Sunday, 27 February 2011

VFF, my lovelies, I heart you

I said I'd take the rest of the month off running.

I didn't. I know, who would have seen this coming, right?

I wasn't sure I wanted to go for a run when J and I talked about this this morning, while eating a late breakfast consisting of pancakes, berries and maple syrup. Last night we celebrated our climbing progress with a glass of wine or two (or three, who's counting?) and we both suffered the consequences this morning. In addition to our tiredness, I had a sore neck from doing some sit-ups last Friday.

Oh yeah. I started a programme for sit-ups and squats that promises to make you able to do 200 consecutive ones in just 6 weeks. My current strength is good enough to allow me to jump into week 3 for the sit-ups and week 4 for the squats. Strange, my legs don't feel that strong when I'm running up a hill...

Anyhow, we decided that a Sunday without an easy 5 km run is no Sunday at all and jumped into our running clothes. I packed my Kayanos in my backpack, because I had a plan: I'd run 3 km in my VFFs and then switch to the Kayanos for the remaining 2. I didn't want to increase the VFF dosage too quickly and get injured.

My lovelies

Initially my heart struggled to find blood to pump around in my veins, which were obviously still trying to get rid of the last drops of alcohol. We headed for the woods, and I don't know if we were optimistic or just stupid. Once we got there, I did an elegant dance on the grey ice, swirling around and waving my arms trying to keep my balance. I failed. Yet I consider it a small success that I didn't land on my ass.

Change of plans: We'd run a different way, on the ice-free pavement. On the way to said pavement, I had the joy of testing my VFFs on a patch of real earth with pine needles! and pine cones! Trackless running in the woods! It only lasted 50 metres, but wow. What a thrill. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to actually run completely barefoot.

It's not this beautiful yet, but soon...very soon

The 3 km-mark came and went and I kept running in my VFFs. It got easier and easier. My cadence was high, my breathing was stable and rhythmical and my legs felt light. I never thought ditching the heavy shoes would make such a difference, but it did.

Back at our doorstep, the Garmin showed 5,5 km. I had just run my first ”real” run in VFFs.

Seeing as this was a 2,5 km increase since I last ran in them, I might regret it tomorrow. Right now, however, everything feels fantastic and my inspiration is back with a vengeance.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Something to celebrate

The grey weather and icy ground tipped the already biased scales against running Särö – Gothenburg this morning. Until the last minute, I wasn't sure what I'd do. Like I wrote earlier this week, I've been feeling pretty tired and uninspired, so I considered taking the rest of the month off running. But this is a particularly beautiful route, and it's always fun to run with the long distance group. My aching foot made its opinion very clear, so in the end I chose not to run.

But even though I didn't run 30 km, like Mia did, I do have something of my own to celebrate: I finally managed to climb the black 6B route I've been struggling with. A month ago I couldn't even start climbing it, and now look at me. It wasn't elegant, it wasn't easy, I even hesitated a couple of times, but I did it!

A climbing experience richer, it's time to celebrate. It was only yesterday I promised I'd celebrate more often. A glass of wine and a toast to future mini-triumphs!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Positive thinking and the joys of being a robot

I really admire people that stay positive regardless of the crap that life throws at them. Those that can still smile when half their teeth are missing. Those that run marathons even though they're in a wheelchair. Those that climb mountains though they have no arms. There is something about these people's courage, their optimism, their strength that I envy. I often wonder where that attitude comes from, how it's born, and can I please have some?

At the same time it really bothers me when sadness or anger are looked down on as a sign of weakness. I read a book once where the author claimed that happiness is a matter of choice; how we react to a situation is something we've learned, and can thus be unlearned in favour of a more positive mindset. If you get angry at someone for something they did, for example, it's not their fault you're angry. It's up to you whether you'll let yourself get angry or not. You can choose to not get angry. Ask yourself if the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Or if that person had had a bad day. Then you can just feel sorry for them, and that makes your anger go away.

I found the book fascinating. Did the author mean to say that I can control my emotional responses? All the time? And just choose to be happy, and live happily ever after?

The cynic in me (and those who know me also know that I'm 90% cynical, 10% sceptical) struggled to give these ideas some serious consideration. I tried to implement them in my daily life. Then I dismissed them. Is it suddenly not acceptable to get angry? Or sad? Are these emotions weird, have they suddenly become not OK? And this idea that I would somehow be able to control these emotions – wow, I feel really omnipotent. Kind of God-like, with no uncontrollable human emotions whatsoever.

Choose not to get angry?? This book made me angry!

Guess what. Being angry, or sad, or happy, or scared, are normal human emotions, that we've developed as we evolved in order to ensure our survival. If we don't get angry at the caveman trying to steal our food, well, then we have no food and we die. If we don't get scared when we see a lion approaching, then we're cat food. Or imagine a world where no one feels sad when a loved one dies.

These were some of the things that went through my head as I walked home from work in my VFFs today. I thought about all the wonderful people I've met through the years, that have enriched my life with their positive attitude. Some of them runners, who were much greater persons than I ever will be, that asked me about my injury and then put everything into perspective by just shrugging and saying ”that's the bad thing about running – you always get injured”. Newsflash, newbie: You're not unique!

I had a colleague once that was the most amazingly sunny person I've ever met. Almost nothing fazed her. And she was genuinely positive, none of this mumbo jumbo new age crap about choosing happiness. I wish I were like her, instead of sweating about the little things. Sure, I've had a really tough autumn, with the injury and stress at work and some personal stuff that I won't get into. My foot injury is still there. But it gets better in the end. I know it will get better. The days get longer, the nights get warmer, and at the end of the day there are so many things to be thankful for.

So, how about a compromise: all feelings are OK. I'm not about to become a bloody robot. But no brooding. Celebrate the good stuff. Try and be that positive person that enriches someone else's life.

Oh, and eat more cake.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Time off sounds good right about now

There are days when you are tired, and your legs don't want to carry you any further, and your lungs gasp for air, and all you can think about is how nice it will be to finally be able to stop running.

And then there are whole weeks that are like that.

I think I might need to take the rest of the month off. From running, that is. Even if I've been experiencing moments of joy while I've been out running, especially in the company of others, what I've mainly experienced the last month is tiredness and boredom with running the same old route to or from work. No inspiration. Not even music helps any more. It's just been heavy going every single run lately, having to fight my way through the few kilometres home. The weather's cyclothymic temper has tired me out too. One minute the sun is shining, promising that spring is around the corner, and the next it's snowing. Oh weather, you manic depressive bugger.

But then again, I'm fickle. I really want to join my running buddies for their long run from Särö to Gothenburg on Saturday. So I might just change my mind if I, by some weird twist of fate, wake up on the morning of the run with unlimited amounts of energy and happy legs. In any case, tomorrow is a rest day.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Danger, Will Robinson!

Something strange happens to me when I exercise harder than usual. I get all fuzzy in my head. Take today, for example. I can't for the life of me remember if I swam for 40 minutes or for 50. It must be the chlorine fumes.

I didn't feel like swimming this morning, so I tried to let fate decide if I'd do it. Or rather, I left it up to J. Did he need the car today or would he take the bike to work instead? My swimming session depended on it. No car, no swimming. How else would I get to the swimming pool? It was a warped logic, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

J took the bike to work, so I had to go swimming, cursing under my breath. Once there, I started off easy. I'm kind of lazy when it comes to sports. I don't like to exert myself to the point where my heart tries to dig itself out of my chest with a spoon. I can run 50 km, but I try to avoid running even just one kilometre fast. I like finding a nice, even rhythm. It's meditative.

As I swam lazily from one end of the swimming pool to the other, I caught a blur in the corner of my eye. A middle aged guy free-styled past me, fast as a torpedo. Why he chose the pensioner lane to do this and not the empty fast lane is beyond me. I reached the end of the swimming pool, turned around and switched to backstroke. Suddenly I felt something punching or kicking me hard on my foot. The middle aged guy must have swum past me in the middle of the lane so fast that he didn't have time to register that I was in front of him, let alone that he hit me. Pensioner hour at the pool is dangerous to your health, folks. Or can at least cause ugly bruises.

In a moment I'm taking my bicycle to the bike shop for a make-over. I don't like having to depend on public transport or the car to get to places, and my bike needs some tender loving care after having been idle all winter. Besides, if all goes according to plan, I might be joining my running buddies in their long run from Varberg to Gothenburg in April, and since I can't run the 90-odd kilometres, I am considering cycling them. Nothing is allowed to break down then; my bike needs to be in perfect condition.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Lost in my own back yard

Today I was able to take a 1,5-hour break. As I've mentioned before, my employer allows us one hour per week for health promoting activities, but it's very difficult to find time to actually make use of this hour. So we get the chance every third week or so to do that.

Ignoring yesterday's lousy performance on my run to and from work, I planned a 10 km route that would take me sightseeing around this side of Gothenburg, without drifting too far away from work. I'd get a chance to see some new places and revisit some others.

My break didn't start so well. I was delayed at the last minute, which cut off about 15 minutes of my time. I thought about running a shorter round so that I'd get back in time, then decided against it because I felt adventurous. I wanted to run somewhere I hadn't run before, not around the block.

I occasionally looked around at my surroundings

Maps don't really tell you everything. They don't tell you where the cycle paths are, for instance. And, ok, I admit I didn't look at the map so thouroughly. It seemed easy enough: I'd just run parallel to the road, and, after about halfway into my run, turn left at the big junction. Problem was that the cycle path did not want to turn left. It wanted to turn right. That completely threw off my sense of direction. Also, I thought I knew where I was. I didn't.

Thinking you know where you are is much worse than admitting that you don't know where you are. In the second case, you ask for directions. In the first, you stubbornly run around in circles. Lucky for me, the cycle paths around here are usually well equipped with signs pointing you to the right direction. Unlucky for me, I am equipped with a thick head. I proceeded to ignore the sign that clearly pointed me back to where I was supposed to be going, because -again- I thought I knew where I was.

A picture says a thousand words

To make a really long story short, after running around this huge junction in the wrong direction and realising that I was running late (excuse the pun), I grudgingly let the signs guide me back to work. Data information from my Garmin uploaded to my computer later shows that these last kilometres were run in what little old snail-paced me considers speed of light. I arrived at work after 11 km and with just 5 minutes of my break left. I took the quickest shower of my life and then collapsed into a chair with a well deserved sandwich.

There are worse places where one can get lost

There were parts of my run that I didn't enjoy. The start and finish come to mind. The part where I got lost was actually fun, apart from the bit where I got all stressed because I thought I'd have to take the bus back or risk being late (the BUS?? Never!). I did get to see some new places and revisit a neighbourhood that's one of my favourites in this city. I might plan my next long break a little better though...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Breathe, breathe in the air

The hockey game last night started off all right.

Drums, fireworks, testosterone, beer. It never fails to amaze me how this blend of raw ingredients does not add up to violence in hockey, like it does in football. Hockey is often a family activity. The arena was packed with kids yesterday. Any violence takes place in the field, unlike football where it's more likely to be found among its supporters. Hockey 1, football 0.

Still, we lost. I don't follow hockey enough to get terribly disappointed, but I think I would have come home a lot more excited had we won, or at least if the game had been good. But it wasn't. Yet, even that failed to put me in a bad mood after the high I had gotten from yesterday's long run.

My good mood continued this morning. The sun shone and once again I wished I could bottle this sunshine and save it for the rainy days that are sure to come. On schedule, a short run in my VFFs. The thermometer showed -14 degrees. The air was a joy to breathe in and it was pleasantly chilly. My toes on the other hand did not like that and went numb after just a couple of minutes. I thought about technique and counted footsteps per minute to make sure I took short steps. I might be making progress after all: I averaged at about 190-200 bmp.

After 3 kilometres I was back home. During these 3 kilometres I had had time to fantasize about long runs in my VFFs, in the woods, in the sunshine, when the snow has melted and the ground is soft and smells of pine needles.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Now, that's more of a long run!

The bus was late, as usual. I stood there in my running clothes, freezing my butt off, praying to the public transport gods that the bus will come and I won't miss my tram connection to Skatås.

My prayers were answered. Not only did the bus come, I also caught an earlier tram, so that I didn't have to wait in town so long. I got off the tram a stop earlier with plenty of time to spare, and started jogging towards our group's meeting place, about one kilometre away.

If I counted correctly, 15 runners set off in the magnificent (if somewhat cold) weather. Among them, Mia, Hans and Johan, that shared with me the wonderful craziness that was Alingsås – Gothenburg last November.

Amazing sunshine, running in nature. Beat that.

Tricky had planned a route that would take us near my neighbourhood after 11 km. Inexplicably, the first 3-4 km were kind of a struggle. Perhaps it was the cold air that made it feel harder than it really was. In any case, I was reassured by Garmin that my pulse was normal. That, and reminiscing with Mia got me through the first half of the run, whereupon I got the legendary second wind and forgot I was running. Unfortunately by that time we had lost one of the runners, when he twisted his foot on the icy, uneven ground. After a quick discussion, he told us he would walk back to his car, that was thankfully not far away.

Running downhill in Mölndal

Once we reached Mölndal I found myself in familiar territory. We ran past the swimming pool where I train (or where I'm supposed to be training when I'm not being too lazy) and soon I had to leave the group to head home. When I was almost there, I ran past one of the local gyms and was stunned to see that so many people chose to train indoors on such a beautiful, sunny day. The parking lot was full of cars, and so was the street outside the gym.

I just don't get it.

My foot survived 16 kilometres in the end, and I treated it with an ice bath, anti-inflammatory pills and a chocolate muffin. Later this afternoon I'm treating it with a hockey game. I'm really spoiling it, I know, but it deserves it. Don't you think?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Blood, sweat and tears

Heavy legs that had to be pleaded with to carry me a few metres more. Music in my ears that failed to give me the energy I needed. Absence of anything beautiful to look at while I ran that could give me a kick – just grey skies, grey buildings, grey ice. The boring old route home from work.

Winter does not want to let go.

I could tell right from the start that it was going to be a tough run. Not the kind of tough that gets better once you've started, but the other kind, the one that wipes you out. The whole week has been tough. I had to fight for every metre, hell, every centimetre that took me closer to home. My pulse was higher than usual, again.

Running wise it was supposed to be a recovery week. A week with fewer planned kilometres. And it was: I've only run 21 kilometres up to now, which with the long run planned this weekend together with my running group will add up to maybe 35. However, I haven't had a pure rest day in over a week. I've been training every day, sometimes with two sessions within the same day. Take yesterday, for example. I went for an 11 km run in the morning, and then went climbing in the afternoon. Climbing was unscheduled and in hindsight it might have been better if I had skipped it.

The training schedule that I came up with a week or two ago has no pure rest days, but I tried to alternate between 4-5 activities in order to have some run free days. So when I don't run, I might swim instead, or climb – which use different muscles and give my legs a chance to rest. Some days I'll do yoga, which is a gentler all-around workout. There is a planned activity every day, but not the same one several days in a row.

This schedule will of course be revised as needed. One of the activities might have to go. I am not a slave to it either. If I don't feel like going for a run, I just don't. It's more of a guideline so that I don't do too much of one thing or too little of another (*cough* swimming *cough*).

As I really want to go running on Saturday, I will take a pure rest day tomorrow and hope that it's enough to restore my energy. I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Garmin fault?

Something was wrong with my pulse today. Or maybe it was my Garmin. Must have been the Garmin.

My pulse averages at about 150-160 when I run as slowly as I did today. But two seconds into my run it had shot up to 240 and fluctuated between that and 200 for the first couple of kilometres. Strangely enough I didn't feel that the run was particularly difficult or that I was struggling. I mean, there is no way my pulse can go up to 240.

I didn't know what to do. This was not normal. Was this a sign that I'm getting a cold? Was I tired? Was my pulse belt upside down? I opened my jacket and looked discreetly down my top. Nope, it was the right way around. I considered turning around and going home. The icy wind and cloudy sky almost sealed the deal. Somewhere inside me, though, what was left of my warrior spirit raised its voice in protest: I've run in worse weather, and my Garmin has sent confusing signals before.

I kept running. My pulse dropped to 180. Even running down hills failed to restore my pulse to its usual level.

I had to lower my speed to heed the law.

It took 7 km before my pulse was back to normal. I ran another 4, looking at my Garmin all the time for any indication that it would rise again. When I got home, I did some research on the Internet. Apparently some people have had problems with their Garmin belt at the start of their runs, before they get warmed up. It gives abnormally high pulse indications. Once they get sweaty, the belt sensor gets better contact with the skin, thus giving more accurate values.

I had already noticed that my pulse is always higher at the beginning of the run, which can be explained by this theory. Still, 240 is extremely high and I need to keep an eye for any other signals my body might be sending that it needs some extra rest.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sunshine on a rainy day

Today's run home was one of those rare times when I'd rather have hidden under a blanket. My usual route home felt boring and uninspiring. The freezing headwind made my eyes water. My legs were dead tired, my rucksack was heavier than usual and the skies were overcast. The only thing missing to hurl me into depression was a Leonard Cohen song.

Then I came home to a warm apartment, where our two cats made it very clear they were happy to see me. After that I received some really great news. And, as if that weren't enough, the latest issue of Runner's World just arrived in my mailbox.

So what if the skies are dark? In here the sun is shining.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

When not even running can cure the blues

And here I was, thinking that this would be an easy, short run, together with J.

For my easy, short runs I choose flat cycle paths. For his easy, short runs J chooses a path that takes us to half kilometre-long steep hill, which (if it doesn't kill you first) makes you wish you would die already and end this torture.

Still, I'm glad we went out in the sunshine and scraped together 5 km, which lifted our spirits, if only temporarily. The day started out well enough, but there were soon big frowns on both J's face and mine. Fur ball number two peed on our bed, a behaviour that makes us very worried indeed. This is nothing new; he did it twice when my parents were here visiting, only then he picked dad's bed to pee on. At the time we dismissed it as some sort of protest against having a new male in the household. But this was the first time he peed on our bed, on the established alpha-male's side, something that is hard to explain.

All sorts of thoughts are running through our heads about how to deal with this. There are no appealing options. Frankly, we're starting to think that he'd be better off living somewhere in the countryside, where he'd have an opportunity to roam outside. Lately he's become more and more restless, walking around the apartment complaining loudly, hardly interested in playing anymore. Can cats get depressed?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A love declaration to VFFs

Oh what a marvellous day. 8 degrees below zero and dazzling sunshine. In contrast to yesterday's hurricane wind, not a leaf is shaking today. There are patches of ice here and there on the pavement, but it's not slippery.

I hadn't used my Vibram Five Fingers in ages. I've been working on foot strength in other ways, by using the balance board for example, but my VFFs were almost forgotten. Partly because I've been running longer distances than I could use my VFFs for, and partly because of the icy conditions on roads and pavements. But today offered the perfect opportunity: beautiful weather and no training plans that include running.My gorgeous ape feet, I love you. You make my feet happy. Yes, even the evil one is smiling and feels better than it did before I took you for a 2 km spin. You forced my cadence to increase to 200 bpm, taking shorter steps and landing with my feet under my body. I wanted to keep running and running, feeling free, without pain. I can't wait to run in the forest with you.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Ice skating

Is there a better conclusion to the working week than a 5 km run home on an uneven, icy surface, in windy, blistery weather? (Yes. A 10 km run in spring sunlight on pine needle-covered forest paths. Just imagine how amazing it's going to feel after the winter we've had)

I felt pretty tired running home, because this morning I also ran to work. When I run to work, I'm usually very good at forgetting to stretch, which I suspect makes it harder for my muscles to recover. Hence, the tired legs. But I clenched my teeth and told myself to Just Do It, because, really, what choice did I have? Walking would turn me into a human popsicle, and the bus was as far away as home. After I had Just Done It, boy, did it feel good to come home, where it was warm, and put my evil foot in a tub of ice water.

Anyhow, all fingers and toes are currently crossed that the snow quota for this year has been reached. I'm officially sick of it. Well, maybe not the snow, but the icy mess that it leaves behind when it's gone. I'm ready for the spring!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Purr alarm clock

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(Dislaimer: We are working on a solution for a flexibility issue, that currently prevents the alarm clock from waking you up at any time other than precisely 04:48 every morning, weekday or weekend, whether you've set the alarm or not)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

This is the sea

As the sun slowly rose above the horizon this morning, I headed out for my first Wednesday "long" run. After 5 km, I finally left the rush hour streets of noise and fumes and climbed on top of a hill that gave me a view of the whole bay. I tried not to slip on the icy tarmac and ran down the hill towards the sea. Boats were hibernating on land for the winter. The ice that covered the surface of the sea had started to crack, creating rectangular floats that resembled jigsaw puzzle pieces.

When I came home after 11 km, the sun was up and bathing our living room in warmth and light. And who is more of an expert at enjoying the sun's warmth than cats?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Love is in the air

You know the feeling when spring finally arrives after a long, cold winter, that everywhere you look, there are couples holding hands, or teenagers staring into each others' eyes? That everyone is pulling off their heavy sweaters and winter coats and putting on cotton skirts and t-shirts, or eating ice-cream, or lying on the grass sunbathing? The feeling that everyone's in love?

I felt love rushing through my veins when I ran home from work today. And I wasn't the only one. Everywhere I looked, people smiled. Everyone I passed on the street nodded or said hi to me. Everyone looked so happy. And how could they not be, with a sunset like this?

The sky was on fire. There was a refreshing breeze. Most of the ice is now gone from the pavements. People go outside and enjoy the fantastic weather. People who cycle. People who go for walks. People who run. Love is in the air: love for the rebirth of nature after an icy winter, love for the hope that spring brings, love for light and warmth.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bitter? You bet.

If my foot was quiet while I ran on Saturday, it was screaming bloody murder yesterday.

I could hardly walk. I could hardly put weight on it. Then, the next moment, the pain would be gone. After half an hour, it would come back. And so on, and so forth, the whole day. My planned short run in my VFFs had to be cancelled. I had to keep my mind and body occupied in other ways.

So first I compiled a 3-week training schedule. It consists mainly of short runs, about 3-4 per week, mostly home from work. Some days I run the distance twice (both to and from work, in other words). My "long" run is 12 km, although I might have to cut back on that too, judging by how my foot felt on Saturday after only 11 km. I've tried to fit in climbing, cycling, swimming, yoga and strength exercises on the other days of the week. It was no easy feat.

One of three weeks is an easy one, with less running. No quality sessions, nothing complicated, just short runs to keep me going while I try to figure out what to do about my foot. Amputation is on the top of my list. Booking an appointment to see the orthopaedic specialist is a close second.

Then I did an hour of yoga followed by some strength exercises. Don't think that the rest of the day I took it easy. Floors had to be vacuum-cleaned and mopped, bathtub to be scrubbed, recycling to be taken care of. I topped it all off by making veggie lasagne with mushrooms and lentils. Now that's a reward for a hard day's work.

The ugly truth is that my foot is not getting better. It seemed like it for a while, and then it got worse again. My feet have gotten stronger, but the problem hasn't disappeared. While my running buddies are planning great adventures and exciting races, I'm stuck with my 5 km going nowhere. Bitter? You bet.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Men in tights

And women. Braving the strong wind and going for a run by the sea. I met at least 10 such brave runners this morning.

Spring was definitely not in the air. Rather there was an overwhelming late autumn feel in the air. But the ice is melting mostly everywhere now, and I was able to enjoy my old 11 km route by the sea (thanks for the inspiration, AKA!). I used to run there several times per week, now it's my "long" run route. How things can change within just a few months.

I had lots of energy left at the end of the run, and my foot kept quiet the whole time. But J and I are going climbing soon, and I want to be able to manage at least an hour of it. It would be so embarrassing to have to ask J to lift me up the wall.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Wet, wet, wet

I might attract the wrong kind of traffic with that title, but that's a risk that I will just have to take. Because that's what my feet are after run commuting home today: WET.

Contrary to what monster weather various meteorological websites threatened with this morning, the anticipated hurricane wind never came. Sure, it's windy, but it's always windy around here (and it's always headwind, no matter which way you turn). It had snowed a couple of centimetres over night, which together with the tropical 5 degrees we're having today resulted in a lovely slush. As opposed to an ice rink. An improvement of sorts.

Yesterday's swimming pools had regrettably not disappeared over night, but some of them were covered in a thin layer of ice/slush. That tricked me more than once into thinking that the pools were very shallow. They weren't. Ice cold water drenched my feet and turned my pristine Kayanos further into a well-worn, battered shadow of their previous self. Once my feet dry up, I'm sure I won't mind. It's sort of a badge of honour, I suppose. The dirtier my shoes, the more dedicated runner I am. Or the worse I am at avoiding puddles. Something like that.

Finally, to those of you who found this blog via the article, welcome! Hope you stick around. I will be posting more information about our Ultra training event in April as soon as all the planning pieces fall into place.

Weather, make up your mind

There's a howling wind blowing outside my window. It woke me up at 5 from a strange dream, in which I wanted to go to this beautiful church in England with my friend with Lego.

Yesterday I ran home from work in gorgeous sunshine. It felt like spring. It had rained buckets the days before though, and as a result I ended up not so much running home as walking, jumping, balancing on my toes and trying not to break anything. Where the ice stopped, the water puddles started. And by puddles, I mean lakes.

When I finally came home and connected my Garmin to my computer, it showed nothing. My hard-earned 5 km disappeared into the ether and I had nothing to show for it. Well, almost nothing. My white Kayanos, that had seen nothing but snow and ice up to now, had finally gotten a taste of mud.

The question occupying my mind on this Friday morning is: should I run home from work today? The freak wind is not to let up until tonight, and it's (of course) a headwind. Whatever I decide, I know how I'll be spending my Friday night. With these two adorable monsters:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Oh crap

So now my physiotherapist says it IS plantar fasciitis. Even though my foot has gotten better. Even though it now almost exclusively "hurts" in the morning. Even though the "pain" is more of a stiffness and soreness than actual pain.

She told me again that I need orthopaedic insoles. Because, of course she bloody would. When I expressed my scepticism, she said that I shouldn't see this as something negative. Rather, what with my foot feeling better, I should see it as the means to an end: to keep doing what I love doing.

I was of course hoping that my foot's improvement would have the opposite effect. That she would urge me to keep doing my foot exercises, and that the problem would eventually disappear. Instead of that, she essentialy told me that it was worse than she thought.

My initial reaction is to go ahead and book an appointment with the orthopaedic specialist. Buy some insoles. Judging by what she said, the problem with my foot (that the arch is getting lower and lower) cannot be reversed, hence I need these insoles. Sounds reasonable, right? Yet another part of me is saying that something I've been doing the last few weeks has made a difference, and I can run now, whereas I couldn't before. Is the problem truly irreversible?

In any case, today is a true rest day. I'm meeting a friend for a cup of coffee later, and that coffee is all that will be causing my heart to beat faster.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

I'm free to do what I want

Yesterday's run commuting to and from work didn't go so well. In fact, I pretty much hated every second of it. In the (very early) morning I seriously questioned my legs' ability to carry me there. They begged for mercy. I suspect they were still in deep slumber, no matter what my very alert brain was telling me. Then, on my way home, I got such a cramp in my stomach that I had to stop and rest. Despite my difficulties I managed to scrape together a total of 10 km. Then I spent the rest of the evening reading a book on the couch, where I finally fell asleep just after 8. Oooh yeah. Party on.

Today I'm working from 7 to 18 with a half-hour break and an hour of what can loosely be translated as "health promotion". That means that we have an hour to do whatever athletic activity we feel like, and get paid for it. We're entitled to one such hour per week, but with the working conditions being what they are, there just isn't enough time to use this hour every week. Instead, we use it once every three weeks. Hence, it's a precious opportunity that we don't want to miss.

The problem for me, of course, is that I'm knackered. The only activity I can think of that takes an hour, including taking a shower, is running, and my legs are adamant that I will do no such thing. Another thought I'm toying with is going for a walk in my VFFs - gentler on my tired thighs. But weather forecast promises heavy rain and wind, that will start pretty much exactly when my health hour starts. VFFs and winter rain equal very miserable feet.

It is a conundrum. If I can't think of any activity to do, I will have to *gasp* do some work instead...As much as I love my job, even running in the cold rain and headwind with tired legs seems like a better prospect. So I'll prepare for that eventuality and see how tired I feel when the time comes.