Guest Blog - Cath Ferry

Sports Massage

Thanks Cath (@katierun) for agreeing to be the first guest blogger for Since the launch of this site Cath has been a great supporter, retweeting and giving advice to Owain on injury prevention and rehab when the unthinkable happens - he gets injured! 
If you are in the Edinburgh area and you need some knots pulled out of your muscles or you are injured and you're needing an expert to give you the once over, give Cath a shout. 

1) Can you give the readers a quick introduction to yourself and your running background please.

So, I'm Cath Ferry, a 40-something-runner. In my earlier years, I was a gymnast, reaching the heady heights of West of Scotland Champion. When I got too old for that sport (I retired at 18) I needed something else where I could be competitive and just as fit as I was as a gymnast. Tried all the usual stuff for a couple of years - gym, aerobics, step (well it was early 90's) until I decided to go for a run. That was it. I became a runner. My first event was the Glasgow Half Marathon which was completed just under 2 hours. I then did the Women's 10k, and those were the only 2 races I did until I moved to Edinburgh and joined Edinburgh Athletic Club. Though Alex McEwan's sessions on track and road, and his never faltering encouragement, I entered more and more races, and got more confident and a bit faster. PB's are:
1500 - 5.08
1 mile - 5.42
3k - 10.38
5k - 18.14
10k - 38.02
1/2 mara - 1hr 29
Through getting older and suffering a number of illnesses and injuries, I run purely for pleasure, (and to eat cake) preferring to chase my 2 spaniels around Corstorphine Hill. But I still enter the odd race and attend some club sessions to satisfy the competitiveness in me.

2) How long have you been a sports therapist and why did you choose that profession? 

 I actually became a sports massage therapist to learn how to deal with my own niggles and injuries!  I am also a fitness instructor, and love to learn new things about the body, so this seemed a good way to learn more and compliment my library of knowledge. As you can probably appreciate, there is a lot of "homework" required for learning this profession. And it helps to practice your new learned skills on as many people as I became quite popular around 2007 when I was embarking on this course!  I kept these skills up my sleeve, and when I took redundancy from my job in 2010, I also took the opportunity to see if I could (not make a living) but more to help my running, swimming and cycling friends keep training for their own events. I also used my skills to help family members recover from operations such as knee replacement. As time has gone by, I've learned so much more from working with my colleagues, but I also attend other training courses and discuss various injuries/conditions with other therapists to keep my skills up. I think it also helps people when I know what their injury is, as I have usually suffered from it either as a gymnast or a runner. Talking and listening to people is a big skill in itself and helps form trust - this is vital when dealing with anyone who is apprehensive or worried, and I believe that this is one of my strongest skills. Although anyone who has been to see me may argue that my elbows are my strongest skill...!

3) What's your favourite training run?

Fav training run has to be in and around Corstorphine Hill. It has trail, grass, stairs, small and steep inclines as well as long gradual downhills. No traffic, no noise and no pollution. I don't wear my earphones in here and never take my phone. I want to see and hear nature, and enjoy the run. I very rarely run fast here because of the inclines and terrain, and this is where my 2 best training partners come with me...C-Jay and spaniels. I've met some wonderful people just from running in the woods, and so it remains a special and favourite place to be.


4) What's your least favourite training run but you know you have to do it?

Oh dear. Least favourite run has to be anything with efforts over 2 mins!  As I've learned to listen to my body (the older it gets) and learned to deal with injuries, my mileage has dropped dramatically. That is why I race up to 5k these days. However, with the help of the Saturday gang and Alex and Argy, I'm learning to love longer fartlek again.


5) If someone was looking to get in to running for the first time, what advice would you give them?

Advice to a first timer would be to visit a specialist running shop like Run and Become to get a good pair of trainers. They will look at how you walk/move, check what surface you're likely to run on and will make sure you get the best footwear. Get some comfortable and sweat-wicking clothing, and start slow, even walk a minute, jog a minute, for 20 mins. Set short-term goals and if you enjoy running after a few weeks, get down to your local parkrun for a stress-free and fun introduction to a timed 5k. You'll meets lots of people who will encourage and inspire you. Look after yourself with some gentle stretching after running, and try a circuit class to help with strength and conditioning.

6) What advice would you give others to help prevent a running related injury?

Advice to help prevent running-related injuries would be to always do some form of gentle stretching after each running session. Stretching shouldn't be sore, so don't force it. As mentioned above, try circuit training to build in strength which which will help keep good running form.  Make sure you are warmed up properly before starting each session - especially a speed session. Don't run through a niggle - it WILL become an injury. Take the impact off your body once or twice a week and do some cross-training. Get a sports massage regularly. Get a foam roller for those times when you can't get a sports massage. Pop some ice on a niggle (no more than 10mins) to keep inflammation down.  Ask for help and advice!  All runners have been injured and you can get a gem of information that might just help.

7) People often say "Oh, you're a runner, you will regret that in later life when your knees are ruined", what would you say to that comment?

Do you want the clean version or my usual response??  Ok. I was a gymnast for around 10 years and have been running for around 20 years. Something would have fallen off or broken by now, surely?  If you look after yourself, no, your knees won't be knackered. In all honesty, cycling buggers up your knees more than running. You knees produce a natural lubricant called synovial fluid when you perform moves with impact - such as running. If you don't do impact, no synovial fluid is produced and it is likely your cartilage will deteriorate quite quickly. Cyclists don't do impact, and more cyclists than runners have problems with their knees.

8)  Finally, tell us about your business

Well, I do sports massage on a part-time basis, (I have a proper job!!!) from my home in Corstorphine. First appointments are around an hour and involve a bit of chat and form filling to make sure I understand your issue, and you understand the best treatment required. I encourage you to ask questions and I usually give you homework to do!  Why should you see me?  There aren't many injuries left that I haven't had, so I can usually suss out the best treatment, offer advice and empathise at the same time :) I am also honest and will refer you on if necessary.


If you want to contact Cath, drop her an email on [email protected] or call her on 07768 377997.

Owain Williams

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