A Successful Quitter

“Being successful doesn’t guarantee happiness, but happiness guarantees success.”

(A quote I recently came across from Nick Symmonds, two time Olympian and all round head screwed on kinda guy.)

I once had dreams of ‘making it’ as a pro runner. But one day I found myself sat in the QE hospital being told with stern clarity – ‘You will never be a competitive runner again’. Even though I knew this was coming it still hurt to hear those words fall out into reality.

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Racing in Spain in 2013

Everything I’d done over the past 10 years had been geared towards a running career, from my choice of University to my job and whilst I don’t regret these choices, it’s clear to me I was being driven by potential success rather than potential happiness. I wanted success too much and that didn’t necessarily equal happiness especially since it barely meant satisfaction. It’s hard to explain because I know when I was at my peak nothing mattered more that getting that GB vest, getting that PB, getting that medal. But ultimately any success I had wasn’t making me really truly happy.

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Euro XC 2014

So now when I get asked if I miss running I can whole heartedly say no. I’ve found new passions, things I enjoy doing without expectation or pressure. That’s not to say I will never run again, I always have and always will enjoy going for a run, I’ll just leave the number and timing chip to one side now.

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Cheering on the Wolfpack Gals at National XC 2017

I used to feel ashamed when I got asked if I was going to ‘comeback’ mainly because I knew I simply couldn’t, both physically and mentally it was time to call it a day. Now as far as I’m aware I never signed a life long contract to running the day I first put a pair of spikes on so the idea of ‘quitting’ is an odd one. But ok, I’ve quit competitive running, I’ve quit any chance of any more running success and guess what, I’ve never been happier.

That’s where Nicks quote hits home for me, I could have had all the success in the world as runner but would I have really been happy? Probably not.

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New adventures

‘Quitting’ wasn’t an easy escape. Instead it left me with the important question of ‘What on earth am I supposed to do now?!’. Well I did some more quitting, I quit my job, properly moved out (sorry mum) then found new interests and went outside my comfort zone. I’ve fallen down a few times (quite literally on my bike) but ultimately my success now is more enjoyable than any vest or medal I’ve ever achieved.

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Still smiling with quite a few more miles to go (82 in total!)

A few years ago I couldn’t have imagined a life without competitive running, now I don’t know how I used to do it! Still I’m currently gearing up to run for 1 whole minute next week, certainly not an athletes’ version of success but definitely my version of happiness.

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Balance is a drink in each hand

Stay happy,

M

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3 strikes, I’m out.

I’ve had plenty of practice dealing with and documenting serious injuries over the past few years and I’ve avoided addressing my current one since it still holds a huge question mark. How? How on earth have I managed to break my leg?

No, I don’t have a spectacular story of a triple back flip gone wrong whilst skiing, I’ve simply been running. Running a modest ~35miles a week and my body still just could not take it on a more unprecedented scale than ever before. So the details, a high grade stress fracture near the top of my right tibia going through the cortex means it is classed as a full fracture and I can no longer class just one of my legs as ‘bad’. I have well and truly out done myself this time. To quickly clarify, I take calcium+magnesium, vitamin D, have a balanced diet and increased training steadily with the guidance of my coach and physio. There is currently no outstanding reason for this injury and I’ve become somewhat of a phenomenon to many medical professionals who are completely baffled.

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They are the physical details but what about the mental side of a third major injury within three years. Having effectively already come to the conclusion myself, being told my running career may well be over left me with an overwhelming feeling of relief. Of course I was upset and I cried, I really cried but I’m not one to wallow in self pity. Take one look at the world around you and you’ll see there are many people far worse off. I’ve got wonderful family, friends, coaches, physios and doctors all doing so much to help me recover. Of course there are days where crutches are a pain, my arms ache and all I want to do is head outside for and walk never mind a run. But it’s not permanent, I will get better and my happiness will not determined by my running.

I think the clue to my feeling of relief is right there in that ‘running career’ expression. At what point did running because I enjoy it turn into a ‘career’. Something I HAVE to do, something I HAVE to progress in. Is it wrong to think I’ve done enough even though I’m only 22? Even though I haven’t been to the Olympics? Even though I’ve dedicated over 10 years of my life to it? Have I simply given up?

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Initially this is how I felt and why I was upset. How could I have spent so long doing everything I could to succeed only to give up? Well I don’t see it that way, I’m simply changing course. It’s terrifying to think I’m starting again, making new dreams and taking the ups and downs that will come with them. You can’t plan everything and I certainly never pictured a time in my life where running would not be a priority. But I think part of succeeding is realising when you’ve hit your peak, you’ve done everything you can and it’s time to be proud. That actually your dream did become a reality and now it’s time to chase the next one.

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So now I’m free to go and explore other ventures, to do new things and have new dreams. I still hope to get back to being able to go out on the odd run and I’ll stay in touch with the world of athletics, I don’t think I could ever completely write off a return to the competitive scene if it became plausible. But for now it’s just not for me.

As a final thought I want to make it clear I don’t regret my time as a competitive athlete, I’ve made great friends and memories through the sport but having become a place filled with pressure and expectation I have found in increasingly easier to leave behind. For all the good memories there are still the low points where I compromised my health and happiness for a PB, an international vest or a scholarship. Something that was a mistake and I have learnt from.

Right now, I’m enthralled at the prospect of doing something different and seeing where it take me. It’s scary but all the most exciting opportunities are.

 

 

 

World Mental Health Day

Imagine your dreams becoming a nightmare. This is exactly what happened to me when I achieved a goal yet was the most unhappy I had ever been. Having an eating disorder whilst a mental health problem in itself had so many extra side effects- depression, anxiety, mood swings and just plain misery. I hope that this World Mental Health day not only celebrates those who have learnt to live and be happy with their mind but also shows its okay to talk about. It’s okay not to be okay.

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To understand more about athletes and eating disorders please take a read of my previous blog Taking Control in All the Wrong Ways

 

 

 

 

A Patient Who Learnt Patience

Everything takes time and sometimes it may take a longer than we like.

I’ve been told more times than I’d like to ‘stay patient’ throughout my comeback from injury. Something that doesn’t come naturally to a runner whose main focus is to be as quick as possible! This can often reflect in my everyday life for example constantly dropping things around the house as I rush aiming to complete tasks as quickly as possible (I can confirm that dropping a bag of cous cous is very bad bad!) But whilst I might not have mastered patience in daily menial tasks I’ve simply had to be long term.

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Wandering around Hughenden Estate

The initial time off running, the gradual comeback, the limitations, the lack of what once was. Be patient it’s coming. Developing a sense of patience has created more regular, achievable milestones formed over days, weeks, months and even years. Whilst being patient can seem hopeless at the time, it’s incredibly rewarding in the long run. Suddenly I find myself striding out up a hill that only a few weeks ago had forced me to a defeated walk at the top. Patience rewarded.

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Patiently waiting for some fashion sense

So instead of wishing away time I’ll be enjoy the steady progress, the little victories, looking at how far I’ve come and not how far I have to go. Just because it’s not happening right now, doesn’t mean it never will.

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M x

 

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Wondering or wandering? Let’s get lost

What does it mean to be lost? Maybe you’ve been too adventurous and ended up with no idea where you are.  You don’t where you’re going, what is at the end of the path or where it might lead. That’s the obvious answer, but delve a little deeper.

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Looking out over Hughenden Park

How can it be that right now I know exactly where I am, my exact position in the world yet I can’t help but feel a little lost. No matter how hard I try and plan I simply don’t know where I’m going. On a run last week I got lost in the geographical sense. I didn’t know what was at the end of the trails I was choosing or where they might bring me out. However I could always tell which direction I needed to aim for to get home, I just wasn’t sure which path would get me there. They all looked similar as far as I could see but I knew they would lead me in different directions and hold different challenges.  So I wasn’t quite sure how I would get home or how long it would take but I knew I would get there eventually.

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Wandering in Vondelpark

That was being physically lost but I realised as I negotiated private land, a huge pond with an accompanying army of ducks and steep descends down forgotten paths the same happens mentally. We can’t know what tomorrow will bring, we don’t know what is at the end of the path we have picked or what we will come across along the way. We can aim for a final destination but we don’t know how long it will take to get there or what obstacles we may meet along the way.

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An actual representation of the duck army

I think this is particularly relevant within athletics as you can plan and prepare as much as you like to reach a certain goal but ultimately there is so much that is out of your hands. It’s because of this a huge quality for an athlete to have is being able to adapt. Just because something hasn’t gone to plan doesn’t mean the outcome can’t be positive or maybe even better than you initially thought it could be. This is certainly something I’ve learnt over the last year where before I would have freaked out if I couldn’t stick to my plans and routine (as detailed in my last blog  Taking Control in All the Wrong Ways) and it just wasn’t a healthy way to live!

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Head in the clouds

Instead now if something doesn’t go to plan I adapt to make the best of the situation. Whether that is the pool being closed, the shower at work not working or getting totally lost on a run. Those unplanned events meant I had an excuse to treat myself to a swim in the sun at the outdoor pool, the shower was fixed and I discovered new paths through the woods I’d never been down before. I made the best of unplanned events.

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Post swim snacking

I don’t have much of a set routine at the moment especially since my ‘training week’ cycles over nine days rather than the usual seven due to keeping at two days of running followed by a day off. This means my rest day changes every week and I can’t do the same thing, on the same day at the same time every week and surprisingly I absolutely love it! Everyday is different and I’m not saying I don’t ever plan anything but my plans have just become that much more flexible. Training is never something I ‘have’ to do, if I don’t feel up to it I don’t do it. Of course there are times when driving up to the pool I absolutely dread getting in but give me a SWIMTAG and a waterproof mp3 and I’m off.

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So what it comes down to is that as hard as we try we can’t truly control everything! You might not know exactly where you are going but you can enjoy the journey, take in the highs and lows. Who knows where you might end up.

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Now a year older..and wiser?

 

 

 

 

 

 

M x

Taking Control in All the Wrong Ways

Before I was injured my relationship with running was a rollercoaster. Highs, lows, twist and turns but ultimately enjoying the ride.  Then it slowly became messy, flying off the tracks with no idea what the fall would bring.

My story starts with a target. A tangible goal set out after finishing a strong XC season, I wanted to medal at the BUCS 10k with the main incentive being that could lead to earning a scholarship at uni something that had previously been out of reach. I was more motivated than ever and was steadily improving. Training was going well adding in some longer runs and longer sessions, progress was monitored and controlled by my coach.

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Ending a solid 2013/14 XC season at Home Countries

But there are aspects of performance that come down to your own control and I starting assessing everything I did outside of training. This led to me looking at my nutrition the one thing I had total control over and an aspect I had never previously worried about, this is where I could make a  difference. I had always had a healthy, balanced diet but never put a huge amount of thought into what I was eating. Something I now realise I totally took for granted.

At this point I think some sort of disclaimer is needed. I am not any sort of medical professional, I’m writing about my own experience and the effects it had on me. I am not directing this post at any one individual, I am not writing this post for attention in fact I wish I didn’t have to write it all but its a topic that needs to be openly discussed and I hope this can help in that process. I would also like to point out this is a surprisingly difficult topic for me to write about, I’m talking about events, thoughts, feelings that happened over the last 2 years. Thoughts that I’ve learnt are toxic and I don’t enjoy reliving. I am so aware this is a sensitive topic and if you’ve simple come to cast a judgement then I ask you stop right here.

So like I said my story begins when I set a goal and for the first time it was something bigger and difficult but not impossible. To try and put a timescale to it BUCS was at the start of May and the goal was set at some point in March. This meant I left uni and my main training group for Easter and went to visit family in Holland. This involved the usual outings to restaurants and cafes but this time they were different. I starting drinking tea rather hot chocolate topped with cream and I turned down any cakes on offer. I limited myself to one small piece of Easter chocolate a day, I ate popcorn instead of crisps , I ordered salad instead of chips – simple little changes. It was the first time I was making a conscious effort to improve my diet with the only  real aim being to cut out unhealthy ‘extras’ and to choose healthier options. Nothing extreme, but if I wanted to be a better athlete surely it was something I had to do?

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Training in Holland Easter 2014

BUCS 10k – I won a bronze medal, I did it I achieved my goal. At the time a few people told me I looked slimmer, fitter, faster and I felt it, it made me feel great. So it was on to the next goal with a new mind-set, if I weighed less I’d run faster. After finishing with uni for the year I was back at home for summer and had a full time job. Days became run, work, run, sleep, repeat. Over the course of the summer I was mainly training on my own at a relentless pace with no one to watch me or slow me down. I was now looking towards the cross season with a realistic opportunity to make the Euro XC team being the next big target.

 BUCS 10K

When I returned to uni for what should have been my final year I could sense people stirring. Clearly I had lost weight, but I’d been away for months, of course I looked different. I found ways to justify everything, I wasn’t like those other girls who got skinny and broke. I was being sensible, I was eating all my meals, snacking straight after every session, how could this be dangerous? The main problem was that when I was eating I wasn’t eating enough, I wasn’t having any proper snacks and I was denying myself any ‘bad’ foods. Even looking back now I’m amazed how quickly this meant I lost weight, too quickly. It took its toll, I had awful mood swings, barely able to process my own thoughts, I was antisocial and would avoid meals out, I cried regularly and I was flat out exhausted. I wasn’t myself but I couldn’t see it.

Holiday photos that are bittersweet to look back on.

Imagine having a whole 6 months worth of photos you hate to look at. Photos that show how obvious it was. How could I have missed it? But you don’t see it, you just don’t. If someone remarks on your weight you feel proud. Proud you’ve managed to reduce the number on the scales, proud you manage to eat the bare minimum. I remember so clearly having one conversation where I was told straight to my face I’d lost a lot of weight and I’d lost it quickly, I was treading a fine line. I brushed it off I’m not like other girls who don’t eat anything. I eat carbs, I eat regularly, I’ve got a controlled diet. But that was just the problem. Control.

Scheduling every meal, every snack, every day not even eating 10 minutes before my planned timing. I was meticulously planning everything I ate to ensure it was just enough to keep me going and nothing unnecessary was allowed to creep in. It wasn’t about looking skinny, I didn’t care about how I looked I cared about how fast I was. So I lost weight and I ran faster. But at what cost? I was miserable and I hated the fact that I was starting to hate running.

This is just a glimpse into how I thinking at the time, and I’m realising now how difficult it is to try and put into words. Even at the time I remember not being able to articulate what was going on in my head and at this point I’ve moved on enough that I simply don’t have the ability to put myself back into the same mindset. My thoughts where all over the place, the only thing I knew was how to do was run. I cried regularly because I couldn’t make sense of anything but if that’s what it took to make the team that would have to be the sacrifice. You find ways to justify yourself and you think that because you are eating throughout the day you’re fine. I wasn’t anorexia or bulimic so there was nothing wrong with me.

Burgos 2014

I only recently came across something that could describe the mindset I had developed – orthorexia. An obsession with ‘eating right’, overthinking eating, avoiding certain ‘bad’ foods. That’s my interpretation, you can google it for yourself. Besides I don’t think one word can really it sum up. It’s a problem within athletics. It’s a problem because it’s hard to pin down. On the surface you’re still eating fairly normally but on the inside your brain is doing somersaults to make sure its the right food, the right amount, the right timing. Slowly chipping away any personality or character you have.

I guess I should finish off my story – to sum up the XC season, I ran brilliantly. I made a senior England team and people where taking notice of me. I felt fast, I could make the team. At the trials I felt awful, I knew I was in an automatic qualifying spot throughout the race but all I wanted to do was stop. When I crossed the line I was a mess, crying in relief rather than happiness. I’ll always be proud that I made the team, but it’s still a bittersweet time to look back at.

Euro XC Trials – Liverpool, 2013 and 2014

After hitting the Team GB goal I gradually started to eat more ‘normally’ loosening the grip my mind had over my diet. I didn’t have a goal for Euro XC I was simply happy to be there and I enjoyed every second of the experience (well except the hungover journey home!) Then it was Christmas which meant plenty of eating and I slowly put on a little weight. After having a shocker of a race in Edinburgh and finding out I had low iron I cut my XC season short and I finally started to relax. I’d hit my big goal and I was satisfied with the season. It was at this point I realised how much of a control freak I had been leading up to the trials. I realised this needed to change otherwise I was going to hurt myself. Now if I felt hungry in the evening I had a snack ‘this piece of toast will stop you getting injured eat it!’ So I became a much healthier weight, and thought I’d got away with it. But the damage had been done, I hadn’t had a period for over a year and my body couldn’t take it anymore.

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Euro XC 2014

I don’t need to tell you about what happens after that point, it’s all here in this blog. Equally I’m not saying my quick weight loss is the reason I got injured but I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t a huge factor. I’m sure your wondering if I regret it? Well yes of course I regret becoming that unhealthy, that unhappy but I can’t pretend I didn’t enjoy running fast and having so many amazing experiences along the way. The sacrifice happened and I wish it hadn’t but I’m not going to take away those happy memories that came with it.

Once I got injured I flew to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It took a while to find a balance, but I’m finally there. Finally at point where I an write the post this blog was always meant to be for. Now for the aggressive part…

If ANY of this has resonated with you please have a think about what you are doing to yourself and the long term effects. I’ve learnt the hard way, I read blogs with the same message saw the similarities to what I was doing but told myself I was different. You aren’t. Obsessively controlling your food intake is not normal and it is not healthy. If you avoid meals out, if you eat the same things everyday at the same time everyday, if you don’t allow yourself anything ‘bad’ I urge you to take a critical view of what you might be doing to yourself long term. Speak to a nutritionist, a coach, a friend, anyone. I know this might seem extreme attempting to rattle people through a blog post but it’s what it takes!

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Happier and healthier after my first 30min run back

There are plenty of people who have written about problems with athletes and weight and I don’t deny this is just another to add to the ever increasing pile but these blogs are going to keep popping up because it is still a problem. A problem that isn’t going to be solved by someone simply reading words on a screen. Everyone has a responsibility. If you know anyone you think might be having this kind of problem, tell them! Don’t discuss it behind their back watching them slowly unravel. The chances are they don’t realise quite how much they are hurting themselves and they are likely to be pretty unhappy under the surface. I’m not saying you have to directly confront them it could simply be sending a link this post and having a discussion.

So that’s me, a story that I’m not going to bury but one that I’ve learnt from and can move on from. I hope by sharing this an awareness can be made or a discussion can be started and just maybe somebody can be helped.

M x

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One Year

Well Happy Anniversary to the two metal screws sitting snug in my foot and what a year it has been. I’m not even sure how I can begin to put it into words but since this is a blog I guess that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

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My 1 year old screws

So since the last blog there have been the typical ups and downs making progress slower than I’d like but ultimately heading in the right direction. The main headlines? A dodgy quad that I thought was yet another stress fracture – erm nope turns it was just another side effect of my weak left leg! Fortunately, I’ve been practising what I preach, I took about 10 days off running and with the help of my physio I’ve managed to slowly but surely keep increasing my running. I’m also starting to find just a little bit of promising progress in terms of fitness, runs getting that little bit faster, a little bit more comfortable and actually being able to go on runs with my fab housemates are all rewards for the hours of cross training and rehab.

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Running on holiday in Devon where a year ago I’d been on crutches

I’ve also finally finished my degree! Hooray loads of time to train – erm nope welcome to the real world of work. Fitting everything into a 8:30-5 day is by no means easy but I’m enjoying having a routine and am finding having limited time to train means I really make the most of it, even if that does mean 6:30am runs and 9:30pm swims! Although of course I couldn’t have a change of environment without something not going to plan, I’d been at work a grand total of 4 days before taking a day off due to tonsillitis but again I took it easy for a few days and with some antibiotics got back up and running. 

 The progress I’ve made in the past year has obviously been pretty significant physically but mentally my whole view on running has changed massively. Imagine going from an athlete who would sometimes cry at the end of session that didn’t go well seemingly crumbling under the pressure they’d put on themselves. A girl who would never miss a session, never miss a run not even if I felt ill or tired going into a run I’d just have to get on with it. I know to be a top athlete there needs to be certain level of total dedication and of course you’re not going to feel great every session but I’ve now seen just how important knowing when to rest really is.

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Left foot back in action

Since I don’t have any immediate goals at the moment it certainly is much easier for me to take a relaxed view on training. I’m only running two days in a row at the moment so a running rest is forced upon me but I make sure I assess daily how I’m feeling and base my training around that. It’s the most relaxed approach I’ve ever taken and do you know what, it’s working! Being in tune with how I’m feeling, deciphering the difference between being a little tired and being genuinely ill, a niggle and an injury that needs addressing it’s skill that needs to be learned. Of course I would have preferred to have done this over a shorter time span and minus the 2 screws, 3 stress fractures and many tears but equally I can appreciate perhaps it was exactly what I needed.

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Cheering on Big Mac at the European Champs

I’ve truly found the joy in running again, perfectly summed up in a recent ‘race’ I took part. Ok so the Amsterdam 10K was by no means a proper race, it was more of a fun run through the city. I’d entered at the start of the year (pre double hip stress fracture) as I’d been sure I could at least jog around. But by the time it got to July I knew I’d only be able to run for 30mins, certainly not 10K. In the end I decided to still take part but simply run 30mins and then stop, a planned drop out. I was so lucky to have my two housemates Molly and Alice to trot around with in the blaring mid-day sun and we had an absolute blast. Hi-fiving kids, attempting to get cheers from the crowd and weaving our way through the runners, paper cups and tram lines as best we could. The whole event was sponsored by Brooks and so had the ‘Run Happy’ slogan everywhere and I think I finally embraced that feeling. It didn’t matter how fast or far I ran as long as I enjoyed the ride.

 I hit my 30mins, and dropped off the course and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. How far I’d come since that time last year where I was a depressed mess of a person wondering if I’d ever be able to enjoy running again. In the evening we went and watched the European Champs in the Olympic Stadium and for the first time in long while I allowed my dreams of competing internationally to creep back into my mind. I didn’t care if they seemed ridiculous to others they were starting to become tangible for me. I’d seen how much progress could be made in a year, I’d learned to sail the storm and was ready to come out the other side.

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My Hips Do Lie

Well Shakira you’re wrong my hips do in fact lie! The ‘Odd Ache’ I spoke about in a previous blog was a little more than that it was a crack, well 2 cracks in my hip. Another couple of stress fractures to add to the collection shining bright on an MRI like a giant middle finger.

So how?

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That’s was the big question and to be honest I’ll probably never really know  After my adductor seemed to get better yet I still couldn’t run more than 15minutes without discomfort in my hip/groin/pelvis (Oh look classic stress fracture can’t tell where the pain is symptom!) I started to get pretty frustrated and so got sent off for an MRI. Lying there still for half an hour I really had no idea what was going on but an annoying voice in the back of my mind thought perhaps some how I’d got another stress fracture. But I was wrong… it was two!

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Spending a lifetime in the gym means many selfies

The process of finding out the result of my MRI was awful. I had been working in the lab all morning and had a few missed calls, when I caught the next one the first thing the Doctor said was ‘Where are you?’ Eeek that’s not a great start. But there I stood outside the lab, labcoat still on holding back tears. Of course I was devastated I spent the remainder of the call trying not to burst into tears, I saved that for when I got home.

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Back to crutch life

 

It was bizarre walking home to go and get my crutches but after leaving them behind for 4 months they were back in action once again. I could deal with not running at this point, I’d become used to it but not being able to do anything after I just started to feel like I was getting back to some decent fitness was a hard pill to swallow. Even more so was the fact I had been doing such little running, had been so careful with my build up and really focusing on doing what my body would allow yet somehow I had pushed it too far yet again.

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When your crutches give up on you!

As I sat in disbelief I remembered when I’d had an ankle niggle during my initial comeback and how in blind panic I had declared if I ever had another stress fracture that would be it. But there I was knowing that I physically couldn’t give up. No matter how many people thought I was fighting a losing battle I knew I’d keep on trying. The first thing I said to my mum when I saw her was

‘I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to give up.’

It’s almost seems crazy when you’ve seemingly taken another step back but I really mean it and I’m more motivated than ever.

Of course straight away I had every doctor, physio, coach and whoever else questioning how this was possible. Are you taking vit D? Yes (In fact I use a vit D spray that I would highly recommend). Are you taking calcium? Yes (And I can’t go a day with yogurt/milk/ as it is!) Those were the basic starting points but the fact of the matter is at this point I really can’t be sure what caused this.

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Some well needed calf TLC from Molly

I know that from about the middle of 2014 my bone health probably began to suffer and it’s also likely that after having so much time off my left foot after the operation it would have easily deteriorated further as I wasn’t able to put any force through my leg for so long. I’ve now been to a rheumatologist (bone guy), had blood tests and have a DEXA scan booked to assess if anything needs treating or if I’d simply had a lag in my bone health recuperating.

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Rehab in full swing

That’s the nitty gritty back to the important part and I have successfully run again! Having been off crutches for 3 weeks I headed back to the physio last week expecting to maybe be allowed to get on the cross trainer but since everything was progressing well I was given the all clear to start some jogging! Of course the build up again will be steady and gentle but I’ve already found I am feeling so much stronger, healthy and more comfortably this time round. I’m now excited for the future and to build up to getting back to where I was and further.

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Back on the field of dreams!

I’m still more than happy to share my experience (despite the recent lack of blogs suggesting otherwise!) and I hope that I can be positive role model for anyone struggling with injuries. Besides I was told since my case isn’t textbook a new one needs to be written, this can be the start!

A Tsp of Thought

I’ve always remembered an assembly in primary school where Mr Adams the head teacher at the time spoke about how to pray. It’s something I try to do every night and recently I was once again reminded about how powerful it can be whether you are religious or not.

On a training trip to altitude in Font Romeu last Easter I told a fellow athlete and good friend about this method and was so pleased to recently find out many months later that she is still using it. So what is it? It’s just a teaspoon or TSP of thought.

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Training in Font

T – Thanks

What can you be grateful for? Take a moment to be truly thankful and appreciative for it. Big or small it doesn’t matter you’ll start to realise how much you have to be happy and thankful about.

S – Sorry

What have you done that day that you aren’t so proud of; how can you become a better person?

P – Please

Having considered the above what is it that you truly feel you need or want? Are you doing everything you can to get to these things?  Then think of what others might need and if you could help them?

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Down by Lake Matemale

When I do this every night as a Christian I direct my thoughts to God in prayer but even if you aren’t religious it can still be an incredibly useful exercise that gives you perspective and focuses your mind. I think it’s so important that before you start listing all the things you want and you think you so desperately need that you take a moment to consider what you already have and what you may need to change to be truly deserving of what you want. I normally find I start ready to real off a long list of P’s but by the time I’m done with my T’s and S’s my list has shrunk considerably!

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So there you have it a Tsp of thought for every night, hopefully you’ll find it as useful as I do.

Thanks Mr Adams.

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Proof that I used to have straight, blonde hair and knew how to rock a fringe!

 

Odd Aches

So I can’t exactly call this a New Year blog as I’m a good month and a half late but I didn’t feel like I had anything particularly insightful to share until now, evidence of the exciting life I lead! I like to think when I write those reading can take something away with them whether it’s knowledge, understanding or just some entertainment on a slow Sunday, so here goes!

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Scar healing well

I should admit my main reason for not writing recently is that I’ve not had much I’ve been keen to share in my quest to be positive. Over the Christmas and the New Year I was having a great time gradually building up my miles and days running with just one little niggle for company. I’ve certainly found it’s true when you haven’t run for a while that:

a) The first few minutes of every run feel like you’re crawling through treacle and you wonder if you’ve left some weights strapped to your shoes

and

b) You will get plenty of niggles completely unique to you without any real indicators of when, why and oh for goodness sake what now!?

Niggle 1

Of course I’ve been doing astronomical amounts of rehab but when you haven’t used your left leg at all for well over 4 months it does weaken just a tad! In my case my first niggle was my ankle. I’d gone home for Christmas full of excitement knowing that I could finally go and run through the glorious woods of Hughenden. However the woods were incredibly muddy and so my ankles took a beating which my poor left ankle was certainly not ready for! The next I tried staying in the park but even that was too uneven and every time my foot tilted slightly it was pretty painful.

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Forever rehabbing

So I stood in the middle of the park crying and panicking with my stepdad Frank trying his best to comfort me despite the fact I was adamant that I had already given myself another stress fracture and that I was done with the sport. (Overreacting you say, what does that mean!?) Of course this was completely untrue but what can I say I’ve always had a tendency to be dramatic! So after firing another one of many emails to my physio I was reassured and stuck to smooth paths whilst the ankle strengthened.

I spent Christmas in Holland with the Dutch half of my family which worked out wonderfully, lots of smooth sandy paths, a surprisingly large hill (technically a mountain!) and a brand new Garmin ready to start getting into some proper running! I carried on building up and seeing improvements every time I set off moaning and groaning at my legs to kick-start. I’m lucky that both my mum and stepdad are also keen runners so I always had company and was able to have great feedback (and plenty of pics to put on InstaG of course).

AB

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It was the best feeling waking up on Christmas day and realising I could go for a run and a proper 40 minute one at that! It was also wonderful for my family to see the progress I’d made since I last saw them in September and was a reminder of how far I had come. It becomes incredibly easy to take progress for granted but every time I set out into Amerongse Forest and headed on up the mountain it was amazing to realise how much I had already conquered.

Niggle 2

So after the holidays were over it was back to uni. As soon as I got back I went and run one of my favourite routes past the Bourneville chocolate factory and felt great. But a couple of days later when I first dared to venture out a little further away niggle number 2 arrived. As I began running I could feel a little strain in my groin/adductor which was nothing unusual (See point a above) but this time it didn’t get any better and when I stopped at a road crossing I just couldn’t lift my left knee to get going again.

So whilst I walked back 3 miles home I had thoughts flying through my head trying to convince myself I hadn’t got a stress fracture in my pelvis or femur (Lesson learnt – Google is the enemy and I am not a physio). The rest of the day I struggled to walk but still did my best to stay calm. I had a week of easy cross training and found my adductor was getting better every day but when I tried to run I broke into a shuffle that clearly wasn’t going to work and just aggravated it.

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Cross training essentials

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And post cross training feelings!

After lots of massage and physio which never got less awkward (Due to the fact adductor = groin. Great) it became clear my adductor just wasn’t strong enough after such a long time out of action and so was being used more than it could handle. I was meant to be going back to the physio anyway the next week as another journey to Northampton also included a trip back to the hospital where my operation was done. After some final x-rays, my foot was looking in great shape and I was signed off which was great news. But just as I had sorted my foot and calf strength out I was sent off with more sheets of rehab now for my adductor. It was frustrating as I had been starting to settle into a good running routine but these things happen and fortunately I’ve been sensible with getting them sorted.

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Another Northampton trip

So that pretty much brings me up to now; I’ve been building up running again (again) and hey what do you know now the ABductor feels sore! Another email to my poor physio written in pure pissed off mode and calmed down with the wise words ‘I think you are going to get odd aches as you have not ran for a while’. Que a lightbulb turning on in my head and resulting in a blog post!

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Things are going to ache, things won’t go to plan but they will get better. And hey if all good things come in 3s there’s my third and hopefully last niggle!

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#pugsnotdrugs