Green! Purest Green!

So I got home early due to it chucking it down with rain. Perfect excuse to lounge around on the sofa and rest the foot and take it generally easy. So what do I do? Go for a run!

Running in the rain (when it’s not cold and windy too) is great, especially at this time of year. You can almost hear the vegetation growing and everythings so … so …. green!

SAM_2667.JPG
Greener than purest green!

The foot hurt but not too bad, I think I’m trying to protect it too much from impact and curling it so tried to relax and just enjoy the green!

SAM_2671.JPG
Even more green!

Got to the beach and it was grey, mizzle and all.

SAM_2675.JPG
Mizzle approacheth

The tide was just about far enough out to have a quick run on the rocks again which was great to be able to do even if it twinged a bit.

Then on the way back I saw it!

SAM_2677.JPG
200 yards of pure driftwood!

The tides had been kind, so much driftwood, so few arms and working legs :/  I did scout out a few nice pieces which I may come back for but I’ll leave that up to chance. What the sea giveth the sea taketh away.

The run back was much more tiring than I thought it would be. The break has done my fitness no good but I’m sure if I take it slow and steady i’ll get there.

SPeaking of slow and steady

Image1

Ok so it includes my quarter mile warmup and a few breaks to ogle driftwood and then failing to stop my watch but i’m happy just to be moving again!

 

 

‘Supdate

Figured it was time to keep peeps in the loop (he said pretending that peeps have time to care) so here goes!  Since the Preseli Beast I decided to rest the foot again. After all I figure that the pounding it took wasn’t the best for it.

In fact it recovered pretty well but still testing a run for a few steps was painful and it felt like back to square one so I bit the bullet and went to see a physio – luckily a friend of mine .- Yes yes I should have done it before but ….I dunno why I didn’t think of it earlier.

So the verdict is probable plantar fascititis (pf) although it’s a bit of a mystery why it’s not manifesting in heel, after rest and top of foot hurts. We think it’s tied into my old  aqchilles tendonitus. Having done some more reading I’m reckoning my tendons and joints are all on the wonk.

So it’s time to say bugger rest and hello physio – from my friend and from myself.  Stretching, rolling, much ice etc  Which to be fair I’ve been doing but time to ramp it up!

When I got home last night I fancied a test run, I had new shoes which should help with my feet issues! (Will post a pic later) And after manipulating it all day in work it felt good.  I only did the 2 and a half miles to the beach (and didn’t take watch and camera as I didn’t want to pressure myself into continuing if it felt bad – that’s kinda sense for me!)

It ached and felt sore underneath but that kind of gave way after a while and I could enjoy feeling how unfit I have become! It was wonderful to be out in the sun doing “my” run again though. I took the pace really slowly and made sure I was hitting the ground with as little impact as possible. I guess I’d better get used to this if A I want to stay uninjured and B I want to progress to longer distances .  See  Slowrunnergirl I do take some notice (By the way this is a great blog to read if you’re interested in the benefits of slow running) Anyway as I said no camera –  So I better give you a stock photo as I know you all miss them :p

SAM_2601-PANO.jpg
Panoramic photo of Monknash Beach

I iced and stretched and rolled upon my return and then a bit of rest and the news I feel is good. Although it throbbed a bit yesterday it’s feeling fine today. I’m tempted to run again tonight but the common sense demon (As I shall now refer to it) is telling me to rehab it and not go mental again for a while and exacerbate matters.

So all in all things are looking up, I feel like after over 2 months (Wow!) progress is being made. I’ve developed common sense and have learned and am still learning lessons.

I know injury posts are boooooring so kudos if you stuck it out this far!

 

 

 

Ahhh so thats why they call it a beast

So yesterday was my second ever race. The Preseli Beast Mawr (little beast) – How hard can 11 miles be?

SAM_2652.JPG

I was up with the lark as I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there, those west Walian roads can be small and twisty. As it turns out it was a simple enough 2 hour drive in the trailmobile.

Yes thats right yesterday was also the unveiling of the trailmobile. no not a new car but a ad hoc conversion. The back of my battered old mondeo is now converted to a pre race nervecentre and also post race sleeping accomodation. This could be a fun summer!

SAM_2651.JPG
Note the carpet underlay with multiple sleeping bags. Also the stylish homemade curtains to block out sunlight. Also note the kit strewn everywhere and bottle of cider front right

So I was an hour or so early and just chilled out in the Trailmobile (now capitalised) and got ready while chatting with some friendly guys from Swansea who were next to me.

I had 3 main worries, the race started at 12.30 and it was getting hot and I don’t particularly like the heat, I was woefully undertrained having hardly run for two months due to my major concern my foot injury. Still nothing I could do now but give it a go!

The race started from the centre of Maenclochog with a quick prerace briefing from the organiser Caz the Hat and we all had to hug people around us in a pre race show of solidarity. When you run alone these things can be awkward but luckily I was stood next to some pretty ladies.

And we were off! I take my hat off to the locals from the village who cheered and clapped us and even banged drums and rattled tambourines. After a few hundred metres of road we hit a gravelled farm track which led us to a wonderful marshy forest with single track wooden bridges throughout it. I spent most of the time just enjoying being out and praying the foot would be ok which it seemed to be, there was a slight ache but I could cope with that despite forgetting to take painkillers before setting off.

Out of the forest and the first hill, all good feeling fine. Nothing to it! Then down through a farm and through an old slate quarry. This was a lovely technical section with lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. I’d love to run this alone at my own pace when fit but was content just to be sensible and hold pace with those around me. A nice touch around here was Caz the Hat who had obviously taken a sneaky shortcut waiting to greet, encourage and fist pump every single runner going over a stile. This man has class!

Then another hill and this is where things started getting tricky as I suddenly felt awful, this was only a few miles in but I think the lack of training was starting to show itself. The gradient wasnt really enough to force a walk but it felt like there was nothing in the legs and the heat was getting to me.

I slowed and unleashed my secret weapon – My homemade chia, flax, date and raisin energy bars! (see this post for details)  I admit I found it hard to swallow the first one – mainly because like an idiot I crammed it all in my gob at once and then found I had to chew it for about 300 yards – Well it took my mind off things!

After a while I started to feel better in myself and spied another serendipitous opportunity – a fresh mountain stream. Much to the surprise of the runners around me I leaped from the track straight into it up to my calves in lovely cool water. It was worth a few seconds to drench myself.

Invigorated I reached the top of the climb and then we sailed across a beautiful mountainside towards the aid station at mile 5.

beast-bach-reccie-7
The views at this point were simply breathtaking (If I’d had breath to take) – As I didn’t have a camera I’m borrowing this photo from the Preseli Beast website so photo credit goes to them – I’m sure Caz won’t mind)

Aaaaaand this is where the foot went …. running down and sideways on this path meant I was unbalanced with my bad foot on the uphill side and running at an angle hurt it. By the time I reached mile 5 the pain was getting bad and I was now favouring the other foot and the limp had begun.  Well I guess this is trail running, it’s going to hurt and no turning back now.

The next stage was across the moorland in the photo above in a steady climb until we hit the Beasts Back.

beast-bach-reccie-13
Again no camera so photo taken from the Preseli Beast website – to give an idea of the climb

This hill/mountain/evil incline of ultimate pain seemed neverending. Much of it we walked, some of it I could run by staying on my toes to reduce the pain but climb it we did and what views from the top!

beast-bach-reccie-23
Last stolen photo I promise – credit to Preseli beast website

Annoyingly my legs had come back to life and my breathing felt as good as it could be considering but the pain in my foot was now crippling me. It was time to simply dog it out for the last four or five miles or so. There’s a saying that kept running through my head at this point – It’s not the size of the dog in the fight its the size of the fight in the dog. Does anyone else get random mantras stuck in their head while running? I was telling myself that despite the fact that physically I was undertrained, injured and in a lot of pain I still had my head going for me. Time for fight in the dog to show up. I’d rather forget the downhills from that mountain. Normally I’d fly them, savour them and enjoy them but I couldnt impact the foot at all and so had to brake all the way down meaning my toes were being slammed into the toebox of my trainers causing more grief – It never rains but it pours!

Once back on level ground it was back through the forest again and into the village. And what a greeting, I was dead on my feet by this phase and just wanted to walk to alleviate the foot pain but I couldn’t give up with these people watching. It was like the whole village were in their gardens and on the road clapping and cheering. At that point it meant a lot – the whole run the marshalls and supporters had been fantastic and I tried to thank every one in passing. I limped over the line and what a relief to collapse on the grass! Now I know why they call it The Beast -even fit and uninjured that would have been a challenge.

Afterwards I waited around chatting and relaxing until the presentations. There was tea, cake, cawl all dished up by some fantastic volunteers.  In fact I have to say the whole village should be proud of the day they put on for the runners. It really felt like a close community showing their warmth to a load of strangers who pitch up to run around in their beautiful countryside.

The organisation was top notch. I take my metaphorical hat off to Caz the Hat who clearly loves the area, running and his event. He’s created something special there and I would heartily recommend it for anyone with an interest in trail running. There were of course the full beast (24 miles I think) and a 32 mile ultrabeast too. If i’m fit I’d love to try the full beast next year.

The gory details

Image1
Slow and painful – But on the bright side I forgot to stop my watch at the finish so I can knock a few minutes off that!

Oh and the goodies – I nearly forgot the goodies – an awesome tshirt and a fantastic slate coaster! So appropriate, I’ll never forget that quarry – I’m coming back one day at speed!

SAM_2661.JPG

SAM_2662.JPG

Despite the personal pain I really had a day to remember. You don’t get to say that very often. Beasted but not bested!

Changing Up, Changing Down, Not falling off

Saturday mornings – How I miss running around in the sunshine with you. How I miss the views, the fresh air, the freedom, the sun, the sand, the rocks, the pain and exhaustion.

But no wallowing in ankle pity for me – I have a new toy to play with. Cheering myself up I ordered one of these through a work scheme.

DSC_0060.JPG
New toys make Gareth happy

I could have gone for a road bike or hybrid thingy but went for the full off road type as I figured if thats what I like running then thats what I will like cycling.

Off I went on a test run …. ride

Found myself at Marcross admiring the view…

SAM_2585.JPG
Marcross beach and oooh look a hill!
SAM_2586.JPG
And a new friend!
SAM_2587.JPG
And I thought …. hill sprints!  Half a dozen up here nearly killed me

So after my hill exercise I was going to turn and ride home on the road and the thought strck me … I have an offroad bike with like suspension and everything, why not ride the cliff path to Monknash and home that way. There are a few stiles to cross but how hard can it be to lift the bike over.

SAM_2594
No match for my powerlifting skills!
SAM_2593
Riding towards blue skies!
SAM_2600.JPG
The ride along the cliffs was beautiful and easy enough to do – I discovered why the gear ratios are so low on these bikes once I was off road
SAM_2603.JPG
At the Monknash end there was a tricky descent which I managed with superb braking control and a lot of luck.
SAM_2604.JPG
Looking back at the cliffs I rode

The route is all rocky and uphill from the beach to the road. I was about to ride the path I have run a hundred times but realised I could well do damage to the path on a bike, it might have only been slight if any at all but being a responsible adult (haha) and wanting to protect the environment I love and have the privilege to enjoy I walked the bike back up the path until I got to the road.

All in all a good mornings work-out. I came, I saw, I conquered and protected my ankle!

 

It’s the ups that hurt

Spring sun and a recovering foot = hill reps!  Yes indeed my new found way of screwing myself over without too much pain on the ankle. half a dozen or so fast sprints up and a slow descent was enough. Now it’s my calves and thighs hurting so thats ok right?  Still perhaps isn’t the most sensible to do too much on it as it’s still painful when I strike hard on flat ground so will lay off it now until at least the weekend. But today I just couldn’t resist.

Can you blame me?

SAM_2553.JPG
Tides in!
SAM_2554.JPG
How blue is that sky?
SAM_2543.JPG
Bring it on hill! – Oh yeah you’re a hill – you just sit there and hurt me then
SAM_2566.JPG
Spring flowers V2

Foolish, stubbornish, happyish

Woke up, the suns shining, the tides out – and i’m injured…. Sod it, the ankles been improving and recovery has hit a flat spot. I’m on my feet every day and there’s been no pain, more of an ache when I get home.

So off I went on an exploratory run to see where I’m at.  I didn’t run the quarter mile of road to get to the fields and started on grass – There was no pain just slight discomfort although I was running at a very low intensity with a very low stride height to minimise impact.  The fields felt fine and I was enjoying just being back out on the trail.

SAM_2519
Loving the morning sun

I sensibly didnt run the rocky path to the beach – go me for resisting!

And this is what I was looking for – low tide and wet sand – destination soft!

SAM_2525
Traeth Mawr – Let’s get on that sand!

Picked up the stride height and pace on the sand and it felt comfortable, I was experiencing what I believe they call in sporting circles – a niggle. Niggle away I thought, I’m enjoying this!  I got to the far end of the sand but went no further – I didn’t want to push too hard on my test run – Have I really learned patience?

SAM_2530
Worth it for views like this!

On the way back I had a thought – If the pain is in the ankle when the rear of my foot impacts – I could do hill repeats on my toes couldn’t I? Well it makes sense to me.

SAM_2540
So I did hill repeats up this little monkey! Full on hill sprints in fact and I was right being done completely on my toes meant no pain whatsoever If the worst comes to the worst I can at least do these!

After my hill test I ambled back up the path and across the fields. Admittedly I was limping slightly at this point and if not in pain then discomfort.  I may have pushed too far for today but I felt I needed to see where I was at with a few races approaching. I think next sunday is too soon to do an offroad half so sadly I’m letting the Offas Dyke half go but still hope to get down to West Wales in three weeks for the Preseli Beast (though the name is scaring the ankle already)

I’m writing this with my feet in a foot spa thingy I discovered in my spare room which I vaguely remember borrowing from someone years ago and never returned – I may be suffering karmic rebounds!

So far so good but the real test is now how it feels for the rest of the day and tomorrow morning (Which is my birthday! Best present I could have is an improving ankle)

And finally – Spring is here!

SAM_2542
Never forget to stop to breathe and enjoy the world

Sunday Update – No pain at all this morning – ankle feels good, resisting temptation to run today though, sense prevails!

 

 

 

 

Be like a palm tree – bend don’t break

I’m posting before 7 in the morning on a day off – why do I always wake up early when I’m off work! No matter, was lying there pondering my ankle (some good news, visited doctors yesterday and she thinks it’s more likely a ligament strain rather than fracture) and remembered something I must have read once upon a time which has always stayed with me.

When the storm hits be like a palm tree, you bend with the wind but never break then snap back hard in the lulls when the storms abate. I’ve used this before as a mental aid.  We all get periods in life when it seems that everything bad including the kitchen sink plus washing machine and cooker are thrown at us. It seems that woes don’t come alone so when they do recognise this and learn to bend not break. Accept bad things happen in life and that they will pass just don’t let them snap you. Bend for as long as it takes, hunker down, take stock of all the good things that are also going on and when you feel that the storm is passing -WHAM! Snap back hard. Enjoy standing up tall again and really enjoy giving the world a kicking back on your terms.

I’m currently doing this on a smaller level with my injury. I have to bend and accept I can’t run. If I ignore the pain and run I’ll do more harm and snap. I’m being a palm tree! (Can you tell I work in primary schools? Look I’m waving my fronds) I know the injury will pass and when it does I’ll be in a great place to really improve my running.

I did the same when my dog soaks died last year. I knew it was coming and when it did I didn’t put on the stiff upper lip and pretend it wasn’t happening. I recognised an emotional shitstorm was going to hit me and so I went with it, I bent, hunkered down, let my emotions have their way for a while, knew it would abate (it still is) but as time healed I snapped back a stronger person.

I’m not a great one for articulating the random thoughts in my head so I hope this makes sense, I just figured I’d share something that’s helped me. Apologies to any arborealologists (possibly a made up word) for any palm tree inconsistencies in this post.