In her latest ‘class of 2018’ post, Katie Kirk reflects on a busy month of university deadlines, increasing her running and making the decision to investigate her own bone health.

I have always loved running on New Year’s Day because it feels like a fresh start. However, I haven’t run on New Year’s Day since 2016.

This year my New Year’s Day run happened in February, and over the month I’ve progressed to running my highest mileage of 2018 last week.

It’s been a relatively busy month at university and I’ve been working hard to complete my laboratory work for my degree in food science and nutrition.

I have also been applying for some post-graduate opportunities for September which I am very excited about. Thankfully I was able to take a few weekends off work in the coffee shop to allow me to complete my assignments and do a little bit of running.

Bone health has currently been a hot topic in the athletics world and I finally took the plunge and booked an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant.

I have been putting this off, but with a number of bone-stress related injuries in the last year, I wanted to investigate.

I had a series of blood tests and a DEXA scan which haven’t thrown up anything awful. One of the vertebrae (L4) in my back has a low density, which is not expected of someone who has done an impact sport their whole life.

But this is not something I necessarily need to worry about now. So I will continue with a calcium and vitamin D supplement protocol and be re-tested in two years time.

Baby steps

I am trying to take the next few weeks slowly. Both in the pace and progression of my runs. For the past six months when I have been returning to fitness I don’t wear a running watch that shows pace. I don’t even wear or look at a watch when I’m running with my boyfriend Johnny or my dad/coach Mark.

I do however have to resist the urge to ask “how long has it been” after 5 minutes. In some ways relinquishing this control has really helped mentally returning to running and maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise in general.

I am not obsessing about how fast or how long I am running for. I can focus on the important aspects, getting out there and enjoying what I am doing.

While I would normally run with a heart rate monitor for tempo and recovery runs, based on data from lactate and V02 max testing. I am trying to listen to my body and become more in tune with myself. However, I do plan to start wearing a watch and monitoring heart rate once I progress with training.

I have had to begin this process with baby steps. I have no idea what my goals are for this year. But I know this is the start of an adventure of longer strides.

Katie Kirk is part of the ‘fast runners: class of 2018’ and this year will share her running journey every month. You can find out more about Katie here and further information on the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.