Tag Archives: injury

Injured and One Year On.

I realised today that next month it will be a year since I injured myself. A year since that ill fated decision to lift my toddler son up off the ground while carrying bags of shopping leading to me being unable to run for six months. A year since I injured my back.

Even though the back pain and nerve pain have dissipated, I have been left with the after effects of the injury plus lots of niggles that keep flaring up, preventing me from a much wanted return to regular running. The physical effects have been obvious to me, what was not so obvious were the mental effects.

The longer I was injured the lower I became in mood. When getting back into running wasn’t as straight forward as I liked this was amplified further. Over the last few months especially these thoughts and feelings have been much worse and it’s only recently for some reason that I can acknowledge how I’ve been feeling. Which is ridiculous because, you know, it’s just running. Right?

Well no it’s not just running to me. Running is one of the things in my life that gives me confidence to do other things. Running has been a release for me when I’ve been finding things tough emotionally. Running has been my way to escape the pressures of tough life situations. Running has been a way to make me feel invincible and like I could take on anything. But with prolonged injury things like this have floated through my mind:

‘I’m rubbish, why do I bother?’

‘I should just give up running now, I’m getting too old for it’.

‘I hate myself’.

‘I hate running’.

‘I’m never getting over this, I may as well just leave it’.

‘Who was I kidding trying to be a runner anyway?’.

As my time being injured extended before me, the chipping away at my confidence and self image continued, gradually extending itself into other areas of life. And then last week a couple of things happened which made me realise how low I had become and how unbelievably crap I was feeling about myself. I was put into two situations where I had to talk about myself and had to sell myself both as a professional and as a person. I struggled with both and it was a shock to me. I’ve become so low that I can’t even bring myself to talk about my good points, because right now I’m not totally convinced I have any to share. Pathetic? Probably, but I can only be honest about how I have been feeling.

Have I been depressed? Possibly, my husband occasionally expresses the opinion that he thinks I am. I then feel guilty because my husband has actual clinical depression and all I did was hurt myself a bit so that I couldn’t run. Daft. However I then think about literature I’ve read about pain and how the pain and emotional neural pathways are very closely linked within the brain and I guess it is possible that large amounts of pain over an extended period can affect your mood level. I’ve certainly seen it in patients I’ve treated so why do I think I’m automatically immune?

This isn’t really a self pity post. If it comes across like that I apologise, it’s really not intended to be. I just needed to share how being injured as a runner can affect you emotionally and socially. Bravado and staying upbeat and positive can last so long but injury isn’t just a limp or a grimace of pain. Injury goes far, far deeper. If you are one of those injured runners right now, don’t be so hard on yourself and while you’re letting your body heal, make sure your mind and soul are looked after too.

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No Running. Just Camping and Dolphins.

So recently I wrote a post called Strong Before Long. I should also have included the words Strong Before Fast. A week last Tuesday I was feeling really happy about running again and I decided to head down to the running club at the CrossFit Box I train at from time to time. It was a session that I really enjoyed: 1km, 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m. It was hard work but I love intervals, always have, it’s how most of my training was done years ago. I completed the session and I felt kind of happy with my calf.

Next morning I was not so happy. My calf felt tight but not a normal ‘done exercise’ tightness, more like a painful ‘what the feck have I done now’ tightness. It seemed to ease after a bit of walking around but it didn’t feel right. I decided to err on the side of caution and rest off for a couple of days. By the Friday I was sure I was fine so I headed out, determined I was going to aim for around 10k.

I took it slowly, making my pace nice and steady. There was a niggle down my calf and into my shin but I was sure once the blood started flowing it would ease. I stopped a couple of times to stretch and eventually things seemed to settle. But around the 5 mile mark I felt the niggle return and then a distinct ‘ouch’ pain deep in my calf. I slowed to a jog, stretched again and aimed for home. I wasn’t limping but I wasn’t happy.

Instead of getting all emotional and upset this time I was realistic. I called myself every name under the sun and realised that maybe a hard interval session on concrete (duh) probably wasn’t the best for someone coming back from injury. Instead I focussed on getting ready for my first ever camping trip with the boys. As in MY first time ever sleeping in a tent, not just my first trip with the kids.

As always when I’m packing to go somewhere I packed my running gear. This was a positive move from me despite the soreness in my calf. I had enjoyed running along the coast in Cornwall so much at Easter that I really hoped I’d be able to do the same along the Pembrokeshire coast. After we arrived and set up the tent on Monday I noticed that there were a fair few runners around and this started to give me the itch to go out running. It’s infectious, runner see’s runners and immediately wants to go for a run. The NHS should investigate this phenomenon. I waited until the following afternoon and after giving my husband a headache, debating with myself whether to go or not, I finally went.

It did not go well. I was on unfamiliar narrow country roads. Cars whizzed past really quickly. I tried to stick to the ‘face the traffic’ rule but that rule makes no difference when the roads are so twisty turny that cars can’t see you until they’re on the corner. I tried to follow a bridle path but it turned out this was the way to someone’s house. Whoops. I started to feel my calf cramp and feeling very despondent I went back to the camp site.

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But instead of bitching and moaning I decided to get on with my family holiday. It was out of my control, I just had to wait it out again, rest it and see what happened. In the meantime there were more pressing things to be done like go to the beach, cook on the camp stove, fly kites, climb cliffs and watching dolphins.

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I think I can make running a bit more of a big deal than it actually is. It means a great deal to me but I’m not running for world peace or finding a cure for cancer. It’s just running and while it’s not great for me right now there are so many other things that are. I need to ease off the intervals and the long running for now. Focus on getting myself comfortable and ready to start training for the London Marathon next April. My first ever camping holiday has reminded me that sometimes there are things that are more important and just as much fun as running. Not running isn’t always the end of the world.

Strong Before Long.

‘If you’re struggling with injuries learn to run strong before you run long’ @BrianRunCoach

This tweet appeared in my timeline over the weekend and it really resonated with me. Getting rid of all these niggles has been hard and I’ve clearly been making many mistakes. I’ve been doing things that deep down I know are wrong for me and I should know better.

The list of mistakes I’ve made is long:

  • In my desperation to get back up to my previous volume of training I’ve increased my mileage too far too soon.
  • I’d only been doing long steady runs.
  • I ignored a pain in my calf, continued to train over it and made it worse.
  • I eventually rested by calf but didn’t give it enough time, returned to running and set myself back.

These things are mistakes that many other runners make and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Then there are other little things that are personal to me too, like just doing steady runs when I know I don’t get my running buzz from just doing long runs. I love intervals and running fast, always have. I had started to run with music. Something I never used to do, knowing deep down it wasn’t for me but doing it anyway because people seem to be really surprised that I don’t listen to music while running (all my long training runs for my marathon were without music).

So what am I doing to make things right for me and running?

Backing off.

That is what I’m doing. I’ve gone back to an old favourite route of mine which takes me about 40 minutes. This run is comfortable and I’m not getting any calf pain while I do it. I’m also sticking to every other day for the time being. The calf seems to be a little bit tight the day after a run but is resolved with stretches. Still I would rather this tightness eased before I even considered doing runs on consecutive days.

Ditched the music

and I am so much happier running for it. Running has always been my time to zone out and focus on my running, and probably without realising it, my breathing. I’ve run since I was eleven years old and I wonder if suddenly introducing the music (at age 33) upset my rhythm and distracted me too much. After a few runs I’ve already found that I feel more fluid and natural without the iPod.

I’m mixing it up

I’m going to try and mix the steady runs with some interval sessions. I find that even though the steady runs give me my endurance base and my engine, the intervals and faster sessions help me to improve. I’ve read so many running articles advising that runners should stick with long and slow to see improvement, but I don’t think my biology responds to that. My original base is from middle distance and I’ve always found that I thrive on this type of training and I find it strengthens me above all else.

This is the new plan. Marathon training for London is a few months away yet so the aim is definitely to be strong and niggle free before I go long. I am going back to what feels comfortable and natural, building my running foundations again before I try to ramp up the miles. Strong before long will be my mantra for now.

Thank you to @simon_lamb who retweeted the original quote in his time line. It gave me the much needed running inspiration I needed.

Just, just…..Arrrggggh!

About a month ago I was starting to feel the love for all things running again. I felt motivated, I had goals and my mileage was gradually building. I was fitting in 55-60 minute runs almost every day and I was really really enjoying them. Running felt good and I was beginning to look forward to mixing things up a bit and start some actual training rather than just running. I had even managed a couple of sessions at a running club and while tough I relished every minute of the reps we did.

One Sunday about three weeks ago I decided to go for a short sharp run, a route that I could easily manage. However towards the end of the 30 minutes as I came closer to home my calf really cramped and became tight. As I stopped outside my door I thought to myself that it was a bit tender and even limped a bit. I stretched and it didn’t seem too bad. The next day I went for a longer run but at the 20-25 minute point my calf started to cramp and become sore again. Around 30 minutes I could take no more and stopped and stretched. In all my years on and off of running I have NEVER had to stop and stretch before. Ever! I continued gently and managed a 71 minute route which was just over 8 miles. The next day it really didn’t seem too bad so I went to running club and to crossfit that week, both of which I managed. I felt reassured that the calf niggle was nothing.

I went away on a hen weekend and discovered that there was a small gym (by gym it looked like someone had put up some catalogue gym equipment in a living room). There was a treadmill among the equipment so instead of lounging around the pool or in the ‘relaxation room’ I went for a run. By 20 minutes again my calf had started to cramp and by 30 I really couldn’t be bothered any more as it was becoming really tiresome. So I stopped and that was what brought me to decide to take the rest week (along with my other annoying health rubbish).

I managed to avoid running and exercise all week without feeling too guilty, knowing that it was for good reason. I had a lovely few days with my parents, brother, sister in law and gorgeous nephew when they came to visit and by Monday of this week I felt happy and ready to go running again. As I started running I felt comfortable and relaxed so I decided to aim for the 70 minute run again. But yet again at 20 minutes I felt a bit of discomfort. I continued to run through but eventually decided to turn back. At the 40 minute point I stopped and walked. I bloody walked. I have never EVER had to walk. I was so angry with myself and feelings of failure washed over me. I stretched and then decided to jog back as I was still a fair way from home.

Weirdly I managed to run the rest of the way and all told ran for 55 minutes. It was as if my calf needed the break and to re-set itself before I could get going again. When I got back I decided to do some hill sprints at the back of my house to unleash the frustration at not completing the run I had set my heart on doing. By the next day I wondered if this was a good idea. My calf was painful, not just tight this time and I had to limp a bit. Since then I’ve avoided doing anything apart from a short exercise set that I did in my kitchen yesterday.

I just don’t understand it. I’m so cross with my body (again). I feel frustrated (again). I feel foolish for thinking I was over all my injuries and could just get on with running (again). After all the knock backs I’ve had it isn’t so much the physical pain that I’m struggling with so much as the psychological discomfort. I feel utterly hopeless about running properly again. It feels like a lost cause to me and I’m almost starting to grieve for it and at the point of sacking it off. I was so keen a few months ago. I had booked in some races, I had made plans to go back to club and I was hoping to run a marathon next year. I know I might be daft feeling like this but sometimes it feels like the running universe is sending me the message not to bother any more, that I should concentrate on other things. The thing is though that I don’t want to. I feel like running and I have unfinished business. Maybe I’m being a bit romantic and nostalgic but I’m not a bad runner. Just an extremely unlucky one.

I just want a break from feeling like I’m made of glass.

So, you know, argggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!

Training Diary and Running’s Not All Plain Sailing.

My training diary for last week isn’t actually that impressive. I haven’t managed to build on the previous week so I’m feeling a bit lost and a bit well yeah, lost is the best way to describe it.

The week had started relatively well with a 45 minute run that was nearly 5 and a half miles. I’m still plodding, I’m still not getting anywhere fast but I’m taking the approach that it’s better to get the miles in rather than worry about how quick. I suppose you’d say I’m trying to build a solid base again and regain my engine. I felt positive and I felt keen for running.

Tuesday was a bit of a disaster. Massive mood swing, plus forgetting things on the school run, plus not making it to an appointment plus a bunch of other stuff had meant that I wasn’t feeling Tuesday much. Tuesday was being a dick. So that evening when my husband came home from work I made what I thought was a positive decision: I would go to a running club. I jumped into the car and drove in the monsoon that was pouring from the sky, playing some funky tunes to get me in the mood. And then I hit all the traffic. On the motorway and on the duel carriageway. My mood dipped again, I was too late for the running club and I drove home cursing the universe. When I got home I decided to write Tuesday off and go to bed.

Wednesday was slightly more positive. I went out for a run, went out a little bit too hard at the beginning but kept going and ended up doing the longest run I’ve done in months. 56 minutes and over 6 and a half miles. It was slow, I made hard work of it but I was buzzing with my effort. Thursday is a no for running in the day with a 3 year old with me so I ventured out to CrossFit and ended up bagging myself some PB’s in the floor press and on double unders (that would be fancy skipping).

Friday I didn’t manage to get any running done but I was hoping to have a decent weekend of running. Saturday afternoon it was warm and I felt happy after a bike ride with my eldest boy so threw on my brightest shorts and headed out into the sunshine. And then I ran into some trouble. After 2 miles my feet were killing me. I felt aware of my left foot being really uncomfortable and I was sure it was rolling around in the shoe. My heel started to play up which frustrated me as my heel had been pain free. Then my right foot became sore and my right calf tightened. I tried to carry on as I was hoping to run for an hour. But no, I made the decision to turn back. My feet were so cramped I almost stopped and walked. When I arrived home I thought I’d feel really pissed off. Another run attempt shot down in flames. Buggeration! But I was strangely calm and reflective.  I identified what I thought was the issue (my footwear), accepted that what had happened was pretty much out of my control, reflected that actually the rest of me had been feeling pretty good and the result was that I was positive even though it had been a crap run. Who was this person? That doesn’t usually sound like me!

So that was my running week that was. Lots of ups and downs and little challenges to face but all in all I think I’m ok. I felt a bit of the self made pressure of not running drop off as I await my new trainers to arrive. Circumstances being out of my hands means that I feel like I have a ‘Do Not Run Right Now’ pass so I don’t have runner’s guilt. (And the footwear issue does make sense as my symptoms only occur after running in these trainers, which are actually over 9 months old. Oops). I know that there are other things I can do to maintain my fitness: CrossFit, circuits, cycling, swimming, aqua jogging. So I shall try my best to do other things this week and aim to enjoy them. Hopefully, imaginary Running Gods permitting, I will be back out plodding the pavements next week.

Training Summary for week beginning 13 May:

Mon: 45 minute run, 5.37 miles covered.

Tues: Nothing, don’t ask, don’t go there, I’m not speaking to Tuesday.

Weds: 56 minute run, 6.56 miles covered.

Thurs: CrossFit class. Double unders plus floor press (25kg for 5 reps PB). WOD 7 rounds of 1 minute on 1 minutes rest of 200m sprint plus max reps shoulder to overhead for remainder of minute (20kg on bar).

Fri: Rest and fun stuff. Sat: 3.91 miles hobbled. Sun: A little bit on the turbo trainer on the turbo trainer which has taken up the boys play room. HA!

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An Actual Week Of Running and Training!

As I ran with my fellow Write This Runner’s at the end of yesterday’s amazing conference it dawned on me: this run marked the end of my first week of full training and regular runs in 6 months.

Six months ago I was in agony. Six months ago my husband was having to help dress me. Six months ago I was getting, at the most, four hours sleep a night. Yet here I was running 5k, behind Scott Overall nonetheless (behind = he jogged a 5k and we all followed about 10 minutes behind). Six months ago I never saw myself at this point. Last November I really thought a prolapsed disc had ended running forever. For me that is, not you, dinae’ panic.

I wasn’t exactly shy about kicking off my week of training. I think this has come from my new ‘On it like a car bonnet’ mentality. Last Monday it all started with a little jog round Windsor for the She Runs Windsor event. I didn’t exactly sleep well that night. My body throbbed from the sheer effort and the lack of training I’d had going into it. I’m still proud of what I did that day because it showed me that I’m a stubborn old so and so who won’t give in. I had an awful night’s sleep following that race and my hamstrings were killing me so Tuesday I had what I feel was a well deserved break.

Wednesday saw a steady run. Well I say it was steady, more of a stroll to loosen everything off again. The old hammy’s were still a bit achy but no heel pain, no back pain, no pins and needles or numbness. I did wonder if I was daydreaming and was I really back running after all this time, but not being one to argue with my body (much) I went with it. 40 minutes or so with a nice jaunt along a new riverside path they’ve built by our village. Lovely.

Thursday I didn’t get out to run in the day as my youngest wasn’t in nursery. He’s a bit big to push around in a buggy now and being that he’s the one I lifted when I injured myself I would be reluctant to even attempt to run and push him! So when my husband arrived home from work that evening I went over to my ladies CrossFit class. I’ve been struggling with this class since getting over this injury: the weight I can lift on the bar has gone down and I feel a bit nervous with some of the techniques. However somehow I channelled my inner CrossFit goddess and managed some handstands, some against a wall and some spotted (you know, spotted by someone, not a polka dot spot handstand). And then, AND THEN, THEN! Little old me managed three kipping pull ups on a bar on my own! SQUEEEEEEEAL. I was ‘ended’ after three but I got to ding the PB bell! Ding a ling a ding ding!

So by Friday I was feeling pretty awesome and even though it was pouring with rain I went for another steady 40 minute run in the evening. I ended up soaked to the skin despite my jacket and it was wild and windy but I felt so exhilarated afterwards. I had a sense of achievement that I’d been missing for such a long time.

Saturday I missed out on training as I was travelling but Sunday’s run with my fellow bloggers was just the nicest possible way to round of my first week of post injury training. I had managed to run or train on 5 days out of 7 last week. Six months ago driving my children to school caused me to cry in pain and yet here I was on a 5k run with behind an Olympian. If you’d told me that back then I would have laughed at you through my diclofencac/co-codamol/insomnia haze and if I’m honest right now I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’m back here, running again.

So that was my training diary for last week. A pretty good start to ‘training to train’ again. I ended the week on such a positive note that I may have agreed to go for a sub20/sub40 challenge for 5k and 10k with my fellow running blogger Cat. Well, it’s always good to have a goal!

Finding My Race Head at She Runs Windsor.

On a beautiful May bank holiday I found myself in Windsor Great Park getting ready to run the She Runs Windsor 10k. Up until the Friday or even the Saturday before I still wasn’t sure whether I should run. My comeback from back injury had not been smooth. I have had a niggling heel problem and a little bit of achilles pain so I had been forced to pull myself back in training. And when I say training I mean starting from scratch and building up my steady run time, no actual 10k training. To say I was a bit naive daft to enter this race a few months ago is an understatement. I think I did because I needed something to focus on but unfortunately the super running comeback hadn’t gone according to plan and I was woefully unprepared.

How unprepared? Well I only managed to run regularly for 30 minutes 3 weeks ago. Last week I increased this to 40 minutes because my heel pain was a bit better. Yesterday the furthest I had run since my back injury had been 4.5 miles. So here I was just hoping I would fly by the heals of my rather lovely new neon pink compression socks.
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At the beginning of last week I wasn’t going to run. After a few runs in the week I decided I would. On Saturday I was in Legoland being distracted by the joyful faces of my children and people dressed up as Star Wars figures. On Sunday I decided I would definitely run after being to the Exoptique. And then in the park on the day itself I stood and started bargaining.

‘I will just enjoy it’

‘I won’t race, I’ll do my own thing’

‘I’ll try and stay in between the 45 minute and 50 minute pacers’

‘I’ll start off easy and then see how it goes’.

‘I’ll pretend it’s just a hard training run’

With these thoughts whirling round my head I stood on the start line and then we were off. My thighs felt heavy for the first kilometre and I started feeling low. I felt like I had no leg lift and I wondered how running another 9km was going to pan out. It wasn’t going to be pretty. Plus I’d forgotten about the hills. Windsor Park is full of them, an undulating, beautiful park which was to become my nemesis for hopefully under an hour. People came pat me, I went past people and my hope of staying with the pacer carrying the yellow 45 minute balloon disappeared round a collection of trees. Mentally that was tough to swallow as fit and well 45 minutes should be no issue for me. However I acknowledged it and carried on.

For some time during the race I just felt like we were climbing hills. My legs were burning and the peaks of some of the hills were so steep that at times it felt a real effort not to come to a complete stop. On one of the hills the negative thoughts started pouring in as I became aware of the pacer with the red 50 minute balloon behind me.

‘You’re rubbish, why are you doing this. You haven’t trained enough. You’re going to be overtaken by the 50 minute pacer. You may as well stop and walk. Go on walk. You can’t keep going, it’s too hard for you’.

Instead of fighting these thoughts I let them come out one by one. Get them all out now, I thought to myself, get them out and then they’ll be gone. And they were. I acknowledged these tough feelings and I was able to carry on doing what I was meant to be doing. Run! It also helped that I had a stern word with myself which went along the lines of ‘Fuck off Kat, you’ve run a marathon, this is nothing. Dig deep and then dig in some more’.

All of a sudden we were going downhill and a it felt like a blessed relief to let go and let the hill take me. I could see the 9km marker and the finish in the distance. Windsor Castle was sparking in the gorgeous May sunshine and I realised with a small smile, accompanied by some grimacing, that I was about to put a hard six months of heartache and injury behind me. My legs hurt but I lifted my knees and powered forward. The cheers of the crowd lifted me and I tried to sprint forward but I don’t have my speedy edge back just yet. I crossed the line and a huge sense of relief washed over me. I’d done it.

I thought I’d be disappointed with my time of 48 minutes and 43 seconds but I’m not. I thought I’d be more annoyed that my PB performance would have me in at least the top 3 women, but I’m not. Yesterday was more of a mental achievement for me. I needed to put my demons to rest and to let go of the fear that I had of racing. I needed to know that I could run alongside other people. I needed to know that when it got hard I wouldn’t give up, because that was what was scaring me the most. I was terrified that my determination and will had gone. But it hasn’t. I found it in the shadow of one of the most beautiful landmarks in the UK.

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I hate running really, I just run for the bling and the free bananas.

There were no records broken for me yesterday but I think I will look on the She Runs Windsor 10k as a milestone in my recovery from injury. I really enjoyed it and I was thrilled to have been part of a fantastic event. Now I know I’ve still got the taste for races it’s given me a boost and I’m excited about getting stuck into some running and training.