Running with Hydrogen Legs

Today’s loIMG_2554ng run was not as long as I had hoped, and it took me a bit longer to complete than last week. Back on Brampton Valley Way, this time in the mist, which had mostly cleared when I took the photo at the end.

I tried to use the running style improvements I practised last week, but with less success. Sometimes you have one of those days when it just does not feel right. Part of today’s challenge was to attend to my thinking processes. This is about attention and appraisal. It is good to attend to the lovely countryside and to the inspiring playlist I chose to run with, but it is also important to monitor various aspects of my physical state. The danger lies in having lots of negative, self-defeating thoughts, such as “Six weeks to go and I’m struggling trying to get half-way”. At one point I decided that tiredness did not reside in my muscles, it was just a state of mind. This belief did not last long. At another point I tried to imagine my legs being lighter, as though they were filled with hydrogen. On reflection, if this had been the case, my legs would have floated up and I would have been running on my hands, wishing I had done more upper body work in the gym. Hydrogen legs seem to expire quite quickly, and by some strange elemental process they were soon replaced by the customary lead.

I am not being particularly fair to myself. One reason I struggle is that I’m not getting in the mid-week miles and I need to make a special effort to rectify this. I have mastered the art of the slow start and I managed to complete 9 miles before I had to introduce a bit of walking. It actually felt good, and I seemed to have enough muscular and cardiovascular reserves. Now I need to work on shifting up through the gears. However, my right hip flexors decided to make their presence known again and, like a troublesome toddler, it was not something I could ignore. So close to the big day it is a tricky balancing act for us elite distance runners (of course, all running is about distance, even on the dreadmill, but you know what I mean) between pushing myself harder and not risking an injury that would jeopardise my even reaching the starting line in Edinburgh.

I learnt a bit more about my body today, trying to locate more precisely the source of the pain in my hip flexors. I think it is my iliopsoas that is causing the problem. This is actually the conjunction of two muscles (the psoas and the iliacus) at the top of my thigh bone – which is connected to my hip bone, which is connected to my wifi…

Oh, something else to retrieve from this misty day. I try to go for a swim later in the day after a long run. It is great to stretch gently in the water of the pool, easing some of those aches and pains. A few lengths of gentle swimming (I can only do front crawl) helps to work my core, provides a bit more stretching  and assists with upper body strength (helpful if I ever master the hydrogen legs thing). I follow this with a bit of high intensity interval work – swimming a very fast length, then swimming back gently, and repeating maybe once or twice. This is good for developing my respiratory and cardiovascular functions, and also burns off a few calories. The downside is probably for anyone else in the pool at the same time – in one direction I swim like a demented fish trying to escape the jaws of a great white shark, thrashing wildly, while in the other direction I am graceful (well, within limits) like a merman. And thereby hangs another tail….

Six weeks until the Edinburgh Marathon on 27th May! And I have got my fundraising page up and running! I am trying to raise funds for Kettering Mind, a voluntary organisation that provides invaluable help to people affected by mental health problems.



8 thoughts on “Running with Hydrogen Legs

  1. Well if I had any doubts about the difficulties of running before, you’ve certainly convinced me otherwise with this post! What do we have to do to encourage you to get ‘er done???


  2. Hang in there, Derek. All my yoga students got sessions on the psoas muscle last week; most of them seemed to enjoy it, but we’ll see if they all come back for more this week.


  3. Thank you Julia. I’m sorry I can’t get to your class in Kettering on Weds because I’m working at the moment. It’s amazing what you learn when tracking down a pain!


      1. Thanks.
        Will be a while since I broke my hip and am since over four months on crutches and not done any time soon. You can imagine the compensation with the psoas going on there.


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