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Ultra Training Week 8: Physio

This week has been another mostly frustrating one in terms of injury, but there has been some light at the end of the tunnel! February has been a total right off since I did the Longman Trail Race on the 2nd, I’ve run about 4 times and that is it. I didn’t even cycle, swim or do anything else as I thought I had torn my calf, and didn’t want to make it any worse.

Longman

Things reached breaking point on Wednesday when my family came to visit for the day for my Mums birthday, we did some touristy things and lots of walking (8 miles) of which I was in pain and limping for every single step. I didn’t want to ruin the day so I just got on with it, but I was in so much pain when I tried to go to bed that evening, my whole body hurt and I ended up crying myself to sleep.

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Thankfully on Thursday I had my physio appointment. I saw Jonathan at Six Physio Moorgate, and he was excellent. After a quick history, he made me do a few exercises which confirmed it wasn’t a tear, then I did some other ones, and within 10-15 minutes of me being in the appointment, we knew exactly what the problem was. Not a tear at all, but a neurological problem with the sciatic nerve which runs from the spinal cord right down the side of both legs. I don’t whether it was the race that caused the problem, whether it was just building up from something else, or whether something like my fall down the stairs a few months back started the issue.

He worked on lots of manipulation techniques and pressure points- some of them were bloody painful, as well as some massage to the area. We also looked at my walking on the treadmill which highlighted my left hip dropping and when I plant my left foot it’s almost twisted inwards, like a corkscrew motion, not good. So I am making a much more concerted effort with my posture when I am walking and sitting.

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He taped the area with KT Tape to de-load some of the pressure, and it was unbelievable, I actually walked the 2 miles home in barely any pain compared to the day before. He designed a program of stretches which I am doing twice a day, and some strengthening moves every other day. I have already noticed a huge difference, and am walking virtually pain free now which is insane when I was hobbling around in pain only a few days before.

On Friday I walked 3 miles, and on Saturday I dug out my bike for the first time in the best part of a year and headed to Victoria Park for a cycle, I did 10 miles, and was super jealous of all the runners I was passing! I don’t massively enjoy cycling, I find it hard, and my hybrid bike is heavy and I feel so slow on it- might steal the other halfs this week instead! I felt good on the ride, I just stopped at the 5 mile point to have a stretch and ensure everything felt ok with the body. I also had a 4 mile walk in the afternoon, there were some minor twinges, but on the whole the calf felt good.

This morning I was going to go swimming, but I wasn’t really up early enough. I had a little 3 mile walk, and felt really good, if I didn’t know there was something wrong I’d think I was totally fine! We also stumbled upon Cookies and Scream a Vegan Gluten Free bakery in Camden, it was amazing, we shared the most delicious Peanut Butter Cookie. I love that they use unrefined ingredients. Have to visit again some time!

I have physio again on Tuesday, and I am hoping will be given the green light for running soon! I am itching to get back out there, but obviously have to take it slow, and listen to my body. Until then I’ll keep on with the exercises and hopefully I am heading in the right direction. I am still hoping to make Manchester Marathon but after missing virtually 4 weeks of training of any sort, it’s going to be a tough ask.

Ultra Training Week 6: Easing back into it

Week 6 of training was pretty much spent in a constant cycle of resting, icing/hot water bottling, compressing and elevating! I pretty much haven’t taken my compression socks off for a fortnight… compression

Mon: Yoga + 1 mile Walk
Tues: Rest
Weds: Yoga + Upper Body Weights + 2.5 mile Walk
Thurs: Rest
Fri: 3 mile Walk
Sat: Parkrun
Sun: 10 miles

I still couldn’t walk without pain from Mon-Thurs so I just went for a couple of short walks to run errands, did some yoga and foam rolling which was brutal. Most of the week was spent at home, resting as much as possible. It was a good job I had loads of studying to do to keep me busy! I did some upper body weights and core work on Wednesday and that made me feel a little better.

IMG_0528I was really frustrated at the beginning of the week, and I felt in a really low place. I don’t think you can underestimate the link between mood and running, and I know if I don’t/can’t run, I become a completely different person. In truth, I am pretty evil to be around. I decided to snap out of my funk by focusing down on my nutrition, and getting in loads of superfoods to help my body (and mind!) recover!

Superfood Smoothie

Before the trail race, and subsequent overloading of my calf, I felt like training was going amazingly. I felt like speed-work was going well, and I was really enjoying running and the training. I suppose you can’t expect to go through 20 weeks (+ the couple of months of base building I did) and not miss a session, it’s a long training period, a lot of miles, and there are clearly going to be niggles here and there.

Friday was the first day I could actually walk without pain which was a good sign. We went back to Cardiff for a long weekend, which happened to coincide with Cardiff Parkrun’s 6th anniversary. My calf felt OK on Sat morning so I decided to head there for a slow jog round- despite the stormy conditions!

Parkrun went well, I had no pain, just a lot of stiffness and an awareness of the area. I had a lovely gentle jog round in 28 minutes, and it was so nice, firstly to be running, and secondly to just enjoy the run, rather than fight against it and push so hard you feel like you are going to be sick!

My schedule for Sunday said 10 miles, I wasn’t sure what to do but after no longer run last weekend I knew I wanted to at least attempt this. I headed out and it was the most stunning day. Again there was no pain, but my legs were very heavy and stiff. I just kept checking in with myself and as I was doing an out and back I knew I could turn around at any point. I ended up doing the full 10 miles in 1.44, and I was pretty pleased considering the last fortnight! I was starving when I got back as I hadn’t taken any food/water on the run as I wasn’t sure how long I would be out there. I like to take water for anything over 60 mins, and some food (like a few dates) for anything over 8-9. I felt like I was running on empty a bit towards the end.

I’m glad I’ve managed to get a few runs in, but on the whole the body doesn’t feel right, I might drop down to 3-4 runs for the next couple of weeks if there is not a massive improvement, as I think my body needs more recovery time to get over the injury. I think the problem might be coming from my hip or knee, I also think I may be compensating and changing how I run which is affecting different parts of my body too. When I foam rolled my hip it was absolute agony, and I’m almost certain the issue is stemming from there. I have a sports massage today, which is definitely needed considering how stiff I am feeling! I’m really hoping that is going to do the job, and I will back to feeling like 100% during my runs soon.

I’m just hoping the time off will have helped my body to recover and the rest will, in the long run, be a good thing. My primary goal right now is being on the start line in Manchester in 7 weeks, so if I need to drop mileage or a few runs here and there to be fully fit for that then so be it.