Monday 30 June 2014

Exercise 8.4

The was tennis and football on the TV this evening so the swimming pool was very quiet, just 4 of us and one teacher. That worked very well for me as it meant that I was able to get feedback on my stroke after almost every length. I can feel my arm position fairly well but I need help to analyse what is good and where there are faults. After 34 lengths of trying and adapting I think I've got an idea of what I should be doing. Basically it needs effort and concentration. If I try to take it easy or take my mind off the stroke all sorts of laziness creeps in.

The long strokes require more effort than lazy ones and I made I deliberate plan this week to try to do 2 lengths consecutively. With the close supervision I had to make an effort to retain good technique.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Exercise 8.3

Before lunch we took our habitual walk through the local woods so that's 14km or so hiking in total. Not much, but that meant that I had some energy left for a run in the woods. As last week, even the little walks gave some adverse sensations in my left knee, but are they significant? Anyway, I took the plunge and went out making three little runs this week, the first time I've managed that in ages and just under 20km at 19.7km (including some walking bits).

The edge of the wood is tantalising - beyond next week?
At the end of the run the left knee felt a little odd, almost 'swollen', but nothing to see and nothing really tender. All seemed well after rollering and stretches. Perhaps this is the beginning of a clear recovery?

Saturday 28 June 2014

Exercise 8.2

This morning's swim went OK but I suspect that I'm training myself to do a length and then have a 5 second rest. I'll have to break that trend at King Edward's as the Goodwin is too deep to have to quit part way through a length - and also a little too much traffic!

This afternoon we went to Lincolnshire to camp and before dinner managed a 7km stroll through the local woods. Very pleasant, although much colder than last week!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Exercise 7.7

No exercise today but I was pleased to have a massage booked after work. This morning I was very aware of both knees and walking into work I could feel discomfort in my left patellar tendon - that has persisted much of the day while the right has faded away.

The left calf and hamstring had become very knotted over the last few days and I suspect that such tightness doesn't help the knee pain.

Last week I was warned that I'd have painful abs after 3minute planks but I didn't have. Today though I have noticed a bit of muscle soreness and I put it down to the ab-roller exercise that we were introduced to yesterday.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Exercise 7.6

A potential swim this morning was thwarted by pressure of work but I had activities planned for this evening. I ran slowly to the circuit class and for the first time in many weeks included the slight descents of Psalter Lane. The class included some leg work that I avoided but I ensured that I had done my recommended exercises. The second set of squats triggered a little tenderness in the left quadriceps tendon. On the return I ran the level bits ver gently. Moving around home I was aware of my right quads. The weakness is clearly bilateral, indeed before my injury the right knee often seemed more delicate when I was running up rough steps.

The evening meal was a chickpea curry so that should have provided a fair top-up of protein.

A good rest period is needed now.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Exercise 7.5

The physio has advised me to try to ignore the plethora of small niggles that I'm now aware of. She believes that there can be an element of hyperaesthesia and theories for that are touched on in a review article. Ignoring pain can be hard as I'm very conscious of overdoing things and having to stepback. This evening my legs felt pretty good and so it was appropriate to do the run around the woods, 7km with a few easy ascents and descents. As before I walked the steep descents but I did run some parts of the shallow slopes, a little more than in previous weeks.

At one point I did feel a slight soreness in the left quadriceps tendon and by the time I was home I was aware of the right. So both legs had made themselves evident. Overall though I don't think anything has been disrupted. Half way around the loop I thought that I could have gone far further but later on I knew that it was enough. I'm finding the high cadence and light-footed gait to be hard work both aerobically and to my muscles. It was especially hard to be light on my left foot which has a habit of slapping down unless I'm thinking about it very hard.

I was too tired generally an in my legs to do the strengthening exercises but I did do rollering and stretches.

Monday 23 June 2014

Exercise 7.4

The muscles in my left leg were tense today, almost all of them it seemed. Maybe all of that pulling was aggravating the soft tissues around the joint. Although I have been rather downbeat the physio persuaded me that there was improvement: the weekend's walks had made my knee a bit sore but two runs didn't cause any problems. I had to agree that is progress, albeit apparently slight.

A little later it was time for the swimming class. I worked hard to look after the stroke especially the finish. After a few weeks of chaos I suspect that I've got the beginning of the stroke more or less right so that there is no forward movement of my hand whilst in the water.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Exercise 7.3

The left knee niggle seemed to be settling a little today. We walked in the woods, but not in my hiking boots as I have wondered if they are an irritant. Later, as things still felt well, I did a short road run including a few shallow descents. At home I rollered and stretched. The left knee does feel strange, perhaps inflammed, with some slight soreness in the quadriceps tendon. I did note earlier today that there was tenderness in my shin too.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Exercise 7.2

Today's swim was quite good. I tried to use form that I'd practiced in Dublin and keep my pace slow. The pool was busier than in previous weeks and this made my lane a bit congested. On the whole I could do a length, when I wanted, at the pace I wanted but sometimes I had to wait behind someone. Amazingly, I'm not the slowest swimmer!

I also detected an issue with my technique. I tend to keep my arms moving smoothly at an almost constant rotational speed. But in some online tutorials they stress that a breath takes place while the front arm is extended and still; not moving down as I do it. I can see this being a knack to learn as its discontinuity will take a lot of neuromuscular control.

Friday 20 June 2014

Exercise 7.1

I wore different shoes to walk into work today as I'm wondering if shoes with a substantial drop are irritating my knees. The rebuilt RocLites felt comfortable and my knee improved during the day. The focus now feels to be in the patellar tendon, especially laterally. I left work too late to go for a swim but it was a lovely evening. A perfect opportunity to cut the lawns before preparing for vege burgers a la plancha on the patio. Far less hassle than a BBQ, I can't think why they aren't more popular in the UK.

I did my sets of squats, mini jumps and step-ups without difficulty and added the eccentric step descents on my left leg for one set as all was well.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Luxury hotel swim

I'm not going to mark this post as Exercise x.x because I'm a little bored with that and this session was no part of my running rehab. Admittedly, other entries haven't been either, so perhaps it's time to draw a line in the sand and detail what is.

For a multitude of odd reasons I was away overnight with work and I was booked into the upmarket Marker Hotel. I was only there for under nine hours due to a late arrival and early departure but I did manage to have a dip in their pool.

Image stolen from TripAdvisor
The pool area was beautifully designed and incredibly clean although the grey slate pool lining is not ideal for showing the transition between base and wall at the ends!

I tried really hard not to push forwards with my arms and to finish the stroke. Despite (or because of?) attention to form but due to its short length I managed to complete over 1km at better than 3 minutes per 100m. A record for me.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Too much travelling

I don't enjoy planes, trains and automobiles in rapid succession so even a short trip to Dublin was plenty. The early evening meeting stretched on and it was quite late that I returned to the hotel. I could have been keen and done some exercises but I didn't and so Exercise 6.6 didn't happen.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Exercise 6.5

This wasn't a great day. My left knee has been irritating me all day, I assume that the weekend walks were too much for it. The lateral part of quadriceps insertion seemed to be the focus but it was generally unpleasant.

After walking home I was undecided on whether to try a short run or not. No; it hurts already. Yes; different shoes, different gait, different loading. I did go out and had no problems although it didn't feel as trouble-free as last week.

Monday 16 June 2014

Exercise 6.4

At the swimming class I've been focussing on good arm technique once again. I've clearly gained poor habits whilst trying to join lengths together. After last week's struggle today things felt a little more controlled and with some opportunities to get better.

This morning my left knee showed itself when walking into work. I didn't notice it during work but by home time the right patellar tendon was clear. Returning from swimming it was the left! What is going on?

Rollering revealed some tight muscles and maybe they've been pulling around to joint?

Sunday 15 June 2014

Exercise 6.3

This morning (and early afternoon I suppose) we did a moorland walk of 15km. There was far more ascent and descent than yesterday and I was aware of my left knee being a little delicate quite ear;y in the day. I'd anticipated this so had my pole with me, just in case. I used the poles in the woods leading up from Lea mill where the path is quite steep. In some areas they were a hinderance as the path was muddy but overall they were helpful and were welcome on the 1 in 5 road descent from the ridge at Riber.

One of the plentiful meadows

On return home I was clear that my knees had done enough exercise and so a run was out of question. Now I need to do some rollering as I know I've muscle tightness; hopefully that will relieve some of the tenderness around my left knee too.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Exercise 6.2

We have been in Matlock today and have done a 27km walk. It was technically easy as it was along the Cromford canal but was still tiring. I think I'm put of practice at long walks. The key thing is that my knee wasn't too noticable by the end.

Mercurial water escaping at a sluice from the canal

No stretches or rollering!

Friday 13 June 2014

Exercise 6.1

I left work early, one goal being to get a good swim done. The pool was nice and quiet without the usual waves. For whatever reason I was very slow, especially for the first 20 lengths but gradually I settled in and the last 10 lengths were my usual pace. I also swim a little further than usual (1200m). Perhaps part of the slowness was due to rethinking arms; making sure that I was getting good pull without pushing them forwards underwater. Considering that Monday's swim became a bit of a disaster I shouldn't complain.

I've been a bit aware of my left knee today, lateral part of patelllar tendon but really quite mild. I'll have to look after it for a day or so.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Exercise 5.7

Last night we went to see "Sheffield's own" Martin Simpson and that's why I didn't do the circuit class. I did go this evening however. On the little jog there I wondered if it was wise as I could feel my left patellar ligament but didn't suffer with it once there. The class was quite hard work and I included some single leg squats and very small number of lunges. During the squats I noticed a bit of irritation in my left knee but was avoided by improving form.

Alice thought I'd be going to have sore abdominal muscles from 3 minutes planks - with alternate leg raises, twice. We'll see. Overall I don't think it's a great exercise once you've mastered over a minute. Moving the legs does at least change the centre of gravity and add the need for more stabilisation.

At one station I'd done heel kicks and high knees so I really didn't think it wise to jog home.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Exercise 5.6

None except the commute to work. At least nothing hurts.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Exercise 5.5

Whilst walking home I was, as is becoming rather habitual, aware of niggles in my left patellar tendon and generally 'tired' knees. I wondered if it would be wise to do the run scheduled for this evening. In the end I reasoned that I could stop and head home if I noticed a problem and so successfully completed 5.4km on the road, of which probably around 0.5km was clear descent and thus walked. Where there was a very low grade descent I ran those as I've been OK after doing that on Sunday.

At home all seemed fine and so I completed by 2 sets of 20 squats, 6 jumps and 10 per leg step ups. All well there to. After rollering and stretches it was tea time - seitan and spinach roulade - won't buy that again.

Monday 9 June 2014

Exercise 5.4

Walking in and out today revealed a few niggles in both knees, as usual it moved around making it hard to know how serious it was.

Swimming was problematic as the advice I received was slightly contradictory to that in previous sessions. Is it important to reach forwards a long way or not? By the end of the session I was confused and barely able to make forward progress. Hopefully when I try again things will fall into place a bit .

Sunday 8 June 2014

Exercise 5.3

In the evening I did the circuit in the woods that we'd walked earlier in the day. As usual I walked the major descents but this week I ran some of the short, shallow gradients making a big effort to use fast short paces. It's really quite hard work keeping up a high cadence and trying to lift my feet quickly.

During the run I was aware of a tight left hamstring and spots of discomfort moving between left and right and between patellar tendon and quadriceps. At home I did rollering and stretches and things seemed OK.

Nick Hunt

After breakfast we drove down to Ilam to see Nick Hunt at the Dovedale Arts Festival. We arrived rather early and the sight that greeted us wasn't auspicious. The car park was a muddy field, the venue, we were told was a rattly and drafty marquee and the other other attendee was a 'Paddy groupie'. Quite soon we found the proper venue which was far more comfortable barn with adjacent toilets and coffee about to be served.

Nick was 'in conversation' with an interviewer who prompted him for stories. The questioning had an apparent randomness which resulted in good tales but no clear narrative. A theme that came through strongly was that he had made it up as he went along. PLF's books gave a list of villages, many of which are lost or renamed decade later and that was the extent of upfront navigation. The carelessness gave an opportunity to meet, see and wander as time, circumstances and events unfolded; maximising chance meetings and invitations. A lesson there not to plan too much perhaps.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Exercise 5.2

This morning's swim was hard work, slow and tough. Each length was a little longer than I hoped it would be and I wanted a breather after every one. I suspect that I started too soon after breakfast. In previous weeks I thought the pool opened at 09:00 and so I waited at a coffee shop for half an hour before the swim. Today I walked straight there and my stomach did feel heavy. Also I was trying to use the 'over a barrel' approach to a long arm reach and I'm finding that more demanding than the lazy stroke I'd adopted a few weeks ago.

After a coffee and rest I did my physio-recommended exercises of 2 full sets of 20 squats, 10 single leg step-ups and 6 very small pylometric jumps. I followed up with stretches but struggled with the hip flexor as usual. It's obviously less tight than the quadriceps!

Friday 6 June 2014

Exercise 5.1

Just the walk commute today. My right knee felt stiff after an afternoon standing up at work but by the time I'd walked home it was the left. Nothing much though.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Boring blog

Hasn't this blog become very boring since the long runs stopped? No photos, no Strava medals and no discussion over PBs. Having said that, my quest for awards was probably part of the problem. I'll have to go somewhere and do something interesting.

Awaiting delivery Of Alastair Humphreys' book. Hopefully that will motivate me.

Exercise 4.7

Today has been a much needed rest day and that was part of my plan when I 'risked' the run and circuit yesterday. Early in the day I could feel my left knee but as the day passed the irritation moved to the right. Both bits of discomfort have been very mild though implying that no serious damage was done yesterday.

I had thought that I might squeeze a swim in today between two meetings but an unexpected task appeared and put paid to that. In the next few minutes i must do the rollering and stretches before I fall asleep!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Exercise 4.6

Today was a little disappointing as by the time I left work my knees felt distinctly tired. Once home the left was distinctly slightly sore in both patellar tendon and quadriceps insertion. I nearly didn't go to the circuit and was very hesitant about running there. I didn't want ti traumatise already injured tissues. In the end I did go and I did run there (as usual, not the downhill bits) but I am little concerned that tomorrow I might have gone back in my recovery.

In the circuit I did sets of small squats and lunges but avoided pylometric jumps due to the presence of soreness and the fact I'd run there. More than enough impact.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Exercise 4.5

Early this morning I did the 6 little pylometric squat jumps I've been prescribed. I'm supposed to reach 3 set in 3 weeks. I didn't feel any twinges which was good. During the day I managed 1 set of 10 step ups. By the end of the day I was aware of my left knee more than I've been for a while but it didn't worsen whilst walking home.

I can't see how to fit in activities to give rest days and get everything done so I decided to try a short road run as I'm to get up to 17km in 3 runs over the next few weeks. Having a bit of a niggle made me wary but in the end it didn't worsen. On the run I tried to follow the instruction of keeping my feet on the ground as briefly as possible - that was the suggestion in relation to my comment that I'd noticed my left foot falls heavily.

After 3km with 0.7 km downhill things felt fine and I concluded with rollering and stretching; adding hip flexor stretches. I have difficulty with this as the quads seem to be so tight as to limit stretching elsewhere. I'll try anyway.

Monday 2 June 2014

Exercise 4.4

I was able to report to the physio that I'd done 5 short runs (with walking downhill) in the last fortnight and that most of the time I'm not aware of my knees when walking. She took that as a good sign and now I've a plan for extending the runs a little and a series of strengthening exercises. One concern is whether the runs and exercises should be done on the same day or different ones. The advantage of same day is that it allows a rest day inbetween, the disadvantage being that it could result in too much overload.

This evening's swimming focussed on a good reach - over the course of nearly 40 lengths I started to get the idea. I could tell that it was a more powerful and certainly resulted in fewer strokes per length but it was more effort. I'm back to 2 lengths at a go now.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Beetroot and apple muffins

The June 2014 issue of Runner's World (UK edition) included a recipe for Go-longer muffins containing beetroot; which can reputedly enhance endurance. Here's my vegan version; I can't vouch for their performance outcome but they are good with tea.



  • 275 g of white flour
  • 1.5 tbsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • 60g unrefined sugar
  • 100 ml soya milk
  • 250g precooked beetroot
  • 2 medium apples
  • 2 tsp egg replacer (I used Ener-G)


  1. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases
  2. Warm up oven to around 180 degrees celsius
  3. Shred the beetroot and apple in medium bowl of food processor with Julienne blade
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients except egg replacer in large bowl of food processor until homogenous
  5. Add milk and oil and process until mixture is uniformly wetted
  6. Add egg replacer and pulse mix briefly
  7. Put cake mix and shredded fruit in a large bowl and mix, avoiding breaking up fruit
  8. Spoon into muffin cases - they'll be almost full!

Crumble topping


  • 70g rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 40g sunflower margarine
  • 75g unrefined sugar
  • 75g nuts (I used almond and brazil nuts)


  1. In small bowl of food processor reduce oats to coarse meal
  2. Add sugar and mix well
  3. Add nuts and oil and mix on pulse to form breadcrumb-like texture without chopping nuts too much
  4. Sprinkle over the muffins, there should be enough to give a substantial layer


  1. Bake for around 20 minutes
  2. Check that a knife pushed into cakes withdraws fairly cleanly
  3. Allow to cool on wire tray

Exercise 4.3

I'm just back from a lap in the woods, as last week, walking briskly downhill and running level and uphill. It went well, I was aware of a vague sensation around the left patellar tendon but no twinges. Once thing I did notice was that my left foot seems to drop onto the ground far more than the right, it's noisier and more clumsy. I even think that I can tell that there is less energy absorption in the foot. I tried to 'run like a ninja', even so, the left was trying to crash down on every step. As before I was making an effort not to cross my feet and on the lookout for scraping my lefty calf with right heel - I've read somewhere that this is a sign of hip weakness. This is all beginning to feel a little like swimming - having to think about every foot strike - how hard can it be to run?