First stop for my preparations for the icy Cairngorms expedition was to see my physiotherapist, Gemma, who had helped me with some ankle rehab in 2020. I hadn’t mentioned, but I sprained my ankle pretty badly on a run one day without much warning, my ankle just felt tight for a minute and then.. “ping”. So I took a long break from running..
But, now is the moment to get back into it!
My first appointment with Gemma, before I even started training, was to check whether I had any imbalances to watch out for and to get some good ideas of exercises to do at home to minimise the chance of an injury. We didn’t find anything unusual, but as an overview:
• I’m tighter through my left arm as it’s my dominant arm but nothing to worry about and I have a shoulder exercise with a band to stretch and loosen that.
• My gluteus medius (part of the butt muscles) is a bit weak and so I can use an elasticated glute band stretched around my knees to provide some resistance to help that muscle strengthening.
• To ensure my ankles are strong and stable, I am going to be doing lots of balancing on one leg (now on a foam pad) and also split squats.
With around 140 days until my expedition, I will go through the couch to 5k plan to slowly build back all of the fine control and balance that I need as a firm foundation and I’ll do that alongside a broader exercise programme, working with Gemma on any niggles that pop up along the way.
Ideally, I will walk, run, swim, yoga and climb my way to fitness, and I better get started because winter is coming!
I really love swimming and I’ve not been for ages so I decided to head to my local pool to test out how I got on. I managed to get 62 lengths in before being kicked out of the pool early (over-zealous life guard misremembered the timetable), so I was happy that I can go back to swimming a mile at a time. They are kind of junk miles because I swim with my head out of the water but I can certainly get a decent amount of exercise this way!
The booking system is a total pain though, with a maximum of 12 people per lane but with members booking up slots and then dropping them at the last minute so it’s hard to set a routine!!
So I only managed to get two swim bookings for early October but I managed to swim 62 and 64 lengths. I also managed to recruit one of my best friends, Lance, as a gym buddy, which is a great motivation.
I also managed to fit in the first two weeks of the couch to 5k (C25K), some of the runs were solo, some with Lance, and one with another friend, Dan.
Week 1 involved running for 60 seconds then getting a 90 second walking recovery seven times, and Week 2 upped the running to 90 seconds and the walking recovery to 2 minutes. Both of those formats were well within my comfort zone and I managed to complete them all during daylight hours and in nice weather, on a mix of tarmac and grass. I actually prefer running on the road because I find that grass is too wonky and I have to concentrate on my feet too much.
I installed a widget on my phone to show a countdown. It feels a bit ominous sometimes but it’s pretty cool to track the progress I’m making as well as being conscious that I need to get a wriggle on!