Saturday, 12 July 2014


The last couple of weeks have been what can only be described as ‘jumbled’. Half Marathon training was supposed to be worked around Mizuno Endure24, my biggest challenge to date, yet what has happened is well, not much.

In the week leading up to Endure24, as I mentioned in my last training update it was going to be a taper week. I had the time off work also so I spent it concentrating on getting my bike sorted for commuting and also seeing my fiancé, who had returned from a work trip.

By the time Endure24 came, I was energised and relaxed and managed to run four strong laps in the most horrific weather conditions (read my full review on the event HERE). The last lap was my toughest and I started to get a very familiar pain in my right knee. This was the sort of pain I had suffered a year previous and straight away I knew it was the dreaded return of the irritated ITB.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) first became a problem for me last September and came across in a weekend training run when I was running up a hill on Hampstead Heath. A very annoying, tight pain could be felt in the knee joint and for a good couple of weeks, I tried various stretches at home for knee related injuries. It wasn’t until I attempted a fast track session and pulled out in agony that my coach informed me that it was in fact not my knee but my Illiotibial Band I had triggered. Where the band runs from the pelvis and extends down over the knee, it has become almost ‘taught’ and was rubbing again my knee, causing inflammation and aches.

I was prescribed new stretches and a daily dose on a foam roller (at the time I used a Sprite bottle which works just as well!) and after a month or so, the pain decreased and eventually stopped. I did have to pull out of St Neots Half Marathon as that was at the peak of my ITB problems but I did manage to attempt Cabbage Patch 10 in a reasonable, yet slightly painful, 1.20.

So, going back to Endure24 on my final lap when that all too familiar knee ache kicked in, I knew exactly what I needed to do. This time, I have invested in a foam roller and have spent the last fortnight putting the right pressure on my ITB to almost loosen and relax the tension.

The week after Endure24, I did no running what so ever but I did start my cycling commute to work. I saw this as a great alternative for exercise and is less invasive on my knee than running. I also managed to squeeze in an evening at the local swimming pool so by Friday I was feeling ok(ish). 

Oh how I jinxed it.

Friday evening, my fiancé and myself took a nice evening walk after a meal out. During this walk (where I was wearing supportive trainers may I add), a searing pain appeared in the side of my left foot. This baffled me as I was merely strolling along a flat path but the feeling was very uncomfortable. I thought I may have trapped a nerve so went to bed that night thinking the pain would have subsided by the morning.

That weekend, I had another challenge to face in the form of the tough and very muddy obstacle course, Insane Terrain. Waking up on the Saturday and still feeling the dull, continuous ache in my foot I was a bit dubious about tackling this 10K course. After studying my foot for signs of swelling or bruising, to which there was none, I tried to shrug it off and ignore it. Travelling up to Peterborough, where Insane Terrain was taking place, I took some Nurofen to numb the pain slightly but by the evening, it has returned stronger. My friends Mum who is a nurse looked over it and after massaging it could feel a lot of tension and suggested that I drop out of the event on Sunday. I was gutted as my best friend had bought my place for my birthday and I felt awful letting her down, so the next morning we decided to opt for the 5K course and take it slow. Her Mum & Aunt were also taking part so it felt more of a team effort.

I won’t go into too much detail on Insane Terrian here as a Race Rundown will follow but I can reveal that it was actually a lot of fun. Despite crossing the line and smelling like a swamp, we were all in fits of giggles and actually, running it together proved to be more entertaining. The ankle held up, especially as I drugged myself with Nurofen again and even though I felt a bit battered from the course, I was still smiling.

This last week I have managed two runs and another full week of cycling to work and back. By Tuesday the foot and knee were feeling much better and were almost a distant ache and so I opted to go for a 5K. I don’t know if all this cycling is tiring me out or its where I haven’t ran properly for a couple of weeks, but I felt shattered! I managed an average of 8.15 minutes per mile but boy was it tough! The aches from my ITB also made a presence in the last 2K, signaling that perhaps my struggles weren’t gone for good.

On Thursday, I really wanted to head to my weekly track session as I had missed so much these last couple of weeks. Conscious that my strength and speed have suffered, the urge to go back out that, guns blazing is too fierce. However, my knee niggles weren’t far from my mind and instead of tackling a fast session with my club mates, I opted to go home and do my own speed session up on Ally Pally.

Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) is a great place for fellow North London runners to head if they want to get a good training run in. If you want a run with a challenge, there is the big climb up to the Palace which gets the heart rate working but there is also a great flat straight if you want to concentrate on faster, shorter sessions.

This quiet pathway measures almost 400m so I find it is a great alternative to track training and the quietness and nature of the park is, to me, rather therapeutic. After a half mile warm up to the park, I did some drills before carrying out a session of 2x 800m at 5K followed by 4x 400m hard. It felt tough and when I got down to the 400m, the knee just about held up but I could definitely feel it was still hindering my performance. I then finished with a run home to complete 5K.
My splits confirm a loss in speed but I was surprised I managed to keep this pace despite everything that has unraveled these past few weeks. The half marathon training schedule on the fridge that I try to follow religiously is lacking in activity and I am worried how this will all contribute to my half marathon in September. I really don’t want a repeat of St Neots again and so I have decided to take it easy until my ITB has fully repaired. Injury, which I guess this is, is only temporary and half marathons can be run again and again. Whilst I am pining so bad for that glorious sub 1.45, keeping my body in correct working order is far more important.

For now, it’s all about getting in to the rhythm of cycling to work and introducing mileage over slower speeds. The less impact on my knee the better and so I hope to integrate some swimming sessions into my weeks (if work commitments allow) to help repair and build my ITB. I know what I can achieve and if I cannot reach that point at the moment, I know that one day, I will eventually reel back in my target pace.

This motivational message basically sums it up for me.

Lipstick Runner.

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