Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cross Country

Not sure what the conversation was here but it was along the lines of me having a stinker of a run in the opening cross country at Acklam.   Last year I was first vet 40 in just over 39 minutes.  This year I was 37th in over 43 minutes.   No wonder I'm scratching my head - probably in disbelief!  After two of the four laps I stopped in pain with my right hamstring cramping up - as most of the pain has been in my left hamstring recently it was a new experience but equally as frustrating. 

Having decided on lap two that the pain was not going away I scanned the course for a suitable drop out point - a park bench was in my sights.....stretch out the hamstring and try and get the cramping pain eased...if it didn't ease at least I would have a good vantage point to watch the race unfold.  The stretching seemed to work and after seeing a good twenty runners or so float past I decided to get going again and managed to get round the four lap course.  In the end it was worth it as I helped New Marske to a well earned First Team place - I knew there was a reason to get going again!

After a few easy days and lots of stretching my running has finally got back on track with a week and a half of good solid training with tempo sessions, a solid run at Redcar park run on Saturday and a really pleasing hill session tonight.  Tonight's session was a repeat of a session three weeks ago.  Times tonight were about 6 seconds per rep quicker and a much more consistent (and pain free) run.  It might be a bit presumptuous to say that it seems (touching wood!) that the worst of the hamstring pain seems to have eased and I am now managing some decent sessions that aren't leaving me in pain for days afterwards.

So hopefully it is onwards and upwards now and I'm looking forward to the next few races starting with a trip to Whitby for the next round of the NYSD.   Hopefully my next blog will be about sweet revenge and not more tales of woe!

In this weeks Athletics Weekly there is a lot of talk about money...fees rising...costs increasing...and funding being withdrawn.  Now normally I look through the list of athletes who have had funding reduced and think either fair enough or well they haven't had a good season or two but I must admit to raising my eyebrows at one or two of the decisions.  Steph Twell was one of these and she has written a very heartfelt and passionate letter to Athletics Weekly summing up her disbelief and disappointment at being "dropped".   Having broken her ankle representing her country her comeback has been amazing and has run the Olympic A standard over 5000m and ran a seasons best of 4.07 in the 1500m.  I am sure she will bounce back but one of the things she says in the letter really did sum up the "short sightedness" of this decision....

"having joined the world class programme in 2007 as a TASS (now Potential) athlete and having progressed to Podium C level it is difficult to understand how I could have been deemed as a podium finisher to now being totally removed from UKA's support as I no longer fit their criteria as a "genuine medal contender" or even a top eight finisher at major champs".....

Throughout my time on the programme the most valued support I received was the exceptional medical cover I was able to access as well as the excellent service provision in terms of strength and conditioning, physiology and nutrition support which helps contribute to being a world class athlete....

Endurance is not a short term pathway and this was highlighted after watching Jo Pavey seventh in the 5000m and 10,000m (with a pb) in the Olympics aged 38.

Aged only 23 I have delivered on many occasions in cross country and track at global and European level (Bronze Commonwealth Games 1500m in 2010 and the fourth fastest British female over 5000m).......one of my biggest concerns is that young athletes will be penalised for achieving at a young age"

Steph is absolutely right that success in endurance events does not happen overnight and it takes years of training to reach the top level.   What comes through the letter is the passion that she has for running and the determination that (even without the funding) she will strive to be the best she can in the sport.  I hope she can bounce back from this setback and let her running do the talking...she certainly has got a point to prove now!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Chester Blues!

This should have been the pre marathon blog special talking about the joys of the taper, the strange feelings pre marathon and the nervous anticipation before the big day.


The human body (or is that the runners body!) is a strange, fickle thing.   My last blog detailed one of my best blocks of training for some time,  my training just coming right at the right time and almost ready for tapering.  


In an attempt to squeeze one last session in the build up I started an 8 x 800m session with the intention of getting a good session in the bag…not too fast but a nice solid 800m interval session to top up the training I had done so far.   Three intervals down I pulled up with the usual suspect of the left hamstring….not a case of the feeling like I have been shot by a sniper more like someone grabbing hold of my hamstring and squeezing it tight and not letting go…a tightness that also had the effect of sending a numbing feeling into my calf.   With 10 days to go until the marathon timing could not have been much worse.  


With a couple of days of gentle jogging and the feeling that it might not be as bad as I first thought I pushed myself on a steady 6 miler to see what it felt like at marathon pace.   Disaster struck again – same old same old…..At this point the marathon seemed further away than ever.


So it was off to the physio again…..It seems the hamstring is not ruptured but the issue is more of old scar tissue that seems to be laying on the sciatic nerve and causing the hamstring to tighten at random and unpredictable moments.  The pain in my hamstring has been worse after driving for anything over 30 minutes.    The physio session included something new to me which was Myofascial Release.  This is a gentle therapy, consisting of a mixture of light stretching and massage work. 


A typical session consists of  hands-on massage strokes in order to release tension from the fibrous bands of the muscles, bones, nerves and joints, by unblocking any scar tissue or adhesions due to injury in the muscles and surrounding tissues combined with  light to moderate traction and twisting strokes to apply the appropriate tension on the soft tissue.  The treatment is a long slow treatment concentrating on lengthening the muscle to achieve a full reflex range of the muscle.


I have to say that the treatment has worked very well and I am back running.   There is still a little bit of stiffness in the hamstring so I am not fully back to normal and I think given the nature of the injury it may take a bit of time to get back to full speed but it’s a step in the right direction.  Training this week has been good with a decent four mile tempo run at sub 6 minute miling, a very good hill session with 8 long reps completed with over 1000 feet of climbing an 8.5 mile steady run at a decent pace and a park run effort in redcar (18.11) yesterday on my way to a good old 50 mile week with a bit of quality thrown in.



Its good to be back running again and I am sure if pushed I could have completed the marathon but back to the Chimp versus Computer theory….the chimp would be on the start line at Chester today  but the Computer has the Cross Country season on his mind.


I have my eyes on five races over the winter:


Abbey Dash 10km in November

North East Cross Country in December

Northern Cross Country in January

National Cross Country in February

BMAF Vets Cross Country in March

Here’s to a happy and injury free winter!   Back to the foam roller for me!