I’m Back!

I’ve thought about it (for several whole minutes) and decided that, seeing as there is nothing actually wrong with my foot I can get back to running. Shocker, I know. I was surprised too, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I don’t make the rules. I’m doing the stretches from the physio and my foot is mechanically sound, so why the devil not?

I decided to do a tester run yesterday, my first in over two months. I did my stretches, warmed up, and put on my game face.

I did 5 miles and didn’t die. I’ll take that.

I’ve been stiff all over today. Every time I got out of my truck it took me several paces to get back to walking naturally. But the main thing is my foot hasn’t flared up.

Few days later…

I’m properly back at it now. Four days, three runs. I am trying my best to show restraint and ease myself back into it. I even tried looking for a “returning to running from injury” plan, but that was “15 minutes brisk walk, rest” etc. I’ve had two months off, I’ve not forgotten how to put on foot in front of the other. I looked up a “first marathon” training plan, I figured that would take me from couch to distance nice and gradually, but that was “15 minutes jog, 2 days rest”, give me a break! What I’ve decided to do is gently increase my distance until the end of January, to build a base of fitness, then start on the training plan from my Advanced Marathoning book. The “long” run on the first week of that plan is only 11 miles. I could do that now, but my plan is to do 6 days a week of modest running for 5 weeks, then start.

I started the other day with a 9.10 m/m 5 miles, then the second day I was understandably stiff and done in. I set off for an easy 3 miles, and 9.10 was all I could manage. I was a bit quicker on the second mile, then I saw another runner and did the last mile in 8.10. If I can do an 8.10 after two months off, having inhaled all the calories, on battered legs from my first run, I have been coasting these last 10 years. I went out yesterday for a 5 miler and the same thing happened. Slow, faster, faster, runner! Faster, ended up with a 7.40 m/m. OK, it was stupid and overloading my legs on what is supposed to be a gentle return to running, but it demonstrates that I’ve not been pushing anywhere near hard enough in the past. No more! My new year’s resolution for 2022 is a sub 3. It’s going to mean going all in, and everything else is going to have to be a far distant second place in my priorities, but if I can do 7.40 off the bat, I reckon I do it.

I’ve seen a very boring marathon on the 20th of November, it’s just running around a 2½ mile tarmac race circuit at Oulton Park. But it’s the end of the year, so it gives me maximum time to train, it’s a closed loop on (presumably) a flat bit of tarmac, and it’s only 20 miles away.

I know (thanks to that article on women ultra athletes/ what men do wrong) all the things I need to get right, and I have a plan to follow to do it. The Advanced Marathoning plan is 23 weeks long, so I’ll work back from my race date, have one complete cycle (up to the race) and however many weeks of the plan I can fit in before that.

This time I’m going to do it right. 80/20 training, (80% in heart rate zone 2 -gently jogging-, and 20% zone 5 which is flat out sprint repeats), with consistency and discipline. No more “I’m going for a 5 mile run” one mile later “10 mile run” another mile “half marathon, PB”. No more letting pride make me chase after another runner when I’m doing an embarrassingly slow Z2 run. Discipline. No more distractions, tri or ultra.

The thing with 80/20 is, both bits are awful. Z2 is hard to not go for it, and Z5 is just hard. But again, I’ve had a revelation. Doing the “work until fail” tests on the pushbike, I have about 30 second bouts at the end when I have to control panic as I’m literally on my knees and no matter how much air I gasp in I can’t get enough to breathe. It’s really, really nasty. I feel sorry for people with asthma, if that’s what’s it like. My revelation though, is that I’ve never felt like that when running. Ergo, I’m not pushing hard enough.

I know it sounds extreme, and indeed it is, but it’s just a feeling of panic. I won’t die from it. And it’s a definitive benchmark. If I hit that on sprint repeats I know I’ve done all I can, I’ve not got a single atom of effort left in reserve.

Talk is cheap, now I have to put my money where my mouth is. It’s going to be hard and painful, but I am really looking forward to it! If the physio’s exercises can keep me moving, this is going to be great. And once I’ve cracked sub 3, I can smash any marathon’s Good For Age category. The capital city marathons are oversubscribed, so they allot places by lottery, unless you earn your place by proving a GFA time.

For me it’s not so much the race (I’ve never wanted to do London until everyone on Twitter was bleating about not getting in on the lottery) it’s more about proving I can earn it. I quite fancy Berlin. If we are ever allowed to escape this Covid death pit island.

In other news I am quietly pleased with my shopping restraint. A few weeks ago I decided enough was enough with getting splattered and sprayed on my ‘winter’ pushbike. I’ve tried different mudguards, but there is no way to mount them. The obvious, and very tempting, solution is to buy a shiny new, made for the job, pushbike. With mudguards. Which can take skinny, rock hard, tyres in the summer, softer, fatter tyres in the winter.

I resisted and bought fatter tyres for my road bike. They fit the wheel fine. And in the frame fine. But are wedged solid against the mudguards. Grrrr. I could buy that shiny new bike, we can easily afford it. No. I looked at what tyres and mudguards the new bike can take. I’ve already got the tyres, so I’ve ordered the new mudguards. If they fit on my current bike then I’ve saved buying a new bike. If not, I can buy the bike knowing I tried everything else first, and the tyres and mudguards will fit straight on, so I’ve not lost anything.

As soon as I have a solution I can sell off the bike (s) that are left.

The bike is just for my commute to work, so I don’t want to spend loads if I can help it. Well,I do, but I won’t.

Work has been a huge relief this year. Last year at this time I was just starting, so everything was new to me, I was stressed out with driving rigids, doing mulitdrop, long hours and chaos at all the depots. I’ve been quietly dreading it all year. It wasn’t until last week that I suddenly realised I was about to get my shifts for actual xmas week and I haven’t been overwhelmed or stressed out. Yay!

Oh, I forgot to mention, when I did that ride to the physio in the pouring down rain I wore my proper motorbike boots as they are easier to take off to show him my foot. The review of them said “although they are not marketed as waterproof boots we have reports of them working fine.” There’s a reason they are not marketed as waterproof boots, mate. It’s called the trade descriptions act. I had water coming in by the time I got to Manc, both feet were wet by the time I got home. Irritating. I’ll try and waterproof them.

I think that’s about it. Just ranting about running. I’m so glad to be back at it, and hopefully on top of my injury.

Some twitter and I’m done.

I was looking at 1966 bikes (my birth year) and I came across this. As reasons for sale go, it’s a fair one. (Old Brits used to have the brake and gear lever on the opposite sides to what is now standard.)

Later,

Buck.

Physio

I went to see the physio tonight. That in itself was a tale of derring-do. The weather forecast a few days ago was of 20% chance of rain for my appointment at 17.00. By today they’d changed to to 95%. It was awful. Rain, standing water, spray, and horrendous traffic. I ended up running late so I was forced to fly through the traffic even in less than ideal braking conditions. Also much reduced visibility as my glasses were misting up. It was a bracing ride.

Anyway, made it, if five minutes late. I sent Wendy a text (“Alive”), as she was sure I was going to die on the way.

The Physio, Adrian, then asked me a bunch of questions, then mauled me for an hour and 20 minutes. It turns out my left calf is 1½cm smaller than my right, I have some numbness on my left foot, and he isolated the pain by twisting my foot then raising my leg. Twisted, fine. Twisted and raised, sore.

He thinks it’s a trapped or damaged nerve. Either in my knee, bum, or lower back. Most likely it’s my knee as it started just after that time the back end of my motorbike slid round in the wet and I slammed sideways into a van. He said the direct impact could have damaged the nerve. It seems the smaller calf could be due to less signal or blood flow (or something. It was a symptom of nerve issues and it made sense at the time, but now I’ve forgotten.) As is the numbness and the fact that the pain only kicks in when the nerve is stretched.

He has given my 3 easy exercises to try to loosen up the nerve. If that fails I have to try and get a conductivity test at the hospital. Just like testing an electrical circuit. Jab needles in each end of the nerve and pass a current through each stretch, where a circuit loses current you’ve found the problem. That sounds like a whole heap of fun.

The good news is there is no structural damage to my foot. The foot pain is a symptom, not the cause.

I don’t know if a trapped nerve/nerve damage is better or worse, in terms of healing. But at least it seems to be the right answer. He said the pushbiking inflaming it could just be overextending my foot in the stroke. I’ll try and adjust my bike position. He said that pushbiking should actually be good for me. I had got my eye on a rev and rip scooter for riding to work. Automatic gears so just twist the throttle, completely rest my hoof.

Look at it!

113cc of pure adrenaline! 55mph with a tailwind! 130mpg! The latter is genuinely impressive in anyone’s book. Ah well.

After all that I went to pay him. Wendy’s mate has a physio and he charges £80 per hour. I was thinking at least that, but if it sorts it once and for all it’s well worth it. He said “I usually charge £20, is that alright?”

I said “Is that it? You’re undercharging!”

He said “I hear that a lot, but I also hear people glad they can afford a private physio.”

What an outstandingly good egg!

I am contractually obliged to point out he had Christian fish symbols.

I got all excited this morning thinking about a future in which I could run again. I read one article that said that for a sub 3 hour marathon you should be looking at 60 miles per week running.

Camille Herron, a running legend I follow on twitter, has just broke her own American Women’s 100 miles track record. Running around a race track at 8.01 m/m. For 100 miles! She’s 39 years old and ran 100 miles in 13.21:51

Most ultra runners run/walk/run/walk. She straight up ran for 100 miles. Astounding.

Anyway, my point was going to be, I looked up her training regime, she’s run 100 mile every week for the last 12 years. That’ll get you fit, right enough.

I got to thinking. I could, just, fit in a 60 mile week. Even around some 12 hour shifts. It is a matter of, as one motivational book asked, “how badly do you want it?”

I managed a 3 hours 30 marathon on random training, just going for it. If I could heal, be structured and consistent in my training, I could easily batter a sub 3.

If (and it more of an *IF!*) I can heal my hoof I’m going to commit. One goal. I’ll sack off the Leeds 24 hour race for this year and not enter any triathlons. Just running. I’ll ask the agency to try and get me short shifts (no longer than 10 hours) and try to train 6 days a week. Everything else will have to play second fiddle.

The physio was quite impressed with me other than my injury. He said bend over and touch your toes, so I put my hands flat down. He asked if I was double jointed, as that causes a bunch of problems, said no, I used to do martial arts, kept up with the stretching. He was well chuffed with me. He said so many people come to him from sitting behind a desk and he has to sort out their flexibility before their issues.

The other bit of good news is I bought a blood pressure reader to see if I had low blood pressure. I’ve tested it a bunch of times and it says I’m “ideal”. Not in the “average” range, “ideal”. Go my blood pressure! So my other issues aren’t down to that.

Right, that’s it. Just wanted to vent my motorcycle-y trauma and rant about a possible return to running.

One other thing, Adrian asked me what the qualifying Good For Age (GFA) time is for the London marathon. I said I thought it was 3.05. I’ve just looked, now I’ve turned 55 it’s 3.20.

I ran the Chester marathon in 3.30 even though I blew up with a knee injury and lost loads of time at the end. If I can get injury free and get my fitness up I can do that even if I stop for a fag break!

Definitely that’s it.

Later,

Buck.

Changes.

I was trying to keep my fitness up and maybe start to build towards triathlon fitness next year by doing bike work and exercises while I rest my hoof. It’s been nigh on two months of no running and my foot is still tender. Not actually painful, but not nothing, like my right foot. So as soon as I return to running I know it’s going to flare up again. I’ve stopped the bike training and exercises to try and fully rest it. I still cycle into work, but it’s only 2.6 miles each way, that’s hardly anything.

I was beginning to think no matter what I did it was never going to heal. Then one of my friends on Twitter said I should see the physio. I had a lot of email advice from him for free during lockdown, but that can’t compare with a proper, physical, examination. It’s a great idea. I’ve emailed him and I’ve got an appointment for next Monday. It’s 17.00hrs in Stockport, so I’m going to have to go on the motorbike. Rush hour traffic around the M60 (Manchester ring road) is atrocious. Hopefully that will put me on the road to full recovery.

I went around to Lisa’s last week, to see my mam. Lisa asked me what it meant when she was braking from speed the car pulled to one side. I said it was probably the tracking was out. (Though, thinking about it, it could just as easily be one brake failing). She is working full time and still can’t afford to live, so I said we’d pay for it. Get it done, it’s dangerous. Then my mam said the brakes feel spongy. Lisa said “Oh yeah, they said the brake pads were nearly worn out at my last MOT”. Spongy is a different thing, probably need the brakes bleeding, but get the pads done as well. Now. We’ll pay for it. “No, it’s alright, I’ll get it done in January when it goes in for the MOT.”

I was talking about it with Wendy today and decided I’d best nag. Lisa hates to take anything off of you, but it’s just not safe, especially as we’re supposed to be getting snow and gales again tomorrow. I text her and said ‘book it in, tell them you want these 3 jobs doing, we’ll pay.’

She text back, she’d been to pick Nath up from work, just got off the motorway (luckily), went to brake and had nothing. She pumped the brake and just about managed to avoid smashing into the car in front.

She’s booked it into the garage and isn’t using it.

Bloody hell, Lisa!

(Update: the garage has fixed it all and she’s safe to drive again.)

In other news, I’ve not had any plague weakness for a few weeks, which is great. Quite possibly it is that post viral fatigue thing: you do a bit, you get wasted.

At work, I’ve wanted to get trained on the tugs (shunt units) for a while. When I’m over at the Rail Terminal I have to shunt in a road unit (which are not very good for the job) because I’m not trained for the tug.

Last week they sent a text asking if anyone was off work and would like training. I didn’t have any work on the Wednesday so I went in for a few hours training. It’s harder than you think. I’ve got the hang of the coupling, lifting that huge fifth wheel arm, and uncoupling drills, but the tugs have so much power they drive in tickover. And the steering is so sensitive. On a road unit it’s huge turns, spinning the steering wheel around, on these it’s delicate inch turns. I was really struggling with my reverse. Which is basically the job, if you’re shunting.

I got a text off the agency earlier asking if I could swap for an earlier start tomorrow, shunting. Gulp. 05.30. OK, I’ll do it, you’ve got to be rubbish at some point, by the end of tomorrow I’ll have cracked it. And being an ungodly o’clock start I’ll be home in time for afternoon naps. They sent me the details. 05.30-18.00. Oh. Another victory for my cunning. I’m going to get some grief tomorrow, but by the end of the (very long) day, I should have it down. I was just thinking I’d be trained so I could do the odd shunting duty at the rail terminal, which is an easy day. Shunting at my base depot is full-on working. Huh, another one I didn’t think through.

(Edit: Day after. Well, that was fun. I’ve only ever seen our depot from a driver’s point of view. It gets pretty frantic at this time of year. I was scared it was going to be mad busy, dodging in out of drivers, trying to get trailers on and off the bays all day. Not a great way to learn the ropes. As it turns out, it’s so busy there isn’t much for the shunters to do. The drivers are coming in with trailers to put on the bays and looking for empties to take off. I did 12½ hours and must have moved less than 30 trailers. It was cold and boring, but at least it wasn’t stressful. And I’m over my fear of shunting. I’ve was worried about using the mic and the steering on the tug. Not a problem. The steering is that fast you can start to get the trailer on to the bay from virtually any position, then just straighten it up, job’s a good ‘un.)

I’ve been window shopping again for a winter hack. No real plans to buy anything, but I like looking.

I came across this beast:

It’s an 1100cc, early 80s, naked, Goldwing. I have a soft spot for the big, ugly, beasts. But it’s been stood for “a number of years” since “starter motor” issues. And he wants a grand for it. Cheap for the bike, but it’s a total pig in a poke. Without a starter motor you can’t even turn it over. And I’m not confident in my repair skills. Also, it’s absolutely the wrong bike for winter commuting. Imagine trying to lift that up if you came off in the snow! No!You can’t make me get it!

I was having issues with the concept of pride, as pertains to other people’s achievements primarily, but the concept as a whole. I looked it up on Wikipedia. It still doesn’t make much sense, but I liked a wry aside “…pride could also be defined as a lowly disagreement with the truth.” Hahaha, nice.

Right, I’ve got to be up at 04.20, I’d better finish and hope I can sleep.

Some twitter and I’m done.

The tories have introduced a new, level playing field system for paying for retirement care. The poor get to subsidies the rich. As usual.

Some helpful advice now that masks are mandatory in shops again. (Not necessary in pubs when you are drunk and hugging people and telling randomers you love them. That’s perfectly fine.)

Later,

Buck.

As a PS, I was off today. I’ve been having issues with my winter pushbike. It’s got huge (38mm wide), low pressure (35psi) tyres. (As opposed to my road bike which has 25mm tyres that are rock solid at 110psi.) This makes riding it fast a bit challenging, but it puts lots of squidgy rubber down to grip the road in case of icy patches. I really don’t want to break my shoulder again. The downside is it’s designed as a cyclocross/ gravel bike, and apparently it would be uncool to not be splattered in mud so there are no mounting points for mudguards. I’ve managed to fit some rudimentary clip on ones, but I’m still getting sprayed. I bought a set of mudguards before realising there were no mounting points. I bought another set that clip on by mounting through the holes in the frame. There are no holes in the frame.

I am sick of getting sprayed, and I don’t want to fall off on the ice. I was one click away from buying a new pushbike that is mudguard and fat tyre compatible, that way I could change to skinny high pressure tyres in the spring, fat, low pressure ones in winter. One bike all year round. Just change the tyres over. At the last minute I thought about it. Just change the tyres over. I could do that on my current road bike. There are clearance issues so I’ve compromised on a 33mm, 70psi road tyre. With my new clip on mudguards, and a bit of jerry rigging, that should sort me out.

Who designs a pushbike with no means of mounting mudguards?