Marathon training week 16 – emo knees and a new city

I have a name for what’s wrong with my knee! Thanks to the wonderful Caitlin at Fit and Feminist – I have what is known as an emo knee. This is

“where your knee wears cardigans and listens to the Promise Ring while crying softly into a cup of herbal tea”

I actually laughed out loud when I read this. Caitlin goes on to say that

it’s when your knee has a bunch of issues that don’t seem to have any real cause or resolution; it’s just being whiny for no reason.

Like me, her emo knee only ocasionally affects her when running, but causes more pain walking around, squatting, bending the knee etc. It is surprising how often you get into a squat position in your day to day life – you probably don’t realise unless it is causing pain every time but it includes simple things like getting your socks out of the bottom drawer or even standing up from your office chair…. Caitlin also had one leg shorter than the other – my bike fitter, and then my doctor recently diagnosed me with a thirty millimeter (3cm) leg length discrepancy. LLDs can be functional or structural. Functional is when the bones are the same length, but differences in the tightness of the muscles make them appear different. Structural is when one leg actually is a different length. Around 95% of us have a slight LLD, usually functional, but it is considered significant at over 10mm – yep, mine is three times the difference that would be considered significant. So actually… maybe my knee pain does actually have a real cause. Long story short and I’m being referred to a specialist, but the appointment will have to wait until I’m back from Madrid for insurance reasons….

Anyway Caitlin’s post made me laugh and I’d recommend having a read – she is training to qualify for Boston. Now onto my training……..

Run 1 – the treadmill run

Not much to be said about this one. Lunch time at work, short, sweet, slow, no knee pain. BOOM. Lots of sweat though. 25 minutes, 2.4miles, 10.26 pace.

Run 2 – the longer run

Ran into work for the first time since my knee went all emo on me. It was light when I left home! So that immediately put a smile on my face, despite the fact it was a horribly grey day and the Shard was disappearing into the low-hanging clouds.

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6.5 miles, 10:04 pace – faster than planned marathon pace (just about!) A few twinges from the knee after half an hour but nothing prolonged, slightly more pain towards the end so I stopped the run early and walked the last few minutes just in case. I just really enjoyed running along my usual route into work, thinking about all the many other times I have done this run over the marathon training period, in all weathers and temperatures, and how this was to be the last time for at least six months, if ever, that I would run on that particular route.

Run 3 – the sunny run

Moving to Madrid at the weekend meant I had Friday off work to prepare. So I took advantage of the beautiful blue skies to go for a short morning run around Brockwell Park. Again, running memories. Nervously standing in the corner by the lido, watching everyone else before my first park run, pushing myself so hard I was almost sick in my mouth to get my 5k PB, standing in the freezing cold wearing a hundred layers to volunteer, running up and down and over the hills, the worst run of my marathon training where I had to gingerly pick my way over ice in the freezing cold. And now today, when it was still cold, but felt like spring in the sun, and the park was full of parents and babies in prams, and the sky was the clearest blue and the sun was shining. And my legs were working, and they didn’t hurt! Yes, I was happy.

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3.5miles at 9:55 pace – again faster than planned marathon pace. I have been taking all of these runs deliberately slowly so as not to hurt my knee so it is good to know I can run faster than PMP even when running slowly.

Run 4 – the long one – yes there were FOUR runs this week!

This run was a wonderful meander through my new city. Out the door in search of Retiro Park, knowing the rough direction but nothing more. Once found, the park was a hustle and bustle of families enjoying the sun and 20 degree heat – runners, kids cycling, teenagers skateboarding / roller-blading, couples lying in the grass holding hands.

Once round the park and I set off through central Madrid, stumbling upon the Plaza Mayor.

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I knew I wanted to head west as I had heard about a lovely pedestrianised area along a river to the west of the city, so I followed the evening sun and ended up running down a very steep hill, slightly concerned about the fact I would have to run back up! Reached the river and enjoyed several miles running on a flat, sandy path along its bank, watching Madrilenos promenading, before turning back up, enjoying an incredible/awful slow 1 mile climb and then racing along a flat road back to my new apartment (via a Carrefour stop to buy some food!)

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10 easy miles (other than the end) in an average pace of 9:54 – including hills, tourists, and attempts to find a map. Put it this way – although my “moving time” (according to Strava) was 1hr 38, the run actually took me 2 hours 2 minutes due to all the stops I did! No problem whatsoever with that, I took lots of pictures and enjoyed the sun and my new city, enjoying getting lost and beginning to get my feel of the place. Plus – 10 easy miles (and I promise they did feel easy) at above marathon pace?! And no knee pain?! Feeling happier all the time at this marathon coming up in TWO WEEKS NOW ARGH.

Cross-training
Extremely limited this week – a combination of adding in an extra run and packing up to move country meant limited time! But I still managed 6 hours 30 minutes. One swim, a couple of cycle commutes and a few elongated stretching / strength / yoga sessions post-runs.

Something fun that was nothing to do with running

I spoke too soon when I wrote my February round-up post and spoke about my best moment. I really, really enjoyed last night – it was my last night in London and James and I decided we didn’t just want to sit at home and mope at the fact I was moving away for six months. So we got together six of our closest friends, went for drinks at our favourite wine shop, Market Row Wines, where we are regulars, and the owner, Dave, knows just what we like to drink. We then moved on to another regular haunt, Honest Burger, for incredible burgers, onion rings, coleslaw, rosemary chips…. And then to Craft Beer Co for one last drink. James and I left at about 10pm and went home to watch Wolf Hall with mugs of apple & camomile tea before bed. Pretty much a perfect evening.

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