I feel that I should apologise – this is supposed to be a blog about taking on challenges in cycling and running – and here I am being very cautious with the ligament tweak, doing nothing beyond sit-ups, press-ups and the like.
Although my normal approach would be to ignore the injury, carry on and make it worse, this time it’s very minor but I’m being more sensible and am embracing the rest.
Our older son was home for the weekend with his girlfriend, he and our younger son are back on Monday and on Tuesday we are hosting my wife’s two brothers and their families for lunch. After that it’s just the four of us for a few days over Christmas, before the sons head off back to London for New Year.
So, concern over next year’s sportive and ultra marathon can wait for now and it will be back to the running and bikes in the new year.
I wish everyone who knows me – and everyone who doesn’t – a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2020.
Although this year is tinged with more than a little sadness over the loss of my father last week, I’m comforted that he lived a (very) long and full life – and would have absolutely hated any loss of faculty or independence resulting from increasing age or infirmity. I’m pleased too that he loved living with my sister and brother-in-law for these last few years – and that they didn’t have to cope with him in any significant mental or physical decline.
That’s all four of our parents living in their own homes right up to death or short final illnesses, certainly something to be most grateful for. Getting through the funeral in the New Year will unlock what I trust will be a great 2020.
When you’re injured it’s easy to obsess about what you can’t do. Having tweaked a knee ligament running on Sunday, I decided to spend some of Monday finding out what I can still do.
I can still do quite a lot. Press ups and sit ups and crunches all seem OK, once in position. Calf raises and even the plank routine look possible, although I’ll give the ‘right leg raised’ plank a miss for the time being and take it easy on the side planks.
None of those involve any great movement in the knee and my right leg can take more than its fair share of any ‘posture’ work that is necessary.
Equally, upper body exercises are OK so I can still bench press, bicep and tricep curl (with my usual rather puny runner/cyclist weights, of course).
Putting it another way, although I think I could do them all, I am not going to try running, cycling, rowing, lunges, squats, leg curls and extensions. That’s a bit of a downer for someone who likes to run and cycle but it could be worse.
I might even try a bit of swimming front crawl, with minimal leg kick?
The knee improved even during Monday and I slept well Monday night. Tuesday, more improvement.
Looking on the bright side:
the injury could have been a lot worse, especially as I was stupid enough to finish the run with it;
I can do more than I’d expected, despite the injury. It’s very minor and no medical intervention is necessary;
the timing could have been much worse – it’s well before training starts for the White Horse Challenge sportive or the ultra marathon (and I’m happy that I’ve done nothing that prejudices the skiing early next year); and
the achilles tendons and calf muscles are playing nicely at the moment – the break should see them right for when I get back to the running and cycling in the new year.
Back to Wigan on Wednesday to visit my father in hospital again, grateful that the new car is an automatic (but setting a new personal worst of over 8 hours of driving).
Saddest possible post script. My father died peacefully on the Thursday morning, within a month of his 96th birthday. I’m so pleased both our sons saw him in good health and fine spirits in the last couple of months, and that my wife and I went up on Saturday when he was alert and so happy to see us. He was a fine man. It puts everything into perspective. RIP.
On Friday it was the turbo – 22.33km in 45 minutes @ 29.6kph (13.88 miles @ 18.4mph). OK, but I’ve got to get back to an hour or more per turbo session.
Saturday we drove the 7 hour round trip to Wigan to visit my father in hospital for an hour. He’s had a slightly checkered few days but was on the up when we saw him which was really good – but there’s quite some way to go before he’s close to being discharged. Christmas back with my sister or in hospital?
Less than two weeks ago I was foolish enough to say that for now, no injuries, Achilles tendons behaving and weight under control.
Although I was realistic enough to know that was too good to be true and it wouldn’t last until next year’s cycling challenges or the ultra marathon in July, I had thought it might last beyond Christmas.
No such luck. For my normal 10 and a bit km on Sunday morning I was wearing the compression socks and some other long warm socks to help the calf muscles and I’d warmed the legs up carefully. All was going well until, at about 6 km, my left knee hurt but I (probably stupidly) carried on.
I had no idea what I’d done but I finished in a bit of pain (and strangely at about 5m 30sec per km). There was no swelling and the knee was perfectly stable – and on the bright side the calf muscles are OK. It’s certainly not worth going to a doctor on the basis that I could still run with it.
The knee did not seem to appreciate 2 hours standing at a drinks party at lunch. I guess I’ve tweaked a ligament and I feel cheated – I didn’t do any of the things that cause such an injury – no twisting or turning, no jumping, no sudden movement.
My guess is that it’s a minor grade 1 niggle – the knee is still perfectly stable but I’ll take myself off running for a week or two (or three?), the big question is what can I do safely in the meantime?
If anyone asks you what you’d like for Christmas, I’d suggest that you don’t put in a request for a ligament tweak.
Saturday morning’s run was the regular 10 (and a bit) km – about 6.3 miles. A tiny bit slower than the last couple of times but the speed is probably the least important thing about it at this stage.
Both calf muscles were sore after the run, so Sunday’s cold and windy run with my wife was on heavy and slightly painful legs – but that made it about 16.5km (a bit over 10 miles) for the two days.
No such leg problems in Barbados – but those runs were shorter, slower and on more forgiving sand so perhaps that made a difference. It’s a bit of a worry but for now it looks like it’s back to the (deservedly) much-maligned long white compression socks during and after runs – and more attention to warming up before, and stretching afterwards.
Monday morning it was back to the gym and on Tuesday I drove to Bournemouth to prepare for the phone line fitting on Wednesday (including boarding out a part of the loft so the engineer could route the new line through it). Loft boarded and internet now working.
In recent months I’ve been quite good at doing planks daily (the routine is for 5 minutes of plank variants) but I’ve now added press-ups, sit-ups and crunches. In theory it’s to help the core for cycling and running, but I’m sure there’s more than a bit of vanity in it as I try to pursue a flatter stomach. I doubt that a six-pack is within reach – and I think it would be a bit weird on an old bloke in his 60. In the unlikely event that I ever achieve one, I’ll keep it very much to myself.
Gym again on Thursday morning and then up to Kingston-upon-Thames on the edge of London for a Snow Patrol concert – my wife is very keen on them. Another performance in a small night club venue like the one we went to a year ago (and standing in the very front row again).
They were excellent, but that’s four times I’ve been to see them and not one of them has ever bothered to come to watch me run, cycle or work out at the gym. Where is the give and take in that?
To London after the concert, only to be woken up at 2am by another alarm-alarm triggered by a power outage, like the one in October. When we got back it was the mains trip switch again – blasted thing.
No party politics here, but we had another General Election on Thursday. As the years go by I find it more difficult to find one party that offers a total package that I like. The party I tend to think of as being likely to run the economy better is not necessarily one I’d prefer to see spending the money.
The Conservative Party had a significant win which probably highlights two things: first, the all-consuming importance of Brexit; and, secondly, a negative perception of the leader the Labour party and the direction he was taking it. Even the eternally important mantra ‘(it’s) the economy, stupid’ looks to have taken a bit more of a backseat than usual.
The more I see of politics and politicians, the more I wonder if anybody should ever vote for someone who puts themselves forward for high office (although I appreciate that would make elections difficult).
Based on a sample of one, I am all in favour of winter holidays to escape the cold weather – the only drawback is that when you get back it feels even colder than it would otherwise.
With a hotel holiday there is also the weight gain of course. Somehow, the week in Barbados only accounted for about an extra kilo – just over 2 pounds – which is more than strange considering the cooked (and continental) breakfasts each day and the 3 course evening meals. Both those issues are a price worth paying, I think.
If the house were a ‘lock up and go’ sort of place we might even be tempted to go away for longer. Potentially, that would be great for the running and cycling if we found somewhere a bit cooler than the Caribbean. Unfortunately, houses over 400 years old are rarely ‘lock up and go’ and the village is on high alert at the moment after apparently being ‘cased’ recently by some unsavoury characters known to the police.
A chap came down the village, house to house and into gardens, while lining up a brood of children in front of properties, ostensibly taking a picture of them but actually photographing the house behind them. We had a house-sitter for the trip to the Caribbean and hope that our alarm system is a good deterrent (not that we have stuff worth stealing – it’s just a requirement of the property insurers). I hope the alarm box came out clearly in the photos he took of our house.
It’s sad to think that we don’t have to make the house absolutely secure (although we do take a lot of care over that), we just have to make it look less attractive than neighbouring properties. Not exactly the community spirit I’d like.
In fact, part of me thinks that we are probably safer than normal for a few months. If I were a burglar, knowing that the casing of the village was spotted and the chap taking the pictures was captured on a few CCTV cameras, I’d expect the village to be on high alert and so I would wait wait for a while until everyone forgets about it and lets their guard down a bit. Our guard is permanently up!
Anyway, back to England, rested and relaxed, and back on the turbo on Tuesday – a very hard 30 minutes but quicker than expected, at an average 32.3kph (20.1mph).
Not quite back to the normal exercise routine yet, as my father was taken ill while we were away (a fairly innocuous cough that became a proper chest infection) so I drove up to Wigan on Wednesday to visit him in hospital. Unfortunately, on Tuesday he was moved from a ward that had pretty well open visiting times to a ward allowing just one. So, seven and a half hours in the car (4.5 hours there and 3 back – oh, the wonders of driving late at night) for an hour’s visit. Happily, he’s improving but that’s not a quick job at 95.
Turbo again on Thursday, not wimping out at 30 minutes like recent times. I pushed it to all of 45 minutes at 30.9kph (19.2mph). Gym on Friday morning – the first time for two weeks and it was suitably hard, although I just managed the normal weights.
For now, no injuries, Achilles tendons behaving and weight under control. Too good to be true – no doubt, it won’t last until next year’s cycling challenges or the ultra marathon in July.
It was good to throw off the bug late last week as we drove up to London on Friday, and flew to Barbados on Saturday. An over 8 hour flight would not have looked good just a few days earlier.
The first time in the Caribbean for both of us and a really terrific experience.
The flight itself was pretty good – I’m not scared of flying but I don’t particularly enjoy it and I’m not too happy about the carbon footprint consequences. However, although the flight was good, the journey was long and became very slow once we landed … my guess is that Bridgetown airport is not the slickest operation known to the aviation industry.
To prove it, on the way back, the screens were showing one gate number while tannoy announcements were saying another and staff on the ground said both. The wrong number of meals was delivered to the plane and the truck bringing fresh water supplies broke down. The assisted boarding people even managed to get a couple onto the wrong plane.
Anyway, once we arrived, we were upgraded to a suite (I’ve no idea why, we just said a very warm thank you and took possession before they changed their mind) which was an unexpected treat and the hotel was easy-going, relaxed and not too smart (I don’t really do ‘smart’ on holiday). We looked straight out onto a lovely beach where we saw some turtles no more 20 yards out to sea. The staff were lovely and the food was great (and I ate too much of it, of course).
We had a few clouds and a few showers but always around 30℃ (in the mid 80’s℉). As much as I don’t like it too cold, I don’t like it too hot so I welcomed the clouds and the rain freshened the air beautifully.
I’d hoped that there would be some decent running routes in the area but the best was along the beach, early in the morning. That was lovely, although it’s a bit weird running near to the water’s edge (to get the firmest sand) while dodging incoming waves, on a beach sloping quite steeply down to the sea,
It was extremely hard running in the heat, on the sand and with the slope. I can’t help but think that it would make for great training. Strangely, few people seemed to agree and I only saw four others running anywhere on the beach during whole week. Perhaps not that strange – most of the guests in our, and the neighbouring, hotels managed to make me look (relatively) young and slim.
I’d not taken the Garmin so, officially, the running never happened, nor did some snorkelling, a lot of swimming in the sea and the pool, nor some exercise on the slightly strange machines in the hotel garden. I can live with that.
We left on Saturday arriving home on Sunday – a 50℉ (28℃) temperature differential between Barbados and the airport carpark where I had to scrape ice off the car.
I don’t tend to recommend books, films, music etc as I do believe in ‘each to his/her own’ but on the first day I started and finished a really charming book called ‘The President’s Hat’ (by Antoine Laurain).
It took me two days to read Khalid Hosseini’s third book ‘And The Mountains Echoed’. Hard to believe he could write a third book as good as ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ but he did. He really does write wonderfully well.
Sadly, rather unimpressed by my wife’s choice of Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ but reasonably warm about Celeste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’.