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, 3 August 2013

And then a miracle happened...

Recovery Week 2 is now complete. Hooray! Three runs done of 4 minute running and 1-2 minutes walking. It's been a great week for beach running - lovely weather, not too much wind and tide times fitting my schedule. It's been an incredible contrast with the freezing wind and rain of my training runs.

Of course I'm delighted to be running again, it's fabulous. But if I'm honest it's been a hard slog even though I've not run for more than 4 minutes at a time and only hit 2.5 miles today. Every run I've wondered how I ever managed to do 26.2 miles when I haven't even got to 2.6 miles yet, yes it's been tough. But of course runners know to trust the process and the wisdom of our bodies, so I just got on with doing the running bit and waited for the usual miracle to happen.

The miracle came this morning.  Saturday morning runs send a tingle down my spine. During marathon training Saturday was the day I did my long run - my favourite run of the week. On a Saturday I could run as long as I wanted, no time limits, no desk to get back to, just the trail ahead of me. It's like being a kid and being allowed to play out all day. So early this morning I left the house with a lovely warm
glow from previous Saturday mornings at the back of my sleepy head.

The beach was empty for almost the entire run. The beach was mine, all mine. Running along an empty beach is like you own the whole world for 30 glorious minutes.  I headed off as usual, checking my garmin for my 4 minute intervals, listening to the sound of the waves and the seabirds.

Because it was a Saturday I allowed myself an extra interval, plenty of time to rest as I can't run again for at least 3 days.  As I hit the big stretch of beach between North Berwick and Gullane, the empty beach rolled out ahead of me and my own footprints behind me.  Something clicked inside; my legs eased into running gear, my breathing slowed and I just relaxed. I felt like a runner again.

As I ran  I remembered how even at my fittest, I often found those first two miles bloody hard going.  I'd put the struggle down to my slow recovery, but I'd forgotten that I nearly always have to grit my teeth for the first couple of miles even at my 'peak'. My heart lifted, my stride lengthened. As I started my last 4 minute interval I checked my time on the garmin and for the first time in my recovery runs, looked at my pace. I had to smile at the return of my speed obsession but I was pleased that I hadn't even thought of speed until now.

So a great recovery week, more recovery of the heart and the spirit than the legs! Though of course technically, this is not about recovery - I'm not going back to how I was, I am going somewhere new, somewhere better.  But the discipline of recovery has been critical; it's made me slow down and this has given me time to learn and reflect. If I'd done my usual dash to get back to form, I'd have missed some important stuff. Sometimes in running you need to slow down and let the sound of the waves carry you.

Have a great week, run safe and run strong!

Take care


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Back on Recovery Road....

Ah, the joys of running. There's nothing quite like that first recovery run to make you appreciate the simple pleasures of running.

Being off your feet for more or less 8 weeks feels like forever. That last run in June was not joyful, everything felt out of kilter. A niggling hip, that little voice inside that you really wish wasn't there, telling you that you need to pay attention or else. I know the signs and I know resistance is futile. I stopped running and just kept up the spinning and yoga. The problem persisted and it was clear I had a problem that wasn't about running.  It turned out to be hip bursitis and the trigger seems to have been incorrectly positioned pedals and too many madly serious spin classes.  I was trying to protect my knee...... what's for you won't go by you.

There then followed a couple of months trying to keep off my feet, avoiding stairs and generally taking it easy. It wasn't as awful as I'd expected because I knew that it was time to stop running and sit down and deal with a backlog of other stuff that had accumulated (more to come in future blogs).

But sitting down doesn't mean you can't improve your running and I didn't waste my time. Running strength relies on a strong healthy body, so I went to see a nutritional therapist who helped me clean up my diet and rationalise my increasingly random selection of supplements and vitamins. Over the years I'd accumulated a small pharmacy of stuff from glucosamine to fish oils.  An analysis of what I ate by health rating rather than calories showed I was eating a lot of dairy and not enough carbs. My liver was struggling without my gall bladder, even though I hardly ever drink alcohol.  Roisin suggested I cut out dairy for a while. Within 24 hours my allergies to cats, dust, hay fever, pollen and a shed load of other stuff, disappeared. Stopping dairy meant the end of a 15 year long daily anti histamine habit.

After 6 weeks or relative inactivity, it was time to get those legs moving again. A fab holiday in the North of Scotland in all its sunny glory signalled the time to start moving. We did some good quality long walks over cliffs, across beaches and along rivers. Walking gives you plenty of time to focus on form, so I took my Chi Walking book with me and worked on form as we walked along. Over that week, I felt my muscles strengthen bit by bit and my running head gradually returned.  The little niggles began to fade and life came back to my feet and legs. The time to run grew nigh.

It felt more like a re birth than a return to running when I set off for my first run in months - two miles run/walk along the beach early one morning when no one else was around (well if there was it was too misty to see them!).  I'm using the full recovery plan from Running Well, written by two great running gurus and a forward by my shero Dame Kelly Holmes. It starts with several weeks of run/walk, gradually building up the running time over 6 weeks, after that you build up the running time using the usual training rules.

Week 1 of recovery is done.  6 miles running, 6 miles walking. No spinning!  It's good to be back and it's good to be back slow knowing that every step is making me stronger and getting me back on track.

Take care