Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tentative steps

I have been off the map for a week, with a visit to London and then to my sister's to see the family. Clocked up a lot of miles walking in London just being the country bumpkin but the heel seemed to cope OK, though it was a bit stiff on a couple of evenings. Mastermind specialist subject - History of London docklands! Test me!

Prior to going away, I was getting more regular with the turbo training sessions, but nothing beyond 30 minutes. Most importantly, there did not seem to be any adverse reaction to being back at work for the full day, so tomorrow I go to a full teaching timetable and cannot wait to do some rugby with the Year 7 boys in the morning. I'm not going to wear my boots to teach in as they are a lot stiffer than trainers and don't want to take the risk, so I'll wear an old pair of Salomon Speedcross II for the time being.

For the last couple of weeks I've felt that I could do a few seconds of running but have held off until today. I see the physio again on Tuesday and just wanted to be able to report on where I was having tried something with a little more impact. So, I wore a pair of trainers that are well worn-in, and Tracey and I went for a walk in Great Wood, below Walla Crag. Every five minutes or so, I had a little jog for between 10 and 30 seconds, trying to take small steps, but also to use as normal a gait as possible. Along the way we took some video clips so I could get a look at how I am running to see if there is any imbalance, but it looks like everything is OK.

As I write this in the evening, it doesn't feel too bad, though it is a little stiff after I've been sat down for a while. Once I start moving, it loosens up quickly. It will be interesting to see how it reacts in the morning and after a full day of teaching, but I have actually ran some steps now and put on running kit. I almost felt like a runner again!

Over the weekend, I was following the OMM race in Scotland and it seemed very strange not to be part of the event this year. Looking forward to reading the reports and especially analysing the Route Gadget maps. Here is hoping that this time next year I am writing a report about running the OMM Elite class race rather than a report about running for 30 seconds!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Open the hurt box

Firstly, I must explain the post title. A work colleague, Adam (he of the man suit comment - see first blog post), came out with another cracker last week. When describing a fellow runner who was able to dig deep and suffer, he used the phrase "He knows how to open the hurt box and climb inside", which I thought was a fantastic graphic image; we've all been there. Can't wait for the next Adamism.

Things have been a little stagnant on the recovery front. Ever since the operation, each day has felt better and a step nearer to running again, but over the last week I just feel that not a lot has happened. I've still been getting on the bike and doing the exercises, but want the same rapid recovery I've witnessed for the previous two months. I do feel a little more confident about coping with the day at work and have to remember that the surgeon suggested three months post op to aim for with regard to running, but the heel and tendon still feel a long way from being able to cope with training.

Trying to be more positive and looking ahead to training, the mini video camera came towards the end of last week. First impressions are that it is tiny but quite rugged; small enough to carry on training runs and even in races.

I wanted to try it out, so took some short clips as I walked into work through the park on Thursday last week. There is no view finder so I will have to get used to the positioning of the unit but it's really simple to use and should be great for recording some adventures in the wild. Just so I could have a play, I've spliced together some of the clips into a short video, some parts of which those of you who have started out on a Bob Graham Round will recognise.

Off to do some more floor exercises; got a couple of episodes of Wilfred to catch up with - how do they get away with it? 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Three miles!

Before anyone gets too excited (or worried) it was only a three mile walk on the flat. This still represents my longest test of the tendon to date and I'm pleased to report that it feels OK, maybe a little stiff now I've been sitting around after.

It has been a typical wet Keswick day, but I thought if I was running I'd go out so out we went; no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. A walk out through the park, turn at the Bouncy Bridge and back to Keswick. Most pleasingly, there didn't seem to be any limp, even towards the end.

The Bouncy Bridge

Towards Keswick, Latrigg beyond

I've also been thinking about the time when I do eventually start running again and have decided I will try and do my usual kick start to the winters training by having a run on the West Highland Way. In the last two years I have run from Milngavie to Rowardennan at a nice easy pace just to ignite the fire. Last year I joined  my friend Ali for a lovely run in the snow. To this end, I have booked a weekend in December and will aim to get at least to Balmaha, if not Rowardennan, but I'll be quite happy to walk bits and just be thankful I'm out there. So the first running target is written in the diary!

Many a time, I have been training in the mountains and wished I had a camera with me, I do live in the most beautiful part of the country after all and I would like to be able to post pictures and perhaps video clips from my runs. Both my phone and camera are too expensive and a bit too heavy to use, so I have sent off for one of these;

It's a micro video camera, only 5.5cm hight and weighs only 50g. No real idea how good it will be, but I'm getting a returned reconditioned model for a real bargain price so I think it's worth taking a punt. I'll let you know (and show) how it goes.

Finally, I have only just discovered the statistics available to bloggers. I expected to get readers from the UK and western Europe; welcome to you, but I would like to extend a special welcome to my readers from the United States, Canada, Russia and Azerbaijan.

I'm beginning to think computers and this Interweb thingy might start to take off soon!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'm a good patient

Had my latest appointment with the physio this afternoon. She was encouraged with the news that the surgeon was happy with his side of the recovery and we talked very positively about the next couple of months.

After checking the scar to make sure it is staying supple and comparing the range of movement to the right foot, I mentioned the ligament pain in my ankle. She did a quick gait analysis (I had a good limp as it was straight after work) and noticed an imbalance in muscle tone in my calfs and gluteus minimus.

She then put together a series of exercises for me to do, some of which strengthen the tendon and soleus muscle and some address the muscle imbalance.

Step exercises with the hard work being done eccentrically on the way down. (3 sets of 12)

Bridge exercises (10 x holding position, 30 up & down, 10 x alternate legs)
Clam exercises (20 x on back, 20 x right side, 20 x back, 20 x left, 20 x back) Resistance band round the knees.
Then some deep massage to release trigger points in the calf.

 ...... and obviously some stretching!!

If you include 30 minutes on the turbo trainer, I estimate I will spend about 3 hours a week more in "training" now than I will when I'm back running fully. Anyway, it keeps me off the streets!!

She finally suggested I could try doing something a little more runningesque in 3 or 4 weeks time to see how it copes with short 1 minute runs with 5 minute walks, but I said I would prefer to see her again before I take that step. (I hope you are reading this mother)
What a good patient I am!

Monday, 3 October 2011

That felt like training

I feel that I have had a slightly different outlook on my rehabilitation over the last week. When I am on the turbo trainer, it doesn't feel like a way of exercising my tendon; I am now able to cycle normally on a much higher resistance and might tentatively call it "training".

I saw the surgeon again on Friday. He was REALLY positive, to the point that he said he was happy to leave me in the hands of the physio here in Keswick. So I don't have to make the long journey down to Wrexham again.
This feels like a significant moment and draws a line under that episode, in the same way that making the decision to have surgery put a stop to the "just live with it".
For those that are interested, this is the consultant that sorted me out from diagnosis to surgery. I only wish I had done this five years ago.

I am not really sure what the next goal should be. My immediate target is to be able to raise and lower myself using my left foot only which may be a week away. I'm seeing the physio tomorrow and she will no doubt have a few tricks up her sleeve for me!
The only negative point is some pain in the ankle ligaments which comes on during the day as I limp. This is something that is getting easier but is still very noticable.

On a complete change of tack; I have to say congratulations to those taking part in the Commonwealth Ultra Champs last week. I followed John Kynaston's Twitter feeds and loved the videos (watched when on the Turbo trainer). I must mention Debs and Sharon. I have never personally known a national record holder before and after one 24 hour period I know two!! I assume the talent flows to the rest of us like some kind of osmosis thing in the same way that I become a better golfer after I make my annual trip to watch the Open Championship on some wind swept links.