The running life of course includes periods of not running, whether it’s because of injury, illness, lack of oomph, or just lots of life getting in the way. Our members who are not running are still our cherished members, so we thought it would be nice to get some reports of what people are up to when we don’t see them at club training or races. A questionnaire was sent out with the following questions:
Why are you on the subs bench?
How long have you been out?
What have you been doing, if anything, to keep mentally and physically fit?
What do you miss about running, if anything?
Why are you on the subs bench?
Where do I start? It began with hamstring trouble at the beginning of 2021, then calf strain and other niggles; the year continued with loss of mojo (due to grief and stress) and consequently putting on weight. I started up again in the autumn with renewed positivity (I did the Dales Way in 4 days in September), only to end up with knee trouble through the winter months.
- What have you been doing, if anything, to keep mentally and physically fit?
As much walking as I can, which is great for my mental well-being, and biking when I’ve had the energy or enthusiasm. I’ve enjoyed watching and supporting races too.
I now have renewed intentions of getting out on the bike much more regularly and am even going to dabble on the turbo trainer, which I have just set up!
- What do you miss about running (if anything)?
I miss everything! Running is part of me and what has defined me, certainly on a regular basis, for the past 32 years (with fell walking and general fitness/sports all my adult life).
To list a few:
- physical and mental well-being
- coffee shops
- the thrill of reaching the top of a hill and enjoying the views
- I’m currently on the subs bench after bashing my foot in running down a volcano in Tenerife (El Chinyero, specifically). I hit the rock, fell over, tried to stand up and couldn’t walk, then flew home on crutches.
- I’ve been out for four weeks now.
- I’ve been doing pressups and planks to try to keep fit. I decided to get the turbo out but dropped it on my foot. I took this as a sign and haven’t tried since. I’ve also deleted Strava to keep me sane.
- I miss the fresh air and the wind and the rain. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d do anything to be knee deep in a bog right now.
Ann Brydson Hall
My bench is wearing thin…
Post viral fatigue/syndrome is something I have suffered from since having flu as a teenager and taking part in a 42-mile hiking competition before fully recovering.
I am on the bench quite often due to this and just creeping out of an episode now. It causes fatigue, aches and depression with a little bit of health anxiety thrown in for good measure.
What I do to keep sane…
I sing. I’m a small group called ‘hot flush’ (three part harmonies), read walk when possible and try to be outside every day.
I miss the fun of the fells with running mates when out of the loop.
2022 started off well for me. Bright and early(ish) I was out for a new year’s day run over Burley and Ilkley Moor.
But mid-way through January my running came to a stuttering halt. Coccyx pain emerged – seemingly from nowhere – and refused to depart. I was hobbling round the house like a man twice my age. Every time I sat down I braced myself. And the same when I stood up. A call with the GP (inevitably) came with the recommendation to back off on the running. I did what I was told.
‘Ah well,’ I thought. I’d been bemoaning my inability to make time for yoga, so I found some specific lower back stretches, practised my breathing and my namastes. ‘I’ll give it a week,’ I figured, ‘see how it goes.’ I gave it a week. It didn’t go.
And then just as thinking maybe – just maybe – I can run again, along came Covid and the great unknown of what will it do to me? Double vaccinated and boostered, I figured I’d ride it out OK. And I’d seen a few folk – not least a few members of NLFR – raving about the latest 30 day yoga challenge from that Adriene. ‘That’ll be what I do during isolation,’ I reckoned to myself. ‘That’s isolation well spent.’
And I did ride it out ok. By day six I’d done my negative tests, I was out. I was free. As soon as that line stayed clear for 30 minutes it was trainers on and out the door. But I’ve learned that just because a lateral flow is negative, it doesn’t mean you’re fully recovered and fighting fit. My back has thanked me for the rest. But the heart rate levels my watch is sharing with me post-run are looking alarming.
I’ve not yet dared try anything hilly or technical, sticking to the safety and relative flat of the roads of LS6. But I’ve been hankering to be out somewhere greener, somewhere higher, somewhere fell-ier. I’ve been jealously browsing instagrams, seeing people’s runs, their races, their views. The rare February sun. I’m itching to get back out now.
Oh, and that Adriene thing. I’m 13 days in. Those folk raving about her were right.
I know exactly when I fell ill, because it was 36 hours after running Auld Lang Syne tethered to eight other NLFR women and Hilary-Santa, while dressed as Dancer the Reindeer. It was glorious fun. Then: a sore throat. Then a headache. Then fatigue. Of course I started lateral flow testing like they were going out of fashion, then did a PCR test. All negative. I felt grotty for a week and did no exercise but felt so grotty I didn’t care. I mean, this was when I got to the Co-op, a quarter of a mile away, and seriously wondered how I was going to walk home. After a week, I felt well enough that I went on a club run around the Chevin, and it felt fabulous to be running again. Two days later: total relapse. And that has been the pattern for six weeks. I feel better, I do something though conservatively, I feel worse. After two weeks my body decided to throw a cough at me too, first dry coughing fits that had me sprinting out of the British Library, plus constant “it’s not Covid, honestly, I’ve tested” apologies. Then a chesty cough that has yet to shift. I have done exercise, I have done runs. This weekend I ran 4 miles along a seriously gusty Welsh coastline, then the next day walked for 5 miles in pouring rain. I know. Idiot. I am now not ill but not well and that is the best way I can describe it. What do I miss? All of it. The thoughtless delight of being well and healthy. The ability to plan to do runs knowing you’ll be OK to do them. The fitness. The social comfort of doing the sport you love with others who love it too.
I’ve kept relatively fit. I did a daily squats and plank challenge in January, even when I was coughing and spluttering, so finished the month having done 3,000 squats and lots of planks. I did Adriene’s 30 day challenge and got addicted to a morning yoga session. I have walked and sometimes run. But I’ve put on half a stone in mostly comfort-chocolate. And I pulled out of Rombalds Stride because I felt rotten again and like I couldn’t stride one mile never mind 22. High Cup Nick is next on my race list: who knows whether I can do it, but I’ll probably try.
Jenny Cooper : Ghost Runner
I suppose you could call me a ghost runner, nothing to do with the Bill Jones book of the same name, (although worth a read) but more to do with my training/club attendance. Despite being a paid-up member of the club for nearly 4 years I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to training. Most members won’t even know me to be honest.
Why be in a club but not train with them? Good question and one I used to say about members of my previous club who ran for us but not with us. Basically, it’s to do with time for me. I’m lucky enough to work from home a lot so I tend to go out during the day or when the husband gets home from work, we can be done and dusted before 6.30pm.
During lockdown I was running with my mate in her lunch hour, the same route at the same chatty pace with no training taking place just “out for a run”. At no point did we push each other or have any significant hills to tackle. Not great training for a fell runner, especially when most of it was on road. We did a few “away runs” on a weekend but again nothing above conversational pace.
These social runs had a huge positive impact on my mental health during lockdown, but little did I know, they would also prove to be a very solid base physically for when races finally started getting added to the calendar again.
My first race last year was Eccup 10 which I did in a time of 1:25, not blistering I know but when you consider I’d been running at 9:30/9:45 pace for no more than 6 or 7 miles two or three times a week it was certainly a surprise to say the least. What was good about it was it felt comfortable and sustainable. I then ran two half marathons in space of a few weeks, Major Stone in September and Bridlington Half in October. I did both in a time of 1:54, even with different routes and conditions with Brid being the harder of the two. Sod’s law: I was 2nd FV45 at Bridlington but they weren’t doing any prizes except for 1st!
I then entered some off-road races and discovered that my lack of hills/mud would make for some tough races over the winter. I shall not mention my appearance for the club at the British Fell Relays at Tebay as I was well and truly found out on that one and the least said the better. However, this was a wake-up call and since then I have incorporated hills and strength training into my regime along with being back on the spin bike and the pool. I’m hopeful for some stronger off-road performances going into 2022, as well as representing the club at relays.
I suppose that as we get older we should expect to be sidelined more often, the aches and pains are more frequent and it seems to take much longer to recover from a long or particularly tough run. However I can’t say I’m even slightly philosophical about being on the Subs’ Bench, the truth is I’m pretty grumpy about it.
It’s my own fault of course, I’m a relatively new member to NLFR and joining the club has given me some proper incentive to get fit, so I’ve been working my legs hard in the gym and have totally overdone it, managing to really strain my upper hamstring tendons. It feels like I’ve been kicked by a particularly malevolent cart horse and the only way I can sit down with comfort is if it’s in a pub and soothed by beer. Seriously though, unfortunately I suffer from an auto-immune condition that manifests itself in a form of inflammatory arthritis, meaning I’m predisposed to things like tendonitis and I should have known better. Most of the time it’s all under control and I manage it without serious medication, but it’s a cruel thing to happen to a fellrunner.
I had my first ever DNF at Rombalds Stride a couple of weekends back (unless you include a failed Bob Graham attempt ten years ago) and I’m annoyed that I was daft enough to start. I’m working hard to rehab the sore bits and am doing plenty on Zwift and the elliptical trainer. With luck I’ll be back in action soon.I hope to have another go at the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge this year, so have a real incentive.