I always need to have a goal in the not too distant future to aim for to give my running a purpose. Yes, I love going out and running to unwind/distress and take in the quite frankly amazing scenery I am lucky enough to live within. My slightly competitive nature (if you have read any of my other blogs you will understand what I mean!) means I need to have an upcoming event to focus on.
I started running in July 2015 after returning from 8 years in Zambia and super unfit. I lack confidence in myself (yes, know many of you may find that hard to believe!) and I thought that running was totally out of my league. I tried a 5k Park Run with my brother and unbelievably I had gone from 5km Park Run in 35 mins to 22mins within 6 weeks. That was my first achievement and I thought I would try for a 10km although I never thought I would finish that. 48 minutes later I did – maybe I can do this running stuff after all!
It had to happen and the Half Marathon loomed up, was done in 1 hour 42mins and Wow, I enjoyed that one! I decided that longer distances were a better option for me. It takes me at least 3 miles to get into my stride so you can imagine with my competitive nature I nearly kill myself with the strain of trying to better my time or have to warm up three miles before I do a 5k Park Run!
My partner Chau is a ‘proper’ runner. I was a bit intimidated running with him at first. I still don’t see myself as a 'proper' runner and always amaze myself when I get to the finish. He is a club runner and has numerous Marathons under his belt and yes, I would say slightly obsessive!
I suppose I got slightly obsessive as well and got panicky if I missed a training run. For me it has extra impact as I battle with an addictive behaviour and an eating disorder so I can on occasions combine all of these together and go into a downward spiral of ‘bugger, cant do my run today due to work commitments so that means I wont burn off ‘x’ amount of calories and therefore I will automatically put on weight or I need to run double tomorrow’ The mind of an addictive personality is exhausting sometimes!
Chau was doing the London Marathon as he has done for the past 5 years and yes, I was slightly envious as I wanted to be involved in this amazing event. I found a 21 miler to do a month before London so perfect for my next goal of increasing my miles annoying Chau with my incessant chat on his training runs!
I had been very complacent sailing along injury free apart from the usual aches and pains a 45 year old would get! Increasing the mileage and the runs were going well and 3 weeks to go I was doing 18 miles no issue – well there was a niggling pain in my knee but just a niggle so let’s ignore that shall we?
That was wrong thing to do as the day after a half marathon event I was doing a short run which turned out much shorter than anticipated as knee gave way and no more running for me for three months.
I fully admit I am a challenge to live with at the best of times but with my first injury I was a nightmare. I kept trying to run and would manage a mile at best before I ground to a halt and swore a lot and limped off home. I struggled mentally as well and my automatic thoughts were no running equals unfit, flabby and fat and I would not be able to run again. That increased the stress and drama of it all. You would think I was training for the Olympics the way I was acting!
It proved I have fully caught the 'running bug' as I pressed my nose against the window of the car looking in envy at people running with two working knees!
The cartilage in my knee was either inflamed or torn and no running for me as per the physio instructions. ‘Oh woe is me’ and ‘Oh woe’ for Chau to as he got full force of the unexercised non running me. Sorry Chau!
So how did I manage to keep my fitness level up to a similar if not better level in the 3 months I could not run?
Cross training! It’s a miracle!
I would say I was pretty fit just running but I then found another level and have discovered over the past few months my stomach muscles, biceps, triceps and apparently you do have muscles in your back and I can see mine now!
I was lucky with my injury I could walk and cycle so with a combination of Spinning for cardiovascular, long long walks for endurance and British Military Fitness for stamina, muscle building and general top to toe total exercise.
BMF is amazing and let me tell you the foundation of sit ups, press ups and the good old Burpees worked a treat!
I maintained my fitness to a point of when my knee repaired itself I was able to run 6 miles on my first outing.
I am gradually building up the running again and have my first half a marathon since February on Sunday and feeling positive about it. Looking back now I think I over ran and maybe that’s a trait of an over enthusiastic novice runner. In a way it was a silver lining having the injury (I like the glass half full approach) as I know cross training has improved my core in particular and general strength which has reflected positively in my running ability
Instead of running 5 or 6 times a week I now do two shortish runs, a longer one at the weekend of approx. 14 miles and then adding 2 sessions of cross training to the week. Bingo – it worked for me and I can get up those hills in much better shape now.
I have extra proof it works as well as Chau who only ever focused on his legs and running was not developed in his upper half and could manage one sit up if I held his ankles! He added cross training into his training schedule and goodness me it worked. He moaned and groaned initially as he was flat on his face after 2 push-ups but within a few weeks he was parading round in his tight running tops flexing his newly found biceps in the mirror (yes Chau, I saw you!)
Did it improve his running? Oh yes, London Marathon in 2 hours, 56 mins and 23secs.
Does it mean he can beat me doing sit ups and push-ups? Never!
So God Forbid if I ever get another injury I will not be stroppy or moody or dramatic. I will just refocus and up the cross training as it worked for me and onward and upward for my first Marathon in October!
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