On The Mend / Toesox Review

Hi everyone!

My back is feeling loads better than it was last time I wrote. I still get the odd bit of sciatic pain though. Last week my left foot kept going numb or tingly if I sat at the wrong angle, but that seems to have gone for the most part and I can move around a lot better without anywhere near as much pain.

I was still pretty sore last Monday, but I figured going to yoga could only really help. Weirdly, the only poses that hurt were just lying flat on my back rather than any backbends. I even managed to do a full camel pose, which our instructor said to be careful in if you’ve got back issues. Definitely looking forward to going back tonight with pretty much 100% movement back.

I got to try out my new yoga socks too! (Image taken from the Amazon page)

 
Toesox

Although I did still get cramp (it’s in a church hall, it’s cold), it was a lot easier to deal with than before because my toes were spread and the socks are so much grippier, which makes it easier to flex my foot while maintaining the pose. They’re also surprisingly comfortable. I went through a toe socks phase about 8 years ago and used to wear them all the time, but never with cut-off toes like this. I’ve read some reviews that said they can rub between your toes, but I haven’t experienced that yet. We’ll see how it goes tonight, I guess!

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September/October Update

It’s been nearly a month now since my last post. The main reason for this is that I haven’t run since I did the 5k, and running has been the main focus of my blog for a while. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I’d pulled some muscles in my chest and had been advised against running until it was healed. I think it’s better now, but as you’ll see below, a few other things have got in the way. Good news though, most of them are nice reasons!

Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past month or so:

  • Working – my work’s picked up quite a lot lately and I’ve been getting longer translations to do (currently working on an app for a tourist board in Germany) as well as a few little ones to keep me entertained. I’m still really glad I gave up my regular income, but soul-destroying customer service job to join the more insecure freelancing world. I’m making more money over fewer hours in the comfort of my own home, doing something I really enjoy.
  • Holidaying – Rob and I spent the better part of a week in Berlin last month. We did so much stuff! We saw the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the TV tower, the world’s largest dinosaur skeleton (I love dinosaurs), the Zoo, toured an former airport, rented bikes and rode down said airport’s runways, went to lots of museums, saw The Wall all over the place, ate Currywurst and Burgermeister burgers, drank beer…. Here are a few of my favourite pictures:

Me and the Brandenburg Gate

Me at the Brandenburg Gate

Me and the Fernsehturm

I just can’t get enough of the TV Tower

Goat at Berlin ZooThere was a petting zoo area at Berlin Zoo where you could get animal food by using this sweet machine type thingies. This goat clearly knew what was going on and headbutted me out of the way.

  • Seeing family – Rob’s parents live about an hour away and mine live about two and a half to three hours away, so we don’t see them a lot. Rob’s sister is going out to Australia for a year soon though, so we met up with them for a meal and gin-based fun back in Birmingham a couple of weekends ago. And last weekend, my parents came up to stay with us. I think the point you realise you’re a grown up is when your parents come to stay in your house! We met up with my uncle and my two little cousins on Saturday to feed ducks and have a walk around at Attenborough Nature Reserve. We had a great time, and it coincided with mine and Rob’s eight year anniversary so we got to celebrate it with lots of people.
  • Starting yoga – I recently joined a yoga class in a nearby church hall. The woman who runs it is really nice and I really enjoy it. It’s a strange feeling coming out of there totally relaxed but buzzing. The only problem is that I keep getting foot cramp and although this is normally solved by wearing socks, they don’t give you a lot of grip on the old yoga mat (I’ve named my mat Bella, is that weird?). I’ve bought some toe socks with grippy bottoms though, so hopefully next time will be better. I couldn’t try them out this week though because:
  • I hurt my back – Lift with the knees, Leah! One day I will learn. I went to pick up our bedding and air mattress from the living room floor after my parents left and ended up severely spraining my lower back. I’ve done it before which, although making me even more stupid, means I know it shouldn’t last too long. I’ve been sitting up nice and straight at my desk and trying to keep moving, hopefully I’ll be recovered in time for yoga on Monday.
  • Had my flu jab – I’m asthmatic so I’m entitled to a free flu jab and got it this morning. Make sure you get it if you’re in one of the at-risk groups!
  • Got my new phone – My new iPhone 5S arrive yesterday! I was still using an iPhone 4 I’d had since it launched, so I figured now would be a good time to upgrade. I’m really liking the fingerprint sensor and the better camera, as well as the bigger screen size! It feels a little too big in my tiny hands at the moment, but I’m sure that will fade.

I’m hoping to get back to running at some point. I just keep hitting hurdle after hurdle at the moment, and the weather’s only going to get worse from here, giving me more of an excuse to stay inside. A hotel down the road from us has monthly memberships so we’re thinking about doing that to get access to their treadmills on rainy, cold days!

I’ll try not to leave it so long next time!

Run with Richard 5K Completed!

My first race has been and gone!

After a couple more training runs, we headed over to Victoria Embankment for 9am, with the race due to start at 10. At that point, I looked like this (apols for the squinting, it was proper bright out!):

Pre-Run

We wandered around the event village for a while, surprised how many people were there. We got interviewed and photographed by a few journalists, and we’re at the front of this group shot on the Nottingham Post’s website (that’s Rob in the green in front of me)!

Run With Richard 5K

We got a little bit caught up in the all the excitement, so when RunKeeper told me we were on 6 min/km pace after 5 minutes when we normally run just over 7, I started to slow down a bit.  I don’t think I would have been able to keep that up much longer! My aim was to finish in around 35 minutes with anything under being a bonus.

It was just after the 2km point I slowed down to a brisk walk. I’d simply taken it too hard and wasn’t coping well with it being so warm. I gestured to Rob to carry on without me. I was gutted that I’d had to walk but I realised later on in the day that I DIDN’T STOP. I kept going, I didn’t collapse in a ball and give up. I had a quick chat with a lady who told me to pour some water over my head. I kept the guy dressed as Mike from Monsters Inc firmly in my sights. I got waved on by Becky Adlington the former GB swimmer who’d come down to support the race, and the mayor, and Robin Hood (this is Nottingham after all).

When the finish line finally came into view, I got another wind and practically sprinted home. My time? 32:30. I was so impressed with myself that I’d managed to keep some semblance of that early pace up to the finish. Rob finished in 28:49. Jammy git.

Just as we left, I saw a couple of the other Olympic champions who’d come down to support Richard Whitehead – Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, the slalom canoists. Couldn’t resist grabbing a picture, and Etienne’s medal And apols again for the massively red face, I don’t think my Flickr filters helped much!

Meeting Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott

 

The one downside of the day is that I’ve pulled some muscles in my chest that are going to put me out of running for a couple of weeks or more. It was hurting before the race but I was determined to take part. Getting my first injury is tough, especially when I was planning to start taking part in our local parkrun this week, but I’ll get over it. Rob’s gutted too as he hasn’t run without me before and says he needs the motivation of me going with him to actually get him out.

Oh well, best to let it heal now than making it worse and being out for longer. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Back in the Groove

I feel like I’m finally getting back into running.

After that god-awful run the other week, I picked up a cheap armband for my phone and downloaded Runkeeper. I’m a bit of a stat nerd and after just 3 runs with it, I’m considering purchasing the full version. £13.99 for a year isn’t that big of a deal for me. You can program it to run a certain distance, intervals or time, and it tells you all different stats as you’re running along.

We haven’t done any more really early runs like the one I wrote about before. Rob hasn’t got the motivation at the moment, but I’m sure he will once the 5K gets a bit closer. I went out on my own to just do a 20 minute run a few days after the run-of-death, just to prove to myself I could do it. And I did. I felt so much better – I paced myself a lot better, had some music I knew and could just zone out to and my asthma didn’t play up quite as badly. I still felt a bit sick, though. I think this time I drank too much water, so I’ve now started drinking less beforehand and got a little running bottle to bring with me. My hands are too small to handle a 500ml one, but luckily the 300ml one is just right. I seriously have tiny hands. My family refer to them as my “paws”.

Rob then came out with me on Saturday morning for another 20 minutes. I kept us at a slower pace again and felt even better than last time. Also got Rob to carry the water bottle for the second half of the run, so that was a bonus! Rob’s running with his iPod shuffle so it was me calling the times out for him. At the end he’d thought I’d stopped for a break rather than because we’d finished, so he’s probably in pretty good shape from all the cycling he does.

Which brings me to today. I woke up feeling pretty good, so I thought I’d try 30 minutes for the first time since I finished Couch to 5K. The weather was cool but not too cold, the wind wasn’t too brisk and my lungs weren’t too grumpy. I stopped for a total of about 4 seconds when I choked a bit, and when a dog was trying to sniff my butt, but I completed it and felt so much better about my running. Looking at Runkeeper, I’m keeping my pace really steady and my aim for the 5K of about 35 minutes seems doable. I reckon having more people to chase might spur me on to go a bit faster too, plus I’ve got a couple more weeks of training left.

We’re spending the Bank Holiday in Wales, and I’m not sure whether I fancy running up the hills, but I might get another run in before we leave. We’re doing Go Ape on Sunday though, so that’ll need a bit of fitness!

Happy running!

First Race Sign-Up!

We’ve done it!

This evening I signed me and my boyfriend Rob up for the Run Nottingham with Richard 5k next month.

As I said in my last post, Rob cycles a lot but hasn’t run in months. So he dragged me out of bed at 6am this morning so he could get a run in before work.

I didn’t have time to get my iPod or apps together to do a 20 minute run like we planned, so we were just running to the point I know is roughly 10 minutes’ run away and then turning back. Despite this relatively short distance, it was the worst run I’ve done since I started C25K!

As with all things running, a lot was probably psychological. I was expecting him to struggle so I was doubting myself when he didn’t. When we started, he asked whether I always ran at that speed (implying slowly) so I think I pushed myself harder. It was earlier than I’m used to so the air was colder and it affected my asthma more. I stopped at 10 minutes and started walking. Throughout the whole C25K plan I never stopped when I was supposed to be running. This then made me more down for the last part. Running with no music meant I could only hear my breathing, which made me focus on it more, which made it worse!

To top it all off, I choked on some phlegm near the end and nearly chundered.

All in all, not a brilliant start to my day.

But what have I learned from it?

  • Run with music – I’ll definitely sort that out before our next run.
  • Don’t push myself too hard – Just because I’m running with someone, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to try to keep up, but….
  • Push myself an appropriate amount – If I’m feeling good, I’ll make the most of it.
  • Drink more water – Water good, phlegm bad.
  • (Somewhat) slow and steady wins the race – Rob said afterwards that he was glad I paced it slower than he was expecting, he thinks he would have burnt himself out. He also said he would have stopped far earlier if I hadn’t been there.

We’re planning on running again on Thursday. Really hoping it’ll be better, but I’ll keep in mind something Laura says at the end of the Stepping Stones podcast – A bad run is better than no run at all.

Couch to 5k – Achievement Unlocked – 20 Minutes!

So if you told me 5 weeks ago, or for that matter 2 days ago, that I’d be able to run for 20 minutes, I would have laughed in your face. BUT I DID IT!

First off though was Run 2. I’d found the first run relatively easy and was getting used to running five minute intervals after Week 4. Run 2 this week was two eight minute runs. I could feel my legs getting tight and they felt like lead for a while, but I kept on going and made it through. The podcasts are starting to re-use some of the music from earlier on in the programme, I’m not sure whether I like that or not. I quite liked having the variety and not recognising the songs (although some of them aren’t great!) but I think the repetition maybe helps you get the rhythm and there’s some songs now I can sing along to. In my head, though. I’m not mental.

So today was Run 3 – the dreaded 20 minute one. I think this is the run I’ve seen most people worried about on the forum. You’re running for an interval more than double the longest one you’ve done before. As usual, the weather was a bit drizzly and windy, but I’m getting used to that now and once I’d dodged the slugs on the path (found one on the wall in the utility room earlier, hope I didn’t bring it in on my trousers!) I was fine. Again, I got the tired legs but just kept on going. Laura the podcast lady was giving time updates and encouraging words every 5 minutes which helped too. As cheesy as they are, they get you pumped and believing that this is something you can and will do.

I remember grimacing towards the end of some of the very early runs, but when Laura finally said “That’s it!” today, I was genuinely surprised and was feeling like I could have carried on! I spent the 5 minute cool down walk feeling very chuffed with myself and wondering how I’d managed to go from barely managing 1 minute runs to wanting to carry on after a 20 minute one!

As the podcast says, this was definitely a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Once I’d got my head around the fact that I’d been training to a point where I would be able to do it, it wasn’t half as hard.

Looking forward to next week!

Petting Zoo!

Petting Zoo!

As I wrote in my last C25K post, I spent last weekend in Portsmouth with my family. It was my best friend’s boyfriend’s birthday on Bank Holiday Monday so we went to the Petersfield Festival.

I don’t get to see my friends that often as we live about 3 hours apart. We spent the first couple of hours in the pub having some food and catching up. The Square Brewery does really good nachos and onion rings if you’re ever in the area!

As more and more of the birthday boy’s friends turned up, we decided to give up our seats in the pub and head into the sunshine. Despite living about 20 minutes from Petersfield for most of my life, I couldn’t remember ever having been into the town centre. I know I’ve been to their swimming centre, the Teddy Bear Museum and the Heath but the centre was brand new to me!

Our first stop was of course the petting zoo. I’d found out this was there a bit earlier in the week when I was looking for parking information and it caused the longest, most excited Facebook thread I’ve been involved with in a long time. Sadly, they didn’t have the skunk they’d promised on the website but there were plenty of other cuddly animals! As you can see, I got to hold a ferret, a rat and a snake and also won a dance-off against a parrot.

We then had a wander around the other stalls, culminating in me and Rob buying £14 worth of olives and stuff from a very enthusiastic salesman. He gave us a mix of some kind of ginger, sun-dried tomatoes and raw garlic which sounds vile but tastes delicious. He reckoned it would last a week in the fridge, but we’ve eaten most of it in two sittings.

We had to leave relatively early as we had to drive back to Nottingham, but not before we got to see said best friend Becky perform on stage. She sang songs from her last album and a forthcoming one as well as a sea shanty duet with her friend Chris Ricketts. Becky sounded excellent as always and got lots of laughs during “Weird Nerdy Crush”. The large crowd was more attentive than I was expecting and one guy even heckled the MC at the end asking him to get her back on!

The only downer on the day was getting back to find one of our gerbils had had an abscess burst on his tummy and he was covered in blood. After a call to an out-of-hours vet, we managed to get the bleeding to stop and gave him lots of treats. We saw a vet in the morning who gave us some antibiotics we have to mix with Ribena and give to him twice a day, as well telling us to give him a little salt water bath twice a day. Luckily he seems to be pulling through, but he’s getting wise to the Ribena mix!