Marathon Training and Injury Risk: Beginners Mistakes — January 17, 2017

Marathon Training and Injury Risk: Beginners Mistakes

img_5032Marathon training and injury risk: Beginners mistakes

I am currently 12 weeks away from a marathon. Just writing that would have been inconceivable a year ago and, laugh out loud batshit crazy impossible 2 years ago when running 1.5 miles was the furthest I had ever managed.

So far I have utilised my time well over Christmas, managing to pull off a weekly long run of 11, 12 and 14 miles, as well as shorter more focused runs, runs where I feel a slow hippopotamus in a pair of thermal leggings and others where I’ve felt like I could be Mo Farrah (in my head at least).

But somewhere inbetween the Christmas festivities and New Year, I  developed a pain in what I believe to be the inner thigh abductor muscle on one side.

I have a high pain threshold and I am used to developing minor aches pains and twitches as mileage increases.But this has now reached the point where it cannot be ignored and the tried and failed philosophy of “running through the pain” is no longer cutting it.

This is now more of an “oh my god I am limping like a three legged dog” twinge, then my “legs just ache from the distance but I can carry on.” type of ache. My initial unqualified suspicions are that this is a problem in the inner thigh abductor muscle. It is purely on one side and only comes on when I stop running.   I have spent the last two nights using Himalayan salts as a muscle soak.

Last week I was feeling …HELL YES, I CAN take this challenge on. I can smash this (even if I end up a hot mess limping train wreck the next day). But now that feeling of invincibility has given way to a reality that I am going to have to get serious about injury prevention and slow things down a notch.

I am booked into a sports physio appointment later today and feeling very anxious whilst I write this, thinking about the prognosis. On the one hand, getting an analysis of my gait, shoes and physiology is potentially going to be a really positive experience that in insight is long overdue. On the other hand, I hoping that no serious problems that put me on the injury bench are going to be discovered.

Fingers crossed.

Here’s Five mistakes NOT to make (hindsight is a wonderful thing)

#1) Do not over train. Repeat this; do NOT over train. This is something that I have now learnt to my peril. Yeah, yeah. I know. You feel great and like you can smash this, having just raced yourself  and achieved a 5K personal best. But that approach could turn you into an accident waiting to happen. Don’t “dip in” and go faster or harder than a training plan recommends. The goal is to be able to sustain a 26.2 mile run. This means building up endurance miles over weeks and being able to see those weeks through.Not burning out 10 weeks in with injury.

#2) Do not “run through the pain”. There are theories about “running through” injuries and most runners have a high pain threshold and an ability to tolerate feeling uncomfortable when upping mileages. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain. Right? Wrong. Reading up on this, Kenyan elite runners take an approach of stopping if there is and stop if something is hurting more than it should be. That way, injuries can be caught before they progress through continued hard running on concrete.

#3) Step away from dangerous and pointless machines in the gym.  Ladies and gentleman, I bring to you the leg abductor machine – this I believe is the culprit for some of my misery when I decided a few quick goes on this after a 4 mile slow paced treadmill run might help “strengthen my muscles”.  When the reality that I now learn is that these machine are a common culprit of injuries. I’m sure many more experienced runners would read this, cringe and think what the hell was she doing?

 #4) Do not  “cram”. I know that I have precisely 57 minutes from the moment I drop my son at the crèche door and hit the gym. Like most Mum’s my time for exercise and training is very limited, so in a foolish cramming style approach, I used the bloody leg abductor machine.  A few other times, I must also confess to racing myself on the treadmill to fit in a  5K run in case I had to stop to perform an ad hoc toddler nappy change. The lesson? No matter how short on time or childcare, don’t adopt an ad hoc, unfocused and rushed approach to your training.

#5) Make an appointment with a physio early on for advice/identify any problems.  This is again, something that I should have done at the beginning of my training. But how many of us get put off by financial outlay that may seem at the time unnecessary if you have never suffered from an injury before?

As mother’s we get used to powering through the tiredness and going to work on very little sleep, ignoring minor discomforts that come from things like getting used as a human climbing frame by a toddler or  constantly lifting car seats that feel like they are made of lead.

My biggest lesson in this experience to date has been don’t fall into an “ignorance is bliss”, trap when it comes to injury and training for distance running. Just because you feel relatively fit and have previously conquered half marathons, 10ks and 5ks injury free, does not mean you are immune from getting injured.

Five Ways To Reclaim January and Make Changes That Last — January 10, 2017

Five Ways To Reclaim January and Make Changes That Last

1484050430755Five ways to make January changes that last for life

It’s the second week back at work in January. For many of us, the aftershocks of post festive over indulgence on our bank accounts and waist lines are now being felt alongside the back to work gloom and broken resolutions. It’s usually around now in this season of mid-winter bleakness, that we are left wondering if we are really capable of putting our “new year, new me” resolutions to good use.

I’ve been guilty of this too, finding myself reaching for the biscuit tin and left over Christmas chocolates and falling into instant diet self sabotage.

But before you fall off the wagon completely, it’s time to rethink and reclaim January.

1.Recognise that January is just one month.

A famous and well known quote by Bill Gates is that “most people over estimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in five years.” That same philosophy can be applied to the flurry of well-intentioned changes that people try to usher into their lives in January. January can be a time to begin to establish and to set up habits and ground work that you then continue to work on for the rest of the year. Let’s just be honest. There is only so much you can do at once and only so much that you can feel motivated to do when the weather is bleak, funds low and the year has only just got started.

Instead, use this time to start up good habits and plan mini goals for throughout the year.

You could start by

  • Getting up 20 minutes earlier each day to begin with stretching and some quick exercise
  • Researching protein rich healthy meals that can be prepared on a budget
  • Aiming to walk more and taking the stairs every morning
  • Aiming to do one thing, however small every day towards a skills that you are trying to develop.

 2. Think about what it is that you actually want and visualise how obtaining it would make you feel.

Whatever the goal, visualise what it is that you specifically want. How would you feel hitting your goal weight, crossing the finish line at that marathon, or branching out into a new career? See it and now absorb the feeling that it evokes.

Next, make your intentions public. Tell other people and join online support forums.

Announcing your goals makes things all the more real and as other people are now aware, they are potentially holding you to account. Engaging with social media support groups enables you to network amongst people striving for similar or even greater goals and can act as a boost of positive influence.

3. Take action and set dates that you have to make.

This works especially well for fitness. Instead of generalised thoughts and goals about wanting to “get fit” or “lose weight”, sign up to actual events. Take action and sign up to a 5K, a 10K or another sporting event. Force yourself into a position where you have to change your lack of weekly exercise.

Sign up to weight loss programmes or a course you are interested in taking. From personal experience I have found this to be a highly effective approach. You are setting specific time limited goals, there is no space to coast along without focus.

4. A bad day or a relapse is not a reason to give up

Let’s be real. Just because it is a new year, does not mean that overnight that you have become a new you. You will still be the old you, until you are able to change you daily routines and habits. That means that falling off the preverbal wagon and making errors is going to be a reality. By mid-January you may not have stuck to your diet as planned or still be going to the gym. But it’s time to get up and keep having a crack at things, regardless of setbacks. The road to change is paved with setback, relapses, missed workouts and occasional junk food binges

5. Remember: You are still the old you, so love the old you

The reality is that nothing about the calendar moving from December to January automatically transforms you into a “new you”. You are the same old you, with the same habits, lifestyle and choices. Old you is going to have to gradually change these in order to become “new you”. This is going to take commitment to changing daily habits and routines, believing in yourself and practising self love. Believe in current you, because current you has carried you through life up until now and is actually pretty damn awesome. It is not January that will get you to your goals. January merely offers the opportunity for a dark, cold fresh winter slate to start putting intentions into action.

Many people find January a difficult month. It can feel like the days span out into an endless dark abyss until the long awaited pay day at the end of the month. But it needn’t be that way. January can be a replenishing time to reboot from the past year and the excesses of the festive season. A time to goal set and spring clean from bad habits.

Go easy on yourself. Nobody says you have to pull off a detox, weight loss, train for a half marathon and launch a new career, all before February.

Treadmill training — October 17, 2016

Treadmill training

img_5429Treadmill training..
With the weather turning colder and decisively less appealing at times, I have to admit that at this time of the year I have been known to increase my use of the treadmill rather than running outside.
Some will say that the treadmill simply does not compare to running outside and is in nothing but an ineffective man-made electric machine. The consensus among a lot of people seems to be that it is  boring, artifical and a shoddy second best to running outside.
I have to agree in a lot of ways, because running insides does at times ensure that you are missing out on the   feeling  of exhilaration, freedom and fresh air that come with running outdoors.  fact that the treadmill cannot re-create running on uneven surfaces, varied scenery and  the physical effort that goes into running against the strong seafront winds. But, I do find that on a really wet, drizzly and just let’s be honest, completely unappealing  British grey Sunday afternoon; it can keep me motivated to run in a controlled environment.

5 minute warm up walking at a fast pace

I  then usually  aim to run 6.5k (or around 4 miles.
Essentially, I aim to challenge my 5K PB’S when I do this workout and run 5K at my fastest possible speed.
For the first 2K I push myself to run fast, but reasonably comfortable.
This then increases and I make myself hold a what feels like a very fast pace for between 4-5k.
From 5k to 6.5k, I drop down to a slower running pace with bursts of sprints and hill repeats.
My current typical 5k times are 26.41, 27.10, 26.20. My most recent PB has been 25.50.
Previously I have really struggled to start off with a good level of speed when running 5k’s, so when definite bonus of the treadmill is how as a runner you can set and programme it to maintain speeds that could be beyond your typical comfort zone and commit to not slowing down.
In December 2015, my fastest ever time was 28.30, which felt unbelievable at the time. So looking back, I am making progress.
As much as I advocate  running outside; it is realistic to admit that there some are days and weather conditions that make that less appealing.
I programme my phone to either YouTube playlists or Spotify when I am on the treadmill, however I have never gone beyond 8 miles doing this method of running.
I just find it too boring to an environment to do longer distance running in. However with the aim to complete a marathon next year that may change, who knows I may find myself doing more of this type of training.
So what do you think?
Treadmill or dreadmill?
An effective tool to stay motivated or an indoor manmade electric hamster wheel to be avoided?



October: Trail Running in the Rain — October 1, 2016

October: Trail Running in the Rain


Hello October and Goodbye summer.

I have always found this both an enchanting and melancholy time of the year.  Summer is over, yet we still have a reasonable amount of bright days. We no longer have to deal with oppressive temperatures; which is certainly a plus as far as running is concerned.

The leaves create a beautiful landscape, but there is a distinct coolness  that lets us know winter is closely waiting in the wings,  as the light dims and draws in the evenings.

It always brings to my mind themes of having to let go and how life is in a continual state of growth and change. We cannot hang on to summers forever, as much as we may think we can hold on to anything forever, life will propel us forward into a new season.


This afternoon was all about trail running (12 miles) across the South Downs. With the commitments of work and being a parent meaning that i often only get to fit in two runs a week (supplemented by home workouts) I really found the hills brutal and this was before I even got to 2.5 miles.

Then at around 3 miles, the rain literally came lashing down. Not drizzle or persistent rain, this was thick, torrential and I was soaked. Luckily, the rain gave up on itself by the time I got to 4 miles and the only inconvenience was wet clothes and puddles that could potentially lead to squelching trainers. Running across Devil’s Dyke, the views as always, were stunning.

This particular route was not one that I was familiar with. We then descended down and across fields as the sun then came back out and treated us to a clear and bold sky.

Returning back through Portslade the total route was approximately 12 miles.

This run taught me that you don’t get the rainbow without the rain 🙂

But, I have to say that as I came to the finish my body literally felt like it had barely anything left to give. I was aching (I still am), my muscles felt fatigued and one of my knees had started to develop a slight pain.

At this point in my training, I am determined to stay committed but am unsure of how to progress beyond the 2 hour mark without fatigue setting in and becoming my deliberating and deadly enemy. I am hoping that in the months to come I find a way of breaking through this wall.

Some final thoughts..I ended up logging into an old blog post that i had once written in October 2014 today.

This  was written when i was trying to navigate my way as a new mother, having been through a traumatic birth, less than perfect pregnancy and was dealing with a huge change in identity.  I literally had no “me time” and the prospect of doing something like running was completely off the cards. This “baby” is now a thriving 2 year old boy and life has continued to propel him and I on through many changes, stages in his development and new memories.

I am hopeful that October and Autumn bring many more happy memories.


As the summer is now ending and we are now in the pre- Halloween October phase, darker nights, outside littered with autumn leaves, rain and noticeably colder air, it captivates me how fair Gabriel  has developed in just 12 weeks. From the tiny boy I met being wheeled down in a glass cot from the special care baby unit, he is now a robust, alert and intriguing baby. He can grasp objects with intention and will  “chat” in gurgles and goos, both to those around him and himself. He can hold his head up, smile and track objects. The most heart melting rewarding thing of all is hearing his little voice develop into a little laugh when he giggles with happiness. I know that for over 9 months I carried him, felt him move and protectively felt he was a part of me. Yet I do not know what is going through his little head that he finds so funny; this the best part of being his mother

 October 9, 2014. Edit