Crutches versus Glamour

Gratitude, as I said in my Blogiversary post, is a many-splendoured thing. gratitude

I had a glorious Guerrillas workout again this morning, as opposed to this time last year, when I was rocking the granny shoe look.

This unflattering form of footwear was the only equipment offered me, and I have looked at many accoutrements made available to others who underwent leg injuries.

For example I would’ve enjoyed the services of a knee scooter and so, I’m pretty sure, would my friends in the pub!f0c9ae3cfa7bd1d3445449e01db4150a

The magical Marilyn Monroe knew that crutches certainly were NOT a Girl’s Best Friend – but that didn’t keep her away from the cameras.

Note the interesting combination of stiletto heel with the bandaged foot shown right – she doesn’t look too happy does she?

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Marilyn out jogging in Hollywood in 1951

I had imagined that, as Marilyn was no stranger to the joys of exercise, (regularly going jogging before it caught on as a trend) her frustration could only be imagined.

She sprained her ankle whilst filming in 1953 and not happy with the conditions in which she was injured, reportedly insisted on wearing a cast and taking time out of the schedule – to get back at the director!

If I’m wrong on the above please let me know – I’m admittedly no expert on Monroe, but I like her spirit.

MEANWHILE!

Hopefully, most leg injuries are temporary in the great scheme of things, but – for those who do currently have a broken foot like I did – and/or need crutches like Marilyn – here are some questions to ask yourself/your doctor/your best mate etc etc:

  • Will you be able to rest your injured limb on the ground? If so, can you use it for balance while walking?
  • How can you bathe? Can you stand in the shower, or do you need to use a bath tub?
  • Can you just use one crutch as a cane? If so, what’s the best way to walk with a cane?
  • Can you go swimming?
  • What are the best ways to position your arms and maintain posture while using crutches?

‘You’re Not The Ride’- My Return To Yoga

A new beginning?
A new beginning?

Standing on one leg is always going to be a challenge for someone recovering from a broken foot – and sure enough, my mending metatarsal reminded me of its presence.

Yesterday I did my first yoga class since the fracture.

I freely admit that, after a period of feeling I was medically forbidden to do any exercises that put any weight on said foot, I am still finding it difficult to get back into the routine of keeping fit.chill homie

A Chakra Balance class marked my comeback at Yogi Smith‘s.

Admittedly I do find what could be defined as the “spiritual” side of yoga more difficult than the physical.

An instructor tells me what to do with my body and I’ll have a go – and what happens after that is not for want of trying.

The class featured a meditation session on what roles the mind and body play – to me, an interesting concept in the whole idea of control – after all, isn’t that the reason you go to any class in the first place? That sense of wanting to control at least one aspect of your life?

Tree pose was always going to be a challenge!
Tree pose was always going to be a challenge!

Do you control your body? Or does it control you?

I found one parallel particularly useful – that life’s fluxuations are like a theme park ride – but you’re not the ride.

My recovering metatarsal made its presence felt during Vrksasana, or “Tree” pose – standing on my left foot.

It didn’t hurt, but I could still feel it was there.

(While the visual truth of the fracture was confirmed by an X-ray a few months back, I could still see the bone’s cylindrical presence there in my mind’s eye).

After the class I told my instructor Espi – she told me that was the bone’s way of protecting me.

You can read more of Espi’s advice on yoga and recovering from injury here.

I’m Back!

The time has come – and as far as the big kid in me was concerned –  it couldn’t come quick enough.

You work out for a minute at different stations
You work out at different stations

We are, however, talking more than the obligatory three months (doctor’s orders!) between fracture and weight-bearing exercise.

So Team Guerrilla was the venue for the relaunch of my life-as-someone-who-exercises-regularly.

It was the first time I’d seen myself in my workout gear in months – and my assessment was ruthless.

Keeping it real - it's early days
Keeping it real – it’s early days

As someone who still walks a lot, the legs weren’t too much of a write-off. I’ve not exactly put on weight but I’m flabbier – especially round the midrift and arms. My bust? Well let’s not go there.

The session basically consists of working-out for a minute at different stations – but even then there can be a sense of “why on earth am I doing this?”

Of course, I know why I’m doing it, (not least that fantastically happy feeling you get at the end) but with those vile soft flabby upper arms of mine it looks like I’m a long way from my goals.

Nerves? Yes! This shaky selife was taken BEFORE the class!
Nerves? Yes! This shaky selfie was taken BEFORE the class!

There was a sense, admittedly, of real anger too – regarding why I’ve almost “back to square one”.

As you know, I broke my foot trying to switch off the smoke alarm.

Clambering on to the sofa arm to reach the device (which was on the ceiling) resulted in a slip, and the fracture. Oh, and Em’s Way To Go!

In a way I have myself to blame. Taking the plunge – pscychologically – has admittedly been difficult.

So – months later – I picked up where I’d left off.

No hiding places at Guerrillas!
No hiding places at Guerrillas!

There were no surprises. I’d expected the sensation of my heart-trying-to-smash-its-way-out-through-my rib-cage and, sure enough, it welcomed me back.

More galling was just how unfit I’d become – at one point my arms couldn’t support me when previously they could whilst doing the same exericse – and I practically fell flat on my face.

But other exercises gave me that “welcome back” feeling – like declaring war on my burgeoning cleavage with the pectoral exercises, to name just one.

That sense of regaining control is fabulous. Whether it’s a coping strategy or not, a vital component of my lifestyle is back.

The foot? I could slightly feel that left fifth metatarsal as I walked back, but  that’s about it.

It was reminding me of its presence but hopefully now it knows who’s boss!

A Runner Reborn?

I’m officially allowed to exercise.

I'm heading for a new horizon
Heading for new horizons…

I apologise for my recent absence from blogging – work commitments prevented me, and – as a relatively new blogger – I’ve yet to develop the confidence to make it part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth LOL.

So now I rise, Phoenix-like, from the “ashes” of the past three months which have passed since I broke my metatarsal.

Ouch! But the original fracture is a memory now
Ouch! But the original fracture is a memory

The swelling, throbbing, pain and limping are now memories.

Without access to a gravity-defying treadmill, and without a sufficient budget to get me into the gym or one-to-one sessions with my Guerrillas instructor Andy, I have become flabbier.

But then, this can all be eradicated! And, like most Geminis, I get very excited at the start of a new project.

Yep - it's incentives time!
Yup – it’s incentives time!

I can not begin to describe how relieved I am in the knowledge I can run again.

But do I approach it in a “couch-to-5k” way? After all, unlike blogging, I’m not a total beginner when it comes to running!

And now I’ll be looking to eat more healthily too, after all I have an incentive.

Hoping to return to my half-marathon form!
Hoping to return to my half-marathon form!

Meanwhile – I’m teetering on the brink – after all, something that’s been a part of my routine has been missing for the last few months or so.

I almost wish there was a metaphorical hand behind me to give that all-important push.

So wish me luck as I take the plunge!

The show must go on – Foo fighters frontman performs with broken leg

Breaking your leg during a live performance and carrying on ranks pretty highly in my book.

A screen shows Dave Grohl at the concert (Pic: AFP)
A screen shows Dave Grohl at the concert (Pic: AFP)

And that’s precisley what Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl did at a gig in Gothenburg, on Friday.

Swedish festival goers looked on in horror as the former Nirvana drummer fell off the stage half way through the second song “Monkey Wrench” – yet still returned 15 minutes later (reportedly) after being attended to backstage.

He told the audience: “Hey, ladies and gentlemen. I love you, but I think I just broke my leg.”

The X-ray was published on the band's Twitter page
The X-ray was published on the band’s Twitter page

The band played a set of covers sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins before Grohl resumed his performance sitting in a chair – one photo shows him belting out a tune with a paramedic attending to him.

Fans watched in horror as Grohl fell during a rendition of "Monkey Wrench" (Pic: Reuters)
Fans watched in horror as Grohl fell during a rendition of “Monkey Wrench” (Pic: Reuters)

He jokingly sang the David Bowie & Queen song, Under Pressure.

He told the crowd he would not leave the stage unless given orders by a doctor to do so.

The 46-year-old said: “I may not be able to walk or run, but I can still play guitar and scream”.

Grohl resumed his performance sitting in a chair
Grohl resumed his performance sitting in a chair

Later the band tweeted an X-ray image of the broken leg (believed to be the singer’s!) with the message, “Thank you, Gothenburg. That was amazing”.

It comes just weeks before the Foo Fighters are set to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.

The-show-must-go-on mentality isn’t restricted to Grohl – last week Enrique Iglesias stayed onstage after he tried to catch a drone and it sliced his fingers during a concert in Mexico.

Both men demonstrate that injury doesn’t compromise their allegiance to their fans.

Way to go, guys!

Footless!

Exercising with an injured foot is a challenge – but here are some vids which prove it needn’t get in the way of your workout if you’re determined enough.

Heather Frey of Smashfit won’t let injury stop her regime despite being footless! Note how she incorporates an element of cardio by doing her reps quite fast.

The workout does focus on the arms and shoulders but yes you do get the metabolism heart-lung emphasis too – reminds me of when I hurt my knee quite a few years back, I used an upright rowing machine at the gym to keep that side of my fitness regime going.

And while we’re on the subject of cardio, here’s a chair-based workout from Trish Blackwell – she’s even got a heart-rate monitor on under her sports bra to prove it works (Actual workout begins about 2.15 into the vid after the preamble).

My Google search for Trish Blackwell revealed she’s a confidence trainer – as well as a fitness coach – interesting, really, when you think about it – not being able to exercise the way I want to has affected me in more ways than just physically.

Anyway! Here’s another vid of how to exercise with a broken foot – please accept my apologies for the music – there is no commentary but you’ll see a woman called Katie Hartman (can’t find any web links to her outside of YouTube) doing a lot of the exercises I’m looking forward to getting back to in Guerrilla Training (I think the US equivalent is crossfit).

Yet again – it’s great to see people working out, in full exercise gear despite the relevant bandaging!

Admittedly there's one exercise I haven't tried
Admittedly there’s one exercise I haven’t tried

I have just over a week to go until I can legitimately run again, do all yoga again, go to a normal Guerrillas class again.

But the week in question is going to be packed-full of crazy work commitments so that’s what I’ll be concentrating on.

However, I can’t wait to be back in the saddle and there’s still going to be plenty to go at in this blog, so watch this space!

Does this mean I have to DIET?

I’ve been putting off this post for a lonnnng time – but it’s time to grasp the nettle and do it!

I must apply myself - and it's not a happy situation (posed by model)
I must apply myself – and it’s not a happy situation (posed by model)

From that first shoot of pain after I hit the floor, from the moment I saw the clear break on the X-ray, I knew I faced losing a vital coping strategy – exercise.

Not least in my war against weight.

I like that satisfying feeling of sore muscles as I relax in the evening after a work-out.

I have bad memories of going-on-a-diet
I have bad memories of going-on-a-diet

I like knowing how rock-hard my muscles are – whether that’s looking at my sharply-defined calves in a mirror or even running my hands down my thighs.

I like that clarity of mind – and even the “high” that running gives me.

I like that sense of achievement and satisfaction gained from exercise.

Couch potato status is looming large (posed by model)
Couch potato status beckons (posed by model)

And – arguably, most of all – I love the fact that it means I don’t have to religiously watch what I eat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not what would be described as overweight – my BMI is about 24 and I don’t even own a set of bathroom scales.

You’ve gathered I’m a driven person – I’m certainly not a coach potato.

Nice, comfy slippers for my new lifestyle?
Nice, comfy slippers for my new lifestyle?

Yet Failure is inviting me – it’s like a big, soft, cushy armchair, calling my big, soft, flabby body (so it seems) to settle down.

I’ll freely admit that my eating regime is not meticulously healthy – but then exercise has always been my “get out of jail” card.

Just think – I used to avoid a flabby midriff by doing the “plank” – but now I can’t because that puts weight on my foot too.

The plank used to take care of my abs - now I can't do it
The plank used to take care of my abs – now I can’t do it

Now it seems I must apply myself to disciplined eating – and it’s not a happy situation.

Of course I’m familiar with the regime of “eating sensibly” – and, believe it or not, when I was a member of Weight Watchers that regime was very welcome (and successful!) indeed, not least because it caters for those of us who live in the real world.

Navel gazing; Obsessing over my bikini bridge belongs in the past!
Navel gazing; Obsessing over my bikini bridge belongs in the past!

So, wanting to get an angle on reality, I approached the cook at my local pub –  she’s lost a couple of stone with Slimming World – and she put me in touch with her leader.

Paula, who runs the Slimming World group at Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent, told me; “I’ve got some members who can’t exercise – and they’re still losing weight every week.

“One lady broke her leg last year, she put on weight with comfort-eating, but she’s lost two stone so far.

I know! I know!
I know! I know!

“It can be frustrating sometimes if you can’t exercise, but if you get the food on plan you’ll lose weight for sure.”

She did, however, go on to say: “I think that once members have reached Target, the ones who maintain it tend to be active”.

I cannot fault all this – in fact I applaud it.

It is just I have what can best be described as a “hang-up” about dieting.

Urgh!
Doesn’t a picture like this just make you want to scream?!

Without going into gender politics, the psychological aspect bugs me.

Dieting is part of female life, so it seems.

I remember my mother preparing what she happily described as a “skinn-ee lay-dee” salad for herself.

From my teenage years I was acutely aware that the “naughtiness” of eating something that tastes good can give me the type of body I detest.

And now, of course, it’s time to grow up.

Nine weeks since the break and – instead of calories – I’m counting down the weeks ’til I can run again.

No Surrender from Street Dancer Amber

I promised in an earlier post to bring you a real live dancer whom injury had stopped doing the one thing she really loved.

Amber broke her arm whilst doing a handspring
Amber broke her arm doing a hand-spring

Meet nine-year-old Amber Kershaw. She’s the first child to feature on this blog – but her frustration – and determination – is just as real as anyone else’s!

For the last three years or so, Amber’s enjoyed dancing with Stoke-on-Trent based Urban Vibez and has entered many events with her crew Crazy 8’s.

All this changed last June.

Amber told me: “I was doing a hand-spring and I slipped.”

Amber (third from right) with her crew Crazy 8
Amber (third from right) with her crew Crazy 8’s

Her mother Roisin McKinney added: “She came in from the park one day and said, ‘I think I’ve broken my arm’, and I didn’t take her seriously! So I sent her to bed with some ice on it and when we woke up in the morning it was the size of a football.”

They went straight to A&E, where doctors confirmed Amber had not only broken her tibia and fibula, but had dislocated her elbow too.

Amber was told by medics her fracture was one of the worst they’d seen in a child.

She's always dancing
She’s always dancing

But her fellow dancers were very supportive – “I got a lot of attention, they just looked after me a lot.”

Fate being what it is, Amber injured her arm the day after her plaster cast came off in September, prompting more trips to the hospital, more time away from dancing and another plaster cast. She’s undergone surgery too.

Watching her friends dance when she couldn’t join in soon proved frustrating for Amber and she preferred to stay home rather than sit on the side-lines.

Goofing around with mum Roisin after one of her operations
Crazy selfies with mum Roisin after an op

Roisin said: “She’s had to miss a lot of dances, and I think that’s affected her in all aspects of her life because she did say to me once that music and dancing was her whole life.

“But she’s determined and she’s never stopped practicing – even when she shouldn’t have been! And now she’s going to go to the world dance competitions in August.”

That’s right – Amber and her crew are off to Glasgow this summer to compete at the UDO Worlds Street Dance Championships 2015.

In the more immediate future, she may even be off to compete in Blackpool.

Amber's looking forward to competing on a world class level
Amber’s looking forward to competing at a world class level

Amber’s under no illusion that she has a lot of moves to learn – and she still has to be careful doing anything that involves putting weight on her hands, such as the “drop”.

Pain, too, is an issue. It’s certainly affected her confidence.

Grandad Martin McKinney said: “I’ve watched her practicing, and yes, she has shied away from her dance because of the wariness she might hurt something. But bit by bit she’s getting better.”

“Obviously pain sometimes meant that she’s had to miss lessons so she’s missed a hell of a lot and she’s joined in when she can,” Roisin explained, “But I know it’s frustrated her, because she can’t do the things she used to do and she’s been in a lot of pain over the months.”

Judging from Amber’s dedication, I for one reckon this won’t stop her making a complete return to street dancing – and I wish her all the best in Glasgow this summer.


Please note – full parental consent was given for this interview and an adult family member was present at all times.

Confessions of a Penguin

Right now the only running I’m doing is over the road in busy traffic or into doctors’ consulting rooms.

After my second Robin Hood Half in 2010 - guess who's got the copyright LOL
After my second Robin Hood Half in 2010

Getting my running gear on and just taking off, however slowly, is one form of me-time – and I feel so much more sane once I’ve done it.

Plus it’s a lot cheaper than alternatives where the weight isn’t put on the foot (e.g. swimming, spinning, one-to-one instruction).

It’s a coping strategy and not being able to do it is pretty annoying!

This blog is, arguably, brought to life by other people’s experiences – whether they’re reblogs or interviews.

But a recent I’ve-just-looked-at-my-diary-for-tomorrow-and-it’s-manic text in response to an interview request has prompted some me-time.

So that’s why this post about me – and my running.

After "bootcamp" - I'm the one in the Adidas top messing around with the water bottles!
After “bootcamp” – I’m the one in the Adidas top messing around with the water bottles!

Yes I’m slow. I’ve done the Robin Hood Half Marathon in Nottingham twice – my personal best is about two hours 42 minutes.

I had to remind the tired cheerleaders to keep shaking their pom-poms in Wollaton Park!

Suffice it to say I’m just glad that there’s a finishing gantry still there for me to run through.

And even though my rucksack’s one of the few still waiting to be claimed, at least volunteer support staff are there.

Slow runners are here to stay!
Slow runners are here to stay!

Luckily I’ve never come last – but I know someone who has – apparently you get the biggest cheer!

US writer John Bingham championed the cause of slow runners like me in “The Penguin Chronicles” in Runner’s World and in (one of his many) book(s) “No Need For Speed”.

The latter could be my motto – though I vastly prefer the saying he’s famous for:

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”Penguin editor

do have that courage. I also have doctors’ orders not to run for another month. Hey-ho.

Here’s to all those Penguins out there – I will be joining you again soon!

Take a look at John “The Penguin” Bingham’s website here: http://www.johnbingham.com/index.php

The Marathon Man Who Faced Amputation

As Austin Rathe embarks on this Sunday’s London Marathon, his experience of lying in a hospital bed with two shattered legs will be a distant memory.

Austin had never run more than a mile before the accident
Austin had never run more than a mile before the accident

Yet it was these injuries that motivated him to take up running in the first place.

Austin, now 32, was hit by a car in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in March 2001 – and at one point doctors considered amputating one of his legs.

He says he himself was never told about this, but his parents were informed.

The possibility of amputation was discussed a few hours after the accident and there was still a risk after surgery.

A fully-recovered Austin with his surgeon Peter Livesley in 2004 (Photo from BBC)
A fully-recovered Austin with his surgeon Peter Livesley in 2004 (Photo: BBC)

Peter Livesley, the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on Austin, explained: “Not only was the bone broken, but it was in pieces and the skin was broken as well.

“That’s about as serious as you get before losing the limb.”

A long convalescence followed, but when I caught up with him this week, Austin was keen to stress that, unlike many of the people featured so far on this blog, he wasn’t worried about missing out on his exercise regime – because he didn’t have one in the first place!

Wheel of Fortune - the lure of the London Marathon is seemingly irrestible (Photo: Ryan Pierse, Getty)
Wheel of Fortune – the lure of the London Marathon is seemingly irresistible (Photo: Ryan Pierse, Getty)

“The thing is, I wasn’t ‘side-lined’. When I had the accident I never did any exercise at all,” he told me, “It was not a part of my life in any way. Of all the things I missed, I didn’t miss exercise.”

He continued: “I was always going to be able to walk again, but I was not sure about running, so I had to push myself,” he said, “When you go through those experiences you have to have something to aim for. It’s months and months of physiotherapy.”

Pleasure at the fairground - he's back on his feet after the accident in 2001
Pleasure at the fairground – he’s back on his feet after the accident in 2001

So the man who had never run more than a mile made the decision to run a marathon while still in his hospital bed.

Fast-forward to the 2004 London Marathon and he completed it in four hours 15 minutes and 26 seconds.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? There’s no “fast-forwarding” in real life – nobody can wish the time away to full recovery.

Austin’s convalescence from such serious injuries was considerably longer and far more arduous than my own, which, though annoying, is trivial in comparison.

So what advice does he have on handling the situation?

“It feels like a very long time, but in retrospect the good thing is you don’t feel that time. It’s very boring when you’re recovering but it quite quickly becomes a memory. It can be difficult and depressing for lots of reasons but it does go away.”

When I spoke to Austin just before the 2004 London Marathon he had no intention of running another one, but other marathons followed, with a three-hour-52-minute personal best in 2007 (“Every time I finished one I said ‘that’s my last one’ – but it becomes more attractive. Each you forget how it hurts!”).

He wants to raise £2,000 to help disabled kids play video games
He wants to raise £2,000 to help disabled kids play video games

He’s not sure whether the injuries sustained in 2001 still impact on his running now.

His left shin (where pins, now removed, were drilled in to secure an external fixator) swells up on long runs and he has to watch his knees.

Nevertheless, he says he’s “determined” to enjoy the 2015 London Marathon (“I’m not bothered about time, anything between four and four-and-a-half hours will be fine”).

Austin wants to raise £2,000 for Special Effect, a tiny charity which helps kids with disabilities play video games – you can donate on his JustGiving page here.

Read my original BBC article about Austin Rathe here. Admittedly it is difficult getting to view Anthony Bartram’s TV report, but you may be luckier than me!