Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Plantar Fasciitis

Well, as I suspected, the diagnosis is Plantar Fasciitis. I hope that I have caught it early enough that it will be treated without too much disruption to my racing and training plans.
It is difficult to know what has caused it but I think it is a combination of increased mileage, shoes that need replaced and my rather complex biomechanics as a result of having big flat feet. The main treatment is going to be to replace my road shoes which will hopefully help and then to treat with ice and massage.
I'm going to keep running although on a reduced mileage and see how it feels and I am still planning on running the Wuthering Hike in a couple of weeks so that should give me a good test of how the repair is going. I've got the Mighty Deerstalker the following week so the racing season is well and truly upon us and, injury aside, I can't wait to get into it.
If anyone has any tried and tested miracle cures for plantar fasciitis, don't keep them to yourself.

Friday, 20 February 2009

and it had all been going so well

Training has been going well with me averaging about 50 miles per week and maintaining some good consistency. I had completed a 31 mile run three weeks ago and was planning another long run of about 38 miles next week, prior to my first race of the year at the Wuthering Hike in mid March.
However, for the last couple of weeks or so I have been getting pain around the base of my heel which was only fleeting and once I got going didn't seem to bother me. It has however been getting steadily worse and was particularly sore last night after a run and this morning.
My fears are that it is plantar fasciitis and after a bit of googling this morning it seems to fit the symptoms exactly.
I have an appointment with my Physio on Monday so we'll see what she says and take it from there but it certainly looks like I'm going to have to take some time out to allow it to recover.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tears before bedtime

Big boys don't cry - do we? We grit our teeth and stand up straight, we may wince and whine but tears? - never!

Having three young children, I am used to the world of sobs. The reasons for them can vary from the skinned knee to the stolen teddy and their intensity can range from quiet tears to screaming like a banshee!

I'm sure that when I was small, I shed my fair share of tears for very similar reasons but as you get older, the reasons become fewer and your tear ducts start to dry up. We all still have our moments, sadly as a result of some form of bereavement, when our emotions come to the fore and we are able to cry and display the inner pain we feel.

We have all witnessed the nauseating spectacle of X Factor winners sobbing their way through winning songs or the despair of a loosing side in a crucial match but these are "other" people, not us, not me. Their emotions are fragile and easily exposed mine are hidden away, deep down........usually!

What is therefore about an event like the West Highland Way Race that changes all that? Last year (my first year) I had been struggling from about Kinlochleven and had been walking / running as best I could over those last miles. As I went through the Braveheart and onto the pavement into Fort William I started to run again. I was joined by both my brothers who were acting as support runners, my eldest son and my father and we all ran in towards the finish. By the time I reached the end of the Way sign at the roundabout, the tears were running down my face and as I pushed open the doors of the leisure centre I only managed to mumble my number to the marshall, scared to try and talk as I knew I wouldn't be able to get any words out.

My stiff upper lip had quivered uncontrollably and if you read through the many race tales on the WHW Race website, I am not alone. It is a common recurring theme that the end of such an event is an emotional experience and the barriers that we normaly put up have been broken down by the excertions of the previous hours.

It is not only runners who experience this as this extract from a posting of my brothers on his triathlon clubs website shows:

"We come to the forest car park where we join the road into Fort William, phone calls have been made and the full support crew are waiting. My Dad and nephew join us and we keep moving forward, in heavy rain now, knowing we are into the last mile or so. As we approach the finish Graeme summons from somewhere a last burst of energy and we run into the Leisure Centre and at last Graeme can stop. He sits down, he cries. Someone shouts 24:46 and I realise that’s the finish time, I go over to tell my brother and congratulate him but for some reason I can’t speak so I just shake him by the hand."

I don't know if this year will be any different, perhaps having done it once, the emotions will not be so strong. I think somehow though I'll still find myself blubbing like a baby as the leisure centre comes into view.

Tears before bedtime!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Why do we run?

Why do we run? On the face of it, that's a pretty easy question; to get fit, to loose weight, to meet friends. This really only takes you so far but anyone who has pushed the limits of their endurance or dismissed the throbbing pain of aching muscles to keep pushing forward knows only too well that there is so much more to it than that.
Our reasons for running are as varied as the runners themselves. They can be intensely personal, driven by a whole gambit of emotions but we all have them, deep down inside and perhaps the only time we ever really find out what they are is when we are faced with that decision of whether to take the next step or not.
Ultramarathons hurt. There is no escaping the fact that at some point during a 50 mile race you will want to stop. Your legs will be screaming at you for rest, your energy reserves will have been long since used up and so the easiest, most sensible decision would be to stop. There will be no great disaster that will befall mankind if you decided not to keep going, no-one is going to suffer as a result and your body will get the rest it is crying out for. There is no shame in deciding to say "enough is enough" after all, many people find the thought of running two miles challenging enough so to stop after 40 miles is understandable isn't it? Why then do we keep going?
This is when we look to our own motivations, our own reasons for taking that next step. These are vital in our ability to move forward, to press on and to finish. When you find these reasons, hang on to them. They are yours and yours alone and will mean nothing to another runner as they are what drives you and what makes you the person you are. They are the only source of nutrition that will never be depleted and are what is left when everything else is stripped bare.

I know what makes me run, I know what I cling on to when everything else is saying stop but they are my reasons alone and so I'm not going to publish them here, they would be diluted as as result and I need them to be clear and strong so that when I need them they will there for me. Keep your reasons to yourself, hold them close to your chest or thrust them deep into your pocket so that when the going gets tough and you are faced with that decision of whether to take that next step you can remember why you are there and why the choice will always be to keep going - to keep running.

Monday, 2 February 2009

A long run and a burning sky

Saturday saw my first long run for a while. I decided to go from Drymen to Rowardennan and back, a total of 31 miles which was my first run over 20 miles since October so I wasn't sure how it would all go.

I set off from Drymen at 7:00am in the pitch dark but feeling pretty good and looking forward to the run. As I climbed up through the forest, the sky gradually got lighter and I occassionally glanced back over my shoulder to see any sign of the sun coming up. What I wasn't prepared for was the utterly amazing sunrise that appeared over the period of about 15 minutes just before I got to the bottom of Conic Hill. I kept having to look over my shoulder to see how it was developing and even tried to take a couple of photos with my phone but these do not properly convey the sheer breathtaking view. It is a very humbling feeling to be on your own out in the wilds in the pitch dark and then to have this scene unfolding before you. I can honestly say that at that moment, there was nowhere else in the world I would rather have been.

Up and over Conic Hill and as I was eating some beans in Balmaha carpark I spotted Mags Turnbull getting ready to run to Inversnaid and back. We ran together as far as Rowardennan then went our separate ways. I started to tire on the endless ups and downs along the lochside back to Blamaha but eventually reached the carpark and prepared myself for my second run over Conic Hill. This was the hardest part of the day and as the wind did it's best to blow me off the hill, I put my Ipod on, my head down and pressed on hard until I was over the top. The run down the other side wasn't as bad as I had feared and I managed to keep a reasonable pace all the way back into Drymen, getting back to the car in just over 6 hours.
I am pleased to have got a long run under my belt again and despite the sore legs today, I am eager to plan another one at the end of the month.