Dealing with setbacks

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My humorous. Not where it’s meant to be.

Nobody’s invincible. We all know that, but it’s easy to forget when you’re on a roll, training is going well, you’re in good health and you have goals that you really can reach, if you just carry on. So when the rug is pulled from under you, what do you do? A few weeks ago, I had just completed an ultra marathon and was heading into training for a road marathon when I fell on a bouncy castle (yes, I know, I’m 40 – my mum has already mentioned this) and dislocated my shoulder.

 

So it’s all change. Ten days in a sling, four weeks with no high-impact or weight-bearing exercise. Sixteen weeks recovery with physio. It would be easy to get down about this. And at times I have been, but the thing that’s most surprising is that it’s actually not that bad. Sure, I had to drop out of the marathon, and not being allowed to drive has been a pain but, overall, I’ve realised that it’s ok.

First obvious problem is training. I was worried I would lose fitness, lose all the hard work I’d put in. But all that hard work is in fact still paying off – if you have incorporated fitness and training into your everyday life, it takes quite a while to lose. And I’m lucky, I’m a PT, so I have devised a couple of zero-impact, cardio and resistance workouts that I’m confident will keep me going while I wait to get stronger.

Second problem is work. I can’t demo new moves, I can’t drive to see clients. After a disastrous morning where I insisted I could walk from client to client with a kettlebell, yoga mat and bag all hanging off one shoulder (the good one), I realised I could ask for help. This can be really difficult, even when people outright offer, when you’re used to doing everything yourself. But the relief when you do and (in my case) don’t have to try to figure out a new non-weights routine for your client, don’t have to get cover for teaching a class… the relief. Look at it this way, if someone you cared about needed help; nothing crazy, just a lift in the car or lending something for a few days, you absolutely would do it! You wouldn’t even think twice about it. Take the help when it’s offered. Ask when you need it.

I guess I’m just advocating positive thinking and positive action. Not a new concept, but certainly a good one. And maybe that marathon would have been a boring one anyway.

 

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Drink up!

I have a drinking problem… I am NEVER properly hydrated. I’m pretty good at drinking coffee, and wine, but water is something I definitely don’t get enough of. I was recently commissioned by netdoctor.co.uk to investigate the role of electrolytes in hydration and what I found confirmed that I need to hydrate more! I’m trying to at least have one electrolyte drink (500ml) per day and any water/herbal tea/cordial I can add to that is a bonus. Have a read on the link below and see what you think – you might be surprised at the facts:

“Do I Need Electrolytes?”

Survivor!

6717749373698048I ran 100km on Saturday.

Oh my, it was TOUGH. I’ve run ultras before, but never quite this far, and those extra few miles really made the difference. Obviously I wasn’t fully prepared (is anyone ever?) but, looking back, I think I’d done a lot of good. I didn’t have a lot of miles in my training, but I’d hammered the Pilates and kettlebell sessions; I’d really researched and experimented with my hydration and nutrition and all was good there, and my kit was well-worn and well-loved. But I guess I just found my limit – after about 54 miles I was mentally so over it. Thank goodness there wasn’t far to go at that point (comparatively) and I was still in fairly good shape – at that point I was oblivious to the blood blisters forming on my toes – so I pushed through to the end and even managed to smile, coming over the finish.

It’s a first for me – I have hurt, cried and felt so, so negative during a race before, but this was somehow different. This went on too long. So I found my boundary. It’s quite an impressive boundary and I am very proud of it, but I feel a bit odd – I’m not indestructible, I do have a limit, and that’s new for me. I don’t think I’m sad about it, I just feel different now. I just know more about myself now.

Here are some pictures of me ignoring the pain.

It’s all about me

I’ve been cultivating this new attitude: stop pressuring myself. When we enter events, we instantly start to feel the pressure – it’s official, you’re going to run or cycle or climb or whatever, on this date, for this distance and you’re going to be measured officially in some way too. And that’s all good in terms of rising to the challenge and improving your sport, but what about the pressure from peers and fellow contestants? And from yourself? Some people thrive on this, and I think I did once, too, but these days I’ve realised I need to re-shape my priorities and stop thinking about stats and stuff.

I’m training for the Race to the Stones ultra marathon at the moment and, rather than beating my best time, I’m just aiming to get there. To start. To enjoy it. Whatever happens after the gun… happens. I’ve done what I can to make my body strong and ready and that’s all I can do. I can’t control conditions, trips and falls, sniffles, hay fever, a bad night’s sleep, so why worry? All sounds very zen, right? It’s pretty hard but I am trying. Enjoying the ride is what I want to do, I don’t want to find myself dwelling what might go wrong. (Obviously, I am dwelling on what might go wrong, but I am trying not to and that’s a good first step.)

I’ll let you know how I get on. But then again, I might not. No pressure, right?

(S)pace setters…

Lyme Regis

End of the road… Lyme Regis harbour

We’ve been to the coast for a long weekend. Escaping our fast-paced city lives for a few days, we were looking forward to lie-ins and copious amounts of wine and seafood. But of course we also took our running gear ’cause, you know, we’re us.

And Day One presented a bit of a problem – the idyllic Lyme Regis beach run had to be nixed because Lyme Regis beach is a pebble beach. Yeah, should’ve checked that. So we headed towards town and found the Cobb wall and harbour on our way. This is a lovely sweeping arc of a pedestrianised walkway right out to the tip of the harbour – perfect for short sprints and a bit of tag-team speedwork. Lots of fun, even if it wasn’t the run we had planned. It got me thinking about having to ‘pivot’ when something gets in the way of your route (closed roads, floods, fallen trees…. pebbles instead of sand). It’s always worth keeping some ideas in your repertoire to adapt as you go, here are some that only need a small area:

  • Run 100 steps fast in one direction. Run 100 steps slowly back to where you started. Repeat 5 times.
  • Choose 6-8 evenly spaced points along the route you have. Sprint past two, walk back one; sprint past two more, walk back one etc. (This is a classic hill exercise so all the better if you have an incline.)
  • For two people: start at opposite ends, sprint towards each other. As you pass each other, go down to a slower, recovery run. When you get to the other end, turn and come back – when you pass each other, go back up to sprint. Keep going, switch from sprint to recovery every time you pass each other. Do high fives if you must.
  • Add in some bodyweight exercises by creating a course (there-and-back, around the perimeter of carpark, whatever) for running; one person runs while the other performs squats. Switch. Do this with lunges, press-ups etc etc.

 

Spring in your step

IMG_20180318_101621_BokehWoohoo! The sun is out! I think this might be for real this time, too. Now is a great time to be outside running/cycling/burpee-ing; whatever floats your boat. I always say that of course, even when it’s snowing (here’s me running last week – was it only last week? – taken by my awesome other half who came along for the run/skate), but I think the combination of bright sunshine and cool temperatures could just be the perfect balance for a positive workout with all the joys of the great outdoors and none of the woes of overheating or freezing your toes off. Plus it’s great for taking selfies.

Keep on track

It’s snowing outside today and I have therefore nixed my idea of a 10k run as I’m in danger of slipping over and injuring myself. That’s sensible, right? But it’s easy to now make another pot of coffee and carry on my day without doing a thing. This is where we all fall down at some point or another I think – one good, legit reason not to do something has the potential to have a domino effect and ruin all our hard work thus far. So how to stop it? I’m a big fan of HIIT (high intensity interval training) – you can do it ANYWHERE and 20 minutes is enough. So if you can’t go out, clear a space in your living room/spare room/kitchen, wherever, and try this:

Press-ups
High knees
Tricep dips
Burpees
Crunches
Jumping alternate lunges

Do your best to complete 45 seconds of each, with a 15 second rest between. This is the goal so if you can’t do that yet, modify with going more slowly, reducing the time (30 secs with 20 sec rest for instance), making it easier (eg. press-ups off knees) until you can complete the circuit properly. Then do it again; do it three times, in fact. Then brag to social media about just how damn dedicated you are. And done!

(Find examples of all these exercises on YouTube if you’re unsure.)