Month: June 2016

Physio and running assessment.

Training update: Physio and running assessment

So it has been three weeks since I completed the Edinburgh marathon, and the time since has not been as productive as I had hoped.

I am writing this just after attempting to go for a proper run this morning which lasted about 8 minutes before I decided the pain was too much to keep pushing on. This has left me really frustrated and was the first time since Edinburgh that I have been hacked off with this knee issue. I know that there are no quick wins in terms of recovering from injuries but it does not make it any less annoying.

After I returned to work at school after the half term break, I decided that this was the time to get back into a routine and start making things better. The plan was to get a pre and post work workout in using the sequence of exercises I had been doing. However, this was the time that hayfever came and caught me off guard – leaving me really exhausted and unable to have a good night’s sleep.

Deciding on getting professional advice, I searched for local physios and found one associated with a running school that uses running diagnosis alongside assessments. I looked around at the costs of other organisations and prices all seemed similar at £50 for an assessment and £40 for 30 minute treatments subsequently. I chose Bristol Physiotherapy Clinic and Alex, the physio I saw, left me feeling confident I had made the right choice. After a while of him trying, and failing to find sore spots I began to doubt if I was actually injured. It turns out he was searching for structural damage so the lack of pain was a positive thing and he soon found my tender spots which led him to confirm my belief of IT Band syndrome.

After being diagnosed we went to the treadmill to film me running to see if there were any obvious causes. I was running at the speed of 12kmh as this is a good pace for me. Afterwards we returned to analyse the video which I found interesting (as someone who enjoys all things biomechanical and technique based).

The key points raised from this for me were:

  • My body leans forward from the hips too much so I must try to run more upright.
  • My arm movement goes slightly across my body causing a slight rotation of my trunk.
  • My arms do not drive backwards and forwards enough to help my legs so I was encouraged to move them from my shoulder forwards and backwards more effectively.
  • I need to drive my knees higher as my foot was landing slightly too far away from the ideal position. This also recruits more muscles from the back of my leg which were being lazy and requiring the front muscles to work harder.
  • I was a heel striker which surprised me as I thought I was slightly more mid-foot than it looked on the video.

After this we went back to the treadmill and I tried to make some small changes using 30 second intervals of running with a focus, before jumping off to review and then repeating.

Ultimately, my quads and hips are really tight and my hamstrings and glutes are not being recruited like they should.  When I think about it, my hamstrings have always been generally the first muscles to feel tired and weak when running long distances. I have also known before that my hips are not in the best condition and their tightness is not helping anything.

I came away from there with the plan to continue the exercises and get on the foam roller as advised by Alex. I have spent the week doing 15 minutes minimum a day on my left leg. This included rolling up and down my IT band, spending time focused on just the lower part of my quad and IT band and tensor fasciae latae (which is by the hip but on a lean to the outside, I think). I have also been taking the occasional iburoprofen which seem to help, but this is something I am quite keen to avoid if I can.

My ambitions are to have this cleared up as soon as possible but I am giving myself a good few weeks to try and do this. My mid-term aim is to be ready to run when the school holidays start at the end of July so that I can use the six week holiday to really push my training – both the running side but also the strengthening and flexibility side. If I can start this sooner, even better, but I am constantly reminding myself that there is no rush and I need to just get right. Weirdly, writing this down and reminding myself about that has helped me put things into a better perspective. As soon as I start running again I plan on committing to some races to keep motivation levels high and I have an eye on the Bristol half marathon on September 25th

Marathon PB EMF 2016

Edinburgh Marathon 2016 – Marathon Personal Best

This weekend I ran the Edinburgh Marathon and somehow came away with a completely unexpected personal best time of 3h27:07.

Start pen of EMF 2016

Start pen of EMF 2016

Going into the race I had talked about a knee injury and how it had stopped me training properly. This is true and the days after the race I really struggled to walk on it. However, through the race it did not really affect me – apart from a small part as I made my way onto the beach section of the course.

Going into it without many expectations meant I had not really thought about what pace to run it at. The previous night I settled on aiming to stay around 7/7.5mph and see how things go. Stood in the start pen I made a last minute and completely unplanned decision to run without music so I wound up my ear phones and put them into my zip pocket. I thought that I should try and enjoy the atmosphere as much as possible and hear my feet so I could focus on my technique and avoid injury. Another last minute idea I had was to tape my name onto my top. After running London without my name, I spent most of the course hearing the name ‘Tony’ shouted to the person behind me. This time it would be my turn. (I only suggest doing this if you are happy to acknowledge the crowd in some way, even if it is a tired glance/wave). This turned out to be a masterstroke and helped get me round.IMG_4880

My GPS was set on my watch before the start buzzer went to avoid any connection problems and it took 2 minutes before I made my way across the line. As I relaxed into my pace I felt comfortable and the few glances down at my watch told me I was going at around 7.6mph which was pleasing. At the 1 mile marker we approached Hollywood park and saw the front runners heading off out into the distance and then it was time to tackle a roundabout to come back on ourselves and follow them. I managed to find a bit of space so managed to avoid being cut up by other runners who were deciding to cut across rapidly.

Miles 1 to 8 are slightly blurred because I didn’t see any mile markers but was probably because I was too busy soaking up the atmosphere and it meant I was not clock watching. Without my music and lots of people on the streets I was really enjoying myself and running at a comfortable pace. About mile 8 I decided to have my first gel, estimating I had been running for over an hour.

I had planned to see Dani at mile 9 so towards this point I began to edge across to the left – like we had planned. It was a great boost to see her in the distance and because I was feeling alright I think it is the first time I have tried to have any dialogue with her when I’ve run past. Normally I’m struggling for breath!

My race changed from mile 11/12ish. From here it got really hard and I was really feeling my lack of training. As we moved through a really busy area for the crowds, it soon became quiet as we went off to do our long out leg before returning to the finish. I was having to try really hard to motivate myself and at 1h50 from the gun starting, the lead runners were coming back past us, which only made me realise how much longer I would be running for.  I was trying to set targets to reach before I even considered a walk but I couldn’t always make them, I had to walk and I hated myself for doing so. On the undulating hills I had to slow down too because I didn’t want to push my knee.

By mile 14 I realised I was going to need a distraction so took out my music. I only had it on quiet but it was something else for me to think about and I was hoping the shuffle would be good for me. The next 4 or 5 miles were tough and interspersed with some small walks. Mostly when taking on water or gels.

At about 4 miles from the finish line I decided to check my clock and see what sort of time I was on for. Here I realised that somehow, a PB might actually be possible. I kept telling myself it was only 5K – At best 22 minutes. At worse 30minutes. I still had 40 minutes to play with so I had to go for it.

Just as I began to feel comfortable with my stride I felt a very painful ‘pop’ at the top of my left calf like a ball of muscle had been pushed out. Disaster! Forget the PB I didn’t know if I could even finish. Pulling to the side with some colourful language I just tried to stretch it off. The pain eased and I got moving again – awkwardly, but moving. Then not long after it went again so I stretched and continued. This happened a couple of times and I found that if I kept my calf tighter it felt safer. I had to just focus on getting to the next mile and I told myself I could have a walk.

IMG_4909At about 25.5 miles Dani was there again cheering me on which helped. Although her shouts of ‘run faster’ were not helpful. The crowds lining the approach to the finish were great and I felt like an idiot when I had to stop before the final bend. Turning into the home straight I decided for some crazy adrenaline filed reason to pick my speed up. My right hamstring immediately told me no – as did my calf!

The main clock was approaching 3:29 and I tried to get under it but missed that by 9 seconds but I knew it was still a PB so that was okay. When I got my text with my actual time it was an even better PB.

Once home,  I had a chance to look at the medal and reflect on the fact I got a PB and also that if I trained better and stayed injury free I could go even faster.


Enjoying an ice bath

EMF Race review 2016

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Review

On Sunday May 29th 2016 I was one of 6000 runners lining up to tackle the Edinburgh marathon.

Earlier that morning, those doing the half had already set off. I will talk about my performance in another blog (here) but I wanted to share my experiences of the event for those who may be considering adding it to their race calendar.


In the build up to the race I received my race information via email with a nice goody bag attached which entitled me to some discounts. They also sent out my race number in advance along with some safety pins which was great if I hadn’t already bought a big pack for my last race.

On the day I was grateful for the pre-race communications as I learned there was two start zones but knew mine was on London Road so headed in that direction and picked up the signs directing me to the start. Here I found the baggage lorries and all that I needed to do was look for my number range hanging off the top of the lorry and head there. I passed them my bag, with my baggage label that had been sent through attached, and that was done.

Going for an early loo break there were very few queues and there was some trough style toilets to ease the queuing at the portaloos. However, as you moved closer to the start line there was less troughs and then a reduced number of portaloos. So make sure you plan your loo breaks.

Nearer the start time people began to ditch the queues in favour of the trees, even though tannoy announcements advised against it. It was good to see some marshalls attempting to move those people on because it is ultimately going to be actions like these that get events cancelled. I did chuckle at the runners’ sheepish faces as they got told off by the marshalls! A few minutes before the start, the queues were empty so I’d suggest leaving it til late and then jumping into the start pen as the runners took time to cross the start (unless you are aiming for a quick time and have been put in the first couple of pens).

On course

The crowds were out in good numbers for most of the course and where they could be found, the atmosphere was fantastic. There was a lovely atmosphere up to mile 11 ish around where the finish line is on the return leg. There were a number of houses playing music with one putting on Killers – Mr Brightside. I let them know it was a tune and it perked me up even more. There were other bands and music throughout the course with lots of drumming groups and there was even a chap playing the sax by a church at one point – justifying my reasons for not wearing headphones.

The miles from about 13/14 were quiet as the large crowds didn’t venture that far – I assume for ease of transport. But on the way back there were good crowds from mile 22 ish. The finishing mile was busy and the approach to the last few bends were also packed which was great for that final push as you chase those personal bests!

Although the course is good for personal bests it is worth bearing in mind that even though there is no IMG_4899real hills on the route – which is a great coup in a city like Edinburgh – the course has to be described as undulating in some parts, which was more noticeable on the lonely miles. The road surface you run on is not perfect either, with much of the road surface being pot holey and on the final return leg you enter Gosford House which has a trail style surface.

The volunteers were brilliant and all those I encountered at water stops or in the finish zone were positive and helpful. They were always ready with water and gels along with some encouraging words. At the end of the race I must give a special mention to the young lads doing the baggage. They were so on it that even before I got to my section and asked for my bag, they had seen me coming and had it ready on arrival. A small thing but I very much appreciated it!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival goody bag

Edinburgh Marathon goody bag


Crossing the finish line you enter the runners zone where you get your medal, bag and have a chance for a finishers photo. I won’t be purchasing them as it isn’t long since I already shelled out a lot of money for my London Marathon photos. I think a digital download of all my Edinburgh photos would be £30, or £9 for one photo.

By the time I exited the runners finishing zone I had received a very prompt text from EMF to inform me of my provisional finishing time. A very easy but quick and effective thing for them to do.

We decided against the shuttle bus that EMF organised as it was really quite expensive, and planned to get a train. We went on a slow 25 minute walk to Wallyford train station – which happened to be right next to the shuttle bus station anyway – and got a train for £3.50 back to Waverley Station in Edinburgh city centre near the start.

Edinburgh MArathon transport plans on train from Wallyford to Waverly

The steps that I had to tackle to get to the correct platform at Wallyford

Resting at the train station after Edinburgh Marathon

Resting at the train station

They came hourly but the rest was fine and it was a good time to reveal the surprise treat Dani said she would get me. (It was a tasty donut from Baba Budan. Perhaps not the best post race meal, but it was delicious) Dani managed to get a return from Waverley for £3.80 so worked out really well for her spectating! From Waverley it was just a short bus from Princes Street back to our flat. I was lucky to get a seat as I was in no mood for standing.

In summary I would definitely come back and recommend it to anyone looking for a marathon a bit further afield!