48% of girls saying getting sweaty is not feminine. Be proud of your sweat. Be in the 52%

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Use it or lose it. That’s how the mantra goes.

But what you don’t hear often enough is that too much ‘using’ can make you lose  it as well, unless that is, you look after yourself.

The downside is that this means incorporating stretching into your routine, become friends with the foam roller and golf ball for myofascial release and getting the odd sports massage or physio. All of these cost time and money (unless you have a handy sports masseuse as a friend) and worse still, causes a considerable amount of discomfort which can make it easy to find an excuse not to do it. I’ve been adding all the above to my daily and weekly routine but my legs are resolutely tight and causing me issues and my trainer gave me a ticking off for not doing enough. So, I will have to up the time, increase my pain threshold…it hurts my quads sooo bad…and finally I must bite the bullet and actually ATTEND a yoga for runners class rather than just write on it on every ‘to do’ list I ever write.

Do you find the foam roller staring at you feeling unloved in the corner of your room or are you a fanatic about muscle hygiene?

Can you tell I have leg problems?

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Can you tell I have leg problems?

Since fracturing my leg almost exactly a year ago I have been beset by injury. Wearing a boot for two months impacted the way I walked, creating new strains and stresses over the rest of my body. I lost a significant amount of muscle on my left side so my balance sucks. For about 4 months towards the end of 2013 I kept on spraining my ankle because it was so weak, I’d managed two weeks of exercise then have to go back to rest again.

All of this has taught me the importance of muscle hygiene. I now foam roll most nights and release the muscles in my feet with a golf ball whilst watching the evening news. It’s become a bit like brushing my teeth – an automatic thing I do. Now it is almost April and I’ve been running pretty solidly since the new year. I’ve got lots of races lined up and I’m loving being back on the pavements of my city. The only niggles now are my lower legs, which I’m hoping are just that. For now I will carry on the foam rolling and keep the mileage low and cross fingers they will sort themselves out.


The Day The Running Stopped

Me, a stress fracture and an aircast boot.

Me, a stress fracture and an aircast boot.

I truly never appreciated being able to run until I couldn’t do it. I loved running but I took it as a given. Other than the twisted ankle, slight pull or tight IT band I hadn’t suffered a real injury.

This year has been a lesson in understanding the frailty of my body and the discipline it takes not only to get my fitness back but the patience you need in order to do so too.

Without any experience of real injury I assumed my slightly bruised and sore outer ankle was as a result of a knock or bump and ran a half marathon on it. Most runners will tell you that they run on a niggle and is usually sorts itself out during the run, the kind of niggle that presents itself on or just before race day is often psychosomatic – the manifestation of pre race nerves. By mile 6 I knew my ankle was hurting more, not less and this wasn’t a phantom pain brought on by expectation of the event. Sure enough, by mile 9 I was limping heavily as I ran. I told my Dad, who I was running with to run on as I was slowing significantly and ran / walked for the next 3 miles. But just before the last mile on a downhill stretch the pain became too great and I dragged my left foot the last mile like Quasimodo, taking almost 20 minutes to complete that home stretch. When I got home I went through the usual Ice, Compression, Elevation routine but I knew it wasn’t going to be that simple. The next day at 7am I got a cab to A&E. It took two weeks on crutches, X-Rays and CT scans to finally diagnose a stress fracture of my tibia just above the ankle.

It’s been four months since that day and, whilst the pain is no longer there, I’m still not running again. I’ve tried the odd jog of a minute or so and one 10 minute session on the treadmill but otherwise I’ve become expert at researching on the internet what I CAN do in the gym and tried to forget about what I can’t do. To begin with I concentrated on weights – sitting down or kneeling and working on my upper body. Then I progressed to kettle bell swings with a low weight to try and get that cardio feeling back, shallow squats and later the stair master when the boot could come off for a few hours a day (going up stairs was no problem…down was another matter entirely). Once the aircast boot came off altogether I added in HIIT on the cross trainer and walking on a steep gradient on the treadmill and in the last three weeks I started squatting with weights on the smith machine and working my legs with free weights and the machines in the gym. Whereas before I only used one or two areas of the gym I can now say I use the entire gym…even the free weights room that is usually the preserve of the guys.

I can’t pretend I haven’t been mightily pissed off at times – I get jealous when I see people running outdoors and I really miss Crossfit, especially the social side of having people to work out with. On the plus side however I have begun to understand so much more about fitness training as I had to seek out exercises I could do. I have discovered a weird admiration for the stair master and my arms are definitely more defined than they were back in the beginning of April when they took a back seat to running  and running and more running. I can’t work out to the same intensity these days and I’m longing for and dreading my first proper run because what if I get injured again? After this experience I think that fear will always be in the back of my mind, but maybe it’s a good thing and will stop this ever happening again. Here’s to hoping!