The virus turned quite fluey and I ended up spending a few days in bed. I was still working, for some reason that I’m not really sure of in retrospect, but a couple of days were working from bed.
I feel better now except that I’m still coughing a lot and sometimes bringing things up (how pleasant), but other than that I’m ok.
I went for a run today for the first time since being ill. It wasn’t great. I have a half marathon in three weeks and I’m quite a way behind where I wanted to be. I did a 95 minute run two weeks ago and 90 minutes the week before, but I’ve missed two long runs with being unwell. I really wanted to have done a couple of two hour runs before the day but I can’t see that happening really. But it’s not really a ‘target’ half because it’s far too hilly to go for a good time and I was really intending just using it as a tune up for an actual target half in April. So it’s not the end of the world but I think it’ll be tougher than I wanted it to be. At least I have a good base to build up for April.
I picked up my sister’s cold after all. I started with a sore throat and slight headache last Wednesday and a cough that’s been getting gradually worse, but I wasn’t really very affected until Monday when I started feeling pretty rough. Tuesday brings a new symptom of diarrhea, oh joy! And my cough is really hurting my throat as of today. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s COVID but I don’t have any tests and it doesn’t really make any difference either way.
I think mum has also contracted it (she’s being cagey which means she knows she’s ill but doesn’t want to admit it) but she’s a couple of days behind me. The good news is my sister seems to be feeling better now.
Hopefully today is the worst day… But I keep saying that…
It used to be that having a Christmas break meant staying in bed and chilling a lot, but since we got Monty holidays are busier and more tiring than work days. My general feeling is that dogs don’t live long lives (compared to humans) and I want him to enjoy the time he has as much as possible, and if that means having no free time then it means having no free time.
So Christmas has been busy. But also fun. I bought my mum a custom mug that says “Monty’s Grandma” with a picture of him printed on the side. That made her laugh. I bought my sister an aurora light projector, which was kind of a “I have no idea what to give you” present but she seems to love it. Mum gave me a pair of Shokz bone conduction headphones for running, which are nice and useful.
Anyway, my sister thinks she has a cold today so I get to play the exciting lottery of am I going to catch it? I haven’t had a respiratory infection for almost three years now (the last one was probably COVID, the week before the UK went into lockdown) and I feel nonplussed by the prospect of breaking that streak. Working from home is a blessing in that regard; I remember in my previous job I once had a six week period where I caught three colds.
A few weeks back I had three or four days in a row when my heart rate was elevated and my stress levels high for no obvious reason, so I’m hoping that was my body fighting off whatever my sister has caught and now I’m immune… But we’ll see.
I ended up with yet another stomach upset last week and spent a little while feeling sorry for myself. I struggled with Parkrun last Saturday and was surprised to see my heart rate went up to 193 bpm, which is at least 6 bpm higher than I knew it could go. I should have suspected something then, but in the evening I went to bed blissfully unaware that a few hours later I’d wake up feeling very uncomfortable and spend the next 30 minutes sat on the toilet sweating and feeling sick. Then it seems to take a good week to properly settle down again and feel normal.
I seem to get a lot of stomach upsets and I don’t know why. I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong because I’ve had all the cameras pushed inside me (not fun!) and they didn’t find anything.
I’ve tried super bland diets and I’m not sure it helps. I have a strengthening suspicion that it’s a muscular problem. For years on and off I’ve had problems with the lower left side of my abdomen. I never really worked out exactly what it is; maybe hip flexors, maybe adductors. I think the answer might actually be that it’s both. It gets worse with fast running. But lately it does seem to coincide with these stomach upsets. And it makes sense that the deep hip flexor muscles could compress the intestines. So I decided I’d really try to sort it out or make a physio appointment if I can’t.
I’ve been doing a hip flexor stretch for a few minutes a day. The best one for me is to lie on my back with a foam roller under my bottom and to pull the other knee towards my chest (like this: https://www.postureandcorepilates.com.au/2018/11/20/supine-hip-flexor-stretch/), which does seem to stretch out the front of the hip better than lunge variations (at least for me). And I’ve also been doing reverse crunches to build some more strength in my very lower abdominal muscles, which should resist the hip flexors a bit better.
After doing this for a week or so, I feel a lot less discomfort overall, and my legs feel a lot springier when I’m running. So that’s promising. Whether it’ll stop these episodes of digestive problems remains to be seen.
It turns out that my iron levels are fine. Haemoglobin is 139 g/L and serum ferritin is 74 ng/mL. The haemoglobin reading is subject to ‘sports anaemia’ which is when your haemoglobin concentration reading is a bit lower because you really have more plasma, not because you actually have less haemoglobin. Or something. There is a lot of disagreement about what a low ferritin level is, some people say 10-15, some 20, some people say that under 50 is going to impact athletic performance. But 74 is good. That’s the highest it’s ever been on a blood test.
So really, I have no excuse for my rubbish running performance lately. Since I started running after work my average easy paces have improved though. Then last week on Parkrun I ran 21:15 and this week I ran 20:55, which is a post-lockdown PB and the first time post-lockdown I’ve gone sub 21. I pretty much just threw myself at it straight from the start. I usually try to run even or negative splits but sometimes I think you just need to go out faster than comfortable and then just try to hang on when it starts getting tough. Then next week you’ll probably be able to go a bit longer before you start questioning all your life choices that led you up to the point of wanting to die somewhere in the third kilometre of a 5km run. It also helps to have a running nemesis who is slightly faster than you. Next step: sub 20?
I have to be a little bit careful with this though because I spent all of Tuesday last week feeling slightly tired, slightly irritable and slightly hungry and I’m pretty sure it was just from running a bit further and a bit faster than usual last weekend and Monday.
So I think the reason I was feeling tired before was actually just because I have a crazy adolescent dog.
I started running after work this week and it actually does feel a lot better! I’m running faster and further with what feels like the same effort. And I don’t know if it’s because of not running in the morning or because I’ve been taking iron for about 3 weeks now, but I’ve been feeling a lot less tired this week, particularly in the afternoons. I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for work then I’d have been having frequent post lunch naps for a few months now.
So I’m pleased about this and I’m hoping that my Parkrun times start moving in the right direction… It was a bit underwhelming today, but it was quite hot this morning and I really, really wasn’t feeling it when I started my warm up before hand.
I’ve also been reading up more on iron. The problem with iron isn’t eating it, it’s absorbing it. I already knew that things like tea, coffee, dairy, etc lower absorption. I was also vaguely aware that running is bad for iron levels because the physical impact destroys red blood cells. But what I didn’t know was that workouts cause the release of something called hepcidin, which lowers iron absorption. The hepcidin levels are highest around 3-6 hours after a workout. So on top of dietary iron blockers, you also have to time iron intake around this.
Anyway I have my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday so hopefully I’ll get a blood test to see exactly what my iron levels are.
Despite my lacklustre half marathon performance on Sunday and my suspicion that I might need to take some time off for my hip, I ran down to the doctors yesterday to enquire about my blood test. It turns out that blood test forms expire after 3 months, so the one I had from last August was definitely out. So I have booked a GP appointment (again!) in a couple of weeks and I’ll see about getting another one, and actually having it done this time. Of course by the time it happens I’ll have been on iron tablets for four weeks, but I’ll just have to tell them that when they interpret the results.
So overall, going into the surgery worked a lot better than trying to phone them up. A few years ago I booked a lot of appointments over a period of about 12 months, and usually I would just do it at work by disappearing into the corridor for a couple of minutes. Or I could use the online booking… which is now disabled “because of COVID” (?????). Whereas now it’s at least 30 minutes on hold. I could understand if they had a GP shortage and couldn’t provide enough appointments, because a GP shortage is a hard problem to solve. But I am pretty sure that a shortage of people to answer the phones is not a hard problem to solve. This has been going on for a couple of years now, and every so often the local newspaper picks up on it and prints a scathing article… and nothing changes.
Anyway the running was OK. I was achy but that’s hardly surprising. Then today I went out again and did a 10km tempo, which was neither terrible nor great. My pace was a bit faster than the HM on Sunday, and it was really hot and I’m probably not recovered from Sunday yet, so overall it wasn’t bad, but my energy levels dipped quite a lot around the 8km mark.
I’ve been off work this week so I’ve been entertaining Monty. I took him to the town centre on Tuesday and sat in the square with a drink while he watched everyone walk past. Today we went into a dog friendly cafe and had a drink. He was quite stressed, or maybe just really excited. He was whimpering a bit to start with so I had him sat in my lap and I could feel him panting heavily almost the whole time. It’s funny how he’s so confident and boisterous in his comfort zone, but as soon as you put him in a new situation he’s quite timid. Before we got him, I had no idea dogs could be so expressive with the sounds they make.
It turned out that 1:40 wasn’t realistic, and I came in with 1:47. There were some tough hills and my hip started tightening up on the first one, so it wasn’t ideal. But I mostly enjoyed it and I’m not too bothered about the time.
…but the time is a bit of a wake up call that I’m a lot slower than I was a few years ago. 3 years ago I ran a very similar course in 1:32 on roughly the same weekly mileage in training. Plus I did 1:53 on an even harder course last year with virtually no training (which was horrible, but that’s beside the point). So what’s going on here?
I’ve been thinking about it and there is a big difference in now versus then. I used to run most of my miles straight after getting home from work, whereas now I do it first thing in the morning before breakfast. I find running first thing tough and I struggle to hit paces on workout runs that I can hold easily a few hours later in the day. I think this is why my muscles today feel wrecked. Even though I’m putting in the physical effort, my muscles just aren’t being made to work that fast in training runs and they’re not used to going through as wide a range of motion. So I’m going to go back to running later. Something tells me I won’t miss dragging myself round the park at 7AM.
There’s also the issue of iron levels but unfortunately my local GP practice is no longer set up to let people access healthcare 😕 I have a blood test form from last August but I don’t know if 1) it’s still valid, 2) I can still get it done walk-in at the hospital like I used to (I don’t think I still can because of COVID), and if not it means I need an appointment at my GP, which means spending 40+ minutes waiting in a queue on the phone… which I need to do anyway to ask. Actually I’ll probably spend that 40 minutes walking there and back to ask in person. At least that’s more enjoyable than sitting on hold.
I haven’t written here for too long. It’s the usual update – dog takes up all my time and energy, when he’s asleep I go to sleep too. Well, sometimes.
I’ve had the week off this week and have been spending a lot of time with him. He is amazing and I love him. He’s also a total pain who wants to run around and jump at me all the time, and my hands are covered in little scratches and tooth marks, but that’s OK and we’re working on it. He’s such a lovely little dog when he’s just padding around the house. He looks like a little bear.
He hasn’t enjoyed the fireworks. He’s OK with them when he’s inside, but getting him outside is difficult, which interferes with his toileting (as he’s very reluctant to go inside the house now – shouldn’t complain, but it’s not ideal for him to hold it). We’ve had fireworks every night for four nights in a row now, which I think is quite ridiculous and I really wish we could ban firework sales to individuals.
In other news… I have a stomach upset 🤔 Again! I think it might be spaghetti carbonara. I stopped eating spaghetti bolognese because the sauce is too much for my stomach (all the acid from the tomatoes, probably) and switched to carbonara thinking it would be better, but this is the second time I’ve had an upset stomach after eating it, so maybe not. It’s not as bad as last time, but I saw the signs and switched to an extremely boring chicken + rice diet (like my dog!) so that may have softened the blow.
So I’m back at work next week. Work annoyed me last week. My manager asked me to create some fake data in the system to display some charts for a demo. So I did. Then on Thursday morning the managing director called me into a meeting to complain that it wasn’t what he’d asked for. The problem was that he had created this data with no thought to how it would actually look when plugged into our charting system. What he actually wanted were completely different charts, but that is not what I was asked to do, nor was it realistic for the timeframe. He didn’t even tell my manager that he’d called me. I don’t deal with the managing director much, but when I do I always come away with a bad impression of him. So in some ways I’m not looking forward to work again tomorrow, but in other ways I feel like I have more important things (dog) in my life to worry about instead. It’s just a job.
I’ve been feeling a bit off lately, and at some point it suddenly occurred to me that I am probably getting anaemic again. I used to have problems with anaemia a few years ago. I started feeling very tired and a bit spaced out sometimes. Early anaemia symptoms are a bit vague. But I’ve sometimes been feeling a bit woozy after running, which is what really made me think “hmm”.
So I phoned up my doctor… I had to phone because they’ve disabled online booking “due to COVID”. Which makes no sense. And then I had to phone four times. The first three I was told that the queue was full, and on the fourth I apparently got put into the queue. It took 35 minutes in total to speak to someone. The earliest appointment they could give me was a telephone appointment, in four weeks time. What has gone wrong with my GP surgery?!
So anyway… That’s ridiculous and I’ve started self medicating iron tablets. Fortunately you can buy them over the counter. Iron overdose is a thing but from seeing my iron levels in the past I think I’m more likely to develop diabetes from the sugar coating on the tablet than convince my body to absorb enough iron for it to be a problem.
I watched episode four of The Man In The High Castle this evening. I am really enjoying it so far. I really like the intro and theme too. The style reminds me of The Expanse’s intro sequence. In this case it’s very arty and surreal against the grim reality of the story.