Friday, 25 March 2011

The rules and regulations to in-car dancing

It's probably well known - or certainly well known by all those fitness freaks - that exercise produces happy endorphins. Yes, you heard it everywhere else first, exercise makes you happy and this is why it quickly becomes addictive if you try to stick with it for a few weeks.

So what happens when the supply of endorphins stops and you have to go cold-turkey? Well if you're me you get ever so slightly crabby...

Picture taken from here:
Hehe - I'll never know why you can't get 'crab calendars' - look at his little face!

Anyway back to the point; if you're like me and a generally happy person anyway then you just need to find little ways to try and top the old endorphins up. Swimming and classes like pilates help, but every now and then you might need a little lift. Here's some of the random things that make me smile and hopefully others too (although admittedly some people probably just get scared).

  • Whenever I drive under a bridge on a motorway with a jogger running along the top of it I like to wave. Similarly if I am running over a motor way bridge I like to wave at the cars. I am hoping that if I do this enough eventually one of the cars I wave at will be a jogger, who will do the same thing when they are next out jogging and I am driving under a bridge and the circle will be complete. It's a long shot but my long term business plan is to have everyone waving at each other and hopefully no accidents. Confused? Never mind. But just to warn you next time you run over or drive under a bridge this will pop up in your mind - feel free to smile and even wave a bit.

  • My friend used to receive a mobile answer phone message every week from a lady who had the wrong number and thought he was her weight watchers class leader. Every week she had a new reason as to why she couldn't attend that night. Some of them were classics and still make me laugh now "Sorry I wont be able to get weighed tonight as I've suddenly remembered my dentist appointment". Doesn't work when you call at 6:30pm and most dentists are shut by then.

  •  I am a closet raver and a huge pendulum fan. The term 'dance like nobody's watching' it practically my motto, as proven at a recent pendulum gig, where I was throwing dance moves that were even topping the pill heads. Life is too short for embarrassed shuffling movements, so rave like your life depends on it and take comments like 'you looked a bit like you were having a fit' as compliments.

  • And lastly, my current favourite game: In-car dancing! This works stunningly if like me you spend a good portion of everyday stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We all sing along to music in the car and every now and then you will catch someone else doing it too. I like to sing at people in other cars when stuck in traffic - not so that they can hear me (windows shut - I'm not that cruel). There are several things which enhance this experience:
+ More than one person in the car - singing together is fun, singing together at other people is priceless
+ Add in some dancing! Again a whole car of dancing people cheers even the grumpiest driver up.

You generally get three different reactions when doing this:
1. The person smiles and laughs
2. They stare straight ahead in the car and try very hard not too look - even if other cars are now looking
3. They dance and sing back at you - it's a rare but beautiful moment when this happens!

Don't have the music blaring or windows down - kind of ruins the effect if they know you're dancing to Cliff Richard
If they decide to stare forwards then move onto another car - no point in making someone scared/awkward.
Be careful with overhead arm movements when dancing. The roof is lower than normal.

Ok you're all set! Off you go and start enjoying the world of in-car dancing and hopefully soon we'll have entire car loads of people having their own mini raves in their cars whilst stuck on the M25.

Keep smiling, running, laughing and dancing!

Biscuit Nikki x

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We'll be swimming, when we're winning....

"I get knocked down...but I get up again...."

It's been a week since the wonderful Grizzly weekend. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast (little chocolates on the bed every day anyone?), I remembered my love of scrambled egg on toast and I discovered the joy of spectating and motivating your team members around the route.

I may have to get a t-shirt printed, as it looks like I will be joining the official support team for a little longer than first anticipated. However what a perfect way to stay motivated and still feel part of the team?

It is three weeks since I first injured my foot, my GP has now referred me to a sports injury/foot specialist and I'm just waiting for BUPA to collect enough pieces of paper about me to let me pass go and collect 200 points - er I mean make the appointment. The injury is still causing me problems whenever I have to walk/stand for more than 30 min so even jogging is well out of the question. There is 4 weeks to go to the London Marathon.

With all this is mind I have made the difficult decision to defer my entry to 2012.

But wait! Keep Calm! It's a cracking idea and this is why...

When I first tried to pass my driving test (quite a few years ago) I wasn't ready. I really wanted to be but the reality was that I couldn't drive. This was proved rather spectacularly when I nearly rammed into the back of a lorry and the examiner had to slam his feet onto the dual controls. I came away knowing I had just wasted the money I should have spent on more lessons, I felt awful and I was really disappointed with myself (plus the examiner probably needed a strong drink after). Game over.
Only it wasn't. Several emergency chocolate biscuits later, a good cup of tea and a bit of a pep talk sorted me out. I booked more lessons and did a lot more practising. When I finally passed my driving test I knew I was safe to be on the road, negotiate the old reverse park and start handing over most of my bank account to the petrol companies.

Lesson? Don't rush things and as Guinness says "good things come to those who wait" (other drink slogans are widely available). Nothing worth having is ever easy to get. I have put in so much time, invested too many good pairs of trainers and sacrificed too many Saturday morning lie-ins to blow it all on a disappointing marathon race.

Even scarier is the thought that I could risk running the race to 'just get round' and end up with a more serious and long term injury - all for the sake of one race.

Let's be honest - I don't want to 'just get round' I want to smash the hell out of it and end up feeling proud and knowing I have achieved my best possible time.

That's why I am going back to the basics. I've jumped into the swimming pool and started building my fitness back up. I have put together a fitness plan to keep everything ticking over until I am able to start a 'return to running' type schedule. This whole process is potentially going to take several months - but it will be worth it.
This time off running will give me a chance to build and improve my core strength and concentrate on my running technique. I'm eyeing up some races in the autumn of this year to help aim for.

So fundraising wise? Well I have been in touch with Brain Tumour UK and have sorted out the following:
The fundraising page will remain open until the Virgin London Marathon next year and I will continue to try to raise as much as possible. Look at it this way - you're not just sponsoring me to complete the marathon - you're sponsoring my whole recovery and every race until then. I hope you wont be disappointed in me and will stand by as I aim for 2012 with better targets in mind. I'll roll over all 'Guess my time' predictions to the 2012 race and if you've already made one you'd like to change I am happy to accept alterations (as long as the new time you want is still free). I hope you're all happy for your donations to remain in the fundraising total now that I will not be running this year.

So ladies and gentlemen - please give a warm welcome to the lean mean recovery machine.

2012 sounds like a nice year for some running...

Keep positive

Biscuit Nikki x

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Monday, 14 March 2011

It's the Grizzly fest!

Welcome to my bumper bonus edition of 'Will Run for Biscuits' (Title of this blog in case you were wondering).
I have had a super charged weekend being part of the Sandhurst Joggers Support team. Now I could spend ages writing about the 20 mile off-road (extremely off-road) race that occured in Dorset and how we got first and second place.
But hey! Who wants to listen to me when you could be watching this...

Just for you I bring you 'Sandhurst Joggers Do the Grizzly'
Enjoy - and imagine how many times i have had to listen to this song to get it right!

Keep running. resting and smiling for our camera!

Biscuit Nikki x

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Socks mean comfort!

On my way to work on Monday I was stuck behind a big dirty white van. I was feeling the usual Monday blues after a wonderful weekend of cheering all my good friends in Sandhurst Joggers along the canal run and then I noticed someone had written the following statement using their finger in the dirt on the van:

Socks Mean Comfort!

I have no idea what made someone write that (it's hardly your usual van-dirt message) but it made me smile a bit and then laugh at the complete bizarreness of it all. This got me thinking about the things that make me smile and then the reasons why I like running. Bemused friends and family have often asked me why I run and this period of rest seems a good time to reflect on that and finally attempt to answer the question.

I haven't always been good at or enjoyed running. So if you're out there thinking "oh it's ok for you, you're quite good and you love it" then let me assure you it took a while to get to this stage. I started running initially because my car broke down (a story for a different day) and after a month or two of walk-running I began to make progress and become a jogger. This was probably around the time that I got hooked. So, why do I like running?

1. Running makes me feel good about myself
I feel healthy and fit when I am running. It is well known that exercise releases happy endorphins and it's probably why all the runners I ever meet are always very happy and good natured people.

2. I like the feeling of achievement
Nothing quite beats the feeling of crossing a finishing line and knowing you have just achieved something great, whether it's a 5k parkrun or a marathon. Hell, it's why we all drag ourselves out of bed on cold frosty Sunday mornings for cross country!

3. Friendships
Many of the people I consider to be very very good friends I met through running and the running club. Whilst achievement is good, being able to share it with people and in turn share their achievements is fantastic. It promotes an environment of motivation, support and encouragement. It's often the only thing that makes me leave the house when it's raining and in this time of 'no-running' I appreciate the support, advice and encouragement even more (thanks guys - I can feel you all pulling me back onto my running feet again)

There are so many other factors as well - seeing how amazing your body can be to adapting and improving as your speed gets quicker and distances get further, not worrying about how many cakes you eat (within limits) and having a perfect outlet for stress release when you're feeling really wound up.

Everyone has their own reasons for running and hopefully this explains mine a bit!

Foot update!
I am still seeing Carl for sports massages and it seems to be working! Still in early days but I am seeing definite improvements. Maybe not quick enough for my impatient mind but it's taken some of the unnecessary worry away.

This weekend is the Grizzly 20 mile race. Unfortunately I wont be taking part but will instead be joining the Sandhurst Joggers Support Crew and giving my lungs a bit of exercise as I cheer from the sidelines. Best of luck to everyone taking part and keep an eye out for me on the course.

Feel free to suggest any good chants and cheers you would like to hear to give you a bit of a boost! Suggestions so far include:

* The faster you run, the faster you're done
* Run like you stole something!
* Race them don't pace them
* You're running like a girl! - Good for you!

Keep resting everyone!

Biscuit Nikki x

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Friday, 4 March 2011

So you're injured, what now?

Hehe sounds like an 'injury-lawyers-for-you' claim advert! However as this is pretty much self induced and I can't sue myself it's a genuine question facing many runners in training out there right now.

The last few days have been a bit of an eye opener for me, so if you're reading this and are also injured I hope it gives you some useful advice and then I won’t have gone through it all for no reason. For the rest of you regulars I apologise for the lack of an update but I've been trying to figure out exactly what's going on myself. Essentially only two things matter:

1. I am injured
2. Life carries on when you can't run (*a well kept secret by all those non-runners out there! Very sneaky!)

No.1 was pretty obvious to me. A lot of articles talk about 'denial' when you're injured - it was quite hard for me to ignore the lack of being able to walk properly so I pretty much skipped the denial part. It took me a couple of days to figure out No. 2 - I'm still shocked by it now!

The Injury

I wasn't pushing it, I have been careful with my mileage increase and at the time I wasn't on a hill, uneven surface or sprinting with everything I had. I was in fact calmly jogging along at a moderate pace when my right foot started hurting. By the time I had got home it was aching quite a bit and the next day I woke up to find I couldn't put any weight on it and had begun walking like an extra in a 'night of the living dead' movie.

Staying Positive

It's no secret that I panicked. What I should have done is follow RICE: Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. What I did was hit the internet with every ounce of typing skills and try to self diagnose myself. Mistake number 1: The internet can only tell you about other people, other people can only tell you about other people and web dictionaries can only tell you about other people and how to spell complicated Latin ailments that mean your legs going to spontaneously fall off.
It's hard, trust me I know and you just want answers but DON'T DO IT. When you find yourself on Google about to describe your injury in minute detail stop and go and watch YouTube videos of cats instead - seriously it's great : Plus you'll get more work done. So try to keep positive - you're still alive, and refer to point 2: There is life after running.

Diagnosis (aka - what the hell's going on?)

So after a day the pain didn't go. If yours has and you can walk briskly, lightly jog and only then run with no pain or even slight twinges then congratulations - you're not injured anymore (although you could still be in denial). Finally paying attention to all my caring friends I started to follow RICE. This helped reduce the pain and swelling. Plus I was able to walk around normally and tackle stairs in under 20 mins - imagine the benefit if I had done that straight away instead of studying 'webDoc' for hours. However with the pain still there I decided to go and see two people - firstly Carl 'Magic Hands' Bradshaw (sports therapist) and then my GP. These two together are my best weapons against injury.
Your GP is one of the few people that can genuinely tell you what's wrong - or can send you to the person that can. In my case he sent me for an X-ray - which didn't show anything. I've been told not to run for 2 weeks and then have a return appointment to try and figure things out from there. Until then, and this is shocking - follow RICE.
Carl has been a lot more helpful from a runner's point of view. I have poor biomechanics and my muscles on my right side relating to my foot are tighter than the new government budget (haha a political joke! check me out). So I had an intense sports massage that has reduced the pain by at least 75%. Oh and surprisingly no running. But instead of just icing (as part of RICE) Carl suggested alternating between hot and cold therapies for a more effective way of reducing the swelling and getting the circulation going.

So no definite diagnosis - but does it really matter? Let's refer to point 1 - I'm injured. I can't run even if I wanted to and any attempt to will just hamper my recovery. Why would I want to do that? Regardless of the diagnosis the treatment is essentially the same -REST and NO RUNNING. So giving it a name won’t make the mildest bit of difference to the outcome. So let's skip the diagnosis and just accept the fact that I don't NEED a definite diagnosis to start recovering...which leads me on nicely to...


Firstly if you haven't got the gist yet the idea is RICE with lots and lots of rest and zero running. There's no point in rushing things - you have to wait for your body to catch up and rushing a recovery just risks longer time ‘on the bench' or pulling a more serious injury. So how long will it take? Well that depends on so many factors, some of which I can't control such as how quickly my body heals or what I've actually damaged in the first place. There are things I can do to 'speed it up'. Mainly rest properly and I'm also seeing Carl once a week for sports massages to try to correct my biomechanics. Keeping a healthy diet is important too to make sure my body gets the building blocks it needs for repair.
Whilst it would be nice to be told how long it will take this is another 'how long is a piece of string' question. It will take as long as it takes and in the meantime there is life outside of running.

The Future

Carl believes I will still be able to run the marathon - the question on everyone's lips. But there's no guarantee and it all depends on my recovery. There is a good chance that if I can run it I won’t be as fast as planned and I also have a backup plan should it turn out I've injured myself more seriously than first thought and am not able to take part (but we'll keep that under wraps until the time comes).

But what about after that? It's important to address how this happened in the first place. If you're reading this and have got to the same emotional stage as me with your injury it's very important you figure out why it happened so that it doesn't happen again. I am not an expert in the slightest, but from what I can gather most injuries relate to either doing too much too fast or your biomechanics.
I have just started this process and working with Carl have realised how bad my running style is - the increased marathon training has allowed small inaccuracies to become big problems. And I don't want this to happen again - so it's important to try and straighten out what I can now.

It's not been an easy journey and I've only been off running for a few days (less than a week) but I'm pleased to finally be here. My aim is to be fit. Whether that's for the marathon, or for the summer, or winter or next year or even the year after. In the meantime please keep the donations coming - knowing you're all supporting me and Brain Tumour UK is keeping me motivated and with the positive attitude needed to tackle this.

So jump on the recover rollercoaster, keep your arms inside the carriage at all times and scream if you want to go faster because these next few weeks leading up to London are going to be one hell of a ride!

Keep resting!

Biscuit Nikki x

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