but it wasn’t really slow. It wasn’t pretty but I didn’t feel dreadful. I had the start of a niggle in my calf but no back or buttock pain. I made sure I didn’t get over excited to be out and put strict limits on myself. The aim was just to test things out. I made it home kind of unscathed other than being achy but with my pride relatively intact. I was reluctant to acknowledge this as a win for running though. Back and nerve pain can be latent so I fully expected to be rolling around in agony hours later. But hours later I still felt ok. And today? Slight DOMS because I haven’t run for almost three months and a tight right buttock but I’m not popping pills or lying over pillows with a hot water bottle.

I’m still a bit nervous because it could be worse tomorrow.  All runners know that the day after the day after the run can be much worse so I’m holding my breath and remaining cynical. But not negative I refuse to feel negative. I don’t think I could do it again for a couple of days but I’m reassured by a few things, like my lack of pain while running and that my fitness hasn’t disappeared completely into the ether. But while I remain cynical there is a little disco going on in the runner part of my brain that I was able to do it. The last run I did seemed to be the turning point at setting things along this painful path but I’m hoping that now is the right time to run again and ease back in to it. I’m really hoping that what was bad 3 months ago might just make me better.