We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Into the starting blocks

The end is nigh. I am, I sincerely hope, now in the final week of not running. What a relief - for us all I'm sure. You must be as fed up of this as I am!

For all but the first week of the injury I've kept up my exercise routine. At the core have been physio, upper body conditioning and Pilates, gradually built up as my poorly leg could take it. Good for keeping some muscle tone and discipline,  great for staying positive, feeling like an athlete and keeping in touch with the healing process.

This week I got back to the gym - hooray! I got a lovely welcome back from Kevin at Virgin Omni and it was great to be back despite the usual busy-ness of the gym this time of year. I know people complain about gyms, but the joy of being able to exercise again beats all. I'd have made do with a massive hamster wheel if it meant I could run.   There's a machine for everything even for the crocked runner.

My first triathlon - 10 minutes on the bike; 10 minutes on the cross trainer and 10 lengths of the pool. No resistance, very slow, very gradual. Savouring the movement of my limbs and paying close attention to the messages from the muscles - testing, trying. There were as many complaints and grumbles from my non injured leg which rightly feels it deserves a rest after the last 6 weeks of keeping the show on the road.

As my non-running draws to an end, I'm coming to the end of my first reading of Chi Running. A phased running recovery will fit well with the transition to chi running - physically and mentally. I've tried Chi walking and it's helping a lot. Relaxing my lower leg helped me stop limping and start to balance the legs again.

Recovery has forced me to slow down and think about what I'm doing. It also makes me pay close attention to my body and what it's telling me. That damaged muscle lets me know how it's reacting and I am actively listening. A nip slows me down very effectively and that enables me to correct my posture too.

If you'd asked me before I would have said of course I'm listening to my body. I heard nips and niggles, but I wasn't focussed enough on how my body was reacting - not like I am now.  My head knew I was running too fast, but I wasn't getting feedback from the bit of me that does the hard work. I want to keep the focus in future so that as I recover physically I don't just speed up and do it all again.

I plan to treat myself to some new ultra light Brooks. I am going to include barefoot beach walks and runs in my training and I will be running with Danny on the iPod. Cross training is back in, it worked well before and I will continue my core Pilates and yoga.

The external pressures on me to run are removed.  Recovery will dictate my running until I'm back to normal. I will run that marathon when I'm ready, not when I can fit it in with everything else.  I know I can do it, I just don't know when yet.  You know things are bad when they're a learning experience, and this certainly has been an education, but it will soon be history.

Soon I will be off running again. I can't wait to get my legs and buns of steel back - my legs are so soft that the cats have taken to sitting on my lap again.

Friday, I'm back in the race. Today I'm hunkered in the blocks ready to go. No false starts.  Cue the snow!

Happy running!

Take care


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Runner Reborn: the end of a dream?

It's been a big week on the recovery front. Physically I am doing great, taking great (baby) strides.  I've braved public transport and climbed from the bowels of Waverley Station to the dizzy heights of Calton Hill.  I've survived the inhumanity of being knocked over by fellow commuters who think trying to hold on is pushing in. (I really would have kicked that man but I'd have fallen over).

I can walk like a normal person for short distances and as long as I don't go too fast or too far.  I've done a few low impact aerobics workouts and Zumba. (I've been really impressed by Jillian Michael's 30 day shred). And of course keeping up the Pilates to keep my core strong and balanced. Physically, I'm getting there.

But as I've said before, the really big thing about recovery is not physical; it's mental, emotional and spiritual (or whatever you call it).   Getting an injury knocks your confidence; it makes you feel like a rubbish runner; it's pants being patient and waiting. Somehow you feel you should be working through the pain and you're a wimp for giving into it.  Coping with the pressures to get out there and run is tough, but like every other hard thing in life, if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.

Last week I mentioned I asked my Twitter chums how they avoid injury.  @Pyllon suggested Chi Running; @rowenanews reminded me about the marathon goals that matter more than time.  Well, these seeds have taken root and are starting to sprout and they have made me look long and hard at some stuff I'd been trying to avoid.

In this enforced time out, I have an opportunity to be a better runner. As I start running again, I can start from scratch, using the experience I've gained and the wisdom of other runners.  I can ditch all the stuff I've picked up along the way and that's holding me back.  I need to find my inner runner again. I know if I was running any thinking would be trampled under my bouncing Brookes; but because I am so totally and absolutely fed up with not running, I am very open to anything that means I can avoid this happening ever, ever again.

 Desperation has made me accept a few home truths:

Hard Truth number one.  I'm not going to be in good enough form to run the Barcelona Marathon this year. Fact. I have decided. Whether or when I do a Marathon can wait until I'm back on my feet and running normally again. That hurts, but it has to be so.

Hard Truth number two: I was partly responsible for my injury. Very hard to write that one! I am Mrs Sensible. I read, I prepare, I do as I'm told. How can it be my fault? Of course it's not about fault (!), I just have to accept that there's things I can do to make me a better runner and reduce the risk of injury.

Hard Truth number three: I need to rediscover my inner runner, the runner in me that knows how to train, who knows how to improve. Following schedules and training plans is not the answer, I need to work out what suits me, that probably means running less and cross training more.

It's hard putting it all down in black and white. It's hard to kill your dream, it seems like such a defeat and a failure.  But I want to run forever more than I want to run a marathon in a few weeks time.  I started off well just running in my own way and I got 1/2 marathon and 10k times I am dead chuffed with. Marathon training in a reduced timescale stopped me doing what comes naturally. It was like getting into a very tight pair of trainers and the consequences were dire. I need to get back to that Sue and let her guide my running.

So, onwards and upwards. I am going to use Chi Running to help me find a better way to run, not just technically but inside.  I will do that marathon, I know I have it within me, but I will do it when I'm ready.

I'm hoping to run again soon. I can feel it in my quads. I just hope the sports bra and Garmin are in working order!

Take care and if you're running or recovering, be great!