Injuries and Gadgets

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Is it possible, as an amateur runner/jogger, to train properly for a marathon and not get injured at sometime during your schedule? I’m beginning to think it isn’t. I’ve run three marathons (I know that isn’t many compared to some!) and each time, as I’ve tried to progress from regular 10k runner to marathon runner,  I’ve managed to pick up some sort of injury that has affected my training plan and therefore influenced my finishing time.

I should make the point here that I wasn’t putting my ‘heart and soul’ into this year’s training. I didn’t get a ballot place (see previous entries on this subject) and I was struggling to find a charity that didn’t want £2k or more raised for their organisation. I appreciate that the London Marathon charge charities for the places and that most charities supply ‘goodies’ like running shirts to their dedicated runners but do they really need £2k raised? I think I have an average number of friends, most of whom are on above average salaries, but I seriously doubt my ability to squeeze that much out of them collectively. I digress.

Despite my reservations about whether I would run this year or not, I was building up my mileage. I’d already run 20k on one of my Sunday long runs and have a place in the Reading Half Marathon in four weeks time. I had still planned, if charities started offering places for smaller pledges as the race got closer, to throw caution to the wind and attempt my fourth London Marathon. Then the inevitable happened…..

About a month ago I started to feel what I thought was a minor groin strain. Like many regular runners I decided to ignore it and hope it would go away. Sadly what started as just a slight irritation that I could screen out if I concentrated on the music or audio book I was listening to turned into a fully fledged pain that didn’t go away after the run or even after taking a rest day. Foolishly, instead of going straight to the doctor, I started researching such pains and Google succeeded in finding all manner of life-threatening illnesses that I might have had. So despite knowing that getting an appointment with my GP was more difficult than running the marathon itself, I booked an appointment to see her during my week off for the children’s half-term.

Thankfully I don’t have any of the exotic maladies thrown up by Google when I searched my symptoms: I actually have an inguinal hernia. Hopefully it will be mended with a minor surgical procedure and, thanks to private health insurance, that will be done relatively quickly. However with only about eight weeks to go to the London Marathon I really can’t see me getting it fixed and recovering in time to get enough distance running in to be certain of completing the 26.2 miles. I have therefore resolved to stay up until after midnight on the relevant day to ensure that I at least have a chance in the 2016 web-based ballot and I may have to re-join my old running club to increase my chances of a ‘runner’s place’. If all that fails I may have to take a charity place after all.

The irony in all of this is that this time the injury I’ve sustained wouldn’t seem to be related to marathon training at all – just old age. So in the meantime, if anyone reading this (Does anyone actually read this far into my blog entries?) has experience of running with an inguinal hernia I’d be grateful for any advice between now and my anticipated operation. It definitely hasn’t affected my fitness or my appetite for running as I ran a post-diagnosis Parkrun PB on Saturday. My GP assured me that running wouldn’t do it any harm but intuitively I am nervous of doing too much until it’s fixed.

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In other news (as they say in the news bulletins) my generous family bought me a Fitbit HR for my birthday yesterday. It is far too early to write a realistic critique of such a complicated gadget fewer than 24 hours after I first put it on but I have to say that early indications are that it is an excellent tool. I have successfully linked the Fitbit website and iPhone App to my use of both Myfitnesspal (for calorie counting) and Endomondo (for exercise). I went for my first run wearing it this morning and it appears to have recorded my heart rate throughout the run and Endomondo has transferred the calories burned to the website and app. So far it also appears to have been monitoring my steps and the floors I’ve climbed. I will give regular updates on how I’m getting on with it on this blog.

Doing the “Green Thing”…..

Checking out at a supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment. The woman apologised to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ in my day.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right and went on to explain:

Back then, we returned milk bottles to the milkman, fizzy drink and beer bottles to the shop we bought them from. They sent them back to the diary or factory to be washed, sterilised and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over again. So, come to think of it, they were recycled.

Grocers bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable, besides household rubbish bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown paper bags.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator or lift in every store and office block. We walked to the shops and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go there.

Back then we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 240 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in those days. Children got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. We didn’t fire up an engine and burn fuel to mow the lawn. We used a manual lawn mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a gym to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

We drank from a water fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we needed a drink of water. We refilled fountain pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt.

Back then, people took the bus and children rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s £50,000 4×4 which costs more than a whole house did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest MacDonalds, Burger King or KFC.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old gits were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off. Especially when a tattooed, multiple-pierced smartass can’t work out how much change to give us without the till telling them the amount.

You know you’ve been cross country running when….

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I should have know it would be muddy when my son’s little league football match in the local park was called off. In fact, I must have had a fair idea of what conditions would be like as I decided not to wear my relatively new running shoes and put on an old pair that I’d worn on a muddy 5k Parkrun some weeks ago and hadn’t got around to cleaning.

So with England apparently destined to lose their opening Cricket World Cup match against Australia and my regular running partner being unable to participate in a Parkrun today, I decided to run a regular 5k route of mine along the banks of my local river the Hogsmill.

The first 2k seemed to pass fairly easily. There was the odd shallow puddle that I had to jump over or skirt around but all-in-all it hadn’t been too bad. So when I got to the half-way mark where I usually turn for home I decided to add a little more distance by looping round and crossing to the opposite bank for my return route. This was a big mistake.

On the other side of the river there were no longer shallow puddles that I could nimbly avoid (those who have seen me run will know that the adverb ‘nimbly’ is probably being abused here). On this side of the Hogsmill there were large quagmires that were impossible to run around and had to been waded through. After the initial shock of the cold muddy water flooding into my running shoes and Endomondo (my running software for those who don’t know) thinking I’d paused my run as I slowed down so much, I did mange the first couple without incident. Then the inevitable happened. As I squelched through a particularly deep patch the suction imposed by the mud on my right shoe exceeded the torque of the shoe laces. I found myself standing on the edge of a mini swamp balancing on my left leg and pondering my options.

My immediate assessment, which later on turned out to be accurate, was that I wouldn’t be able to retrieve the stranded shoe without having to put my unguarded right foot into the mud but I resolved to try. After a couple of abortive attempts and surviving the real possibility of tumbling face first into the closest thing Surrey had to quicksand, I gave up and placed my right foot with only a sock for protection into the muddy slime. As quickly as possible and hoping that nobody was filming the incident for ‘You’ve Been Framed’, I replaced the wet soggy running shoe onto a wet soggy foot and resumed my run.

Needless to say, the shallow puddles I had studiously avoided on the route away from home now served as a welcome opportunity to wash off some of the mud that now surrounded both shoes.

Anyway, I sat down to write this blog as an update on my training for a possible London Marathon attempt this year or next and got carried away by the ‘shoe in the mud incident’. I didn’t get a ballot place because the application places had all been taken by the time I logged onto the website (Note to self: Stay up until midnight next year to apply). I have been looking at the various charities that have places but most want me to raise £2k or more something I’m not sure I could do. I have got my training up to half-marathon distance and have entered the Reading Half on 22nd March but unless there are charities who are desperate to get rid of places and will let me have one for ‘as much as I can raise’ then I fear it will be the Virgin London Marathon 2016 for me (as long as I can stay injury free).