Category Archives: Personal

Back to life

Winter clouds

2014 was one of those years that I’m happy to draw a line underneath. My running never really took off after the marathon – if anything, it nose-dived into oblivion as I ended up being plagued by a piriformis related injury (the piriformis is a muscle involved in external rotation of the hip). It came to a head in a 5 mile club trail race at the beginning of July; the run started out well but after 3 miles, I was in such pain that I had to pull out and was left with nothing but the ignominious walk back to the start. After that, it never really came together. I did run more but mostly running felt difficult and painful and by October, I’d more or less given up.

The end of last year saw me stop running for two months. This in itself isn’t unusual – my running career has never been what you might call consistent – but for the the last 10 or so weeks of 2014, just even thinking about running made me cross. I stopped going to the gym, didn’t do any training or exercise, lost my fitness, put on weight and got into a spiral of decline. I was frustrated and unhappy and had got to the point where I was ready to give up on running altogether.

Running and I were finished.
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Time Marches On

It’s March and I find myself once again in an all too familiar and depressing situation – whether or not to pull out of a race because of injury. It’s a little depressing that I am once again writing this sort of post, especially when I have several race reports to write up because, yes, since recovering from breaking my foot last year, I have raced. Unfortunately, it’s as a result of the most recent one (report coming soon) that I am sitting here wondering what to do.

But first, some background. At the end of November, at our club AGM, we had the annual lottery for the London Marathon entries allocated to the club. (Read more information about that scheme on the VLM website). On a last minute whim, I put my name into the hat and, yes, you guessed it, won a place. Then, three days later in a rather foolish and ill-advised foray back onto a rugby pitch, I pulled my right calf muscle quite severely. Why was I on a rugby pitch? Don’t ask and I won’t tell (although I wasn’t playing a game of rugby – I never made it that far). The injury was serious enough for me to be relegated to crutches for 3 or 4 days and so December became a month of enforced rest.
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Distance over time

It’s now May. More to the point, it’s now 2013 and this is my first post. The days, weeks and months are speeding by at an alarming rate. Time flies, as they say, when you’re having fun – but the same can also be said when you are extremely busy. I spent the first couple of months of the year studying hard for my Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. After taking the exams, doing the compulsory training days and spending time doing a nutrition case study, I had my final practical assessment in London 6 weeks ago and passed with flying colours. I am now fully qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer (with only a couple of modules left to do to complete my full diploma).

I know it was 6 weeks ago because the very next day I managed to break my foot – a Jones fracture on the 5th metatarsal to be precise – while demonstrating a running drill to a client. Not a moment I’ll forget, mostly because of the way my clients face went white but also because of the sound – as if someone had snapped a piece of wood in half. My client kindly offered to drive me to A&E but for reasons borne out of professionalism (and no little amount of embarrassment) I told her we couldn’t as she hadn’t done her circuits and forgive me if I have a little sit down.

So broken bones have lead to broken dreams or something similarly overdramatic. I had planned to attempt the Ridgeway Challenge yet again this year but even though I probably would have time to train for it, I think it would be foolhardy so I’m putting it out of my mind. Honest guv’nor.

Where does that leave me? At a good point I think. I have to start slowly back and am even thinking of doing the Couch-to-5k plan or joining my clubs Start-to-run course and get back to fitness slowly. It would be good from a training point of view both to avoid injury and also know exactly what it’s involved so I can knowledgably comment on it for potential clients. I may even aim to do a 5 or 10k or two by the end of the year – as well as take part in Cross Country season (which, I remember, I didn’t do last year because of Plantar Fasciitis).

More than anything, this has given me incentive to make sure I look after my legs better otherwise this neglected blog is in danger of becoming The Traildragon Catalogue of Running Injuries (2012 onwards).

I may even start blogging again but I make no promises.

Winter is coming

Shortly after my last blog post, way back in September, I ran to work one morning and by the end of the commute, a mere 8 miles along roads, I was in absolute agony. There was a dull throb in my left foot and after a few hours, I could hardly walk. I went to my GP a couple of days later who confirmed what I suspected – Plantar Fasciitis. No more running for a while – rest and recuperation. That was at the beginning of October.

I haven’t been doing a very good job of it to be honest. The reason I suspect this has come on is because of tight muscles and as I keep going on about this and about how I need to stretch and foam-roll and restore the balance to my legs, you’d think I’d have got it sorted. But I haven’t. And I don’t. And I really, really should. Bad Traildragon! So I’ve only got myself to blame and my cross-country season has been all but written off.

What surprised me on further reading was that Plantar Fasciitis is an extremely common complaint and not just in athletes and runners. Apparently 1 in 4 people will suffer it at some point. I know I’m not alone: Tom Goom, a Brighton based runner and physiotherapist wrote about treating ultrarunner Jody Raynsford’s PF. I should probably get my foot properly assessed to see if I can determine what the exact causes are – I have problems with my right leg but rarely with my left so for it to go so suddenly and without warning means something isn’t right. I suspect it’s my running shoes which are getting a little beyond their best-by date.

On a side note, when I went to my GP I said one of the reasons I went in was because I wanted to be sure it wasn’t anything more serious, like a chipped bone. His response was “How can that be? What on earth do you think can get chipped?” Reading Tom’s post, the first thing he does is to rule out “a calcaneal stress fracture (stress fracture of the heel bone)” – so I wasn’t wrong in wanting to rule out skeletal damage. I should trust my instincts more!

So, there we are – my latest diatribe about my continuing ailments. As I don’t have much running to write about at the moment, I’m going to have to think about some other topics to discuss instead. Hmmm… I wonder how long I can keep the seasonal themed titles going?

6 month review

Coming up to the end of June and completing the first half of the year, I thought I’d quickly go over the plans that I set out for myself at the beginning of the year. Let’s see how I’m doing:

  1. Thames Path 100: didn’t happen owing to illness and house move.
  2. Lakeland 100: on track, training going well.
  3. Club off-road championships: of the 6 races that have taken place, I’ve taken part in 1. I’ve been away or otherwise engaged for the rest. Of the 6 remaining, I’ll be missing at least 2. So no, haven’t really done that well.
  4. Road marathon: not going to happen this year. Plans are already afoot for next year though.
  5. Finishing Personal Training course. Have worked on this although haven’t booked the exam yet. Still in line to get a lot done before the end of the year.

It’s a good thing I’m not going to discuss this in terms of achievements or failures because otherwise I’d be feeling really bad about a potential 2/5 success rate. In another 6 months time I’ll be able to seriously review this year and properly discuss my acheivements.

How’s your year going?

Pipe dreams

You know when you have an idea that’s a really, really bad idea but it just won’t go away? To put it in common internet phraseology… that! And when someone who’s planning to tackle 100 miles of trails around the Lake District says that they’ve got an idea and it may be a bad idea then, well, context is everything.

As I may have mentioned five or six times before, I used to be a sprinter and long jumper. I also used to be young, weigh 12.5 stone and have hair on my head. The last time I took part in a long jump competition was at Walton Athletics Club’s track back in 1999? Possibly 2000? I’ve got it written down somewhere. Back in March, after moving house for the second time in a year, I found my track spikes. They were hardly worn. In the back of my head, a little voice said “Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to do Long Jump again.” To which the neurons in my legs rather rapidly transmitted a message to my brain saying something along the lines of “You have got to be fucking kidding!” Then it went something like this:
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Best Laid Plans #2

The Thames Path 100 is tomorrow. My kit is ready: jelly babies counted out, drop-bags sorted and headtorch batteries checked. Except that I’ve just had to email the organiser to say I won’t be running. Once more, another race that I’ve pulled out of with less than 24 hours to go.

This time, the reason is because of a sickness (D&V) bug that has been going around the village school which my kids and wife have now succumbed too. They will need dadddy to be around to look after them and not off on a 100 mile jolly up to Oxford. I’m gutted and I’m really upset – but it’s only a race and there will be more. If I don’t put my family first, what sort of man does that make me?

I’m sure it’s for the best – this week we’ve been moving house and I’ve spent the last 5 days moving and unpacking boxes; it feels like I’ve spent a couple of hours down the gym doing squats every day. I haven’t really done enough training and as much as I’d like to think I’m ready, I haven’t mentally prepared for this as well as I should have done.

But I’m still gutted.

Good luck to all those who are taking part and I will watch your progress online. Hope to see you next year.

UPDATE 4th March: The event got cancelled early this morning after the weather took a turn for the worst. It went from being quite a nice sunny day yesterday to being sub zero degrees and windy overnight and snow this morning. Several competitors ended up being treated for hypothermia and James, the race diretor, made the tough call to cancel the race and pull the remaining competitors out. It sounds like I had a lucky escape. Congratulations to all that finished and I hope those who got ill recover well and don’t let the experience put them off.

UPDATE 8th March: James has posted his version of events on the Centurion Running website.

UPDATE 9th March: I have a temperature of 102 degrees. Definitely a good thing I didn’t run with this brewing inside me.

Happy New Year

I can’t believe I haven’t update at all for so long! I think my blog posts are about as frequent as my training has been over the last four or five weeks. Needless to say, my plans have gone awry and I’m once again finding motivation hard to come by. But looking forward, this year has got a lot to offer.

  • First up is the Thames Path 100 in March, a relatively flat 100 mile race from London to Oxford.
  • The next major event is my return to the Lakeland 100 in July.
  • With all being well, I’m going to do as many of my clubs off-road championship events as I can.
  • I’d like to run a road marathon this year to get a time under my belt (and to say I’ve done it)
  • I will finsih my Personal Training course and become a qualified fitness instructor.

So it should all be easily achievable – let’s see what barriers I can throw up for myself.

Happy New Year everybody and good running.

Summers End

September. Wow, that’s come around quick hasn’t it!

My running is in voluntary hiatus at the moment. I’ve decided to spend most – if not all – of this month not running so that I can concentrate on sorting out my various niggles and complaints – calves, ITB, mobility and generally feeling old and decrepit. The latter issue could probably be addressed by not hanging around with people considerably younger than me.

That last sentence sounds more dodgy than it was intended!

My usual training plan for the winter months goes something like this: look out the window; note how cold, wet and miserable it is outside; decide to stay indoors; console myself with a cheese sandwich, a beer and a side order of lard; promise to go running the next day (or maybe wait until spring). There’s nothing quite like putting on a pound or 20 to keep the winter chills at bay. What I came to realise this year is that this particular training regime leads to nothing but the inability to do the button up on the only pair of posh trousers I own. Inevitably, come Christmas day, I’m hunting for safety pins to help prevent any embarassing wardrobe malfunctions.

This year, I’m planning to spice things up by making one small, but significant, change to my usual winter training. I’m going to get off my arse and do some exercise.

I’ve even bought a training diary!

Best Laid Plans #1

Less than 24 hours before the start of the Ridgeway Challenge and I’ve pulled out. The niggle that I had with the tightness in my calf became a full on nag that, in the end, I couldn’t ignore. I went out for a club run on Wednesday night, one final loosener before the weekend, and even though we only set off at a gentle jog, in under 10 minutes something went pop. I immediately stopped and walked back to my car.

I say walked – it was quite distinctly a limp.
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