An inherent love for sports – part 3

Continued from here and here

Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist  this sounds the most practical of all the options I have explored. Given the number of running injuries we all get and the importance of recovery for our continuous pounding of the pavement, roads, trails and hills, a sports massage is one thing A and I wish we could afford more often. And one that every good runner does invest in at least once a month. This combines human science, running and rehab and looks like something I can practically do part-time. I can do this course over Saturday sessions over 5 months at St.Mary’s (a tad expensive at £1600). The fact that this can lead to practical experience to advance into physio / sports therapy makes it all the more attractive.

Sports therapist / Sports Rehab specialist – this is the closest stream leading to being a professional sports doctor unless I actually pursue an MBBS degree – it would take ages and a lot of luck before I could get to working for a big level professional club, and is not the reason I want to do this. But the line of work – sports injury prevention, treatment and rehab is exactly what would make me happy. I could at some point follow this up with a post-grad course in Sports & Exercise medicine.

It bugs me immensely when anyone vaguely suggests that exercise and outdoors is so injury prone that they would rather suffer middle and old age ailments. Someone said at lunch that people spend as much on treating running injuries as much as they spend on smoking! Even if this was remotely true, I would rather run, injure myself (oh, know how to prevent, treat and recover) than spend on that dreaded cancer causing nicotine tubes – I want to help as many people as possible believe in this.

Physiotherapist – Even though the sports therapist is the ideal path I would like to advance into, this page explains very well what I have read about sports-therapist vs. physiotherapist.

In short, Physiotherapy is a much better recognised degree compared to Sports-therapy. Almost all the Sports Physios I look up have done a Physiotherapy degree. And there are career opportunities with NHS as Physios which don’t seem so wide spread for Sports-therapists.

But the biggest difference I can see is that a Physio degree can be funded by the NHS once I have my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (which I am eligible for from Feb 2016) – saving me £27,000 in tuition fee for the 3 year program! Given I really would like to be a Sports-therapist more than a Physio, I am hoping someone proves me wrong and shows me that the Sports-therapy / Rehab degrees also have this funding. For an added challenge, the funding obviously makes it very competitive to get into the Physiotherapy course – with only 35 accredited providers for all of UK.

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An inherent love for sports – part 2

Continued from here

A dump of my confused thoughts on the various options:

Personal Trainer – this seems to be one of the most acquired qualifications in the fitness industry offered by a bunch of training providers (Premier Training, YMCA, Discovery, FutureFit, The Training Room etc.). It is expensive (averages around £3000) and is available to learn mostly online with a handful of practical days OR part time weekend course supplemented with online learning OR as a full time 12 week course. I like what personal trainers do, and someone like me would be motivated to work with one and would see good results. But the course content and assessment puts me off. It looks very theoretical, and for the price, all one seems to be acquiring is a fast paced certification. I have seen some good personal trainers and I wonder if the S&C coach is a better way to get there. But then, the PT certification also seems to be a stepping stone for all the options I have looked into (a very expensive one at that – just putting down these thoughts makes me wonder maybe if it is just a certification, does it really matter which training provider I go with… should I just take one of those online options which are cheaper.. I really don’t want to spend money on this for nothing) – especially for someone like me, with no relevant academic or practical qualification or background in the sports / fitness field and given I did my A level equivalents 15+ years ago in another country, this seems like a way to get some experience / qualification to tick that pre-requisite for most competitive in-depth courses and degrees.

S&C coach – my introduction to strength training was from Stephanie Twell, who was doing her M.Sc in Strength & Conditioning from St.Mary’s university. Obviously her running pedigree gives her significant knowledge and experience and she had a pretty bad injury that affected her career for a couple of years – just listening to her made me realise how much she knew about her body. The S&C coach is what I am looking for with a personal trainer course – the issue is they wouldn’t admit me for this course without a background / experience in this field 🙁 Also given this is a going to take at least 2-3 years of study at the minimum, I would need to be sure this is all I want to do – realistically, I want S&C to supplement my interests in coaching, sports-therapy and rehab and not be the only thing I do.

Running coach – this excites me. And scares me. Every running coach or coach in training I know has run at least a few marathons… and I am at 18.75 miles as my longest run. Given how happy I am when I see one of my friends complete a workout, I want to get involved in beginner’s run coaching – to motivate women to get out and do their first 5k & 10k and hopefully like me, they would fall in love with running and get new found confidence and keep going 🙂 Reading Dan’s account of the Leadership in Running Fitness course by UK Athletics, it looks like I would enjoy this (I also know Laura, Sarah and Justin who have done this and they all coach runners; Laura and Dan have also completed their Coach in Running Fitness qualification while Sarah and Justin are on their way :)) – given this is a 1-day course at £160, it isn’t too bad an investment to try this out.

(continued here)

An inherent love for sports – part 1

I became an investment banker by chance. I did not actively look out or prepare for these roles. I vividly remember a chat with one of my batch-mates – I wanted to apply for a research analyst role and he was trying to convince me that the IB role would have a lot more perks and money! True to his word, the only IB role I was interviewed for landed me a lucrative job that paid for a lot of travels and luxuries. Along the way, IB was also the reason I was able to move to the UK with more than a generous relocation support from the IB employer. I enjoyed the work in the first year post-MBA and then it has been downhill – with increased money though. I quit this 4 years ago and moved to the corporate world. The pay was lesser, but the increased and flexible time on the hands made up for it. The work was again good for a couple of years, but for more reasons than one, I have lost interest in my most recent role. There isn’t a wide scope of what else I can do and there doesn’t seem to be any interesting offers available for what I can do.

The science of the human body interests me. I have always liked sports. When I was in high school, I wanted to become the team doctor for the Indian cricket team! In the last 2 years, running has changed my life – and my attitude to many things in life. I got injured on the way and was intrigued by the Physio (& internet) provided information on prevention and recovery techniques. I had never done weight training before Dec 2014 and it fascinated me what just a few weeks of strength training could do to my running. When I got bored of the gym later in the year, I read up on the various ways to build strength outside of the gym – resistance, suspension, kettle bell, circuits and more. I get inspired by other runners on Twitter and Strava. And I feel immense happiness when someone I encourage goes out for a run (my dad, Ranj, Aruna, Preeti, Roshi and even Ankita far away in Bombay!).

Given my dead-ended feeling with my current career, I want to explore doing something with sports. Given my interests, the paths I have researched include:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Strength & Conditioning coach
  • Running coach
  • Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Sports therapist

The one basic topic that needs study across all of these is Anatomy and Physiology of the human body. I paid Coursera for the first time and am currently learning Introductory Human Physiology by Duke University. It hasn’t been easy (a lot of concepts to learn and I am so out of touch) but I am currently in my 6th week of the 10 week course. I am happy I am trying this before going full-fledged and spending on something bigger – the course has set the reality straight on my concentration / focus levels and my out-of-touch state with anything to do with reading and learning. The flexible deadlines have helped (I have reset deadlines twice already!) and I hope to finish the course before the end of the year. The instructors and the content of the course have been very good and I would highly recommend the course for anyone interested in the topic. It gives a sound background in a very wide subject. I intend to read the book – Anatomy for Runners – to get a background into the other human science (Christmas reading?).

(continued here and then here)

Injuries and the need to build strength

It has been 24 days since my last run.

Pre-Nov, this year, there was only one week in June when I did not run at all. I completed my highest ever monthly mileage at 120 km in October and began Nov with an ambitious 30k. It was very slow, a bit painful, I wanted to give up and cry, but I ran / walked / crawled through the distance. I was super happy when I finished this run. My right leg was in a lot of pain that day post run and I had decided to give it a couple of days rest but by Thursday (4 days post run) I started to panic – my shin / tibia has still not recovered after 24 days.

30Km run - Richmond Park

30 km run at Richmond Park on 1 Nov 2015 – slow and painful but super happy me when I finished this run… have been injured since.

I had a pretty good first 5 months of the year where I improved my 5k and 10k time consistently and increased my long runs and did 2 HMs. The second half has been on another pole with mental slack, laziness, illness and injuries.

My running has been pretty inconsistent since the Edinburgh Half Marathon at the end of May and through the summer – it was close to zilch except for a short spike for 2 weeks in July. No strength training and no spinning too – I was just lazy, enjoying the summer, basking in the glory of the first half of the year and did I say, just being lazy. A pretty bad run on 6 Sep in the Kew Gardens 10k (where my dad and Ranj did so well) – a day after we were back from a 10 day double holiday – jolted me up and I started my autumn training. I wanted a sub-2 hour HM before the end of the year and also wanted to increase my weekly mileages – in preparation for the Brighton Marathon in April 2016 and possibly a beginner ultra, sometime in 2016, may be Dec 2015 (yeah, I am only a tiny bit ambitious like that). And this is what I did:

2015 weekly run mileage

All good. Except I was still not doing much strength training and not going to the spin classes for cross training. Unlike a lot of runners / people I know, I have been sitting on my ass for the last decade and more without any exercise – until I started the couch to 5k and started running in early 2014. So all the muscles in my body get used to laziness and weakness quite easily. Glutes, calf, quad, hamstring, core – you name them, they are all weak. And that increased mileage, while nothing for most human beings, took a toll on my body. In hindsight, yes, the twinge has been there for at least a month before that 30k run – I just put ice and continued running assuming it would get better. And it got worse. I haven’t run for 24 days and I can still feel the twinge even when I walk. The pain became much worse when I ran 10 steps (literally just moved fast from kitchen to bedroom) – one day last week, playing ball with the boy. I took me 2 hours of rest and ice pack to recover!

One of the most frustrating things in the last few weeks has been that I am doing nothing other than rest and still the pain hasn’t gotten better at all. I want to be doing something more for recovery but I don’t know how to expedite the health care system in this country. I wanted to get back on my feet as soon as possible and hence opted to use work provided health insurance (with Aviva who have referred my case to HCML) to see a physio. She suspects a stress fracture and hence after 19 days of admin (after first contact with insurance), an MRI scan has been done yesterday. Frustratingly, I don’t know how many more days of admin before they see the results and can start my rehab procedure :(.

Not running has been vexatious for my mental state. My productivity levels are worse than ever. More time on my hands (and legs) have not resulted in getting anything else done other than spending it in front of the TV. Work has been distressing too. I am trying to keep my head occupied, trying

My ambitious head plans races before my legs can cope. My head is strong enough that I can convince myself to go out and train. But the body is still not strong enough to take the training. I need to build strength (Repeating it to myself, I need to build strength). I will focus on this for recovery and beyond. It is going to take a while but I know the consequences of not doing this now.

As usual, lots of plans for 2016 – a lot of changes required in training… I need to recover and get through 2015… but if I could get one more run before the end of the year, I would be the most jubilant person ever!

Running & Cycling – what else do I talk about?

First things first, I ran the Edinburgh HM at 2:12:33 (6.13 min / km) – four minutes slower than my target, but I was happy with the progress I had made the previous few months.

  • Ran my highest ever mileage month in April at 105 kms (followed by 90 kms in May)
  • Did a ton of 5k PBs which gradually moved up to 29:10 and also did my 10k PB during the HM at 1:00:20
  • Learnt how to pace myself and not run all out in the first 5k of a 20km run! The HM route was ideal to do that sub-1 hour 10k but I held myself back and reaped some benefits in the next 10 kms.
  • Worked on my leg strength which helped increase the cadence to 184 spm (more purple than blue on my garmin 🙂 ) and the stride length at 0.87m during the HM (both metrics better in shorter training runs – but happy I could got these for the HM distance)
Fenix_20150715_142537

Finishing the Edinburgh Half Marathon at 2:12:33

Other good stuff:

  • Track – leading up to the HM, focussing on the speed, I should have been doing some interval training but ignored this all the way. One my colleagues insisted I join a running club and do track sessions (structured interval sessions). I had heard / read the same from a few others and kept postponing and at last decided to give it a try last month. PhoenixTri were the only club that did their track sessions late enough in the day (8 pm) for me to join after work. I have been diligently going for these sessions for the past month but too early to see any results in my longer runs – actually, I haven’t been doing much longer runs (see below) and that’s the reason I am not seeing any results! But the third time I did the track session, I know I did it faster than the first time and I can say that’s all that matters (I am still getting used to the metrics / lingo and 200m, 400m and 800m lap times others talk about on the track – newbie alert 🙂 )
  • Cycling – this has been much ignored since I rode the Ronde / Flanders in April 2014. The winter cross-training consisted of 1-day spin class every week on Tue evenings. Little did I know that this would actually be useful 🙂 I have done a 45km ride, 65 km ride and a 75 km ride this year (80kms a couple of times and a 100km Cambridge ride were the farthest I have ever ridden in a day AFTER a season of training!) followed by a Duathlon (5km run, 21.2km bike and 2.5km run) and I have also ridden faster than I have ever ridden in my life (thanks to one of the PhoenixTri members who pushed me to use the bigger gear on the flats and downhills, basically taught me how to ride a bike with gears 😉 )
  • I have signed up for a 100km ride in August which goes up Leith hill and Barhatch lane – tough and steep (what was I thinking!) It’s a month away and I have a holiday in-between – I better get climbing!
Phoenix Tri 75km ride

75km club ride with Phoenix Tri

Surrey Sportive

65km Surrey Sportive

Now for the things that are not going so well:

  • I lost some of the running / exercising mojo in the month of June. I did only 32 kms running in the month and 2 strength training sessions. I haven’t hit the gym till date in July!
  • I did my June Yateley 10k run 3 days after the HM and did well with a time of 1:02:44. With fresher legs and better weather (with everyone I know bettering their times and PBs), I flunked badly at 1:05:18 for the July run on the same course 🙁
  • I haven’t run a sub 30 min 5k since my PB on 30 April! My cadence graph is only blue these days (the gym is staring at me saying you know what you are ignoring).

So to get back into training mode,

  • I have done four days of at least 5k runs this week – to be finished off by the 5th run tonight before the holiday begins tomorrow evening.
  • I have to – have to – have to better my time in the final Yateley 10k on 5th August.
  • Have a weekend riding plan of climbing and distance to accomplish in the next 4 weeks leading to the Surrey Sportive of 105 kms and 1150m of climbing on 16th August.
  • Force myself to get back into the gym and do some strength training at least once a week
  • Do the calf stretching routine at home every day – I really don’t want the injuries that are trying to show their nasty head
Eton Dorney Duathlon

Eton Dorney Duathlon

Yateley 10ks

Yateley 10ks – highly recommended!

And hopefully that will continue the training to achieve that sub 2 hour HM before the end of the year!

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