So it’s been exactly a year since I posted here
saying I’d be happy to keep running my 5ks 2-3 times a week. I thought I'd share how that panned out (short version: not as smoothly as I'd hoped). I’d be interested to hear how other graduates – especially fellow middle-aged new runners - have got on.
For me, everything went swimmingly for the first few months, with regular-as-clockwork 5ks (always with warm-ups, cool-downs and stretches, always outdoors, usually in my local woods). Then last October I did a parkrun at a (for me) fast pace. While not noticing any symptoms at the time, within a few hours my calves were pretty painful, and remained so for the next day or two. Despite this, I did another run 3 days later, which did *not* help. Cue a week off, a couple of 'rehab' interval runs based on internet research (with hindsight, I’m not sure I’d recommend this), more pain, 6 weeks off running altogether, then a restart of C25K.
Things still weren't right so I went to a local physio. She didn't help that much, so around February I switched to a specialist sports massage therapist. At times, it's been painful - and it ain't been cheap - but she has definitely helped. I’m back running 5k twice a week at not far off my old pace. She's honed in on what she thinks is an underlying problem: underactive glutes. And she's got me doing a fairly rigorous programme of warm-ups, glute activation techniques, stretches and strength-building exercises. It’s against the spirit of the age perhaps, but I’m putting my trust in her expertise until either all is good or things stop improving. After initial weekly sessions, I'm seeing her about once every 3 or 4 weeks now.
It's been frustrating at times. I'm hyper-aware of muscle tightness/pains. I think carefully about whether my legs feel ok to run, and about the frequency of my runs. I've also found that cycle rides and long walks (ie more than 4-5 mile) often exacerbate symptoms. Which means I'm having to think ahead about my physical activity more than I used to.
Things are improving. And I still kind-of enjoy the running itself. But the relaxed pattern of last summer feels a little way off just yet.