Sickness and Recovery

I’ve been ill for a couple of days now so you could call today’s Janathon offering either heroic or lame, depending on your sympathy levels.

I’ve been drawn to a video by kinetic revolution showing standing jumps as an ideal exercise for improving knee alignment an reducing patellar femoral pain.

20130108-211517.jpgIt’s basically the standing block jump that you see the more athletic competitors from the Bigger Loser partaking in.

I am embarrassingly pants at jumping. I have been known to stand in front of a low bench at the gym for a good 5 mins, psyching myself up for a plyometric leap. Even then I usually wimp out with a one legged hop or worse bail completely because someone walks by.

Today I’ve been practising in the privacy of my own home. Leaping with a perfect double legged formation onto a cushion.

Yes I have leapt approximately 2 inches high……but the form was perfect.

I progressed to the bottom step of the stairs and managed two leaps before the bookcase wobbled so ferociously that I had to stop to steady it.

After all that exertion I moved on to some medicinal stout. Starting with a bittersweet Irish Stout but moving rather rapidly on to a St Peter’s Cream Stout as the malty brew seemed to improve my constitution.

I’m a fan of the Cream Stout, it has a fairly ropey smell but the texture is truly creamy and the flavour, although odd – I’m thinking syrup of figs, is entirely delightful.


If the Knee Hurts

It feels as though I’ve done a lot of whingeing over the last 3 months. I’ve gone from chest infection to pulled calves to meniscal tears and it’s beginning to sound like I’m manufacturing my own get out of the London Marathon free card.

It was rather convenient then that Craig Carroll contacted me last week to offer me a trial session of his services. He is billed as a Performance and Injury Specialist and that is just what the doctor ordered. At least, that is what I wanted the Doc to order, instead she wrote out a prescription for no more running.

I tore the prescription up and went along to see Craig instead.

Craig never once gave me the impression that sitting back and giving up was an option, in fact he never even hinted that my knee injury should hold me back from my goals. Craig himself has a military background and has experienced being written off following injury. Apparently he suffered horrible shin splints on one of the mammoth, full kit, training runs and was discarded by the military doctors. It sometimes feels like civvy doctors can follow the route of least resistance too, if your knee hurts, stop using it. Simples.

So back to my session. Craig set me off doing the ministry of silly walks. Side to side waddling and full on drunk staggering, all of which apparently enabled him to determine potential problems with my gait and assess imbalances.

I think the results suggested I may over use my left side to compensate for slight weaknesses in my right side and the basis of Craig’s style is understanding that the body works as a chain. The site of your pain is not necessarily the cause of your pain, so for example a blister on your right toe my lead you to alter your pose so that you end up with lower back pain or an overuse injury on the opposite leg.

Having completed the initial assessment we moved into the treatment room where Craig started to do a little work on my feet. He had me doing repeated squats and lunges – both of which are exercises that I never do because of the knee pain. I get sharp pains in both knees and they feel like they are about to give way. Still, I did as I was told and lunged on command. As I was doing it Craig was manipulating my feet. Not quite sure what he was doing, it didn’t feel like much but all of a sudden I was able to lunge without the knee pain. Odd.

He did a little more work on my feet, loosening up the joints before discovering my special toe. My second toe on the right foot has been “special” for a long time now. I often refer to it as my broken toe as it makes me yell like crazy when it gets knocked or bent. He whipped out a special little tool that looked like a perfectly moulded Alessi can opener and started working the hooked end into my toe tendons (I later discovered the tool was from I Am Tools). After 5 minutes of deeply painful massage he was able to bend my dodgy toe back into the sole of my foot.

I remain quite impressed that he discovered my achilles heel quite so quickly. Could it be the source of the pains in my left leg? Who knows.

We finished off with a series of exercises that I could use to warm up for a running session. They were a little bizarre or maybe balletic would be a better description. Either way they are a bit hard to describe without pictures. They were a form of lunge with a plie style arm movement but with the arms going in opposite directions. I started the move under my own steam and then Craig stepped in to force the movement just a step further. Taking me beyond the point at which I felt I would fail or fall was designed to inspire muscle confidence. It worked actually. Back under my own steam I was able to take move further than before and still stay standing.

I took something very positive away from the session. I learnt that I can do more than I think and that it is also possible for me to move without pain. I got a small dose of muscle confidence and it’s much easier to move when you aren’t waiting anxiously for the next problem to appear.

When I ran the next day after my session with Craig Carroll, I started to get the usual twinge with my knee but I remembered his action of altering the position of my feet and so tried adjusting them myself. A slight outturn of my left foot and the pain went again.

I’m very happy with the result of my session, I could get quite used to the idea of having a personal trainer, especially one that works so specifically to my goals and treats me as an individual, accepting the strengths and weaknesses that are wrapped up in the package.

If you are in central London and want a personal trainer to help you achieve your goals then I would really recommend getting in contact with Craig Carroll for a session.

Day 6 and another Running Commute

I took my nordic poles into work today. I proper ummed and ahhed about it, but in the end I decided the health of my knee might be worth a bit of humiliation through Brixton.

When the heavens opened, mid afternoon, I was so grateful, imagining empty streets in which I could gallop along, bounding from one puddle to the next.

By the time I got to Brixton, it had dried out and multiple commuters were gathering. I extended the poles. Walked a little bit. Considered running.

I managed approximately 10 yards but was too embarrassed to overtake the couple who had witnessed me faffing with the poles and so stopped and retracted them. That meant I had to continue the run with two poles clutched in my hands. I now have rotator cuff injuries to go with my dodgy knee.

I’m not sure I’m going to stick with Nordic Jogging as a concept. I can’t cope with the spectacle and besides, the poles seem to skitter all over the tarmac. Maybe I should give it a go on a proper muddy trail.

Despite suggestions to the contrary my knee actually held up very well today. 9km ticked off and not even a twinge. I’m putting this down to a very positive experience with performance and injury specialist, Craig Carroll but more on that later.

New Year, New Fridge Magnet

Oh golly, by 11.50 NYE my eyes where rolling backwards in their sockets. I hate that feeling – I blame the homebrew sloe gin, feckin potent stuff.

At 12:10 I  got the feeling it was time to exploit the anaesthetic effect of New Years Eve and pulled on the running toggs. Lynn and I headed out for our local one-miler and pulled off a very satisfactory 13 minute trog around the hilly block. We suffered only moderate abuse from local revellers and the knee could only be described as low level twingey.

Knee reinforcements are expected to arrive shortly, so hopefully I’ll be able to build on this early Janathon kick start.

Happy New Year.

To run or not to run

I started my last long run in the barrel of an MRI machine and finished it 9.2 k later skipping up the steps of the local Morrisons where my lady was waiting.

I felt on form and on top of the world.

Somewhere between then and now my running world took a big knock. My wandering leg pain that had been focussed in my calf for the whole of November, shifted to the front of my knee and then I got the results of the MRI.

I called the Doc for the results and it seems I have a small horizontal tear of the medial meniscus with a little cyst. The recommendation from the Dr, who I’ve never met before was that I strap it and quit running.

I think it’s a pretty obvious response to tell me to quit. I’m not designed for running, I’ve been specially moulded for the couch, and at the best of times it’s hard to imagine that running could be beneficial for knees.  

I need to ignore her advice though, running has done wonders for my mental health, it’s brought me confidence and spirit and pride and for someone in a constant battle with the scales it’s the only thing that has enabled me to exert some control over my spiralling body mass.

I’m not sure what to do just yet. I’ll try and see a specialist but in the meantime I’m looking for options. Maybe a knee brace will help or perhaps I could try my next running commute with a pair if Nordic poles.

I feel this years London marathon slipping away from me before I even start and Janathon could be a litle shaky as well.

Another Suitably Titled Running Commute

I forgot how much preparation these running commutes take, especially in this weather. I should have been at least 24 hours ahead of the game and deposited supplies at work, but I wasn’t. Instead I had to try and cram my work and running stuff into the tiny little hydration pack. It didn’t all fit, so I had to wear it all on the way into work. Despite layering up with shirt, jumper, running tops * 2 and a windproof, I was still freezing. I was also about 3 times larger than usual and took up more than my fair share of train seat.

Remarkably I managed not to forget any of my vitals and was able to leave the office this evening perfectly togged up for a cross town running commute. I stopped off en-route for an MRI scan on my left knee and then picked it up again from outside Guys Hospital.

I had a perfect 10k route plotted and uploaded to the garmin device but satellite communications were iffy until I’d wandered as far as the Elephant and Castle roundabout – which took an unsatisfying 0.79km off my schedule.

Now that I’m getting medical intervention for my running ailments I’ve turned into a bit of a hypochondriac, I can feel meniscal twinges on every step. I’m pleased to report though, that my debilitating calf injury appears to have cleared up and any remaining niggles seem entirely manageable.

I think the lay off must have done me some good. On the face of it, this was not the most inspiring running commute. The Elephant & Castle subway is a bit grim, and the A23 isn’t the most scenic thoroughfare in London but I was loving it nevertheless. It helps a lot that I’ve discovered the best running podcast ever (marathon talk) but I’ve also been raring to go for weeks and can now finally release all this pent up enthusiasm. I feel like I can run and run.

Injury Groans

I’m spending my morning learning how to cross my legs. Apparently I am supposed to work my right knee into the back of my left calf and wiggle. I’ve never been the sort of lady who can sit with an elegantly crossed knee, I have slightly more inner thigh than is absolutely necessary and it’s a struggle to get the pivot point anywhere above the ankle. My dodgy leg keeps clattering to the floor and I’m creating a bit of a stir in the office.

I’m following the advice of my osteopath though and with my marathon training scheduled to start in exactly one month’s time I’m prepared to look like a bit of a buffoon if it will work.

Up til now I’ve been resting a few days, pummelling my calf into submission and then attempting a short run. In every case I’ve been forced right back to square one as tendons twang and muscles cramp up. I’m getting close to the point of panic and drastic action is required if I hope to be fit enough for VLM next April.

I’m encouraged by David at Running Matters and think that maybe a full month off, with no running attempts but with more cycling and a crazy routine of stretching might just put me in the best position for starting my marathon training. The osteo agrees, but also reckons I should try and fit in an MRI and possibly a bit of key hole surgery.

I’m not holding out much hope of the NHS delivering one of those within the next month.

EA Sports Active

I took receipt of the latest wii fit incarnation, EA Sports Active, during the last heat wave in June. It was 33′ out and I decided to embark on a 40 minute challenging work out in the front room.

The kids were suitably intrigued by the contents of the box – a rubber strap with DIY handles and a special thigh mounted holster for the nunchuk.

I looked a right bobby dazzler, sweating with the excessive humidity and struggling to pull the strap tight enough around my thigh for it to stay closed.

It amused the children though, Ruby settled back into the settee to witness the spectacle and enjoy her packet of salt and vinegar snackojacks – all 127 calories of them.

I was a bit disappointed by the character choice on the new game. It may have been insulting but I have nonetheless become rather enamoured of my little wii fit avatar – short, fat and challenged in the t-shirt department which is just too short to pull over my bulging umbilicus. The choices are far more limited in EA Sports Active, you are just a delicately modified version of their average joe (or joleen), try as you might, you cannot create a tubby lard arse. Some may consider this a tick in plus box but personally I prefer a bit of a weeble-like character to remind me why I’m running on the spot in the middle of the living room.

Realism is the key to this game. The characters are real and the exercises seem real too. I started having to walk round a 400m track kicking my legs up behind me to kick my buttocks, then followed this with the knee raises. All very proper stuff but BORING! No slalom skiing on this game or balancing on a wobble board to flip the fish into the mouth of a penguin. This of course will be seen as a big plus for many people, proper, serious, sporty folk perhaps.

I moved on to squats and the machine was insistent that I wasn’t trying hard enough. My knee collapses as it approaches 90 degrees and the only way I could get the machine to accept my exercise was to plonk myself onto the sofa, wait 2 seconds, clamber up and repeat.

More running and stretching exercises followed before we seemed to loop around and start again. Doh! Not more track exercises. It kept moaning at me for being too slow in the buttock kicking exercises. I was all hot and bothered and moany, so Ruby who by now had finished the snackojacks, pushed me out of the way and offered to help me burn enough calories for my own pack.

With a seating change, I lounged back and watched the calorie counter tick towards my treat allowance. Ruby was going great guns so I encouraged her to keep going til we’d burnt enough for a packet of Doritos. A perfectly ideal way to lose weight I think.

There are a few other exercises thrown into the box. There’s your standard boxing routine which never fails to get you going and a rather intense speedline skating routine which has you squatting for speed and then leaping over numerous obstacles. I really enjoyed that one and it didn’t half make the thighs burn.

The kids haven’t touched the game since its first outing, it’s not as fun as the wii fit (not that they’ve touched that for months either) but then I don’t think EA Games are really touting this as a game. It’s a personal fitness trainer and if you are serious about committing to a program and don’t mind exercising in front of the telly and the children you probably would see some benefits from taking the 30-day challenge.

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Tight Tabards

I have had a long held, yet chronicly resisted urge, to run around a muddy field under the command of some fella wearing army fatigues.

Today I caved in and signed myself up for a trial run of the british Military Fitness experience.

A very weird thing.
It’s like an S&M version of school PE classes but without the pleasure bit.

It started with a dose of ritual humiliation as I was directed towards the beginners bucket of red tabards and told to pick one. Not knowing anything better, I developed my own criteria and selected the first tabard that didn’t have 69 emblazoned across the front. The lucky top was – 48. A nice even, rotund sort of number.

Turned out to be an exceptionally snug little number.

I stood there trying to shield my rather trussed up physique while I watched the others scrabble through the bucket discarding rather more than the 69’er. It didn’t take me too long to realise that the darn things were sized and I’d managed to leverage myself into the smallest one in the pile. Meanwhile the other stick insects were practically drowning in voluminous cotton affairs.

Anyway it was too late to remedy the matter. If I’d tried to peel it off at this early stage my baggy t-shirt would have come with it and quite possibly the whole enell bra contraption. The embarassment would have been too great.

So off I trogged, into the muddy field, to experience, quite possibly, the worst night of my life.

We ran and ran and then dropped to our knees to attempt 80 odd press ups and burpees before running again and whining. It was horrendous and I felt sick but had to run more because the guy in the combats was a rotten mean man. Well, he probably wasn’t really rotten and mean but I did feel very sick and I am still not entirely sure whether I liked it or not. But it was an exceptionally tough work out and the other folk were jolly friendly and I seem to have signed on the dotted line and committed myself to unlimited monthly classes……

More military anxiety to follow then.

Pink Line Down

I completed the Hammersmith and City line today.

I had initially planned to run it as a single long run but in the end I took 3 attempts at it. I’m trying to take it gently with my back but today it was seizing up every time I stopped to take a photo and then I couldn’t get going again, as a result todays run bore a strong resemblance to walking in many parts.


Still, I did have to stop and take those photos, it’s not often that you get to look up a lady’s skirt without getting on your hands and knees.

This mid section of the H&C line was a visual treat. It started with the fantastic St Pancras building which is an absolute beauty from the outside and has now been renovated internally.

St Pancras

I can’t walk past the station without nipping in and gazing up in wonder at the roof and the clock. Strangely enough I manged to resist the longest Champagne bar in the world, I probably wasn’t dressed quite right anyhow.


Immediately after leaving the station and while the garmin is still attempting a lock on, I stumble into the grounds of the British Library and get acquainted with Newton.

I bet he’s got a bad back.

There are loads of interesting buildings to see on the Euston/Marylebone Rd so long as your vision is intact. All this running along busy highways is chucking all sorts of grit and general atmospheric pollutants into my eyes and I can feel my corneas abrading as I move.

Philological School

This building is the St Marylebone Grammar School or Philological school, set up in 1792 to support families suffering under unexpected misfortune. Directly opposite this is the Samaritan Free hospital for women and children, where “Admission free, without letter of recomendation, poverty and sickness the only passport”.

It wasn’t all that long ago that life was tough.

Heading left, away from the grotty dual carriageway, I veered towards Paddington station. Here’s another area of fabulous architecture but shamefully it is one that has worked hard to develop a shabby overcoat. St Mary’s Hospital must have been imposing in its day and you can look up to the second floor window and imagine Alexander Fleming poring over his agar plates of penicillin.

Portobello Road

From Paddington onwards, the interest in the route declined for me. The stations were such a flippin faff to get to. Royal Oak for example, is almost an extension to the platform at Paddington, I’ve often wondered what it’s point was but when you try to get to it by road you have to wiggle in and out of streets for about 2k. Ridiculous. Royal Oak to Westbourne Park is even worse and really, why would you want to bother. Get the tube that’s my advice.

Ladbroke Grove is the home of the Portobello Road market so there was a bit of colour here, but I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to hire a nice red Ferrari.

Salomon XT Wings Challenge
10 Tube Stations
10.84 km
Sports Tracker map with photos

38 Tube Stations
36.56 km
See the combined progress map here.

Warriorwoman vs Jogblog 100m Challenge Combo
23.9 miles total