We’re at something silly like 9,600 feet, and, I tell you, altitude sickness is No Joke. It took me 36 hours to stop feeling utterly lousy. Headachey. Ridden with sinus pain. Breathless after walking for about 10 yards. It was like having a chest infection. I spent a whole day and a half on the sofa, and worried about pulmonary oedema: the coach of the rugby team had that in Peru and landed up in hospital. Not the way you want to spend a holiday. Tanked up with ibuprofen and decongestant. Drinking water like it was going out of fashion. And peeing a Lot (my kidneys are in fine fettle). 

By Friday afternoon I was feeling a bit perkier (and had had about four baths… But can you blame me with that whirlpool?) and decided to hit the gym. Oh. My. God. I really should have checked my peak flow and FEV-1 first, and based the workout round that. But no! 5 miles at a 9min/mile on the “varied” programme on the treadmill. This turned into 3 miles, on the flat (a 2% incline practically totalled me), with some walking and I think an average of 9:30 min/mile when I was actually running. And I was dripping with sweat. 

Things I learned:

  1. It’s impossible to drink water from a normal water bottle while at a run on the treadmill. It is much bouncier and you will nearly knock your teeth out. Either walk and drink, or take the camelbak. 
  2. Use the treadmill on the right as a. There’s no weird break in the mirror which will make one of your legs look twice the size of the other and b. It’s slightly further round the corner so you get perved at less. 
  3. Flat is perfectly fine at altitude. If boring. 
  4. Adjust expectations re distance and behave like you’re getting over a cold for the first couple of runs. 
  5. They aren’t joking when they say drink 3 times as much water as normal. 
  6. Keep a tissue handy in case of nose bleed. 
  7. If the weather forecast says it’s going to be minus 7 as the top temp, give up on the idea of running outside.  

It is very pretty here. And I have now made it out on the slopes. I had a lesson, which was mindbogglingly expensive compare with Europe, but worth every penny. I know what I should be doing, even if I can’t quite manage it yet. 

 Oh yes. I got cookies….  

And knitted the better part of a sock. Eagle eyed readers may recognise a similar sock from January 2009 and the good old days on Xanga. 


View from the window

There will be a brief hiatus from running while I get used to being at about 3000 metres…
 Knitting on the other hand? I am so in there. 

I can make an entire pair of wrist warmers on a 10 hour flight which has been delayed for 3 hours. And part of a hat. That took me more or less to the end of skein #1 of Malabrigo worsted. 

Socks next. Also Malabrigo. This has been marinading in the stash since 2009….


We did a mile trial at running club tonight

7:37 minutes! Which is better than I thought I might do. So now I think I can do better than that. 

My other great achievement was having conversations with people. One on the track about sticking out my elbows. One in the changing room, while I was post shower starkers about the need for a shower. I’m the only one who showers afterwards (epic long journey home). 

These are both achievements worthy of note. 

Now on the train. Quite keen to be home!


Rock Tape and Hip Adductors

Well, hello there Rock Tape. Hello there niggly calf. Nice to see you again, after a three month interval! It almost feels like normality has returned.

Once again, my left leg is held together with Rock Tape. This has been a pretty permanent state of affairs for the past couple of years. Heck. I was wearing Rock Tape on my wedding day (cow print). Today’s Rock Tape is black, with white winged skulls. We appear to be out of the pink version. If I’m going to wear the stuff, it’s going to be excitingly patterned, even though it’s more expensive. It makes for far more interesting conversations, as I’ve not yet found thick enough tights to obliterate the presence of the tape, and I’m not keen on wearing trousers (I had a particularly good conversation at a funeral…).

My calf, particularly my soleus muscle, tends to tighten up owing to a wonky pelvis (I’m built that way – along with hips that point inwards rather than forwards, which means I run in a very knock-kneed manner. Trainers which lack stability make the problem worse). At some point, just as the mileage is getting interesting, and if I don’t replace my trainers at the crucial moment, it will tighten very enthusiastically…which it did last week after my 14 miles. My muscles are always going to tend to tighten – too much ballet as a child apparently leads to beautifully strong muscles, and very flexible tendons…

I’ve replaced my trail shoes now (I have a pair of Navy Brooks Ghost 8s for trail – not entirely sure about the tread, but the support is wonderful, and I’m not sliding massively). Most of my weekend runs are on a muddy, uneven, towpath. This is excellent for my core strength, but challenging, difficult to pace, slippery, messy and, goodness, do I notice the difference when I get back onto firmer territory for the last mile. The trail shoes that I’ve retired had done 373 miles – too many. Particularly given that trail shoes get a real pounding, with the mud and the cold and the wet and the puddles. While some people can manage to get shoes to run to 400 miles, or more (I have one friend who has shoes that are on 1000 miles – he rotates several pairs), I simply get injured. I get niggles. I get my calf tightening. Or my piriformis tightening. Or both.

I’m doing the exercises in the most recent Runner’s World: how to strengthen your hips. I swear they’re helping. Standing round with a theraband, lifting my leg to the side, then to the front. 10 reps on each leg, 3 sets of each exercise. I could *feel* my glutes firing today. On both sides. This I think is a wonderful thing – I’d like to avoid the ghastliness of overly-tired quads after Manchester. I hate having to hold onto the lav seat in order to lower myself safely….and the days after Berlin were made horrible by having to hold on!

But, today I have Rock Tape. Tuesday I’m visiting my Lovely Chiropractor, who will wallop my pelvis back into some sort of order (there will never be perfect order – the scoliosis has gone on for too long now), who may stick an acupuncture needle into the offending muscle to persuade it to ease off a little, who will doubtless prod somewhere really painful, and who will essentially make sure I’m in reasonable shape before we go on holiday for a week and a bit.

There’s something comforting about having Rock Tape on my leg. It feels like a gentle hug. I took an extra day off yesterday – made easier by a trip up to Derbyshire to retrieve our glorious, splendiloquent, kitchen table (I get all emotional looking at it – it was made by a friend), and I only did 9 miles today. All feels OK. All feels better than it did mid-week, even. I think I’m going to prevail.

Onwards, to Manchester Marathon.


My favourite cup of tea

My favourite cup of tea is the one I have after the long weekend run (about 14 miles. About 1 degree. About 9:30 min/mile but I got significantly slower towards the end as my feet had gone through one icy puddle too many). 

I rather like this mug. I have one very similar for Charles and Diana’s wedding, which lives at my parents’. 

Please excuse the state of the mat. It is decrepit but a present from Jo, so well loved. 

Next part of the plan. Go and get a resistance training band so I can do the exercises in Runners World Magazine (supposed to help the pelvic area. My right piriformis needs all the help it can get). And some milk. Because we’ve managed to get through a pint in 2 days. Normally it takes about a week (I have rice milk on porridge etc so it’s just used in tea and coffee. I had a lot of tea yesterday and there was a band rehearsal thing on Friday. The UK’s premier Heavy Metal band, Intense, runs on tea \m/).