To be honest, I was beginning to wonder if I’d reached the end of the road, but after some positive steps this week things are looking much brighter for The Running Princess. I now know what is causing the niggling problem I’ve had over the last couple of weeks, how to resolve it and, most importantly, that it will be fine for Paris in three weeks. You may breathe a collective sigh of relief!
That’s not to say that the past week hasn’t presented one or two challenges, but continuing to be flexible with my training should see me on the start line healthy and ready to go.
Flexibility, of course, means continued deviation from my original plan in order to meet my current needs:
Monday – swim/sauna
8 miles hilly rest
conditioning physio appointment
cadence drills coaching 2x running clubs
20 miles 40 mile cycle
At this point, the crucial thing is to reach the start line injury-free and I would suggest that being a little under trained is far superior to carrying an injury into race day and beyond – the last thing I want is months off running again thanks to my own stupid decisions! The time out from running has given me a chance to recover from some of the difficulties I’ve had in recent times and by turning my attention to swimming and cycling, I know I’m still getting decent workouts. I’m even beginning to think that my swimming just might be improving. I still need breathers between lengths, but my stroke is becoming more consistent and I feel that my “water fitness” is improving. Hopefully I’ll be able to give my swimming a bit more attention through the summer months to build on this.
I had considered a gym session on Tuesday, however my throat was really sore all day and I was worried that I was coming down with one of the awful bugs that’s going around at work right now. I felt terrible on Tuesday evening so had a bath and early night, dosed up with everything I could think of to combat the germs. I genuinely thought I might have to stay off work on Wednesday (I’m rarely off ill), but when I woke up I felt brand new. I may have been feeling a little run down recently, but I seem to have fought off the bug pretty well, particularly as a lot of people have found themselves in bed for 3 or 4 days with it while I’ve simply had an occasional cough and slightly runny (but not blocked up) nose. Well done immune system!
Wednesday was my physio appointment and I was keen to get along and get a diagnosis of the niggling tightness at my upper thigh. I always feel better once I know what’s actually wrong as then I have a treatment plan of stretches/exercises to do which makes me feel like I’m taking much more positive action. I considered a really short test run before going so as to give the physio the most up to date feedback on the problem, but since I could still feel the tightness as I walked around, I knew how it would feel running so played it safe and skipped the run.
I saw the same physio who has helped me out with some previous problems during marathon training cycles and I’m always amazed by how quickly he can diagnose things. He is a runner too (I often see him at parkrun) which is useful and he listens carefully to what I tell him before getting me to move about in different ways, contorting my legs around and applying resistance. In the past I’ve usually been given a diagnosis accompanied by the sucking in of air when I say I have a marathon coming up, but this time I was really happy to be told that it was nothing to worry about: a slight strain in one of the quad muscles called Rectus Femoris which begins close to the hip and runs down towards the knee. That explains why I was feeling tender spots at the top of my thigh and offshoots of it running down my upper leg. It also explains why I thought my hip might potentially be involved in the problem also. My hip joint, however, is absolutely fine.
While no definitive recovery time can be given, the physio was confident that it would be fine for Paris and gave me some instructions for stretching and strengthening the muscle. Since I had stopped running, I had prevented it from becoming worse and requiring longer to heal. One thing I did find interesting, however, is that this was probably another warning sign form my body that something wasn’t right. The physio said that sometimes these things can occur not just in the “danger zone” of the 16+ mile training runs, but also when nutrition isn’t quite right, we’re a bit run down or, in the case of women, as a result of hormonal fluctuations. Massive ticks all round for those then. Basically everything that was wrong kind of “clubbed together” and found a way to make me stop running. I’m just glad I listened to the warning signs and stopped. Within a couple of days of stretching and strengthening I could already feel a massive difference and am not aware of the problem at all when walking now. I will continue to play it safe though and not rush headlong back into running.
Playing it safe meant that my role in Steve’s running clubs on Thursday night was to walk (that’s right, walk!) the mile or so from our flat out to the turning point in the route he was using for the timed 5k run at the end of the block of training. I did feel a bit daft standing around there by myself (and probably looked it too since I decided to spend the time stretching my quad!) but it meant I got a bit of exercise while protecting my muscles.
I do, however, have the ok to do some more dynamic exercises such as those involving jumping/hopping on my leg to help build strength so was hoping to get along to Metafit on Friday night. I didn’t make it though. I was a bit busy with the much more exciting task of picking up my new car and taking it for a wee spin to try it out!
I’m very happy with it and actually looking forward to driving to work on Monday morning to have a decent drive!
I decided to stick with walking for my exercise on Saturday, then on Sunday headed out for another cycle. I knew it would have to be a hilly route and I wanted to go further than last week so it seemed like an ideal time to try cycling some of my favourite hilly running routes. I was a bit concerned that I might have to get off and push the bike, but I managed all the hills, albeit slowly, and ended up riding 40 miles. I was even a bit faster this time. Another “furthest cycle” milestone, my greatest elevation climb and the reassurance that the 46 mile Tayside Challenge I’m signed up to in May should now be much more within my grasp (the 81 mile Etape, however, may actually be the death of me!). I don’t expect 46 miles to be easy, but at least I know that I’m already more or less able to cover the distance, which is encouraging.
Although milder than last week, it was a pretty windy morning and there were lots of cross winds which made it much tougher, but I enjoyed my cycle and should be able to improve even more in the weeks after Paris when I intend to focus on riding my bike rather than running. In the meantime, I hope to be able to try a test run on the treadmill this week and with a bit of luck be out running rather than riding next Sunday. Whatever happens, it’s now officially time for the taper. I’ve already had the niggles and the illness, so hopefully there won’t be too much craziness in store for me now! Mind you, I did look a little crazy when I stopped for a couple of photos today thanks to my windswept hair…
Hopefully things are now well and truly on the up for me. I’ll not complete Jantastic with a 100% record, but my health is more important and there’s always next year to try again…
How is your training going? Are you tapering for a big race?
Any tips to help me improve my cycling?