Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Unplanned Rest….

on August 15, 2014

unplanned  adj. – Not intended; unintentional.

rest   n. – Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.

Unintended cessation of activity. Or, to a runner….injury!

And so last night I sat there in floods of tears, not due to the pain, but because I was missing a run.

My calf pain has been on and off for a week or so, nothing too intense, once I got running the pain eased. But yesterday I woke up and walking was an issue. I iced and rested it at work all day knowing I had a nice threshold session planned for the evening, and quietly hoped for the best.

When I hobbled out of work I knew it was time to admit defeat.

I got home and cried. This seems ridiculous now, the following morning, but at the time it was the worst thing ever. Everything rushing through my mind; 6 weeks til Berlin marathon, my long run at the weekend, the hundreds of miles I’d put in over the last 10 weeks, my goals, my fitness, the fuelling I’d done that day…I mean, really, just over 1 missed training session.

I advise people all the time on social media when they’re injured. Rest, cross train, rest, ice, do what you can, etc etc. yet there I was and my whole world had fallen apart!


With some calming words and a hug, I pulled myself together. I knew I had the option to cross train. Plans are flexible, right?! My control freak was still rocking back and forth in the corner.

On the advice of my coach, I dug out my swimming costume and headed for the pool.

My swimming history is sketchy. My parents attempted introducing me to the obligatory swimming lessons as a child but, much like the beginning of this story, I cried, a lot. They relented. We went home.

Pool of hard knocks … swimming with kids isn't all it's cracked up to be.

(not actually me)


I enjoyed splashing around in the fun pools and on holiday, and eventually learned a basic breaststroke. On a school trip to Wales we visited the local pool and I got singled out by the lifeguard for my lack of ability. I never had the badges on my costume and couldn’t join in the chats about having fetched a brick from the bottom of the pool in my pyjamas (a feat that, for some reason, so many seem to have accomplished). Despite all that I’ve always enjoyed the water and, throughout my twenties, have visited the local pool sporadically to hone my breaststroke, normally pausing after 15 or 20 lengths to catch my breath and watch the front crawlers with great amazement. The last time being maybe 8 or 9 months ago.

Anyway, I digress. I set myself up in the ‘medium’ speed lane (I like to think I’m pretty quick at this breaststroke malarkey) and set off. This seemed easier than normal. I was powering through the water with relative ease. 15 minutes later I’d done 20 lengths, and I definitely didn’t need to stop for breath. 30 minutes and I’d completed 40 lengths, 1km, my “normal” maximum, and I still hadn’t stopped. I was even keeping up with the front crawler in my lane. So I set my sights on completing a mile. Some basic maths (which is just as hard when swimming as it is when running) and I’d worked out I needed to complete 65 lengths in total. Only 25 to go, and I still hadn’t stopped, I even thought I might be speeding up.

In 45 minutes I completed 68 lengths of the pool, 1700m. I Googled it, this is no kind of record, but it was mine! And I didn’t stop once. In my own head I’d gone from zero to hero within the hour. My calf hadn’t been affected and my arms felt like I could lift a car!

When I got home and checked Twitter I read this fantastic blog post by Carys Matthews and it just felt like it was meant for me, what great timing, give it a read.

This story has a load of lessons. My calf isn’t much better today but I don’t feel half as helpless. My marathon training will suffer, but not as much as if I tried to run through the injury. And clearly my fitness has improved dramatically since the beginning of the year.

My plans will alter and my control freak will learn to control its tantrums.


I’ll rest tonight and see what tomorrow brings. And if I can’t run, I’ll swim.

And it’s solidified my decision to get some swimming lessons after the marathon and learn to crawl, then enter a beginner tri in 2015.

In conclusion, I need to chill the heck out, get a grip and follow my own advice sometimes!

Unplanned rest isn’t a drama, it’s an opportunity.


11 responses to “Unplanned Rest….

  1. Maite says:

    Hope you recover very quickly! And in the mean time, you seem to be doing exactly what you need to! Stay strong!!!! 🙂 xxx

  2. Excellent post. I’m dealing with a painful knot/tightness in my calf too. Very frustrating in the midst of NYCM training. So I can relate 100%. One thing that has been helpful is to wear a compression sleeve on the injured calf at night. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. Great post. I can definitely relate to the tears of an injury finally beating you and the thought of all your work so far going to waste!
    My swimming history is pretty similar to yours (I have also not retrieved a brick from the deep end whilst wearing pyjamas, but for some reason everyone else has!) but this summer I have been starting to learn the front crawl. Like you, I’d love to try a beginners’ tri at some pint in the near future.
    Hope your injury clears up soon, and good luck with your swimming 🙂

  4. alis_davidson says:

    That was me earlier this year. Unbeknownst to me at the time I had a calf strain. I kept my long runs, but cross trained the rest of the time. I still ran injured and it was a much slower time though. And I have the same history with swimming! Failed all my lessons and taught myself a clumsy breaststroke, but I can go for 2km without stopping!

    When I finally went to the physio he suggested full rest for a while (including no long walks) and then starting out with a half hour run with lots of stopping and stretching.
    Hope this opens some new doors for you!

    • Thank you. Hope you’re all recovered now? Definitely no running for me for a bit but I might make that 2km swimming target soon 🙂

      • alis_davidson says:

        No, I’m still stuck doing physio exercises. It’s a pain, but luckily I’m a marathon runner and used to spending 3-4 months working towards a single goal 😉

  5. barborkas says:

    I am rally sorry for the bump on your way to Berlin, but the swimming is great addition and you will not lose your fitness! Trust me, I couldn’t run for a month before my first marathon!!! Did lot od swimming, biking and some indoor rowing, but swimming was definitely my favorite. Feeling wise it is the closest a to what I feel when I run 🙂 You will rock Berlin!!!

    • Thanks Barb, you’re a star. I’m feeling a lot better for just doing something. The initial feeling of “why is my body so useless?!” has now been replaced with “ooh, look what I can do instead” so that’s nice. Also a change of attitude towards the race. It will be fun and I will rock it whatever happens. I hope all is well with you and your various marathons and races coming up 🙂

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