Finding the Limits

You may know already that I am doing a 5K charity run for NASS on October 2nd for a variety of  reasons, which I explained in my previous post Running Trax. As a sufferer of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) this adds an extra hurdle to jump, fighting with stiffness, pain and multiple muscle spasms. All of which have played a part in my training so far. One of the hardest problems so far is knowing my limits. Having lived with AS (in varying degrees) over the past 4.5 years, I have manage to become far more in tune with my body than I ever thought possible.  Even to the point where I can reasonably accurately predict from a niggle/ache, how long it will last, the likely intensity and what other areas will be effected as a result. This has helped me so far to manage my symptoms better by being one step ahead of the game. However training for the 5k run has presented me with new challenges, putting stresses on my body in which it is not used to. As you might imagine this unknown is adding to the difficulty and adversity in which I face. I still haven’t found my limits even though I’m almost half way through my training, but what I can tell you, is today I came a lot closer to finding it out.

My training so far:

Week 1: I was very conscience when I started my training of how easy it would be for me to over do it, exacerbating my symptoms, or worse, injuring myself an putting the whole thing at risk. So for my first run I decided to just ‘dip my toe in’ where I planned a nice flat 1 mile route. From a cardiovascular point of view, despite making that rookie error of running too quickly at the start, I was in pretty good shape, feeling pretty good. Even to the point where I felt I could do it again! However common sense prevailed and I left it at that. My second run of the week I decided to do the same route, but this time up the pace a little, with a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk interval run. In the second half of the run however I developed a pain in my hip, and spasm in the surrounding muscle. As I was towards the end of my run, and it wasn’t too painful to make me stop, I decided that I would run through it. After applying an ice pack to the area straight after my run it felt fine again within 10 mins and that was that. A good start I felt to my training.

Week 2: I decided that by increasing my distances each week by 1/2 mile at a time, this would give me a good gradual progression in my training schedule, meaning I would be at the 4 mile mark by the time of the 5k race (which is approx. 3.2 miles). So this is what I did. Starting with a 1.5mile run on the Sunday, and a 1.5mile interval run on the Wednesday. All went to plan as far as I was expecting, with the only thing to report is that on one of my runs (can’t remember which) I developed the same pain in my hip and surrounding muscles. It is now something I am keeping a very close eye on!

Week 3: Well as I mentioned my plan was to increase the distance by 1/2 mile. However I didn’t end up running at all this week. The main reason for this was my SI joint pain decided to rear its ugly head again, with my knee also joining in for kicks. The main problem with running when you have AS is the pressure and stress’ that are put on joints from the impact of running. With the knees and SI joints being two of the main joints affected. So I decided rather than risk hurting myself further I would rest until the pain settled. It did leave me feeling very guilty and slightly down about that fact I wasn’t able to run. Partly because I hate loosing/failing to complete my goals, and partly because it was the first time I had the thought that I might not be able to achieve something that in my head is very doable.

Week 4: This week is week 4 of training. In theory I should be running 2.5miles, but given as I missed last week I thought I would at least try and stay roughly on track by doing 2 miles instead. Given my week off resting this may not have been a smart decision. It was even less smart to run on an empty stomach. Isn’t hind sight such a wonderful thing! With no real fuel in my system to put in a good run it was a struggle, little to no energy in my legs made it increasingly hard to just move one foot in front of the other. My pace wasn’t great, and on top of that I had to stop for a short walk 3 times in total over the 2 miles. That’s quite a lot. These were however for various reasons. The first time was to rest my legs after the uphill part of my run. The second was to catch my breath after running too quickly on the downhill stretch. With the third time being to rest my increasingly painful ankle. Over the course of the day this has improved a lot so hopefully I haven’t done any lasting damage. However as the day progressed my ability to walk became impeded by the muscle spasms in my inner thigh and hip (yes the same hip). Hopefully this settles by tomorrow for my 10 hour shift at work, but I won’t hold my breath.

With aches and pains now pretty much everywhere, as well as a great sense of tiredness, I think I can safely say that today I took myself past my limit. I just hope that in the future weeks I can push the limit back a bit to around the 3.2mile mark. ;). I will endeavour to keep you all updated to my training progress. Please feel free to show your support for such a worthwhile charity if you haven’t already by sponsoring me via my Just Giving page. Thank you.

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