What the Physio said…

It’s not everyday that you get a free consult from a physiotherapist that provides answers you just didn’t realize you needed.

Last week, I visited old Running Junkie friend, Francis, at her practice, Francis and Terry Rogan Physiotherapists, for something non-injury related.

I replied to her “How are you?” opening line with a casual, “Agh, my knee is niggling me.” I went on to explain my dilemma:

  • I was registered to run the Edenvale half marathon on Sunday.
  • I really wanted to run a 21km before Two Oceans. More for mental prep than physical to be honest.
  • I had been trying to increase my weekend long run mileage and had planned to up it to 15kms for the month of March.
  • I worried that my knee wouldn’t make 21.1kms. It’s been uncomfortable and weak with bursts of pain under the knee cap whenever I walked down stairs of drove my car.
  • So I’ve been Googling ways to strengthen my knee so that I would ready on Sunday.
  • I’ve listened to some of a couple of Coach Parry podcasts Brad Brown sent me.
  • I’ve started doing yoga which has been amazing & worth it’s own blog post!
  • Oh and yes, I’m taking cataflams. Should I continue with these? (Snort, you should’ve seen the look she gave me!)

In a nutshell, I’m desperately trying a bit of everything (as runners do).

Francis asked 3 simple questions that for some bizarre reason, I had failed to ask myself:

  • Is it your goal race? No.
  • If it’s about mileage, why not run the 10km and add in a 2-3 km cool down if your knee feels okay. I could do that.
  • Have you checked out the race calendar? Um, no. Why not enter Jackie Gibson later in March to run a half. It’s also not too close to Oceans.

I wondered why it was so difficult to reason it out for myself. Duh!

I went ahead and ran the Edenvale 10km road race on Sunday. My knee was fine. *phew*! I also managed to add on an extra 3kms for a cool down jog which gave me a total of 13kms mileage for the day.

My knee has felt ‘okayish’ this week. Let me put it this way, I’ve managed to continue training. With 5 weeks until Two Oceans, this is what counts, right?

You can Google what you like and convince yourself that you’ve made the right decision. But some times you do need someone to sense check you and make sure you’re asking the right questions, especially when it comes to injuries.

Runners cannot self-diagnose. Fact!

I know that if I had run the 21kms on Sunday, I would’ve been hobbling around this whole week, unable to run, with my knee in pain rolled up in an ice pack. Not ideal. Thanks Francis!

Shit! Did you read what I just said?

5 weeks to Two Oceans! How’s your training going?

Worth the squeeze

“I’ll take a full body massage, a facial, pedi and throw in a brow shape.”

This has been my monthly Whatsapp to Monika, the beautician and owner of Lemonade Skin and Nail Bar in Douglasdale, which just so happens to be 2.4kms away from home. (According to Garmin – the salon is on my running route.)

What started out last year December as a Christmas present from my sister has turned into one of my favourite times of the month. For a packaged deal, Monika offers x4 appointments every month for R599. Any four appointments! It’s a steal!

beautician packages for face, nails, body

Two packages to choose from.

But here’s why I love it so much:

  • It’s close to home which is super convenient.
  • It’s me giving back to myself every month, which I’m finding more and more important.
  • While I get my grey hairs covered, I get my feet pampered.

    pedicure at lemonade skin and nail bar

    While my tint sets, my feet get the full treatment.

And then there’s Diesel and Hunter, Monika’s two dogs. They follow Monika everywhere and you have to watch your step or risk tripping over their sleeping masses!

During my massage, they’re under the bed snoring with me. While I’m having my pedi, they’re distracting Monika, wanting to play. They make me giggle and I love their welcoming tail-wags each time I arrive for my appointment.

On this day, they found a teddy and wanted Monika to stop and throw it for them.

I love heading to Lemonade every week for a daily dose of cheerfulness, dog hugging and spoiling. It’s important to identify things in your life that bring you joy.

The little things that make you stop and smile. To be around people who are positive about life. And trust me, weekly catchups with Monika, a successful entrepreneur at the age of 28, is incredibly inspiring. To spoil yourself once (or four times) a month.

It’s definitely worth the squeeze!

*Unsponsored post*

Okay heart, let’s try stop the beating

A few weeks ago, my personal trainer SuperStacey noticed that every time I ran, my heart rate would skyrocket above 190bpm. It’s never bugged me and I wouldn’t be faint or out of breath when I ran. But it didn’t look right.

Heart rate

This is what my heart rate usually looks like. I start running & it shoots up!

In typical Stacey fashion, she did some research to understand the issues and came up with a mini programme to train my heart. In her words, “…it makes no sense to only strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and core while your heart is what’s letting you down on the runs.” I did also occur to me that with all the running that I was doing, my aerobic fitness was terribly low. Not good.

Running Junkie Francis recognized my new running program on my Strava update as the “Maffetone” method. The what?

*Created by Phil Maffetone, the Maffetone Method is a style of training that focuses exclusively on aerobic running. Using a heart rate formula of 180 – your age (plus several corrections for injury, fitness level, health, etc.) you come up with an “aerobic maximum heart rate.”

In a nutshell, the low heart rate based Maffetone training method is meant to build up my aerobic base and keep my runs in the fat burning zone. Sounds good!

Talk about frustration, but the last couple of runs have been dreadful! Just when I get going, my watch beeps warning me that my heart rate is over the limit into what Garmin calls “Threshold” and a little red heart flashes on the watch face. I’m meant to slow down a bit until the heart turns to green indicating that my heart rate is down to aerobic levels.

Lower heart rate

Forcing myself to stop and bring down the heart rate – so far so good. It’s a big difference.

I run a few meters, hear the beep, slow down and then come to a crawl before I can run again, hear the beep, come to a crawl… a few times I’ve even had to stop to bring it down as it hovers in the 170’s!

This morning’s run felt a bit easier and it is something I’m keen to get right. It’s the patience I’m not so good with!

This is a run in March vs. May. Notice the difference in running zones.

I’ve discovered with running that there’s always something new to learn about my body and to shape my training around a new challenge.

Speed sessions. Strength training. Breathing techniques. Building my core. Leg work. When it comes to running, the training programs are endless.

I must also confess that I’m not the biggest fan of running in winter. This “maffetone phase” of mine suits me because it means I can focus on a few shorter runs, even run at the gym and not have any long distance training runs to focus on during the colder days. I might as well give it a go.

Have you ever tried it? Has it worked?

* Source: https://strengthrunning.com/2015/02/maffetone-method-and-base-training/

Baby (running) steps

“How was your run?” 

It’s the same question KK asks me every time I return from my run. I’m so busy sync’ing my Garmin to my Strava that I often reply with, “Great!”. But this time, it was different. My run was fantastic and I could not get the smile off my face. Looking at my watch, I was asking, “What? A PB?” I had just run my fastest time on a regular 4km route from home. I was thrilled!

Strava

Strava details comparing my runs on the same route

It’s my last month taking blood thinners since my pulmonary embolism scare in December. Six months of rehabilitation and slowly getting back into running. It’s not the only excuse reason I have scaled back on my running. With KK’s femur stress fracture, we’ve both been living life in the slow lane this year.

But I haven’t been sitting idle…

  • I’ve been training regularly with a personal trainer (and friend) Super Stacey. The focus of my training programme has been on strength exercises, and especially targeting areas such as glutes and hamstrings.
  • I’ve also returned to following a more balanced eating plan *whispers: LCHF/banting*. More veggies, less meat. Cutting out dairy for the first time in my life. What an eye opener! Lots and lots of water. It’s made a huge difference to how I feel. (and yes, I keep promising to update you in a follow up blog on my diet.)
  • Shorter runs. I love heading out for a 4km run before the sun sets in the evening. My route is out, up, down and back in. Mentally, it’s easier to handle after a tough day at work. I keep the longer run for weekends. And when I say longer, I mean no more than 7kms.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 9.47.16 PMI’m unable to say what has made the difference to my progress specifically, but I’m guessing it’s all of the above. It’s a factor of quality over quantity in my running distances, proper eating, focused strength training all wrapped up in one, and time… in my case, 6 months.

You can’t just run. You need to strengthen and fuel your entire body. And sometimes, you need to stop thinking about half marathons and be pleasantly surprised by the joy and relaxation of a simple 4km run.

In other news, KK is ready to start running again. Baby steps….