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

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Runner Reborn - Taking to the hills

You know you read all that stuff about how hills are good for you? Well they are, but I think they should give hills a health warning. Hills are hard. Hills are dangerous. Never ever under-estimate a hill, treat it with respect. I didn't, I paid the price. Now I take hills very seriously indeed.

A couple of weeks ago, I did my first hill session since 'the injury'.  It was going on for four months after the evil day, so I reckoned I was about ready.  I'd always had hills in my training before, so I decided it was time to start taking them on again.

Now I like hill work outs. I like the way they push me and the sense of achieving something hard. Hills are a great way of adding a little bit extra to a run to push you a bit, especially when you're short of time. I saw hills as more about will than muscle and as I believe that I am, deep down, a really lazy person, I see hills as character building. I never had a single twinge or problem doing hills other than the usual pain and exhaustion!

Now I'm not daft, I did take it easy. I  have a run I used to do when I first started running which I wouldn't call a hill, more an incline. North Berwick Law, that's a hill and I have run (sort of) up it. There's a few other steep paths round here climbing up from the sea, so I thought I'd be fine if I avoided those and went for something much gentler.

So off I went. About 20 minutes in my injured calf started to give me a good nipping in exactly the place where the tear had been. Absolutely no doubt, I was irritating the bit I'd injured.  A recovering injury makes body-sensing almost inevitable.  I didn't panic, but I didn't run through it either. I used my running form to control the nipping - reducing my stride, slowing the pace a bit, making sure my posture was good, relaxing my lower leg. As I experimented, I tested my leg's reaction to how I ran. What was it in my running that lay behind that horrid niggling reminder of my dark days? What did I need to do now to avoid it happening again?

I gradually worked out how to work with the injury. I found I could stop my calf hurting, I was in control. I resisted the temptation to push the distance, even though the nipping stopped and I headed home along the flat - slowly and carefully and finished off with a really good stretch and a roller session.

I know now that my calf injury was triggered by me doing a massive steep hill in the second half of my  third half marathon distance long run on a Sunday.  Another major and stupid error for which I paid the price. I'd not done a reduced mileage for ages  - why should I, I felt great!  I was bonkers. I've cycled and walked up that hill before and it's a a struggle even in granny gear; even after serious spinning training. But that day before Christmas I ran up it. I went slowly but that probably made it even worse. When that calf muscle called out to me the other day, I realised what I'd been putting my body through as I pushed myself. I'd acted like I was invincible.

But, as a reborn runner I am starting again, rebuilding myself.  The combination of really listening to my body and not my i pod and having a method for analysing my form is transforming my running.  A small physical adjustment took the pressure off that muscle and I could run pain free. A massive mental adjustment and working on my focus meant I noticed a problem and responded to it before it got too big. A boost of discipline means I now walk up hills - unless I am specifically out on a planned hill session.

I'd never thought about hills as being high risk for my poor legs, but I do now.  I get the power of hills and how they found my weak spot.  I have to treat hills with respect and progress slowly and gradually.  Which I suppose is what I should have done in the first place - but hey isn't that life!

I've had a great running week. I am so enjoying my running just now, it's more rewarding than it's ever been. Every run has felt good and I can see progress - not just in speed or distance, but more importantly in what I learn and the type of runner I'm growing into. And as you can see flat running doesn't have to be easy or boring!

Three runs this week and one spin class. I've done another 10 miler in a slightly faster cadence than last week - pretty flat as you can see!  A shorter faster run and a recovery jog barefoot on the beach. I'll have an enforced reduction in mileage next week and instead of fretting about not being able to run, I'm going to be grateful that it it fits so well with my plans.  Well that's the theory!

Happy running!

take care