Niggly feet and poorly back

Running is a silly game isn’t it. You get yourself all psyched up to go for it and then something puts you out of action again. Hmph. Anyway, as you probably know, my running has been crappy and my calf muscles have been really tight and painful and then my feet have been really really sore… Stretching seemed to help a little to ease things and as I have done more yoga things have generally felt more mobile. So I have been wanting to go out and test my legs and feet but then I hurt my back…

So, I would love to have a good story about my back. You know, how I heroically dragged a small child out of the canal saving it from drowning but yanking my back in the process. Or how I climbed a tree to rescue a poor little stuck kitten and twisted my back in the process. Or…stop it, this will just get ridiculous. I’d even settle for the kind of funny story that can’t really be shared on a blog – well not this sort of blog anyway. But no, I’m afraid my niggly back is as middle class a story as it gets. You see, we ordered a new fancy food processor/mixer thingy. It was delivered and after I had signed for it, I bent down to pick up the box – which wasn’t that heavy but just awkward. Kath had to come and get the box off me because I couldn’t bend and there was a definite twinge in my left lower back into my hip.

So for the last few days, as well as reluctantly admitting that maybe this means I am actually an adult, after all I remember laughing at adults and their temperamental backs, I have been trying to wait patiently for it to get better. I have stretched gently. I have also sat on my arse and whinged of course but I have been relatively sensible. Today it felt quite a bit better but today I so did not want to run. Or do anything for that matter. I wasn’t settled either though. I gave up on an afternoon nap attempt. That might be a first. Eventually Kath decided she was going to go and run so I thought I might as well go too. We didn’t run together but setting off at the same time at least got me out of the house. I tried my Saucony road shoes that I got for Christmas – a good excuse to stay on the road and even bits of the canal.

So in order to try and get some positive running in that isn’t characterised by being in pain or at least very uncomfortable within a few minutes, I kept to 30 second/30 second intervals and went really slowly. I am excited to say I made it 2 miles (downhill and flat mostly) almost completely pain free. My left foot started to niggle a little at just before 2 miles and I wondered whether my calf was a bit tight so at 2 miles I stopped and stretched for a few minutes by a canal bridge. Just as I set off again I heard a ‘plop’ behind me, turned and saw a kingfisher emerge from the water with a little fish. I watched it stop on a branch for a few seconds and then fly off into the distance. I carried on my intervals, interrupted by a quick stop as Kath caught me up and we had a quick chat, until I reached 2.5 miles. I had planned to go a total of 4 but things were now definitely tightening and my feet were starting to be achey so I decided to head for home and walk the last half mile home. My feet were sore when I got home but overall that was so much better.

Wow it’s hard not to get frustrated isn’t it. I’m itching to run (but then can’t be fucked to go out when I can) and I am itching to get the miles ticking over on my #Run1000Miles challenge. It would be nice to be ahead of the curve but that’s not likely to happen any time soon – not until I have sorted tight legs and feet. But, onwards, one little mile at a time if I have to!

Oh and Kingfisher!

Not 8 miles but not all bad either

Well that 8 mile loop isn’t meant to be is it. First there was the ice, then Kath was going to recce it after an appointment in Skipton but forgot her trainers and today my right quad didn’t want to play. It was a bit tight yesterday but I gently introduced it to the foam roller and stretched and it seemed on again then.

We set off at Bolton Abbey on a run/walk. I could feel my quad from the start but it wasn’t really painful. We just kept plodding along, still really nursing my legs generally and walking the steepest bits and taking it easy. Barden Bridge came easily and we IMG_8363crossed and headed back along the Wharfe. I enjoyed running that stretch. We ran a few more of the hills once back in the wood and that was probably a mistake. Once we’d walked my nemesis hill and run down the other side my quad niggle had developed into a deep achey pain and I had to admit defeat. We ran/walked the rest of the way to the Pavilion and I knew it was the right call because my quad no longer recovered in-between run segments. Still frustrating though.

I am trying not to be too annoyed and upset. I have still clocked up a total of just over 19 miles this week (I only ran a total of 22 ish in all of January last year) and there are lots of positives to take from today:

  1. Bolton Abbey was gorgeous this morning. It was still and calm. The Wharfe was moving slowly like it was recovering from the franticness that was Christmas and New Year. It was meandering leisurely like it didn’t have a care in the world.
  2. The ducks seemed to have adjusted their pace to that of the Wharfe, they seemed content in the slow moving water and happy to just be.
  3. There were nuthatches, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, robins, woodpeckers and herons
  4. There were excitable but friendly dogs taking their humans for a walk
  5. The Barden Bridge loop now feels normal – it no longer feels like the longer route or the extension to the normal loop. The 4.6 miles really was quite easy. I know I was walking some but then I used to do that on the Aqueduct loop too and there was a time I couldn’t have contemplated going further
  6. 4.6 miles is 4.6 miles. It’s not nothing
  7. Sunday Weigh-In. I’m down a pound. Again better than nothing. Also not actually a positive from the run today, I got on the scales before we went but it seems to fit here anyway

So another week of running. I have now run nearly 32 miles this year. A little behind the #run1000miles challenge schedule but close enough and roughly where I wanted to be at this point. Some of you may also know that the Bolton Abbey Estate challenged me to run 100 of my 1000 miles on the Estate and I, of course, accepted that challenge.


So my Bolton Abbey miles are 4.6/100. 95.4 to go. That’s doable, right? Well as long as I can get coffee and a bacon sarnie or cake at the end of my Bolton Abbey runs I’m there.

Happy Sunday

December running

Right well December running hasn’t quite go to plan.  So after the speed work session I last blogged about, I next made it out 4 days later for a rather pitiful 2 miles on the work gym treadmill (urgh). I wasn’t really motivated and I was busy at work and tired and just didn’t kick my butt out the door. It also got icy. I am terrified when it gets icy.  On the 16th we managed a run out to post/deliver our Christmas cards  – just short of 4.5 miles, During that run my feet and calves really started hurting but I just put that down to me being stupidly tense and bambi-esque because of it being slippery.  On the 19th it was finally warmer and we headed to Bolton Abbey for a 7 ish mile loop – of which I managed 1 and a bit before having to hobble back to the cafe in agony. I sat having coffee, waiting for Kath to finish the loop and feeling miserable until a gorgeous little robin joined me. Then I remembered that just being able to get out and enjoy being outside is so much more than many have.


I tried two more runs of 5km ish but on each I had to walk pretty much everything after the first mile because of pain in my feet/calves/ankles or a combination. My calf muscles just seem to go incredibly tight and then every step feels like it might make them pop, my feet feel bruised on top and achey and like they’re on fire everywhere else and my ankles just feel like they are not strong enough to hold it all together. It eases a little if I walk very slowly but as soon as I start running again it comes back immediately. From past experience I suspect that the actual problem is really tight hamstrings coupled with weak calf muscles so I’m working on both those things

IMG_8159I did throw in some hill sprints on one of the almost abandoned runs just to not be too disappointed. That worked because I’d run about a mile, then walked a bit, then run another mile and then walked most of the last mile before the hills. At least I had a decent workout. Yesterday we were going to do two loops to add up to a total of 8 miles but I didn’t make it round the first so instead I stretched, foam rolled, stretched, hydrated, stretched…

This morning I went out again. I borrowed Kath’s watch so I could set run/walk intervals. I went for 30 seconds run followed by 30 seconds walk. I set off on pretty much the most direct runnable route to the canal and was so relieved when I passed the 1 mile beep without any pain. My feet were achey but not painful and everything else felt normal. Just after two miles my calves started feeling tight so at the stone bridge where I was going to turn round, I stopped a few minutes and stretched everything out (apologies to the sheep who had to watch that). Then  I set off back. Felt ok. On the way back I tried to run the 30 second runs hard. I got a little more than a niggle in my left foot just before 4 miles but I was at the big hill anyway so walked up and then ran/walked the rest home. It was so good to get out and actually be able to cover the distance. I’m continuing to stretch and am working on strengthening my calf muscles again. For now I think I’ll be back to run/walk at least until I can do that without any niggles. Happy to have covered 4.5 miles today though and the morning light along the canal bank was stunning.

For most of my run it was just me and the ducks. I saw a couple of swans who seemed to be deep in conversation as they floated down the canal, heads close together leaning in to each other. Further along I saw a guy fishing and we exchanged good mornings both of us slightly irritated that our solitude had been interrupted. Towards the end of my run, as I left the calm and quiet company of the ducks and made my way up through the housing estate, I saw a child in a Rudolph onesie playing on swings in a garden and a bloke trying to untangle his headphones from his dog’s lead. That’s it. There was something of the magic of Christmas eve out there and I was happy to be part of it.

Scarborough running – but not as planned

I had been looking forward to the Yorkshire Coast 10k run. Last time we did this 3 years ago I was so totally unfit that I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was looking forward to taking it all in this time. I was looking forward to running a race which didn’t require me to be out there for about 3 hours… then I got flu. Even as we packed our bags into the car to drive up to Scarborough in Friday afternoon I  really didn’t think I’d be able to run but I still had a day and a bit to recover.

Seeing the road closure signs heightened the excitement and I began to be hopeful that I might be able to run.

Road closed scarboroughWe woke up early on Saturday and decided we’d go for a little jog just to test my lungs and Kath’s knee. It was a gorgeous morning. We walked down to the seafront – the North Bay and turned left to run towards Sealife. We started with a 1 minute run and a 30 seconds walk and kept that going until we got to Sealife. This was our view:

Scarborough morning 2 Scarborough morning 1

Once we turned round we decided to run back without stopping and Kath opted for the softer ground and dropped down onto the beach. I tried to take a picture of her running while running and also tried to capture the view I had running along the beach huts. It was all a bit wobbly but somehow I quite like the pictures:

Scarb running 1Scarb running 2

I tried to run the last 100m as fast as I could just to see if my lungs would hold out. It didn’t  feel top bad as I stopped and we walked back to the hotel for breakfast feeling pretty positive. But then how could you not be happy with this view

Scarborough morning 3

We had a lovely day Saturday but we did walk quite a bit and by the time we got back from the restaurant at maybe 8ish I felt really flakey. I basically just curled up and fell asleep feeling poorly. My foot was also sore. Not sure what I’d done but the arch of my right foot and round my ankle felt like it was burning. Still I thought I’d be fine for Sunday. When we woke up on Sunday it quickly became apparent that neither of us was really up for running. Kath had started with the symptoms that started my flu off a couple of days before but had got much worse over night and felt very poorly. While I felt a bit better my foot still hurt and I was worried about how much just walking the day before had wiped me out. We both really wanted to run but decided it wasn’t sensible. We had a little cry but both felt better having made that call.

We did walk over to the harbour area and cheered the runners on as they went past on the way out and the way back. It was such a gorgeous day and I really wanted to be out there. I watched the runners go by with a mixture of envy and admiration. Admiration for those running those amazingly fast times but somehow more admiration for those further down the pack for whom just putting one foot in front of the other is probably a huge deal, for those who didn’t think they could do it but did, for those who seemed surprised by us cheering them on telling them they were doing really well, admiration particularly for those who were scared and unconfident – I was there not so long ago and on most running days I still am.

We drove home. We made it til about 6.30pm and went to bed. I slept til just before 6am and woke up feeling poorly, with a sore throat and a temperature- cancelled my London trip and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

I guess the Yorkshire Coast 10k will have to wait another year!

Woman Down

Kath has hurt her knee. We don’t know when or how exactly. The 11 miler was fine and running the 2.5 miles yesterday she was fine too – a little achey as we walked back home up the hill. It got worse during the day. This morning she couldn’t put weight on it at all. The poor thing is in agony. The doctor was useless. She got a telephone appointment and was told to keep icing the knee, keep the leg elevated, use ibuprofen gel (she can’t take the tablets, they give her ulcers) and wait a few days. If there is no improvement in a few days she is to ring them back for further advice. She has made an appointment with her osteopath for this afternoon.

I should probably wait to blog until we know what’s what but it is on my mind and I am not concentrating properly and thus not getting anything done. I thought getting it off my chest might help with that! So I realise that this is totally selfish, self- centred and just a little bit out of line but I’m back to that honesty thing again: I am scared. Obviously I am worried about Kath’s knee and it is awful to see her in pain and to see her frustration at not being able to do anything. Empathy, worry, concern…all those emtions are there. And then there is also just being scared. Chances of Kath running again before the Nottingham Half Marathon are, I would think, zero. Hell, chances of her running the Nottingham Half Marathon are pretty slim looking at her hop her way through the house. So best case – Kath rests her knee and is ok to run in 2 week’s time. That means I have at least 5 runs to complete ON MY OWN. I have never ever ever run anywhere for any length of time on my own. The idea fills me with horror. I don’t have the self-discipline to do that. I’ll never make it through 3 minutes of running, never mind a full 45 minute loop.

Worst case? I feel quite sick thinking about this. Worst case, Kath is out for a while and not back for the Nottingham run. I need to keep training – Kath is fitter than I am by loads so she’ll catch up. I can’t stop. That means I need to run 13 miles in 2 weeks whatever happens. I will have to run Nottingham by myself. Just me. I may have to run the Scarborough 10km by myself. Just me. I may have to ramp up the mileage to 15, 17, even 19 miles by myself. Just me. Oh hell

Ok let’s try and be positive here. Kath is pretty fit, she doesn’t have underlying knee issues and hasn’t had problems before. She didn’t feel anything tear or pop, she’s had ice on it and has looked after it well since it got bad. She has an excellent osteopath. Surely nearly two weeks’ rest should do it and we can carefully potter our way round the half marathon and then kick on from there. I want to do this together and not just because I’m not sure I can do it on my own but because this is our thing, our challenge, something we said we’d do together. Kath has always promised she’d never leave me behind and she always crosses the finish line right next to me although she could clearly outrun me in every finish – she could just leave me for dust. We are going to cross the RunDisney WDW marathon finish line together but if she is going to be out for a while that means that I have to keep going on my own. Kath might be able to deal with several weeks of not training and I don’t think it will have an impact on her ability to finish a marathon at my pace. If I stop and wait for her to come back I will be too far behind schedule and risk not being able to make it round at all. So for us to do this together I have to keep going on my own.

Just me.