It's now the fourth week of my half marathon training plan, I am tired but not from running and I am feeling upbeat because I've been running.
I’m aching and this particular night promises a few wake up calls as my wife's on a night shift so I’m on my own with a mini male banshee which could well mean dragging myself out of bed three of four times in the dead of night, but I'm not too fussed at the prospect.
Nights have been tricky recently, the little one has been hard to put to sleep and once down he’ll generally resurface every couple hours screaming like he’s having a bad nightmare or suffering teething pains. Although I’ve no choice while Mum’s away we have found it’s generally better if I handle these night disturbances as he won’t smell milk, when he does it’s like he has intense <a href="https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fomo” rel="nofollow”>FOMO and feeds for ages, whereas I can get him down within 10 minutes on a good day with a bedtime story and a gentle rocking while he rests on my chest and I sway like a beached cartoon tortoise.
The late nights are hard as it can take time to put him down, you don’t know how long he’ll stay down and if you’re already tired from previous bad nights or mid-adventure, then it can get quite stressful.
Not to beat the runners drum too much, but the effects of a nice long run can reduce the anxiety of a baby bad sleep night considerably, it won’t just be running that helps, anything that burns through stress, but with that nice runners high my anxiety is low, I am calm and that projects onto the little man. I’ve heard babies pick up on how we feel, maybe it’s some natural mechanism to keep everyone on high alert when there are external dangers.
Training helps these bad baby nights, some mindful meditation when he’s laid on my chest face upward seems to really as well, maybe it’s my calm heart rate.
I found a recent woodside run in the (English) torrential rain made me think about how good it would be to learn to meditate during running, it seems like the perfect time anyway as am not set up to do much else except focus on my breathing nd movement and enjoy the beautiful surrounds of my current woodside run.
So the running has been going well but I was getting worried about the persistent knee pain I’ve had for several months. Google said it was best to seek professional advice so I booked a [hysio session in a nearby gym.
In my session I explained the symptoms ( popping sensation when leg straightened, throbbing pain at night, sometimes difficult to walk on especially when clumbing stairs ) then the therapist had me perform some single-leg squats and checked my joint mobility by moving my bent leg around as I lay down on an examination bed feeling a lot like a patient at a doctor's clinic.
My biggest concern was that I'd be told my knee was badly damaged, but I was glad to hear my symptoms sounded like an inflamed Bursa (a fluid sac on the inner side of and underneath the knee joint), it was inflamed, therefore swollen and causing the pain and that popping sensation would be the damn thing getting in the way of other moving parts.
This did highlight an imbalance in the pelvis as I ran and by performing a single-leg squat we could see how my knee shifted inwards slightly. When running this shift would easily aggravate that area.
So great news that it wasn’t serious and I could supplement some of my runs for training at the gym and I was given three exercises to perform at home to help strengthen relevant muscles to keep things aligned. A foam roller was also recommended to remove muscle tension. During the session, he said he would treat my hip flexors which are shortened by my static day job and add to the issue.
I lay down again and he gave me a sports massage, his thumbs dug into the hip muscles and it royally minged! But I felt pretty good afterward.
So I've supplemented some runs with the cross trainer and treadmill, I can’t really rave about the cross trainer but it gets a sweat up and more importantly has helped reduce the irritation as it keeps you more stable but you use fewer muscles to stabilize yourself on uneven ground. The treadmill, although not a great experience in comparison to running does help with setting a regular and consistent pace. I think my running has actually started improving from the treadmill's monotonous rhythm.
As this was heading toward the halfway point in the training it was justifiable to replace my old knackered trainers for a brand spanking new pair allowing enough time to break them in for the big day.
The day before I'd run 5 miles and that was OK apart from the bastard blister on my little toe that caused me to bleed into my nice shiny new trainers turning the front left shoe crimson red. On Sunday I'd surprised myself with a 7-mile run that felt OK, not too much effort compared to 4 weeks beforehand.
But I just couldn't face the run today. I contemplated the gym instead of another run, I'd encountered aggressive beggars in the morning one of them shooting-up outside an office gym while I was walking with the buggy and they'd not quite left my tired mind, slightly paranoid due to the tiredness I was expecting to encounter those pricks again on my running route. It wasn't fear, just a complete need to avoid the hassle of these characters and scenarios I was creating in my head.
I made excuses that I wasn't prepared for a run to which my wife simply said "You don't need to be prepared, just go"
She was right (she isn't always!)
I left without my phone which I'd normally use to catch up on Jo Rogan or runners world podcasts and found the run helped me take some of those silly wasteful thoughts from the day, analyze and process them then quickly discard them, basically my own form of mindful meditation of sorts, it was great!
It was also important that I didn't miss this shorter run, as I feel plans can easily unravel through these little sessions you skip that slowly grow into more significant avoidance.
If I look back 4 weeks ago a 4-mile run would have been tougher, the 7 miles I did on the Sunday just gone felt fine! I do think the physio appointment helped a lot, but then simply running is helping too.