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Running the Athens Marathon for Plan UK: Update after Month 4 of Training

I’ve now just over 6 weeks to go until the Athens Marathon, and I’m getting very nervous… Why? All because that ‘minor calf injury’ which I mentioned in last month’s training update has turned out to be something a fair bit more serious! Two different doctors have confirmed that I’ve got posterior tibialis tendonitis (PTT – a tendon between the calf and ankle) from over-pronating, caused by collapsed arches, caused by forefoot equinus. All that terminology basically translates to = bad news. So instead of the 225km I should have run since my last training update, the last month has involved a fair deal of pain, endless RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation), lots of ibuprofen, various anti-inflammatories, podiatry and chiropractic appointments (thanks to my friend Ingvild at ML Chiropractic in Fulham), and lots of frustration that the healing process is taking an absolute age. Oh and a mere 15km of running.

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        The last month also involved completing the Welsh 3000s Challenge! It involved reaching 15 peaks above 3,000ft in Wales, culminating in summiting Snowdon at 3,560ft (1,085m) above sea level. It was far tougher a challenge than I’d anticipated and it almost killed me (quite literally, there are some deadly sheer drops to scramble across!), straining muscles I never knew existed! Although my tendon didn’t hurt one bit, it clearly didn’t do it any good, and I also managed to sprain my right ankle, strain the sartorius muscle in my left thigh, leave both my knees in shreds, give me an almighty blister and physically exhaust myself. To be honest I’m amazed that I survived to tell the tale after 26 hours walking/climbing, and you can read more about the Welsh 3000s in Monday’s Postcard of the Week. After that, I needed rest and was in no fit state to run anywhere for a good while.

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        After 4 weeks of no running and feeling extremely restless, I finally braved running again last weekend and I’m starting off very slowly to begin with. My tendon is still causing me “some” pain while I run, which is worrying and disappointing. But it’s an eye-opener and makes me appreciate the good health I’ve enjoyed the rest of my life – oh how I took it for granted! I met a lovely fitness blogger last weekend called Beki, creator of Miss Wheezy (she’s asthmatic you see), who’s suggested I try interval training to ease back into running, and I’m going to start a personalised fitness plan with Siobhan from Switch Fitness tomorrow, taking into account my weak tendon. I’m also going to have another sports massage thanks to the lovely people at Urban Massage, who deliver massages on demand anywhere in zones 1-4 in London, as well as in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. I reviewed their sports massage last year after running the Run to the Beat 10km and it was heavenly to be massaged back to health in the comfort of my own living room. They offer everything from a classic massage to deep tissue, from energising massage to reflexology and I seriously recommend them – it’s far nicer than travelling to and from a salon. They’re also very generously offering a £15 Urban Massage gift voucher to every single person who sponsors my marathon!

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         I’m fundraising for the global children’s charity Plan UK and have so far raised 34% of my £1,000 target. Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated – I really do appreciate all your support! Here’s my JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Virginia-Stuart-Taylor/ and I’ll make sure an Urban Massage gift voucher wings its way to you! A massage makes an excellent present (better than a bunch of flowers in my opinion!) so it would make a lovely treat for someone you care about. Even if you don’t fancy donating, then please do consider sharing my JustGiving page on Facebook/Twitter instead. To fundraise for the cause I’m also planning a safari supper in October!

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Plan UK’s work over the last month

        So what’s new for the charity I’m fundraising for? I’m a Digital Ambassador for Plan UK so I’m lucky to have lots of contact with the charity and to find out all about the work they do. It’s September and that means it’s the start of the academic year. As children and young people head back to school all around the world, Plan UK’s Learn Without Fear campaign seeks to highlight what attending school is like for millions of girls in developing countries, where the right to a good quality education and to a life free from violence is often being denied.

  • Worldwide, 62 million girls don’t go to school – violence is one of the main factors stopping them
  • This school year, 246 million children will be affected by violence at school worldwide – this can include sexual violence, physical violence and punishment, bullying, travelling to school and even attacks on schools

        Be it physical or sexual, verbal or psychological, girls across the globe are suffering from violence at school. Violence at school affects boys too, but girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment, exploitation, coercion and discrimination by students and teachers. Violence at school happens in the UK too. A girls’ attitudes survey conducted by Girl-guiding revealed that almost 60% of girls aged from 13 – 21 reported sexual harassment at school or college. That’s shocking!

         The Learn Without Fear campaign is one part of the wider Because I Am A Girl campaign, which you should definitely support by signing up on this website. Becaause I Am A Girl is the world’s biggest campaign for girls’ rights and joining the campaign helps Plan UK to protect girls from violence, FGM and child marriage to ensure that they can go to school and have their voices heard. By signing up you’ll find out about the great events planned in the coming weeks to help girls Learn Without Fear. For example, Sunday 11th October is the UN’s Day of the Girl, so add that one to your diaries, look for news on that via email and use the hashtag #LearnWithoutFear.

        I’m meeting up with Plan UK’s other Digital Ambassadors in early October to discuss the campaign and I’m really excited to meet them all and see how we can best support the campaign. And in very exciting news for the charity, Plan International has been announced as Chelsea FC’s new global charity partner for the next three years! Together with Chelsea FC, the charity will help transform the lives of thousands of children, combat gender stereotypes and reach the most marginalised groups of young people. Find out more in this video:

       I think the work Plan UK does is absolutely vital and I’m so proud to be supporting such a worthwhile cause through running the Athens Marathon. It would mean so much if you could donate to my JustGiving page and remember that you’ll receive a lovely £15 gift voucher for Urban Massage as a thank you! You could indulge in a massage yourself or alternatively treat someone around you who’d love a massage!

Thank you so much!! Virginia x

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3 Comments »

  1. So glad to read another story of someone using their love of fitness to raise awareness. However, I’m so sorry to hear about your injury! Running is so rewarding, but it definitely takes a toll when your body is tired. I’m also raising awareness for a new organization based on the foundation of fitness. If you have a moment, check it out on my blog along with my other fitness posts! 🙂

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