Marathon training- when you need to see an osteopath

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You may remember in an earlier post I had my sport massage therapist weigh in on when to seek out treatment.  Glenn at Blue Eye Osteo has kindly offered his advice too.  I was introduced to Glenn by Becca (From Snickers to Marathon and fellow Zero Calorie Advent Calendar founder).  He helped me a few year ago for some pains I was having.  Turned out I really needed my back stretched to realign my hips.  It made sense to reach out to Glenn for his views treatment during
marathon training.

For those that don't know (I hadn't heard of it before moving to UK), the NHS defines osteopathy as:

a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, 
stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.

With that in mind, here are Glen's views on when to seek complementary therapy during marathon training.

Pitt stop theory of when to have treatment.

My best analogy in deciding when to rest, have a massage / osteopathy or other treatment is to liken yourself to a car. 

The more miles you do, the more you’ll need a service.  So, think about how often a treatment would benefit you. If you are well when you go for a treatment and your osteopath or therapist finds little work that needs to be done, your frequency may be too often. However, if you turn up aching from head to toe, or worse, then you could do with making your trips more regular.

Certainly, if you develop symptoms, these are your ‘warning sign’ on your dashboard. Ignore them and they could shortly rectify on their own accord. But if they don’t, you risk causing problems with other components of your car - which have to compensate. 

Runners definitely have to think about biomechanics, particularly the 'kinetic chain’ comprising from the foot to the pelvis, if not lower back too. Any problem in the foot/ knee / hip / pelvis will have to be compensated for elsewhere. So, like tracking on a car, it’s worth ensuring that you are as structurally aligned as possible before embarking on any prolonged, intense form of training.

Massages are generally good for muscle health, working away lactic acid and soothing irritable high tension points that can occur. Osteopathy tends to be good for mobilising stiff joints, but a good osteopath should also work on the soft tissues (i.e. musculature too). An interesting point is that if a joint is stiff, the muscle has to work harder to create movement around that joint, which can lead to muscle fatigue if not injury.  Therefore, joint mobilisation can also have a knock-on benefit of helping muscles indirectly.

As an osteopath, I encounter runners of all kinds on almost a daily basis in my practice. I rarely use dry-needling (acupuncture commonly used by osteopaths, to differentiate from the traditional chinese medicine (TCM) approach of acupuncturists) unless I come across tight muscles that just won’t relax through osteopathy and / or massage. Of all my dry needling sites, the achilles is the most popular followed by the supraspinatus, a rotator cuff muscle at the top of the shoulders. 

A foam roller is useful for your ITB and other muscles, as well as mobilising the thoracic / mid part of your spine in particular. A tennis ball can also help: for example, laying face up with your left outer foot placed on the other bent (right) knee, roll over to the right to place the tennis ball in your left gluteus maximus / ‘buttock' and then lean across to the left slowly to get pressure in various tender points in the muscle. Work up to a maximum intensity of 7/10 ‘good pain’ (where 10 is agony) and hold for about 20-30 seconds, so called self-inhibition techniques.

So, good luck with your training and marathon(s). 

Whether you’d like a structural review, a simple relaxing or sports massage or you have a specific problem and need some osteopathic advice and treatment, I’d love to help you out!

Big thanks to Glen for these great tips.  If you have ever seen an osteopath, leave a comment below with what your injury was and how you felt after treatment.

Marathon training update: 2 weeks until my marathon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring time means runny nose and
coughing when I run. Ugh.
Why hello there!  I must apologize for my recent absence on the blog.  It is really disappointing, as I felt I started off 2015 strong with several posts each week.  However, as my marathon training has ramped up, my time at the keyboard as decreased.  It is part of my charm that I over commit myself and take on too much, and these last few months have been no exception.

Pattie helped me start strong on my 20 miler.
Pretty horses in London along my local route.
This is  my first time training for a marathon, and although I knew training would take up a lot of time, I don't think I really knew.  I give so much credit to each and every person out there who has run multiple marathons (or longer races).  Sure, I am married and have a dog (both of which take up a lot of time) but I can't imagine adding in children and a long commute on top of it.  Without my husband's support, there is no way my training would be on track.  I have only missed 4 or 5 of my training runs to date after starting back in December (25 weeks total to avoid PF and Achilles tendiniitis flare ups) and I am really proud of myself.  I often start new projects and not finish them, but I feel I am right on track with this race.  My last few long runs have involved lots of stops due to pain in my right hip and poor fueling strategy (hoping to perfect it this week- any suggestions?).  Initially, my goal was to finish in 5.5 hours (as it takes me about 2 hours for a half).  I am happy to say that training properly means my pace is now 9-10 min/mile.  Therefore, I have adjusted my goal and now hope to finish in 4.5 hours.  It will be a PB either way :)

Had to get some miles in while in Dublin. (And I swear
I own more than 1 running shirt)
Please feel free to support my first attempt at a marathon by making a monetary donation to support Quentin.  He is an 8 year old child with Downs Syndrome living in a Chinese orphanage.  We are at 37% of our goal for him.  With 100%, he will be able to find a forever home a bit faster. Any amount you can give will help him.

Niggles mean more stretching and foam rolling.
Nearly there!
On top of marathon training, I am continuing to write for H2 Life Blog and Bospasa (please check out these awesome sites).  My husband and I have bought a flat and are moving to Forest Gate in East London (train with me by booking a session through PTFindr).  We had a little trip to Dublin, Belturbet, and Dundalk, Ireland last week.  Finally, my day job has been super busy too with a few important deadlines.  Spring has now arrived though and things are looking fab in all the glorious sunshine.

Yes, lots going on and my marathon training is helping relieve some of the stress.  My long runs are more relaxing now that I am listening to Harry Potter audio books and no EDM.  Sports massages are becoming more routine to help with the niggles and if I have time, I add on a back massage too.  I wouldn't say I love running after all this, but never in my life would I have ever referred to a 5 mile run as 'short' until now.

Don't you worry as I will be back in full force once my race is over in just 14 short days.  I have an entire day in Prague set aside to develop useful content for you. (as I cannot do too much walking the day before the race).  Leave a comment below if there is anything you'd like to know more about and I will see what I can do.

Have a wonderful week!

Family photo after Easter pub lunch. Couldn't do it without them!

LV= Healthy Cooking Tips

Monday, April 6, 2015

Set up for some hungry bloggers
This last year I have learned how much food, especially home-cooked food, can play an important role in your health.  For my regular visitors, this might sound a bit repetitive, but I really do feel differently when I am cooking all of my meals without sugar, grains, or alcohol (check out Whole30 posts to read about my experiences or visit  And by different, I mean better.

For some people, the first step to being healthy will be to start cooking at home rather than eating out and relying on takeaways.  Joe Blogs was kind enough to invite me along to a a Healthy Cooking evening hosted by Liverpool Victoria.  They try to share good news on their Love Life page (they even have a post about our evening of healthy cooking). We were treated to a few Asian dishes by Chef Stu at Ann's Smart School of Cookery near Tower Bridge.

Chef Stu with his pastry knife
Here are a few tips and tricks Chef Stu shared with us to get you started on cooking.  (Come on, use the kitchen for more than storage).
  • Rapeseed oil is best for cooking.  (Use olive oil for post-cooking flavoring.  Heating it up makes it carcinogenic)
  • To avoid crying when chopping onions, breath through your mouth, not nose.
  • An easy way to cook rice is in the oven! Place rice in a pan, sprinkle with rapeseed oil,  salt, and boiling water. Cover with a catoush and cook for 20 minutes.
  • For newbie chefs, the best things to have on hand are chilis and fresh herbs.
  • Freeze those chilis because it makes them easy to grate to use in recipes.  
  • Ginger is another great thing to keep in the freezer for grating.
  • Sea salt is better to cook with than rock salt because rock salt doesn't dissolve at the right temperature.
  • Add rapeseed oil to your food rather
     than the pan when cooking.

  • Best knife to have in your drawer is a Victorinox 10 inch pastry knife (see affiliate link at bottom of page to order yours today).
  • Heat your pan first, then add the rapeseed oil to the food you are cooking rather than the pan to prevent the food from 'boiling' in the oil.
Chef Stu treated us to lime and curry cured courgette at the beginning of the evening.  It was refreshingly light and tasty- perfect for a springtime BBQ.  

Lucky you- here is the recipe to try it yourself!

Lime and curry cured courgette

Lime and chili cured courgette

Ribbon courgette with a veg peeler and marinade for 3 mins in:-
Juice of 3 limes
1 tsp chopped chilli
1 tsp grated ginger-optional
1 tsp pasted garlic


What other healthy cooking tips do you have to share?  Comment below with your favorites.

TOGORUN and London Air Ambulance- Saving lives, but need your help too

Monday, March 30, 2015

Last Tuesday night, I was invited to a fundraiser for London Air Ambulance. Hosted by TOGORUN, I enjoyed wild caught salmon and Alaskan king crab while learning about all the amazing services London Air Ambulance offers:
  • Average response time is 6 minutes
  • Provide donor blood at the accident scene
  • Deliver emergency anesthesia
  • Perform open heart surgery to restart the heart (important in stab wound victims)
  • Offer a lifesaving procedure, called reboa, which places a balloon structure into bottom end of aorta to prevent bleeding out (important for people crushed by lorries or who have fallen from heights). London Air Ambulance is the only place in the world to do this!
I lived in Alaska summer of 2007
and this dish took me back to Seward.
The most shocking news I learned this evening is that there is only 1 helicopter available. When you consider how much traffic there is in London, and how much it queues after an accident, it seems impractical to not have some redundancy in place. The air ambulance fleet does have cars available, however, as the helicopters do not fly at night. But recently, the helicopter was in repair for a few weeks which meant less people could be helped.

Pretty ice sculpture that
was also an ice luge.
As a London cyclist, I am grateful London Air Ambulance exists and (touch wood) I hope I never have to rely on their services. With an average of 10 million people in London daily, it only makes sense that a second helicopter is added to their fleet. In the 25 years of service, over 32,000 patients have been treated by London Air Ambulance. Would you want to be the accident victim that couldn't be helped because the helicopter was in the shop or helping someone else?

TOGORUN is named after
husky who helped bring
medical supplies to a small
village in Alaska.
Can you imagine the impact Londoners can make if we each donated £1, £5, or £10? Multiply that by 10 million and the altruistic gesture will have an immense ripple effect on all the people London Air Ambulance will be able to treat.

Come on, get involved by:
​Thanks to TOGORUN for inviting me to the event and introducing me to the medics of London Air Ambulance. Another helicopter will cost £6,000,000 and the fund is half way there at £3,654,799. I hope we see those figures increase soon. Get involved London!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of TogoRun.

Quickie Workout #131

Sunday, March 22, 2015

As usual, remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up- 1 min skip rope, 1 min leaping/bounding, 1 min jumping forward on both feet
1 min- Chest press laying on a bench 
1 min- Pullover- arms extended over head holding 1 weight. Pivot at shoulders to bring hands above chest.
1 min- Pec fly 
1 min- Bulgarian squats left leg
1 min- Bulgarian squats right leg
1 min- Push/press ups on bench
1 min- Leg lifts
1 min- Toe touches
1 min- Mountain climbers
1 min- Spider-Man crunches
1 min- Hip raises
1 min- Clams left leg
1 min- Clams right leg

Ashmei Ambassador Day 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Last weekend was pretty awesome.  I spent much of it running with like-minded people and exploring new neighborhoods.  Oh, and I got my photo taken with Mo Farah (but more on that later).

Last year, I met Stuart and his Airstream at the Dorney Lake Duathlon. He had me at merino really, but I wasn't in a position to invest in new kit just yet.  When I heard Ashemi was looking for new ambassadors, I was keen to get involved.

Saturday I visited Aldbury, Herts for the first time.  Toto, I wasn't in London anymore.  I was surrounded by green fields, a small village, and an Airstream campervan at the Ashmei Headquarters.  It is a very cool open space in a converted barn.  Plus it was full of bicycles, running kit, and Ashmei clothes of course.

My new socks!
On the way up, I met up with The Fit Advisor, Helena, on the train.  It was fun to meet another fitness-minded individual who was up for new challenges and sporty activities.  We weren't sure what to expect at the ambassador day but were excited to meet some new people and see what Ashmei was all about.

Matt, the Bald Runner, picked us up at the train station and drove us the embarrassingly short distance to Ashmei.  We noticed a guy (who ended up being named Guy) was running from the train station and he arrived at the same time as we overshot the driveway.

The Fit Advisor's selfie above the salt mine
We were welcomed by fruit, pastries, mounds of Ferrero Rocher, and reps from Freestak and Ashemi.  Stuart, the founder and designer of Ashmei, took us through their innovative technology and signature design points.  He aims for performance over everything, followed by quality and style.  Although the price point is a bit higher than other brands, Ashmei is worth every penny.  Long time readers of this blog know I am a big fan of merino wool.  Ashmei uses merino in their clothing with a unique feature of added carbon to help the clothes dry faster, regulate your body temperature, and avoid post-workout stink.  Stuart generously gifted each of us a pair of socks to try out on the physical bit of the day.

We were supposed to make a funny face.
Attendees were divided into a running or cycling group for an hour long excursion around the local area.  I headed out with about 20 others on a scenic run along trails, up hills, alongside a 16 mile trail race, and passed a salt mine.  It was fun to run in a new place (the views were incredible but I left my phone with my bag) with so many friendly people who just love to run.  I tried to talk to as many people in the group as possible, hoping to get some good marathon training tips and suggestions on places to run throughout the UK.

We ran just over 5 miles at a nice social pace (see my Strava feed for the route). The energy in the air was electric.  We watched out for each other when we got spread out along narrow bits of the trail, and stepped to the side to cheer on the runners in the trail race.  No ego.  No competition.  Just fresh air, mud, and a love of running.

Back at the HQ, we didn't have to wait long for the cyclists to return.  We ate more, talked more and then packed up.  It would have been a lot of fun to head to the pub as I didn't get much of a chance to talk to the cyclists, but I think I could done a bit more networking.  (Lesson learned for next time!) It was overwhelming in a way as I didn't know anyone and many of the other athletes were ultrarunners, on Team GB for triathlons, etc.  Talk about being out of my league!

On the way home, I chatted with a bunch of other candidates and I have since started following most of them on social media.  I am grateful to have connected with my new friends and look forward to running with them again soon along a new trail.

Group shot in the cold. Woop!

Check out a short video of our run, filmed and edited by James MacKeddie, of Running Without Fear.  This is proof I need to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings to pick my heels up off the ground.

Big thank you to Freestak and Ashmei for inviting me up for the day and considering me as a potential ambassador.  Hope to hear from you soon ;)

Giveaway: Longhorn Trail Run Entry

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Longhorn is a trail run (not cross country though) along on old military roads, forest tracks & some grass through ancient & private parts of Sherwood Forest.  There are 10K, half marathon and marathon routes so the winner can choose the distance they would like to complete.

The Longhorn will have the following:
  • Trail Runners Association permit
  • 10k run race
  • 1/2 marathon run race
  • Marathon run race
  • Chip timing
  • Regular water stations around the course
  • Route fully marshalled and signposted
  • Distance markers
  • Bespoke race finishers medal
  • Prizes for fastest man, woman and veteran (aged 35+)
  • Race photographer
  • Sports Therapist for post race massage
  • Full medical provision
  • Ideal for novice through to elite
  • Race village with food and beverages for sale.
  • Free onsight parking-please car share to save our environment.

The race takes place on 19th April on the grounds of Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire (NG22 9WH).  Check your diary and if you can make it, enter below!  Bonus entry if you leave a comment below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entries close on 21 March at midnight.  One winner will be chosen by random and contacted by email.

Thanks to SBR Events for offering this awesome prize to my readers.  Please like their Facebook page.