Playing it Safe

This past week has seen me battling the unfortunate combination of tapering plus niggling injury, resulting in me being less than my usual “sunny” self.

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Content with having completed my 16 mile run last Sunday, and not wanting to do anything to jeopardise my marathon in 2 weeks, I decided to remove the high impact training from my schedule for the week and allow a bit of recovery time. This meant that rather than running and Metafit, my week mainly consisted of the cross trainer (dullsville!), stretching/strengthening exercises for the offending leg muscle and (rather painful) deep massage to help relieve the tension which has built up there. Although my physio said I was fine to keep running, I decided to be on the safe side and give myself a chance to shift the problem more quickly. The other thing in the back of my mind, of course, was the Glasgow Women’s 10k which has had a question mark above it in my mind all week. I was desperate to be there, but not at the risk of the Edinburgh marathon, so resolved to decide on that one towards the end of the week.

So my revised training schedule for the week was:

Monday – swim/sauna (instead of 30 min recovery jog)
Tuesday – 45 mins cross trainer (instead of 10k run)
Wednesday – massage etc on leg (instead of Metafit)
Thursday – coaching running club
Friday – 40 mins cross trainer (instead of Metafit)
Saturday – 2 mile test run (instead of 4 mile easy run)

I was glad that I made the decision to cross train as in the early part of the week I found my lower leg really tight. The muscle in question is the tibialis posterior which runs down the back of the shin bone and attaches underneath the foot. The position of the tightness therefore meant that every time I got up to walk about, I would feel very “stiff” and uncomfortable for a few steps and then the discomfort would disappear as the tightness eased. Applying the straightforward injury rule that if you cannot walk pain-free then you aren’t ready to run, I realised that a bit of time out was definitely called for. The muscle was still rather “gritty” so Steve worked on it to break that down. He also took me through a variety of movements and exercises to help identify the cause. We had initially believed it might be my hip, but with that moving well and the discomfort still there, we turned our attention to the foot which has a history of getting a bit “locked up”.

Sure enough, there was an imbalance in the way my left foot was moving compared to my right and this was impacting on the flexor muscle which runs from the toes, under the foot and around the back of the ankle (roughly where a lot of the discomfort has been). The tension wasn’t shifting because the root of the problem hadn’t been dealt with, but once the foot was moving better I noticed a dramatic improvement in the tightness in my leg almost straight away. This should hopefully mean that the tension and tightness in the muscle will now easy away within a few days. My Saturday morning test run was a successful one and there was no significant discomfort afterwards, so that question mark has finally been removed from Glasgow. I’d still love to aim for a PB, but after a week off and a lot of doubt I’m happy to reset my goal and be content with simply being there and doing my best.

That week off running has been an odd one. No runner is ever terribly patient when it comes to resolving injuries and niggles, particularly with a race (or races) looming. Cross training and other activities are a positive step to filling the gap, but I never feel like I’ve worked as hard as when I’m running or doing Metafit. Without the same endorphin release, the grumpiness and misery can make an appearance, so I tried to find some other things to liven up the week.

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First up – music. I decided to liven up Tuesday’s dreary 45 minutes on the cross trainer by taking the Mp3 player I received from Julia as part of the Great Running Music Exchange I’m part of (along with Jaynie and Kyla). I hadn’t listened to any of it yet so thought the surprise element of what I was listening to would add a bit of interest for me and luckily it worked. Some of the tracks I heard certainly made me smile and it’s interesting to see what ones (if any) we have in common. Livened up cross training: achieved!

Second – running club. To help give my leg a rest, Steve and I swapped roles this week and he ran with the 10k group while I coached the Zero to 5k group. I hadn’t worked with this particular group of people before but they were more than willing to listen to my advice and push themselves to achieve more. This was their third session (of five) so the challenge was to run a full lap of the park (about 1.5 miles) for the first time. When I first mentioned it they did look a bit sceptical, but valiantly set out nonetheless. I met them about half way round and ran the final part of the lap at the front of the group. Seeing the joy on their faces when they got to the end having run it all was priceless. They were so overjoyed at their own achievement and reaching that particular milestone, and it was lovely to be part of that and see the pride on their faces. It was a timely reminder that we all have to start somewhere and to celebrate our successes. I’m glad I was able to share that moment and can’t wait to see their reaction when they complete their 5k run in a couple of weeks.

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Finally – the mail. This week saw me receiving a few items which put a smile on my face for a variety of reasons.

Arriving home from my cross training session on Tuesday I discovered not one, but three exciting packages. First up was a souvenir tech top I had ordered from the Paris marathon. I read about it in one of the pre-race emails and really liked the idea – a tech top featuring not just your finish time (a great incentive to run the best time possible!) but also a replica of your race bib printed on the front. Steve ordered his at the race expo where a rep guided him through the process as the website was all in French, but I had pre-ordered mine before travelling to Paris. The fact that not only did the Tshirt arrive, but that it had all the correct details on it, gave me an extra reason to smile (and feel a little bit smug about my linguistic abilities!).

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It even has “pins” printed on the replica bib!

The other two packages contained my race numbers for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend – one for the 5k on the Saturday and one for the marathon itself on the Sunday. Our postman must be wondering what the heck is going on as Steve received no less than 4 race packs for his EMF races, meaning a total of 6 packets for our address!

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And today I returned home from supporting Steve in the Loch Leven half marathon to find another couple of exciting packages. First of all, the exclusive tech top I had ordered from Great Run since my 10k in Glasgow this weekend is part of their line-up (and I like a souvenir top!):

IMG_2973IMG_2974I really like all the race listings on the back as it reminds me of a tour Tshirt!

Second, and more exciting, a medal!

You may recall that my training run last Sunday was also part of a virtual run to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support, which happens to be our chosen charity this year. I paid £6 to sign up and was sent a “race bib” by email. I then submitted a photo of my Garmin post-run and waited. Today, I received this in the post:

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It’s a really lovely medal and was designed specifically for this virtual run. Having just watched Steve and some other friends complete a race and receive a medal, I had a touch of medal envy so this really cheered me up and I couldn’t resist popping it round my neck for my signature “medal pose”!

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I’m now feeling much happier than I was at the start of the week. My leg is greatly improved and I finally have confidence that I can go and run my race tomorrow without causing further problems. I’ll continue to do whatever I can to help the recovery process, but at least I can run again, which really is the important thing for those who have to come into contact with me!

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Do you have any recurring injuries or niggles?
How do you cope when you can’t go out for a run?

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8 thoughts on “Playing it Safe

    • Thanks. The rest certainly helped, although the muscle is pretty throbby again now so I’ll probably cross train for the remaining 2 weeks until the marathon and check back with my physio this week.

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  1. I am not a happy person when I can’t run – it takes away my happy time. Plus I hate the crosstrainer. But you’re smart to put your marathon first.

    Your post all looks very exciting – cute shirts and a funky medal!

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  2. Oh noes, I hope your niggle will settle before next weekend – what a bummer! If you need (more) chocolate cake, just let me know – I’m sure we can arrange something! 😉 It’s great that you’ve made it to the taper though, so you can afford to take it easy now without missing out on the core training. I got a red number for the Edinburgh half for some reason – I don’t know why, but they seem to have confused me with a fast runner. I might have to leg it after all, which wasn’t the original plan. 😉

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    • My fingers are crossed really hard that it settles!
      Sadly no cake-eating window this week as am working away, but hopefully we can catch up soon.
      You ARE a fast runner, but you should just go with how you feel and run your own race 🙂

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