With it being NYE I thought I'd look back on 2015 and recap on the progress I've made and also tell you 'my story' - how I've got to where I have with my running.
I guess it starts at school - I'm a short, puny, skinny so & so and just not built for most sports, certainly not rugby that was my school's speciality. I loved sports & games - playing and watching on TV - but the physique was always going to limit me, that, as well as being generally rubbish!
Apart from goalkeeping in junior sides (being 5'8" was always going to be a problem), running seemed to be the only thing I was vaguely OK at. I didn't mind it and found to my delight I was actually quite ... average. Yes, average In early secondary school I achieved the dizzy heights of being told I was *just* about good enough to be invited to cross-country training on Saturday mornings. Errr, no thanks! (I passed on that - didn't fancy it to be honest)
Fast forward to 6th form and during the summer months me & my best mate who lived next door started running a 4.3k route as something to do - now *he" was a proper Sport Billy, good at everything, made you sick really. He was a junior international badminton player & used to train on our route with mini weights on his wrists & ankles - not for me!
From an initial 25 minutes, and after 2-3 summers, we got our PBs down to 16:30 (him) and 16:50.
We went our separate ways sometime after that (jobs, marriage, uni etc) and I didn't try to run regularly again until I was 25. I went out a few times a week in late spring and carried on for about 4 weeks but had to stop because my one of me knees was hurting so much. I took ibuprofen and then Voltarol (awful stuff!) - no difference and saw my GP ("probably chronic cartilage., don't run, blah blah ") - thanks Doc!
So without a clear idea of how to fix myself, I gave up. I was busy with work, while doing a PhD also and also buying a house & sorting all that out with MrsW. Exercise wise, I did NOTHING.
10 years later, I had a very innocuous knee injury - a "click" while turning away after closing the kitchen door. It wasn't right after that - any weight on the right knee beyond walking, eg, stepping off a kerb, stairs etc , just didn't feel right. There was no way I could contemplate even jogging.
I eventually had physio & an MRI scan which showed nothing significant & only minor wear & tear. So what *was* the problem? The consultant *did* recommend orthotics however, but without explaining in detail why they might help. Stupidly, I never followed it up, believing them to be too expensive. Big mistake!
Around that time, I really wanted to exercise and in particular, run. My sister was running marathons, work colleagues were running marathons, the odd friend was running marathons, but I couldn't run 1 kilometre
And so ANOTHER 10 years later (I know!), during which I'd done next to no regular exercise whatsoever, save for a bit of swimming for a few weeks in 2007 - that stopped cos the local pool was rebuilt - I was looking after the sale of my late Dad's house, the former family home. I ended up with 13 storage boxes of stuff I wanted to keep. MrsW insisted they go in the loft immediately. So I made 13 separate trips up into the loft carrying a very heavy box each time - all in the space of 2 hours.
My right knee didn't like this at all. I'd aggravated it and a month later I saw the GP - told him I really wanted to run ...
"I wouldn't, bad for the joints"
Gee, thanks Doc!
Incidentally, back in 2009 naïve, wishful thinking saw me manage through work, get a free place in the London Marathon (we sponsored it at the time). I was stupid for even thinking about it - training would have lasted 15 minutes! I gave the place to someone else & forgot about it . But how I wanted to run.
So my GP, recommended a couple of physios who he knew to be specialised in orthotics.
This was June 2014, and I eventually saw the physio in the September.
One look at me doing some basic exercises and she saw the problem.
"Yep, I can see it right away, your alignment is awful. We can fix this easily"
She put a load of KT "Rock" tape around my right leg, I walked to work and my leg and right knee instantly felt better than they'd had done for 20 years.
3 weeks later and thanks to the physio and her in-house podiatrist, I had my custom-made orthotics.
"I want to run. Can I?"
"Go ahead! Should be fine."
3 minutes on her treadmill and I knew. I just knew
We had a chat and she recommended building up the running very slowly. I also had to include walking BACKWARDS on the treadmill for a few minutes each session, to strengthen the hamstrings, to help alignment.
So the problem all along was alignment.
The knee joints weren't tracking properly. We think I was OK in my late teens cos my bones were still not 100% solidified, but by mid-20s, they had, so any misalignment was fixed in. Hence the issues when I restarted back then.
October 2014 saw me start running regularly for the first time in 20 years.
BUT... WARNING... I over did it. A combination of (1) rubbish trainers and (2) increasing my running time by 1 minute and speed by 0.5 km/h each session, caused me to get an injury - posterior tibialis tendinitis. Ouch. Ow. Very oww. Could hardly walk.
I was out of action for 8 weeks and I'd learnt a painful lesson. I needed to take it nice and easy and get decent shoes.
Shoes were a bit of a saga but got there eventually after sending 4 different pairs back. Asics Gel Pulse 5 (neutral) are the Chosen Ones.
Taking it nice and easy eh? But how? Where do I start?
Only one place... The Couch to 5k programme
So the last week of January of this year, saw me start W1R1 on the treadmill at our works gym. I graduated late March, and then in April ran outdoors for the first time time since 1995. I ran 4.7k and without looking at my watch thought it had been about 35 mins - it felt slow and ploddy. But it was 25! Couldn't believe it
Since then, I've not gone mad but tried to improve my 5k time and gradually build my distance up. The 5k PB has deceased steadily from 26:30 to 23:31 and the last run before the Christmas break was my longest run ever, 12.5k in 66 minutes.
The knees *aren't* perfect - the right knee is strong but still doesn't like stairs, while the left is now my "problem" knee - it doesn't like hills but as long as I don't overdo the road running, I'll be OK
Kit-wise, the only investment I've made to date has been in a pair of shoes, a 3-pack of proper socks and some shorts. Up top it's been basic cotton t-shirts.
[EDIT: and a TomTom Cardio Runner GPS watch!] A recent very cold run (cold arms!!) made me determined to splash some Christmas and Birthday cash. So here's a boring photo of what I bought in DW Sports on Tuesday
- a Puma long-sleeved zip top
- Asics lightweight wind breaker
- Nike long sleeve top.
I have NO idea why they're all blue! It wasn't my intention
By the way, great place is DW Sports. Highly recommend it.
- lots & lots of brands
(incl Under Armour, Asics etc)
- very quiet
- very spacious
- no issues like Sports Direct
Anyway, if you've stayed with me this far,, well done, get yourself a well deserved drink :-).
Happy New Year!
My name's John and I'm a runner.