Sports Injury: a warning sign about your sport?

Some of you may need some motivating this week, as you have been dealing with injury. Yup, I've been there too.

So, let's get some perspective with it. Is is the mark of a bad sportsman? Is the experience a sign that your sport might not be all it's cracked up to be?

I have had a few run ins (pardon the pun) with injury, and this isn’t the first time I have mentioned it on the blog.  I have had moments prior to races where I have experienced those intense concerns of whether that ‘small pain’ is just nerves, a fuss over nothing or a genuine issue that could affect me and my performance.I have also in the past, felt quite embarrassed about injury, as if its something I shouldn’t be experiencing. Surely it’ssign I’ve done something wrong - that I am not up to this kind of thing.

And yet I ran this morning, I ran the day before, and even though sometimes it can be mentally and physically challenging - I'm not about to give up. Am I obsessed with my sport? Do I hate my body to carry on despite what injury risks there might be?

Quite the opposite.

My body is fallible, full stop. So’s every 'body'.  Even the fastest, most athletic and talented sports people throughout history – no matter how efficient, how strong or how capable, are not superhuman. If we work on that premise, then it’s about making the most of who we are with the resources we individually have. If you enjoy running; then run. If skiing, then ski. Horseback riding? Reading? Singing? You have to follow what the things that enrich your life and interest you the most.

Which is where the phrase ‘ get back in the saddle’ comes from. Life can be hard, unpredictable and sometimes, painful.  Sometimes,  no matter how strong or methodical you have been in your training, your body signals a change of plan. But this situation, or even the possibility of it, shouldn’t dictate the passions that should interest you. You may need to take steps to recover, but it doesn't mean you have reached the end of the road with your running.

I take a lot of inspiration from the courage and honesty of others on this matter, who show their true strength in their humility. One is my dear friend Nikki Barnard, one of the toughest and most inspiring long distance runners I know.  Nikki has battled 2015 with a considerable sports injury, having to re think adventures, plans and goals. Both of us have had good chats together about injury.

 Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

It’s not stopped her though. Give up where her interests lie? Not likely matey - after all, have you seen her run?

All being well, she anticipates running the UTMB in 2016. We are both helping with the running of a training camp in the Atlas Mountains in 2016.

I was also encouraged recently listening to some of the GB Park and Pipe team at the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Event in Manchester. Some of them discussed the time they have had to take out due to injury, humbly admitting the struggles this brings and I found their openness and honesty encouraging and motivating. They still love their sport, they deal with challenges as they approach, and they keep following their passions.

Sometimes I think there is a pressure, especially in sport, to be a shining example of health, fitness and vitality. We all aim for these things, of course. But we have got to be real. Guess what, sometimes I find running mentally challenging. Sometimes, it's the physical struggle.

That's ok. It's all ok.

If you are going through injury – get help. In the form of support from great running communities like #ukrunchat on twitter for example, where so many others can share their advice and expertise on what you might be experiencing. It’s also worth, when thinking carefully about future training, to speak to a physiotherapist who specialises in your sport.

Tim Budd, from Global Therapies is someone I really rely on not just for coaching, but also in times of injury/ trying to prevent injury. As a runner (and a very strong one at that to!) he ‘gets’ it both in terms of physiology, the discipline and the passion of the sport. Seeking professional advice is a must if you are experiencing any pain while running. On his personal blog, he has also written some really insightful things about his own experience with injury.

Sometimes excrement hits the fan- as they say. Sporting injury can get you down, but don’t let it affect your strength – by this I mean, the strength in yourself to be who you are, and to follow your passions and interests.

5 Myths about running

I am really excited to be heading this weekend to the Kendal Film Festival, to catch up with friends,be humbled and inspired at the feats of others, and to get totally fired up for future adventures. Bring it on!

For my post this week, I teamed up again with Trail Running Magazine to have a chat with you about some of the claims that surround taking up running.

Eg. Is it a sport not really meant for women? Surely it’s only for the super fit?

Hope it is useful and do post your comments on some impressions you have come across which surround trail running.  How have you dealt with them?

The latest Trail Running magazine is a good read – out now, next edition: 7th January

Running questions answered

Yo. So today, my video is a 'Q & A' on questions to do with running. On social media recently (do say hi by the way, I can be found on Instagram and Twitter) , I asked if there was anything you would like to know or if you had any running questions. I got asked some great questions which I hope to have answered in this latest video.

My running story is one that changed things for me - in that I discovered something about myself: I really really loved off road running, and I had not really known this before. This was in 2013, where I got more involved in trail and fell running, signing up for my first Ultra in January 2014. The longest I had raced when signing up for this mountain Ultra was ten miles.

I love adventures; excited for what 2016 will bring (including our Atlas trip!), and here I share some answers to your questions about progressing with running, injury etc.

Have a great weekend!

Exciting news!

Exciting news : it's Friday!

The impending weekend is not the only reason I am so cheery. Friday is going to be my new vlog day! I really enjoyed my recent video in the Lakes (click here to watch), and have decided to share running and fitness info, adventures etc on video, aiming for once a week on a Friday.

Good times!

I have called the series 'For Fit' Friday. This is to motivate you with your weekend adventures and maybe think about going for a run, especially if this is something more new to you. For some, the prospect of that is still daunting and may take a while before it seems enjoyable, hence the slight play on roads. But hopefully I can help you see that exercise doesn't have to be seen as a 'forfeit', and that actually, you can have the greatest times, being outside and sharing brilliant running experiences.

Go watch ! :)

 

Filmed on a Sony Action Cam

Running and climbing in the Lakes

This weekend past I headed to the Lakes! It was a great time to chill, and be active, as well as catching up with our good mate John Mason. Our first port of call was to make our way up towards Great Gable, 'the British birth place of climbing' where we climbed Napes Needle, before heading to the Summit of Great Gable. After this, JR kindly took the climbing kit back down while John Mason and I went on a very chilled run from the summit to Scafell Pike Summit, before heading back down towards the lake.

  © @johndmason 2015

© @johndmason 2015

  © @johndmason 2015

© @johndmason 2015

I vlogged the days adventures for you to see! The weather was pretty good and experienced some new challenges, as well as some good contrasting terrains.

If anyone wants to get a feel for mountain or sky running, this is certainly a good place to start!

Getting your head around your legs: you can run

The mind is a funny thing.

I am pretty fascinated with the mental game of training and racing when it comes to running. The concept that adventure, endurance or more ‘extreme’ sport requires mind over matter is common, and I know from my own training the challenges that your own mindset can provide. Feeling a bit out of sorts before a run? Under confident that you can make the distance? Just feeling a bit tired? All seems to be able to have the power to hinder achieving goals, whether your body is actually capable of doing the task or not.

I have been recently preparing a talk about my own journey to becoming an ultra-distance runner ahead of my ultra next week and it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the concept of distance and the ‘mindful’ nature of running. From signing up to an ultra in January 2014, I raced a mountain ultra that August, having only previously raced 10 miles upon signing up. A lot of those months in between involved strategic and pretty dedicated training. But if I had had the wrong mindset or lost my nerve? Well I would never have done it.

So it was an overwhelming surprise to me to be able to train my legs to be able to be fairly successful in that race, but I remember clearly on the day how much the ‘positive mental attitude’, ( aided by wonderful supporters, good weather etc. ) helped me to run that bit more confidently, and make it smoothly to the finish line. As discussed by Neil Maclean-Martin, director of Physiotherapy based in Chamonix, in our running doc ‘Running Wild’, the mental challenge is, quite arguably, tougher.

On that basis, some positive thinking. I really think running an ultra is open to all. It is not something reserved for some kind of ‘ultra-human’ . It just needs to be mentally tangible from the off. Can you run 10k? Good, four miles more and you have decent fell race distance. Get used to this, then the transition to half marathon is just over three miles. For off road runners, spending whole days out just focusing on this kind of distance (stopping for lots of snack breaks etc) would better your endurance and stamina, and then moving onto 15 miles becomes very accessible. Etc. I have mentioned this before, but this blog really helped 'keep it real' when it comes to training for long distance races, so do visit for some down to earth advice: http://yourfirstultra.blogspot.co.uk/ 

I have yet to actually take part in a marathon (nothing like going whole hog to ultra from a half – but it is doable!) but you can see how the miles rack up, and roughly 26 miles were something I tackled as part of getting ready for my first ultra. It is a fairly long way. But then, some people enter events that are 100 miles – and they finish! So don’t underestimate yourself.

When I mentioned I was writing this post to John, his take on this notion of mind and sport was “You don't eat an elephant in one sitting”. Quite. Small steps for big distance running.

Whatever the distance, never assume you won’t be able to do something.

Navigating in the Peak District

Happy Monday! This weekend was a brilliant one full of sunshine, ice cream, and a BBQ. It was also brilliant because I worked on gaining and developing a skill, which is navigation for fell running. The ultra that I am racing in this August requires map reading skills, so I was keen to take part in this navigation day course in the Peak District.

We had so much fun!

It was great to turn up and find four other ladies had also wanted to improve their map reading. We ran a bit, we read our maps, we laughed, we debated directions...it was a blast to be in an all girl group for the day proving that #ThisGirlCan, once armed with a reference point and a given a sense of direction.

 Photo: Dave Taylor

Photo: Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor was our very experienced fell running guide and was incredibly helpful and patient. We all met out Outside Shop, before heading out of Hathersage and towards Burbage Valley. I was grateful to Dave for covering a section of the race route, and for all the information he passed on to us.

We had so many laughs! A great day out, and I really recommend to anyone new or experienced in fell running to take this kind of course - having navigational skills, whether your race is marked or not, allows you to feel more confident in training and in racing.

For more information about Dave Taylor's navigation courses: http://www.fellrunningguide.co.uk/