Week In Review – Getting Restless

Experience has taught me that my “sweet spot” for effective post-marathon recovery is to take two full weeks off (well if it’s good enough for the elites, it’s good enough for me, right?) but I always find the second week tricky. By the time I’m a week on from the race my legs are feeling back to normal, with the difficulty of negotiating stairs just a few days previously now a dim and distant memory, but I know that there’s more to recovery than having my legs feel good. So in the second week I really am fighting the desire to get out there. I get restless and fidgety, even with adding a bit of light cross-training and activity into the week, and would compare it a little bit to that point in the taper where you feel like a coiled spring, ready to unleash your energies on the race (but without the maranoia and constant certainty that the world is determined to make you ill or injured!). Sounds good, but without a race to look forward to, its not always easy to remember WHY I’m not running and quickly get fed up of the time off I was quite keen to have when feeling tired from all the training. Some people are never happy!

Thankfully, I had a fairly busy week to keep me distracted, but by the time the weekend rolled around I was definitely champing at the bit to run which is always a positive sign of a good recovery.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – easy cycle @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

It was good to get back to yoga again this week and catch up with some of my SUP yoga pals from the Saturday before. I felt back to “normal” so no need to be looking for adaptations or easier variations this time, although with the option to do so if I found I was wearier than I thought! As always a good class and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially after my day off work for the UK bank holiday.

Qgl4+kFJTT6gcbqn2NC1VwOn Tuesday it was back to work and I packed my gym kit for a visit to the gym on my way home. Usually this is for intervals on the bike, but I knew better than to do something like that just yet. Instead, a gentle 30 minute bike “warm up” whilst reading my Kindle book, followed by a 10 minute hot tub session then an indefinite sauna recovery😂 . The basic idea was to get my legs turning again, without impact, and to get some endorphins. On days like that it’s always a bit of a disappointment to reach the end of the workout, but it felt good to be active.

Wednesday was a rest day out of necessity. Ordinarily I might have returned to the bike or gone for a swim, but this was the night Steve and I were going to see Skid Row Marathon. The cinema here wasn’t showing it so we had to go to Dundee, about 20 miles away. Not that big a deal but it meant that I was straight home from work for something to eat then away soon after (packing our own cinema snacks of course, because they cost HOW MUCH at the cinema?!?!)

CBerC1vOSXe1BhyaB6abegWe actually bumped into quite a lot of people we knew and I was amused by the conversations I could hear around me as we waited for the film to start as it was near-enough all running-related. You don’t get that on your average cinema trip! The film itself was incredible and a few words here really can’t do it justice, so I wrote a separate post which you can read here.

IMG_6565I don’t tweet much but did take to twitter to discuss this film and ACTUAL Dame Kelly Holmes liked my tweet! Yes I did squeal when I saw that!

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 21.29.25On Thursday I had my favourite non-running session of the week, my Ashtanga yoga class. This week I was able to fully embrace it again, working more deeply into postures, moving into ‘Wheel’ for my back bend and choosing to work a little more on my headstand, supported by my lovely teacher. There were only 3 of us and all regulars, which I always like as it means we don’t have so many pauses to demonstrate postures and we can practice more of the Ashtanga sequence. I would love to be able to work in headstand unsupported, so my next goal is to add that into some of my home practice until I feel more confident.

I had another rest day on Friday as it was time to get my nails done. My lovely gold sparkly polish had seen me through my orchestral performance and my marathon, but it was starting to suffer a bit. I had no idea what polish I wanted, but opted for some more sparkle so it was a purple glitter over some black polish. I get my nails done by a friend who also runs so it’s always great to have a bit of time to catch up with her and have a good chat when I go round. Plus, fresh gel polish always makes me feel much more “together” as my nails grow really fast so slightly chipped and overgrown nails is never a good look!

8ExgqdioTlC%GoYil5v+0gSaturday was beautiful. The sun was out and it had a bit of warmth in it. Perfect running conditions and I was glad I had committed to volunteering at parkrun otherwise I might have ended up running (and going far too hard) before the end of my self-imposed break. I know it wouldn’t have been too big a deal, but I’m a stickler for sensibly following my plans!

mW0NfeWnSWm6Op4RSStXqwI was barcode scanning again so took up my same position at the end of the funnel and enjoyed chatting to the other volunteers, some park users I know and, of course, the runners. Parkrunners are generally encouraged to volunteer twice a year to keep things running smoothly, so I always sign up for my 2 in the weeks right after a marathon (plus I volunteer as a pacer as often as I can). So important to get involved and it helps create a balance between using the run as part of my training and helping with the smooth running of the event.

1vf2yjeWR5Cpy%CCRtyA%gI had toyed with the idea of walking to the gym on Sunday morning and having a cycle, but when I woke up it was pouring so I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had no training commitments to instead read a bit of my book in bed then have a leisurely morning getting showered and organised. Steve went out for a run (he has a triathlon and half Ironman to get ready for!) then when he got back we went out for our coffee before lunch as I wanted to visit my parents, mainly my mum, in the afternoon. By a weird quirk of dates, my mum is always away in the US when it’s Mothers’ Day here in the UK, then is here when it’s US Mothers’ Day. Gah! My sister and I have therefore fallen into the habit of presenting her with the requisite card and gift on the US date, but in the UK, since that’s when we’re all in one place! It’s a bit confusing but it works. As it turned out, we timed it perfectly for a refreshment – iced tea and a slice of cake (yes, that is a Disney plate!)

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Now I’m ready to get back into a more regular training routine, but will keep the sessions fairly easy for another week or two.

What’s your recovery strategy?
Did you get to see Skid Row Marathon?

PS Are you following me on Facebook? Blog updates, training updates and right now I’m sharing some archive posts on #ThrowbackThursday.

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Documentary Film Review – Skid Row Marathon

IMG_6565I don’t normally include reviews of films, but after seeing a screening of Skid Row Marathon earlier this week I feel inspired to share a few thoughts.

I first heard about this film last year on the Marathon Talk podcast as host Martin Yelling had been instrumental in bringing the film to the UK for a screening in London. Sadly that was a bit too far for us to travel, but we were both really keen to see it so when we heard that selected cinemas around the country would be showing a one-off screening this month, we made sure to get tickets.

The film follows four runners from LA’s Skid Row who, under the guidance of criminal court judge Craig Mitchell, rise from the streets to run marathons around the world. We see them battle their demons, form friendships and, ultimately, find dignity as they strive to fulfil their potential.

Those of us who run already know how empowering running can be, how life-changing. I know for me running, and marathon running in particular, changed everything I previously believed about myself and made me stronger (both mentally and physically) and more confident: if I can run a marathon, I can do anything.

When Judge Craig Mitchell was approached by a defendant he had previously sentenced and invited to visit the Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter which was helping him back on his feet, he decided to start a running club. The judge hoped that by getting these people running, he could help them to get their lives back on track through applying the lessons learned from running to their personal lives. The premise is simple: stay clean and out of prison, and Judge Mitchell will take his runners around the world to take part in marathons. Indeed we are shown scenes of him calling contacts to raise the massive amount of funds required for this undertaking. The fact that so many are willing to support the endeavour is truly heart-warming.

The runners followed throughout the film have all been homeless, were former addicts and one had committed murder in his youth and served many years in prison. One of the incredible things about the way filmmakers Mark and Gabriele Hayes have put this film together is that we ultimately side with the runners. We want them to succeed in their goals and can see the difference being part of the Midnight Runners (the name of the running group) has made to them. If we were being honest, would we really say that we would feel that way had we been told of their past history separately to the running? Sadly I suspect we would not, we would cast judgments and assume they had no potential. Yet a theme which was prominent in this film was that no single act defines a person and that everyone deserves a second chance. This was certainly true of the runners featured in the film and is a lesson we should all embrace.

Yes, this is a film about running, but not the physical act of running, this is about the transformative power of running and the psychological battles. When former addicts are faced with a challenge, do they have the strength to spur themselves on or will they be defeated? Finding the inner strength and community support to make the right decision is what sparks change and gives them new hope.

Sitting in the cinema I truly ran the gamut of emotions: I cried, I was shocked and I even laughed as there were light-hearted moments which, in a cinema full of runners, generated a lot of laughs e.g. runners smoking or vaping before and after runs, or the scene where two of the runners were getting vaccinations ahead of travel to Africa and were told to stay away from the monkeys – their reactions were priceless!! But at the end of the film, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe how inspiring, uplifting and empowering the film had been. I found what Judge Mitchell had done extraordinary and was both moved and humbled by the scenes of the runners taking part in marathons for the first time. For one-time addicts and homeless people to be running marathons in Africa and Italy was amazing. It was a real reminder that everyone has goodness within them, and that the act of running wields powers of redemption, empowerment and transformation.

In addition to the main film we were also treated to a 10-minute short focusing on that transformative power of running and featuring running luminaries such as Jo Pavey, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, Vassos Alexander and, of course, Martin Yelling talking about what running means to them, how it has shaped their lives and provided inspiration. It was a wonderful start to the evening and the short film ended with a fantastic poem written and performed by Molly Case which you can listen to on her website.

Sadly this was a one-time screening, but hopefully the film will become more widely available soon. If you have seen it, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you haven’t, I really hope you get the chance to. It’s the sort of film that everyone should get the chance to see.

You can read more about Skid Row Marathon here.