I think I’m done

Posted: August 16, 2017 in Injury, not running, running

I know I’m possibly prone to a bit of melodrama… but I think my running days are done.

For a while now I’ve been using the tried and tested injury treatment method of ‘ignore it and hope it gets better on its own’. This has usually served me well. And until recently, though I had no illusions of being fitness guru, I would think that I always had another marathon in me (at some point in the future… when I lost a bit of weight…etc). The thing is, recent aches and pains feel…different. Not like an ‘injury’ at all.

You see, I’ve not injured myself as such, but for some time now my left knee in particular doesn’t feel strong, I can’t fully bend it and sounds and feels like an old wooden door if I replicate anything like a squat. So I don’t. But it also means I have to sit down to put on underwear or socks. Until recently, I did not see myself as a sit-down-to-put-on-underwear-and-socks person.

Also, if I do run now, it’s just not fun. It periodically actually hurts and even if it doesn’t, it can just feel a bit awkward….just lacking. And it has been known to swell afterwards…

The above photo was taken after a parkrun about a month ago. I didn’t even really go for it. I was a full 6 minutes slower than my PB.

I did, unfortunately, have a sprint finish with a young lad who’d been overtaking me and dropping back for the whole race run. It turned out, through conversation with the chap I’d ended up running next to for most of lap 2, that the boy was this guy’s son… and I say “unfortunately had a sprint finish” because my intention was really to just push him all the way to the line. As I hadn’t run a particularly hard 5K I actually had a lot left in me but I deliberately stayed just level with him…except he actually gave up about 2 metres short of the line, so I ended up crossing the line in front of him, and although I congratulated him on a good run, and we exchanged a high-five… he subsequently burst into tears and went off for a cuddle with his dad.

I am a bad, bad man.

I’ve still been playing tennis. Although again, feel like I’m a few steps slower than I was even six months ago. But with tennis, you can adapt a bit, play a different game. I think I could actually still enjoy tennis if I couldn’t run at all…. Mmm…no….that’s not true actually…. I’d be immensely frustrated. But but I could play.

Truth is, I just haven’t been enjoying running for a while now. It hurts. And it reminds me that I’m slow and getting old and falling apart. My left Achilles has been giving me jip on and off for about a year now, too. And my left ankle crunches and clicks for as long as I can remember.

And I’ve put on weight. That doesn’t help. It doesn’t help with my running. It doesn’t help with what I inevitably believe to be osteoarthritis setting in. It doesn’t help with my mental health because now I don’t identify with my previous self-image of being a fit person, a healthy, sporty person…. a runner.

I started rewriting the words to the Ed Sheeran song – ‘Thinking Out Loud’ when I first thought about writing this post… But I didn’t have the staying power to see that through either. This was how far I got…

Now my legs don’t work like they used to before

And I can’t see me back on my feet. Will my mind still remember the thrill of the race,

Will my glutes now forever be weak?

Oh running I may be loving you ’til I’m 70… ” etc.

It’s not all bad.

I’m just at the end of holiday now. It’s been lovely – Lots ‘outside’ time… volleyball on the sand, gentle bike rides – including teaching my daughter – she’s been a bit late to the cycling party but is eventually getting that she can do it, and enjoy it. It’s just the stopping we have to work on really! Currently involves my running to the best my ability alongside her and catching her/her bike when she decides to bail off! Well get there.

I’ve managed to play some badminton and even won the resort’s doubles competition that they were running (after first being paired up with someone I’d not met before turning up to the event). There’s another tournament before I leave and I’ve entered again, but this time with my son as he was desperate to join me. He’s a great little (he’s 11 so not that little) tennis player but has only played badminton a couple of times. He enjoys it though, so that should be fun.

Today, he and I are having a go at ‘Stand-up paddle-boarding’ ! I just hope that if(when) I fall off, I can actually get back up again!

On Saturday last, I even ventured out on the bike to travel the short distance the nearby forest for a very picturesque parkrun. Having absolutely no expectations of any time, I intended to run it (or walk if necessary) fully within my capabilities and pain levels. As I was on the path in, I recognised a fellow blogger who writes at ‘Run Young 50‘ – Katie – who normally runs at Colwick but was partaking in a bit of parkrun tourism, herself. We had a bit of a chat and she kindly said nice things about missing my posts here and I said I’d just started one about winding down my running days. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be finishing this post now, if it wasn’t for the fact I said I’d be posting it soon. It was lovely to see you, Katie. Thank you for your encouragement.

It was to be my slowest ever (without children) parkrun but as I did so, I also collected discarded bottles and crisp packets from the route – NOT from other runners (they looked like they’d been lying around longer than that) but it gave my run further purpose and served to appropriately slow me down, stopping me from getting carried away with the pace of those around me.

#fitterlitterpicker

On which note, if you feel so inclined, please consider visiting Runners Against Rubbish which is not something I head up myself but it does what I do… with the added element of badges and car stickers if you sign up for a one-off £2 fee. I have.

Of course, you can be against rubbish without joining an organisation – just don’t be an idiot yourself, and occasionally correct someone else’s idiocy by a) telling them not to be an idiot (if you happen to witness their idiotic rubbish discarding behaviour – especially if they’re another runner!) or b) simply binning someone else’s rubbish.

So anyway, there we go… parkrun 69 completed. Who knows if I’ll make it to 100.

Perhaps if I do, I’ll write another blog post.

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Ok. So it’s a blatant Juneathon (exercise-and-blog-every-day) fail. Tooth infection and subsequent extraction put a halt on things for a while.

Weirdly, half my face still feels sore, painful, enlarged, etc. Not as painful as it was…. But I can’t quite smile properly and the tooth was removed on Wednesday morning :-/

I can live with it compared to how it was.

I’m at the doctor’s next week anyway, heaving recent received a text saying…

You’re getting old now. Please come in for an MOT

So if it’s still not right then, I’ll get it sorted.
I was down at the tennis courts again yesterday though and played a couple of sets while my son had coaching on the other court. Today, has been a heavy gardening day, though I’m currently taking a break, doing this, and watching Murray/Wawrinka on the telly-box.
I’ve just had a nice delivery, too.

Do you remember ‘BOUNTS’? I wrote a blog about it once. It’ll be out of date now, in the sense that it WAS amazing… But it was too amazing and collapsed under its own success. 

Let me explain…

You basically did tracked activity/sport/steps etc linked to your Garmin/fitbit/etc and you got points.

When you had enough, those points could be directly exchanged for actual monetary vouchers. I exchanged mine and got £15 sent to me a couple of years back. I guess (and this is purely a guess) they accessed these themselves through advertising revenue. 

I would have exchanged points again because I had loads of them but Bounts never had any stock to give anyone. People got upset. Personally, I didn’t. It was frustrating, yes, but it was all free. I’d not lost anything.

Except, some people had lost out. Bounts offered a premium service which did cost, but meant you earned points more quickly. Earning points quickly is kind of pointless though (pun intended) if those points can’t get you anything. 

In summary –

Bounts basically had too many people on their books, all with loads of points, all wanting to exchange them for vouchers that Bounts didn’t have.

So they changed their model. Some people, (though, I understand, not all) who paid premium, got a refund, and vouchers were no longer available. The company now offer an entry into various competitions to win prizes if you manage to complete the accompanying challenge – e.g. Run 20 miles over the month; do 10,000 steps every day for a fortnight; cycle 5 times in 30 days, etc.

To cut an already long story not a lot shorter, I won one of these competitions! 

I’d played tennis the required four times in May and along with a few other people* I won this funky tennis backpack!

…and his has this cool,  weird, dodgy-looking handle zippy thing attached to a zip pocket at the back so the racket fits in securely…. Err… Let me try and show you…

Well I think it’s quite a good, funky design feature anyway.

So… I’ve certainly not lost out by doing Bounts. I’m sorry if you have. Here’s a link anyway if you’re interested  >>BOUNTS<<

For balance. Also check out, Running Heroes (link included, but I think they might be entirely app-based now) – they also do challenge-based competition entries. I think I’ve won a pair of socks and a £20 voucher through them.

Incidentally, mentioning ‘balance’ reminded me, New Balance used to send me stuff for free to review on occasions but in my efforts to be honest in my reviews (I didn’t really think the last pair of shoes they sent me were great for running), I… Errr… Don’t really hear anything from them now**. Oooops.
*as in, other people also won a bag. I did not win other people as well as winning a bag.

**Maybe they found out only 3 people read this. That could be it, too.

Miss me? I very much doubt it.

I did exercise yesterday (day 5). 2 hours of tennis.

 In the rain.

This is as close to proof as you’re going to get…

One very wet hoodie.

It was to take my mind off my tooth. It worked…briefly…But then I barely slept last night and I ate nothing all day today (until this evening – now regretting it)

Hmmm… Just kinda looks like a regular mugshot, but I assure you, me left jaw feels like I’ve been punched. Hard. And then I’ve been forced to eat a golf ball… made of cotton wool.

No exercise today. 

Fail.

Bed. 

Sleep needed. 

Tooth out tomorrow methinks. 😦

I’m not sure if this particular area of the body has a name, but on the left hand side of my body… about 20 cm from the top of my shoulder – specifically, the bony bit where the humerus meets the scapula (yes – I know words. I know all the words)… on the lateral side anyway… where the deltoid muscle sort of makes a slight ‘V’ shape … well it does when I’m a bit slimmer… when I’m fit… and tensing it… and standing underneath a spotlight anyway… well that bit anyway… actually… hang on…. I’ll find a picture…

Image result for deltoid muscle

That is clearly not me.

I have skin on.

But that bit of the body, anyway.

Not the labelled bit.

The bit below that.

The ‘V’.

That specific bit.

That…

 

… is pretty much the only part of my body that DOESN’T hurt*

 

Today, I have developed facial swelling and toothache.  I have a dentist appt. on Wednesday anyway, so I will cope until then.

I did not go for a run today.

 

I barely did anything.

 

So… at only four days into June… I have had to use… the emergency plank!

Just 1min 30secs though. I do need to sit up from bed in the morning.

 

 

*clearly, I can still function, I am still going to work tomorrow, and I am well aware that at some point in the (probably quite near) future, I shall consider how I feel now and think, “you were lucky!”

Wasp attack? 

…Well… Not quite.

 I just wore my Garmin (GPS tracker – for the benefit of my parents) while I played tennis today and here’s the Strava screenshot…

A tennis match on Strava always looks like a wasp attack.  I covered 4.5 miles during the course today’s game.

Incidentally, I might have played better if I had actually been attacked by a wasp during the match, but I won’t go into that now. Suffice to say – it wasn’t the best. Roll on the day that my pesky tennis elbow pain is gone!
I might actually go for a run tomorrow.

Last night, my family and I stayed over at my parents’ house. They moved recently… not exactly ‘near’ us, but certainly nearer than Devon was. I miss taking moderately regular holidays in Devon now, but it is greatly outweighed buy how much more frequent our visits are when the journey is only 1.5 hours instead of 4.5!

I woke in the early hours (about 04:15) for some reason and still had my Bluetooth headphones awkwardly wrapped around my face somehow. In my attempts to remove them, I must have somehow pushed the secret combination of buttons activating the mysterious secret code and initiating those horrible words that I then heard in my ear… 

LAST NUMBER REDIAL!”

What?! No. No no no no noooo…

04:15 a.m. 

Like… In the morning?

Where’s my phone gone?!

Who did I call last?!

Thankfully (sort of) the last person I called was ‘My Mother and Father’ [so listed in my phone in order that when using voice dial I don’t say “call mum” and then have to choose between Amy’s mum, Callum’s mum, Harry’s mum, Matilda’s mum, George’s mum, Lewis’s mum, Bobby’s mum, Georgia’s mum, Robyn’s mum, etc …you get the picture]. I had called them the evening before to say I’d turned off the A1 and would be another 20 minutes.

Anyway…back to the moderately amusing anecdote… 

Well, I jumped up from my makeshift bed on the floor of the living room (the new house is a little smaller than the old one – I’d not just had a family argument or anything) and the speed at which I did so, looking for the glow of my phone,  is worthy of a Juneathon activity in itself. 

It was like a burpee on steroids. 

I eventually spotted my phone only after the house phone started ringing at that special volume that is reserved only for unwanted noises in the wee small hours of the night/morning … and I managed to turn it off within 3 seconds….But those 3 seconds felt, and sounded, like 3 minutes.

I thought I’d got away with it as I didn’t hear anyone else get up… but later in the morning, I was informed that this wasn’t actually the case. Oops.

______

Moving on… 

Come 06:30 a.m. and the boy wakes up wanting  play football! 

So naturally, we headed out for an hour to the local park to kick the ball around.

 ‘Official’ Juneathon activity done.

______

Other activities today included a reasonably long walk around a sculpture park, chasing my kids around the water-play area at Burghley House, and rolling down slight hills.

 🙂

It’s June.

Which means it’s Juneathon. A month of activity/exercise and blogging. You know…that thing where you start of saying that you’re going to be all fitness and health for a month and then manage a week if you’re lucky, before then either slinking away hoping nobody notices, or proudly announcing your failings to the blogging world, amid encouragement from all the other slackers to eat all the biscuits/cake etc.

__________
I’ve not blogged for ages. A lot has happened. 
Unfortunately one of those things has been me getting older, which results in a number of things, 

1) I’m slowing down.

2) Bits of my body are failing me.

4) I can’t remember all the other things that have happened.

3) I get a bit muddled.

_________
I recently turned 40. I didn’t have a big do. 

I thought about inviting all my friends round but they don’t really know each other so I figured I’d visit them both individually at a later date.

Instead, I took a couple of days off work in April and as my wife and kids had different Easter holidays to each other, after seeing the kids off to school we headed up into the Peak District. 

We enjoyed some lovely views and a glass of celebratory bubbles at Froggat Edge…

…and stayed over in some “accommodation” nearby…

…which, despite the completely inappropriate use of punctuation, was actually really nice. I woke up the next morning while it was still dark and treated myself to a little run along the edge, snapping few nice pictures along the way…

It was a nice birthday trip away. 

Plus we saw some cool cows we weren’t expecting. (That’s a sentence that can surely only be expressed by someone aged 40+ , right?)

___________

Physically, little runs are all I seem to be able to manage at present and have been for quite some time now. 5k …maybe 10k at a push. I can do these without too much agro. But anything more and my left achilles gives me jip. It’s just letting me know it’s there, mostly just whispering, but if I start getting cocky and try to run further/faster, it shouts at me.

To combat the reduced running (and associated weight management problems I then experienced) I’d been going to the gym a bit more instead, and was enjoying this – a regular circuit of free weights, skipping and stretches (yes….stretches…I know…get me). This was going well, until a slight niggle in my right arm became more than that. 

Long story short – it’s tennis elbow. I didn’t realise it could be this painful. I genuinely thought I’d somehow broken something. 

And now, about 4 months after I first noticed something, I can wake in the early hours and be unable to straighten my arm.

 It will go… eventually… apparently… I’m told. But it may be months….it could be a couple of years… But the gym circuit has now been cut from my routine too.

There have of course been subsequent weight management issues associated with this.

__________

Those of you who have read my previous postings may know that I’m quite ‘All Or Nothing’ when it comes to my health. If I’m being fit and active, I’m often also eating well. As I’ve not been very fit and active, my nutritional intake has also been less than perfect. 

Now as confused as I get with what my idea of ‘perfect’ is anyway… High fat/low fat, carbs good/bad, etc (and at this point I want to say, please don’t try to advise me, you will only seek to confuse me further!), what I do know is that eating the amount I have been as often as I have been, has not been great for me. 

The subsequent weight management issues associated with this no doubt aggravate my achilles issue, affect my motivation, etc, etc. So I need to do something.

____________

I still manage to enjoy the odd game of tennis. I gave this a rest for a while to see if it helped the elbow. 

It didn’t. 
And I’m not giving it up indefinitely so I’ve decided it’s a case of taking a few painkillers before a match, gritting my teeth and getting on with it!

My boy, who’s eleven (funny name for a boy, I know) and I are playing in a league match together as partners this Saturday. I’ll let you know how we do.

________

I’m not (always) daft. It’s not like I’m going to go mad and try and do 100 press ups, 100 sit ups, 100 lunges and run 10km every day or anything*…

*…I …errr… I… I  did that a couple of weeks ago…. For one day… And then couldn’t get out of bed the next morning… So that’s not a good idea people. I have done this so you don’t have to.

 Today, I have started gently. Some stretches. A few sit ups. Let’s not go mad. I’m determined too teach my daughter, who’s six (funny name for a girl, I know), to ride her bike this half-term holiday. I shall be doing that later today, too.

So there’s my update. My first Juneathon post in a long while.

 It will be all or nothing, I’m sure. Either the full month of activity and blogging or a miserable fail followed by blogging silence. 

And let’s face it, I’ve already got my excuses in.

Having recently read an article about how running while holding your phone to your ear affects your running performance, I thought it was important to share an often overlooked piece of running advice.

Do you wash your hair while running? If you do you could be damaging your chances of getting that 5k PB you’ve been chasing! 

This brief article examines the potential pitfalls…and what you can do about them!
1. Throws you off your form

Have you tried running with your arms on your head? Trying to work up a good lather. It’s tough. You need your arms to help propel you forward and to maintain good posture while running. Washing your hair can seriously alter this.

SOLUTION : don’t wash your hair while running.

2. Increasing your risk of injury

Ever got shampoo in your eyes? “Ahhhhh…I’m temporarily blinded…where’s the towel…somebody pass me the towel!” 

Now imagine that happening while trying to cross  busy road! Washing your hair while running could have severe consequences.

SOLUTION: don’t wash your hair while running.

3. Decreasing your exercise intensity

When did you last read about Mo Farah getting  a tough set of interval sessions done whilst washing his hair? Mmmm?

Nuff said.

SOLUTION: don’t wash your hair while running.

4. Making your rest breaks way too long

You can’t wash your hair inbetween hill reps, can you? By the time you’ve got home and in the shower and got the conditioner worked in are you really going to return to the peak district to finish that second rep. I doubt it.

SOLUTION: Buy a house near a hill. With an outdoor tap.

5. Breaking your flow

Can’t remember what I was going to say about this.

6. Making you skip your workout

Seriously… the number of girls I have asked if they were up for an intense interval session and they tell me that they are washing their hair instead!

Washing hair reduces fitness.Fact.

SOLUTION: just don’t ever wash your hair.


Last night I was awoken at 01:00 a.m. by a pretty girl tickling my feet.

It was my 6 year old daughter. She had a sore throat and a temperature, and couldn’t swallow very well, she told me. 

Somehow tickling my feet at 01:00 a.m. helped. 

A similar thing happened at 02:00 a.m. And then… by 05:00 a.m. she had returned but had resorted to just sleeping at my feet… The smell must have soothed her off into a land of slumber.

I didn’t get back to sleep so I feel shattered this evening and all plans of a run tonight have vanished.

Without wanting this to sound all ‘new year’s resolutiony’… I neeeeeed to get back into some sort of fitness again soon. I’ll be forty this year and whilst I do not believe this is ‘over the hill’ it certainly feels like a pretty reasonably sized undulation which I have perhaps enjoyed freewheeling down for a bit :-/

The vicious circle of ankle (including occasional Achilles) pain, reduced distance running, reduced enjoyment, comfort eating, weight gain, and increased ankle pain…. is a harder one to break than I thought.

I had been doing sone gym work to keep active but although I feel stronger, it has done nothing for my size, my ankle pain, or my running generally.

I had thought that 2017 might be the year I challenge my 21 year old self to a marathon race. My first marathon was completed in 2000 at that age and I have never run one faster since. That kind of bugged me. Bugs me. 

I ran a 10k in November at a reasonable (for me) pace but haven’t been for a ‘long run’ in ages now. I don’t think I would enjoy it. My ankle certainly wouldn’t. 

In a desperate attempt at a final fling, I might buy a buy a new pair of running shoes. But I’m still caught in that vicious circle and I’m not entirely sure how to break out of it.

So many confusing and conflicting ideas regarding what constitutes a healthy diet at the moment… I don’t know the ‘right’ answer (please don’t tell me either), but whatever that ‘right’ answer is, I know that it is not – eating an entire bag of midget gems found in the glove compartment of the car on the way home from work. Now I’m a (sort of) intelligent chap… I KNOW categorically that the answer is not that!

 
I’m not going to beat myself up here too much… But I do want to take stock, check where I am now, and move on. This is not good health-wise. Not mentally. Not physically. Something’s gotta give and I don’t want it to be my sanity, my ankle or any other body part (and there are plenty queuing up).

So I found >>this old blog post from 2013<< in which I tried to do similar and took a few measurements. I’ve summarised the main differences below but I went about it in 2013 in a much more fun way.

This is from 2013: (and 31/12/2016 updates in bold.)

Height: 5′ 10″ (178cm)      STILL 5′ 10″

Weight: 93kg (205 lb)         NOW 98kg

Thighs: R= 63cm L= 63cm NOW both 64cm
(Circumference)

Biceps: R= 38cm NOW 39.5cm  L= 36cm NOW 38cm
(Circumference)

Waist: 97cm.           NOW 102cm

Chest: 112cm.            STILL 112cm

Muffin top: 104cm.    NOW 107cm

(Muffin top = that bit above the waist where all the fat is squeezed to and due to its ageing inelasticity just sort of stays there, unaffected by gravity, like some cheap memory foam).

I’ll attempt at least a monthly update here. For my own benefit really. Maybe for the next 6 months. It’d be great to see things change and who knows, now I’ve put it out there, it might. I usually need a goal to motivate me but I don’t fancy wasting a race entry fee when there is a distinct possibly of a DNS . But even with a goal, things don’t just change on their own, I know.

I thought I’d finish with good news/ bad news…

Good news:  my wife, who really dislikes running (she doesn’t dislike me running, or running generally, she  just dislikes her running) got herself a barcode. Yes, a parkrun barcode. I genuinely never thought I’d see that happen. She fully intended to walk/jog around the 5k with younger daughter while I ran the route with older son.

Bad news: rather disappointingly, daughter (who was very excited about going at first) informed her legs were going to fall off after less than 1k and wife decided it would e too draining to try to persuade a small child who clearly decided she didn’t want to be there around the remaining 4k*. They would then have waited at the finish and watched son and I complete the parkrun, except he had decided his legs were going to fall off before we got to the 2k marker and I was in no mood to persuade a pre-teen around who had clearly decided he didn’t want to be there either. We went home early, having previously gone for longer walks to buy a pint of milk and today forfeiting our plans for a celebratory post-run bacon cob and cake.

I’m trying to think positive. Everyone now has a barcode…We could just turn up whenever (on a Saturday at 9am ) now, right?. But…I feel most disappointed for my wife really. She had been the one to suggest it, which I never thought would happen. And I know she would have felt a sense of achievement. But I can’t see her wanting to get up early on a Saturday again now, to travel for half an hour and then potentially not complete it again. Not for a while anyway.

*incidentally the whole family walked 8.5 miles around Carsington reservoir a few days later.

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Posted: December 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

The other day  I went to the gym.

I did some skipping.

The chaps nearby stopped lifting weights…and started doing hopscotch.

:-/