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Entries in colds (4)


Running all over

Having posted that I was back on the run and loving it, I had a couple more weeks of enjoying it before I got struck down by my first cold of Winter. I had a lovely run with Clarkie in Worcester first - we did the Worcester City 10k together, running on behalf of the Worcester Association of Carers, the charity that our friend Carole works for. Clarkie was desperate to run a sub-1 hour 10k for the first time, and I thought I could probably run her to that quite comfortably. 

Turns out I was right. That was us near the finish (photo from WAC), and I had a really lovely run. It started out misty, but the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day. Clarkie got her sub-hour, with 57:39. (The slightly odd lump under my shirt is my SPI belt with my inhaler - not that I needed it, but you never know.)

I then got sick. Took 2 weeks to clear it, including 3 days off work with a lot of sleeping. This was a bit of a bugger, frankly. Talk about extreme tapering. I was well enough for the half I was targetting at Blenheim palace, but woefully undercooked miles-wise. Still. Not the first time. 

My day running around Blenheim also started foggy. I had to rescue one of the tops I was going to donate to start the run in, because it was cold and damp. Again, the sun came out during the run, and I ended up running through the beautiful grounds of the palace and beyond on a cracking day. This was not a flat run - nothing extreme, but constant ups and downs. I also goofed with my food. I had a Nature Valley bar to eat beforehand, but decided not to. Of course, I got hungry within a couple of miles of the start. Fortunately Clarkie had donated one of her gels, so I started that at 3 miles and made it last right through. By 11 miles I was knackered, but I kept running anyway. The finish of the run is uphill, with Blenheim Palace laid out behind it. My legs felt absolutely empty, but I was not walking at that point. Finished in a personal best of 2:03:20, but I was a smidge irritated not to get under 2 hours. 

Sadly, my right achilles was really not happy with my efforts. It still hasn't quite eased up, if I'm honest. I ignored it and went to taekwondo anyway, but my star jumps were quite flat-footed. I gave myself the week off. Then (naturally) I got another cold. This one has been more of a slow burn than the previous, but even Clarkie has succumbed now which is most unusual. So fingers crossed I'll be up and running (short distances, slowly) soon. I'm signed up for Bath in March, and I'm definitely targetting sub-2 on that one. I know exactly how flat it is! 


Marathon training, take 3

It has begun. My third and (please let it be so) final attempt on the marathon. 

This time I am following a training plan that appears, at least, to match the kind of running I've been doing over the summer. It consists of three runs per week (plus two sessions of cross training - or, as I like to call it, cycling to work), so I know I can fit that in. I found it on Runner's World. Basically you run an interval session, a tempo run and a long run per week, at paces calculated off your best recent 10k. For me, that was 8:19 min/mile pace - I won't list out all the other paces calculated off that, but my long runs should be around 9:20 - 9:35. 

I'm through two weeks now, and have surprised myself by struggling to go slow enough. My long runs of 10.5 and 12 miles have both come in around 9:10 pace. That might be helped by the first two miles being downhill it does seem that my trot pace is somewhere between 9:05 and 9:20. If I can keep that going I will be over the moon. 

The only snag is that it's cold season, and yesterday and today I have been feeling a little coldy. That is a fact of life at this time of year in the UK, even with the good weather we've had. I don't see any way around it - it's just not practical to lock both of us in the house and have some weird plague-style system for the Ocado delivery man. It may have been slightly fool-hardy to agree to teach first year undergraduates this term, but needs must. As ever, I have my best current cold-fighting plans in place:

  • Liberal use of the various medicines at my disposal. So my nasal spray that I used to think was only for hayfever? Now any time my sinuses feel bad, I'm using that stuff. I'll keep taking my anti-histamine all year round. My asthma inhaler seems to be helping my general cold resistance anyway, and I'll be taking decongestants as soon as I feel a hint of congestion.
  • Vitamin C and zinc tablets. Yeah, I know the vitamin C has had very mixed results in experiments, but Boots make a zinc and vit C tablet and it doesn't seem to do any harm. It's the zinc that's been shown to speed the time to kick the cold, and at the hint of feeling unwell I'm doubling my dose. It's still well under overdose levels, so I just take a tablet in the morning and one in the evening, rather than just one in the morning. 
  • I'm also going to be using my neti pot twice a day as often as I can. If nothing else at least it keeps the snot moving. If things start to go bad I'm going to be adding honey to the mix - yes, honey. The research is not comprehensive, I'm not using expensive honey, but I will say that having had a couple of nasty lumpy sinus infections (yum) when I started adding honey to the neti pot was when the lumps went away. Even if it's a placebo effect I will take it! 
  • I'm going to drink a lot of water/green tea. Although not as much as in the summer - it had a rather unpleasant side-effect when mixed with a high-fibre breakfast.
  • I will be napping and sleeping as long as I can, as often as I can. Saturday was a prime example. I was a teensy bit hung over after a lab social, and Clarkie very kindly let me have an extra hour sleeping in the morning. I then did my 12 miles, came home, ate, and fell asleep for another half hour before we went out. 
  • Where necessary, I will try and at least do an easy run, even if I don't feel up to the full scheduled work out. Some miles are better than no miles. 
I'm fighting to stay well. I'm faster than I've ever been. I'm in better shape with a better base running mileage than I've ever had going into marathon training. I am desperately hoping for sub 5 hours, and there's a hint of a suggestion of maybe getting under 4:30 at my current pace - but there are so many stages where this whole thing can go wrong, I'm just going to take it as it comes and see what I can do. Fingers crossed!


On the make

Happy Christmas everyone! Yeah, I'm a bit late. I got another cold, a pretty good one this time. So I've been mostly sitting around coughing and feeling a bit sorry for myself. I think I managed to not totally irritate everyone on Christmas Day though, and I had a large portion of turkey, managed several pigs in blankets, and some very crunchy roast potatoes amongst other good things, and if that doesn't set a person on the road to recovery I don't know what will. 

(Actually, I honestly don't know what will. Colds, huh?)

I got a large amount of black wool from Clarkie, which I will get hours of fun from as I intend to make Veronik Avery's Military Cardigan, from Knitting Vintage Style. I was very good though, and didn't start it immediately. I still have another jumper on the needles. My other knitting-related present was Barbara Walker's Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I suspected I might be getting something along these lines, so I had taken a couple of balls of scrap yarn and some needles. Just in case. (And a half-finished sock. Can't be too careful.) So I happily spent the afternoon exploring mosaic knitting. (I'm still not sure how it works, but I believe it does now. I wasn't sure before I tried it.) There is a lot more fun to be had from these books...

One of the biggest tell-tales for how ill I am is that when I'm home all day I sit and do nothing. I mean nothing. I barely even knit. It's very sad. So it was some relief to discover that yesterday I actually had enough energy and will to bust out the sewing machine. We've been and redecorated our bedroom (I should blog that, huh?) and in the course of doing so completely removed all of the stuff. Putting it all back seemed like a good opportunity to go through things and thin a little. I found a pair of trousers that I like but needed hemming, and the red hippo skirt I made last year that now falls off me. So ostensibly I started out yesterday just hemming and taking in. Easy. 

The other part of the thinning and tidying is that I've been discovering certain objects that have no home, or an inadequate one. I've made a list, and now I'm trying to solve them. While the sewing machine was already out, I thought I'd tidy up a project I started a while back to store my earrings (why does this feel like possibly the girliest post I've ever made?!). 

It's a variation on an idea found on this blog post. I found it by googling, and honestly, there's a lot of fun to be had googling storage solutions. Some of Martha Stewart's are fascinating (if you have a palace). In the blogpost, she uses a piece of felt inside another, with the earrings pushed through the inner piece. I liked the idea, but didn't have any felt large enough. I did have an offcut of a wool blanket (most of it is inside a quilt), which being woven looked like it would work brilliantly. So I used that, and some more of my upholstery fabric stash for the outer. 

Earring holder Earring holder

Earring holder Earring holder

I haven't bothered with a proper closure, as this is only going to sit in my drawer. But it works a treat! The hoops are on pins. I don't often wear my dangly earrings, but now I can see what I have in one place and that makes it easier. As a result, I remembered and wore my Mickey Mouse earrings at Christmas. I can see improvements could be made to this - a stiffer case might be nice, a way to hang it up would be useful - but it's much better than the small pot and various boxes I had before. 

Then I still had the sewing machine out, Clarkie was still at work... I decided to deal with the belts. My belts have never had a home. They eventually sort of lived on the top of a chest of drawers, but we're not putting that back in the bedroom so they are homeless again. I googled again. I only have four belts, one of which doesn't have a traditional buckle, and this time I drew a bit of a blank. So I've improvised, and created a set of hanging, front-loading pockets that tie onto a hanger. Not clear? Try a photo. 

Hanging belt storage Hanging belt storage

(Yes, it's the hippo fabric again. I still have loads left.)

It's pretty straightforward. A long strip of fabric, hemmed (I cheated and used the selvedge - it's not going to be seen), folded in half longways and a line of stitching at various points to make the pockets. I made the ties, but ribbon would have been easier and possibly prettier. It holds my belts, hides in the wardrobe, and job's a good'un. 

I'm nearly well enough to try running again. In the meantime, wonder what I can make today?


Let battle commence

I think I fooled a few people with the title of my last post. I'm sorry to everyone who clicked on it assuming I would actually be talking about boots! 

I said at the end of that post that I'd be trying to keep up the cycling and running as long as I don't get too many colds. Now, whilst I know that a good chunk of cold-getting is down to luck and who I bump into at the wrong time, I still believe there are things I can do to make myself stronger and cope better with them. I try different things most years, if I'm honest. Last year I was going with pro-biotics, multi-vitamins, echinacea, and occasionally andrographis. I can't say it was entirely successful, what with getting the worst chest infection I've ever had. 

So this year, I'm modifying my approach. I've done some more reading around (not talking peer-reviewed journals, maybe next year), and this year I will be taking vitamin c and zinc tablets (vitamin c is apparently useless for a cold, but zinc is shown to have some affect at reducing the number of colds and the duration of the colds apparently).

I'm also attempting to keep the snot/phlegm/gunk moving at all times, to attempt to avoid any bacterial buildup. For that I've started using nasel irrigation (or a neti pot). I'm surprised by how much clearer my nose feels and it doesn't hurt at all, but it is a little gross. The charmingly-named Booger Doctor has a whole series of success stories with sinusitis and nasel irrigation, and he recommends adding honey as a natural antibiotic. Again, sounds revolting, but actually feels ok. There has been a bit of a scare after a couple of people in Louisiana and one in Pakistan died after using a neti pot, but the suggestion seems to be to use boiled water. I figure it's relatively risk free, doesn't cost a lot, and worth a go. 

The exercise itself is part of the plan actually. Again, it's mostly hearsay, but people say that if you get to quite high level of exercise (like around 10 hours per week) you don't seem to get as sick. Since that tallies with some of my personal goals, I figure it's worth a shot (but I'd be doing it anyway, this is just extra motivation). 

The last thing I'm trying is probably the most weird. Again, it's an effort to get rid of the bacteria before they get dug in. It's called "oil pulling" - basically you spend 10 minutes swishing a tablespoon of sunflower oil around your mouth. Apparently that traps the bacteria, and then you spit it (and them) out. Again, sounds implausible, but some studies have shown a reduction in Streptococcus Mutens (??) and it doesn't cost a lot or take much effort, so I'm giving it a go. 

All of this is also being done along side taking my normal asthma medication. I've also decided to stick with the pro-biotic - my stomach seems to be upset by colds (and very upset by anti-biotics), and honestly the pro-biotic does seem to help. I don't really care if it's a placebo effect or not if I feel better and don't throw up, so I'm going with it. I have read a study that did show some kind of positive effect, which some people have discredited because it was paid for by Yakult.

I've already had my first 2-week cold of the season, which is what kicked me into reading more about it. I know I'll still get colds, but maybe, just maybe, they won't be quite as bad. We'll see. Oh, and when I get one? I'll still be taking the decongestants.