I am a runner again!


“Life is not about hacking. Life is not about removing the obstacles to create a super highway towards your goal. You have to embrace the journey.

When you face those obstacles, you’re forced to confront yourself, and that reveals character. It’s how you develop as a human being.

So rather than trying to avoid them, embrace them.” ~ Rich Roll

It’s only after accepting my long term Achilles injury a year ago, after 6 months of  denial and resistance, that I started to get better. I was lost, I was depressed. In July 2016, after speaking to a runner at HARP 24, I went to see a new physio, Arron at Back 2 Best Sport Rehab Clinic. He taught me to accept my injury, start a fitness diary and concentrate on building strength while running a minimal amount to rebuild my Achilles strength & mobility. 

In parallel I signed up for Beachbody on Demand and Runsmart Online, streaming workouts from both sites, choosing all impact free workouts. I also joined a local gym, Fungi Fitness, mostly for the weekends circuit classes.

The result has been totally unexpected. Not only have I lost weight, but I have become a faster and stronger runner in the process. 

On the left August 2016, top right August 2017, bottom right December 2017.

After 51 marathons and 12 years of running as mostly a plodder, I suddenly have hope for progress. Pace is not the most important thing, running until I am 100 years old and injury free is. However I am still chasing a sub 4 hours marathon dream and will try my best in Paris in April. 

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ Francis of Assisi

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My favourite medal

My favourite medal is my second marathon medal at the 2007 Paris marathon. The medal in itself is amazing. It is thick, weighs a lot and part of the marathon route is engraved on the medal. 

Aside from how glamorous the medal is, this race meant a lot to me. This is when I really fell in love with running, particularly marathon running. My first marathon (in Paris the previous year) was fun but serious. 

For this second marathon I relaxed and took time to enjoy the views (the previous year I didn’t even see the Eiffel Tower as I was concentrating too much!). I discovered running camaraderie: a random runner seeing me struggling offered me his water, he didn’t even know me, I couldn’t believe it! 

This race started my quest towards 100 marathons. I am taking my time as I have now run 51 marathons but I am thoroughly enjoying this quest full of friendship, passion and adventures. 

50 marathons, a celebration as it took me 11 years!

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#ASICSFrontRunner 

In December 2017 I had the opportunity to share a story I have always been ashamed of. I shared it twice, in Women’s Running magazine and in Runsmart online. It was an honour and also a cathartic exercise. I have put my demons away, I am not afraid of failure anymore, or rather, I am still afraid but I will push through the fear and try anyway. I started by applying to be an #ASICSFrontRunner. 
One of my long time dreams has been to progress in running, to be more than just a plodder. I also want to inspire other non sporty people like me to embrace exercise and fall in love with it, like I have. Here is to a 2018 full of dreams come true 💖. 

Runsmart online interview

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Injured but still hopeful 

With Charley at the end of HARP 24, both tired but happy. Photo from Andrew Kenyon

2016 has been a tough year for me in term of running. I have been injured since July (and if I am completely honest since the end of May) with a double tendinitis and now only on the left side. 
I won’t deny it, I find it extremely difficult to deal with such a long term injury while looking at everyone else on social media as well as my friends happily running and achieving great challenges. I can’t even pass time with my favourite cardio DVDs… How can I stay positive with set backs after set backs?

It could have been worst, I still ran 9 marathons and a 75 miles ultra (24 hours where due to my injury I mostly walked but refuse to stop). This makes my total marathons/ultra 45. I was hoping to have reached 50 by now but 10 marathons+ is still a good number and I had fun running them. Even tripping on a tree root in May during Flitch Way Spring (with the scar still there 7 months later) with only lucozade to wash the blood was “fun”. A fellow runner rescued me and we ran the 7 remaining miles together, finishing hands in hands.

Finish line of Flitch Way Spring marathon. Photo from Charley Jennings

That’s what running is all about and that’s why I miss it so much!

Thankfully I am seeing a very good physio and although it sometimes doesn’t feel I like it I am making progress. Insertional tendinopathy is a slow, long injury to heal from, but I will get there eventually. In the meantime I joined a gym, discovered Pilates, improved (and still improving) my balance, strength and flexibility with yoga, balance workouts and kettlebells. I am working my core more than ever and can now climb a rope almost to the top!

  

I had stopped my blog as I didn’t feel like a runner anymore, but I was wrong: injured or not, runners always remain runners. Here is to a successful 2017 to you all.

A few of my marathons medals from 2016

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Fear

Very well written and since I am injured as well I completely understand a lot of the feelings described here.

The Reckless Runner

I find it difficult to write when I’m not running for more reasons than you’d think. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, I’m a runner and this is a running blog. The past few weeks have left me feeling less than authentic at best and utterly fraudulent at worst, I mean who the actual fuck writes a running blog about not running? Aside from that it’s just boring, without running the world seems a little more sluggish and the technicolor has faded as if life had been filtered to shit by an over zealous hipster instagrammer.

Because running has as much to do with my mental health as it does with my physical wellbeing. You’d have thought that when my treatment finished all my troubles would too but physical recovery is bringing with it a rash of emotional issues that I am still learning to navigate. Don’t get me wrong, my…

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Ranscombe summer challenge-where I found my mojo back

Following Harp 24 two weeks ago and 76 miles run/walk I found out that I had a double tendonitis. My right Achilles has an insertional tendonitis, my left a mid point tendonitis. I have had Achilles problems on and off since 2013. It clearly is my weakness and it’s time to sort the cause of it once and for all. 

A visit to a new sports specialist physio gave me hope. He massaged my calves, painfully but oh so nicely, assessed my body weaknesses and …… I have now a series of daily stretch & exercises to do as well as using my foam roller daily (which I wasn’t doing). I also bought a heel raise for my flat work shoe and one for my running shoes to ease the pressure on the Achilles. 

I saw the physio on a Wednesday but had registered to Ranscombe for the Saturday. To my surprise he said I can go and run/walk the marathon. I’d be sore but wouldn’t create long term damage and would need a full week’s rest afterwards. What a great news!

So at 6.30am on Saturday  9th July Susan, Charley and me drove to Ranscombe farm reserve on a relatively sunny British Summer day. To complete  a marathon we needed to run 6 undulating laps of 4.4 miles.

The start

From the start I started running with Susan. We ran the flat and downhill sections and walked uphill (there were a lot of it!). After 3 laps Charley joined us (she was on her 4th) and since she was running Ranscombe night from 4pm she decided to stay with us for the reminder of the challenge. 

The views were amazing, lots of flowers, fields, cows, nice woods sections and even a mausoleum. Although I struggled in the last 2 laps I thoroughly enjoyed being out there, chatting, eating, admiring the countryside and just being out with friends. It was the perfect day out and I cannot wait to run another marathon, as soon as my tendinitis heals enough. Marathon #43 was my slowest yet without counting the LDWA runs but reminded me how much I love running. It’s not about speed, it’s about friendship and feeling alive!



Thank you Susan and Charley for sharing your beautiful photos! 😊

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Slower and a little bit fatter but it doesn’t mean I can’t be happy!

“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.” — Harold B. Melchart

Marathon #40: Flitch Way Spring marathon.
Marathon #41: Kent Road Runner marathon.


Both races were particularly hard for me as I seem to be getting slower and slower despite my efforts to rebuild myself since last year’s long Achilles injury. Still, I had fun at the back chatting to runners and enjoying the camaraderie amongst runners.

Marathon #42 (75.48 miles): HARP24

My left Achilles had been playing up so I had planned on running a marathon (or 30 miles) then walk or just stay around to help. Harp24 are 4.44 miles laps of trail, woods and fields. My aim was 6 laps, then 10, then 12, then why not just keep walking (after 40 miles I was walking more than running to try to protect my Achilles). At the end I ran/walked 17 laps and had more fun than I expected. Running laps with Neil, Ian, Lisa, Daniel, Davo, Vanessa, Rita and Charley, I never felt alone! I finished third lady not because I was fast, but just because I kept moving forward.

I will be back next year, this time hopefully running. In the meantime I am back on the injury bench, patiently waiting for my Achilles (both sides!) to mend, not risking any running until I see a physio and get professional advice on Wednesday.

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