Saturday, 22 September 2012

Peering at the seabourne military

Normally when I start to write these posts I have a vague idea in my head of what I want to say. Today, however, my thoughts are a jumbled mush of confusion, less coherent than an inebriated baboon. So at the risk of this becoming a non sequitur-laden stream of consciousness, off we go.

Well, it's a beautiful morning here; the fields are white with frost, the sun is up, and the fact it's still September means the leaved-trees take away some of the bleakness that's there on a frosty January morning. A fantastic morning for running, so up I got and off I went. I only ran 3 miles; one of the the two reasons I haven't posted for a fortnight (I'll come to the other in a bit) is that after the last run my left Achilles bruised and swelled very impressively; in the language of Formula 1 I've had to take a drive-through penalty, coasting through the pit lane when I should have been out on the circuit. So today I just wanted to get my legs used to running again.

But, bugger. I'd like to use a stream of invective at this point, but we're before the 9pm watershed, so I won't. The sciatica has raised its ugly head again. Not dramatically so, not enough to not be able to run 3 miles, but enough to have the random right leg pain that stopped me in my tracks earlier this year.

The worst of it is, both the Achilles and the sciatica are my own fault. I shouldn't have run 28 miles on a slightly sore Achilles, that was simply stupid. And in the last fortnight I've spent many, many hours sitting badly in cars, on trains and at desks that weren't my own, in all cases not giving two hoots for posture. What was the last thing the Physio said as I walked out of his door in June? Ah yes, "make sure you sit properly or it'll come back".

The Achilles problem was pure idiocy. The sciatica problem is neglect. Both are lifestyle-driven. Trying to do a job as a management consultant in the south of England but living in the north means a lot of travel and a lot of sitting at desks. These things restrict the number of days I can train, or to be more accurate at the moment, take exercise (training implies a planned and considered programme). In turn, when I do get the opportunity to run or get on my bike, I seem to massively over-compensate and try to do something really challenging. Here's the news; at the age of (nearly) 46, you can't, simple. Bad things happen. If you have a good base of fitness, you might be able to get away with it. For the last couple of years I've subscribed to the theory that targeted high impact sessions can produce good results. And so they can if you've got that good base. But after 12 months or so, it begins to diminish, and then you're exposing yourself to trouble. So whilst trundling round on a bike for 15 hours a week, or jogging 30-odd miles, without really breaking sweat in either aren't going to improve 'event' performance, regrettably it seems that you need to do those things to build the foundation for those days when you see stars, get pins and needles in your hands, and sweat explodes out of every pore.

Looks like I've got a choice then - change lifestyle (job), or be condemned to spending my life as 'trim', but not properly fit, like I was from 2005-11.

Anyway, before I get too self-comtemplatory, let me get on to the second reason why there have been no posts for a couple of weeks, and why there might be a similar gap after this. Without going into the detail, my mother-in-law is very, very ill, to the extent that Mrs Monmarduman is spending all her time in Plymouth looking after her at the moment. I was down there too last weekend, and am likely to be there next weekend as well. Clearly it's not a great situation for anyone, though mainly obviously my mother-in-law, who's bearing her obvious suffering with her customary cheerfulness and robustness. She's an object lesson in not-feeling-sorry-for-yourself, and one I suspect I should emulate a bit more.

Anyhow, it's probably now late enough for me to be able to start using a variety of noisy garden tools without irritating the neighbours too much, so off into the chill morning air to murder some lawns and hedges.

By the way, 2 points who solves the crossword clue of the title...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Sore nipples

The title of this post is, I confess, a shameless attempt to boost my viewing figures. Pregnant women, mastitis sufferers and the plain perverted will stumble across my humble blog, and to a man and woman, be roundly disappointed. But if that's you, read on! You never know what you might find.

Actually, the title isn't completely gratuitous. I was standing in the shower earlier today with the warm water coursing across my body (steady, this could get a bit 50 Shades...), warming me up after my cold bath - the reason for which will be revealed later, not that it's especially exciting to be frank - reflecting on the differences in injuries, pain and discomfort you get between running and riding a bike. I can honestly say that I've never had sore nipples after a bike ride, whereas after any run over 20 miles or so, even when they're dosed up with lashings of vaseline, ooo, they do tingle a bit.

In fact, I apply so much petroleum jelly (I'm too tight to buy vaseline when Bodycare do a bumper-size jar of the generic stuff for 89p) to my feet, ankles, hips, war wound (big scar on my waistline, dating from 1977 when an inch-wide drain was installed to siphon pus out of my peritonitis-afflicted stomach cavity), perineum, and of course, nipples, that I do wonder what the nice lady in that very Bodycare shop thinks I do with the stuff.

I'm not sure there are a lot of common injuries for cyclists and runners, at least if I take myself as an example. OK, it's a sample of one, but that's all that's to hand. Cycling generates stiff hamstrings and back, particularly if it's been a big uphill day, tenderness in the undercarriage of course, and, well, assuming you don't fall off, that's about it. Running, on the other hand - well, everything below the waist (plus nipples of course) is a bit sore. Left Achilles tendon is especially troublesome tonight, and indeed was so when I was out running this morning....

.....the soreness came on at about mile 10, but it wasn't till I stopped on the canal towpath just past Little Moreton Hall, in the shadow of Mow Cop, did I realise quite how sore it was. It made the return 13.5 miles quite a trial. I should have felt fantastic out there today - after the early mist had burned off the sun came out; dog walkers were minimal as I was out so early; there was nothing pressing to get home for; nature was rampant with spiders' webs as far as the eye could see, and countless herons fishing for their breakfast in the canal; and the countryside was idyllic. However, the reality was the Achilles wrecked, I sweated something rotten in the morning sun, and I ran out of energy - baked beans on toast the night before a big run probably not the best thing to biggest boost your glycogen stores. But I still bagged just under 27 miles, a decent training run, and that cold bath helped ensure that I haven't started hobbling around the place just yet. I'm aiming to do marathon-plus distance every couple of weeks now till my ultra-marathon on 20th October. I have no idea whether that's a sensible training strategy or not (I am doing other, shorter runs) - time will tell.

It always seems a bit odd writing the kind of nonsense like that above when there are bigger things - much bigger things - going on in the rest of your life. They all affect others much more than me, but you're not normal if you too aren't touched by those things. So in case any of them read this, I hope you don't think it's crass or insensitive, it's certainly not meant to be. And if this has been even mildly diversionary for a couple of minutes, job done...

And finally, the Tour of Britain comes to town on Monday. Actually, it turns off the main road just before it reaches Macclesfield, but I've managed to organise things to work at home, and I've got a top secret place which probably only a couple of hundred others will have thought to stand to get a great view of the riders. Should be good.
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