My last post-run running-post was Wednesday? Seems ages ago. Sorry for the neglect, been a little busy, you know?
Just to fill you in, I was planning a Totally OSSUM Training Week. I had taken the week off from work and I was going to flat-hunt, view properties and run and train and be healthy and happy. Mission: FAILED.
I didn’t go to Bootcamp this week (sorry, Phil). I woke up on Wednesday morning thinking I had something to do, but couldn’t remember what it was. Turns out I had forgotten about the early morning session at Liverpool Street. Oops. But I still ran that night, so, umm, that makes up for it, right? No? Meh.
Flat-hunting is literally as exhausting as work is. I meant to run on Thursday night too but there was too much to do and no time to do it in. HOW are you meant to train to run a half-marathon AND find a place to live?! I can barely fit in training around my full-time job as it is. I have so much respect for all of those who work ridiculous hours and do all this endurance training. Ratings for all those Olympic athletes who are fitting in their training and working a job too. Ratings upon ratings for single parents who are running AND working AND still spending time with their children while they’re still awake.
Friday’s Bootcamp session was missed because my mum booked us a spa day that I had been looking forward to all week. In the morning, after a 1.7 mile run on the treadmill in the spa gym (YAY!) which was followed by an Indian head massage, I was sitting (cooking) in the sauna, when my friend (future wife) Jessica (@ohmyjessbess) called me. I messaged her to say I wasn’t going to pick up when I was sweating so much that I was likely to electrocute myself if I put my phone to my ear. She messaged back with guttering news.
I have been thinking over and over whether to write about this at all, but this blog was set up as a form of journal, with the sole intention of being honest about how I train and the things that contribute to and affect my progress. This week, on Valentine’s Day, a good friend of mine, James, took his own life. I can barely process this information, and I’m crying as I write this because I miss him so much. I have known him for about five years and I have never felt a heartbreak like this. The initial shock of learning this news had me standing in the spa’s ladies shower room, crying like a loon, messaging illegible texts to Jessica, scrolling through James’s recent tweets and the announcements from his family. I was reeling. I had text him late on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning asking if he was ok and had had no response but, wrapped up in my own petty worries about a stupid flat, I forgot to call him when I had no response. I am so sad to know that he felt so much pain and was so desperate. I saw him recently, and he was his usual picture of health, utterly gorgeous, a real character with that old school glamour and poise. He literally looks like he belongs in Hollywood. I can’t believe that he’s not here.
His life has been full of so many successes that most recent graduates, including myself, haven’t yet been able to achieve. For starters, Jay was a published writer before we started our English Literature degree together at the University of Reading. He was such a loved person in our halls, and although most of us on our degree course were envious of his success so far, you couldn’t help but like him. He was a funny, self-deprecating, charming young man, and a real gentleman. He was one of those people who wanted to know you and took an interest in you. We got on so well, initially because we were both from London and we would laugh about how we found Reading life so slow in comparison to the city. Our interest in the fashion industry, his from a writing perspective and myself from the modelling I was occasionally doing, gave us more to develop our friendship. I remember we also used to chat about my boyfriend and his girlfriend back in London. He was one of the few people at uni I told I was on Twitter and we stayed in touch after we graduated, enjoying lots of LOLZ on the internetz. His achievements weren’t hard to believe and certainly not resented once you knew him.
James played Baseball for a London team before uni and then played American Football at uni. He worked for TimeOut during our degree, and moved to Conde Naste to work for Vogue following our graduation. He had recently started at Hearst, to work for Elle UK. Last year, he blogged a post detailing his daily activities at work, including his early morning run and swim. It was mind-blowing. He did more than I did in two days and exercised more than I did in six months. His dedication was admirable, his motivation was infectious, and it was around that time that I started running. His support of my running and training was great. He would text me to ask how it was going and to schedule a time to run together. He used to run five or six miles before work and I’m still at the point where I need to designate an entire day to run-walk-run-walk-run-walk-stumble around a four mile route.
I feel so weird about this whole situation. It doesn’t feel very real. There are moments where I’m convinced this hasn’t happened and I check his Twitter timeline and my messages from friends who have contacted me to console me and ask how I am. I haven’t kept in contact with very many people from uni but Jay was one of those that I regularly spoke to, especially in the last year or so. This is so fucking weird. I haven’t lost a friend since primary school, and I have never lost someone I know and love to suicide. My grandmother died last November after years of bad health and, if anything, these recent experiences with mortality have taught me to live life and be happy. If you’re not happy, then make the necessary changes. If you have something to work towards, then bloody work.
In the last few weeks, my motivation has been scraping along the pavement as I half-heartedly set out on runs that I don’t enjoy. Jessica messaged me to tell me how much it hurt for her to watch the sun set as she drove home and feel the adrenaline as she ran that night because she knows that James isn’t here to love any of that anymore. This rang true when I completed my new record of 7.11 miles this afternoon. It took me an hour and a half because I walked most of it. I even stopped at a pub to ask for some water because I didn’t take any with me. I didn’t even think I would get further than four miles if I’m honest and I kept breaking into tears which must have looked bizarre to the people in the cars driving past me.
I don’t expect to enjoy any of the runs that I need to complete within the next few weeks, but I’ll be running them with you in mind, Jay, and I will walk the entire half-marathon if I have to. I hope you’re in a happier place and that you’re alright now. I’m sorry for everything that you needed that we couldn’t give you and I’m sorry that you’re not here. I can’t believe I’ll never see you again, or that I’ll never again be able to make you laugh. I miss the way you noticed such little details and the way you dressed immaculately. I miss your face, your tanned skin and amazingly naturally-coloured mahogany hair. I miss your sense of humour and your generosity. If there is a heaven, and angels exist, then that makes you one of the most handsome (and then some!) to be floating around. If not, then I hope whatever you experience in an afterlife, or maybe even a future life, brings you so much joy and endless happiness. I have never wanted anything more than to have you back, posting pictures of interesting things you find and talking about the beautiful people you meet. I love you lots and I’ll never forget you. Rest in peace.
To James’s family, if you ever read this, my thoughts are with you.
I AM SO FRIGGIN EXCITED FOR THIS! YOU HAVE NO IDEA. It’s about time this collab developed a line for women. I’m just happy I now actually ‘run’ to be able to fully enjoy the brilliant design and technicality of each garment when I get some.
For years now, I’ve joked about my singular ab. I’m a slim jim, partly thanks to an Azn frame (no hips, sob sob sob), but by no means toned. Where body fat collates and sits, there it sits on me. I’m a woman who likes to eat cake and drink copious amounts of tea, of course my stomach isn’t flat! But who gives a crap when you can craftily disguise your permanent “food baby” with men’s tshirts and slouchy clothes?!
The answer is that I can’t wear menswear every day for the rest of my life (but DAMN IT, I will try!) and Lycra doesn’t actually solve all problems like we thought it did. Also, after a while, people do actually ask you “why is your stomach like that when you’re not fat?”… Wow, blunt much?
ANYWAY… Ladies and gentleblahs, I am pleased to announce that my one ab has now got a friend. I now have two abs. Three, if you squint. But let’s not get lost in numbers. I have definition, and that’s all that matters.
Of course, this definition only shows in the top half of my abdominal muscles, the ones that are relatively easy to tone, because there are not so many (many, many) layers of cake and biscuits forming lovely, cushiony armour over them. Realistically, there is not a great deal to be celebrating here, but you know, every little thing counts when you’re starting from scratch. I’m just happy that all the sit ups and the planks are paying off.
I’ll come back when you can see four more and my belly button no longer looks as though you could lose a spoon in it.
I ran again this evening (sound the trumpets, YAY!). I was supposed to run last night and never got round to it (oh, anticlimax). Familiar story, huh?
I’ve had distraction after distraction this year so far. I need a holiday. In fact, I took a holiday from work this week to focus on house-hunting (I need to move in March), but I can’t find a house. I’m spending around 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen, which is melting my brain and by eye-cubes (see what I did there?!) and causing my knees to ache.
I’m only in my twenties. I don’t need my knees to be aching right now. ESPECIALLY when I’m training for a stupid half marathon. Tonight’s run hurt so much that this is the first time that I’m scared that I won’t be able to complete the race. I’m really angry with everything and myself. I can’t find anywhere to live, I’m crap at running and my knees hurt. Life friggin SUCKS. Ok, don’t worry about the house situation, I have one more solid day of searching, and I’ll find somewhere (CROSS YOUR FINGERS FOR ME PLEASE?!).
Earlier I ran a whoooooooole 1.02 miles (pah!) before I slowed to walk. Then I walked until I could be bothered to run again and managed about 100 metres before my right knee started to hurt. I walked-ran-walked-ran around a new route until I got home.
Today and yesterday, my left knee has been a bit weird, occasionally it will twinge and hurt, but mostly it’s just uncomfortable. Now, when I’m running, this continues to happen, but it also happens with my right knee, and to a much greater degree. I don’t get it. My right knee doesn’t really trouble me, except when I’m running.
Knee joints are like hinges and they should only really move in one way and only to a certain extent. (I have never notice how much I stand with my knees locked until recently. This habit needs to end). When I’m running, I’m doing the normal hingey movement (as one does), but it feels like someone’s pulling legs by my ankles out to the side which makes my knees ache. It’s SO ODD. I’m not even sure what to do to compensate. I feel the pain around and behind the knee cap in the squidgey bit of my knees and in parts of my lower legs. On my right leg, I can also feel something pulling from someway up the back of my thigh, round to the back of my knee on the inside. It’s a diagonal sort of pull. And I can feel another tugging sensation in my foot from somewhere under the arch, near the forefoot, to just below my achilles.
With a weird left knee and a wonky right knee, tonight’s run was a total of 4 miles, but probably only a total of 2.5 miles actual running. I saw 5 other people out running, including a woman, who looked like she was in her sixties, wearing a VEST. I know it was milder today than it has been for a while, but it is NOT vest weather.
Anyway, I included 2 sprints, including a really fast one right at the end though, so I kind of forgive myself. Nah, who am I kidding? I don’t think I’m doing very well at all. I struggled so much today. I have LESS THAN 6 WEEKS TO GO till race day.
Today I did a 3.something mile run. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last so I started off with no particular route in mind. About a mile into it I had already slowed down to walk but I had decided I was going to run a big loop and end up at the gym where my brother was training.
It was a pretty boring run actually, and other than a dry heave early on, I have nothing to report. One thing though, people in the ‘burbs don’t like to clean up after their dogs. Gross.
I’m worried about my knees, so I used the new shoe inserts and put two pairs of socks on to keep my ankles warm and pulled some leg warmers up to my thighs before I put my leggings on to keep my knees toasty. This was good advice from the dude who assessed my feet in Snow & Rock.
It definitely made a difference. My knees don’t hurt. They just feel weird. They have that weird sensation where you’re just AWARE of them. You realise how much you don’t notice parts of your body until there is something wrong. Like now.
Still, that’s another run in the bank. I’m going to try and get another four runs in this week while I’ve got some time off from work.
I’m on my way to the Royal Albert Hall now with my family to watch Cirque du Soleil, ‘Totem’. Knowing me, I’ll leave the place feeling like I want to launch myself off The Shard and somersault all the way down to land at London Bridge Station.
I’m making a mental note to behave…
Ok, so I’ve been a little busy. Kinda says a lot when you’re in your twenties and you find yourself at your mum’s house on a Saturday night blitzing through your to-do list. Tres glam, I know.
Anyway, I haven’t run at all this week (bar today for a minute on a treadmill in the Women’s Running department at Niketown London). I did go to Bootcamp on Wednesday though. I worked super(ish) hard (kind of) and left the gym feeling great. The problem is, by midday, my left knee felt pretty odd. By 6pm, my right knee had begun to twinge as well. Panic started to shimmy on the sidelines. I skipped Friday’s Bootcamp session to rest my knee.
Now, as I recall, two Sundays ago, when I ran with Rachel, both of my knees started to hurt by about the fourth mile. I put this down to never having out running for so long before and I made a mental note to ask a few questions about knee aches when I spoke to runnery people. For about a week after that run (the week with no sleep), I experienced a painful left knee that twinged all the way down the lower leg.
I assume that much of this is due to my feet. I spend much of my day standing up, and I am well aware, after years of ballet and my mum telling me that I walk like a weirdo, that my feet aren’t the most normal of feet.
To begin with, I have a very high instep. The arch on each foot is super-high and very flexible. Great for ballet - ‘pretty feet’ and a lovely point. Not so great for your posture. This, as well as what I assume is weakness in my forefoot, means that my ankles roll in when I stand, when I walk, and naturally, when I run. I also stand with my toes pointing outwards. Again, great for ballet ('and plié, two, three, four! And stretch, two, three, four!'), but not so elegant in real life when your ankles roll in and your knees practically kiss. Most people, when they notice, find it hilarious that I stand and walk like a duck.
Knowing this, I have always tried to find shoe inserts that support my arch and stop my feet, legs and back from feeling so tired all of the time. Most aren’t ‘aggressive’ enough, but apparently, most people don’t have very high arches like mine, so that would explain why I haven’t found the perfect pair.
After a painful Wednesday, I was recommended to grab some SuperFeet and I went to Snow & Rock (outdoor, ski and snowboarding gear shop). The range was pretty large so I asked for help and the consultant put me on a pressure gauge thingy to work out which SuperFeet shoe insert would be most ideal for me. (Sorry if you don’t like feet, but some might see this as informative, and some people - not me, ha! - don’t mind feet).
You can see from the above photo (check out the concentration face - buff stuff, Sarah Mei), that the arches on my feet don’t even touch the glass (I know there are faint greenish lines, but it’s a double reflection between the glass and the mirror and the glass and the mirror, etc, and so on and so forth <—->).
Turns out (SURPRISE, SURPRISE), none of the SuperFeet shoe inserts would be particularly helpful for me in terms of running as I apparently need something quite aggressive to combat the slouch in my foot (and my ankles, and my knees, AND my hips). However, they had some custom-moulded shoe inserts that they could make up in about half an hour, so I stood on bags of silicon which took moulds of my feet and then stood on top of the heated shoe inserts to push them down into the moulds until they had cooled in the correct shape. The shoe inserts are made of a flexible material which contains fibreglass and this maintains the strength needed for support within a running shoe. Unfortunately, you can’t put too much support within a shoe needed for running, because the support itself would need to be quite stiff which defeats the purpose of the running shoe being flexible. BAH!
Generally speaking, there are three types of running styles, or pronation, if you will. Four, if you count Phoebe Bouffet’s favoured style. You will either run neutrally, or you will supernate or overpronate. Most people will very slightly overpronate. I overpronate like a motherb**ch. I did ANOTHER gait analysis with a Nike Ekin today, and my left foot overpronates MORE than my right foot. My right foot is pretty much cuddled and comforted by a Nike LunarEclipse+ trainer, so I’m sticking with these shoes for the minute, but I think I need a half size down than the ones I’ve got now. I’m going to try the new moulded shoe inserts in them and see if there is an improvement for my left foot and knee.
If I’m really honest, the prospect of this injury getting worse is scaring me. A lot. I refuse to pull out of the Berlin Half Marathon for any reason, but two of my friends (Jess and Phoebe [not the one from Friends]) had to sacrifice their big race days last year because of injuries. Knee injuries to be precise. As much as I know I’m going to suffer, there is no way that I can’t not complete it. I’m under the impression that quite a few people think I want to pack it all in and don’t think that I can do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of running, but I WANT to do this race.
I’m panicking about my knees because even in less than a minute’s worth of running on a treadmill today, my knees and lower legs started to hurt. The pain isn’t excruciating, but it doesn’t have to be to tell you that there’s something wrong. I’m trying to get some time in with a physiotherapist, but they’re not cheap, you know? I’d also LOVE for someone to show me the correct way to run (if there is one) because I’m pretty sure I’m doing something wrong.
I’m supposed to do 7 miles tomorrow. I haven’t run in 2 weeks. Let’s see if I can run more than 2 miles in the morning… I get points for trying, right?
P.S. This is for you…
P.P.S. The consultant at Snow & Rock (Chancery Lane branch) was a very nice man called Marc. Really helpful dude with great advice. If you need help with your ski or snowboarding boots, he is also your dude.
So much is happening in a short space of time and things are moving so fast. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, although The Oracle (Drake, HA!) does say that “working with the negatives can make for better pictures” (valuable lesson there, kids). I want to say I haven’t had time to run and train, but that’s not the only reason. Recently motivation to do this marathon has taken a major dip. Partly because exercise is not (YET) escapism for me and because I’ve been busy prioritising stuff, it’s slipped down to the Least Important end of the scale. Also, because I know I can now run 5.6 miles I’m pretty sure I can keep up the rest of my training and do the whole 13.
To be clear, after a week with an average of 2 hours of sleep each night, I bunked the early morning Bootcamp sessions in favour of dealing with my sleep deprivation. I have no idea why I couldn’t sleep every night last week. I’ve never suffered from insomnia and after the second night of no sleep I panicked. And then obviously I definitely couldn’t sleep because I was so worried I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I had six days of walking around in a zombie state, so I didn’t run either. I literally could not bring myself to pull my leggings on and find the will to move anywhere at any pace faster than a shuffle. So I didn’t.
I got bursts of energy at weird times, like just before lunch. On two days I made my friend Jimmy run from where we work to the restaurant where we wanted to eat. We literally jogged. Because I said I felt like it. “LET’S NOT WASTE THIS OPPORTUNITY!” We both wear trainers and (very carefully selected pieces of) streetwear to work so we probably looked like Azn hooligans running through central London. Good times. I also constantly felt like going for a run at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. But I live in Newham, and I’m not suicidal, so I never acted on that urge and just waited for the adrenaline to fade (which took hours).
Saturday came around and I told myself to get 6 miles done because, inevitably, I wouldn’t want to run on Sunday. I left it too late, and it got too cold. The Sunday run would HAVE to happen. Thing is, it kinda snowed on Saturday night, so that wiped out my Sunday long run too. PSYCHE! I didn’t want to run then either (not that I WANTED to break my face running and slipping in the snow).
I’m not giving excuses, I just didn’t want to run. And I’ve heard from countless people ‘run when you don’t feel like running’, but, believe me, I REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO RUN.
This week will hopefully be better. Even if it’s not safe to run tomorrow I’m still going to go to Bootcamp and work harder than I usually do to make up for my absence last week (I’ve said it now, I have to).