Tag Archives: Physio

Recovery? Don’t talk to me about cross training!

I have been going through what I think are fairly normal MdS withdrawal symptoms.

Getting back from an event which is in such stark contrast to most others, and far removed from anything most of us would experience in ‘real-life’ is bound the have such an impact.

Perhaps less so on those brave individuals in the armed forces, or perhaps civilian firemen, police, etc., who frequently put their lives on the line and who have a familiarity with imposed hardships and the challenges of being out of routine in physically and mentally demanding situations on a regular basis, since I believe that is part of the reason why people want to take up such a challenge.

[singlepic id=710 w=320 h=240 float=right]There is little in ‘normal’ life, in our cosseted modern western routines that can really satisfy what are probably primal urges and instincts to compete with others in physical challenges, where often survival may have been at stake and adrenalin fuelled success would have resulted in the ultimate proliferation of a particular branch of the gene pool.

Sound extreme?

Possibly, but imagine opposing tribes of hunter/gatherers, both chasing after dwindling stocks of wildlife before the onset of the winter season. It is not hard to imagine that the more successful persistence hunters might have successfully ensured the survival of their tribe through the winter while another failed and the impact on them would have been more extreme.

Still, back to the present and my recovery, which I glad to say has Β has been going well and I’veΒ not experienced any extremes; until yesterday, that is.

I had rather more swelling in my feet that I had realised, but I had been able to run a couple of times last week, and despite singularly failing to wake up for a long run on Sunday, I even managed to swim on Monday night.

Then things started to go horribly wrong. Tuesday’s has now transmuted to my cross-training day, and I duly went to the gym and cycled and did some squats and lunges, and although tough, I thought no more of it. Shortly afterwards I gave blood, and felt none the worse for that either.

However, two days afterwards, my muscles are aching an order of magnitude more than ever they were from 150 miles across the Sahara.

In one of life’s little ironies, I can trek my way through the toughest footrace on Earth without a hint of DOMS, but put me on a bike for 20 minutes and I may as well have been poked with hot needles dipped in vinegar for the last 6 months. The aching is starting to die down now, but I’m seriously considering whether my cross-training sessions will become a thing of the past after this week πŸ™‚

Sign Off

Almost two years to the day since the operation to fix my broken femur, I paid a checkup visit to the Physio earlier.

I hadn’t seen Stuart at Allen Physiotherapy in Guildford since before we went skiing last year; he is a skier and I am a snowboarder, so we had a little banter about that! However, this visit had been planned for some months, mainly as a checkpoint, with so long in between appointments due to my ever improving ability in the tests he sets me.

20130227-202804.jpgThe main test has been a strength / speed comparison between quads and hamstrings on a hydraulic resistance machine – a strapped in, seated leg extension and curl, using initially both legs, then right and left separately, for comparison.

This is the routine I have been doing every month to two months for the last 18 months or so, since getting back to running. 18 long months, which is significantly easier to look back on, see what has been achieved and reflect upon it, than it would have been to try to reconcile the hill ahead if I had been told at the start realistically this is what I was facing. Ultrarunning is so analogous to the journey through life it is great training – training for life, life from training. As many runners say, if you can see the top of the hill, run, if you can’t, walk; either way, keep moving forward and you’ll get to the other side eventually – just remember there will ALWAYS be another hill ahead at some point while the race is still on πŸ™‚

Today’s visit had a feeling of closure about it, even before I entered the room though; I was confident in the improvements I have made over the last few months, and unlikely with previous visits, I had no real ‘niggles’ to report or worry about. Indeed, after the success of my recent run along the Thames, I could hardly complain about anything!


So it was that we chatted and I completed the testing as normal, but everything felt stronger and more complete and balanced, if you will, than it has in the past, and this was confirmed by the figures the machine read out after each of my attempts to break it πŸ™‚ the key thing here was that the ratio of quad to hamstring was perfect (at least conventionally considered to be 0.6 H/Q) and more importantly the left to right absolute values were within 10% of each other, thereby reducing the probability of any other problems as a result of any imbalance.

So, with successful results behind me, I was signed off.

After two years of steady, consistent running, minimal ramping up, dozens of checkpoint physio sessions, even more x-rays, pool-resistance training, gym strengthening, cross-training and one ultra distance race behind me, I’m now, officially, back on track.

The MdS will certainly prove one way or another how my body, and I’ve no doubt my mind, can stand up to the test of such an adventure for the second time and for now this is my focus, but my plans and dreams for the future are now no longer restricted and my confidence is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Life is good.

Tentative Steps

Training this week has not gone too badly.

After my visit to the physio I have taken my first few tentative steps back outside with my trainers on. I say tentative because my foot still feels as though it has something amiss; some sort of stiffness in the upper-mid foot, so I have been taking it fairly gingerly. In fact, when I thing about it that could be why I am so slow at the moment, as I am probably favouring my right leg to propel me along the trails, while my left is in a guarded holding pattern around the airfield of full performance.

On Tuesday I did an easy 6km followed by Thursday’s 9km and then did some physio on Friday, with some gym running to warmup and cool down. Everything seems to be hanging in there at the moment, except for slightly stiff knees, which I have been expecting, but so far it not not an issue.

Not massive mileage, but a useful rampup week and a bit of extra distance on my trainers and in my legs and, more to the point, I am planning a long run at the weekend, on Sunday, so we will see how things go during that.

Physio update – visit 3,457

Monday’s seems to be turning into my Pilates and physio day.

Yet again today I had a lunchtime of stretching and core work in the gym. After only a few sessions it seems to be getting a bit easier which is great, but that doesn’t really help my legs, my ankle or my foot! Not in the way that I need it at the moment anyway.

So, off to the physio it was this evening for another checkup from which I emerged with mixed feelings.

Vasyli Orthotics

I have resisted orthotics for biomechanical issues all the time I have been running with problems I have had over the years, and especially since trying to move more to minimalist footwear to strengthen my feet and improve my running posture and technique over the last 10 months. So it was with a bit of disappointment that I learned from Stuart that my biomechanics are now such that it is likely that is what is causing the problem with the pain in my ankle. It is possible that it is a ligament or tendon (or muscle) related issue (he was hedging his bets given the non-specificity of the ache I have had) down the inside of my left ankle underneath the foot which is caused by over-pronation, which in turn may be caused by my foot turning out slightly, which in turn may be a result of the operation.

The upshot is that I now have some temporary orthotics to support the inside of the foot, which he seemed to indicate are likely to be a permanent requirement.

I hate the idea of that.

I will try them out over the next few weeks and if they allow me to carry on with training by relieving the pressure on my tibialis muscles, I will keep them in my shoes, but I’ll not be keeping them in forever. The evidence to support my need comes in the form of a similar ‘top of the foot’ problem I have had before, so there is a chance it is not related to the op and although this change may have exacerbated the problem, I will do my damnedest to ensure I can run in the near future without any artificial aids!

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Time for a Rest

After yesterday’s early morning disaster, and the all clear from the physio, I was keen to get out this morning for a run with the sunrise and finish my week of training on tired legs!

Perhaps I should have taken that as a warning sign that enough was enough.

After checking out the curtains at 4:30am I found the morning was too beautiful to pass up the opportunity though, so wound my way quietly down the stairs (clearly not quietly enough as both the kittens were waiting eagerly in the dining room for me!) and got my stuff ready. No backpack today, but a bottle of juice was definitely on the cards in this weather.

As I started out all was fine, and I was conscious of my ankle and making sure that it was fine, preparing to stop if necessary. The problem with this approach is that you risk being 5-6 miles away from home when you stop, or worse on a long circular run, and this morning especially, I was time constrained, so constantly watching the clock to ensure I was going to get back for 7:00am. Not the best frame of mind.

I found it was exceptionally slow going and I guess that should have been another warning sign (I need to get to read these signs a lot better; my past record isn’t exactly exemplary, but then as Einstein used to say, madness is the art of making the same mistakes over and over again. Still I plodded on and didn’t really feel any adverse effects in my ankle, which I was concentrating on.

All the time I was unable to run, I dreamt of runs like this, early mornings, some trail, some hills, sunrise glistening through the trees with mists drifting across the canals, streams and fields around the area. The smells and sights of the countryside are such an assault on the senses, and can take away all your stress, worries and transport you to a different world in an instant.

It was a fantastic run so early in the morning, and I eventually got back in time for a little bit of breakfast and our superstar helper was up dealing with the children again, as Liz was resting as this was Col’s last day πŸ™ she is back to Wales this evening and her generous help and assistance will be sorely missed. Thanks Col.

Time to put my feet up!

After stopping and getting ready for work, I started to realise there mighty be another problem though. I have had some issues in the past with the bones in my feet, understandably given the pounding I put them through. It has never been explained to my satisfaction by the physio’s I have seen, but the upshot is that it makes it painful to walk, let alone run, and feels like the upper side of my foot is collapsing.

By the time I got to work I needed to take a couple of aspirin, so I was not impressed, obviously. I was even more concerned with what Liz’s reaction would be – she get’s grumpy with me when I can’t run because I’m like a bear with a sore head – nobody’s perfect πŸ˜‰

She was actually very understanding when I got home, and by the end of the day the pain when walking had subsided a little. I reckon it’ll need a few days of rest, which was almost to plan anyway, so not a great disaster at the moment.

Ask me if I feel the same in a week πŸ™‚

Pilates and Physio

My legs were shot after yesterday’s run.

My quads had spent a couple of hours immediately after the run threatening to cramp up and I spent the rest of the day trying to keep mobile to ward off the sensation.

A 4:30am alarm call was therefore not a welcome sound so, of course, the first and subsequent alarms were all switched off in rapid succession. So much for dedication this morning!

Lunchtime was a different matter and because I have a busy week, may well be the only gym session I get in this week. So it was off the Pilates again for me, and although I still felt like a bit of a beginner, I was more settled than last week’s initial shock to the system.

After an afternoon of work, I had to get to the physio in Guildford. Col had been a star again and taken the boys swimming while Liz stopped at home and looked after the little ones.

My ‘ankle’ has been niggling for several weeks, so I had made an appointment with the physio for this evening to get it checked out and as it was not a major issue, insomuch as the ache moves about all the time I am running, is not a constant pain and seems to dissipate within 24 hours, I was hopeful it was no to be a time off kind of injury.

Stuart the physio, and a trainee, Pete, took me through a few tests but didn’t seem to think that there was much of a problem, possibly just posterior tibial tendonitis, a slight sprain, or bruising of the tibia (worst case). Luckily, I was not exhibiting any of the full symptoms one might experience with an extreme case of any of these diagnosis, so I was given some manipulation to loosen the ankle, some ‘lasering’ for some other reason and told not to increase my mileage for a bit. I could run as per normal though. Apparently!

By the time I got home it was quite late and Liz was quite tired so I stayed home and didn’t go swimming. A strangely bitty day.

Holiday and Physio

The children had their first day of Easter holiday today.

I was back to work and so, predictably, the boys were up at 6:15am – there must be an undiscovered part of the human genome that ensures that when children have to get up they sleep in, and vice versa, since on any school day, when it is essential for them to get up, they struggle out of bed at 7:15am. Today though, the Skylanders on the Wii was beckoning.

Behaviour not surprising with names like Eruptor!

After I had left, the inevitable happened though, as there was frustration over playing the game and there was fighting and tears. Not a good way to start the few days of rest that they have, and with Liz having to manage things on her own (albeit at home) we were not best pleased with them. Skylanders has been put away for a few days πŸ™

The rest of their day was spent in recompense, busying themselves making cards and filling boxes with the millionaires shortbread to thank the people who have helped us so much over the last couple of weeks.

They took some to Cecilia next door and Natasha after lunch and went to spend a few hours with her and played, so Liz had a bit of a rest at least.

My day was quiet, but I took it easy , working through lunchtime as well, in preparation for visiting Stuart at the physiotherapist’s this evening.

I did not have high hopes for improvement in the standard of my left leg, as I’ve not been exercising down the gym properly for the last four weeks or so, due to everything else that has been going on. It is incredible to think that it is actually four weeks ago that Liz had her stroke, and she has come on so far in that time since. Nevertheless, I went down to the testing machine, and was pleasantly surprised that I got a ‘PB’ in the leg extension / curl test for both legs, so I must be doing something right. I will put it down to the dynamic lunges and hills runs I have been doing.

So, my next visit is in 3 months, but he’s happy for me to up my distances as much as I want – he still has the impression I am a sensible chap, although I’m not sure where he gets that from πŸ™‚


Back on the Trains

Early start this morning as I was back to work, so had to do all the chores first – children’s sandwiches, washing, breakfast, clothes, ready and then out the door to the train.

Liz was feeling marginally better today, and was nervous about me going to work and being alone. Luke was not feeling much better so we’d decided to keep him at home again (he had a relapse after all the activity of the party yesterday, which happens sometimes ;-)) but we’d arranged for people to take and pick up the children, so it was planned to be a quiet day for her.

Occupational Health

My day started in true to fashion commuting style with the announcement, two minutes AFTER the train had left Guildford, that it was going to terminate at Woking, i.e. 6 minutes into a 45 minute journey, due to emergency engineering work, blah, blah. So the packed train emptied at Woking and all the prior occupants tried to squeeze onto the next fast train to Waterloo, with a 30 minute extended crawl through the problem area at Raynes Park. Eventually, after playing with more delays on the tubes, I made it in. Nearly 2 hours door-to-door is a bad average.

Liz did have a quiet day, except for a visit from the occupational health physios, who came to ask what they could do to help her with, and offer assistance for an initial 3 month period which she recuperates. She finds this highly amusing as she feels that there are many other people out there who need the support of these people more that she does. Not quite as amusing as she finds the fact that they also offered me help as well (for what reason I’ve not yet worked out, but apparently I have a form to fill out!)

I made it home in time to take the boys to their penultimate swimming lesson of the term, which they worked hard at and enjoyed, and then it was home again to do a few more chores before nipping to swimming myself. I decided to run over to the lesson, a few km, but gave me a good warmup and cooldown afterwards as well.

A late evening salad completed a full day of activity.

Tomorrow Liz has more tests at the hospital, which I’m taking her to, and Savannah has a nature trail which I’m taking her on. Then in the afternoon I’ve got a Genius Bar appointment at the local Apple Store in Kingston, as my iPad didn’t fair too well from being dropped a week ago.

It’s all go at the moment.

Physio Update

Well, after three months I was back at the Physio today.


Stuart gave me the usual set of tests and manipulation to ascertain the extent of my recovery and the good news is that my glutes are now pretty much equal on both sides, which is fantastic news, especially since Mr Elliot was sceptical as to whether the strength to my left glute would ever regain it’s strength.

We went down into what he refers to as ‘the Dungeon’ and I did the normal test for my Quads by doing several rounds of leg curls and extensions. Again, the good news is that my left quad has improved over the last 3 months, but they are still not within 10% side-to-side, so I have another 6 weeks to improve my LH-Quad ‘measurement’ to 45 (whatever that means!)

Oh and I found the £20k invoice I mislaid on Friday! Phew 😎

Long two

Most distance running schedules, whether they be for 10k, half marathon or marathon, will include a day a week where there is a long run, the theory being that you need to get you body familiar with running 80% of the sort of distance you have as your target.

My preferred running schedule generally involves a couple of days of long runs, for the same reason, but split over two days as ultra distances are difficult to fit around a working life and also and more importantly because it gives your body a chance to recover in between and hence reduce the risk of injury …… cue ironic laughter πŸ˜†

Not That Zelda....

Anyway, having completed my 10 mile run yesterday, I was suitably motivated to do my scheduled 10 km this morning (for the record, I still have difficulty thinking of these distances as ‘long’, but in essence these are my long days and soon, God willing, touch wood, etc., I’ll be recounting tales of 30 / 20 miles on consecutive days). Liz was feeling suitably recovered as well, so she did her pace run first at 5:30 and then I got out at 6:00am. The long road of ultramarathons is not in the racing, but in the training; these are the days that make the difference; the unspoken quiet committed days of preparation.

Having done my run in the morning, I felt a physio opportunity coming on at lunchtime, and Liz’s was suitably quizzical when I packed more gym kit into my back for work, but was happy after I reassured her I wasn’t running. As it was, I managed to get out about 12:30 and got a good physio / cycle sandwich in.

Monday’s is always mad as the children do so much after school and then Joshua and Morgan have their swimming lessons. They have both recently gone up to the next level with Zelda (Glasspell of the Swimming Academy that is and not Twilight Princess, on the Nintendo Wii) so they both swim at 6:30 on a Monday for 30 minutes then it is the rush home to bed. My Monday’s then continue with Zelda as I have a 40 minute Session from 8:20pm. As you can imagine after my third activity for the day I was glad to get home for supper.