Friday, 8 June 2012

Advice to myself (part 1)

Stylish, and good form too.
Because I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, I've been giving a lot of thought lately to what I'm meant to be learning from my achilles/calf/hamstring/hip escapades.  Even though I've had injuries many times before, I've never taken as long as this to get better and I think it's finally sunk in that I need to change my approach if I want to continue running into my even-older years.  (My grandfather was still running three times a week well into his 80s, so fingers crossed that I've inherited his genes and not those of other, more sedentary family members.) 

Anyway, here's some of what I've learned so far:

1.  If it hurts, don't run on it.  Finally, I get it.  If I had taken a week off after my calf first popped, way back in February, I wouldn't be in the position YET AGAIN of starting from scratch.  And to demonstrate my understanding of this concept, I didn't run today, having stressed the back of my knee at the gym yesterday.  (I don't think it was the running on Wednesday that did it; it was the leg extension machine on Thursday, because I was too lazy to change the seat position.  I'm sure there's a lesson in that, too.)  The back of my knee is still a bit achey today, so better a couple of days off now than a couple of months off later.

2.  Learn to distinguish between discomfort and pain.  Discomfort (according to Jan the Physio, anything 3 or less on a 0-10 scale) is okay to run on, as long as it doesn't get worse during the run.  If it's lower level pain, stop.  Immediately.  Stretch, walk, try again.  If it still hurts, or if it gets worse during the run, or if it's BIG pain, give it up and walk home.  Or phone your husband.

3.  It's okay to ask for help.  As in, phone your husband if your calf packs it in.  See a physio.  See an osteopath.  Go for a sports  massage.  Sign up for a running workshop.  Listen to what people say, don't just nod your head and then do what you want.  And don't wait until you are in agony before you seek help; prevention is the way to go.

4.  Stretch, stretch, and stretch again.  Some runners are flexible.  You are not one of them. Stretching helps.  Really.  Do not forget this.

5.  Stretch some more.  Because you ALWAYS forget that stretching helps, especially when you start to feel better and therefore think that you don't need to do it anymore.  You are better BECAUSE you are stretching, not in spite of it, so make it part of your routine.  Even though it's so boring that you have to resort to watching daytime telly to get you through it.

6.  Listen to your body.  Don't be so focused on your training plan and on the race that you push yourself too far, too soon.  Losing a day (or even a week), dropping your mileage, or repeating a week will NOT send you back to square one.  Overtraining might.  And, even though it may not feel like it, there will always be another race.  (Unless it's the 2013 London Marathon, which might be your last chance EVER...)

That's enough self-improvement for today.  Future posts will cover other things I've learned, including issues pertaining to motivation, determination, and the importance of cookies in a proper training programme.


  1. Don't blame stretching for your love of trash TV. But it was brave of you to put your photo in at last...

  2. There's nothing like a rollicking episode of Cash in the Attic to alleviate the boredom of stretching; you'll never convince me otherwise. And I wish that I looked as fashionable and biomechanically efficient as the runner in the photo. Oh well, perhaps by the time I'm her age...

  3. I don't know why but I started to blush at the line, don't just nod your head then do what you want! All good advice that will get you to London 2013 with a vast knowledge of how to make money from things you've got around the house.

  4. There are lots of old things in this house but, unfortunately, nothing that will ever make us any money. (And please, no jokes about the ages of the occupants.)