Friday, May 23, 2008

Slippery slopes and all that...

Yup - I was nearly there again...  The slippery slope of being so busy I didn't blog.  But no - I caught myself before I rolled all the way down that hill again.  I'm trying to learn that even though I can't achieve all I set out to do, I could maybe achieve some of it.  So this week I set aside doing, folding and putting away laundry (something that takes up so much of my time that I never want to find out what it adds up to over my lifetime) to e-mail a friend.  And tonight I'm delaying packing for yet another trip to quickly post to my blog and comment on some of your blogs.  Bits and pieces guys - that's how my Rome is going to be built. 

So first - running.  Well - up and down.  After last week I've had a fairly good week.  I ran odds and ends last week (4 here, 3 there) and then 8 on Sunday with Sally.  All fine.  Then went to see osteo who was happy and gave me some exercises and told me to come back in 2 weeks.  Went out for a blissful 5 on Tuesday morning at 5:30 am - birds tweeting, sun shining, knees not-paining - life was good.  Then went out for 3 on Wednesday and ah.  Could feel those darned things.  Took yesterday off and ran a cautious 2M today which went fine.  For some reason some runs just seem to set something off and then it takes me days for the pain to fade.  But fortune hasn't completely deserted me - before you wonder - because coming out of my office for lunch with a friend I ran into another friend who is a physio.  She knows about my knees but I've never gone to her because I felt kind of funny about asking a friend - I thought it would be awkward if it didn't help.  But she was so open and thoughtful and then said - as an aside - that she had been practising acupuncture for 10 years and found it very useful for knee pain when other treatments weren't completely succesful.  I was amazed!  I had found the first practitioner who didn't just practise one thing!  I always think of physio as being quite related to standard medicine, whereas acupuncture - which I've never tried before - seems to belong to such a different tradition.  Needless to say, dear readers, I've booked an appointment in 2 weeks.  In the meantime, I'm carrying on seeing my osteopath - the weird things he does to my legs really help, they just don't seem to be able to prevent things from happening again.  

As far as Chicago is concerned, I am still not sure yet.  My osteopath seems confident - I'm going to wait until I see my other friend now and talk to her.  If she too feels that, with a bit of treatment along the way, I can get into marathon-shape, I will go ahead and book a ticket.  

So this, potentially, brings up the matter of training.  Now I've been searching for a program that would suit someone in my particular situation.  I'm (hopefully) in recovery from injury, I'm more focused on running the race than on winning it (ha! fooled ya!  I mean running a PR) and I would just like to make it to the start and finish line in one piece.  Enjoy the run!  So..  In one of of the most recent Phedips Steve read out some race reports (I feel honoured to have heard Jen's directly from her, on a run) but he also mentioned another runner who said he had used a Furman's schedule as he was fighting injury.  As soon as I got back from my run I googled this and after a few misspellings (don't you love it when Google knows what you mean before you do?) I found the website for the Furman FIRST program.  The program is based around the idea that with 3 really targeted (and precisely and ambitiously paced) runs per week (speed, pace and long) and 2 cross training sessions you can run a good marathon.  Their website and book is filled with stories of people who have done extremely well on the program.  Now - as I've said I don't think it's realistic to treat whatever training program I'm aiming for as one to get a PR.  But the 3 days of running a week does appeal to me - my knees just seem particularly prone to trouble when I run back to back days.  I've been enjoying my cross training - particularly the swimming - and in the summer we even have a pool at home that I could use.  I think that, possibly, this kind of program might enable me to get stronger and fitter without risking overdoing the mileage and getting injured again.  So once again my friends, this is where you come in.  What do you think?  what would you do? 

And once you've given that some thought, help me out further - if I do it should I do their beginner's program, their advanced program (which looks like some pretty scary mileage for a low-mileage program) or the runner's world in the middle program?  For all you triathletes out there - do you find your running prowess decreases when you run less and do other sports?  

So there you have it my friends - knees (still) and training programs. A degree of deja-vu, I appreciate that.  I am about to head to Holland for a week (where my parents live and where I used to live) which has always been great running time for me - my parents live in the woods and it is just gorgeous out there.  So here's hoping the good karma of the beautiful nature helps my running.  

And finally - on a sadder note.  I have just been to vist a friend of mine in hospital.  She is very ill indeed - a woman my age, with 3 young children.  She is on a very slow and fragile mend - I will probably be looking after her children for some time in the next few months.  If ever I needed a reminder that my particular problems were of limited significance, this visit did it for me.  I would love to be able to run Chicago, I am determined to go at this with whatever I have, but I will, ultimately, surrender to the universe on this one.  We'll see what happens.  If I can't make this race, there will be others.. 

Love to you all, and good health.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where have I been? What have I been doing? And how are those ^%$&%** knees?

What do you do when you haven't posted for over a month? What DO you do? Or what do YOU do? Maybe it never happens to you. It's happened to me. Do I give you a month's worth of details on my knees, my travels, various domestic issues? Do I give you a shedload of excuses? This is my third stab at this post and I've deleted the other two because they were .. frankly .. boring. I can't believe anyone wants to read something which I'm actually bored writing. So. Short pithy bullet points for your delectation on the month's pertinent topics:
  • Knees. Aah. Not so good at this point in time. After last month's post and all your wise advice I went to see my marathon running osteopath who brought fast relief and got me back on the road. For the past month I've been running shortish runs (3/4M) most days and this has been fine and injury free. However, this Sunday I ran 7M in 2 bursts - 3M at 6:30 in the morning with Sally and 4M at easy pace later in the day. In the evening I could feel my old familiar knee pain. Went to see osteopath immediately on Monday who was surprised at it and surmised it might have been because I didn't stretch after the first run - apparently my legs and kneecaps were very tight. Went out for 4M yesterday which was fine - painfree while running - and will carry on as long as I don't feel any more pain while running. I can still feel it a bit now though..
  • Running friends. Ah! You'll all have seen Maritza and Jen's posts on our lovely run in California last month - can I just tell you how wonderful it was for me? Amazing! After a somewhat white knuckle drive to the reservoir where we'd agreed to meet (I'd flown in from London the day before and was about an hour away from where we were to meet - that hour in the car in busy traffic on the wrong side of the road trying to find my route definitely raised my adrenalin levels) it was so lovely to see these two wonderful runners. Our run was glorious - the environment was beautiful and Jen had only just returned from another victorious marathon in Boston - and our big breakfast afterwards was so much fun. They are wonderful girls and I wish I could run with them more often. More than that - it was nothing like meeting people for the first time, we knew so much about each other and it was great just adding this extra dimension.
  • Everything else? Well everything else is pretty crazy which is why it's been so long. Work is challenging - I have a lot on my plate and I'm struggling to get things done on time. Home life is good but as all parents know, parenthood is rarely without its challenges. I had a fantastic week in California - lovely food (French Laundry, Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe - need I say more) but being away from home for a week requires a lot of organisation beforehand and afterwards (and I called in a lot of favours from my favour bank). Me? I'm a bit so-so at the moment. I'm overloaded and make myself slightly nervous with the anticipation that I will drop balls. Which, unsurprisingly, I do. The recent knee pain is not helping my mood.. I feel guilty at all that is being left undone at the moment (which includes posting and commenting on all your blogs - apologies! and I will make up for it.)
  • Chicago. Aahh. Well... If I were going to do a 20 week programme, I would have to start in 10 days. I want to go - I spent some of my time in California with Jeff and Brian who were such great support last time and with whom I will be staying this time. I really really really want to run with all of you who are coming out there. I just don't know whether this most recent physical upset is a blip - a reminder to take stretching, warming up and cooling down seriously - or an indication that there is something more fundamental that I need to be working on. What I am doing is trying to get 20M in this week (not all in one go, I hasten to add, 5 x 4M runs), and to try and do a very gentle, properly warmed up longer run 8M at some point. I will see how I feel after that and continue to consult with my osteopath. If I do go ahead I think I will have to be sensible and choose a fairly low mileage plan - Hal Higdon's beginner, for example - and gain some fitness with weekly swimming sessions. The alternative is to NOT do a 20 week plan but to pick a shorter program - 16 or even 12 weeks - again with fairly low mileage and to use the "extra weeks" to see whether I can really get to the bottom of this knee pain. I guess either strategy is not that different .. I'm not quite at the start line yet. At some point in the next month I am going to have to jump and buy a ticket - I will let you know how things progress.
Till soon my friends - having given you this update I feel like I've ticked at least one thing off my to-do list and I can now get on with blogging again. Again - apologies for my absence - please do not mistake it for not caring. I'm not quite sure whether I'm waving or drowning at the moment...