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, 27 January 2013

Run, review, learn, improve

Right, I don't know where the time has gone, but that's week four of my training for the Lochaber Marathon complete. I've hit the 30 miles training milestone this week (first time for me in my entire life!) and I'm really pleased to report that not only is my mileage is increasing without anything breaking; my confidence is on the up too.

I feel like I've reached the end of phase 1 and as I enter the next stage of my prep, the time feels right to reflect on how things have gone so far and take stock.


I nearly blew it by doing my usual 'test to destruction' thing. Too many spinning and body pump classes whilst extending my runs was just too much for my right knee and it got quite sore (my right leg takes more of the strain and so tends to hurt first). So I really need to control my tendency to get over-exuberant when things are going well and I feel good. The deal is I can spin all I want when the marathon's over, for now I have to respect the work I'm asking of my knees and be more disciplined.

I usually run most of my runs on an empty stomach and that's been fine up until now, but it just doesn't work for marathon training. When I do a hard run on an empty stomach I have more niggles and sore bits as I got tired quicker than if I was well fuelled. Nick from Soul in Motion who's my Chi Running guru helped me see the value of getting your running form right, so form is my priority. So, no more running on empty for the moment. This is about running a marathon not losing weight.

HOORAY!!!! I'm  responding really well the reduction in impact. Neutral shoes, lots of cushioning in the shoes and socks and only running on the beach, trail or treadmill is making an incredible difference to my ability to build up the miles injury free.  I didn't run on the ice as that can increase impact and instead took myself inside so I could keep running and keep safe. My feet have stopped hurting almost completely now and the other niggles are manageable. I know I'll have to run on the road eventually but the more I can avoid it the better, I don't want to risk an injury at this critical stage.

I was also really pleased with how I handled my sore knee. Because of previous injuries, I think I'd developed an injury 'mindset', a sort of post injury stress syndrome.  I lost my ability to be objective about pain, and every niggle that lasted more than 1 run was a bad sign and I panicked.  This time, I panicked and then read up on knee problems in Runners World. I worked out I didn't have runners knee, my knee was fine when I was actually running, so I could still run but I had to reduce wear and tear on my knees. No more spin, instead, lots of foam and tennis ball rolling, more time in the pool, up the glucosamine and knee exercises to prevent future problems. It's working and my knee is improving all the time and I'm running strong.

And despite the wonders of outside running, especially in North Berwick, I'm learning to love the  treadmill.  One of the benefits of treadmill running other than it being low impact and easy to access any time, is that it's so boring that it's easy to focus on how your body responds to changes in form or speed. If something hurts its very easy to change your form and play about with what works, without worrying about rocks and stray dogs or slippy seaweed (or being stuck miles from anywhere with a bad hobble).  So by learning to love the treadmill, I've been able to work my way through niggles and keep running. I'm not going to be quite so scornful about treadmills in future - as Borgen says - sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.

 AND NEXT??? As my mileage increases to new levels for me,  I'm beginning to respect the work I still have to do to prepare for running for what will probably be about 6 hours.  Already I'm getting chafed in new places (you sweat more on a treadmill so you find this sort of thing out quite early on)  so I'm reviewing my clothing and digging out the glide.  I'm starting to reach the limits of my muscle stores and sometimes the long run seems daunting, so I'm starting to work out my mental and fuelling strategies. As the miles and the hours increase, I'm going to have to plan my runs more carefully and carve out protected running space.

The most exciting thing about the next phase is that I now have my insoles courtesy of Pam at Abbeyhill Footcare. They will provide the few extra millimetres I need to make my feet work like normal feet, plus she's added a bit of padding for my sorely abused big toe joint. I'm really excited to see how they affect my running. Preliminary trials are very favourable..... watch this space!

RUNNING STATS  I made it to 30 miles this week - a milestone for me. I ran a lot of it on the treadmill due to the snow, ice and tide times. It was a necessary compromise with some unexpected benefits. I'm doing 3 runs and a bit of cross training (no spinning!) each week. The 2 rest days are really paying off in terms of my ability to increase the long runs without injury. I do a short tempo about 6 miles,  a long run (which this week I split into 11 miles and 4 miles to fit it in) and a medium distance run between 8 and a 11 miles. Today I ran along the beach into winds the BBC has quoted as 25mph. Who needs hill work, serious resistance! Also I had to really work hard to slow down on the way back though as the gusts wheeched me along the beach at considerable speed. My splits were very very positive but I can't take any credit for that!

The regime plus lots of stretches and rolling to keep things working and a monthly sports massage to ease out the knots and alert me to any problems and I'm doing great. Today's run was great, all that is best about running out of doors. And I barely noticed the time or distance after those treadmill runs - I just kept running until I knew it was time to stop.

So bring on phase 2! This next phase is going to be about getting that long run up to 20 miles; getting the nutrition and hydration working for me, keeping me strong and just making sure that I stay safe and healthy. I'm not thinking about pace or times, just about getting ready to run 26.2 miles.

Thanks for the recommendations for running socks, I'm looking forward to trying them out!

Whatever you're up to have a great week!

Take care,