Thinking about recovery.

Recently I had a patient with breast cancer who was so determined to fight her disease and get better. She is young and dynamic. She was prepared to do anything to beat this.

She had a large-ish tumour and so we recommended chemotherapy before surgery.

I explained that the chemotherapy normally takes 18 weeks. Normally you have 2 doses of chemotherapy in a week and then 2 weeks to recover before the next 2 doses.

Then she asked something that I’ve never been asked before: could she have her chemotherapy every week so that her treatment would go quicker? She really wanted to get on and get better!

The way chemotherapy works is that it kills any cells that are in the process of growing and dividing when the dose is given. Cancer cells tend to grow more quickly than the body’s normal cells, so more of them get killed. The other cells in the body that grow really quickly are hair follicles, your immune system and the lining of your gut, so that’s why chemo can make your hair fall out and make you sick.

The 2 week gap is long enough for your body’s normal cells to recover enough to tolerate the next dose. Usually the body recovers better that the cancer, and the cancer eventually reduces.

But without the recovery period, for this type of chemotherapy, you would die.

The recovery time is just as important as the treatment!!

Once she understood this my patient was fine and actually she had a great result from her chemo with virtually no cancer left at surgery.

Why am I telling you this story?

Just to highlight to you how marvelous the body is, how it can withstand massive traumas and given time it will recover. But it does need to be given time to rest and recover.

And so it is with running.

The body needs time to recover.

Like my patient, we tend to think that more of a good thing (medicine or exercise) must be better, but that isn’t so. It works best interspersed with recovery time.

So don’t think that recovery time is wasted. It is essential!

‘Nuff said.


Posted in running | 14 Comments


IMG_1010Currently I’m on study leave attending a conference. In Belfast, somewhere I haven’t been before. Although my running  kit made the journey across the sea I didn’t actually get a run in! However I have been wearing my garmin and I managed to walk 10miles on Sunday and similar on Monday. Sunday we got caught in the rain, hence the rainbow!😊

Belfast is a city of contrasts. The newly developed area by the waterfront is very modern and the epitome of sophisticated city living. The bus tour we took of the city included the areas that were involved in all the sectarian violence of years gone by. Somehow it feels as if the walls and roads were soaked in all the anger, the murals, the high wire fences, the gates (though open) still present across the roads.

How many cities like this across the world, still at war, or slowly trying to recover? It really makes me value my quiet little life, my home, my family.

Posted in balance, fitness, low intensity, running, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

This one is about books.

Hello everyone.

Yes I’ve been a little bit quiet recently, sorry if you missed me. However this is primarily a running blog shared with fellow runners and as I haven’t been running much recently I haven’t had much to write about, and no pictures.

Instead I’ve been spending a bit more time devoted to my true passion, reading.

in the last 2 weeks I have read these 2 books

I know that many of my blogging friends are interested in positive mental attitude and so on – it appears to be essential for long distance, so I thought that I would share!

The positivity one was interesting. Lots of benefits to having a positive outlook, in all aspects of life including health. But it has to be genuine, apparently faking it is really bad for your heart. How do you learn to be genuinely positive? Through mindfulness meditation apparently. How positive do you have to be? A ratio of 3 positive episodes/ thoughts for every negative episode (and a ratio of 5:1 for a happy marriage!) can you be too positive? Yes, work teams who have a ratio of more than 13 positive comments for every negative one fail….. complacency is dangerous for improvement .

The second book, flourish is More interesting to me. Seligman explains that ‘well being’ is about more that simply feeling happy and has 5 components. He uses the acronym PERMA

P ositive emotion (i.e. Feeling happy)

E ngagement ie doing something that absorbs you

R relationships – getting along well with others

M meaning – something that gives life a purpose, spiritual for many

A chievement

If you have 3 out of 5 at any one time you will feel good.

There’s more to both, so please don’t think my summary says it all and puts you off reading!

Posted in book reviews, positive mental attitude, running | 5 Comments

Time on your own

I like the way this blog captures the things I like about running (but not cycling! Yet!) too.

We Run and Ride

nelson-beamThe idea of tracking a run or a ride by satellite on some days just seems intrusive. Who really, truly needs to know what you’re doing? Perhaps even you don’t need or want to know what you’re doing.

Just go do it. Stop worrying so much whether you’ve hit your metrics or done something to fight off the karma of the Strava trolls. Ten years from now, it won’t matter if you ran 9:36 per mile or 9:56 per mile on a four-mile run on Friday in April 2017.

There are simply times when you need some time on your own.

That’s true in life as well. I’ve spoken with more than one woman friend coming off a divorce or a dating relationship that just wants time on her own. To sort that shit out. Same goes for the guys. All people need time on our own. Sometimes.

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Not doing MAF

About this time last year I started to experiment with the maffetone method. That is running to a heartrate of (180 – age) and eating a diet with low carbs and low refined foods. The diet also emphasises a low stress lifestyle which is somewhat harder to achieve.

I found that I lost 10lb in weight and 4% body fat, and I was able to run fairly consistently through the year, averaging a mile a day.

Over the last couple of months though it’s all gone awry.

I blame my sons birthday and the quest to make the perfect ginger cake. In the month of March I made about 4 or 5 ginger cakes trying to get it just right and probably ate most of them. Since then the floodgates have opened and I have eaten quite a bit of cake and bread. Not huge amounts, but sometimes having a bagel for breakfast, pasta for dinner or a piece of cake when out for coffee with friends. And I have piled the weight back on, 5lb in 2 months.

Now that I’m back on the carbs, I’m finding it hard to drop them again.

I also had a dip in the running, but I’m picking that up again now. Ive stopped looking at my HRM and started just running as I feel.

I ‘m enjoying the running more.

I don’t think that my running improved with MAF. I used to run at a 12min/mile pace, not fast by any account, but with MAF to keep my HR down it was about 15-16mins per mile. I suspect that I really needed to do more miles to get the benefit and run faster at that HR but although I tried, I struggled to fit in more than 4hrs per week.

Now I’m back to running by feel, I can’t do a 12min mile, not even downhill!  Maffetone says that running at tempo, which is what most people do naturally left to run to feel, releases cortisol and gives you carbohydrate cravings as you aren’t fat burning when you run.

So what to do now?

So far I’m enjoying my early morning runs. It does seem to be the best way to fit it into the day, and just 30minutes every morning has doubled my weekly mileage.

Can I and will I run off the weight gain? I know, because I read a lot that the evidence suggests running alone will not help to lose weight, it has to be combined with diet.


See the willow tree in the foreground? Almost completely up rooted but new growth on the branches!

Will the low carb diet work along side running to feel? will the running make me hungry, craving carbs, or will the low carb diet mean that I don’t have the energy/ motivation to run?

one way to find out is to give it a try. So for this week only, low carb, run to feel, 30 minutes every morning.

FYI my version of low carb includes lots of veggies, except potatoes, so it isn’t an unhealthy ‘packed with saturated fats and meat’ diet. Though I do get through a lot of cheese and Greek yoghurt!

Posted in balance, change, fitness, habits, healthy diet, heartrate, low intensity, maffetone methid, middle aged women, Motivation, Nutrition, running, slow run, Stress, time management, training plan, weight loss, work life balence, working mum | 16 Comments

21.4.17#spotted the bunny!

So, this is getting to be a habit!

Yesterday I didn’t run, I made an active choice to have a rest day.

Today, out again at 6:15. Events are conspiring to make me run, dry weather, waking up early (weight gain!)

more sheep on the road this morning. I guess nighttime belongs to the animals in the countryside. We humans think that we are in charge, fencing them off into fields. By day they play along, staying in the field behaving like dumb animals. By night, those who wish to slip out through gaps in the hedge and live it up on the grass verges and tarmac, wandering where they please. Then when the human world wakes up, back in they go. Here’s the evidence – a well used sheep hole.


The woolly bits give it away eh Holmes?

It was a good day for spotting, lots of snails! #spotted the snailIMG_0926i saw a rabbit too, but as always it was too quick for me to catch on camera.

Back home for breakfast and sitting quietly gazing out of the window, what did I see?


happy running!

Posted in balance, fitness, fun, habits, middle aged women, Motivation, positive mental attitude, running, slow run, time management, work life balence, working mum | 20 Comments


Did it again

6am run

didnt take my phone so I didn’t get a picture of the bunnies on the road.

Heres one from yesterday instead for the wildflower collection!IMG_0886.JPG

Happy running peeps!

Posted in running | 10 Comments

New habits?

Habits are hard to change.

I’ve been struggling to become a consistent runner for 4 years now. Sometimes I think that I’m getting there, sometimes I’m sure that I’m not!

There are lots of books I’ve read, techniques that I’ve tried. Essentially it boils down to time management and motivation. Sometimes I’m motivated but don’t have the time, sometimes the other way.

The other issue with time management is that sometimes you have the time, but it isn’t the right time. I’m a morning person. I have energy in the morning, I like to get things done. In the evening, bitter experience has shown me that if I do anything stimulating ( like exam revision, academic work or as it turns out running) I won’t be able to sleep, so all that stuff has to be out of the way by 8pm, unless I’m planning to pull an ‘all nighter’. All nighters are fine for students when you can coast the next day, but not good for middle aged surgeons,

So what to do? I dont normally get home until 7:30 which doesn’t give me much time to get a run in before that 8pm deadline ( and cook and eat). But mornings are busy!! So 4 yrs in it finally clicks. Instead of wasting all that high quality morning energy on mindless stuff like making lunch, deciding what to wear, packing my bag, I could do that in the evening. I can’t see that it would keep me awake? All those little minutes should add up to enough to do a 30minute run in the morning.

so tonight,

1 healthy lunch is in tupperware in the fridge

2 weather app checked

3 appropriate work clothes set out

4 appropriate run kit set out

5 shower prepped with toiletries and towels

6 phone charged and alarm set

And then…….

A bad nights sleep! I woke up at 2:30 and was awake for at least 2 hrs. Maybe it was the anticipation of the early morning run.

Anyhow, the sun was up and it was a cool, clear, dry, bright morning. So I JFDI. Yes it is worth getting kit out the night before- I can see how making all those little decisions normally slows you down.

IMG_0921Morning sun on the hills north west

The sheep were up early too. I met a lamb on the road, who tried to run through a wire fence and got stuck. I lifted it over the fence (either it wasnt that heavy or I’m getting stronger!). Two minutes later I met this fine lass;

IMG_0922I let her do as she pleased! We passed on the road, then when I came back I could see her trotting up ahead. She found her gap in the hedge and went back in the field. I’m not sure that the lamb I lifted over the fence was put back in the same field he came out of. I hope that he’s ok and not missing his mum. ((Guilt😱)). He looked big enough to eat grass though.

So all said, a good run in the bag before work 😊

Posted in running | 23 Comments


It wasn’t early when I got out this morning – it was a bank holiday after all- but it was first thing! It was almost a run, I had to keep stopping to take pictures of sheep!

for all the #spottedthesheep fans!

I have some lovely video footage of all the sheep flocking around the farmer on his quad bike (with sound, very noisy!)

I was grateful that it wasn’t raining!

Posted in fitness, fun, habits, hills, middle aged women, Motivation, running, slow run, work life balence, working mum | 11 Comments

Wet weekend.

Bank holiday weekend means only one think in NW England  -rain.

You can’t see the hills for the clouds/rain!

The plan for today was to go to Manchester for dim sum in China town, drop the boys at Old Trafford for the United match then shopping for me at the Trafford centre. Fortunately I googled it first thing and found out that the shops are shut: so instead of wandering around an empty mall for 90 minutes, a change of plan for me – a day at home instead. I had dressed in my running gear ready to run before we left but procrastination  set in. I  had lazy cups of tea in bed, read, wrote my journal, texted some friends (I need to make more of an effort to keep in touch since my Facebook account got hacked and I deleted it) did some laundry, some housework, read all your blogs, cooked lunch and then another cup of tea.

Only then did I realise that it has been a week since my last run. How have I slipped into such bad habits?

Anyway, I shifted myself, put my cagoule on and got out. A pootle around Whalley, 4.5 miles. Nice and quiet being a bank holiday. Went through the churchyard where there’s an old Saxon cross.


I have definitely slipped into some bad habits. Not enough running, a few slices of cake/chocolate have been finding their way into my diet and suddenly I’m hungry a lot. I’ve been gaining weight. On the plus side I’m sleeping well and cheerful, but I’d quite like to stay slim.

Can I outrun the cake? Or does it have to go? Can I increase my running? I think it’s time. The sun is up in the morning and so should I be.

The wi fi here is terrible, I’m doing my blog on my phone because Sunday’s are particularly bad. I think everyone in the village is using it and as we are further away from the junction box or whatever it is so slow by the time it gets to us. The point is, sorry for my lack of blogging! I used to love reading everyone’s blogs with my morning cup of tea, but now just trying to post a comment is a major rigmarole. But maybe it’s a sign, a sign that instead of blogging of checking Facebook at 6am I should be RUNNING!!!!!

To put it in the words of George Bernard Shaw (well it was in ‘my fair lady’ if not actually in Pygmalion) I need to ‘shift my bleeding arse’ and get out of bed in the morning.

Once I’m out I love it, and there’s much less traffic at 6am. Time to join SRG and the sunrise crowd.

any top tips for how to get an inherently lazy person to get out of bed in the morning instead of snuggling with a cup of tea?


Posted in running | 21 Comments