Breaking the cycle

Wow I have been running daily for 18 months, I am a fully fledged #runstreaker. Forcing miles here and there just to make sure I got my daily run in. I was never going to stop this streak, I was going to be one of those guys who had run daily for 10 years, the I got injured and it all went wrong…. Or did it?

In all honestly the running I was doing for the most part was pathetic! It was silly little miles, 3 here 4 there and sometimes just the 1 mile, that magic mile to ensure the streak continued. I could have been much more productive with my time, even the 10 or 20 minutes that some runs took. I could have cross trained, I could have cycled and enjoyed it, I could have spent more time at the gym lifting weights building specific muscles that would have helped me running the longer distances that I enjoyed, but I didn’t. I spent at least 6 months just getting by without anything changing, I wasn’t getting any fitter or any stronger, something had to change and call it fate call it Chris Asquith call it what you like, but upon sprinting down hill up the Pentland Hills I managed to thump my right foot down hard and get an instant surge of pain unlike anything I had ever felt wash over my right knee. I knew it was bad. I hobbled the last few miles to the car and headed home.

Now to cut a long boring story short, I done what I always do, kept going, strapped it up and waited for it to go away, some 3 months later it hadn’t gone away and I still wasn’t able to run or cycle or play football and I was starting to get worried. After weeks going through the NHS I was on a 3 month waiting list to see about my knee. Once I was told this I went and got myself checked out. In about 1 minute 11 seconds I was relieved to find out it was nothing serious but something rather annoying. It was a recurring problem I had with my hips being incorrectly aligned and having a weak core, and instability in my hips (something cross training and weights could have helped with). All the symptoms I had/have on and off over the last year or so are linked to this, my piriformis pain, my runner’s knee, my ITBS, the pain in my calf and hamstring. Ironically all the running was just keeping everything moving until I crashed my right foot down one sunny evening up the hills and twisted my knee and further abused my body.  I am now doing daily strengthening and flexibility exercises/stretches to correct all the wrongs I had forced my body into by my laziness and obsession with doing a silly run daily.

Poor me poor me I know, but is there something positive about all this Stuart? Why yes there is Mon Ami, let me explain.

Food

The first thing I thought to myself when I knew I wasn’t able to continue eating the way I had been, which was “I can eat anything I run every day”. No the reality was my diet, whilst not terrible was FULL of carbs (well I am running daily I need the fuel) and I was most certainly overeating, especially the late night cheese raids that were almost daily occurrences. The carbs seemed to disappear without much effort really when I started to take notice of my intake. I just wanted more vegetables and by doubling my portions of greens there was so much food on my plate something had to go. Secondly due to being quite ill for a few days around the same time, I hadn’t eaten in almost 2 days so my stomach had shrunk and suddenly I couldn’t finish my usual sized portions, let alone go back for the nightly cheese session. So all of a sudden I had cut carbs and reduced my portion size. I thought to myself right then lets get serious about the intake of food whilst I’m unable to do any cardio and make sure I don’t put any weight on over the summer whilst I recover and who knows maybe I’ll shift a few lbs at the same time, win win. 4 or 5 months later I am eating barely any carbs in my diet and have lost over a stone in weight without really trying or setting out to do so (annoying isn’t it).

Weights

Right then, I can’t do any cardio, even swimming is causing me discomfort I must have done something pretty bad, maybe a tear, maybe ligaments!! I’m not doing anything until I find out what’s wrong with my knee I thought. But I have a gym membership so all I can do really is lift some weights. I had gone through phases of enjoying lifting weights to hating them. I was doing half-hearted session after or before a run thinking, if I double this up with my running I will be super strong and super fit! It turns out a combination of doing pathetic little runs and lifting weights that were probably not light enough to make any difference, didn’t in fact do anything like that, it just fed into me thinking I was fitter and stronger than I actually was. It wasn’t until I got injured I realised how weak I really was.

Until recently I was just lifting a few weights, doing a few bicep curls, a few lat pull downs and using some of the other machines in the gym without any real focus or intention. Now I am following a proper program and find an hour fly’s by and I’m almost wishing I had more time to do more, than the other way around wishing the time away just to say I had done half an hour of weights after a run!. I only ever use free weights now (machines have their place though) and understand the muscles I’m working much better than before. And best of all I am really enjoying lifting weights which surprised me. I don’t enjoy however, spending so much time with giant tanned men in tiny vests grunting. Anyway back to the gym…

Overall my diet is much better, I have lost easily over a stone in weight and added lean muscle. Maybe everyone needs to take some time off training to reflect on what it is you are actually doing and of what benefit it is actually of, or like me are you just getting by, quoting facts and figures that are maybe not as impressive as they could have been with a little more focus and knowledge.

“If you think you are training hard enough, double it”

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