Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

It’s been a while… well, two months, I guess.

Saying which, there’s not a vast amount of wild things gone on – I’ve cycled lots, but you knew I was doing that. Lots of miles, just one route.

At the end of October I finished my fifth year of running – five years! It’s been a canny year – after three attempts I finally got to run the Kintyre Way, which was epic, and a truly lovely bit of Scotland – definitely worth a trip and the run is spectacular.

I had my first ever DNF (did not finish) at the end of October, on my favourite run – the Jedburgh Ultra. It was entirely my own fault, I didn’t train enough. I kind of knew I hadn’t, but thought I could fake my way round. I couldn’t. Massive cramp going up the first Eildon that led to something going wrong with my leg and I could barely hobble along. I signed out with the marshal, and slowly walked my way off the hills for an early finish. Gutted at the time, but now I realise it was down to me I see it’s a lesson that I’ve got a bit lazy and should take these things a bit more seriously. A bit less cycling, a bit more running, especially as runs get closer and all should be fine.

I had the norovirus – that was horrid, but it came and went.

I consistently nearly bought a Brompton, but I still can’t quite justify it to myself, I really fancy a cyclocross or gravel bike to take onto the bridleways and tracks, or even to have a go at cyclocross, which looks crackers.

I reckon I’ll have cycled just short of 5,000km by the end of this year, mainly since I started commuting in June. I’m hoping to keep it going as far into the new year as possible, but we’ll see what the weather thinks about that.

Not far to go to 2017, eh, let’s see how that goes…



I passed another milestone at the start of November. Four bloomin’ years of running. Whoever would have thought?

It’s been a funny time since July, when I had a spot of digestive bother that left me feeling constantly tired, lethargic and a bit trippy (I felt like I was going to trip over a lot, not like I was on drugs, though that’s not a bad metaphor either). Cut through a few months of trips to the doctor, enough blood tests to make Hancock complain, a consultation with a gut-doctor and then finally it brought me to the men’s changing room of the Endoscopy Unit in a hospital gown, waiting to get the bottom-paparazzi in.

I had a notebook and a pen, and despite shaky hands (this was pre-investigation, so I was a bit nervous about what it would the like), I thought I’d capture the memory…


Looks spiffy, eh?

Some interesting chats with the other chaps in hospital gowns, most of which focussed on food as we’d all been fasting and cleaning our pipework ready for today. It didn’t help that flipping Jamie Oliver was on the telly in the room cooking all manner of Christmas food.

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to learn that to all my other unique qualities you can add ‘difficult bowel’. That’s proper medical terminology – it says so on my notes.

In effect what it means is that they got 2/3 or the way around, but got stuck in a corner. Another exciting note for the CV is an ‘overactive vagus nerve’, which seems to mean that in circumstances of stress and discomfort*, I have a tendency to try to faint. Or, as I now know it is called, ‘pre-syncope’. I know, I’m a medical marvel. It just means that I almost fainted, and before you get judge-y about that, you’d have to give it a go**.

Anyway, today’s bit of fun marks, for me, the end of the poorly-journey. I’ve barely run (OK, so I did a bit of running – including the Jedburgh Ultra, which was it’s usual marvellous self) and part of that has been the feeling that there’s something to finish up in terms of sorting my health. Now that I’ve got the ‘looks clear’ report I reckon there’s no reason why I’m not back on with a spot of running.

Next year I’ve got a couple of things lined up – the Dark Skies Marathon around Kielder with the fab Trail Outlaws, and my third-time-lucky attempt at the Kintyre Way Ultra. I’ve been entered the last couple of years and never quite made it to the start line. The organiser has very kindly allowed me to carry it over both times, and I reckon this is the year.

Other than that, I’m aiming for the Blaydon Race (obviously, it’s the only road race you have to come home for***) and probably the North Tyneside 10k (who doesn’t love a finish at a lighthouse) and I dare say I’ll pick up the odd other event on the way through the months, but I think what I really want to do is to get in more quality running around and about, up and down the hills round here.

Right, here we go into year 5, let’s hope it’s a jolly one!

Also, a huge, and I mean HUGE thank you to the NHS folk who looked after me today. From start to end they couldn’t have been nicer, better or more caring or kept me better informed. In fact, my GP and the consultant and the people who’ve tested one thing and another have all grand.

*Like someone trying to push a camera around a corner in your gut, that’ll be ‘stress and discomfort’.

**Seriously though, if you’re told you should have one of these, you really should do it – it’s not half as traumatic as I imagined, and while it wasn’t exactly fun, you should get checked. If you’re of a mind for such things, you can even watch it on the telly.

***Y’know, it’s like the old McEwan’s Export advert…


A long time ago, in a herbal remedy shop far, far away, a young chap knew about essential oils, herbs and unguents. Over the next ten years, after leaving the confines of the shop, he forgot pretty much everything he knew. Yes, that was me. Doh.

It’s true. I used to manage a shop selling herbs, oils and flower remedies. I was a bit of a hippy as it goes. Still am, I suppose, other than the iron-hard-commercial-savvy*, obviously.

It didn’t all go – I remember the odd bit of stuff here and there. That thing about drinking capsicum tincture for example – man, that’s hot. Don’t be doing it, though it clears the tubes something untrue. There was a recipe in Bartrams herbal book, for something called “life drops” – a mixture including capsicum, cola, and a pile of other things. It was like oral smelling salts, and if it didn’t kill you, it would either cure you or make you feel like someone had set fire to your innards.

Anyway, you might be thinking “what’s all this got to do with tendonitis”. Well, only a little – bear with me, it’s a tenuous link, don’t break it or the world might fall apart.

I’ve had a bit of a twinge in the old left Achilles bit**, and it’s not been getting better. If I run it doesn’t really get much worse, and if I rest it then it doesn’t get much better either, so a nil score draw there. So what to do?

So far, I’ve followed my own sage advice*** and plodded on, in the hope it would give up and go away. It hasn’t.

Clearly it’s time to bring out the big guns and dredge out half-remembered urban myths from the mists of time. That’ll sort it, nae bother.

A quick check of that old trusty internet learned me three things about tendonitis:

  1. If you damage the ol’ tendons, then the ‘tubes’ (often referred to as sheaths, but there you go) around them can get scar tissue as they’re whapped off the bone and the heal. Whapped being a technical term, I hope.
  2. As the tendons move, they can grate on the ol’ tubes and this can cause irritation an inflammation. If something says -itis, then it means inflamed. That is the one bit of cast iron truth in this post that I’m sure of. That’s the bit that hurts, I think.
  3. A good bit of massage is a helpful thing for tendonitis.

Now, I remember that Rosehip Oil is good for scars from operations and the rest – smudge a bit on every now and the scarring may magically fade away, like a rude message written on a steamed up window now you’ve put the fire on.

You can use it to massage, and guess what, I just said that massage is good, and rosehip oil is good for scars, so that’s two things ticked off the tick list. This is looking good. If I stretch the mind, then I can figure that the rosehip oil might seep into my old pins and get to the tubes that are causing all the ruckus.

What to do about the inflammation? Well, ginger’s good for that, eh? Apparently it is – I didn’t remember that, the lady in the shop told me.

Sooooo, rosehip oil, a few drops of ginger essential oil and massage the whole onto the Achilies bit and maybe we’re onto a winner?

I started with it this evening, so only time will tell. Either that or I’ll get eater by a ginger-obsessed forest creature. Either way, it’ll make for a heck of a tale.

Rock on.

*I own a suit. I think that’s what counts as iron-hard-commercial-savvy, or at least I hope it does. I don’t own a tie any more, after a momentary wardrobe-purge moment several years ago. If anyone asks, blame it on the bad influence of Mr Ritchie – he bushwhacked the path of neck-based-casualness and I merely pruned the nettles in his wake…

**I think, I’m not too good on anatomy, but when I think about the Achilies bit, that’s the bit I think of.

***As in clever, it’s not about making the best stuffing, though I could point you in the right direction if you’re stuck.

(to quote Blackadder)

A short run tonight, part of the Jantastic challenge. I’m down for the minimum 3 runs per week and trying to rest my wonky left achilles tendon as much as possible. Reading up on the internet, it seems avoiding hills is a good thing, which is about impossible where I live, being, to coin a phrase, hill country. However, there are a couple of flattish trails in the woods, and I can run along one, turn around at the end and then run a loop back that ends up back at the turn-around point. One mile to the start, a two mile loop that I repeat twice and then a mile back out for a total of just over six miles. Slowly.

The tendon is still sore, but there’s not much to do about it. I tried a week off in the last week and that didn’t make much difference, so I figure some light running would be OK. I might be wrong, only time will tell. In general these things seem to get better if I take it a bit easier.

Anyway, as I was plodding around through the mud, I was thinking that I’d not seen a hair of anyone or anything while I was in there, when I was on the last bit of the trail to the road out. Three pairs of eyes in front of me right on the path. They didn’t move as I got closer, and I was able to see them clearly, I had to slow down or I would have mowed through the middle of them. As I came to a halt, they seemed to take that as I sign that I might be trouble and wandered off to the side. On the other hand, they may have been thinking that they didn’t want to risk me tripping over them. Who knows. I’ve noticed that my other friends in the woods, the crows, are also less bothered about me now – they’ll sit at the side of the road and watch me plod past. I think it’s become a bit of a spectator sport now, “watch the plodder”, and I don’t think I can blame them. Or maybe I’m becoming some kind of hairy-arsed stumbling shaman, and the animals will mob me at some point like their new special friend? Only time will tell.

Ok, so two days to go until the Great North Run, better get out the ol’ check list, eh?

– physical readiness? Check, after a short fast run last night where I went at a hill too hard, I now have a nagging knee pain.
– mental readiness? Check, I think I know what time it starts, I’ve now figured that it’s on Sunday (note to self NOT Saturday) so now I just have to figure out where to go and how to get home once it’s done.
– gear readiness? Check, I think I might go with tights, but tried that last night and was a bit warm. Shorts and rain not so good. I will definitely wear some kind of top.
-fit readiness? Check, it hasn’t deteriorated too badly despite the lack of training.

All in all this is looking like my best prepared event to date. Just noticed the newspaper headline warning of rain and 70mph gales at the weekend.

Perfect. 🙂

And no Pink Floyd jokes so far, so I think we’re doing well…

After a year of what we’ll fancifully call “preparation”, it finally came around. I know, I can’t believe it either. Goodness knows what I’ll have to talk about now…

On Friday morning I packed my bag. Well, bags, as I had a 65 litre overnight bag (that’s a lot of overnight), a 10 litre race pack, a small chest pack to balance me up and a tent. And two hands, which made for some fun. I got the bus to Newcastle, because I like that working-class-hero feeling, off to face down the world and give it my plucky all against the aliens a long run.

Coffee at Starbucks, meet up with my erstwhile running buddy Jon, and then off for the train. There were a remarkable number of people in similarly sporty gear, with similarly huge packs, and a lot of knowing “I know where you’re going” nods.

Over to Carlisle on the train then up to the castle to register. Ooh, it all seemed a bit real now, was I really going to do this? Off to the Travelodge, which was well, we all know what a Travelodge is like, don’t we? Only this wasn’t. A former telephone exchange, I think, with huge windows. I got a wheelchair-friendly room, which was roomy, and had what I am going to call a wet room – that was really nice. What wasn’t so nice was the oven-like temperature from the huge windows and no curtains. Still, I could cool down in my mansion-sized wet room, eh? I cracked the windows open the mandatory maximum 2cm, to stop even a waifish haddock from throwing itself to it’s end, closed the blinds and headed off with Jon for a meal with the Runners’ World forum folk. The restaurant was directing runners upstairs to the room they’d roped off for crazy people, and managed to pick up a couple of people who had wandered in an had no idea they’d been involuntarily added to the party. 🙂

Then to bed, the room being down to a griddle-temperature. Fast forward what felt like five minutes and it was four in the morning and I was wide awake. Get up, unpack, check kit, re-pack. Shower in the warship sized bathroom and then hang about a bit until it was time to set off. I caught up with Jon in reception and we ambled up, both with a huge bag and a tiny pack. We arrived at the castle, watched the Expert one-day runners set off, I discovered the battery on my GoPro camera had run down (guessing it had turned itself on in the bag, grr!) then dropped out overnight bags, met Jon’s friend Cathie. Now we were there and ready to run. Crikey!

This is the nervous bit, you’re ready to go but waiting for the whistle/bell/gun/bulls to get you underway.Luckily it was a jarring klaxon rather than bulls, which was a relief.

And we’re off!

A nice jaunt through the park while we got warmed up, and out through Carlisle towards the hills – it was a joy to get underway after the best part of a year waiting for this to come around. Pack felt good, legs felt good, it wasn’t raining. Brill.

Fifteen lovely miles of running later, and I stumbled into Lannercost Priory, the first Pit Stop. I grabbed a bit of food, said hi to Jon’s family and got my toe stepped on. That really hurt, and I managed to make no actual sound as I silently swore in front of Jon’s family. Sorry Jon’s family, it really did hurt.

Back out of the Priory and it was a mere 17 miles to the end of Day 1 – that’s like half way through the first half, right?

I bumped into CrashBangWallop from the Runners’ World forum, and ambled along having a laugh and switching between walking and running as the mood took us. We were a bit tired, but kept plugging away, over stiles, over cattle grids, over lava fields, well, maybe not the last one so much. At long last the finish tents came into view. Then the track headed off the opposite way. What! Down the hill, along the bottom of the hill and then up, up, up and up the hill to get back. That’s properly taking the mick, giving us a look then making us run around for a bit and up a hill. Finally, back into view of the tents, but it wasn’t over yet, they made us climb over a stile to get there… youch!

Hang on, we’ve done for today? Wow. In a frosty 7:39 as well, which is not bad so far as I know anything, which isn’t much. I was happy with it, though.

Hooked back up with Jon, got our kit, set up our tents, ate some stodgy pasta from the food stall, ate some canny chips from the food stall, had some soup from the food stall. Are you getting the gist yet? A beer in the beer tent then off to bed at about 8pm. Sleepy, sleep, sleep – I actually slept pretty well given I was in a tent in a one-season sleeping bag.

Day 2

After Day 1, I was expecting to be unable to walk. However, as the next day dawned and I emerged like a crotchety caterpillar from a pupa that hasn’t quite turned into a butterfly, I felt surprisingly good. A tiny niggle in the knee, but no problem, eh? A few bananas and a coffee later and I was ready to go, waiting for the 8am start.

Off went the runners! I thought Jon was behind me, he thought I was in front, we were both wrong and got separated again. Down the road, up a quite steep tarmac hill and onto a short road to a kissing gate. And a queue to get through the gate to get onto the hill. The hill was big. The hill was steep. The hill had no path. The hill DID have heather. And mud. Did I mention no path? Everyone started making their goat-like way up, and I did likewise, striking forth like a be-shorted goat. You’re not quite getting the image, are you, the hill was like this:


Well, exactly like that – as it’s a photo from the top of the hill.  See the white smudge towards the back? That’s where we started the day. Now somewhere up the hill I twisted my knee. I didn’t really notice it to be honest, but when I started running at the top there was a bit of a niggle, a bit of a sharp pain and a bit of an owie.

Cut to a lot of walking. Every time I tried to run it was a knife of pain through my knee. So I walked. Well, I plodded, as my left foot started to ache as I over-compensated and it did significantly more walking that it’s used to.

There was a village. The village was full of scarecrows. Scarecrows mowing the lawn, Scarecrows up ladders. Scarecrows barbecuing runners. Well, maybe not the last one, but it may have been – it was hard to tell. A bit strange, to be honest.

I stumbled into the Pit Stop at Hexham, wandered around a bit with a spot of food, picked up some water and headed off, walking towards the next stop.

Also the rain. It rained. Quite a bit. With a bit of energy. On the way out of Corbridge it rained harder than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I got soaked on my bottom half, though my top was OK as I was all wrapped up in my waterproof.

It was more than a little frustrating, I had the energy to run, the excitement to run, but every time I tried it my knee felt dreadful.

Through the shacks at Whittle Dean, and I came across four runners with ice-creams. How did that happen? Around the corner and there was an ice cream van!

I had an ice lolly.

It was the nicest ice lolly I’ve ever had.

It did everything an ice lolly should do, at exactly the right moment.

It was possibly my happiest running moment ever.

If the van hadn’t driven off I would have had another.

At Ovingham, someone had stolen the path – it simply disappeared into the river with an arrow pointing down into the water, and another pointing back up at the other side. I started hopefully stepping on stones, realised there was no clear way across and waded. To be honest the freezing wet feet took my mind off my knee.

On we go and I eventually reached the Newburn Pit Stop, just seven miles from the finish. I’m almost done! OK, so I couldn’t stop shivering and the medical lady was looking at me funny, perhaps sizing me up for a stretcher? There was an industrial heater, so I stood in front of that until my bum burnt.

Off I headed again, still chattering in the teeth department. With an added thermal later it faded after a bit and I limped along. Until the signs ran out – in Scotswood it looked like someone had half-inched the arrows. A bit of discussion with a group of runners passing me by and we headed off in what looked like the right way, following cycle route 72. It turns out Hadrian was a busy lad, as this was his Cycle Path. We only need to find his Wendy House and we’ll have the lot.

After about forever I hit the Quayside. The drag down to the finish is a couple of miles, I think, but it felt like an extra marathon. I’m not a competitive chap, but I got worried about people up behind me. I have no idea why, it must have been hunger / tiredness / stupidity.

Eventually, I glimpsed the bridges, and stumbled along until I made it to the Millennium Bridge. Somehow, and I have no idea how, other than the remaining shred of ego I had, and I managed to plod over the bridge at an almost-jog. Into the closing straight, saw my lovely wife with a huge sense of relief and stopped for a kiss. Over the line and we’re done.


Medals all round, well, here’s mine:


And a finish line photo – looking surprisingly chipper. That’ll be a race time of 18:15 then.


Look at them knobbly knees – that takes 69 miles, that does.

Would I do it again? Probably, though I’d like to try other things first.

Knee is sore, but other than that I’m on the mend, I reckon.

I’m happy to say that I think I enjoyed it – I’d like to do it without the knee problem, as I think I could have cut an hour or two if I could have run like I wanted to.

Now for a week off and a bit of a recuperate.

Did I mention I’m an Ultramarathoner now? 🙂

There are a lot of injuries out there that runners can avail them of. The discerning runner aims for things with a good Latin name to sound posh. illiotibial Band Syndrome being one of those, as is Planar Fascitis (I may have spelled that wrong). However, I’m not discerning, heck I’m not that much of a runner, so I prefer to be afflicted with much more working class ailments. In case you’re excited with this glossary of problems, I though I would share them.

Wonky Foot reveals itself as a mildly aching foot, all the way to a properly painful foot. The defining factor being that it just doesn’t feel right. A good wonky foot will defy any attempt to pass it off as something more high-brow, achilles problems or whatnot. If it could feasibly be a stress fracture, but not enough to lay you up, then the chances are that you’ve got Wonky Foot. You can run on it, but face the dilemma that the bottom of the offending limb may just possibly fall off.

It’s sometimes hard not to confuse Wonky Foot with the far less serious Bruised Bone. I had one of those once, and thought that was what I had again, but no, it’s not.

Foot + Wonk = Wonky Foot.