The Moaniness of the Long Distance Runner

I’m injured again. Again, I’m injured and I tell you what, it’s a complete pain in the arse. Except that it’s in my right foot, and up the outside of my right leg and ultimately in my groinal bits. A physio would probably say – has in fact said – that it’s because of weak gluteals but that’s by the by. It’s a pain in the arse foot. I should probably try to have Anne massage my intimate areas. It wouldn’t be any sort of cure but it would definitely cheer me up because there’s nothing quite as mardy as an injured runner.

I’ve had a couple of weeks off now ever since having to stop at 8 miles in the Wimpole Hoohaah Half Marathon. I shouldn’t really have run there, just as I shouldn’t really have run at the Bourn to Run 10k the previous week but having got away with it once, I thought I’d get away with it again and I really, really didn’t. Coming downhill at speed resulted in stupefying pain and I ended up gingerly walking down the hills and caning it up them. I was climbing at better than 8:00 per mile and descending more slowly than 10:00 per mile and the whole thing was a mess so I’m moaning about it now. I finished, by the way, in a PW of 1:55 something, jogging in while people frothed and foamed and sped and sprinted past me. Well done, them.

I’ve been moaning about it quite a lot to anyone who’ll listen and it’s a testament to my friends and clubmates that they will listen to me. Endurance runners all know what it’s like to be on the bench. They will lend an ear to one of their own in pain because they know, know in their super-stressed ligaments and bones that they will hurt too soon. Perhaps “moaning” is the wrong word, at least for what everyone else does. We swap stories of our aches and pains. We get help and advice and support from one another. Positivity comes but first there’s the grouchiness and ouchiness and just the faintest tangs of whine. “Oh, it’s nothing really but I’m slightly fed up…”

The thing about not being able to run is that nothing else is really the same. I wanted to take my bike out today but it rained off and on all day. Running in the rain is a joy. Cycling in the rain is misery cubed. I hummed and hawed and bumbled round the house not doing any chores until I dragged my weak glutes to the gym for a stint on a rowing machine. I lasted all of fifteen minutes. Fifteen miserable minutes or miserable misery. Chris said on Facebook that I should have taken my bike out in the rain. He was probably right. I’m going to try again tomorrow. I’ll take my headphones and listen to some music or a podcast and maybe I’ll last longer or maybe I’ll just break down.

I have another week of Not Running. I’m being good. My foot feels okay with just a hint of tighness across the top when I dorsiflex my toes. I’d like that to be gone before I try again. Patience is a virtue, quite an old fashioned name for a girl and something with which I am usually completely unacquainted. It’s so tempting to join in with tomorrow’s session running the triangles on Parker’s Piece or the mile time trial on Tuesday night at C&C. I need to be sure that I’m back properly before I start training again so the idea is to have a bimble round a parkrun on Saturday and if that goes okay to do five or six miles on Sunday. Please God, let it go well. I can’t cope with being this grumpy for much longer.

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On The Drowning Of Rats And Nakedness In Toilets

Went for a run this morning with Paul. It was pissing it down when we set off just after nine. I love running in the rain; it keeps you cool when you’re working hard. We weren’t working all that hard today. It wasn’t that sort of run. We were trotting along through the wind and the rain, ticking off six minute kilometres. The wind made things a little more difficult than they ought to have been.

There is a particular combination of wind and rain which can make running a complete misery. We were lucky today in that the wind and rain kept just missing that particular combination. It was a damn near run thing at a couple of points. There was a moment as we were running back along the top of a ridge just the wrong side of a hedge line for about half a mile. The wind blew the rain across us and just for a few seconds straight through us in a denial of the laws of physics and common decency. it was easier for us to keep going in one another’s company. I don’t think I would have gone out on my own in those conditions.

I had an equipment failure too. The zip on my rain jacket kept sliding down without me noticing. It’s not a great piece of kit, if I’m honest. It’s barely showerproof so today’s conditions were always going to test it. I’d be running along and glance down and the zip would be almost completely undone. I have an ongoing problem with zips. I’ve turned into one of those men whose flies are continuously undone because I forget to do them up in the morning when I pull my trousers on. I don’t notice until I head for the loo. No matter how many times I say “Oh fuck” to myself when I discover that, I never remember to check before I have my coffee.

My foot began to hurt again after about four miles so we cut our run short. It’s frustrating. I can run more quickly uphills than down them just now. The braking forces through my right foot cause me to slow down. too much. I don’t trust it enough to run hard downhill and going slowly causes even more pain. We looked like drowned rats when we arrived back at the stable block. It’s a funny phrase that. I’ve never seen a drowned rat. I’ve seldom seen a dry one either. I know they’re around, like paedophiles or UKIP councillors but we have little to offer one another so we seldom encounter one another. Paul said he would take a photograph to mark the moment but he set off to do a little more running while I headed to the loo to get changed.

I found myself naked in a public toilet (not for the first time but I’m not ever going to be drunk enough to tell that story.) I had a change of clothing in my bag. I headed for the sole cubicle in the gents and began pulling layer after sopping layer off before I started to chill and shiver. I was quickly naked in the loo, rummaging through my bag looking for a pair of boxers. Happily there were two pairs in there, alongside two pairs of socks, my jeans, a t-shirt and a jersey. There wasn’t a shirt but that wasn’t a problem. There wasn’t a belt for my jeans and that was more problematic. I will happily contemplate spending ninety quid on running shoes or two hundred or more on a new Garmin but baulk at the thought of blowing £20 on a pair of jeans from Tesco. As a result, all my trousers are too large for me now I’ve lost weight. It’s been three years and I don’t think I’m going to put that weight back on now. Even so, I’m not all that keen on throwing the baggy trousers out and buying more. I have only one belt which is small enough to hold them up now too and that was on my bedroom floor and not in my bag.

Paul and I had our sausage rolls and hot drinks in the restaurant when he returned from his extended trot. My foot stopped hurting quite quickly which was a relief. It’s sore now, as I write. When I flex my toes up, there is a tightness across the top of my foot. I need to get rid of that before I run again. I’m due to race next weekend in the Fenland 10 in preparation for the St Neots Half Marathon next month. I don’t think that’s going to happen now. I’ll probably rest my foot now for two weeks and cycle instead to keep my fitness up while my foot heals itself again.

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Inhalers Go In The Other End

I’ve had a couple of disappointing races recently. The fourteen and a half miles down the A143 to a town called Scrotum – or something like that – in the Round Norfolk Relay were in the middle of a damp night. I had an asthma attack. That interfered with things just a bit. Then I ran out of energy and had to have a word with myself just to get going again. The Bourn to Run 10k on Sunday was also a bit of a struggle. I’ve enjoyed it the last couple of years and it’s my PB race. I just didn’t have much oomph at the weekend. I’ll blame my flu jab and my sore feet for falling short of last year’s time with 45:14. I worked hard for it if you go by the length of time I spent retching into a hedge at the finish. I’m racing again on Sunday in the wonderfully-named Wimpole Half Marathon Hoohah. It’s an off-road course and it’s not flat so it’s not going to be a PB attempt. I’ll treat it as a quickish long run and see what happens.

Last night’s training session was… It was an interesting experience. It’s always an unusual night when your inhaler almost disappears up your bum. Well it is for me. Maybe it’s what you do for diversion of an evening. A warm up, the usual dynamic stretches and drills followed by a 1k time trial which I thrashed in 3:45. I have run that distance more quickly but it felt good. I think my post-jab gronkiness has gone. We followed that with 4 x 1k at a slightly more relaxed but still very brisk pace.

Now, a brief diversion: I was wearing a pair of skin-tight track shorts last night. Nearly all my shorts have a zipped pocket on them where I can stash my car key, inhaler and a tenner in case I need to get home from a long run on the bus or by cab. These don’t so I usually only wear them at the track where I can stash all those things trackside in my race bag. I left my car key with a friend who needed to stash his bag while he was running and who would be back before me and pushed my inhaler into the back of the waistband of my shorts. I couldn’t find the little pouch on a belt

I set off on the third rep having had a quick puff a the end of the second. I was a little rushed and didn’t quite hook the jutty-outy bit over the top of my waistband. I pegged it off up Clerk Maxwell Road and as I started to climb the gentle rise onto Madingley Road where everyone else seems to slow down, I felt the inhaler jiggle down into the back of my shorts. I could have slowed down at that point and fished it out but I’d just worked hard to overtake a couple of other runners and I didn’t want to let them past so I just kept going. The further along Madingley Road I went, the more the inhaler disappeared down until it was nestled uncomfortably between my bum cheeks. There were a couple of moments as I ran down J J Thompson Avenue when I thought the sodding thing was going to work its way up inside me.

I got to the end of the rep with an inviolate anal sphincter and pulled the inhaler out of my  shorts. It was sweaty but not smelly so I tucked it back into place more carefully before I headed off on the final rep. I can’t imagine that even if you were so minded to push an inhaler into your fundament that you’d get much pleasure or satisfaction from it. There are probably better butt plugs out there.

And no, I’m not going to road test any butt-plugs for your amusement.

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