How many of us really appreciate the joy of movement? I like to think I always have – and particularly so after suffering from a bad back in the past, due to injuring my sacro-iliac joint removing my car battery from the boot of my mini many years ago (B.C. – Before Children). Subsequent pregnancies & lifting small children took it’s toll on that injury, restricting my range of motion and impacting on my fitness level, but I continued to workout using home videos whenever I could, building my strength and trying to strengthen what core I had left after a C-section!
So…where am I today? Well, I am just back from a fasted run… those on my Fast/Feast program are regularly “treated” to a run with me through the countryside as I often record my travels.
But let me state – I am not a runner. I never enjoyed running when I was young, although I loved fitness – and dancing in particular – but running just seemed like an ordeal and not a pleasant way to get fit.
My husband had a big hand in changing this, as he loves to run. When we first got together we started running on a very infrequent basis. I had 2 older dogs that were just about able to keep up with us (although in the early days were out-running me pretty easily!!), so we occasionally went running with them instead of a walk. I had qualified as a PT & fitness instructor and so my level of fitness had improved greatly, and I started to enjoy the feeling of being out in the woods and pushing my body to do something different. I had also begun to incorporate kettlebell training into my life, which completely alleviated my previous back problems and really strengthened my core – finally!
As often happens when taking up a new sport, I was keen to test myself and decided to participate in some local races – completing my very first 10km at the Balmoral Run. I was very happy with my time (and the fact that I had even done it!), but of course the following year I pushed myself to go harder and faster – which I did, beating my time by 10 minutes, but injuring myself in the process. It’s not big and it’s not clever!! So that was me back out of running action – although fortunately I was still able to teach my classes, as it seemed the injury was specifically affecting the repetitive movement of running – and particularly downhill (which made sense as it was the downhill section of the race that I blasted down, feeling something “twang” in my leg towards the end!).
So I was back to very infrequent running, usually less than 5km and no downhill, for quite a while. At that time I wasn’t really too bothered by not running – as I said I’m not what you would call a natural runner and fortunately I had plenty of other fun fitness things to do.
Time passed, and we lost both of our older dogs to the rigours of old age, but we had bought a cheeky labradoodle puppy we called Skye, who needed a lot of exercise. My leg was recovered and so we started more running…and I have to say that it felt good to be back out in the fresh air regularly. A couple of years later we got a second labradoodle puppy to keep Skye company – a more timid version aptly named Mouse.
Fast forward a couple of years and I started to experience pain in my right knee – particularly when running, but now also occurring during some of my classes, especially the cardio and high impact ones. It got to the point where I could barely walk around the woods with the dogs, let alone consider running, and my performance in classes was greatly modified as I couldn’t jump at all. The only class that was unaffected was my kettlebell class. In fact, I found that every week after kettlebells my leg felt so much better. So I started to incorporate more kettlebell training every day just to keep things at bay.
I eventually got an MRI done and was diagnosed with both a torn meniscus and a Baker’s cyst. Devastated is an understatement! The cyst was preventing me from being able to bend my knee properly without excruciating pain and the torn meniscus was ongoing chronic pain in the side of my knee. I was referred for ultrasound treatment to hopefully break down the cyst, but told there was nothing to be done about the torn meniscus as surgery was not recommended (studies are now showing that those who have had knee surgery are no better off a year later than those who have not). Add to that the information that cartilage won’t heal and I would just have to live with it.
The kettlebell exercises had been playing their part in relieving pain because the swing action was helping to activate the lymphatic system – and was thereby helping to pump the excess fluid out of the cyst and keep the pain at bay. Made complete sense.
The ultrasound treatment was successful, breaking down the cyst, which helped enormously, but the pain in the side of my knee still prevented me from doing high impact exercises – especially running as it is so repetitive.
I had used a collagen supplement a couple of years previously when I had pain in my Achilles and it had provided relief within 3 days, so I decided to start including both that and homemade bone broth every day. I also often added turmeric to my bone broth and was already eating a very anti-inflammatory diet. I started to see some progress with the pain starting to subside somewhat and I was gradually able to include some higher impact exercises when teaching my classes.
In June this year I started to implement intermittent fasting every day and incredibly quickly began to see some amazing healing results. The pain in my knee was gone and it was also no longer “locking out” as a torn meniscus is inclined to do. In July I decided to tentatively try a short run – I did not pressurise myself and was fully expecting to stop and walk most of the way. To my utter surprise I managed a 5km run with no problem at all! I started to include a run once a week with the dogs and within a month was running twice a week.
Since then I run 2 or 3 times a week, depending on whether I feel like it and what the weather is doing (it is getting much darker and colder now so time is more of an issue as early mornings are harder as it doesn’t get light until nearly 8am and I start my working day at 9am with clients coming to the house). I take into account the other activities I am doing, as resistance training is a high priority for me, so I make sure not to over-do things.
I also don’t run through mud or on slippery surfaces, I make sure to walk as I just don’t want to tempt fate – and to be perfectly honest, so what? Does it matter that I slow down to a walk for a few minutes to pass potentially injurious areas? No, of course not!
I recently travelled down south and went for a run around my old neighbourhood where I grew up, which was a fun thing to do – a real trip down memory lane. I even visited my old house and chatted with the gentleman who has lived there for the past 30 years! However I realised that I really don’t enjoy running on roads or near traffic, or without my girls, Skye & Mouse.
Running is purely an unpressurised enjoyment for me. I never thought I would say that, but having been in a position where I honestly thought I would never run again, it has given me a greater appreciation for all types of movement – and movement for movements sake – just the pure joy of running through the countryside, enjoying nature. I’m not trying to prove anything, I am not interested in races or trying to get personal bests or beat anyone else. I just put my running gear on when I feel like it and take to the woods.
And if I don’t feel like it? Then I enjoy a walk instead.