Thursday, November 29, 2012

Running analysis

I was in the gym yesterday morning before work. It's normally really
quiet so a great time to use it.

There were a couple of blokes in there, one of whom was on the
treadmill. I normally don't really notice people like that but he got
my attention as he was running very weirdly. His left leg was coming
down so heavy that it was noticeably different to his right. I started
watching and he was running with a forefoot pattern in his right and a
heel strike on his left. Hence the different sound. I clocked his pace
as he looked laboured and he was just going at 8:30 mile pace so not
tearing up trees.

I watched some more and could see that his left hip was pulling and
causing mis-alignment in his stride.

As I watched I actually wanted to say something to him because I
thought this guy is heading for injury as he's so unbalanced but
didn't really know how to approach it as I'm not qualified and wasn't
really sure of the remedy.

My advice would have been for him to consider his form more and get a
consistent stride base I.e. forefoot on both feet with perhaps a
slower pace for a while. I'd have also got him to do some work on his
hips in terms of strengthening and also looked at the length of his
hamstrings as figure the left one would be considerably shorter hence
the pull on the hip. Then I started thinking about his lower back and
overall core stability.

This is a symptom of the many injuries I have had and the amount of
research I have done on how to cure them and prevent them. It's
essentially borne of frustration.

But was my thinking correct?

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, November 4, 2012

O2 oh dear.....

I have just had a very interesting experience with my iPhone 4 and O2.

Having used my iPhone a lot this morning for calls, texts, emails, twitter, spotify and photo's it just stopped working. I put it into my pocket working then 5 minutes later its dead. Bricked.

I tried connecting to power and various docking stations in the house. Nothing.

So i called O2. The guy on the line told me that (and i paraphrase) that "...if the phone isn't responding to power or synch with a computer it's probably just broken and that it happens..." He then continued that "...coincidentally it's your contract renewal today and so you are eligible for an upgrade..." less than trusting side thought that maybe they had broken it but then can't do that can they?

He put me through to the upgrade team who offered me a new phone at a good deal but with another 24month contract. something i wasn't really keen on just doing. So i deferred and came online, initially intending to see what deals there were on iPhones with, potentially, other providers. As i fired up the laptop i thought i'd check for any advice or information on how to fix the problem i had. A quick google and there was the advices i needed

"...Try a Reset... press the home and sleep/lock buttons until you see the Apple logo, ignoring the slider. Takes about 5-15 secs of button holding and you won't lose any data or settings..."

I did this and guess what. Phone fixed. So thankyou PaulCB but why did O2 not ask if i had done this or recommend it themselves? Not great customer service and if i were being cynical again i'd say that maybe the option of selling me an upgrade overtook everything else.

Very disappointed in O2 right now.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


If you were walking down the street and a young man, say 25'ish
dressed normally, was coming towards you and spat what would you do
and think?

Now imagine the same scenario except the man is wearing running gear
and, er, running.

Do you view them differently?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Another year, another knee operation.

November 2011, I had just run to work and was at my ground level
locker. As I squatted to put my stuff in there something in my right
knee went. I can't really remember the details of how it felt but it
went. I hobbled a bit and for a few weeks it was agony. I could barley
walk from standing until it loosened up and then it was ok. Extended
walking made it ache and sometimes it was so bad I could barley sleep.

Hospital physio's told me it was unlikely to be cartilage and most
likely muscular, stretching and strengthening was recommended. Cue a
million leg dips, hours doing hamstring stretches and hours in pain on
a foam roller.

There has been improvement but it has been slow and, a year on, my
knee still isn't right. I should point out at this point that a
private physio also told me it was unlikely to be cartilage as there
was no clicking, instability or other symptoms associated.

In September I went back to the hospital and saw a new physio, she
suggested that I push it. So basically do some heavy stuff on the knee
to see how it responded, could I push through it, whatever it was.
That meant stretching through where it started to hurt, pulling my
heel towards my backside through where the knee was tight and very
painful. I did that one night and was then woken through the night
every time I moved such was the pain. The other advice was to run on
it and go hard/further.

One Sunday morning I went out and ran 9 miles in just over an hour. No
pain whatsoever on the run, in fact I started to think that I had
cracked it. That lasted until about 10 minutes after getting home. I
made some breakfast and a coffee and sat down. When I went to get up I
could barely move. My right knee felt like it had concrete poured into

The hospital physio in early October decided to refer me to the
orthopaedic physio. I saw him a couple of weeks later in October. H
checked me out and asked me the same questions as the others and
deduced that I had probably damaged my cartilage towards the inside
rear of my knee joint.

So that was three physio's up to then (two NHS and one private)
telling me no cartilage damage and then one telling me that was
probable. 11 months elapsed.

So now I am waiting on an operation to have the damaged cartilage
trimmed. I have had that done before and it's not too bad an op. the
last time I had it I walked out of hospital the same day. Was back
driving in 3 days and on a bike after a month. The waiting list for
this type of op is only 4-6 weeks so I am hopeful of getting it done
before the end of the year.

I just wish the NHS had trusted me earlier so that this might have
been done already.

Football and rugby.....

Football and rugby.

The former always in the news for wrong reasons and the latter held up
as a beacon of respect and sportsmanship, normally.

Football may have its issues; on the field of play there's simulation,
influence and lack of respect generally. Not all players but we only
see the incidents don't we. In rugby, as fans of the egg shaped ball
will tell you, the players respect the referee's decision. I know
little about rugby but that would appear to be the case.

If a footballer dives it is analysed, reported, the player castigated
and the whole game called into question. Grass roots football is
examined and the scare mongering of what does this teach our children
bandied about.

As a manager of an u13's team I can tell you that I will never
encourage or tolerate my players diving.

Taking the football issues further the recent racism issues with
players and now a referee in the spotlight, there is an eagerness to
get the police and law enforcement involved. So players have to stand
in a court of law as opposed to or actually as well an organising body
panel or board.

The contrast to make here is that there was an incident recently in a
rugby match that Gloucester were playing where the Gloucester player
was caught punching another plate on the ground repeatedly. Absolutely
pounding him.

His defence was that the opposition. Layer had either gouged his eye
or attempted to. Whatever the provocation he received a, I think, 12
match ban. Whatever the length of ban it was lengthy. That was it. No
outside involvement or scrutiny.

Now imagine a scenario where a Premier League footballer, hits another
player properly. I mean takes a proper swing and puts the player down.
Maybe he then continues to punch him when he's on the ground. This is
a scenario remember. What would happen?

Would the game authorities be left to deal with it and impose an
extended ban? A heavy fine?

Not a chance, the police would be involved and there would most likely
be a criminal case of assault to answer.

So why not in rugby?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lance Armstrong

The news this week about Lance Armstrong has, for me as for many, been
actually quite upsetting.

Like many people I bought into the whole Armstrong legend, I have the
books, the cycling jersey, the yellow wristband, a livestrong gym
t-shirt, the whole thing. I wear a Giro helmet, as does my daughter
who when we bought it said she wanted the same as Lance Armstrong. The
reason I started riding a road bike was, essentially, because Lance
Armstrong did. He not only rode a bike, he did it better than anyone
else and in an era of drug abuse he was clean.

That's what he told the world.

I have had rows with friends where I have defended Armstrong, buying
into the "most tested athlete on the planet" narrative, and "never
having failed a drug test". I feel a fool now. To their credit they
haven't said I told you so - yet;)

So what do i hope for? I want Armstrong to front up. The death nail
for me was George Hincapie admitting drug use. If ever there was a guy
I thought had integrity and honesty it was him. With all around him
confessing surely he has to?

What I still find hardest to accept is that he survived cancer and
then used that incredible recovery to say why would I put anything
into my body? That's compelling and very difficult to argue against,
it was just a convenient lie.

I hope he pays for this enormous fraud and this example is used to
educate and inform other riders coming through.

Luca used to have the poster on his wall where LA was saying "they ask
me what am I on? I'm on my bike for 6 hours a day busting my ass.
Share you on?"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

50 word story

There was a challenge on a message board to write a story in 50 words. I wrote one inspired by a tweet by @petatodd.....

He was woken suddenly by the sound of his heart pounding in his ears. Was this normal or could it be a power? He hoped it was a power. Mentally he checked his body tensing and focussing every muscle and limb. All felt normal, then he realised he was floating.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Who's your favourite super hero? For me it's easy - Spiderman, without a shadow of doubt. The agility, the strength, the humour. All just superb. Leaving the cinema after watching the latest instalment is like being a small boy again where you think, where you believe, you could be Spiderman. That you could have those reflexes and that agility. The ability to jump over the car and swing out through the multi storey then down the street......

41 years old yes, but inside much much younger and still wishing I was Spiderman.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Drug cheats and the Olympics

As an athlete, if you cheat by using banned substances, and are caught I believe that it is right that you do not compete again at an Olympics. Whilst other championships may allow this and I guess rightly so once you have done your time, the Olympics should be the ultimate competition and reward only those who have competed fairly.

That's where the conjecture comes in because what about the athletes that have cheated not been caught and possibly won medals?

This is undoubtedly and unfortunately probably true but that should not prevent change to make the Olympics pure again. With extensive testing both in and out of competition the chances are reduced. Let those athletes participate in other events but keep the Olympics as pure as can be.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Riding and blood sugar.....

I've never ridden a hundred miles. Most I've ever done is about 60 so quite a gap. When the football team go on tour I've committed to riding part of the way with, I say part. It's about150 miles and we'll do 100.

Over the last few weeks I have been increasing my mileage. I commute every day by bike and then on weekends have been steadily increasing the distance and time in saddle. Starting at 90minutes for 25miles, to 32 miles in 2hours. This weekend was for me to push to 3 hours and try to get closer to 50 miles.

Friday night I bumped into Rob in Morans and so the plan was that we'd go together. Now the thing about Rob is that he's a very strong cyclist. He has many thousands of miles in his legs. So riding with him is always, for me, a little nervy. The other thing about Rob is that he knows roads in the Cotswolds that most don't. So today I spent a lot of time not really knowing where I was or even what direction we were heading. We did a lovely ride, rarely seeing a car we went through two places I recognised - Bibury (passing a pub where, apparently, a Japanese soap opera is filmed) and then Birdlip. Other than that I just tried not to fall to far behind him.

At about 2:20 in I started to feel empty in my legs. Understandable in some respects as I'm building but this was different. I had a gel and that kicked in and worked well. But again I was empty pretty quickly. The home stretch was down leckhampton hill and even on the downhill I was lacklustre.

I got in and did a blood test and had a low blood sugar reading of 3.7mmol. I realised then that for the last hour of my ride I had been borderline low hence the feeling of being empty. I never had enough food to boost myself and so was struggling. Learning froth at there's two main points,
1. I need to make sure I eat before I start, today I didn't have anything before heading out on the basis that my blood sugar was slightly high. That was a mistake.
2. Carry more food with me to keep myself topped up. A SIS bar and gel is not enough for 3hrs and will definitely not be enough for a century in around 6 weeks time.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Physio & New Shoes...

A couple of weeks ago I tweeted that I was finally putting my hand in my pocket and paying for some private physio. I went to the Cotswold Physiotherapy which is close to where I live. I used them a few years ago when i had hamstring problems - I was impressed then and as I can walk to them it made sense.

What I was looking for was a clarified diagnosis of my right knee problem. I did it in November and while it does feel better it feels a long way from fine. My worry was that it needed surgery (I thought it might be a meniscus) and I had wasted 6 months doing pretty much nothing.

After some manipulation I was relieved to hear that there was nothing wrong with the knee joint that would need surgery. The problem I have is now probably a compensatory issue from the original injury in November last year. The hamstring is inflexible and the tendons are very rigid. In short the remedy is stretching, more stretching and foam roller. Also as the injury is muscular it means that I should try to train through it. So that means I can start to run a bit and so long as I don't overdo it I won't be doing more damage.

So what's the point of this blog? Well I wanted to describe the difference in physiotherapy experience you get from the hospital and from a private clinic. This is not me bashing the NHS - far from it - as a diabetic I receive incredible care and support from the NHS and would never criticise them.

Funnily enough the main difference is that the private physio experience is a more hands on one. So I have had the knee mechanics checked out thoroughly which was the same in both clinics. However beyond that the NHS physio did no physical manipulation or massage of the injury at all. At the private clinic I have had massage of the area, a laser treatment, taping and support in terms of educating me how to really get in and stretch the issue area. Now there might be an easy explanation for this which is time. The NHS clinic time per patient might be a lot less. Also the NHS clinic might be a sausage factory with many more patients in the day meaning that if they manipulated each patient they would not be able to withstand the physical demand that would place on them. I remember years back when i was seeing a chiropractor being told that she had to have chiropractor treatments herself such was the wear and tear on her body.

Whatever the differences, i am currently in an improving place. I have done a couple of 5km runs on gym treadmills since being treated by the physio and today, the first time since November, ran to and from work. It's just over 2.5 miles which is a nice distance as i can just take it easy and it not take too long. The run in was fine, felt the knee about a mile in then it just went as the movement continued. Then all day today no issues at all. Coming home it was a little sore most of the way then did settle with about a mile to go. I actually don't care - i ran 5 miles today something that seemed a long way off until only recently.

This week i also bought myself some new running shoes. Some Brooks Defyance from the local Up and Running store. One thing i had noticed when on the treadmill was that my Brooks Pure Project shoes are not that cushioned and that to preserve my knee on the comeback i could do with some. They are a lovely shoe to run in and i think cement my loyalty to Brooks. I can now literally just put any pair of them on and they feel great. Like they were made for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jabra Rhythm head-phones Product Review

I was given a set of these Jabra Rhythm headphones to try out. 

When i saw the packaging i was a little disappointed as there's nothing different from the many ear-bud style headphones you see hanging from racks in your electrical retailer of choice. On removing them from the packaging the first thing that struck me was the build quality of the jack plug and the adapter that enables it to work with Nokia and Sony phones. This was very impressive, made of metal and with a very solid/robust feel to it. On engaging the adapter, which i won't need as i am an iPhone user, there was a reassuringly solid fit.

The cable length is good and it has the style of cabling where the left ear cable is attached to the main one and shorter rather than a single cable that splits (like the standard iPhone headphones do). There is the microphone with button to play whatever is on your iPhone and a clip so that you can secure the cable from flapping about if you are using them to run or something more active. So far so good.

So what do they sound like?

I am an iPhone user, as i mentioned, and tend to listen mainly to podcasts, Talk Ultra, Marathon Talk, Guardian Football Weekly, The Game by The Times are a few that regularly flood my ears. I normally listen to these while i am out walking my dog. The problem i have been having is that to be able to hear anything through the iPhone earphones i am constantly pushing them deeper into my ear and this is with the volume already at full. Simply with normal background noise and spoken word podcasts they were not man enough for the job.

The Jabra Rhythm is a different story altogether. The ear bud fits snugly into the ear, it's not moving. I hit play (using the remote on the wire) and had to reduce the volume, this is unheard of. I then took them out (with the dog) and was really impressed with them. They have noise cancelling technology which just works. I didn't have to fiddlle with the buds in my ear or rewind the podcast to re-listen to something i had missed or even try and squeeze a few extra decibels out of my iPhone by pressing the increase volume button despite already being (and knowing that) it was at the max.

When I got home I experimented with the Jabra's playing some music. My comparison ear phones are not great as they are the out of the box iphone ones but the Jabra's performance is excellent. The sound quality was excellent, no distortion or tinny sounds and theiPhone  volume does not have to be at the max in order to hear the music. I tried a variety of music just to see and, again i'm no expert, but all types of music were handled equally well. Radiohead, Coldplay some instrumental stuff (Drive soundtrack) and even some chart rubbish that the kids listen to all sounfed, er great!

I have used them once for a call and they performed exactly as you would expect, i could hear the caller and they could hear me. I was outside and checked with the caller if there was a lot of background noise or anything and they confirmed there wasn't. 

All of which leaves me in the position of having a very nice set of ear phones that work as i want them to. They look like every other headphone (white), they sound great and block outside noise. Frankly they are what the iPhone ones should be but aren't.

Would i buy these? Definitely, for less than £20 they are excellent.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Race Director

In my affiliation with Leckhampton Rovers FC I have taken it upon myself to organise a kids duathlon for late June / early July. The races will be for u6 through to u12 children and take place on a local school playing field marked out for 400m.

I'm going to get the applications designed and ready this weekend and start publicity through the managers and via the club website: What I then need to do is organise the event! I have identified the race distances for each age group and a sliding scale for entry based on age too.

I need to get race numbers priced and ordered, medals too as I'd like every kid that finishes to get one. The achievement will be finishing as this is a new experience for most. Marshalling at each race will be by volunteer with, I hope, plenty of parents stepping up to get involved and support their kids by helping.

I have the club chairman checking the venue and what additional health and safety requirements there may be.

I'd love to get a sponsor for this event so if anyone can help with that please get in touch.

On paper it looks simple:

> Agree format
> Agree date/times
> Agree venue
> Address any h&s or insurance issues
> Design/issue entry form
> Marketing & publicity
> order race numbers
> order medals
> identify and prepare volunteers
> find sponsor
> race day refreshments

Is there anything missing? I'm sure there are lots of you that have done something similar so any advice, suggestions or lessons learned please either leave a comment or mail/tweet me.

If one kid is inspired from this humble beginning to continue in this field then it will have been a success.

Friday, March 23, 2012


In the work gym they had a rowing challenge over 500m, 1000m, 2000m, 5k and 10k. 

I was interested in the challenges in the gym but only the longer ones. I did the 5k in 19.29 then the following day I did the 10k in 40:48. It hurt like hell and I think I tweeted at the time that I wouldn't be doing that again.

A day's a long time.

Saturday night I was bored and started browsing on the Concept2 website where I stumbled upon the marathon training programme

The seed was planted and I started thinking.......

Anyway, I decided to try it and see how it went, no pressure. Opting for the 4 session a week plan I noted what was required and had a go.

Week 1
Session 1: 2x30mins with 3 mins recovery. Alternating between 7.5mins at 10k pace And 7.5mins at marathon pace.
Session 2: 4x15mins with 4 mins recovery. 6mins @ 10k pace/9min @ MP.
Session 3: 3x20mins with 2 min recovery. 1-MP, 2-HMP, 3-10k pace
Session 4: 4x15mins with 4 mins recovery. 6mins @ 5k pace/9min @ MP.

More rowing than i have done possibly in my life combined.

It actually wasn't that bad, the mixture of pacing worked and i actually felt pretty good after each session. I'm not going to say it was easy as it really wasn't. This morning's 4x15mins was really difficult and all day my legs felt empty. Even now they don't feel particularly energised but then i guess that's a good feeling as i've worked them hard.

I'm pretty chuffed with my numbers for the week although don't really have a concept of whether they are good or just ok. If anyone knows please leave me some comments.

I totalled 56,442metres for the week in 4hrs of rowing.56km! i'm pretty chuffed with that! I've not looked at next weeks programme yet but suspect its further and longer.

So will i do a marathon row? 

I still don't really know, i'd like to do something like that. I still cannot run and cycling to work and back is better than nothing but doesn't really cut it in terms of any endurance or real solid fitness benefit. Rowing is definitely ticking those boxes, in terms of making me dig in and grunt it out and use some stamina. I'm going to take it week-by-week until i'm convinced i can do it.

If anyone knows about rowing and has any comments on my numbers please leave me a comment.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Are dogs psychic?

On Sunday I went out, taking the car, for a couple of hours. Both times when I came home Frankie, our year old Fox Terrier/Mini-schnauzer cross, jumped up to the window in my front room getting agitated less than a minute before I pulled on to the drive. You could say this is coincidence except that the front room is not a room we use much during the day and also Frankie ran from the back of the house to get to the window, so much do that Sue thought there was something wrong with her.

So are dogs psychic or was that just two coincidences?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rate your Run, Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus

I actually wrote this blog back in August when i got back from holiday in Cyprus. I didn't publish it as it has taken me this long to get the photo's off the camera that i used!
I recently went on holiday to Karsiyacka in, Turkish, Northern Cyprus. Like most runners I know I pretty much always take my running shoes and kit on holiday with me. Read any running magazine and the letters page will contain a submission from someone running on holiday that discovered something stunning that they would have ordinarily missed. this is very true, on foot you will see things that you would otherwise miss. Roads that may lead nowhere may lead somewhere interesting or even exceptional, when you are alone on foot you can make this exploration.
My runs in Cyprus were, in one word, hot! The temperatures through the day were high 30's and in the second week topped out around 42C. Personally I love this, the heat doesn't really bother me. Sure I sweat but in terms of feeling uncomfortable or struggling to function it doesn't bother me. Running in this heat takes some acclimatisation and I would generally run later in the afternoon when temperatures had dropped to 32-34C.
My first couple of runs weren't great. As we were pretty rural I did out and back routes as wasn't sure of my bearings. I started by running up the hill to the local mosque that was visible from our villa (and that we could hear the call to prayer from) and then back. Then I did a run along the main road and back. Mileage sure but pretty unsatisfactory from an enjoyment perspective. That then started me thinking about the rate your run stuff on MarathonTalk. I had downloaded a number of their podcasts for entertainment whilst away, one of their items is to rate your run. Basically give a score for your run. At this point I was barely at a 7. Whilst I was enjoying the running and the weather there was something missing.
It was then that I changed direction and instead of running up the hill I ran towards the coast. What a difference.
From a 7/10 to suddenly 10/10! Within half a mile of the villa was the coast and a coastal path. There was a mix of trail and road, roads with housing, farms and a military base. Once I had done this run once that was it I ran it for the remainder of the holiday. There was actually enough trail that one day I ran it in my vibram FiveFingers. Then towards the end of my holiday I took a camera, my daughters little Samsung, to capture the route so that I could blog about it and keep it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

24hr day dream...

In my quest to recover from my latest injury set-back i have joined the work gym. I've never been a gym sort before preferring to be outdoors either on foot or bike. Treadmills and stationary bikes are not for me and i've never really done weight training. However with the recommendation from the physio to strengthen my legs i thought i'd try. This week i've been a couple of time and done lots of squats, quad raises and calf curls. Lots! I have also been using the elliptical trainer this seemingly being the closest thing i will get to running anytime soon. The physio did suggest using a treadmill as you can keep your pace under control and also limit the time easily. I did it today, i'd done some rowing, elliptical and then did 2x5 mins on the treadmill at 8km per hr.

It was while doing this and not feeling any pain or discomfort in my knee that i started day dreaming. Calculating how far i'd travel at that speed in 24hrs. Turns out that would be 192km, which is just short of 120 miles. i know you'd need breaks etc but my day dream then extended to how easy that pace felt and how low my heart rate was (102bpm). Suddenly something ridiculously hard didn't appear too hard.

Then after 5 mins i got off the treadmill.

23hrs 55mins to go. One day?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I have had a couple of conversations recently with people of a similar age where the underlying theme has been the body isn't what it used to be, the well worn cliche of, "...the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak..." having been trotted out a couple of times. This has made me think about the demands that we place on our bodies in the name of recreation. My twitter timeline is full of people that have jobs, families and yet continue to batter themselves on bike, foot or in the pool on a regular basis. Early starts for swimming before work, jogs with strollers and/or dogs (the art of multi-tasking is prevalent in the wannabe athlete's armoury). Weekends are for long runs/rides or as the weather improves, both. My timeline is also full of the same people complaining about injuries and niggles. Rotator cuff, Achilles tenderness, plantar fasciitis, hamstring pulls, calf strains all make regular appearances. Heck someone (@revershed) even smashed his face up running into a street sign at 10 mph. Then there's knees. This is where I come in. More than 12 months ago I had my left ACL reconstructed, rehab went great. As 2011 progressed I was increasing my mileage and feeling good. The recovering knee not giving me any problems. I then started a job in November 2011 where I could travel to work under my own steam. Perfect, the winter cycling and running gear was evaluated and in some cases updated. Then I started. I started by running to work as with a couple of races In the calendar for January 2012 this was a perfect way to get my miles in. The shortest route to work is 2.5 miles but there are infinite ways to increase this. A couple of weeks in and, post recovery, I completed my highest run mileage week topping out at 45miles. Things definitely on the up. Then the most inconsequential of actions brought another injury. Arriving at work I was at my locker which is at floor level. Squatting down to put my kit away something happened to my right knee. Nothing major, there were no cracks, collapses or instance of pain. Just something. Brushing it off as just one of those things I continued to my desk and sat down. When I went to get up after an hour or so I couldn't move. It was like I has just been given the knee of a man double my age. It was stiff, inflexible and really painful. I limped a few steps and then it freed up and I was ok. The pattern was repeated every time I got up from a seated position. As runners one thing we are rubbish at is acknowledging injuries. I always think that "...I'll just run this off..." or, "...give it a couple of days and it'll be fine...". It's like we don't want to accept the reality because what it means is too hard to comprehend. I am miserable when I cannot run at a weekend. I know that. Even at my age it brings out the child in me. Travel to work was now by bike, and actually since this (beginning of November) has entirely been by bike. The knee eased a bit but I cannot put any impact through it. A trip to the GP saw referred to the physio department at the hospital. An examination there confirmed the worse - cartilage damage. The good news is that it is not likely to require surgery as the damage doesn't appear to be a tear. This is as there's no clicking, locking or instability issues. Whilst I am pleased about this - the thought of more surgery is too much - in some ways it's the worse news for a runner. What it means is patience. It also means rehab exercise and stretching. What runners do that!? We all know we should but we don't. Foam roller every so often maybe, and stretching when there's pain. This in itself is an odd situation because I (and a lot of runners I know) have a ton of gear, all the latest equipment and clothing. Support tights, calf guards, orthotics, vibrams, socks with individual toes, cortisone injections, the latest running shoes, trail shoes, hydration packs/belts. The list goes on. All purchased, at great expense ko some cases, to give an advantage and make running better or easier. Yet the thing most likely to make running better or easier is free and is simply stretching and core stability. Who does that? Try this - ask a runner how much study stretch. I bet the answer will be something like, "...not as much as I should...". So where does this leave me? My ultramarathon ambitions for this year are now cancelled. I didn't participate in the Gloucester 50k that was this past Sunday, and I won't be doing the 'Born to run' 37 mile ultra in Llanelli in March. I have lost too much running and don't know when I will be back. My physio has suggested I try running in a couple of weeks time in the week beginning 30-Jan. I then have a review with her on 6th February. That will be baby steps I am sure and I will need to go back to low-low mileage and build very slowly. Between now and then I need to do my core exercises and stretches. This is something that I absolutely have to do otherwise I fear that, at the age of 41, I won't be able to achieve what I want as my body will never be up to it. The engine will be good but the chassis rusty and clapped out. So for 2012 it is now about getting shot of this latest injury and then getting fit properly, engine and chassis. I am resigned that I will be the chap who cycles to work and runs 5 miles or so a couple of times a week. That is the first objective. Beyond that I don't know. I am not entering any races or events for the year (Cheltenham triathlon at the lido excepted) - I don't want the pressure. I want to be able to enjoy my running for what it is and at the moment that's not possible as I am putting pressure on myself to be ready for something. If I remove that recovery should be easier and who knows, I may be a bit more mature at weekends.