Motivation and The Mean Girl

Well into Week 8 of injury down time here at Conquest Towers. Initially I like to think I took my second ITB injury in my stride. I knew what to expect, and I hit the physio exercises hard, only throwing one or two full on diva temper tantrums. I got on the spin bike regularly and gave it 110%, and made peace with the Foam Roller Of Spiteful Death. It was going well. I even started climbing to keep me distracted

Climbing Heroes
What running injury?

This burst of positivity didn’t last for long. I was hit with a fairly brutal summer cold, combined with a manically busy period at work and a very serious case of all consuming ‘meh’. Typically my nutritional planning then went out the window as I reached for chocolate, sugar and caffeine to save the day, instant fixes and serious sugar comedowns. Add in a dash of ‘I-just-can’t-be-arsed’ for good measure and you’ve got a very unmotivated and pretty pissed off person.

But it wasn’t just the stressed out immune system to blame – officially giving up the Royal Parks place sucked. This was going to be the Half that I delivered a decent PB, and I’d wipe out the memory of literally sobbing through mile 8 last year, when the first ITB injury flared up in all its agonising glory. It was the race that would kick off a new season of ‘proper running’. You know the stuff, training that is synchronised in perfect harmony with your schedule, where you cross train as often as you know you should, where PBs are beaten every month. I had a very clear idea that this would herald in some new era in fitness, and in turn I would finally become a ‘Proper Runner’ too. But I had to say no thanks. I’m on  the bench, I need to recover and rebuild recondition. And in my head I hear this:  I’m obviously just not cut out for this. My body is just rubbish, just stop. Its too hard

So here’s the thing. I am still trying to convince that surly cynical sulking inner teenager of my youth that I’m actually capable of doing this. Every slower than expected mile, every ache, every twist, every injury  I can hear her sniggering from behind a fog of Marlborough, snapping gum and smirking, ‘You don’t really think you can do this do you? Making an arse of yourself out there wearing STUPID shorts and UGLY trainers, and you look a right sweaty mess, wheezing through a 15 minute run. What a JOKE’ 

She’s a total bitch.

I should know, I was her for a damn sight longer than I like to admit.

It’s this long standing fiercely personal fight that’s the hardest one. I’ve conquered my fears about running outdoors in broad daylight wearing VERY short shorts. I’m deliriously happy when I look in the mirror and I’m practically puce – I can laugh at the fact that I forget to take my mascara off and I look like Alice Cooper on a spin bike. I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about what the blokes at the pub are shouting after me as I ran past. But if I spend too much time in my own head, I’ll find a reason why I shouldn’t bother. That insecure, bullying, spiteful voice gets a little louder and picks tiny holes in all my hard earned esteem.

Hence the climbing, the roller blading, the cycling. I suspect I may take up motorbiking too, that might shut up the Mean Girl in my head. Scare the shit out of her. I’ve also noticed making a total fool of myself and laughing about it, keeps her pretty quiet too – so there was this:

Harley Nerd

Combine the two, fear and being ridiculous and I give you Survival of the Fittest  in November. If that doesn’t shut her up, it may just convert her. Get her to give up the snark and take up the pom poms. I need to become my own biggest cheer leader. Thankfully I’ve got a few awesome people around me, doing that job well. You guys rock (you know who you are!)

Long suffering spouse

Stella. Coach Almighty

New Season, New Look

Spring has not sprung. It’s mid April and we still have the heating on, I am making full use of all my coats and and the electric blanket. Because its freezing. And with it being April, everyone is marathon obsessed, and out pounding pavements all over London. Inspiring stuff bearing in mind the horrendous weather.

Joining in the ‘spring’ spirit, I have also started training, albeit mostly on the treadmill because I have totally wimped out, but training nonetheless. I have signed up to We Own The Night in Victoria Park on May 18th, which will be my first race since the disaster that was the Royal Parks.

Following advice from my physio, I’m combing the running with two spinning sessions a week, and that combined with the eating plan means I have bought myself my first pair of size 8 jeans since I was about sixteen! The bad news is I have to get my wedding ring resized, and my credit card has taken a serious beating.

It’s been hugely satisfying watching all the hard work pay off, eating healthier, getting my form right and as a result, achieving my goal weight. But that does require a new wardrobe full of clothes that actually fit, rather than shirts that bunch up in the wrong places because they’re just a bit too big. That includes new belts, new bras (slightly gutted), new running kit (that doesn’t fall down), and of course, new jeans!

So thought I’d dig out an old snap from my training last year (right)  prior to the eating/coaching plan, and a snap of me a few weeks ago (left). Eighteen pounds down (circa 8kgs) and four to go! That sub 1 hour 10K race in May, could just be doable

Sink or Swim

Two weeks since the race and a few follow up physio appointments later, its very clear that my running injury is a bit more complicated than I initially thought, and its going to take a lot more than a few weeks rest to get better.

Pay attention, here comes the science bit, I’ll keep it brief. The year old calf injury from back in Feb 2011 has come back to haunt me, just in time for Halloween. Apparently this is fairly common as I didn’t get it properly looked at. This means my right calf has very little flexibility and my left leg has been compensating. Add to that the lazy glutes (as discussed here so I won’t go on), a pretty lackadaisical core and tight hips and HEY PRESTO! Awful awful ITB issues. What fun.

The upshot of all of this is that I will not be running for at least another month while I focus on building up the flexibility and getting the right muscles ‘firing’.  When I do start again, I have been advised to pretty much start again. They’re talking running for a minute, walking for three minutes… that kind of starting again. OH GOOD. But we’re also talking sorting out my posture, getting rid of that weird flick I do with my right foot, and getting stronger and faster all round.

So there’s that to look forward to. In the meantime its been suggested I swim. Yes, swim. And not the faffing about in the pool I usually do, while on holiday. Proper swimming, using freestyle, to build my core strength.

Its worth noting I haven’t been swimming for fitness purposes since 1994, back in Roosevelt High’s Grade 8 swim team, which I was a part of for precisely 2 days.

I do not have fond memories of sporty ‘proper’ swimming in general. My high school pool was also used for diving so was suitably, very deep and I had this irrational fear that I’d dive in too deep and not reach the surface quickly enough. You know, before I drowned. I hated the horrid elastic caps that had to be dusted with baby powder so they didn’t stick together, and pulled my hair,  the sting-your-eyes chlorine that also turned my hair green and made my skin itch. The unflattering school issue navy swimsuits.

But needs, must and all that. I’ve had a bit of a look around the local leisure centre facilities, and with the hoards of screaming children, it looked just as daunting as my old school pool nearly 18 years ago. I left without even getting a toe wet.

Not a good start then, so I’m just reminding myself I was just as terrified of my trainers when I first put them on. Flashbacks of shivering to the core wearing ill fitting brown nylon shorts on the starting line in the middle of winter come to mind. All the anticipation and anxiety, only to come last in sprints. Or falling over the hurdles. Its fair to say I loathed running, I found it humiliating and difficult. Now I find it something I pretty much can’t live without. So if I want to get back on it. I’m going to have to jump in the pool.

My ideal pool.
Unfortunately no Lilos are allowed at the leisure centre

Countdown: Two Weeks to Go

Numbers UP!

Two weeks today, hopefully I’ll be putting my feet up after completing 13.1 miles in the Royal Parks. Race number has arrived, charity vest is at the ready, and with a few more physio sessions lined up between now and then, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be racing on Oct 7th.

The ITB is still causing some discomfort, but I managed 10km (with a break for added stretching) this morning without wanting to throw myself in the Serpentine. So provided Emily brings the chat, my ibuprofen lasts and these agonising foam roller love ins pay off, all will be well. I’m doing about 20 minutes a day with the blasted thing (10mins in the morning, 10 in the evening). I’d say we’re getting a tad co-dependant. Stella is not happy and took another chunk out of it while I wasn’t looking.

I’ve managed my prescribed exercises all week, mainly as the trainers were gathering dust due to the annual seasonal cold that has been going around, but I’m really hoping they help in the long term, and I don’t get told off by the physio again!

The REGIME as imagined by Stick Man 

A French Affair

Last week I packed my running shoes along with my passport and headed to Plaisance in France, for a week of indulging in cheese, catching up with family and perhaps even fitting in some cycling between the running sessions I had planned.

Most of that went according to plan. We took a leisurely train to the Aveyron region via Toulouse, settled into the holiday mood and arrived at our destination suitably relaxed and full of french pastry. And as a result I was itching to get some mileage in to hopefully balance the butter intake and ease out the stiffness that comes with long train journeys.

I needn’t have worried, it didn’t take long to get ourselves sorted out with top-of-the-range bikes, creative itineraries, maps and Garmins, from the wonderfully effervescent  and knowledgeable Claudia Koch who owns and runs Cycling Magnolias, a cycling tour company based in the beautiful Les Magnolia’s hotel in Plaisance who we booked our holiday through.

Les Magnolia’s Hotel

One or two long bike rides wouldn’t mess too much with my running plans, I thought, I can include in my ‘cross training’ days and perhaps one or two meandering trips around the country side on my recovery days. Surely? Best laid plans and all that….

I have to admit, the running was forsaken in favour of the beautiful bike I found myself in possession of for a week. It wasn’t the easiest first day, I fell off four (!!)  times while I got used to the straps on the pedals and I earned myself some spectacular bruises, but after that it was a match made in heaven. Beautiful countryside to explore, minimum traffic and breathtaking views.

My lovely hybrid for the week 

My trainers were almost left in my suitcase, I just wasn’t planning on having such fun on the bike and the running sessions were quickly forgotten.  Of course I was suitably punished by finding new and interesting muscles that ached like nothing I have ever experienced having hit the hills or trying (stupidly) to keep pace with my uber-fit cycling-guru father.

Dad and I on top of the hill en route to St Izaire (75km round trip)

So, by the end of the holiday I had clocked up (almost) 200km on the bike and a very disappointing 10km in actual running, one session on an early Tuesday morning post thunderstorm to shake out the stiff cycling muscles. Of course I am blaming the heat  and the fact that those hills can only be conquered with bikes. My legs on their own just couldn’t cope!

I also blame the cheese. I can’t run on a full stomach. But I can cycle.

Cheese. The overriding theme of the trip

Back in London and I am contemplating buying a road bike. But like any affair, I can’t quite see how it would fit into my ‘real’ life in London just yet. To much traffic to contend with, the issue of storage, the expensive kit that comes with it. So I’m back with my first love, simple straight-forward running and hitting the pavements back in training for the Royal Parks.

But there may be a triathlon in my future… wear did I store my swimming cap again?

Cross Training – Boxing Clever

I have been reading far too many running forums and am very easily swayed by those who advertise they have 3 marathons under their very skinny belts and manage 5K races in under 26 minutes. I also have a sneaky suspicion that in fact they may preach more than they practise, but being new to this regular exercise malarky, I’m trying to get as much info as I can.

Apparently its not enough to pound the pavement 4 plus times a weeks with hills and speed work, you need to eat right, drink obscene amounts of water and cross train.

Now bearing in mind I live with an exceptional cook who has the most potent sweet tooth in London, eating right is going to be a challenge. At present we have a cherry and blackberry crumble mocking me from in the kitchen and leftovers from an exceptional gnocchi and chorizo dinner begging to be finished. We dont eat badly. We just tend to eat a lot!

Water, thankfully, is not my nemesis, and although there may be small outbursts of panic as I cut back on the coffee, this I think I can manage.

So that leaves Cross Training. Having just joined Gymbox, the obvious contender is boxing, which my internet forum gurus also highly recommend for increasing stamina and upper body strength. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I hit the sales to procure:

Decent gloves –  which in hind sight are a tad too big! But do the job
Wrist wraps – these are very cool, you put them on and immediately start to feel pretty hardcore. And also a bit like a mummy, but that goes away when you put the gloves on

Sweat bands – I am unlucky, I’d like to say I glow, I don’t. I sweat. A lot.
New shorts – which again in hindsight, I’m not sure I have the guts to wear. They are *short*!

I’ve just finished my saturday morning session of Thump (no contact, just contact pad work) and I’m impressed. I managed to burn 576 kals in an hour (according to my HRM), which is more than I do spinning – and I know my back and arms got a decent work out I should be in agony tomorrow…ouch. My co-ordination is way off so combos are tricky! My poor work out partner almost got smacked about the head once or twice when I went for a hook rather than a jab. Hardly Million Dollar Baby in the making, but its early days.

They offer early morning proper boxing classes too (in a ring – yes really! but without th Rocky music thankfully), so I’m going to add a few of those to the schedule and see if this helps boost my fitness without putting additional pressure on my joints.

Now to finish off that crumble…