Blog 4: PHT Part 3 - "How Hard Are You Working" by Dineke Austin

I ended my last blog with my ‘eureka’ moment of realising that even when ‘banned’ from real, al fresco, naturalist (not naturist, as in Piers’ mankini!) running, I could still set myself training challenges in a gym! (Yes, really: one aspect of my voyage of injury/rehab discovery is learning that if one (me) is driven to self-competitiveness, this translates into a geeky target-driven attitude to ANYTHING; however, bizarre!)

At the start of this 2-week block of VLM training, I was down for rehab exercises every day, with as much cross-trainer-ing as I could “endure”.  This then became alternate days of exercises, with treadmill walking. Fortunately, before I had signed up with Virtual Running for 50 miles walking on a treadmill in February, a well-timed physio visit advised me that I could now RUN on a treadmill, and that if I had “another two good weeks” I would be likely to be starting ‘real’ running. Quick change of plans: February target 25 miles running on a treadmill.


No: not 5.25k in 2:41!

(Photos only remotely possible during cool-down!)

Firmly putting aside disappointment – nay anguish – at giving up Marrakech at the end of January, I approached this new challenge as if it was the high spot of my brief running career. Tendon repair diet and exercises continued, my response (when I had breath and energy) to my PT’s words “How hard are you working?” was usually (aloud) “8/9” (even when internally unprintable); and I adjusted to walking, then jogging, then running on a treadmill.

In my previous gym, I hated treadmill running with a vengeance – leaving aside boredom, unforgiving and monotonous surface – I was always terrified that I’d be flung off the machine, like offal in the student meat factory job (and with my sense of (im)balance, I probably would, at that)! Has anyone else recorded PBs on a treadmill? Yes, really! And recorded on their training plan the difference between ‘long run’, ‘tempo’, and ‘interval’ speeds (‘hills’ not allowed) on a treadmill! How sad/driven/obsessed (delete as appropriate) is that!

Entries from my training diary read:

07/02: 5k in 36’32”

12/02: 5k in 33’10” (PB)

19/02: 5k in 30’07” (new PB)

23/02: tempo 3k in 16’26” @5.35 etc!!!!

Did all go according to plan? It started well: the point when I could touch my toes when exercising was one breakthrough moment hamstring-wise.

However: it had never dawned on my novice mind that to run on a treadmill I needed to wear proper running shoes, with the insole support recommended by ‘Up and Running’…I walked, then ran, in my soft Sketchers. Now don’t get me wrong: this is not a criticism of any brand of footwear: it is of me and my crass stupidity!

QED: another mistake in my steep learning curve. Result: sharp and increasing pain in right foot: fine when not walking, but ever-increasingly painful when doing so. 


Surely NOT a hairline stress fracture from repetitive treadmill walking/running in the wrong footwear?

Suddenly, the physio shifted attention from hamstring to foot: with a real chance that I had inflicted another avoidable injury: this time to my right navicular. (How many running body parts could I damage in one 16-week VLM training period? Was this the hand of you-know-who punishing me for gelatin supplements?) One navicular jump test later: foot exercises; a stern word regarding appropriate footwear for treadmills; an x-ray referral letter for my GP. A day later: GP visit, & immediate referral to drop-in X-ray at Ealing Hospital.


The culprit!

Now the wait….

VLM at stake…

Meanwhile: volunteering, coaching, “how hard are you working?”, foot exercises….A long-overdue visit to ‘Up and Running’ for new footwear.

And a new Garmin for when I would be able to run…

High spots:

Riddlesdown Trail Guest Parkrun, where I should have walked…but Mike Limpert bullied me into jogging in 36’14”! (He says it was the other way around.) Al fresco, glorious views of the Downs!

Osterley the week after, surreptitiously jogging in 29’54”.

Low spots:

Missing Marrakech

The EE marathon presentations (excellent, but reminding me of how far I still need to go)