Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Pink Hair

A while ago I decided I just had to go pink so I picked Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL Ultra Brights Shocking Pink 93.

Its a semi-permanent dye (but a little word of warning depending on your hair and previous treatment it can stain your hair) and comes pre-mixed and with a generous amount of conditioner especially if you have long hair like me. A bonus is that if you are only using a small amount for dip or section dying you and don't need the whole tube, not a problem, pop the cap back on and put it on the cupboard for your next touch up.

I used one whole tube to dip dye, but I needed two tubes when I decided to go full on pink.

So the before:
I started off with medium blonde hair, I really wouldn't recommend this if you have anything darker. It's really easy to apply.

And the result:

WOW thats pink
Side by Side comparison
I was really impressed and so a little while later I decided to go full head of hair pink, this is it after a few washes

Monday, 28 April 2014

#SpoonieRunning - A Journey From Couch to 5k: Week 8

Monday 14 April the start of a new week and picking up the challenge.

I really wasn't feeling that great last week and was wondering if I should just stop altogether, but I am stubborn and I want to finish the plan even if I cant keep it up.

I woke up on early on Monday morning and felt good, like I was getting back my natural rhythm but even so I had to talk myself into getting out of bed and out for a run.

I had got my running stuff set aside the night before so it was my plan. In my head I thought that I would start back on Week 4 of the plan and I think that was a huge part of my stumbling block. I felt like I was stuck there and I just couldn't face the thought of doing Week 4 again.

To progress each week you need to have completed each week of the plan, that means going out and doing that weeks run 3 times. Technically I had done Week 4 (ok so it was spread over 3 weeks and the last run wasn't completely finished), but I decided if starting on Week 5 of the plan was what was going to get me out then that's what it had to be. I knew that I needed to try and that I could go back if I needed.

So Week 8 of my journey and the start of Week 5 of the plan (yes I know its a little confusing).
Week 5 is split into three different runs

Run 1 (Monday) - 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking and the final 5 minutes running (warm and cool down are 5 minutes of walking)

I survived. I found it easy. In fact I found the walking intervals too long.

Ferd keeps my company during my runs

What was more amazing was that I only needed to have one knee tapped up, so its working its helping to build back muscle tone.

Yay go me and my body.

I even treated myself to some new running leggings - a bargain from Lidl in the reduced section, the last pair and under £5

Well I had to try them 
But then came the Fall....

I had to retreat back to bed as I could not longer stand up and could only manage minimal use of my brain. It left me reduced to tears and feeling like a failure.

I was finding it hard to reconcile the two halves of me - the disabled sick me and the disabled fighting me and I wondered if I had already reached and past my breaking point.

I am the paradox by this point my stamina and general wellness should have been increased but as I have said I have M.E and while yes my stamina in terms of how far I can go has increased I was wondering if my general wellness was actually decreasing and if I would be able to go out again.

But through the support of friends and my husband I realised I have had this horrible disease and battling it for over 14 years - wow that's a long time - and I am not done fighting yet.

Run 2 (Wednesday) - 8 minutes running, 5 minutes walking and 8 minutes walking (warm up and cool down 5 minute walks)

So yes I did mange to get out again. I had a rest day as part of the program and I got my running kit laid out ready the night before and just decided to see how I would feel in the morning.

Queue really rough night. Sleep disturbance comes with M.E. At around 6.30 am I decided that sleep would be the best option and another rest day.

I woke up at 8.30 and decided why not give it ago. The dog needed his walk anyway and I figured if it was too much then I could abandon the attempt and enjoy a nice walk.

I did it, I managed. The first run was ok and hello 8 minutes :) but the second run I really felt those last few minutes halfway through it really felt like I had hit treacle but I slowed down and kept going.

As with Run 1 of this week it resulted with me back in bed, I was simply unable to support myself upright and the following day again retreated back to bed only a few hours after getting up.

Run 3 (Friday) - the big one 20 minutes running (warm up and cool down 5 minute walks)

I debated about having another rest day before attempting this run, I thought about repeating Run 2. But then I decided to go for it and see what I could do.

I thought that I was going to have to abandon the attempt early on my knee was giving me some issues but it soon settled down.

So 20 whole minues of running eep.
5 mintes woohoo but I totally knew that I could do that
10 minutes yay
15 minutes I'm running
Then I get told only 2 minutes to go and that's when I hit my wall, but you know what I did keep going.

Big, big grin on my face - take that M.E, wonky joints and chronic back pain.

umm yeah I lost an ear gel
The rest of the week was spent basking in the glow of my achievement and largely in bed. But I did it, I can't believe how far I've come.

Please note:
I don't want people to read this and get the wrong idea and think ME is made better through exercise. It isn't. I know my body, I know when and where I can push or try to push my limits. I know that I have had periods when this would have been lunacy and would have made me worse and jeopardised my future.

Please don't use my experience to try and push someone who it isn't right for or they are not ready as it could further damage their health.

For people with chronic illness/disability exercise and making a positive change doesn't have to mean getting all sweaty there are many simple stretches that you can do in a chair and some that can even be adapted to do in bed (search chair exercises for limited mobility), but again I urge caution it is not right for everyone. If you or someone you care for do decide that you/they want to try and increase fitness my advice is always to consult with your doctor first.

Previous posts:
#SpoonieRunning - A Journey from Couch to 5k
#SpoonieRunning - A Journey From Couch to 5k: The Journey So Far...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

#SpoonieRunning - A Journey From Couch to 5k: The Journey So Far....

The Couch to 5k plan that I am following aims to get you running 5k (or 30 minutes) over a nine week period, but that does not mean that you can not stretch it out longer if you need to.

Week One (24 February) - Week One of Couch to 5k Plan
Track suit bottoms on, zip top, trainers laced up, dog hitched up, ipod turned on and off I went on run number one.

I survived.

I then did it again and again.

Each week consists of runs and rest days. In total each week you only have to do the hard running bit 3 times. Now that doesn't sound to bad does it and rest days total nailed them :)

Actually I found week one pretty easy. But I have to confess I didnt start this plan from the couch I had been giving running a try on and off during the previous year. Mainly off as I was inconsistent.

I also invested in a lovely pair of Nike Legend Track Pants.

I found them in TK Maxx which did mean that I couldn't be picky about leg length so being too long its great that I can sew:

see how much I had to cut off 
They are really comfy and more importantly have been keeping me warmer than my legging.

Week Two (3 March) - Week Two of Couch to 5k Plan
I survived week one and started week two with the same ease.

I am not saying running is easy just over the course of the previous year I had obviously done something right (it was hard when I started and the thought of a minute was an eternity). I think my baseline level of fitness was probably at this week.

But still it was an amazing achievement to finish as for me it meant two consistent weeks, whereas before it was this consistency that I was struggling with.

Week Three (10 March) - Week Three of Couch to 5k Plan
And now the real test began as reps this week included a 3 minute run. Three whole minutes non stop. It was harder than the previous weeks but I did it.

Then it came to run 3 of the week and I didn't complete the final run, I was one tiny little minute, 60 whole seconds short. I had been complaining that my lungs were hurting, its something I have battled with before and always assumed that it was due to the bad chest infections I had a few years ago. But my peak flow was fine and I think what actually was happening was inflammed ribs. But I just couldnt push through the pain on that last run and enough was enough I decided it was better to stop.

Along side this I had also been getting a mild sore throat, a classic sign that my body is not happy with what I am doing with it.

But no that wasn't enough to contend with, I had to slip.

I prevented myself from hitting ground (you know where you kind of fling and contort your body to keep balance) and in the mean time I heard something in my foot snap.

No mobile phone. No one around. Just me and the dog.

I could weight bare and I gingerly hobbled home stopping on a few occasions to double over and cry with pain - I was very thankful of my huge sunglasses. I got home took my trainer off and thats when I cried out loud as I could no longer weight bare and contemplations of A&E were running through my mind. Mr Mouse helped me to the sofa so I could do basic assessment.

Not broken, no swelling, just ankle no longer support foot in correct position. So wonky joint issue. After a little rest I was able to make it upstairs.

And this was the result:
Left Ankle needed support to hold it back in alignment and sprained
Right Ankle sprained
Left Knee wobbly
Right Knee not so wobbly
Left wrist sprained

at least I was colourful 

Week Four (17 March) - Rest
Well what could I do other than rest. And generally I did start to feel better. Not 100% but better.

Week Five (24 March) - Week Four of Couch to 5k Plan
So with the sprained bits all ok I embarked on week 4.

Run one I survived.

Post run one not so good it was clear I needed way more rest. My throat was sore complete with gunk running down the back of it, I hurt and I was sleeping for England.

Week Six (31 March) - Week Four of Couch to 5k Plan
And starting week four again.

I managed to almost complete week 4.

I did two runs but my final run was ended a little early due to knee pain.

Week Seven (7 April)
Another week of rest again just so tired that I couldnt do anything but listen to my body and its need for rest.

Previous posts:
#SpoonieRunning - A Journey From Couch to 5k

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

#SpoonieRunning - A Journey From Couch to 5k

If you follow me on Instgram then you might have noticed me mentioning SpoonieRunning and my attempt of couch to 5k (which is 3.1 miles for people like me who dont understand these new fangled measurements).

So whats the deal and what is a spoonie anyway?

First off the term spoonie comes from the excellent spoon theory and is a way of explaining chronic illness to people. You have a set number of 'spoons' a day and each activity costs a spoon so you have to decided what activities you are going to do. Of course you can borrow one of tomorrows spoons but then that will obviously mean there is a knock on effect.

So what makes me a spoonie?

I am disabled - I know that shocked you a disabled person running! How?

Most people assume that disabled only mean mobility impaired and someone in a chair and unless its an Olympic games year disability in sport is not something that is in the mainstream.

Not all disabilities are visible and not all disabilities cause mobility impairment that requires aids.

I have a complex set of chronic conditions, I have blogged about them before, I am very open about my illnesses. But here is a quick run down of a few (yes a few I do have more):
ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) - I have had this for many years gone through different stages and flares, I am one of the lucky ones. For me it means I suffer cognitive issues (brain fog), fatigue, recurrent sore throats, headaches, sensitivity, pain to name just a few. But here is the rub a big part of ME is post-exertional malaise - this isnt normal tiredness and it does not normally develop until the following day and can take several days to improve.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) - for me I get what I refer to as Hell Periods (gut twisting, nausea, dizzy I just want to curl up and die pain), but also it comes with other stuff like increased risk of stroke, diabetes and difficulty in losing weight.
Chronic Back Pain - well you know, what it says on the tin.
Wonky Joints - I have a lot of joint issues but the ones I moan about the most are my knees. They are hypermobile and the kneecaps have a habit of becoming misaligned (basically sliding out of place) and therefore they dont track properly and cause pain.

So why I am doing a couch to 5k running plan?
Simple keep moving to keep moving.

A few years ago I got pretty bad my ME was spiralling out of the realms of control and then Easter 2011 my back went into spasm, ok I thought I get back pain from time time normally a bit of heat rest, painkillers and it goes away.

Not this time.

Collapsing on the floor and being stuck down there and having to call paramedics out to get me up was not on my list of fun things to do on an Easter weekend.

Progressively my back got worse. It then seemed to ease off a smidge and then went back into major spasm and nothing would help. This and trouble with work sent the ME way out of control and I had a major anxiety episode (all things I've blogged about before so I am not going to rehash the past).

Anyway initially I was told there was nothing I could do to help my back other than keep taking the cocktail of medication I was on to keep the spasms manageable. My mobility had gone right down to somedays barely being able to walk a few steps unaided and others I could manage a little further while holding back tears. And that's when I got offered a place on a local NHS run course for suffers with chronic back pain. It was a different approach combining physio, pain management, understanding medication (already had a pretty good handle on that one) and group discussions (you know the you are not alone methodology). For the first time something really clicked and it helped. Also a big plus point was the nurses and physio running the course understood about my ME and the physical aspects were very much tailored to what you could do and they helped me to assess other ways of doing some of the stretches so I wouldn't cause additional pain to my knees.

Following on from that I plucked up courage to ask the doctor for a physio referral for my knees (I'd not had very positive results before) - then my neck and then my hips. Suddenly physio made sense and I could see and feel the benefits - the right physiotherapist really does make all the difference.

Through this process I have learnt that I need to keep my muscles strong to support my wonky joints and thus it reduces the pain. But also my pain increases and mobility decreases as soon as I 'stop' for a period time.

It all comes back to the I need to keep moving to keep moving. But while doing this I also have to balance my complex health needs.

I know that I am in a good place health wise to try this, my ME is more undercontrol and with all the previous physio I know that slow and steady works and I also know if and when I need to take to take a break.

I also dont want people to read this and get the wrong idea and think ME is made better through exercise. It isn't. I know my body, I know when and where I can push or try to push my limits. I know that I have had periods when this would have been lunacy and would have made me worse and jeopardised my future.

But at the same time I don't want people who have chronic health conditions to think that simply means they cant do it. Exercise and making a positive change doesn't have to mean getting all sweaty there are many simple stretches that you can do in a chair (search chair exercises for limited mobility). If you do decide that you want to try and increase fitness my advice is always to consult with your doctor first.

So I am following the NHS couch to 5k plan this seemed like a good solid plan to start with well documented results also I dont have a fancy phone that will run all the current fitness apps (zombie run really appealed to me) so old school podcasts was fine for me.

And so I started.....

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