After the snot-fest that was Aviemore, I’ve been feeling pretty bad.  The cold has finally subsided, but ever since the run my right hip has been swollen, painful, and generally angry at me.  I suspect that Aviemore alone was not the cause of this, because I distinctly remember my hip being in some discomfort during Loch Ness.  After sports massage and physio, today is the first day where I have woken up without a hot throbbing in my groin (I know).  While by no means perfect, it’s an improvement.

I have been told not to do anything too strenuous by my physio until she gives me the all clear, which I’m hoping will be when I see her on Thursday, because if everything is behaving I’ll get to run the Culloden 17.46k on Sunday.  It’s meant to be a tough course, but it’ll mark the start of my long run cycle for the Texas marathon (noticeably shorter than my other training cycles thanks to Loch Ness), and also the casual start of my Ultra base training.

Anyway, my main focus from now until April is staying healthy, so that’s probably why I’m not going too crazy without my normal exercise regime.  It’s a week or so out of action, but having an end goal let’s me see the bigger picture.

Still, old habits die hard, and I have already spent hours lamenting the end of my running career after going on WedMD and looking at all possible causes of hip pain, just in case bruising and inflammation wasn’t what was wrong with me.  Never do this.  Because ‘cancer’ and ‘arthritis’ are not things you want to have floating around in your head when you’re stuck at home feeling sorry for yourself.

Finally, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has donated to Macmillan after reading my Loch Ness post, especially the people I’ve never met.  You guys are racking up the good karma, and I’m pretty sure your donation will cancel out a misdemeanour or two.  So pat yourself on the back, and go key the car of somebody who has parked like this, because it’s totally allowed*:

What an ass hat.

What an ass hat.


*Do this when they are not watching you.


Sunday Night Blues

Reasons why I am not in a particularly happy mood:

  • My shins are still not letting me run very much.  Or maybe it’s my calf?  Either way, my lower leg has been experiencing a ridiculous amount of pain, so I have not run regularly since, like, November.  Rest appears to have done nothing.  My training for the Paris Marathon should have started this week. Awesome.  On the plus side, my back, triceps, biceps, and shoulders are looking kind of buff (to me).
  • I go back to work tomorrow.  I have been off since the 22nd of December (a perk of being a teacher).  I have grown accustomed to doing whatever the hell I want to.  And daytime drinking.
  • The scratch cards Ian bought tonight?  Yeah, we didn’t win.  And yes, I know how tacky scratch cards are.

In other news, my search term results never fail to bring a smile to my face:

searchtermwtfJust in case anyone happens to stumble across this site using this search again, may I direct you here, here, or, though not necessarily ‘cycling’ lycra, here.  You’re welcome.*

*Regular readers: do not click on the links if you are at work/with your parents/not into seeing the outline of a dude’s junk in lycra.

EDIT:  You’re all a bunch of perverts:

In less than an hour!

In less than an hour!

Operation Maximize Gluteus: situation critical.

So those shine splints that were plaguing me before the Loch Ness marathon?  Yeah, they never really went away, and despite trying to ignore them like a trooper, they continue to suck any enjoyment out of running for me.  The guy who does my sports massages has put it down to extra-tight calves since they’re doing all of the work.  Which means that one muscle group is on a one-way train to Lazy Town.  The guilty party?  My glutes.

I have been given a number of stretches to ease off the calves, but I have also been told that they’ll never get the break they deserve unless:

  1. I stop running, or;
  2. My butt starts doing its share of the work.

So I have also been given some butt strengthening exercises to do.  I have been told this before, and have made a couple of half-assed (har har) efforts to stick to a regime, but the reality seems to be that if I am threatened with a running hiatus, I will do what is asked of me.

Thursday saw me return from some brutal calf massage and a foam rolling class, only to youtube some butt workouts.  Turns out there are several, and once you sift through the videos that have a target audience of 14 year old boys, there are some helpful, quick tutorials out there (even though you feel like you belong in the 80’s following along in your living room, hoping your neighbours can’t see in).  That night I did 10 minutes with Cindy, followed by another 10 minutes with Stephanie.  Friday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer followed by RPM (Les Mills version of spin).  Saturday I did Body Pump and Body Attack (but I really felt my shins in attack so spent some time stretching on the power plates afterwards), and today I did the “Super Butt Workout”, despite feeling like my ass is about to fall off, and I am foam rolling my quads on the floor as I type.

In other, non-exercise news, I have been extra busy with work.  This weekend I have spent no less than 6 hours marking work, and I have another hour or two to put in before tomorrow morning if I am to be where I want to be to face the week.  My Friday night was not the most rock and roll experience I’ve ever had:

Neither was my Saturday:

You can get some pretty amusing mistakes, though.  A few of the kids had been experimenting with a thesaurus (with somewhat inaccurate results), and another seemed to misspell ‘gentle’:

Tonight (Sunday), Ian and I went to Nando’s for a late lunch/early dinner (we were being pretty lazy), and managed to catch the Christmas parade during which the lights along Union Street are switched on.  Despite the wet, freezing conditions, we stuck around for a peek:

The first set of lights being switched on

Because what parade in Scotland is complete without bagpipes?

Walking Christmas tree

So for now, running and I are not on great terms, but hopefully with some dedicated butt building, we’ll be back on track soon.  Shin splints: I will destroy you (translation: please, please, please go away)!

Crathes Half Marathon 2012

Time: 2:04:57  Personal Worst! Results here.

Medal: Yes!

This was meant to be my last long run before the Loch Ness Marathon in two weeks (what?!) time.  Turns out, this is likely to be my last run before the marathon.  This is mainly due to the fact that bastard left shin/calf is hellbent on being painful, tight, and generally a pain in the ass.

Even at the Great Scottish Run a couple of weeks ago, I was hurting.  I continued to hurt, but like a tool, also continued to run, for the next week until finally, last Sunday, I ran 6 miles (out of a planned 16) in crippling pain and near tears.  Since then, I have been for physiotherapy twice, a sports massage once, and, until today, out for a run a grand total of ZERO times.  I’m not being a lazy beast, for the record, as I am still doing spin and weights regularly, but this is totally not where I wanted to be two weeks before my first marathon.

Anyway, I was in two minds about actually doing this race all week.  I was sore even just walking, and my physio had given me that nod-and-smile-and-don’t-let-her-see-me-roll-my-eyes thing when I told her I was planning on running today.  She did her best to gently loosen up my ‘grisly, knotted’ leg, gave me some tape to put on this morning, and then, in hushed tones, told me unofficially to take drugs (ibuprofen).  I smiled, told her I’d just grit my teeth, wear the tape, and ice afterwards.

Her response: ‘What colour tape would you prefer?  We have black or pink’.

My answer: ‘How bright is the pink?’

‘Extremely’ – my physio

So looking like a neon dream, I was picked up by Ronnie and driven to Crathes Castle.  Deciding to arrive at 11:15 for a 12:00 race was not the most intelligent idea, and the parking lots were full by the time we arrived, forcing us (and the other latecomers) to park on the side of the road.

We made it to registration, grabbed our technical t-shirts (which are very swanky, for the record), and then I left Ronnie to find the bag drop while I joined Rhona in her quest to find the loos.  After the toilet stop I ran into Teri (who, without any training whatsoever, completed her first two half marathons in the last few weeks in 1:48:xx and 1:38:xx – sick), and then we were spotted by Dawn, who was running her very first half.  At this point we were in the starters’ mass, but no sign of Ronnie.  We lost all sense of time as we chatted and were stunned into gear when we heard the horn go off.

And off we went!  Teri was nursing a bad cold, so she decided to run with me and aim for 2 hours.  Immediately we noticed the heat!  It was probably around 20 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – beautiful!  But for running, tough going (to everyone suffering in the US with your heat waves – I know!  But to folk accustomed to Scottish weather, this is akin to being stranded in the Sahara). Teri and I stuck together and chatted the whole way, which was nice.  My leg hurt, and she was ill, so we soldiered on like invalids and spoke of ice cold water, then ice cold coke, and finally beer.

It kept our spirits high.  The very nice family who created a backyard water station with their kids helping fill up paper ‘Princess’ cups with beautiful cold water was possibly the highlight of the course.  There were 3 official water stops on the day, and while this would normally be fine for mid-September in Scotland, the freak heat made them seem miles apart (yes, I’m aware they were literally miles apart, but I mean like, several hundred).  I also enjoyed every person who said hello because they recognized me from the great wide internet (Pete, I’m looking at you – and I hope whatever you pulled today is easing up, because you looked like you were partying in Pain City!).

The course was described as relatively flat, and I’d have to agree with that.  The long, slight incline towards the end of the course was not very pleasant, but overall nothing nasty.  Behold the elevation profile!

Crathes Half Marathon elevation

Not too evil, I think you’ll all agree.  In the last 500 meters of so, Teri sped up but my calf/shin was killing me so I resigned myself to not sprinting at the end.  The fact that some dude totally smoked me just before the finish line was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but whatever, fuck him.  I crossed with my name being announced over the loudspeaker (always a cool rock star touch), collected my medal, grabbed some water, and then accepted a hug from Teri (who nearly strangled me with her bicep, unknowingly – I hope).

As we hung around and found more and more people we knew, we were all pretty disappointed with our times.  Today marked a personal worst for me (totally not worried about marathon time – I’m lying, I’m concerned), as well as for Teri, Ronnie, and a good few others.  At least Dawn stormed home with a PB!

I’m back home, showered, and soon to be fed, and while my leg is in pain, it doesn’t feel quite as bad as it did after my 6 miles last Sunday – so there is hope!  While I’ve been ‘strongly urged’ not to run again before Loch Ness, I might see about a wee test run next weekend if I can get through this week in less pain than last (Queue my physio exhaling dramatically and burying her head in her hands).  And as a parting gift today, here is the course map for the Crathes Half Marathon:

Crathes Half Marathon course map

How to avoid Marathon Training: Pull a neck muscle.

It isn’t uncommon to incur an injury when training for a marathon, that much I know.  Usually it’s related to your legs, you know, because they’re kind of used a bit during running.  Now anyone that knows me will know that I’m not monogamous when it comes to physical activity.  I totally dig running, but I’m also a bit of a gym whore, and regularly go to weights/spin/yoga/aerobics classes.  Most runners call this ‘cross-training’ and die-hard runners seem to hate it, because it isn’t running.  I like a bit of variety in my sweating.

It was during one of these cross-training sessions on Friday that I threw an over-enthusiastic punch, twisting my upper body with mad style, but also pulling a muscle in my neck.  I didn’t notice at the time, but when after the class in the changing room I noticed my neck felt a bit stiff when I was putting my rucksack on, and by the time I got home about an hour later, it was pretty sore and swollen, and it hurt to look up, down, and to the side, so after consulting Dr. Google and ruling out various horrific ailments, figured I had a neck strain.  Aware that Tough Mudder was just over a week away, I tried to keep my head as still as possible, and hoped I’d feel better Saturday morning.

I did not.  If anything, I felt worse.  I’m not normally a pill-popping Penelope (I don’t know either), but I was in so much pain that I cracked out the ibuprofen.  Drugs, my friends, are amazing.  If it weren’t for my weirdness with chucking chemicals into my body, I’d take drugs frequently, because I felt great.  For about 2 hours.  Then the pain crept in again, but at lest I had some distraction.  It was my friend Grant’s birthday night out, and he had come over with his brother in the early afternoon.

In between laughing at my predicament, we played board games, baked cake, ate some take-away Nando’s and generally just hung out.  This was easy enough to do because I could maintain my weird, upright, looking-straight-ahead position in comfort.  But then the time came to venture beer-ward.  I managed a shower, then, with some discomfort, managed to get into an appropriate drinking outfit and slap on some make-up.  Unfortunately the pain was creeping back, so I opted not to drink in case I felt the need to chow down on more ibuprofen (I’m aware some of you are A-OK with over the counter drugs and a few beers, but I’ve just got a no-mixing policy, mainly due to my own paranoia that I’ll react in a strange way and go blind, which would suck).

I was really looking forward to beers on Saturday, so I was a bit pissed off at my mean right hook, but at least I scrubbed up well:

So here we are on Monday afternoon.  I’ve missed a mid-distance and a long run over the weekend, and I suspect it will be at least another couple of days before I’m back pounding the pavement.  I have better range of movement, and I had a sports massage scheduled for tonight anyway, so hopefully I’ll be feeling better tomorrow.  As long as I’m able to take part in Tough Mudder, I’ll be able to refrain from an all-CAPS, rage-induced post.  Until then, back to discovering daytime TV.

Of course my calf hurts.

So, two race weekends in a row are coming up, and ever since that last parkrun, my calf has been hurting.  I did 2 miles on the treadmill on Monday, and it was sore. It was meant to be 4, so I’m guessing that if I’m going to be running this weekend, I wont be running this week.  And if I’m going to be running NEXT weekend, at the Edinburgh half, I’m going to be taking it a bit easy on Sunday at the 10k.


At least it doesn’t seem to hurt when I’m doing other exercise, so that’s alright.

Speaking of the Baker Hughes 10k, although I got my race pack on Saturday, I have friends who are taking part that STILL haven’t received theirs, though an e-mail went out saying they should be there by Thursday at the latest.  So anyone out there still waiting, you have another day to wait before complaint e-mails!  Apparently there was an extra ‘e’ in Aberdeen or something – I’d quite like to see a photo of one of the blooper bibs though.

In other news, my ridiculously shit, less-than-a-year-old boiler decided to up and quit working, again, yesterday.  It’s great how it always waits until a dip in the temperature to give up on me.  Plumbers are upstairs beavering away as I type.

And off to work I go!

Injury: A Pain in the Ab!

When I started working out in my early 20’s I felt invincible. I was a machine that didn’t need to be oiled. Stretching was merely an inconvenience I didn’t have time for. ‘Rest’ was not in my vocabulary. I was fortunate, for a very long time, to remain injury free, the only sign of my mortality being creaky knees.

Two years ago during an aerobics class, right after a particularly enthusiastic high-kick, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach muscle, just to the right of my belly button. It literally took my breath away, but thinking it was just a bad stitch, soldiered on to the end of the class, taking easy options. I went home and assumed I’d wake up the next day feeling great.

When the pain was noticeably present the following day, I became mildly concerned, but it was only when I tried to go for a run and was confronted by a sharp pain again that I became worried. I went to the doctor only to find out I’d torn my ab muscle. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do without using your abs, so my exercise regime became drastically lighter (translation: wussier) for the next couple of months. Then I felt as though things were improving, so I (stupidly) decided to try out my old routine. Bad move.

So I re-tore the muscle (not a pleasant feeling) and had to lay off ab work and anything too strenuous for months. I had to switch to cycling, weights and the cross trainer to try and maintain strength. I really missed high intensity workouts and getting drenched in sweat. It was a really frustrating time and got me really down.

My operations this year, though unrelated to the injury, did give my stomach a chance to rest fully for a few months. I am nearly back to doing everything I was before, bar a few ab routines, and while I still get twinges every now and then, I now know how important it is to lay off instead of thinking I’m indestructible and can ‘power through the pain’.

The point of this post is to just highlight that I have learned injuries are not to be taken lightly and it isn’t worth it to try and jump back into training as soon as possible if you risk re-injury. They mess up your plans and can be really frustrating, but injuries are just one of those things you have to put up with.