Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The old year shuffles out

 the Great Outdoor Gym, Peckham Rye

Day 261

A gentle six miler, partly to time how long it takes me to run to Peckham Rye in the morning for Parkrun in the event of icy weather (which precludes biking). Forward planning. Bit of core work pre-run, stretching post. Lavish refuelling to get me through a late night and a spot of potentially hungover racing.

It's the last day of the year, and just about 100 days until VLM. I'll see 2015 in with the last of the mincers and a glass or two of Scotch, then I will continue training seriously.  This is a most absurd day, during which we all pack in as many unhealthy habits as we can, because as midnight chimes in 2015 it'll be all about New Year New Me. I do not think the old me was so bad, though. I vow to spend more time in my local Great Outdoor Gym

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Reel fitness - how ceilidh helps

You spin me right round...

...dancing till the early morn
Day 260

A bleary wakening, aching from the night before. Last night's energetic burly has left me somewhat achey, although that might be a result of 4 short hours' slumber on the sofa in rural Kent. A little walk to a prep-schoolbreakfast, and a short run on a locked-out daughter rescue mission once home in London.

Dancing all night is a fine way to sweat out the beer and many mincers. A huge family gathering, involving several South African rugby players, a bunch of Brazilians and a couple of Japanese (my husband's family is becoming increasingly exotic) and a strong Celtic love of the Dashing White Sergeant and Gay Gordons. What larks: brilliant fun galloping up and down with various nephews, brothers in law and unknown Hooray Henrys from the public school system, to which my in-laws are firmly welded. My generous brother in law and his wife, who run an idyllic prepschool on Wye, opened up the facilities to feed us handsomely. It was a splendid way to see out the dog days of the year, and a reminder of the many forms not-so-serious training can take. Staying active, is what it's all about.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Rural idyll to urban chaos

Perfect winter morning in Sussex

The dog I love the most

Day 259

Monday rest day. With a week of limitless eating and drinking under my (straining) belt, I've managed to keep to a rough running schedule. Today I've stretched a little and walked a little, and so far eaten healthily. However, there's a big party tonight. My stomach is distended and starting to complain.

All night long owls hooted into the still frosty air. Sleeping in my brother's beautiful barn conversion, with Peppa the gorgeous pointer my companion for walks, and clear ringing air and pale, rosy winter sunrise, this is a perfect time to focus on what's important in life. We're slaloming gently toward the new year, with special parkruns and a big cross country meet coming up in the next few days. So it's careful fuelling, decent sleep and proper training I should be focusing on, while hosting large numbers of revellers in this chaotic house, and trying not to catch ailing husband's rather laryngeal cold. Lemon, honey and a tot of whiskey to wash down some ibroprufen, let's hope I can escape the lurgy. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Down by the sea

Glorious sunrise over water
Day 258
Poole is a delightful place to run, so even waking a little blearily and half wanting to turn over and sleep late, it was more tempting to get out into the frosty blue in search of the sea. So I did a seven miler, trying to stay under 9 m/m, which will be my long slow run pace, with a faster finish. My right hamstring and calf is giving gyp, in fact it's stiff all the way down to the achilles. Tendonitis?

Friday, 26 December 2014

Parkrun tourist

Poole Parkrun is a busy one a beautiful place

Day 257

Poole Parkrun. It's flat and fast, so rather depressing not to manage a sub-22. I ran the first mile in 7.03 so would have liked the subsequent two to be of similar speed (they should really be quicker), but evidently not, as I only managed 22:43. So back to the drawing board. I was second in age group and 14th woman out of a field of 415.

A beautiful cold crisp day like this is what Parkrun is all about. After a lumpen couple of days of overeating and drinking, (mindlessly unwrapping Roses and shoving them down, eating second helpings of suet-filled Christmas pud when I didn't even want the first one...etc and more), getting up and out and running a brisk 5km race has left me rosy and optimistic (once I'd recovered from the disappointing time). My Twitter running buddies are all talking about Jantastic, so this is a prompt for me to regroup and reassess my efforts, as the downhill stretch to 26.04.2015 will begin on January 1.

Fuelled by chocolate

On the road - it's Boxing Day
Ponies in the soggy New Forest
An extremely soggy pony
...and a soggier Jane and Ronnie
Day 256

A walk in freezing rain in the New Forest, sinking hock deep in mud and trying, and failing, to clear enormous boggy puddles. Like most of the population, a long walk is needed when sluggish and over fed. Many chocolates eaten.

These days without definition or training merge into each other and you lose sight of what's weekend and what's not. Its funny how every Christmas season follows this pattern, hours roll by and meals are spread and served and demolished; stomachs distend to accommodate more and more; sleep is heavy and dreamless, you wake unrefreshed and it somehow seems normal to replenish the chocolate levels. You long for fresh air, though, however, wet and unwelcoming the midwinter afternoon. Christmas cake and cups of tea, and a huge cold-cut spread. A vow to get back to normal tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Stocking filler

Day 255

A three miler in relaxed fashion, to Hillyfields, following the same route as Parkrun, and finishing a little faster, just so that I could call it a tempo run. A healthy drop in an alcoholic and extremely sugary day (chocolate pre breakfast, post breakfast, huge lunch, vast amounts of nuts, more chocolate and too much whiskey).

The sky was blue, the air was chill, people were out wearing Christmas hats and jumpers, children riding new scooters, playing with footballs. Dogs wore little jackets and everyone seemed happy. A lovely day.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Deck the halls, and the garden


Day 254

Start the day on the mat. Twenty minutes of stretching, rollering, planking. Followed by a good deal of walking, carrying, wrapping, cleaning. Walking home from the supermarket with £100 worth of shopping weighing down shoulders and wrists, well, that's weight training, no?

Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Do the Hickey Shuffle with Team 6

Just me and Erik Lee
Day 252

Up and out and on the bike to see if Erik was out in force this morning. He was, and we did hickey shuffle, dead lifts, resistance bands, tyre slams. waist rotation, arm swings (pictured above).

Sleep deprived from hormonal surges, seasonal stress and snoring bed partner, the beginnings of a cold and too much sugar, just getting up to Hillyfields for an hour's circuit training was an achievement. As the hour wore on I could feel ominous shivery cold symptoms encroaching. The session was done, though. I have become obsessed with the hickey shuffle, and want to achieve five sets in the minute. I only managed a  load of 4.5s this morning. The rest of the day was all Christmassy. Carols and pizza and beer in the evening. Lovely, but the prospect of another week of indulgence is daunting. Fitting in the training will be an issue.

Monday, 22 December 2014

The training plan on the fridge

Rather lovely biscuits in the Horniman Museum cafe

Day 252

Rest day. Cycle up to Sydenham Hill to see godmother in care home; a little wander around Horniman Museum Gardens; walk extensively on Christmas shopping/catching up with friend mission.

The countdown to Christmas. Christmas. The dogs days between Christmas and New Year. New Year's Day and that final blowout. As we all wince at New year New You headlines and handy hints about detox, the spring marathon runner prints off a training plan that suits and attaches it to the fridge door. Having it there may make you think twice about raiding the refrigerator for beer/wine/chocolate/cheese or whatever is your particular poison. The friend I met today was off work now until 5 January. As am I, having filed my last Christmas review this morning.  We drank and were merry and it felt to me as if the slackening and feasting before the training proper had begun. Still, I will try to run most days and will attempt to keep alcohol intake on the moderate side, because it is scary how quickly fitness slides away when you succumb to total grand bouffe.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Running up Blyth Hill, blithely

selfie at the top of One Tree Hill

and on to Nunhead Cemetery  

Day 251
The shortest day, and a long run with buddy up a series of hills with my legs still complaining from yesterday's race. From Ladwell Fields, up Blyth Hill, up One Tree Hill, up the hill in Nunhead cemetery to the St Paul's viewpoint, then down to Catford and Ladywell again. Good effort.

Building up a good base for marathon training, I'm in danger of neglecting every other aspect of my life to get the miles in. It has gone midnight and I have a deadline for a review - 9am  this morning. It isn't finished and I'm thinking about training. So I'll write this run another day.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Aaargh! Soles

Six to score, so I won a medal too
Amy, our fastest woman, hides behind me

Day 250

A gruelling cross country run in Surrey. Billed as 7.5m, the South of the Thames Cross Country Championships is in fact an 8 miles slog across hilly Farthing Downs. I was pleased to be not so far from the faster members of my pack, covering it in (I think) about 1.07.

The conversation before every cross country race is 'trail shoes or spikes?' I settled on the latter for this course because when I ran the Pirie 10 miler here a few weeks ago I kept slaloming don the muddy cambers. However, today's course was slightly different, and the wooded sections had rocky, gravelly bits, that clashed painfully with my spikes, bruising the ball of my foot. It was like running on a shingly beach barefoot. I found myself crying put with the pain. The relief of runny sharp, downhill grass and mud sections afterward was extraordinary. I flew down those bits. The results were that my miles veered crazily between 7.35m/m and 11m/m, evening out at about 8.10m/m. There were three laps, so we had to toil up a very steep hill three times. I ache like crazy now, which shows how very hard it was. Ibuprofen before bed?

Friday, 19 December 2014


The DLR trundles past the Olympic park

Early doors working in Loughton 
Day 249
Regretting a late night and the wine. Dragging sorry arse through the working day. The reluctant office worker feeling out of sorts.

Five days of making like a commuter and working 9-5 editing banal copy have had a toxic effect. Being seated for about eight hours, with only walks to the station and around the Essex commuter town of Loughton have left me feeling pasty and bloated. How do people do this for 40-odd weeks a year? TFIF.

Time to get back on track. Sleep. Prepare for life. Prepare for the Southern Cross Country in FArthing Downs.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Deck the halls and ponder mutability of life

Add caption
Day 248

Yoga and planks on the mat pre breakfast. A trio of brisk walks to break up the ghastly working day. Sleep derived and loathing this office work.

Last night the Christmas decorations were brought up from the cellar. A naked Christmas tree awaits them. I hung this painting on its traditional hallway hook and tried to remember when number one son painted it. He is expecting a baby of his own in April. The time flies. I go from young mum to young grandma. Still I run. I run faster at 52 than I did at 32. But then, at 32, I did not run.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Someone else's jolly office
Day 247

A long day al desko. My eyes have gone all peepy, because I worry all night and sub all day. My only training was on-the-mat yoga/planking early in the morning, and a couple of brisk walks.

Office life, at least life in a regimented office like the one I'm chained to this week, is not for me. The strict 9am start means the commute kicks off at 7.30am. The fitness is seeping out of me (ok, I'm being a bit overdramatic, I'm only missing a few days' training).
I cannot run into work, but in January, when I am out there for one more week, I may try running back. Professional frustrations and disappointments make you re-assess your life. I am too mature to be a wage slave, too proud to be treated as such a junior, as I am here. There's got to be a more enjoyable way of earning a living. Simplification and paring down, I feel sure, is the answer. I say this every year, but here goes...after the Christmas madness I'll sort out my life.
'One of these days I'll get myself organisised....' (Robert de Niro Taxi Driver)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Everything seems better after a run

It's dark, it's cold, but the track will make it better

Day 246

Office bound, with a bit of commuter-walking (cannot cycle to Loughton and get to work on time) and track session after work. 1mile warm up, 4x1000m session, 1 mile warm down.

Emerging, bleary eyed, after a hard day's subbing, shivering in the cold, I almost convinced myself I was a little too poorly to go to the track. A very disturbed night's sleep and continued gut rot made me feel weak and watery.
It only took the first 400m to convince myself I was fine. All you need to do is get the heart pumping and the legs racing to stop you focusing inward. Once you're in motion the aches and niggles and negative thoughts are blown away, all that matters is catching the runner in front of you. Suddenly the shivery body is suffused with heat and strength, the tummy ache is forgotten and the self-pity turns into a bounding optimism. How grateful I am that I can run.
I'm not delusional, I know I'm no Jo Pavey, but when coach Ellie tells me I'm running stronger than ever, I'm inordinately proud, and float home feeling on top of the world.

Monday, 15 December 2014

A bowl of nine oranges

The day started merrily
Day 245

Monday rest day. A walk to the station. A walk back. Some stretches on rising. Drained, dehydrated, upset stomach. The legacy of a busy weekend?

My work at a magazine based in Loughton started today. I was so worried about being late I set off at 7.15am. As a result, I yawned through the morning and felt muddle headed and achey. Alarmed by these stressy symptoms, I read up about feeling drained on a Feng Shui website. One of the instructions really amused me. It suggested I place a bowl of nine oranges on my hall table, so that the citrussy, uplifting scent will perk me up as I walk into the house. It's a lovely suggestion, striking a chord to one whose house has been fish-and-cats'-pee scented for the past few days. It's definitely true that such odours and associated intimations  of slutdom can make a body feel depressed and useless. Just buying some oranges, selecting an attractive charger plate, and standing back, sniffing, and enjoying the sensation. It all sounds good. Perhaps at this time of year one should shove some cloves into the fruits make it extra festive.
When I turned up, bright and early, the reception of the building where my adopted magazine is based had a 1950 radiogram playing an LP of carols. The office workers decorated that tree an hour or so after I took the snap. The baubled stag's head made me laugh. Everyone was wearing Santa outfits, as the other media companies in the building were having their Christmas celebration today.
The magazine I'm working on is all about the home you love. I do not love my home, as it is smelly, dirty and cluttered, I feel jealous of the readers selected to show off their aspirational cribs, so find myself sitting on my hopeless arse feeling resentful. Now that is draining.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Sweating out the blues (and the booze)

A wholesome woodland scene
Day 244

The Kent AC long runners met an hour later to allow for any sore heads from last night's Club Christmas shindig. We did 10 miles in a pace that hovered around 8.30-9min/miling, with the final mile on a gradual speed increase (my Garmin registered a 7.30min/mile)

My running buddy and I talked dolefully a little behind the rest of the pack. It was one of those 'bloody men' conversations, we're both pissed off with husbands. Pounding out 10 miles grumpily helps restore equilibrium. I felt delicate and a bit dehydrated, but after a stretch and drink of coconut water at mile five, I finished fleeter and stronger than I dared hope. When you're running well, the rest of bollocky life seems less ghastly. Although I'm back in an office this week, let's see how that treats me.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Parkrun, how I've missed you, no PB, but cheery, anyway

Hilly Fields parkrun results for event #121. Your time was 00:23:45.
Congratulations on completing your 69th parkrun and your 66th at Hilly Fields parkrun today. You finished in 32nd place and were the 3rd female out of a field of 119 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category VW50-54. Take a look at this week's full set of results on our website. Your PB at Hilly Fields parkrun remains 00:23:04. Your best time this year remains 00:23:27.
You achieved an age-graded score of 72.35%. For an explanation of age-grading, please see the WAVA age grading overview                 It's good to be back. It'd be better if I could control my cursor

You have earned 98 points for this run, giving a total of 584 points in this year's Hilly Fields parkrun points competition. 13 December 2014Day 243                 
Me and my girls

Friday, 12 December 2014

Nothing therapeutic about retail

This unappealing crib in Trafalgar Square is a quiet reminder of the true spirit of Christmas
Day 242

A weary cycle to and from the West End. It's that time of year. Stayed off my feet, as the plantar fasciitis is making its presence felt again.

No proper training, so not much to smile about, no recovery either, as this wonderful time of the year sees you in an unholy scrum in horribly crowded department stores and all spirit of Christmas drains away. Normal service must be resumed tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

'You're training for a purpose, not a circus'

Erik Lee inspires his students
and his student took the wisdom to her Buggy Runner

Day 241

Today was all about my training with Erik at Team 6, then I went to Southwark Park to be a Buggy Runner Coach, then a cycle over to Greenwich to run with the dog. Still a good deal of walking and running to do.

Erik and I bonded over the plight of the impoverished PT today. Although he had two clients. I had just the one Buggy Runner, and she talks wistfully of the nice warm gym and its pleasantly undemanding treadmill. She has mused, on more than one occasion, that running outdoors is a lot harder than pounding the treadmill. She also reckons she cannot train without music. Each to her own, but I realise how very old school I am as she talks. A lot of Erik's wisdom I pass on to my runners, but it's sobering (and not a little satisfying) to see how few repetitions these much younger women can manage.
Erik is not old school. He says his methods are all cutting edge, developed in the US and only just taking off here. I believe him; his circuits were described and replicated in a recent piece by in Runners' World. I will not get cold feet in the cold weather and repair to a gym, therefore. I am Erik's most loyal client. And a tough old bird, to boot.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Freelancing, freerunning and Miles in Her Shoes

Tiredy girls
Day 240

Today, a run in Greenwich Park with Colby the dog. It was sharp, fresh, sunny weather. I did a couple of hill sprints, but mostly jogged at doggy pace. There was a good deal of walking today, also. And a good deal of eating. Dog tired. So is daughter (see pic).

Running on a work day. It's the lot of the freelancer awaiting her next job. Feeling lucky but a little poor, regretting that £140 online Waitrose shop. Knowing that, although you're  browsing the lovely £1000 sofas and fridges in John Lewis, you can't really commit to that sort of spend, not as a freelancer. It's guilt inducing, too, being out in beautiful Greenwich, running free, a middle class, midlife woman with no real financial worries, just envious of those I know who know where their next cheque is coming from. I have work lined up though, enough to keep the credit card bill in check (as long as I buy neither fridge nor sofa).
I've been reading about A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity that devotes itself to helping women discover the freedom and joy of running, by trying to remove the barriers  that stand in the way. These may be poverty, homelessness, depression, lack of confidence. When you learn that for some women, the simple pleasure of getting outdoors alone (let alone with a Greenwich designer dog) and feeling the endorphins rush, is a distant dream. That's when you realise how privileged you are.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cold outside? Perhaps, but it feels good

Training with Erik

On a cold and frosty morning
Day 239

Finally, a session with Erik that hasn't been rained off. Plenty boxing and battle rope, weights, lunges, ball slams and quick feet over a low hurdle (is that what has made my plantar fasciitis flare up again?) Then a run to Greenwich to pick up Colby the dog for a run around Greenwich Park. Walking home, and back to Greenwich. A few miles covered.

A personal trainer whose work is all outside suffers in the British winter. Doomladen headlines in the tabloids predict a 'weather event' for the next three weeks, involving raw cold, high winds and blizzards. For people like Erik, this means no income. He told me today that people have let their payments lapse, given the harsh conditions. Erik cannot pay his bills. Yet today, in the frosty cold, we had a great session. I arrived (late, I'll admit, my body being in hibernation mode these days) bundled up in many layers, wondering if I'd ever get warm. As I went through the circuits the coat, fleece, gloves and hat came off and I felt so much better. An hour later I was singing at the top of my voice as I cycled over to Greenwich, sweat still dripping down my back.  There's a lesson to the fair-weather trainers who have left poor Erik in the lurch.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Happy dog

Colby, my companion for the week
Day 238
Monday rest day, a bit of cycling, a bit of abs/core, a lot of walking the dog.

Had a deadine and anxiety about a headline. All through the night I worried about it, so was relieved this morning once all was handed in and I could dust myself off. Bright, cold weather, and a little dog to exercise. A day to cherish, really. To watch running like a happy dog in action. Should be running myelf,  though. Soon there'll be no choice, because the 16-week timetable will be on that fridge to ramp up the guilt.

The silly season

Silly in selfie
Day 237

Up in the dark to run a Sunday slowie all alone for seven miles or so. Aware that I'd like marathon pace to sit comfortably at 8.45m/m and wondering how to improve aerobic fitness to allow this. A long and pointless walk to a useless bus stop on route to King's Cross. A late night meeting deadlines meant that once again this daily blog missed its day.

Apart from reviewing Christmas shows (which is work, of course), the first seasonal event for me is this annual get together with my closest friends to exchange Christmas presents. The fourth in our quartet, Ruth Jarvis, is still touring the Americas by bike, so we tweeted merrily at her (see above). It always marks the start of the silly season for me, when the disconnect between the poised, creative,well organised me of my dreams clashes head on with the chocolate munching, mulled wine swilling, crisp crunching, non runner drowning in a welter of carol concerts, drinks parties, shopping days, press events. With every passing year my body and mind seem a little less robust. I wonder if it's better to be injured and off running at this crazy time, like two dear Kent AC buddies, or if the head-clearing loveliness of going for a run, however slowly and pantingly, is better for overall fitness?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Veteran Cross Country runner

Meet the team. All abilities. Everyone over 40
Day 236

Today was the Kent Veterans Cross Country Championships. Only Kate (speedy) and I qualified for the V50 category, and as we needed three to score, there was no pressure on us. A five kilometre race, very hilly, with muddy, rooty woodland sections. Lovely.

For the first time in ages I felt quite strong and swift. As a cross country veteran, though, I should have been one minute, at least, faster. Why? Because a cross country veteran would hardly countenance not one, but two, shoelace incidents slow her down. That is the mistake I made, after seven years of running cross country. I was cross with myself. Fuming, as the narrow paths meant it was difficult to pass those who overtook as I tried to flex frozen fingers into action to rety. Still, every cloud....the speed I ran to try to recoup my position was good tempo/endurance stuff. I know I can go faster if I carry on the strength training and good rest/nutrition.

Friday, 5 December 2014


Fuelled by Riverford
Day 235

Cycled to the Unicorn Theatre to review a show, but was nearly too late as faffing. Cycling and mat work was all I had time for today. Mentally and physically below par. 

After seeing the show I cycled into the West End to buy Christmas presents. It was while hefting a basket full of overpriced gewgaws and household items through the hordes of grumpy fellow shoppers in John Lewis that I had a bit of a moment. It is three weeks until Christmas day and I'm anxious. It's not just the consumerism, but the time away from proper life, the piling on of stress and debt when I vowed to keep life simple. Ordering  Riverford was supposed to help with this. There is no need for my training schedule to be compromised by time wasting on Oxford Street. Partying, mince pie consumption and mulled wine overdoses - these are better reasons for falling out of synch with training. But getting stressed over buying friends' presents? That's daft. So here's my advent resolution (how resolutions pile up in this blog!) go with the flow and enjoy it all. Keep running.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The makeshift coach

The bandstand at Southwark Park

Day 234
 Erik's training session somewhat truncated by filthy, cold, wet condition. Bike rides to Southwark Par, then Waterloo, and back home, walking Victoria to Chelsea Arts Club. Active, but little running for my own ends.
Thursday is Buggy Runners day but this particular Thursday was cold, wet, dark and uninviting.  I was gratified,  therefore, to have two clients. I had them do a range of dynamic drills, then a 7 minute run with a faster finish than start. This proved too much for one of the women, and I worried like hell I was going to have another casualty on my hands (cf last week's BR). She looked pale and clammy, and not a little pissed off. I was most solicitous in seeing she drank and recovered sufficiently, but it was another episode that made me doubt my suitability as coach. I try so hard to make the sessions worthwhile and enjoyable. I so want the women to like me. Perhaps they can see my lack of experience and confidence. I am qualified to do this, but do they think I am? 
At least I am good with the babies.
 I resolve to go and watch one of the other Greenwich coaches to see how I can improve. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


Advent calendar day 3 on Twitter: oh Christmas trees
Day 233

Late night writing a review, but attempted a head-clearing three miler to Mountsfield, en route to local garden centre on a rabbit-food-buying errand for daughter. Wanted to run the third mile at 7.45 m/m, but marathon pace felt fast and effortful. I am not in the running zone today. My head's a jumble and I can feel the cortisol amassing around my midlifer's trunk.

Fuzzy headed and indecisive, I continue to waste these 'work from home' days. My intention was to cover some proper miles while doing advent preparations, with only theatre reviewing and proofreading duties to chain me to desk. Instead I am taking far too long over every duty, and domestics remain undone. On days like these it's best to admit defeat and concentrate on the first thing that must be achieved, because there is a deadline. It's just distressing that running to clear the head, a benefit I have always extolled, does not seem to be working these days. That, however, is no excuse not to do it. Just remember, running everywhere means you get there faster. So run the errands. I bought the rabbit food, as I had promised. I ran to buy the rabbit food. While buying the rabbit food I bought two Christmas presents. There! Achievements. And my review is online, so are my blogs (the one for Women's Running is up there). And the other stuff? It'll get done.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Theory and practice

Wet, wet, wet in Hillyfields today
Day 232

Cycled up to see if Erik was up for training today, but he and Rebecca had been put off by the cold and wet. He told me some glute strengthening exercises I could be doing 'indoors'. I ran a couple of miles round the park, mindful of needing to cut through a 5k cross country, whether Parkrun or Kent League, in 21.30mins, that's 7.15 m/m. I should be able to work up to that Perhaps 21.50. Or 22.50.

It's advent, which means I'm going to be doing more pantomime reviewing (overnight) and less running as a consequence. Today I had a job interview in town. I cycled there and back - call that cross training - but I also ate mostly toast mince pies and chocolate. Plus a glass of wine. This will not help my mission.

Monday, 1 December 2014


Dressed to cheer
Day 231

Rest day, but I feel suspiciously un-achey after yesterday's race. I clearly didn't push myself hard enough, as my 1:25 time would attest. Horrible to be so far down the field like that. How can I get faster? Mood is low, eyes are tired, ear blocked. 

The sky seemed to touch the pavement as I took a constitutional out to photograph a holly tree in preparation for the next 25 Advent tweets. Going outside, which usually helps, seemed a huge effort. Cold, iron grey, squinty light. I should have spent some time in the greenhouse, thinking about the possibility of creating living Christmas presents in time for various gift exchanges. This should have been the day to do plenty of mat work, stretches, squats, bridges. I did a halfhearted plank routine and spent an inordinate amount of time in the bath. Perhaps that's just me 'listening to my body...' My body is shouting out loud for biscuits, toast and tea, all the time. I suspect my body is behaving like a toddler at the sweet counter. My head knows what's good for my body. More sleep, more stretching, fewer biscuits and sandwiches. My body is going to have a tantrum if it can't have another chocolate digestive....

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Back of the pack

South London Harriers organise the Pirie 10
Kent Women (and honorary woman Hugh) prepare
The fast women. And me.
Cake and tea post race
Day 230
A ten mile race across Farthing Downs, through Happy Valley. A  lovely, muddy, hilly experience. I did it at the back of the pack in 1:24 or thereabouts. I thought I'd be able to do more sub 8 minute miles than I did. The hills slowed me right down, I just couldn't keep anywhere near the other women. Depressing. 

The race is named after Gordon Pirie, once the pride of South London Harriers. The man who started us off announced with pride 'there is absolutely noting on offer round the course. He meant no water stations, gel collections, people with Jelly Babies etc. Just as old-school athletes like  Gordon would have run it. It's wonderful to run in an event close to London that costs just £8 to enter, and has so few rules, regulations, frills, goody bags and all the rest of that mallarkey. People who take part in idiotic challenges such as Tough Mudder and the rest pay about £40 to get as muddy as we did this morning. This was the real deal.
 I was hugely intrigued by the V55 winning woman, who I think ran the course about 10 minutes faster than me. I need to train specifically for fast cross country. It can start with more practise on the Hillyfields Parkrun course. Do not be discouraged. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Inspiration, motivation, preparation

The chap in front here won in 18mins. He is a junior doctor.
Wonder what time these young women are doing these days. Both are Parkrun friends
Day 229

Rest before the big race, so voluncheer at Parkrun. I see people I used to beat can now run times much faster than my PB. Try not to be depressed. Try to rest my legs, sitting down on trains and bus on my way to and from Polka Theatre (reviewing Peter Pan). Try to eat more carbs earlier in the day. Eggs and spinach for dinner. Beet drink bought. Lift organised. Walk three miles in total, thanks to being a numpty.

Running a fast 5k across country looks easy from my hi-viz position as a Parkrun voluncheer. My injured friend Andy, with his snapped achilles, was true to his word and manoevred his way on his crutche, up to the course to voluncheer. I was operating the scanner and had a happy, social time. Irritatingly I spent a good deal more time on my feet than planned – active recovery – as I had to walk back up there (another 2 miles there and back) having inadvertently taken the scanner home. The second-placed woman in this morning's Parkrun, Caroline, who also runs for Kent AC also, ran hard. She is running tomorrow's Pirie, like me. I felt inadequate for resting, but have to remind myelf I'm 20 years older. I need to make the most of non-run days and try to get to the start line in good shape. So I chose not to go out tonight.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Overtraining - pointless effort

We Are Gazelles
Day 228
Up at 5am, to prepare for the We Are Gazelles training session: hill repeats, big efforts, for one hour with fellow idiots. In the dark. Sleep deprived, plagued by 'power surges' that did nothing for my leg power, feeling nauseated and carb faced.

It was idiotic to train today, or at least to get up so early to train. I'd gone to bed really late, inadequately nourished (mostly full of biscuits), drank a ill advised coffee and expected to run energetically. Fat chance.
One of the basic tenets of successful running is treating rest, recovery and nutrition with the same respect as actually getting out there to train. I've fallen into the trap of believing running often, however badly, will do me some good. Overtraining is dangerous. It compromises your immune system, it  wastes your time, it makes you susceptible to overeating and, most dangerous of all it can get you injured. A serious injury now would be disastrous, as one of our number demonstrated, He's on crutches, his entire lower leg encased in a big orthopaedic boot (you can just see it in the photo. He spent the session doing press ups and other upper body exercises). A sprint session too far snapped his Achilles tendon. He'll be unable to run for several months. All plans cancelled.