Thursday, 15 October 2015

Nine Edges

Time flies, it's been a month since the Nine Edges and I still haven't written up about it! Time to fix that. 

The Nine Edges is a fell running and walking event organised by the Edale Mountain Rescue to raise money to fund their equipment. It also has a climbing category, in which the entrants have to climb one route on each edge. The event begins at the Fairholmes outdoor centre, from where entrants make their way up to Derwent Edge and then along Stanage, Burbage North, Burbage South, through the Longshaw Estate to Curbar, Froggatt and Baslow, before passing Gardoms on the way to Birchens and the finish with complementary pint at the Robin Hood pub. The distance is roughly 21 miles, largely depending on the choice of route across the open access land up to Derwent Edge. It is a lovely event, with many of the walkers treating it as a fun day out. It is not unusual to see entrants enjoying a picnic on an edge, or icecream at the Longshaw cafe. There is a mass start for runners at 10am, with walkers setting off between 7.30 and 9.30am. The atmosphere is always friendly.

I always recommend this event to my running and hiking clients; the views are wonderful, after an initial steep climb the route has a pleasing quantity of downhill and the route finding itself is fairly straight forward as you mainly follow good paths. Mid September is usually blessed with wonderful weather, too. Usually. This year the Friday and Sunday were indeed gorgeous, clear, golden days. On the morning of the event I lay in bed listening to the torrential rain. It eased off briefly about 7am as I ate my breakfast, inspiring hope that it would indeed lift as the weather forecast predicted. After a 9am start I followed the longer way round up to Derwent Edge as the mist made getting lost all too easy. I was overtaken twice by someone, once by the reservoir and again halfway along the edge; she had tried the short cut only to lose her way in the poor visibility.   

The mist limited visibility on either side to around 12 feet, so there were no magnificent views to lift the spirits and put a spring in my step. Even the standing stones were visible only briefly as they loomed up out of the clag to be swallowed up again as I passed. I gave silent thanks to the people who had laboured to lay the stone path that gleamed damply as it curved along the edge, a shining line that Hansel and Gretel would have appreciated. Initially I was upbeat; it's atmospheric, I told myself, trying not to think about the expanses of flowering heather I couldn't see, or the hills and reservoir. It certainly was atmospheric, and it soon became the wet kind that hits you horizontally. The rain lasted three hours. Three hours where I reminded myself to stay positive; 'negative thoughts impede posture and movement efficiency, think positive!' was my refrain.... but it was horrible. 'Why am I doing this,' was the recurrent thought going through my head that would not be banished by all the positive thinking in the world. My back hurt. If I'd passed a cafe or pub, that's where'd I'd have headed. The main thing keeping me going was the thought of all the people on the waiting list for the event who would have loved to have taken my place. Wait, they were probably all still in bed, listening to the rain and sighing with relief at their escape. For once, I needed most of the kit the event insists that you carry. My brother, in the running category, passed me as I climbed up towards Stanage; he says I was smiling and chirpy, but I was just pleased to see him doing so well. He'd fallen in with a friendly group and ended up knocking twenty minutes off his previous time.

Towards the end of Stanage the clouds parted briefly, giving a glimpse of the valley and hills with pillars of mist and rain sweeping along them. Then it closed in again. I gritted my teeth and kept going. In fact, I was making excellent progress in my enthusiasm to get off each edge as quickly as possible. I'd seen a few people I knew; I probably seemed rather grumpy. Do it again next year? No way!

Finally, the sun was glimpsed over Burbage. Would it wait for me? It did indeed; the mist lifted as I came down off Stanage, and as I arrived at Burbage North I saw a kestrel hovering over the crag. The vista opened out and my heart sang in response. Five minutes stretching sorted my back out and I continued at a brisk pace that I kept up until the end, finishing in six hours twenty minutes, still feeling fit. It was great. Do it again next year? Of course I will!

Finally, total respect to the climbers. I spotted two emerging out of the clag on Derwent Edge, coiling their rope. To climb in those conditions, and carry all your gear along twenty plus miles, is an awesome achievement. I hope you relished that pint at the end!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Holiday time again!

I am taking a week off, from the 19-23rd October inclusive. I will be back to work as normal the following week.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September 2015 appointment availability

This is a heads up that there is very limited availability for massage appointments on Fridays this month. I am working longer hours on Wednesdays to make up for this, and things will return to normal in October.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

AugustFlash30 discount!

It's that time of year again, but this time only for three weeks: 4-21st August inclusive. One hour massage for £30 with the discount code AugustFlash30, a thank you for all the wonderful word of mouth from my clients; without you, I would have no massage practice! Do feel welcome to share the code, which must be given when paying to receive the discount.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Dandelion Days 2015

Dandelion Days is a weekend event organised by local herbalists.
From the website:

'We are very pleased to announce that we’ll be running Dandelion Days again this year, the weekend we’ve chosen is  August 7th – 9th August  2015
Come and spend a weekend with like-minded people in a beautiful setting, connecting with nature and learning to support your health using the healing power of plants.
Expect workshops, practical sessions, herb walks and talks alongside yoga, Qigong, singing and dancing
The weekend is fully catered with all meals included in the ticket price, all lovingly prepared and delicious!'

The event is run by volunteers from the herbal community, and kept as affordable as possible.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Nikki's Year of Suffering

This post is to highlight the grit, determination and positive attitude of Nikki who is over the course of the year undertaking physical challenge after challenge to raise money for Orchid, a charity in aid of male cancer treatment. Her blog is an inspiring and enjoyable read, and you can find there her list of challenges as well as details about Orchid and how to donate.

The overwhelming impression I always get of Nikki is just what a positive person she is and I think this is reflected in the support she has received so far.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

another journey....

I have always loved walking, especially hiking for day after day. I find that all my worries melt away with every mile, and whatever was dominating my thoughts and sapping my energy becomes insignificant, replaced by the simple rhythm of placing one foot in front of the other repeatedly, hour after hour. A diary entry from 1996 records how reassuring I find walking; a movement that I feel I can repeat endlessly.

Fast forward twelve years and I am struggling to walk more than ten miles before hip pain sets in. This is succeeded by a struggle with sciatica, then achilles tendinopathy. By 2014 I was still walking regularly but now keeping to a maximum of eight to ten miles, and I'd decided to take a year off running altogether. Then in January 2015 I took a high step up whilst walking in the snow along Birchen Edge and I felt a tremendous pain in my calf that twanged all the way up my hamstring. 'Rupture!' was my first thought, but cautious tests after a few moments reassured me that I still had full if painful range of movement so I sat with snow packed around my calf for 20 minutes. As I limped back to the car, I could feel improvement; 'ah, this will be right in no time!' I said to my partner Adam, and proceeded to follow protocol. 

A week later, I was walking normally but something didn't feel right; there was no sense of spring in the affected leg and I sensed that trying to run would be a bad idea. Of course I forgot this when I saw an opportunity to nip across the road; I pushed off hard with my leg, and instantly the same pain kicked up my calf and hamstring, only this time it did not abate. I was only a five minute walk from home but it took me twenty minutes and I was in tears by the time I got there. A week later I was exhausted by the physical effort of getting around when my leg was not able to function efficiently. I could feel the strain through my whole body. Three weeks later there was barely any improvement and I was at a local physiotherapy practice. 'You've overstretched the nerve, of course it hurt!' was the diagnosis, and some therapy to my back provided rapid relief; within a few days I was walking normally again. Even more useful was the postural assessment.

Eight years ago I hurt my knee and had to walk with a stick for a while. I was very busy at the time and after one trip to the physio to have it checked out, I never went back for any rehabilitation. Unbeknown to me crucial postural muscles became deactivated and I developed new, compensatory movement patterns on top of my existing thoracic stiffness that began to cause problems as I tried to walk longer distances.

This time in 2015 I decided to visit the physio regularly, where each time I was assessed and given exercises to do at home to remind my neuromuscular system of how it is supposed to be working! I began to feel the benefit, and after a few weeks went for a 5km run. I could really feel how my muscles were engaging differently, especially the gluteals; all felt strong and positive. Then I strained my back by lifting a heavy weight incorrectly. The next run, I could feel how the movement between legs, back, shoulders and arms was blocked; the gluteus maximus didn't seem to be firing, and very quickly I felt the old sciatic pain in my right hamstring and an ache in the Achilles tendon. I abandoned the run and headed back to the physio....

It's all been a learning experience. I have learnt a great deal about how the body works, and also just how exhausting it is when part of it doesn't; what an impact a problem in one part of your body can have on the rest as it seeks to compensate and complete a movement that is no longer efficient, if indeed possible at all. All so different to just reading about it in text books!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Holiday time!

I will be away from work from the 25th May to 2nd June 2015. I am looking forward to getting some running done after many months of injury (which I am going to write its own blog post about as I have learnt a great deal from my own misfortunes!) I will also be settling down to ready my new book, 'Stability, sport and performance movement; practical biomechanics and systematic training for movement efficacy and injury prevention' by Joanne Elphinston.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A new year and a special offer to welcome 2015 in!

To welcome in 2015 I am taking the price of a one hour massage treatment back to £30 for the whole of January; just remember to say 'Jan1515' when you come to pay to get your discount.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and successful year to come!