I haven’t run since last week’s parkrun and don’t plan to until after I see the physio again on Tuesday. I’m into my second week of properly treating this plantar fasciitis and I think it’s going okay. I’m attacking it on all fronts, with stretches, rolling, icing and I’ve had it taped up this week. I’m also working on strengthening, balance and hip stability with my PT. I am attacking it with a golf ball as I write.
I admit to a wobbly lip moment when I asked how long before I could start running again and the physio said 6 weeks. But he meant 6 weeks until I am running like I expect to be. Not 6 weeks with no running at all. When I go back this week, I hope to get a running prescription, probably of the run/walk variety.
Recently I’ve read some inspirational stories about people dealing with really tough times. And through the kindness of a Wallsend Harrier, I learned about the death of Terry O’Gara, club chairman, running legend and the man who lead the few sessions I ran with the club last year.
I can’t say I knew Terry well, but you didn’t have to be in his company for more than a second or two to know he was something special. And it didn’t take much longer than that to sense his love of running and his enjoyment of it that spread to encouraging others. Another Wallsend Harrier, Stacey Rogers, puts his influence into context better than I can.
I’m sorry I didn’t get chance to know him better or learn more from him. But I’ll always be proud to say I ran with him, even if it was just trying to catch him up Swan’s bank. And my thoughts are with his family and the club who will miss him hugely.
I felt bad about my wobbly lip. So perspective realigned, acknowledge and move on. This week, I’ve cycled and swum, flung kettlebells around, punched my way through a boxercise class, stretched and strengthened and even got up early to spend a rather uncomfortable half hour with the foam roller.
I’ve learned that running shorts make for a rather uncomfortable session on the gym bikes and that wetsuit socks will help keep my feet warm and dry on a bike ride outside, but they do get rather sweaty. And actually, yes, by Friday I had managed to wear myself out and be glad of a rest day.
On Saturday I’d hoped to meet up with my buddy Peter and take the road bike out for her first session of 2012. But the forecast was frosty and foggy, so we decided discretion was the better part of valour and look forward to riding out in better weather.
But I was porridged up and ready to go, so I dug out my thermals and layered up for a ride at the coast. I had a few ingredients to pick up from the supermarket for a meal Gary was planning to cook. So I pottered out on my bike with my backpack, figuring if it was too cold and icy, I’d just do an errand run.
It was cold, but bright and clear, the sun cutting through the china blue sky and just taking it easy on the bike, I began to wish the road to the shops was a bit longer. I whizzed back home and dropped off my bags, before getting back out and on the bike for a longer ride.
Plans to recce a route that could take me to work were ditched in favour of flying up the coast to the dunes and the windmills at Blyth. There were plenty of people out enjoying the winter sunshine. Lots of smiles and nods from fellow cyclists and runners as I passed.
The route is pretty flat, and with barely any wind to speak of I felt like I covered the miles easily. I wasn’t pushing for speed, not consciously ‘training’, just enjoying the feeling of fresh air on my face and the sights and sounds around me.
I was also smiling to myself at my bike gear. It really is a cobbled together collection of kit. The only bike specific bits are my helmet and new warm gloves that I bought last weekend. The rest is old running gear. But I was plenty warm enough and it was dry, so I was perfectly contented.
There’s a splendid path between the dunes near the beach. It’s one of my favourite rides. But in the past it’s always seemed to take ages to get there, so that by the time I do, I only enjoy it for a short while before I have to turn back. This time, I was there before I knew it, making short work of the slight rise up towards Seaton Sluice.
I had to watch my path as there were plenty of people taking dogs, children or just themselves for a walk. And I stopped to take a few photos by the beach, caught by the crystal clear beauty of the day. And I had to remind myself to keep something in reserve for the long journey back. But I went further than I have before along this path.
Eventually I did turn for home, picking up speed on the downhills, spotting the lighthouse in the distance and then suddenly passing it by. Speeding along in top gear, or shifting down to make it easy it was a breathtaking ride. Just towards the end, I began to feel it. A little twinge in my hip and back that said “That’ll do.”
So not a fast ride or a hilly one, but a great one for lifting my spirits and reminding me that it doesn’t always have to be hard work. There will still have been some calories burned, some muscles worked to make it worthwhile. And it was a reminder about how much more confident I am on my bike than when I first started taking it out last year.
My trusty old mountain bike may not be sleek and sexy, but it’s a reliable old beast and we’re sure to have a few adventures together. We don’t do much off road together, but I like the chance I get to look around when we’re out and about.
I’d wanted to do at least 20k, and in the end managed 15 miles on top of the few pootling to the supermarket and back. When I got back and totted up my bike, swim, row, walk and run totals, I was surprised to find I’d topped 100 miles for the month. And there will be a few more added today with a cycle to the pool and back. Not massive mileage by any means, but a great variety of training to keep me ticking over and to keep me in good shape for when I start running again.