Improving and feeling strong

My ankle continues to improve. Last week I managed another run walk session and then, I admit, I cheated on my plan and just ran on it the next day. I went out from work with a newish runner who was just looking for some company and we ran at talking pace for about 35 mins or 3 miles.

I used it as an exercise in midfoot running and managed to keep my new technique all the way round. My calves were a bit stiff in the evening, but not unpleasantly so.

Runner wearing Newcastle United shirt
Jeff at 2k into his 100th Newcastle parkrun

I did my first boxercise session in a few weeks on Wednesday evening and got a great work out, though I was nervous of some of the jumping exercises.

And then on Thursday morning I was back down the beach first thing for a tough PT session. We started with running drills, then worked our way up to a couple of exercises with 2 x12k kettlebells, using them as static weights and concentrating on my legs. I still wobbled a bit on some of the 1 legged exercises, so I still need to build up my balance and confidence in my left leg. But it was good to take things up a notch and challenge myself.

By Friday, my ankle was a little stiff and achey, so I treated myself to a swim after work. I have been working on pull buoy drills and really feel they are making a difference, particularly in getting my elbows high and my hand into the water sooner. But for this session I just got in and swam, enjoying the feel of the water and it did the trick of easing the range of movement again.

Saturday I layered up for a morning on the Town Moor, volunteering at Newcastle parkrun. I was dispatched to Gate 2, just after the 2k marker, so got a good walk there and back and a chance to see just how muddy and plodgy the paths are now. I managed to snap some pictures as well as directing runners through the gap. It was great to see Lesley Anne back running and smiling as she bounded along the tree lined road and to cheer Jeff on for his 100th Newcastle parkrun.

Halloween lanterns
Halloween lanterns – picture courtesy of Katherine Wildman

Then it was a quick turn around to get home and out again for G and S Organics Bonfire night on the farm. We arrived early to lend a hand chopping and peeling vegetables for the soup, fetching and carrying things over to the outdoor events area and stringing up fairy lights.

There was a great display of carved pumpkins, turnips and little squashes and by the time the other guests arrived it was growing nicely dark, so we were glad of the heat of the bonfire and a few sparklers. No fireworks because of the animals, but that suits me just fine.

The food was, as always, delicious. Soup and burgers when everyone arrived, then after a bit of bonfire chat, a plate full of pheasant au vin and leeky mash with three different types of cake for pudding.

As the evening drew on we looked up at the clear skies to see millions of stars. No sign of the Northern lights, but you could see the Milky Way. Steeped in woodsmoke, we drank cocoa as we cleared up and made our way home. It was a splendid way to spend the day.

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Bouncing and the Town Moor marathon

Bouncing! Yes, that was me, literally and figuratively after getting back to my PT session on Thursday. Early morning, in the dark, in the mizzle and Ian had me trying new things that should get me running more midfoot, bouncing, jumping, hopping. And my ankle is okay with it.

Elvet Striders on the Town Moor marathon
Elvet Striders on the Town Moor marathon

We just do a bit, not too much and move on to more bodyweight and weighted exercises, so I get a great workout and all the time I’m feeling stronger, happier. Buzzing with possibilities, reflecting back the extra enthusiasm that Ian brings today, fresh from part one of his triathlon coaching course and eager to try things out. I am a very willing test subject.

My ankle, I reckon is about 85% fixed, I tell him, and revise that up another 5% by the end of the session, as I’m more confident about holding additional weight on it.

And all the time I’m learning. He’s throwing out questions, I’m naming muscles, bones, movements, consolidating what I’ve learned in my studies so far. The hour goes by in a blur.

The good vibes continue with a satisfying presentation at work and a really enjoyable rehearsal with the choir on Friday lunchtime. We’ve been working really hard on some tricky songs and not really feeling very confident, but we started to see how we could bring it together in this rehearsal. I still get really nervous at the thought of singing in public, as we will be in a few weeks’ time and I know I don’t always get the pitch right, but do something that’s scares you, I say.

Ann Hood ladies winner Town Moor marathon 2012
Ann Hood ladies winner Town Moor marathon 2012

On Sunday, I went to support friends, parkrunners and everyone else running a marathon on Newcastle’s town moor. I had a couple of friends who came down from Scotland to run it, Ann and Les, who it was great to see, and there were lots of other local runners I know taking part. Penny came along and we clapped yelled and generally encouraged everyone from the bandstand.

They are a hardy lot, running five laps of a muddy moor on a wintry day, but there were mainly smiles and lots of waves as we clapped and shouted well done and I passed drinks and gels to Ann and Les.

Ann really is a fabulous runner and has achieved so much. She ran this race two years’ ago wearing my Garmin and was delighted to go under 4 hours. In London she ran 3:09 for the marathon and I tracked her times on the website. Today, she didn’t beat her best time, but still ran a great race to take the first place ladies trophy. I was very proud to see her do it as she continues to inspire me to believe in myself and go for my own goals.

More Town Moor marathon pictures here. If you’d like a high quality copy, please get in touch.

At the moment, I’m happy just to continue to recuperate my ankle. There’s still a little bit of swelling, but it doesn’t cause me any problems day to day. I’m building up to running on it gradually, with some run walk sessions and trying to train myself to run more mid foot, rather than hitting the ground with my heel. It’s a good time for me to do this and hopefully it will make me a better runner in future. Next up might be some lighter, more minimal trainers to encourage me to change my running gait, but I’ll go get some advice before I splash out.