Thursday, 21 May 2015

2015..Good Riddance. Never Liked Odd Numbers Anyways...

Sport can be cruel. After riding the rollercoaster of emotions over the last 17 weeks and believing I was well in the road to recovery - I was clobbered with another road block. The ankle has consistently been sore to run on, throughout my rehab - albeit, at a low level around a 3/10 pain. I had been informed that some soreness was to be expected so I blocked out the discomfort. Over the last two weeks, the pain had been becoming increasingly unpleasant and inflamed the more I increased the impact. I attempted my first track session last week but the soreness was too much and so I retired the session after a total of two miles. I was clearly dispirited that the ankle had reacted in such a poor way - it cemented in my head that the World Championships were unquestionably, no longer an option. I set my sights on being able to return jogging again, pain free, with the possibility of racing some flat races towards the end of the season. Running pain free is beyond doubt, something people take for granted. I've grown into an angry old man. Driving past members of the general public out jogging, I get an overwhelming feeling of jealousy towards them - people I don't even know! Yet, I just want to knock them out and steal their ankles to replace my own! 

Initially, I was lead to believe this injury would take near 4 weeks. It then quickly turned out to be a little more serious than we originally thought and the time doubled. 8 weeks slowly transpired into 15 weeks. Mentally, it's exhausting to feel you are at the end, to then be told differently. You begin your journey trudging on the upwards slope and just as you're about to reach the summit - you are quickly plummeted back down again. This has happened several times over the past three months but last week sucker punched me a final blow. 

Two days before I was scheduled to travel to Park City, Utah - the UKA medical team arranged another MRI, as the ankle had flared up once more. I had been getting a lot of pain around the joint of my ankle, shooting into my Achilles and plantar-fascia. I knew it was bad news after being called in early the following morning. The Physio and one of the endurance coaches quickly flittered out the room when I appeared - it was apparent that this meeting was going to end in tears. The doctor told me the disastrous news, that the fracture in my ankle was now fully extended and in a much worse position than the initial scan. I still can't quite get my hear around it. After spending seven weeks in a boot and only beginning to impact at week 9 onwards - I found it very tough to accept. Who manages to break their ankle MORE, with no impact? Me, supposedly! I also feel like my body is approximately 80% milk, after living off a high calcium diet over the last few months and dosing up on calcium tablets - I swear I'm going to start urinating milk soon! 

I have now been advised to return to the dreaded moon boot for a further 8-10 weeks, making it a stable fashion item in my wardrobe. They have recommended rest (as in.. Sit on the sofa) for three months. As you can imagine - that sentence went into one ear, did some somersaults around my head and exited very quickly out the other. It's crystal clear that the World Championships are no longer a realistic aim but I would prefer to continue cross training or at least Aqua jogging, in order to maintain my sanity and perhaps even allow me to race a few late season, flat races. The steeplechase will not be an option for a long time.

The UKA doctor stated that I 'was very difficult to work with', which upsets me a little. I am certainly no diva and never demand anything from them. I am very introvert and like to do things on my own when problems arise with injuries - doing all my hard work behind the scenes, rather than floating around the HiPac Performance Centre. I admit, I ask a lot of questions and query their advice meticulously but it's only because ultimately, it is my career on the line. They remain within their jobs, regardless of what happens to me and the conveyor belt of athletes continues moving, regardless of where I've fallen off. Although I am no doctor, I feel I am of a high enough intelligence to request each and every detail in-depth, rather than be shown a picture of an ankle and told to rest. I am genuinely interested in the details, not only with my own injuries but with other athletes - it fascinates me. I would like to thank UKA for helping me arrange my medical scans over the last few months and realise it's a frustrating job looking after a broken athlete, who only wants definite answers. Sometimes there isn't an answer to give but it's definitely taught me a lesson, regarding the protocols I will personally take the next time an injury stops me in my tracks.

Discovering that things are a little more serious than the previous assumption - is tremendously discouraging. It's the first time I've felt really deflated and actually questioned my time in the sport. Not that I once intended to quit, but it really made me think about my future, after athletics. For the first week, I was very upset and completely alone in Loughborough to deal with the situation. I told my dad that I was considering going back to university or finding a job but continuing with my athletics as a hobby - no pressures or expectations - run for fun. But after the initial upset, my determination kicked in. I was straight back into the pool with my moon boot in tow. I'm a determined little bugger and not prepared to put anything in front of my athletics just yet. I really want to give this a serious go, with Rio 2016 on the horizon. I have looked for some external advice and depending on the results of my scans - I may need surgery in order to heal the bone. After 17 weeks, the bone undeniably should have healed rather than regress but unfortunately, that particular area is notoriously problematic to recover. I will find out my fate next week. The specialist I have been speaking to, stated that I need to be certain that I don't find myself in the same situation, another 17 weeks down the line. He ended the conversation on something that really resonated with me; 

Lesson learned. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

National Hummus Day

After refusing to eat the stuff for years, I've slowly become a Hummus addict. Dealing with an injury, which doesn't allow you to impact - gives you a lot more free time, in between gruelling cross training sessions and being home completely alone for the last fortnight, has given me full reigns of the kitchen!

I have never been an athlete to focus much on their diet but over the last few months - I've tried really hard to make a few, minor changes and become a little bit healthier! My first aim was to have some healthy home-made snacks, ready for me to grab, as soon as I finish training - rather than heading to the supermarket in a hungry rampage. 

Last week, I made normal hummus but after buying beetroot for my lunch and having no idea what to do with the leftovers, I found a recipe online for Beetroot Hummus. It gives it a fantastic pink colour and was extremely easy to make...

-Half a tin of chickpeas
-One small beetroot
-Small clove of garlic
-Half of a small red pepper
-Table spoon of Tahini 
-Tea spoon of cumin
-Sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Nike Miler's Event

It's not often you get invited to an event, taking place in an underground car park but last week, I attended the launch of the Nike Milers. The location was fantastic - in a super-car only, car park - hidden away underneath Hyde Park, in central London. They had mapped out a mile long course, weaving around the cars; boosted by bright, coloured lights and loud, booming music. The whole evening was hosted by none other than, Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe - so as you can imagine - it was a running geek's heaven! The guests were specifically invited from all different commodities but with the one passion, bringing everyone together - running!

The mile is such an significant distance, yet not everyone knows what time they are capable of clocking, so it was a unique experience, to allow all the guests to record their first ever personal best. Even for me, as a longer distance athlete, the mile is pivotal. I log miles, plenty of them... But in my diary, I note down every mile split as a gauge to make sure I'm not going either too fast or too slow - giving me an indication of pace and speed. It's a huge reference marker in my training diary to compare, week on week.

The night involved a quick Q&A with myself, sandwiched between two athletics legends - which was slightly daunting but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Unfortunately due to my injury, I couldn't take part in the mile but was lead cheerleader for the evening. The elite athletes all completed their mile around the car park course, in order to give an insight to what speed really looks like (although they jogged around at tempo pace, as they are currently in peak training for the forthcoming summer track season!!). It was then the guests turn to see how fast they could go! 

The whole initiative is a brilliant idea. People love running but when they hear the word 'track' - a look of horror fills their face. The general public are more than happy to take part in their local park run or local 5k road race but I would struggle to find a participant, willing to take part in a track race! The athletics track is seen to be elite - for people who take running seriously - but it shouldn't be. The track should be open and welcoming to people, of all ages and abilities and so I hope this Nike Milers Club, really embraces that and encourages people to the world of track! Obviously, not all miles have to be clocked on the track - that's the beauty of running but it would be nice to see more people enthused by those wonderful 8 lanes! 

Back in Dundee at my local club, we had two marathon, fun runners who were constantly out training on the roads and feared they would be 'too slow for track sessions with a group' but eventually, they took the plunge and joined us. Even though they were 'bringing up the rear of the group' (their words, not mine!!' - they absolutely loved it. It was something different and they enjoyed the varying distances, speeds and recoveries. The track made them feel quick and they were becoming faster each week. Amazingly, they managed to knock minutes off their marathon PBs and were thrilled! It makes a huge difference being part of a team or group - everyone wants the same outcome, to run faster than they've ever done before! 

Track is important. The mile is crucial... But being part of something is bigger than anything.

Nike Elite kit 2015

The wait for the new, Elite Nike Race uniform is always an exciting one. I always hear snip bits of what colour scheme people think may be used for the 2015 season and this year; Nike have got it bang on! I loved last years pink print but 2015 will definitely make the athletes stand out - bright orange, leopard print! 🔥

Elite Kit 2015

The Mamba's have been my favourite spike to run in. Although, they have now improved them slightly to have a sock-like feel around the ankle! Unfortunately, I most likely won't get the oppurtunity to be wearing the racing kit this summer but if this isn't motivation to get back ASAP - then I don't know what is! 😍

Nike Zoom Streak Flats and Mamba Spikes 

Sunday, 3 May 2015


Last Sunday was the return of the famous London Marathon. It's always such a significant date on the calendar for everyone - from elite athletes to charity runners. It brings the world of elite sport to the masses which is why it's so exhilarating. I love watching it each year and it never ceases to amaze me, the magnitude of people getting on their trainers, to run 26.2miles... Not just a 10minute jog or a trip to the gym.. 26 bloody miles! It's an unbelievable feat - not forgetting how much money is raised between these individuals for charity. 

This time around there was an added buzz. It was the legendary Paula Radcliffe's last 'fairly competitive' marathon and a farewell, to end things on her own terms. It was quite emotional watching her cross the line - albeit in such a phenomenal time for someone who's been struggling with injury! It shows the real grit of Paula as an athlete and the phenomenal talent she possess. I've followed Paula's career for as long as I can remember and as a strong female athlete - she's been a brilliant role model for me. Her stance against drugs has always resonated with me and I admire the way she voices her opinions on the matter, instead of shying away from the issues. 

I've been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women - more significantly, my own mother and coach. It still blows my mind to think that she won the London Marathon back in 1996. Her winning time was a good 6 minutes faster than our current British ladies. I always wonder why our distance athletes haven't progressed over the last 10 years - especially when back in my mums day, she didn't have the same privileges we have access to today. Perhaps that's the issue - things are too easy for athletes nowadays and processes are over complicated.

Paula's 2.15 marathon is by far the hardest world record to date. It's an unbelievable achievement and something I'll always remember watching on the TV. Unfortunately, another strong memory that identifies with me, is her Athens Olympics. Paula was a set favourite and yet, sadly, it ended in tears at the road side. It verifies to me, that even if you are doing everything right and one of the best athletes in the world - sometimes it is still isn't enough. Luck really does have to be on your side!

My mum has always been very low-key about her achievements. Her medals have always been hidden away and I had never been shown them, until that Olympic Marathon. Watching Paula in tears at the side of the road - really made my mum truly appreciate how great her achievement of an Olympic silver medal was. In the past, she had concealed it away - upset because her eyes were set on gold and she felt like silver was a sub-par performance... Which is ridiculous! I'm glad she finally came to her senses because in athletics - nothing should be taken for granted! 

It was poignant moment watching Paula cross the line on her terms and with a smile on her face.

I'm very blessed to have received some advice from Paula, over the last few years and especially with this most recent injury. Her knowledge is invaluable and it's immensely helpful to discover how she built up from injury, with use of the alter G and other methods of cross training - to go on to superior performances. 

Congratulations to all the runners who made it to the start line - a life-long achievement and memory. 

Now it's time to plan your next one! 

Once a runner, always a runner!