Hip flexor on strike

‘Hmm,’ said Adam. ‘Your hip flexor seem to have forgotten how to work.’

This is not entirely a mystery to me. If I were my hip flexors I would be dazed and confused – on account of the 25 minutes Adam has been ramming his elbow into them.

If I were a hip flexor I would have concussion by now.

Having a running coach who is a sports injury specialist sounds like a good thing, until you realise just how much eye watering ‘treatment’ can be delivered with one elbow.

Be good to your hip flexors. Trust me. Runner’s World – showing you how.

Back on the Sports Injury coach again next Monday. No running. Meh, as the kids say.


Training wake up call

I hauled myself out of bed at 6am this morning, in order to coffee up for my 7.30am training session in the park with Adam this morning.

Two long intervals, two medium, two short, two sprints and plenty of lunges, press ups and dips off benches in between.

The long intervals were the killers. Me focusing on the trees thinking ‘I can, I can, yes I can, don’t think about the hill that comes next, no don’t. Can… can…’ Sounds frightful, I guess, but it’s quite buoying because the ‘canning’ is being confirmed by ‘doing’. Anyway, you get the picture – plenty of perceived effort on my part. By that I mean plenty of ‘seriously mate, about to vomit here’-ness going on even though, in my head, anyway, I wasn’t performing anything like my best. Apparently my first long interval over 0.8 of a mile was 7m36s. I guess the heat makes you go faster but my goodness it takes it out of you because it was all pretty gah/urgh/bleugh from there on in.

Lessons learned:

  • black coffee not good on empty stomach when running (I do know this, but my idiot brain is in charge at 6am),
  • heat is not my best suit for exercise (nor is my Stella McCartney for adidas top which is nicely cut and all but has nowhere to mop sweat without my revealing the spare tyre acquired in bars of Heidelberg last week) and
  • perhaps mixed beans and lentils are not the ideal basis for an evening meal when you are running hard the next day (I know this as well, what is wrong with me?! And no do NOT ask about the near death by mortification I could have endured here).

But the good thing I did get was if you stretch enough afterwards everything does, pretty much, snap back into place. Those twinges are just tight muscles, they are not ‘pain’ and should not be indulged as such.

Adam’s off to Canada now for two and a half weeks, visiting family, which sounds bliss. (Yes I know I haven’t finished this holiday yet – shut up)

But he’s given me homework, so it’s not like I have nothing to do.

Hip stretches, every day
Hip strengtheners, twice daily
Long lunges, slow, controlled, daily
Squats, daily
One-legged squats, hips even, straight and forward
Clams – twice daily (!)

Work on pace and endurance – running – three times a week

Should keep me out of mischief…

Slowly does it, recovering runner

An early morning weight training session this morning.

Not exactly helped by a night out with my friend Anja, Mr M and three French martinis. Well they have fruit juice in them, it’s almost good for me.

Adam had me in the alpha male, rock music room doing Olympic lifts, 12kg Kettlebells and swinging around 5kg dumb bells while lying on an exercise ball, pushing up my hips and trying to count slowly and not pay attention to my screaming core muscles.

If I don’t have a six-pack by August I will be miffed.

My last set of exercises were one-legged squats. Not too deep, more an exercise in keeping core firm, hips straight and feeling the muscles work without exhaustion. There’s a special name for it, which of course I’ve forgotten, but they are about building muscle around joints to ensure the body can cope with the demands sport puts on it. According to Adam this is why footballers etc get injured, because they can do all the speed and control work, but the joints aren’t properly supported to prevent what is often avoidable injury. Of course, you are stood in the middle of the alpha male room, stood on one leg, looking a bit like you’re attempting ballet in trainers… it’s not exactly the stuff of alpha dreams.

20 days

It’s been 20 days since my last run. Nearly three weeks. it feels like much longer.

I’m hoping (not hopping) I’ll be back out there tomorrow. I tried running for a bus the other day and breaking out into a gentle trot did not make my thigh muscle tighten with such force it felt like a crochet needle had yanked it up and out.

My ITB, hip muscle tightness thing got too much back on June 10. Walking became naggingly painful, never mind running. Running seemed beyond possibility.

And so I began and continue to practice a series of exercise designed to stretch and strengthen by lack-lustre leg muscles. And so I have become every so slightly obsessed with clams, squats and a handful of pilates-style movements which require an extraordinary amount of focus.

All diagnosed by running trainer, Adam, who has also been putting me through my paces in the gym. This week I’ve been wobbling on a bosu ball while pushing up dumb bells, wobbling on a bosu ball while doing leg raises, wobbling on a bosu ball while doing squats… you get the plot. The idea is to work my core while I try to balance and do other things. It works. I can feel my stomach muscles twitching while I try to not topple off.

But in other news, what else have I been doing? Our university launched Bolton’s first Arts Festival which ran for five days but started with our creative degree show.

waiting for the show to start

Hundreds pack the SLZ, waiting for the Arts festival to be officially launched

Tuk Tuk by Aimee Coffey

Art takes all shapes

Textile Surface Design

I especially like textile surface design’s show – always gorgeous

textile surface design

Bit of detail from the frock above

cars on fabric

I’d wear this – with a vest underneath, of course

I’ve been working like the dog in a Hard Day’s Night, but there’s no pictures of that because it’s all a bit dull.

I did have a day off last Monday, walked up to Didsbury and bought an Ernest Hemingway book about living in Paris, which I am enjoying a great deal. And, for a change, it wasn’t raining. it’s been raining a lot.

Look not raining

Look, not raining!

Simons Bridge, Didsbury

Holiday by Chanel

Painting my nails

For the want of something to do I painted my nails this cheery shade of scarlet-orange which is called Holiday if you fancy it. I like Chanel polish, beautiful colours with a tasteful finish when they dry. None of that disco twink.

Jo and baby Rebecca

Jo and baby Rebecca

And yesterday I went to see my colleague’s first baby, Rebecca. Who apparently sleeps all day and is awake all night – sounds like she’s a teenager already, but she’s just over three weeks old – just a bit older than my nagging hip, ITB injury thing.


Yup, turns out weight training leads to DOMS. No surprises there, I suppose.

I saw Adam on Thursday and when he asked how I was I was all ‘oh fine’. ‘you wait until tomorrow,’ he said. Grinning.

Sure enough, Friday was spent walking like a robot and I’m still a bit stiff this morning.

It is pouring with rain today. I’m sitting here in my dressing gown pondering whether I have the grit to get out there in the rain.

I’ll maybe see how it is this afternoon. Difficult to run down trails when you’re sliding about in the mud and the puddles round here are gargantuan. I do not fancy a head to toe drenching every time a car passes.

I am woman, hear me deadlift 25kg

Oh yes!

Running training getting just a bit boysy.

To recap on previous ramblings, my running training is moving midweek into the gym to build some (more) body strength.

This week I was let into the strength and conditioning room. It smells of metal and new trainers in there. And everything’s new and kind of exciting. You can’t actually hear thrash metal, but you know they rock out in here

Deadlifting was fun. You kind of stick out your bum and arch the bottom of your back as you pull up and then thrust those hips forward. I realise I am making it sound like a Busby Berkley dance routine (“And stick out your tush!”) and men the length and breadth of the English reading world are cringing here, but seriously that’s what you do. Make like a monkey and then thrust those hips forward! My first session was deadlifting 25kg (20kg of which was made up of the bar!) and even though I wasn’t running I was out of breath after 12 reps.

Adam gets me to walk round the room afterwards to breathe out all those toxins. Frankly, I’m glad of the rest, it’s strange the way you get out of breath lifting weights, even though at the time the physical effort doesn’t seem aerobic. Does that make any sense? You’re puffed without running, basically.

Here’s a good example of how to deadlift from Nova Gym Videos – no thrash metal background music either.

Next up was squats with a 20kg bar on my back. Tough towards the end.

And then lying on one of those big fitness ball things pushing up two 7kg dumbbells – with Adam behind me to keep me steady and watch I don’t drop one on my head.

I did a load more stuff too in circuits with reps of three – bosu ball work, kettlebells, jumping on and off steps, pull ups (but not my whole bodyweight)…

Weirdly energising, considering I ache already – let’s see if I think it’s fun tomorrow.

Change is as good as a rest

I’m having a bit of a change to my running training.

Rather than see Adam for crack of dawn training sessions on Sundays in the park, I’m going to do strength and conditioning training with him in the gym on a weekday evening instead. I know, the gym, but that’s where the weights are. He can’t get it all in the back of the car.

Strength and conditioning – makes me sound like a show pony doesn’t it 😉

The plan is to build my body strength to make my running more efficient. It also means I can do long runs at the weekend and not try to push them into a weekday evening.

I’ve been having a long think about the Manchester 10k. It just wasn’t quite what I expected but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on racing, just maybe look for a different kind of race and accept the big ones for what they are – entertainment fundraisers. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to do them, but I am going to do them differently.

Anyway, first session of strength training with Adam, tomorrow after work, I’ll let you know how I get on.

I’ve got half an eye on a half marathon in the Autumn, but shhh… Secret just now.

Last tempo run before Manchester 10k

If being dedicated to the cause could make you faster I’ll be whipping round that course next Sunday like a rocket.

Text from Adam yesterday:
‘Hi Deana, are we still ok for our very early start tomorrow? I’ll have to be in Bolton for 7 so it would mean starting at 6.15. That’s no problem for me, i just wanted to check with you.’

Text from me:
‘That’s fine with me, see you then. Appreciate the early start commitment.’

Text from Adam:
‘ No probs, I think it’s work a good-paced run before you taper off a little through the week in prep for Sunday.’

So, there I was, at 5am, mixing protein shake. At 5.45am I was out the door and by 6.15am we were warming up. Pretty gorgeous out there this morning.

wood path to Whythenshawe Park

Check out that early morning light

Trees at whythenshawe park

Look up, so beautiful

We did a 4.2 mile circuit at a fair lick, just enough to make me wheeze, just on the edge of uncomfortable, but not full-pelt sprint. We did this loop a few months ago and I’d had to walk some of it and i felt much stronger so much more pleased, though i had the strangest feeling someone else had been running with us that day, which can’t be right.

Anyway – round in 43 mins, 40 secs which means I’m running at 10.30 pace which is pretty good.

Quite pleased, frankly. I know I want to do an hour, but you know, it’s the taking part that counts and goodness knows I’ve put the miles in. And the weight training in. And the Grid sessions in.

So this afternoon. An hour’s yoga and some more hip rolling. And then a couple of paced, but nothing sprinty runs during the week. 🙂

Nervous, but prepped – and that’s all you can do.

Feather in the dewy grass

Delicate little feather in the dewy grass – I’m being all metaphoric here! 😉


Greetings from bingo wings on fire world

Running training with Adam in the gym tonight.

Circuits of:
* lunges swinging 5kg medicine ball from one side of my body to the other, across the room
* stepping up onto something the height of a coffee table and pushing up 4kg dumbbells over head and then back to shoulders x 12
* swinging a 12kg kettlebell about x 15
* pulling myself up on gym rings x 12

Repeat everything above again and then nice little quarter-mile run on the treadmill at 6.5 mph.

And then repeat three more times and see how wheezy you are on that last run when 2mins 20secs seems forever.

Of course running trainer Adam likes to mix it up so in those starred activities there was also:
* hopping on and off a bench
* press ups off a medicine ball and then lifting it over your head
*squats off a bosu (inner thigh killer) and
* something with one of those big space ball things that made my hamstrings go into spasm (was supposed to work my glutes, what can I say – lazy bot ;))

Those gym rings – you’ve got to love them. There’s something really empowering about pulling up your body and trying to control the rings while the muscles on the back of your arms burn. I mean really burn.

I can pull up my body if I lean back with my feet on the floor. How you actually lift yourself up, feet off the ground, goodness only knows. I will be watching those men in the Olympics with great awe. Nice shoulder muscles too and I smugly note there are no women on these things in the pictures I could find. Guessing any ambitions I may be fostering in this direction maybe pipe dreams, I suspect it’s going to be harder than running 🙂

Running in rotten weather

Firstly, big shout out for iddex today who is running in the Manchester marathon right now in what can only be described as… crap weather.

It’s raining, it’s lashing down. Sometimes it’s sleeting and it’s hideously windy. The man is a real trouper going out in this – I admire his determination, never mind he can actually run 26 miles. The marathon is an incredible feat of mental strength as well as physical endurance. And running in today’s weather he requires gills and fins.

I know how crappy the weather is today because I was out training earlier for an hour.

I have to say my Alpha Me was more interested in staying curled up under the duvet than heading out into sleet this morning.

Along the way I spotted flowers out and I thought, ‘well, if a bluebell can survive in this weather, i probably can’.






And some forget-me-nots

Aren’t they pretty? The weather may be wintery but it’s lovely to see more greenery and there’s something so charming about flowers growing along the pathways.

Running training was a bit full-on today. As I had a weights session on Monday, today was intervals at real pace. An eight-minute mile, two nines, working on form and breath control.

Remember the other week when I did this and I was running 7.5 minute miles? Turned out I’d misunderstood – I was running at 7.5mph pace, but for two-thirds of a mile, not the whole mile. So apologies for giving the impression I’m faster than I am.

We then did some sprints for the last 15 minutes. Apparently I have really powerful acceleration. Adam keeps going on about how strong my legs are now. This is all thanks to squats and lunges, folks. They do form the backbone of my strength training and they definitely pay off. I hated them to start with, but I’ve got the hang of them now I’m stronger, they really are worth persevering with.

My homework: keep doing what you’re doing – one set of intervals, one long run. Don’t up your mileage, don’t do anything new. Steady as we go.