Cheers Femurs

This month I have been dipping in and out of April loves, a month of daily reflective prompts created by Susannah Conway. One prompt really stood out for me – legs. Like many women I struggle to accept my body but I have come a long way and it started with my legs.

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Dear legs,

We have been through a fair bit haven’t we? I have always hated you – well throughout my teens and twenties focusing on your size. The wobble when I walked, the paleness of you in Spring and Summer. When I started running in my mid twenties it was always baggy numbers, full length or cropped. Any exercise class was done in baggy trousers, in fact most of my clothing on the bottom half were baggy. I remember measuring my thighs repeatedly – cheering when the number decreased. Continue reading “Cheers Femurs”

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Success! (and a Little Bit of a Fail)

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So….I passed my Riding & Road Safety exam!!! Cue a round of applause please 🙂

It was a great experience all round and I have to say I would recommend it to anyone who will have to hack on roads either by themselves or in a group at a riding school. I have learnt a lot over the past few months and feel a lot more confident on the road with it all.

This exam is in three parts – a multiple choice theory paper, a simulated road route set up in a field and a route on the roads outside the stables. You have to pass each part to progress to the next one, the theory paper I was pretty happy with.

I had a couple of minor moments during the simulated route, the first was when MJ decided that the “scary” obstacle was actually fascinating and he should really take a closer look. Now MJ is not a spooky horse, as his owner tells me he walks past wood cutting machinery, combine harvesters and all manner of farm equipment and barely bats an eyelid but what he is, is a curious horse. All he wanted to do was to take a look, but of course in the Riding and Road Safety exam what you are doing is showing the correct way to ride past a scary obstacle (in case you are interested: turn their head away while keeping your right leg on to ensure their hind quarters do not swing out) so I had to slightly fight him to get him to look away from it. This then meant my line was compromised when I got to the flared junction but we still rode that pretty well. I thought I had messed up my remounting (you have to demonstrate dismounting and remounting as though in an emergency) as I thought I had stopped him too far from the block but I just managed – that will be the yoga working its magic! To be fair the simulated route was over in a flash giving me far too long to wonder just whether or not I would have passed.

On the road route we were fine bar one minor moment where MJ was put out that we had to halt to let Mr K and another candidate pass as they had right of way for passing some parked cars and we had been warned to treat the other horses as hazards. This is fair enough, if you met an unknown horse you would do just that but MJ was not in agreement, I think his view was ‘I am nearly home and it’s only Mr K’cue fidgeting and me having to give a good squeeze with the right leg to stop him from putting his arse into traffic.

We all passed, which was great. We then got a group photo taken, then to celebrate I bought a fluorescent hat band – I know how to celebrate 🙂

Unfortunately my lesson was not that great. My body hurt all over and I wasn’t really pushing Am on. We did a lovely canter transition and some nice leg yields but I was just too hot and uncomfortable. One of those slightly rubbish lessons (never that terrible if I get to ride) but I did manage to get a better understanding of light seat – mine is okay and secure but could definitely be improved.

Oh and an update on my physiotherapy. I had been doing my exercises and headed to yoga on Friday – I was feeling virtuous and definitely felt things were improving. So…I fell down some stairs on Friday night and sprained my left ankle! I was entirely sober (had a drink afterwards) but the lighting in the bar area meant I didn’t even see the final step. Oh well – it is healing okay after a day of rest and a 24 mile cycle plus the riding yesterday doesn’t seem to have damaged it. Fingers crossed eh? Inelegant doesn’t even cover it when it comes to me at times 🙂

Friday Update

A quick Friday update. Well I took a trip to the physio yesterday on the recommendation of my pilates instructor as he thought I wasn’t moving very well. It is a case where listening paid off – often the case, you think I would have learnt this by now.
Anyway I have been told to stop running again for 2-3 weeks and been given exercises to increase my flexibility. Feels like 1 step forward 2 steps back but at least I am allowed to cycle and swim plus hopefully this will make me a better runner in the longer term.
On a riding related note I have my mock riding and road safety exam on Sunday, wish me luck as the weather looks awful! I have MJ who I rode for a trip round the stubble fields last week, I think we work ok together but I need to work on my observations more. I have been practising while cycling this week so fingers crossed that helps.
Will give you the rundown next week, have a wonderful weekend folks!

City Trail Running

This Saturday the Salomon City Trail roadshow arrived in Edinburgh on its last stop. I had signed up to this wee workshop back in June prior to my injury and had almost forgotten all about it until my mate remind me and Salomon started to load my inbox with reminder emails.

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So what the roadshow/workshop all about? Well this little crew of people from Salomon, run4it and superfeet insoles have been travelling around various cities in the UK allowing runners to try out Salomon trainers then run some trails in the cities either with or without a guide. At the end of it all you hand back your borrowed shoes and get a 15% voucher for run4it and a free pair of Salomon socks.

We were registered for 10 o’clock, the first slot available and when we met in the car park at Holyrood then was already a small group of runners waiting to register. The weather was trying its best to dampen our spirits – windy, colder than it has been for a while and trying to rain – but it couldn’t dampen mine. I managed a 18 minute walk/run on Wednesday and the idea of getting back to running around the trails on Arthur’s Seat had me excited.

Registration was quick and easy then we got to pick our shoes with advice from the guys at Salomon.

Look at all the bright, beautiful trainers
Look at all the bright, beautiful trainers

I ended up going for the XR Crossmax 2. Mainly due to the fact that they are the most supportive ones and given the weakness of my feet and ankles I wasn’t about to try something different. It was also suggested I try the insoles so we pottered off there next to get those fitted. Again they recommended a supportive one. The idea of these insoles is to give your foot the 3D feeling that it would get running on ground rather than the flat insoles that come with your shoes normally. The insoles felt great for me, the shoes fitted nice and snugly with them and my foot felt more supported.

Try to ignore the stupid face I am making and look at the ace shoes!
Try to ignore the stupid face I am making and look at the ace shoes!

Then with Lisa all kitted up too, off we went. Now we run Arthur’s Seat all the time so we decided to use some of the trails we know around the back of the hill away from the tourists. We climbed up the hill, I did walk/run but did longer stints of running and it was great to be bounding about the hill and catching up with my mate. The plans for next year’s running are growing but I will fill you in later.

Going uphill
Going uphill

Disaster struck on the descent on the road, I slowed to walk and immediately went over on my ankle! The same one! The pain burst through my ankle and foot and all I thought was ‘oh for f@~! sake’ but after blinking away the welled up tears I found I could walk ok and within a few steps I could walk normally then began running again. It feels ok but I can certainly feel it more now than previously.

Back to the shoes though, I loved mine. The support was there for my foot yet all felt really natural – I think the insoles helped with that. I had great grip in them going up the hills and through the muddier parts and they also felt fine on the concrete pavements which is lucky as in Edinburgh as with most cities you generally have to run a mile or so on the pavements to get to the trails. I really like the ‘quick laces’ that Salomon do where you don’t tie them but rather have a slider that you use to tighten them then tuck away in a neat wee pocket on the tongue. The colour of the trainers was also great, which is important although it might not initially seem it – if you like your running shoes then it is whole lot easier on those cold, dreich mornings when the bed is calling you back into it to get out and run. Maybe that’s just me but I am a shoe person 🙂

My mate decided to give the Speedcross a shot as well as the Sense Mantra. She felt the Sense Mantra were pretty hard on her feet and with their natural running styling and low heel drop (something she doesn’t normal run in) they recommended she try out the Speedcross too. Well the Speedcross were a hit for her, they felt like she ‘was wearing a sock’, so comfortable.

What do you think? I reckon she likes them
What do you think? I reckon she likes them

All in all a great morning, we with the exception of me attempting to injure my self again! Back home I treated myself to some seasalt & cracked black pepper bread, delicious!

Freebies and carbs
Freebies and carbs

I have iced my foot and it seems to be okay and I am planning on resting it until Wednesday, well with exception of horse riding and cycling but those don’t count do they? Plus I had an exciting parcel filled with Trek protein Flapjacks and flavoured raisins waiting for me when I got home – yum!

You can see another review of the Crossmax over at two itchy feet

*Finally the usual disclaimer folks the opinions expressed in this post are my own and I have not been paid for this review.*

Why Do I run?

Aah running I love and hate you in equal measures.

So I went to the physio last week about my ankle as I thought I was about ready to start running again, a wiser soul than myself recommended I see the physio rather than just start so…that ended in me getting exercises, told not to run until I have full inflection in my ankle and getting taped up like some form of athlete. So I thought a post on why I run could be nice just now as I can’t run and I wanted to let everyone know it isn’t always about the aesthetics of the body.

As you are all aware I am a runner, not a fast runner, not a particularly good runner – I know everything I am meant to do but don’t always do it. The run following a curry was not a great idea nor was the run after  one too many alcoholic beverages – my running buddies pointed out they were getting drunk from the fumes I contest that but anyway….

So why do I run? I run because I enjoy it. It really is as simple as that. Running clears my mind; it takes away the distractions and stresses of everyday life. It is something so simple in many ways that if I feel down or angry I can pull on my running shoes and when I come back I feel that things are a little clearer.

I like the way I feel when I run, I feel strong and capable of anything. In races, I run against myself and in all honest sometimes against my friends. But at the end no matter what happens we cheer and hug, I have had low moments in races and the acts of support from total strangers have always touched me. Then there are all the times I wouldn’t have got round without my friends I made through running.

I enjoy pushing myself as hard as I can when running (at times) and love that feeling you get when you realise just what your body is capable of. I know there have been comments that the push it attitude isn’t the best but it works for some of us and I am one of them. I never want to wet myself during exercise or vomit because I pushed myself so hard, but yes I enjoy feeling like I gave something my all and my limbs are shaking. I enjoy getting faster times, I enjoy complaining about a hard hill session and I like eating a cake when I feel like it.

In short, running I miss you and I promise you even though I will hate every minute of those first runs – legs tired, lungs bursting and every part of your mind telling you to stop – I will persevere because I know that running is now just part of me. I am officially a runner!

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A bit of an issue

Now I am well aware I am uncoordinated but I have been relatively lucky over the years and rarely had an injury that might make me pull out of a race. The last time that happened it was because a horse had stood on my foot.
I am pretty sure you all realise what is coming! I was doing one of my final reccie runs of Arthur’s seat for the 7 hills on Friday lunchtime. The pace was good,  I felt ok – given I had been out with colleagues drinking cocktails and gin & tonic this was impressive. We made our way up to pollock halls discussing best routes and idea of times, these guys I run with are much faster than me and this pushes me when I run with them.
We ran around some fences put up in the car park for building work and suddenly I felt my foot land on something unstable,  before I could do anything my ankle collapsed to the side and I fell down. I will be honest here and say I was a jessie and burst into tears. The guys I was running with were great, as were the builders. I had to hobble the mile back to the office but I kept it elevated, iced it and had it wrapped. I was sure it would ease and the 7 hills would be possible on the 16th. Well now it is the 9th, a week to go and my foot is swollen, painful and bruised.
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I can’t give up quite yet, not after all the training and the tribulations of that training. Plus it just looks beautiful!