Saturday, 23 July 2011

Much, much more besides my MRI results

What follows is quite a lengthy blog post. I think staying with it will be quite rewarding; there are a few tips on the type of things I do and a couple of things I’ve found out along the way. There’s also my reflections’ regarding the obvious.

For those who are results orientated I’ll tell you now, it was bad news; as I had suspected all along, I do have posterior impingement. What’s more, they’re not willing to operate and suggest I manage the pain by giving up running!

Obviously that’s not going to happen and my thoughts on the matter are somewhere below.

Trail running
Whilst waiting for my injury to be diagnosed I have been trying to stay motivated. One of the things I decided to do was run the local mtb trails to give myself some times to beat in the future;

First up was Dalbeattie, which I ran with my friend Allie Wilson. We did this in a comfortable 2hrs23mins.

Then I did Mabie a week later by myself. I was quite tired when I did this after a big couple of weeks cross training and ran it in 1hr24mins.

Today I did Ae. In the run up to this beast I took my foot off the training in an attempt to give myself a good run of it. So for example, my last decent days training was Wednesday when I did the following;
  • 6am – a 30min walk with a 40llb pack on.
  • Lunch – 30mins cross training.
  • p.m. – an easy 4miler (32mins).

I had set myself a target of roughly 2 and a half hours as this route is hillier that Dalbeattie. I was delighted with 1hr59mins though. Having said that there were problems; after an hour I slowed considerably. This may have been due to the pain of running with a foot attached to my leg via a pancake of broken glass (not literally ofcourse!) though I suspect it had more to do with my total lack of any decent base training of late.

Anyway, that’s them done now. It’s my plan to strip myself back to basics and hone in on as near a perfect base training programme as I can. One day I’ll return to these courses and set a new pb on all. In fact, Ae is a round trip of 44 miles from my house including the trail. I think I’ll make this an ultra to aim for one day. Wait out on that one.

Camelbak Delaney fit
I tried this bad boy out today and got the idea when running with Allie at Dalbeattie. She was lugging this huge bum bag around and I was wearing my usual; my camelback octane. The backpack is a brilliant bit of kit but it’s probably a bit much for a run in the region of 2-3hours. Click on the link for some technical info.

At first, it felt as though the bottle would pop out at any time. Bear in mind that this is the first time I have used this type of product. However, after about 20mins I got used to the feeling and by the end of the run was very pleased with it. You do have to keep tightening the strap though and I’m not sure how I would get on in an ultra with the belt strapped tight across the lower half of my tummy, which leads me to my next tip;

Many ultra runners suffer with tummy problems, I being one of them. I don’t know if this is common knowledge but ginger goes some way to mitigating these issues. I’m not saying it is the be all and end all but it definitely helps.

I read about it on an American guys blog (can’t remember who now – sorry) so went and got myself the product in the picture from Holland and Barratts. I can say this works for me because when running with Allie after about only 90mins my stomach was just not settling; I had the tell tale signs of burping a lot. After about 5mins of taking one of these sweets not only had it completely settled but I was re-energised.

I know that electrolytes problems also contribute to stomach problems but have yet to come up with a master plan for that one. I do, however, use nuun tablets in my water.

Over the past few weeks I have been spending an almost identical time studying as I have been devising a super-duper training programme.

I have developed it by giving every session a weighting (a score) which revolve around only two priority sessions every week in base and three in the specialisation weeks. This way, my focus is on giving those priorities as much quality time as I can complete with adequate recovery either side of said sessions.

Obviously I can’t run huge volumes. So now during the course of a (base) week where I train every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times, I have included;
  • fast walking wearing a weighted pack (between 35-55llbs),
  • leg strength training followed by a short distance run wearing a 16llb pack,
  • easy short distance runs,
  • lunch time cross training,
  • one mid-long distance run every Saturday, and,
  • a medium distance easy cycle ride on Sundays
The priority sessions are increased in duration every week and all other sessions remain the same.

To mitigate and lasting pain from the mid-long distance runs I have done the following;
  1. Bought myself a pair of Hoka Bondi B’s. These will be used only for the long distance runs. Why? Have you seen the price of them? My focus here will be time on feet and ensuring I don’t overdo it. I really miss long distance runs. They are the cornerstone of ultra training in my view as they bring about an overall efficiency in everything else in training.
  2. Bought myself compression socks. I will wear these both during my runs and afterwards. Save yourself the time of hunting for the best; I’ve read a few reviews. 1000mile does a very good pair.  
  3. Upped the flexibility stuff and bought myself a foam roller to use after my priority sessions.

I’ve got a lot more planned for the specialisation phase but for now I’ll see how I get on with the base. As far as I’m concerned there are so many variables to training that it makes sense to approach it methodically. I have even made myself an A3 sized training log!

So hopefully now you’ll see that I’ve been thinking a lot recently! All of this has been on the back of my last blog chapter. In all honesty I have set myself some decent targets. My approach to training is how I intend to achieve those aims.

MRI results
The consultant told me that there would be a risk of permanent damage if I was operated on. He also conceded that the bone spur would continue to grow and that in a few years they would probably be forced to operate as it would impact on my day to day life!

These people have no idea; my day to day life! Even if I don’t run I’m in pain. What they’re saying is that I’ve got to be a cripple before they’ll do something. If I was still in the Army, I’m fairly certain I’d have been operated on by now. If I was famous I’m sure a private surgeon would’ve sorted me!

I’m still a little bit shocked by the whole episode. After I left his office, I actually broke down. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was feeling incredibly sorry for myself and that my wife was waiting for me (she works at the hospital). We immediately went outside and I had a proper cry!

Post MRI results
When I sorted myself out and said goodbye to the missus I phone Rob. He helped me see that this doesn’t spell the end (actually, my wife helped me out here too). We all know that I’m not going to give up. There are a few options. For example, I text my dad as he wanted to know how I got on. He immediately phoned me and offered to pay for a private consultant. This really is a god send and is something I’m considering.

When I returned to work my boss asked me how I got on. He knows me pretty well and the discussion revolved around the aims I have set myself;

“I know I have the determination but I don’t know if I have the genetics to achieve my aims. To date, I feel my injuries and Hons degree have been preventing me from putting in the hard yards to answer that question.”

Life and running are two and the same thing for me, for example;
  • You are facing challenges all the time, some self inflicted ofcourse,
  • There are many up’s and down’s,
  • You constantly learn much about yourself and others,
  • Sometimes life gets in the way of running (and vice versa),
  • You get out of it what you put in.

So it is from the lows of yesterday’s tears to the highs of today’s trail run that I realise that all I have to do is unlock another of life’s secret doors before I can proceed to the next.

And besides, isn’t this one of the things life should be about.............


  1. best wishes to you jonny. i like your rounded perspective. if it was me i may just accept the generosity your dad is offering. what a top man.

  2. Bloody hell Jonny....
    Heres me harping on about a tight groin.
    I too would accept your dads generosity.
    Hope things work out.

  3. I've been trying to comment on your blog for ages, so fingers crossed.

    I hope everything works out ok for you. Where there's a will there's a way. Accept you Dad's help. Surely, if your Son is happy,you would be happy...?