Reflections on a challenging year

It’s been an unusual year for me.  Unusual in that I haven’t run a single marathon…or even a half.  I do realise that makes me sound a little unusual, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I tried.  I was full of good intentions, and training plans, and I had my sights set high for a post-foot-surgery comeback… but it wasn’t to be.  Instead I didn’t even start the last three marathons I entered.


My running kinda went downhill after missing my goal in 2016’s London Marathon.  I lost faith.  Then I ended up having surgery to correct a painful ongoing foot problem which wiped me out.  It took longer to get back to running than anticipated and then I got the fear every time I put my trainers on.  You know, the fear that makes you want to do absolutely ANYTHING else other than what you’re supposed to do.

Track Fear

Sometimes I gave into the fear.  Sometimes I didn’t.  They say things fall apart so that better things can come together.  I guess we’ll see about that.  However, 2017 is coming to an end and it’s time to find some positivity in the things I have done rather than dwelling on those I haven’t, so I tried to find some.

1. I got back on my feet

OK, so I haven’t run all that much this year, but I have run.  I have picked myself up and started the journey back to my usual runner-bean self.  It’s been hard. It’s been physically hard because I felt like I had to teach myself how to run again and it’s been mentally hard because running scared me.  But I got back on my feet.

2. I bought me a bike and cycled almost 3 times as many miles as I ran this year

Yep, me, a bright new shiny pretty blue bike!  And I quickly had to learn how to ride it in cleats, on London roads, because I gave myself just two short months to prepare for Ride 100.

FYI, 2 months is probably, PROBABLY not long enough to go from semi-regular gym spinner to lycra clad 100 mile road cyclist…probably.

First time in cleats on Wimbledon Common


3. I took that bike and rode 100 flippin’ miles

Which was HARD.  Why didn’t anyone tell me??  Why does everyone have to make cycling look so damn easy?!  Still, I completed my first ever cycling sportive in one piece, and I even started to enjoy it once I remembered to feed myself.  It actually turned out to be 120 miles after I had got myself there and back.  I did not leave my bed for the rest of the day (to be fair there wasn’t much day left by the time I’d finished…)

I cycled 100 miles to the Queens house…I went the long way


4. I got stronger

Every time I gave into my running fear I found myself at the gym instead.  A lot.  And I had forgotten how much I loved it.  I swapped runs for sweaty spin sessions and went to classes called ‘Broken’ and ‘Insanity’ and ‘Core Wheel’ – you name it, I was there.

I also started lifting/pushing/squatting heavy things again and fell in love with Body Pump once more.  It gives you a different kind of post-workout buzz – and a different type of post-workout ouch (big ouch).


5. I officially became a Barre Babe (as Nesse calls us)

I’ve been a regular at my Monday night Barre class for about 18 months now and I’ve seen a real improvement in my strength.  Barre is a ballet inspired isometric strength class that works by holding your body still while you work a particular set of muscles to the point of exhaustion.  It hurts, but we do it to hardcore gangster rap (seriously), and have the occasional glass of prosecco after to numb the pain (also seriously).

I absolutely bloody love it and if you fancy it I can promise you that Nesse is the best (and most glamorous) Barre teacher in London – catch her on her website here or on Instagram here.

Nesse on the left…and us trying to be like Nesse on the right.  Photo credit: Instagram @nesseinlondon


6. I went boxing at the Ministry of Sound

I mean, COME ON!



So, it’s been an unusual year.  And I didn’t run a marathon. So what?




You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and, when it comes to fitness, I can definitely concur.  I’m not sure how much time I had off from running, but I think it was a good 3 months of doing very little, including an entire month off exercise completely, whilst recovering from foot surgery.  If nothing else, I’ve learned that I genuinely had no idea how fit I actually was.

When you constantly surround yourself with people who do more exercise, and more running, and more EVERYTHING, than you do, it’s easy to forget that what you’re doing yourself is actually far from ordinary.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, at the very least, half marathon fit, if not marathon fit, and be able to not only run the distance, but race it in a time that was better than average, even though I was never happy with my time!


Coming back from an injury that has set me right back to square one has been challenging on many levels.  How exactly do you motivate yourself to do something that has become so difficult and laboured unenjoyable and, quite frankly, hard work?  It’s a bit like dragging yourself to a hardcore tempo session that you know you need to do, but the difference is, there’s no reward.  There’s no reward to sending yourself out on a run that’s not only half the distance than you’re used to, but takes you 90 seconds per mile longer than you’re used to and leaves you more knackered than you’re used to.  No reward, just a lot of AAAARRRGGGGHHHHHHHH.

I’ve had a lot of arguments with myself.


Undeniably, I’m getting fitter and stronger.  I can feel it.  Especially with the strength work I’ve been doing – Monday nights burning at the Barre in a ballet inspired strength class are becoming my favourite!

While I know I’m still fitter than most, I’m still not ‘me fit’ and I’m not ‘my friends fit’ and that means I still can’t run with them.  That’s right, I can’t play with my friends and I’m miserable about it.  (Fair play to Gemma though, she has offered to run with me but I fear she doesn’t quite know what she’s letting herself in for…)

As I plod on with my slow runs home from work, attempting tempo at Parkrun because I can’t join in at actual tempo, and slowly increasing my mileage, I’ve found a new found awe for my former self.  She was tougher than I thought.  In light of that I thought it was time to set myself a new goal and, being lucky enough to get a place in Great North Run, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try and beat my half marathon PB of 01.40.50. Gulp.


The one where they told me I needed foot surgery

So I have a broken foot. Yes. A. Broken. FOOT.  I know I’ve been quiet for a while, but when you’re a fitness blogger with an injury that will only let you do one legged planks and tricep dips (so that’s fun then), you find you don’t really have much to say.

My foot’s been wonky for a while, I’ve even used it to excuse why I’ve fallen over thin air after a few proseccos, but I’ve kinda been ignoring it.  The problem was, I was starting to get shooting pains through my foot not only after I had been running, but when I was simply laying down too.  I knew there was a problem.

It turns out that my big toe hasn’t been doing what it should and my other toes were taking all the weight.  Whilst this apparently isn’t too much of a problem for muggles, for an obsessive compulsive marathon runner (I’m coining the term OCMR), it’s a real pain in the arse…and the foot…and in fact the whole bloody leg.


So, the official diagnosis was ‘Wonky Foot’ and the bad news was that surgery was the only way to fix it.  On the plus side, it explained a lot and explains why I was getting frequent injuries in my right leg, it was all related to a gradual change in gait to account for my wonkiness.

So I had a choice:

  • Don’t have surgery, continue to be wonky and struggle to run, but always have an excuse for prosecco based tumbles
  • Have surgery, have an injury that would stop me exercising for a while and lose the prosecco based tumble excuse, but potentially get fixed and comeback stronger

Before I had a chance to change my mind I was booked in for surgery.

Apparantly the procedure was fairly simple, they break the bone, realign it with pins and sew it back up to leave a double-hard action man scar.  Of course when I tell the scar story later it’ll involve a crocodile and the heroic rescue mission of an adorably cute puppy…

So this is my Frankenstein’s Monster foot.  Just be grateful it’s the post-manicured picture:


After being pretty much housebound for the dullest 2 weeks ever, I was finally allowed out to play again last week for Christmas fun (you know the, sensible, well planned out controlled type of fun we all dream of), it made me so happpppyyyy!

Sensible, controlled fun has never really been my strong point so after a few mulled wines on Saturday morning (yes morning, it’s December, it’s fine), I found myself jumping (OK hopping) at the chance to participate in the Chaser pint mile relay!

It’s pretty easy, you just drink your pint as quickly as you can, run around the track as fast as you can, then tag the next person.  I went 4th in our team to avoid getting in anyone’s way and succeeded in completing a 3 legged hobble of the track putting our team firmly in, ahem, last place.  Honestly, I have never been more excited to go around that bloomin track!


So, it’s been nearly 3 weeks and my broken foot is on the mend.  Not being able to run, or indeed fit my foot into anything other than an Ugg boot, is driving me completely insane but it’s Christmas so I’m trying to to chill out and let myself heal.  Who would have thought relaxing would actually be so challenging?

Hopefully I’ll be back in my trainers very very soon and I can work on my #ComeBackStronger approach.  In the meantime I still have these memories to remind me what I know I can do and a whole lot of sensible, controlled festive fun to look forward to 🙂


My Lazy Bum

I’ve learnt a lot about running in the last couple of weeks, which surprised me because I thought after all these years I already knew quite a lot. But the most important thing I’ve learnt is that I have a lazy arse. Literally.

Whilst my legs have been doing all the hard work for miles and miles and miles (particularly the poor right one), my bum has simply been coming along for the ride, shirking its responsibilities and enjoying a permanent rest.


A few weeks ago I started to get tight muscles around my knee after running, and it got to the point where I couldn’t really run 2 days in a row without feeling like I was doing some damage, not ideal.  The pain started to get worse and I realised that I couldn’t really walk, let alone run, without a limp.

A trip to the physio and a running coach revealed that my glutes aren’t firing when I run, apparently a common problem.  A video analysis (which I would rather have not seen!) shows that I overstride, lean forwards, don’t lift my heels enough, cross my feet, twist too much and don’t use my arms efficiently.   Doesn’t sound like I’m the best runner I can be…



My physiotherapist, Amy, is a running specialist, I don’t really trust phyios who aren’t runners themselves because they just tell you not to run and we all know you can’t say that to a runner!  She completely understands my frustration and how long I’ve got left until Amsterdam and is supportive of that.  I’ve even managed to get her permission to do the Richmond half marathon tomorrow, at a gentle pace, if I rest today (although Amy is also running the Richmond half so I know I’ll be in trouble if she sees me running too fast!)

She’s spent some time loosening up the muscles in my leg and knee and I have a series of exercise to do on a daily basis.  Glute activations twice a day, clam shells and a lot of leg rolling.  It’s boring and painful, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get me to the start line in Amsterdam in just 4 weeks.

When I’ve recovered from the marathon I’m going to start Running School to address my sub-optimal form.  Hopefully I’ll learn how to improve my efficiency, get faster and protect me from injury.

But for now it’s time my glutes got to work and gave my legs a helping hand because the clock is ticking!


Is it ever a ‘good’ time to get injured?

As my shoulder smacked down on the stony trail I knew immediately I’d done enough damage to my ankle to wipe myself out of running for at least a few days.  I was 2 miles into the first run of a long training weekend with the Chasers in the New Forest.  As I sat on the floor trying to weigh up how bad the damage was all I saw were several concerned faces looking at me.  Gutted doesn’t come close.

Of course I tried to convince myself it would be fine by the morning and I’d be back running the next day but as my ankle swelled to the size of a melon even I knew how ridiculous that was.  No more running for me.  No more running with a group of people who love running as much as I do on a weekend I had been looking forward to for weeks.

I felt bit like this…


As I sat in the dirt contemplating the recovery time I couldn’t help but think of Chrissie Wellington and all her ‘muppet’ moments, I got a strange comfort from that (if you haven’t read her book A Life Without Limits, do it, the woman is INCREDIBLE).

Luckily i wasn’t on my own, I didn’t really know where I was & it hurt to stand – I’m not one to overreact but had I been alone it obviously would have been the absolute end of the world & I probably would have stayed there on the floor covered in dirt all by myself until I eventually got eaten by wild New Forest ponies.  In situations like that you can’t underestimate the reassurance that other people bring, especially those that couldn’t empathise more.

As I realised there would be no speed session in the morning, no easy jogs, no 20 milers and not even any games of rounders I started to wonder what the hell I was going to do all weekend?  The idea of rest and elevation did not make me at all happy, I had come to run!  I couldn’t help but wishing it had happened on the last run of the weekend rather than the first but it got me thinking, when is it ever convenient to pick up an injury?

If it had happened on the last day would that have really been any better?  Sure, I would have got my mileage in and the weekend would have gone to plan but I’ve got a half marathon on Sunday… whilst I’m still not sure if I’ll do it, a sprain any later would have surely made it an impossibility?  I’ve got a marathon in 8 weeks and gearing up to some heavy mileage, surely an injury earlier is better than later?  My running schedule seems to be so hectic I don’t have time to be injured.  Ever.  Who does?

I refused to feel sorry for myself and let it ruin my weekend so I quickly made friends with a couple of the girls who were hiring bikes the next day instead of running.  We rode around country lanes for 4 hours (including an obligatory pub lunch of course) and I loved it!  I was incredibly grateful for the company as I wouldn’t of had the confidence to do it alone, the girls really made my weekend.  It was great to do something different and see the New Forest on a beautifully sunny day, plus it didn’t bother my melon sized ankle too much either.  I know if I was playing by the rules I should have been resting with my foot in the air but that was never going to happen was it?  In fact, I enjoyed it so much I wasn’t even jealous when the group went out for their second run of the day (well, maybe a tiny bit).

New Forest

So, my running weekend didn’t go to plan, I didn’t get my 20 miler in, or do any running at all in fact, but I did spend an amazingly glorious weekend outdoors – cycling, stretching, swimming, doing some core work & walking (plus eating, I still ate like a runner!)  I had a brilliant time and met some truly fabulous people who I know I’ll be running with again soon.  Plus, 4 days later, the ankle is definitely looking more like a plum than a melon and the bruising is starting to fade.  Progress!

Injuries suck, they always seem to come at the wrong time, they’re unbelievably frustrating & at times soul destroying but they come with the territory and I guess we all have to accept that we’re not invincible.

I’m sure I’ll be embracing running again soon like this little fella
Happy dog