Since I’ve been sensible about cutting back on my running and treating my plantar fasciitis, I’ve been focusing on other elements of my training. One of the biggest benefits is that I’ve seen a big improvement in my swimming.
On Thursday night, my arms were aching after swinging a kettlebell around during an early morning PT session, but I eased into the water and began a nice warm up swim. I didn’t have any plans or expectations for this swim, it just fits in a nice slot in my day and at the moment it’s helping me ease any pain in my foot.
But as I had the swim lane to myself, I got into a nice rhythm and decided to repeat a set I’ve been doing for the past few weeks and try to do 100m off 2:20 and get up to 8 reps. I was going well and feeling good, managing to keep a nice steady pace and doing 100m in around 2 mins, give or take a second or three. And then I got confused about how many reps I’d done, so I added another to be on the safe side. That meant I finished at the far end of the pool, so I swam another set to get back, meaning I actually did 10 reps instead of 8.
My second swim came on Saturday evening when I joined Tyne tri club for their session again. I knew a bit better what to expect this time, so before I started swimming, I did some sinking drills to get my breathing under control and focused on keeping it smooth and steady.
The main set this week was more like a long swim with a couple of 400 sets and some 200s. My arms were a bit weary and I got a bit of a cough splutter on a couple of times, but I managed to keep going for the whole hour and swam 1,800m in total. The coach gave me another good tip, encouraging me to get my hands into the water more quickly.
I took some swimming lessons back in 2009, but the focus there was to get me putting my head into the water and breathing. We didn’t really work on stroke technique or rolling to breathe or kicking. So there’s lots I can learn.
It was amazing the difference these two tips made. Relaxing the breath out so that it bubbles along means I’m far less out of breath at the end of a length and getting my hand in the water sooner makes the stroke feel easier too. I’m sure there’s loads more to work on, but one thing at a time.
The swim also helped relax and loosen up my troublesome foot. I’d hoped to do a walk/run on Saturday but after walking round at parkrun on marshalling duty, it was a bit twingy. I knew in my head I shouldn’t chance it, but I really wanted to. I treated myself to a little jaunt out on the mountain bike instead – just 30 minutes, but with the wind that was quite enough and it felt like hard work.
On Sunday morning, I was going to get breakfast and then I thought why not go for a run first. That’s what I would sometimes do on a weekday morning when I was running regularly, so why not when I had a walk/run to look forward to. My foot was behaving itself, so I wrapped up more warmly than I would do for just a run, strapped up my arch, shook the mud from my old Saucony’s and headed out along the coast.
There was a rather biting wind in my face as I turned onto the front, but I told myself I’d warm up and could head inland if necessary and distracted myself with views of the blue skies and the wild white horses tumbling in the waves.
Almost immediately, just walking, there was a twinge from my foot and for a minute I thought about stopping and heading back. But it was a brief twinge and it settled down. So I resolved to do at least one 5 min walk 1 min run rep and review my progress. As I warmed up, there were no further problems and I worked my way through 5 minutes of walking, heel kicks, knee raises and side shuffles. And then I ran.
Just for a minute. And unlike last time, I didn’t go haring off like it was the end of a 5k race. I just ran, nice and steady. And when the minute was up, I walked, heel kicked, knee raised and did it all over again.
And I smiled at all the runners and the walkers and the cyclists passing by. I said hello to some friendly dogs and just generally enjoyed being out on a cold, crisp breezy but bright winter’s day. I turned back after three reps and headed home, just feeling the suggestion of an ache in the last few minutes. I stopped at my usual long run shelter and stretched on the bench, smiling.
Back home I didn’t give any aches any chance. It was straight into the ice pack and then bottle rolling as I celebrated with porridge banana and a drizzle of honey – cos that’s how I roll. Fingers crossed it’s the start of the road to recovery and running again.