Honk That Duck

I’ve finally grasped the nettle – and visited ParkRun.

They're off!
They’re off!

Basically, for the uninitiated, it’s a 5km (just over 3 miles) run which is timed – all you have to do is register on the website and print-out the barcode it gives you.

I could see the runners rounding the first bend even from the road.

Despite it being nearly a month since the fracture I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever run again!

When you get a Personal Best you get to squeeze the duck and make him honk!
When you get a Personal Best you get to squeeze the duck and make him honk!

In the band-stand I joined Natalie, who’s studying Sports Therapy at university.

“You’ve got to take your time, with the healing process,” she told me.

 “It is difficult, but it’s nature isn’t it? You’ve just got to let it take its time, because there’s no point you going back too early – you could fracture it again.”

Do You Feel It Too? (Photo by Peter Morgan)
Do you feel it too?
(Photo by Peter Morgan)

She added that I’d need the help of physiotherapists too; “Once the bone has knitted you’re going to have damaged areas, (around it) you’re going to have to work on those.”

Another woman – Sarah – appeared at my side – “Where’s the ParkRun duck? I’ve got a personal best!”

Despite having done around 14 ParkRuns, I wasn’t aware of this.

When I get my next Personal Best I won't be celebrating alone
Honk me!

Yup, you grab that duck and you honk him!

Once this was done, I joined Sarah in the ParkRun café, on this occasion a church hall.

Exercise has figured very prominently in her weight loss regime: “I don’t think I’d have lost as much as I have without my running. I’ve still got two stone to go, but I’m hoping if I just keep running it’ll come off eventually.”

So how would she cope if she couldn’t run? “I would be devastated! I’m just starting to get to that point where I’m actually feeling fit – so I’d feel well gutted.”

Alison, another runner, has had problems with shin-splints and, since having her two young sons, sometimes has issues with her hips and back (“It’s very frustrating when you’ve got very limited time, and you’re a busy mum and working, then that’s the one thing that you’ve got and you realise you can’t run”).

Dogs can join in too
Dogs can join in too

She has this advice for those who, like me, have been told that rest is the only cure: “It depends on what the rest is. It could be rest from any physical activity, the jumping up and down stuff –  so, although I’d be resting, I’d still be doing Pilates, I could go for a swim. You know, it’s finding the alternative activity and having the flexibility in your own mind.”

Feeling decidedly more positive, I’ve now resolved to remain part of the ParkRun community through marshalling.

And one day, well, I’m determined I’ll get another PB – and honk that duck!

For more ParkRun info click here

Mistaken Identity

I need to summon my inner super-hero!
I need to summon my inner super-hero

If one more person refers to me hobbling I will scream. Whatever happened to limping?

A broken bone in my foot has catapulted me to OAP status. (What next, incontinence pads?)

Bear with me. I’m wondering if I’m alone in all this – and I know I’m not! (And more to the point, it’s hardly life-threatening).

I feel as though I have positively morphed from an independent person who could influence their identity through exercise to what I perceive as a flabby invalid to whom the very option of exercise is denied.

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
I don’t want to look like this!

At what point was the moment of transition? The moment the fracture actually happened? Or the actual diagnosis?

Was the huge-breasted, flabby-armed, big-bellied entity I dread becoming born in the snap of the bone?

I was in denial until diagnosis.

It came hours after being X-rayed in A&E – initially in the form of an apologetic-looking nurse calling my name and telling me I needed “a shoe”.

Carrie Bradshaw wouldn't like the latest addition to my footwear collection
Carrie Bradshaw wouldn’t like the latest addition to my footwear collection

A doctor met me in the corridor and took me to a consulting room where she showed me the X-ray – and the fracture.

The good news was I didn’t need a plaster-cast – just the goddamned shoe – which, bulky and OAP-like, was velcroe’d on.

Now I’m no Carrie Bradshaw – but the latest addition to my footwear collection is nothing short of hideous.

Of course there’s always the option of not wearing it all. I go through phases where I kid myself that, because my boots match, the fracture never happened.

Therapeutic shoe similar to mine - French manicure optional
Therapeutic shoe similar to mine – French manicure optional

In more accepting moments, there are still problems.

After all, the shoe I wear to the office on my healthy foot actually has a thinner sole than the one on my injured one. (Heels are definitely out).

So – unevenly shod – I’m more likely to limp anyway!

Or am limping because I’m wearing a therapeutic shoe which everyone can see?  Indeed I often feel duty-bound to do so for that very reason!

This patient needs patience
This patient needs patience

And the latest news? Apparently we’re all too sedentary – “sitting is the new smoking” and “the couch potato culture has spread to the workplace”.

Standing up will at least use up some calories.

Well, normally I’d welcome a story like this – but injury means a nice little calorie-burner like standing up for longer periods of time is not really an option for me.

Read the article here

And I’d like to think the foot will heal at some point so I can help Get Britain Standing  (Have a go at their Sitting Calculator – I wouldn’t dare!)

Hear Me Raw!

Deciding my recovery from fracture could possibly begin from within, I opted to get some nutritional advice – well, any research that involves eating is fine by me!

The staff at Rawr practice what they preach!
The staff at RAWR practice what they preach!

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” is the slogan prominently adorning a wall at RAWR Juice & Superfood Bar in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The enterprise was dreamed up by Gemma Bloor, 36, a cancer survivor with a background in marketing.

So could what I put into my body go towards fixing my broken metatarsal?

Gemma Bloor
Gemma’s research pointed her to a raw vegan diet

“I think you’d be hard-pushed to have a juice that would fix a bone, if I’m being honest, there’s no point in me saying ‘have this juice and your bone’s going to mend'”, said Gemma “But giving yourself some mental clarity is a good way of starting your recovery process. And I think food is an easy way of doing that.”

So, Gemma, what food should I eat?

“Personally I would have a lot of greens, I would have a lot of beetroot, I would have a lot of things that are going to be repairing. Wheatgrass is good to repair, whether you have it in its rawest form, which we do juices for that, or a powder, it actually increases your white and red blood cells, so it is repairing on that level. But I honestly do believe that anything that you do with your diet at this point is going to assist you.”

Lots of greens could boost my recovery
Lots of greens could boost my recovery

Gemma herself has recovered from something a lot more serious than fracture.

Last year she contracted thyroid cancer, which spread to her bloodstream, and needed surgery to remove the gland, as well as radioactive iodine treatment.

“You can’t say that my recovery was just down to food – it could’ve been the treatment I had combined with the food and I’ll never know and nobody will know, because there’s no way of measuring it,” she emphasises.

This is how you juice!
This is how you juice!

Gemma was forced to do more investigating when she didn’t get the answers she needed.

“It was when I had to take my thyroid supplement, and I knew that food can react to that and make it not work properly – just from my own research.

“I knew that (a lot of people who take) Thyroxine had spent years trying to get the levels right and during that period you’re either wired, really thin and your hair’s falling out – or you can’t get out bed. And I didn’t want to have either of those.”

Her research led her to conclude a raw vegan diet was the answer. She’d been a vegetarian for 12 years when she was younger (“but I was quite a big meat-eater between then and now!”).


Since this post was written, RAWR have relocated from Newcastle-under-Lyme and are now based in the cultural quarter of Hanley.

I’ve paid them a visit there and it’s just as fabulous – not “tucked away”!

For more info about RAWR, juicing, and the thinking behind clean eating, check out their website

A Champion Swimmer’s Story of Survival

Well, I promised that you’d be meeting some inspirational people in this Blog – and here’s the first of them, a swimming champion who underwent open heart surgery when he was just two days old.

This will be the second time Sam has represented GB in the World Transplant Games
This will be the second time Sam has represented GB in the World Transplant Games

Let me just say – this story has left me feeling very humbled, and really puts things in perspective.

Sam Griffiths, now aged 14, went on to have five more major operations. On several occasions doctors told his family they might have to say goodbye to him.

A heart transplant at the age of eight was the turning point, and since then – through a mixture of talent and sheer determination – he was picked to  represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. He won four gold medals and one silver in South Africa in 2013, and he also smashed two world records.

He’s been selected to represent GB a second time in this summer’s event in Argentina – and a campaign is now underway to raise £12,000 to get him there.

Before his transplant, Sam spent his childhood in and out of hospital
Before his transplant, Sam spent his childhood in and out of hospital

Sam, who comes from Silverdale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme in North Staffordshire, told me; “I feel honoured to have that opportunity to do something that big that no-one could regularly do.”

Belonging to a family of swimmers, he was simply too ill to join in before his transplant.

His mum Nicola said; “After two minutes in the pool he’d have to get back out and go on oxygen because he was in a wheelchair and on oxygen because the oxygen in his blood was too low because his heart was that deformed.

Sam has already smashed two world records
Sam has already smashed two world records

“All his siblings swam, I swam, his dad swam, we all competed, his siblings were very good in the water, but he had to watch from the side because he couldn’t get in because he was so poorly.”

She stressed that, even after the surgery that saved his life, they still have to be careful; “His heart now is basically like our hearts, it’s absolutely fine. He takes a lot of medication, we have to make sure he doesn’t get any infections because he’s got a lowered immune system and that will always be the case. Transplant is just a good way of getting quality of life.”

“I think my story proves that no matter what odds may be stacked against you and however many times you want to give up you have to be brave and try! Anything is possible!” Sam Griffiths, on his Just Giving page

If you want to make a donation and help Sam on his way then go to https://www.justgiving.com/nicola-griffiths9/

Listen to my interview with Nicola Griffiths on Signal http://www.signal1.co.uk/news/local/staffs-teen-hopes-to-represent-gb-at-world-transplant-games/


Way To Go


Welcome to Em’s Way To Go – in which I invite you to join me as I explore how to cope when injury compromises your exercise regime/goals.

I like keeping fit. I’m not a leading athlete but I hope to meet plenty of them in the near future to see how they’ve conquered something that goes beyond mere inconvenience.

I also intend to get plenty of professional coping tips!

Please, doctor, pretty please can I run? Yep, that's me - and I'm not even in plaster
Please, doctor, pretty please can I run? Yep, that’s me – and I’m not even in plaster

My story?

Off goes the smoke alarm – I jump on the arm of the sofa, swiping at said smoke alarm like it’s a piñata – anything to stop the eardrum-splitting screeching. Result? I fall off – crushing my foot underneath me.

I know something’s wrong – my running, guerrilla training and even most forms of yoga are about to be a serious no-no for the next few weeks. A conclusion subsequently verified by a doctor in A&E after an X-Ray. Fractured metatarsal.

I can practically feel my cellulite-ridden thighs bulging as I write this.

And those bingo wings of mine are as good as cleared for take-off.

Nobody told Coneygree injury would compromise his chances of success
Nobody told Coneygree injury would compromise his chances of success

So? Surely I’m not alone in all this? Right?

Last November, an eight-year-old gelding called Coneygree was pronounced lame by a racecourse vet at the Plumpton track after a two-year convalescence from injury.

His assistant trainer Sara Bradstock explained: “I said to (the vet), ‘It’s not just any horse that you’re f****** me about with here… ‘

“And do you know what he said to me? He said, ‘He’s had two years off, he’s not worth anything anyway’.”

Reader, allow me to introduce the winner of the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Sara Bradstock didn’t give up – and neither did her horse.

I hope to be meeting plenty of human Coneygrees in this Blog – as they share their stories with me of how they overcame injury.

Meanwhile, if you have an injury recovery story – or any tips – then I’d love to hear from you!