A month in Training – North Endurance

I’m sitting outside on the patio in the scorching heat typing this blog with a slight furrow in my brow.

I’m concentrating. I feel really really tired. My husband has just brought me a lovely mug of coffee and I’m hoping that its true what they say – hot drinks can refresh you in the heat.

I’ve just completed my first month of coached training in conjunction with Training Peaks. So how do I feel except for tired? How has it been following a set out plan? How easy/hard are the sessions? Well I’ve set out below the main points which answer these questions and more.

How have I felt?

Great! I feel fitter and stronger. With each passing strength session I’m getting stronger. I’m still not lifting very heavy weights but I feel a little stronger each week. Earlier in the year I was worried that my glutes were not activated. Now I can feel them when I run or do my strength workout sessions.

Cycling doesn’t feel as hard as it did a month ago. After a long break from outdoor cycling I definitely found it hard going at first. I now feel I’m getting my mojo back. It’s hard to say if speed is back or not since I’m supposed to take my long rides really easy, so currently they are very slow.

Running sessions pass quickly. I have the workout written on my hand or on a small bit of paper in my pocket. I get lost in the workout and the scenery. I don’t get bored and I don’t run out of energy like I used to.

I’ve restarted yoga lessons. These particular ones are hard strength poses with quick switches from one to another. I feel like I can do these better than I used to and they give you a really good strength workout. The picture above is not me but it is one of the poses we do.

What have you learnt?

Quite a lot in a short space of time tbh. Ive realised that most of my training (previously) was decent but lacked ‘polarisation’ as the coach called it. By this he means doing certain specific quality workouts and ensuring that workouts are either about recovery or hard work. The middle ground is gone.

I generally have two hard sessions a week. One for running and one for bike. The hard running session will include either hill repeats or sprint intervals. If its the latter it might be longer intervals at half marathon pace or very short sprints at 3k pace. It varies a lot, so its always interesting. The hard bike workout is generally hill work using big gears and grinding up at a slow rpm. This is designed to build leg strength. I find the latter really hard and have always relied on my cardio to get me up hills, spinning away in an easier gear. So I guess its a good session for me to do – one that challenges me.

I have 2-3 recovery runs or bikes a week. These have to be done at a very slow/easy pace. The aim is to keep heart rate much lower i.e. in zone 2. I found this really hard at first but I’m getting better at it and actually I quite enjoy these sessions now. I’ve realised that at this really slow pace I could run forever. Well maybe not, but it feels like it. I’ve also noticed my average heart rate is coming down relative to effort so I think thats a good thing. I assume that eventually my really easy slow run will be faster relative to the same heart rate/level of effort.

I have one long run and one long bike a week, generally done at a slow to moderate pace. Then there are two swims. These can include technique and sprint sessions but are always deemed recovery workouts as your heart rate just doesn’t get that high on a swim.

How has it been following a set plan?

At times this is difficult. Take today for example, I really really cba. But the program said I should do a 2-3 hour bike ride so I heaved myself out of a comfortable armchair, went out and got it done. The majority of the time though I prefer having planned sessions. I dont have to think or workout how to get ready for my next race or target. It’s all done for me. It takes the thinking out of it, which is really nice. It leaves me to concentrate on enjoying whatever workout is set for that day.

Do I find the sessions easy/hard?

See above about polarised workouts. The easy sessions are very very easy. The hard sessions can be very very hard. The hardest ones I’ve found were the hill sprints and a 3km test run which was ‘run as hard as you can for 3km’ – that killed me. Mind you, it was a hot day, high pollen day, which didn’t help.

So what else has changed? In the past if I’d suddenly gone from 9km max run one week to 14k the next my body would of complained – loudly. In the last two weeks I did exactly that and what happened? Nothing. I feel absolutely fine. I’ve realised this is in fact possible when you run slower, warm up properly and make sure your glutes/calves etc are switched on.

So where do we go from here? Well I’ve put my goals into the training app. They include training for a 25k very hilly trail run in September (its actually 27km), possibly doing a weeks bike touring with my husband (also Sept), cycling from Andratx to Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca in October (pandemic dependent) and a 10k run in November. Oh and the little run from John O Groats to Lands End in Sept 2022. That’s the ultimate goal that all of this is working towards.

I’m expecting my second/third months of training to focus on increased efforts on the run and the bike towards these goals. Looking forward to it.

First coached training week 😁

I’ve survived my first week of training following workouts set out by a coach – hurrah.

Training was harder than I expected and there was no day off as swimming counts as “active recovery”.

Monday: This was my “rest day” i.e. I was given a swim to do. I can totally understand the point however, your heart rate just doesn’t get up there during swimming and generally I dont get tired legs (normally). On this occasion I did feel a little tired after but thats probably because I’m not used to doing sprints. I guess I’m normally a lazy swimmer and spend half my time with a pull buoy between my legs doing a lazy crawl.

Absent minded training is no longer allowed. I will be doing either hard sessions or very very easy sessions. Everything is about quality.

So with my first swim I had to familiarise myself with a button on my Garmin watch that records rest periods. My workout was warm up, then a main set of doing 50metre sprints followed by 15 seconds rest. This was mostly done in front crawl, however, there were some lengths of breaststroke in there too. Sadly I didn’t have time for the cool down as they throw you out of the pool after 45 minutes. I batted my eyelashes at the guy behind my goggles but he wasn’t having any of it.

Tuesday: I went to the gym before work and was feeling quite smug because I’d designed my own workout to follow. Of course in reality when you get there you soon realise ahhhh I cant find the long bar or exactly the weight I need etc, however, I did my best to follow my plan. It was a total body workout and included some machines but also free weights and “floor work” which always sounds like something a gymnast would do. I must of overdone it as my legs felt like robocop for the next few days…

After work on Tuesday I had my first run session to do. I knew it was going to involve interval sprints so made the rare decision to drive to a spot I knew, where it is pan flat. I also picked it because it has some tree cover and it was a hot hot day 🥵. Again I used the lap button on my watch for each interval. It was a really hard session as I clearly just pootle normally. Going really fast one minute then very slow the next is completely foreign to my legs. By the end I had to walk some of the last easy bits as I was really flagging.

Wednesday: Today’s workout was 1hour of easy cycling. Woohoo. It’s great when you see the word ‘easy’. I was allowed to cycle indoors or outdoors but basically just needed to keep my heart rate at a certain rate (Z2 = easy/you can still chat).

I had hoped it would help my legs, which by Wednesday were more like robocop after horse riding. It didn’t.

Thursday: Ahhhh finally my legs were feeling a lot better 👏. Thursdays session was an easy run of 30 minutes. It should of been a hard bike session but I had to switch Thur/Fri round for work reasons. It felt both bizarre and difficult to run as slow as I’d been told initially. However, I finished my recovery run and will admit I did feel better after.

After work on Thursday my husband and I had our 30 minute strength session with Emma (our personal trainer). She put us through our paces with lots of arm and core work (I told her to lay off the legs 😆). As always it was a lot of fun and I really feel I’ve worked hard after.

Friday: I was dreading this session thinking it would be incredibly hard. I had to do a 50 minute bike ride (in or outdoor) using a big gear and pushing hard with a slow cadence. This was done in an interval fashion with easy spinning in between. Based on the watts I’d been set to achieve I actually found it very doable but arguably I should of pushed for higher watts and worked harder. Ah well, next time, I’m sure he will increase the watts!

Saturday: Saturday morning was a 45 minute swim switching between normal front crawl and swimming with the pull buoy concentrating on technique. This was followed by a 30 minute easy run with 5 minutes of faster intervals in the middle. I really wanted to run faster for longer. I dare say this is a good thing. In the past I was probably doing such hard or long runs I always wanted to go slower!

Sunday: Easy/steady state outdoor bike ride for 2-3 hours. I went out with my husband and rode 55k on our road bikes. I really enjoyed it but my loss of speed compared to last year is very noticeable to me. I was trying to take it easy, however, even taking that into account I’d say I’ve lost 1-2 miles an hour. Amazing really. Still I will get it back 🚴‍♀️.

For each session you do using the TrainingPeaks App you state after how you felt and how much effort you put in. You can also add general comments or questions. For the bike session I mentioned how tired I felt and the coach asked me what I had eaten. Following my response the feedback was I need to eat more, apparently around 45-55g of carbohydrate an hour based on my current efforts. That’s way more than I’ve ever eaten when out cycling. So I’ll try that next week and see if it helps. Certainly an excuse to eat more is always good 😃.

Bombing around the Wolds on the bike with GoPro

It’s the last evening of our lovely little holiday here at Private Hill. The weather has been spectacular all week. I cant believe I’ve been liberally applying Factor 30 all week and even have burnt ankles because I ‘missed a bit’.

We brought the GoPro9 camera with us to film some of the bike rides. Unfortunately we forgot to take it on the first day and film the ride to York and back. This is a shame as it was a beautiful ride. You live and learn.

We do, however, have a video of Chris’s ride to Sledmere, Weatherthorpe and back in a loop. We also have a video of todays ride together to Castle Howard and back. Unfortunately he didn’t film at the point I was bombing it down the hill towards Castle Howard and under the arch. This is annoying since I’d put in a spectacular effort to achieve this, assuming I was being filmed. Doh! You will see, however, why if you watch the video to the end 😆. He has, however, put together some nice videos with additional comments and a bit of funky music on the second one.

We’ve uploaded the videos along with some other bike/run videos to my YouTube Channel. You can find the links below each photo – enjoy 😊.

Video to Castle Howard (and back?)

Video to Weaverthorpe and back

A bike ride to York, beautiful sunshine and the obligatory getting a wee bit lost run

Yesterday we set off on a bike ride to York to meet my son and his girlfriend for lunch. It was only 25k there so set off quite late morning and enjoyed an unusual lie in and lingering breakfast on the decking.

All the cycling around here is stunning. The ride was easy apart from the first few kilometres which were very hilly and gravelly due to a new road surface. None the less the route was very enjoyable and included a beautiful off road section through fields of yellow flowers.

The field of flowers and back at the dome on the decking

We enjoyed a really nice pub lunch with my son and his girlfriend and had a good catch up as I haven’t seen him in ages. Unfortunately I have no photos of our lunch, something I only thought of on the way home!

The return ride was again easy as my lovely husband cruised at a slow speed so I could draft off him. Since I’ve only just got back to riding and have lost some fitness this was very much appreciated.

Unfortunately closer to the domes he had a problem with his bike which meant he was stuck in a smaller gear. It wasnt a major issue though as it was pretty much all uphill for the last few kilometres anyway. For me this bit was tough as I didn’t want to stand up due to the loose surface so had to grind my way up in my very lowest gear huffing and puffing in the hot sunshine. I will admit to abandoning the idea of the final hill which is 20 percent and would be tough for me on a cool day with no gravel.

In the late afternoon we went to the local village of Malton to stock up on food. We were then able to enjoy the best picnic in the world on the decking. The views really dont get better than this.

View in the evening after al fresco dinner

Today I took a cycling rest day so that I’m able to go again tomorrow. Instead I went for an early run. I had worked out a half road/half trail route by consulting with Komoot the evening before. Unfortunately after jogging through a field of cows with diarrhoea (never seen that many cow pats in my life), I then entered a field of shin high stinging nettles. After navigating my way along a kind of path (well in my mind it was a path) I got to the far side of the field to find no more signs or styals.

At this point I retraced my way back through the nettles (ouch ouch ouch) and then dodge hopped the field of cow pats again.

Views on the run

Unfortunately I wasnt as adept at nettle dodging so even now 5 hours later I can still feel my legs tingling. Still its not a trail run if you don’t get lost, fall over or get nettle stings right?

For the rest of the morning I’ve sat on the decking working on ‘my book’ (dont ask – I really dont know if I’ll ever finish it). My husband went off for another bike ride and also remembered to take the go pro with him this time so I’ll look forward to seeing that in a bit.

Tonight the chef at the local pub has returned from his holiday so we are hoping to get a meal and we will back in search of veggie burgers.

View from the dome in the evening, Ziggy and daytime view from the decking

Arrival at luxury dome and Michelin star food (Peut etre)….

A few hours ago we arrived at the Private Hill luxury domes set high on a hill with the alpacas Rodney, Perseus and Ziggy on the doorstep.

We were delighted by our welcome back note and free bottle of champagne 🍾. Awesome thank you very much Roddy😁.

Of course it would be rude not to drink the free champagne so we drank the bottle whilst getting ready to go out for dinner. They are not currently serving food at the domes so we decided to walk down the insanely steep hill to the local pub, in search of veggie burgers and chips.

Unfortunately it would appear the chef at the pub is away. It would also appear that the local takeaways are a) too far and b) mostly shut on Mondays. Ah….

So my lovely husband cooked up this delightful ensemble for our dinner. I highly recommend. I’d come here again.

Starter – rive au nuts avec confiture

Main – le porridge avec bananas et miel

For pudding I’ve got a choice of nuts, crisps or whiskey. Maybe all three…

Swimming Pool Race

I’ve been back swimming at our local pool for a few weeks now. I’ve noticed that getting there is a race and that this race falls into two parts.

Part 1:

Beating the online rugby scrum to get a swimming slot. This involves frantically checking the website every few minutes 7 days before you want to swim. The moment ‘slots are available’ pops up on your screen, you have to navigate the drop down boxes, enter through a number of screens and then hit confirm. You must do this as fast as humanly possible. Remember that others are doing the same thing at the same time and everyone is after that elusive gold dust – the swimming booking.

Part 2:

This is where the real fun kicks in. I’ve noticed that people disrobe and get in the pool at lightening speed. In fact, I’ve decided that everyone is in this unspoken race. It’s like a reverse triathlon. With this in mind I set off the other day to come first in my age category for this new sport.

First important thing to do is don your costume before you go to the pool. Thankfully its now hot weather so I was able to wear a loose fitting dress over my costume. This has just one tie at the neck so should just fall to the ground at a pinch. Not sure what trick guys would try in this scenario.

I’ve noticed that the other ladies in this competition wear flip flops. I hate these toe slicing evils with a passion so I opted for sandals instead. Its essential to wear something you can throw off your feet quickly. You could waste a minute trying to get out of something with laces.

Before going into the pool I leave my glasses wrapped around the gearstick. I feel smug. I know that will save me a few seconds. I queue up with 8 minutes to go (they let you in with 5 minutes to go). Annoyingly I’m second in the queue to a lady I’ve seen here before. She is fast. She looks a bit like Nancy Reagan and I notice she is wearing loose shorts and a T-shirt. Behind me three more people queue up ready. One guy and two more middle aged ladies wearing flip flops and keen eyes ready to race.

Beep….and we are in. The race is on. Nancy virtually skips in heading for the changing rooms. I walk in behind trying to catch her up as we make our way down the yellow matting.

Once in the changing room, I make one pull on my neck tie and I’m out of my dress. I start shovelling it into my rucksack, feeling pleased I kept it half empty so that I could do this easily. Stepping out of my sandals I spy Nancy out of the corner of my eye. She is ready and about to head for the door already. How did she do that? She throws me a smug look and I know the chase is on.

With one motion I throw my sandals in my bag and pick it up. I head out the door, throwing it over my shoulder as I go.

Stepping out onto the yellow walkway, I speed up and start to catch Nancy. I manage to grab my hat out of my bag and edge past her at the same time. We both arrive at the reception together but I’m in front and the space is only wide enough for one at a time.

“Name please” says the lady behind reception.

I provide my maiden name (I haven’t changed my membership yet) and simultaneously pull on my hat to save time.

Moving away I walk quickly into the swimming pool area whilst still shoving extra bits of hair under my hat as I go.

I can feel Nancy breathing down my neck so start to pick up some speed. I’d love to run over to the pool and dive in but, a) I’m carrying a small rucksack, b) I haven’t dived since I was 12 years old and its the shallow end and c) I still have the kiddy pool to navigate my way around first.

I head swiftly around the children’s pool as I feel Nancy move past on my left shoulder. She chats to me on the way past. Clearly an excuse to pull ahead! As we make the last turn towards the main pool, I see the chairs come into view where we will leave our bags. I make a few quicker steps to pass Nancy again and get there before her. Hah!! Agh what is this? There is a bag on the first chair. I look around my eyes darting about the pool to see the criminal that has beat me so to the first chair. I spy an old guy about to get in the far lane. Ah thats ok, its a guy. I can still be first woman!

I throw my bag down on the second chair and Nancy sweeps past me to the third chair. I’m about to lurch myself towards the lane I need when I realise I’ve forgotten to get my pull buoy and goggles out of my bag! Agh. How could I have been so reckless? I waste valuable seconds unzipping my bag and looking for my much needed items.

In the meantime two more ladies have joined the chair debugging transition area and are readying themselves to get in the pool. All three of them now turn and are heading for the first lane which is nearest. I make a dash for the middle lane, throw my stuff down and launch myself into the water with a splash.

The guy in the furthest lane turns to look and see what the commotion is. He looks for a second somewhat confused and then goes back to his doggy paddle. He clearly isn’t ‘in the game’.

I look to my left and I see Nancy with her feet in the water and the two other ladies standing behind her. They all look at me with their eyes narrowed. They know. They know I beat them at their own game.

I smile, pull down my tinted goggles and push off for my swim.

Exciting times and Training Peaks

With just two weeks to go until the time with my online coach starts, I’m feeling excited! As instructed, I’ve downloaded an app called training peaks.

Out cycling in the sunshine

I’ve synced the app to seemingly everything apart from the kitchen sink. Ok I’ve not synced it to the toaster (yet). However, its now linked to fitness pal, Zwift, wahoo element, Garmin and Strava. This means that all my swims, runs, walks, bikes, gym sessions and what I’m eating are now all in one place. It includes both current training and history. Every silly decision I’ve ever made is there for the coach to look at. Eek!

He will see (as I have now indeed seen) that after recovering from my fall and stitches I went from 2 hours of exercise to 7 hours in a matter of three weeks. Oops! No wonder I ended up injured again. Why didn’t I notice this by just looking at my Garmin or Strava you might be asking? Good question and I don’t really have an answer. I do, however, hope that the additional stats on training peaks will help. The app provides you with another calculation called TSS.

Without getting too boring about it, it essentially measures relative intensity and frequency as well as duration. Thus you can look at a number on a page and think yikes the number has jumped from 200 to 300 since last week!

The problem is, I dont know by how much you can increase your TSS week on week without it being an issue. However, I assume the coach will watch this and coax me along in the right direction. That’s what I’m paying him for after all, and I’ll be able to concentrate on enjoying myself and not worrying about the numbers.

It’s been a great weekend. We’ve seen my family yesterday. Great to be able to meet up and have a proper catch up in person rather than over a skype call.

Yesterday evening we went out with “the kids” for curry and beer and then plonked ourselves down in front of the Champions League final. Unfortunately the game did not go as my husband and his daughter would of liked and my ears are still bleeding…….. all good fun though 😝.

Today I started the day with a beautiful bike ride in glorious weather. I went out on my own aiming for a shorter ride. My husband went off on a longer one on his own. Half way through we exchanged texts, met up and came back together. I underestimated the distance and timing though and got home 2 hours after setting off. It was great to be out again and I look forward to being able to go out more often with my husband now. I’m also looking forward to finding nice cafes for breakfast or a coffee and cake (like the old days).

This afternoon Ive painted the decking with stuff that smelt awful but looks really nice. Meanwhile my husband washed our cars (lord knows mine needed it). He once told me that they should put the I’m a celebrity get me out of here contestants in my car for ten minutes as their trial (no snakes needed).

I’m back in the saddle again

Out where a friend is a friend. Out where the longhorn cattle feed, on the lowly gypsum weed. Back in the saddle again. Yeeeehah.

What a difference two weeks can make! Just 14 days ago I was sore, completely fed up and ready to lose all hope with my aspirations. Roll forward to today and I’ve seen a different physio and got a second opinion, He got me moving again (ah so mobilisation was the key!). I’ve been cycling, swimming, intend to restart running this week and even signed up to my very own running coach!! I’M SO EXCITED!!

So apparently if you have some inflammation, resting for 5-7 days is fine but after that you need to “MOVE!!”. So thanks to Christos as he has saved me wasting any more time and getting ever more stiff and sore.

So as previously mentioned Ive got my eyes set on doing a ‘really long run’ in Sept 2022. In order to make this happen, given that:

I’m a) not especially gifted; b) tend to injure easily; c) not particularly strong and d) getting a bit old (should I of said older…does that sound better?). Anyway given all of those things I decided that getting advice from an expert might just help a bit and be worth the expense.

I’ve found someone who is a triathlete and will build me a largely multi-disciplinary plan as I realise I’ve always been stronger when tri training and have generally injured when my perceived need to do more running has meant less cycling and strength work. Obviously I will still need to run though but hopefully it will be quality over quantity. Let’s see how it pans out.

It’ll be weird to have someone else dictate what sessions I do and at what pace I do them. I guess this is not for everyone but I’m quite looking forward to it. It takes all the thinking out of it and I think I will get a kick out of it once I see some improvement.

Hurdles – Accepting when you are wrong

I couldn’t find a picture of a physio studio so decided to include one of Mallorca instead. Relevance: None. Loveliness grade: 10.

Yup I said it. I’m happy to accept when I’m wrong. In my last blog I mentioned that I’d been doing strength exercises, yoga, stretching, basically everything I thought was right to ‘resolve’ my hip issue. This was because I wrongly assumed that the pain was caused by either tightness or weakness.

So according to the learned Physio I visited last Thursday – turns out there is a third option. Inflammation. Ahhhh. And what should do when something is inflamed? Rest it, rest it, rest it. Possibly ice or heat it and take ibuprofen. Ahhhhh whoops then.

Last week I was happily forecasting that the physio would send me away with a list of physio exercises to do and tell me to stop running for a bit. Well there was no fancy physio list of contortionist exercises or magic wand waving. Just realised. Im glad I didn’t ask my physio if he had a magic wand. Might of taken it the wrong way.

In actual fact the conversation went something like this…

Me: “So I assume I shouldn’t run?”

Him: “You assume correctly” (slight grin, raised eyebrow)

Me: “So should I do some, you know, easy physio type exercises?”

Him: “Nope. I want you to do nothing.”

Me: “What not even cycling?”

Him: “Nothing.”

Me: “What about swimming, I already booked myself onto two sessions?” (Eyes now twice the size, imploring – reminiscent of the cat in Shrek).

Him: “Hmmm. Well its not ideal.”

Me: “Well I could use my pull buoy (float between your legs) then it would only be an arm workout!”

Him: “Ok. If its only arms then you can do that.”

Me: “I was thinking I’ll keep it short like 20 minutes?”

Him: “And how many metres can you swim in that time?”

Me: “Um a few…..like 1000 maybe”

Him: “Make it 15 minutes max”.

Me: “Ok”.

I should explain that the reason he was being so strict about the ‘arm’ swimming is because I went to see this same physio last year with a rotator cuff injury….

Whilst he was attaching me to the Stims machine and letting me know I should speak up if my muscles start to contract too violently….I decided to tell him about my plan to run from John O Groats to Lands End in 2022. Instead of rolling around on the floor laughing (which to be fair would of been a reasonable reaction in the circumstances) he simply said, “oh thats really cool”.

Me: “So you think thats possible?”

Him: “Yes we will get you there. And you can put our name on your T-shirt as you come into the finish line”.

Me: “Whoop, great, I will”.

I think he was kidding and he was probably placating me like a child. Perhaps he will go home to his other half later and sit and laugh at the person who wants to run 1200 miles when they cant even walk right now. “Oh and then she said…..Isn’t that hilarious darling….”

Ok, my imagination is getting carried away with me. I doubt this guy calls anyone darling. And I’m probably doing him an injustice. He might actually believe I’m capable of this aim. To be fair I can walk a mile, thats a start right?

So since last Thursday until the next one I’ve done some front crawl (arms only) but otherwise absolutely zilch. Unless you count teaching my friends some belly dancing and salsa in a back garden after three cans of gin and two cans of wine.

No I know right. I didn’t realise you could buy wine in cans either.

Unfortunately we’ve now cancelled the Ultra end of August and I do feel bad for my husband as this obviously affects him too (we were running as a team). However, its better to admit its not going to happen now and I do feel relieved to not have that immediate pressure anymore. Next year is another matter.

When I will be able to start running again is still a mystery to both myself and the physio. I think I heard him say ‘weeks’ but equally it will depend on progress.

The other bonus about only being able to swim right now is that it is making me get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning. This is a habit I definitely grew out of during lockdown in favour of rolling out of bed into my joggers at 6.55am in order to start work at 7am. So swimming is going to help me get back into my old habits. With this being said it means that tomorrow I will get up at 5.30am to start my day. I cant honestly say I’m looking forward to this, especially as I would like to watch Line of Duty tonight at 9pm with a glass of vino. Hmmmm. I’ll let you know how it goes…

What a difference a day (week) makes….24 x 7 little hours….

A week ago, my husband and I were still planning our Westhighland Way 96 mile midge dodging, hill scaling Jog in June. Sadly on Tuesday I finally had to admit I could no longer ignore the pain in my hip flexors/psoas/lower back (take your pick). I also had to recognise that no amount of buttock clenches, bridges, massage or doing cat-cows or happy baby poses were making a difference.

So we decided to cancel it for now and hopefully rebook this later in the year, provided I can recover from this current ‘hiccup’.

I like the occasional obstacle in life, it allows me to take stock and think ‘how I will tackle this latest difficulty’. Sometimes you find interest in other things along the way. Things you just wouldn’t have seen or done if everything had gone to plan.

However, I would pretty please like a brief intermission from said obstacles. There was the sore back that stopped me running for a full year, 4 years ago. Then there was this little virus that strolled into all our lives.

Last year I pulled my rotator cuff and took three months to get to the point of being able to put my hand behind my back without clenching my teeth in pain (this is not some torturous desire or weekend circus act – but a seemingly necessary task a woman must do every day – think about it). It also made swimming uncomfortable and heavy weights went right out the window. Not literally! I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 1kg for a while.

After that things went hiccup free for about half a year. I felt fit, was running 50k a week injury free, the shoulder was manageable and we were looking forward to the West highland Way adventure and considering running a crazy 72k Ultra in August.

Thats when I fell over and punched a hole in my knee – see earlier blog…. enough said about that.

Amazingly I was up and running just 4 weeks after the fall with the scar, despite its alarming red and raised appearance, healing nicely. At the time I knew ‘don’t build up again too quickly’ your body doesn’t like this. I knew this and yet for some reason I told myself ‘go by feel’ your body will warn you if you are doing too much…..

Two months down the line and the ‘going by feel’ plan failed miserably. I’m now having sports massage weekly, drop and do yoga at the drop of a hat anywhere, anytime (no seriously) and groan like a 100 year old when I stand up after sitting in a chair for any length of time.

I’m seeing the physio on Thursday but I already know what they are likely to say. Do less running, let your muscles recover, rebuild your glute strength and then rebuild your running back up SLOWLYYYYYYYYY…….. but I still feel inclined to pay an expert a lot of money to tell me this. I’m still hoping they will wave some kind of magic wand.

Anyway I have digressed……I was talking about the enjoyment of obstacles. So, as ever, I’m looking for the positives in this latest development. Here are the ones I’ve discovered along the way and based on this latest hurdle.

– I love yoga now – in fact I love it so much, I may seriously consider training to be a Yoga teacher when I retire – are they called Yogis (are they smarter than the average bear?)?

– I take some comfort in now knowing my body really really well including all its flaws and weaknesses. I mean forewarned and all that right.

– I had dropped my strength work to just once a week. This experience has reminded me I need to do strength exercises several times a week (if you want to run long distance with an arched back that is).

– All the ‘breaks’ have given me time to do other things. I’ve enjoyed painting, baking, writing a book and in general just ‘chillin’.

– Having done less running miles in the last week or so I’ve had time to pull the route together for running JOGLE (John O Groats to Lands End) via the 3 peaks. I have had my heart set on doing this for 6-7 years and due to above mentioned obstacles have struggled to get this plan underway. I’ve also barely dared to mention it up to now since it does sound crazy when you consider how often I’m paying specialists to check my hips or pummel my glutes. But recent events have also reminded me how much I want this. There is now a space in the autumn of 2022 for the offing.

– So, having finally decided on the date for this adventure, I intend to arrive at the start uninjured and ready to go. Nothing will stand in my way (I do hope you are listening body). But if you do throw a few more obstacles in my way, I am learning to hurdle now….

Just a few more hurdles to go – wish me luck