Saturday, 31 May 2014

Better than sex

Spent, but happy

My tweet today referenced the endless retweeting of the provocative 'Running Better for you Than Sex' content that's been pinned up on the Running Bug site this week. I mentioned the post Parkrun glow, but added that it was, contrary to RB's 'research' nothing on that post-coital bliss. However, when you score a PB, you certainly feel epic, even a little bit orgasmic:

Hilly Fields parkrun results for event #94. Your time was 00:23:04.
Congratulations on completing your 59th parkrun and your 56th at Hilly Fields parkrun today. You finished in 42nd place and were the 3rd female out of a field of 125 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. Congratulations on setting a new Personal Best at this event! Congratulations on your fastest time this year.Th                                      

Friday, 30 May 2014

Runners Need


Rest Day: Yoga/stretching, cycling commute and lunchtime walking only

Do Runners need approval? Do they need to plaster their PBs all over social media. Do they need to be called Runners not Joggers?

Stuart Heritage is very funny on this subject, here

Reading his piece reminds me how conflicted I've been over blogging and running since 2010. I started a blog called Good For Age but came to a stumbling halt because I was boring myself to death. I won't say I was boring other, because nobody read it. Yet I started again on 13 April this year, to track my progress for a year. I still expect no-one to read it, much less comment, but I still hope it'll be read and my achievements and frustrations both admired and commiserated with.
It's more for my own pleasure, doing this. I am committed to being perfectly honest about my training and times, warts and all about my ageing body. Perhaps pleasure is the wrong word, then. Fact is, it's gratifying to see these posts build up, and to be able to riffle through them to see what I did differently to get that parkrun time improved by 30 seconds (my current obsession). What did I eat, how well did I sleep?
When there is more time, or perhaps when this daily discipline has bedded down and I've come up with a training log that helps me, perhaps I will consider how it may help the putative reader who stumbles across it. There must be many more like me out there, who wonder how women cope with hard training during the menopause, or how they cope with a partner's disapproval of the time spent training and gadding about with running buddies. These are all potential hooks for future posts. Meanwhile, I consider how not to be boring.
I had pasta, home made pesto and salad for my dinner. I am about to take herbal tea, bsicuits and chocolate. Let's see how we do.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A pain in the neck

Luckily there were plenty of lying face down activities scheduled for today

Late nights, rich food, booze, wearisome weather. It's all catching up with this fit old bird, who felt 10 years older this morning as she toiled wearily up the hill to Erik Lee and Team Shape-U.

Like all good PTs, however, Erik, was a font of wisdom. He suggested stretches and moved that would aid, rather than aggravate this persistent neck pain. I am not sure whether it is a trapped nerve, or, as the doctor reckons, arthritis. Erik wonders if it's the fact that I'm running hard miles on tarmac without adequately cushioned shoes.  Whatever it is, it's making me stiff and awkward.

Today, therefore, I did a lot of back strengthening moves on roller and mat, alongside balancing and squatting while moving  arms and shoulders. I yawned throughout. At work it was lunch club, and a delicious, but rich, paneer balti. There was chocolate for pudding, so now I have the sugar plummet (following the rush, during which I took an energising walk round St James's Park). I'm yawning now. I'm making a solemn vow to soak in a tub and get an early night to shake off this lassitude.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Run to work day

The office chair of a runner worker

The eight-ish miles from my home in Lewisham to my office on the Strand is great for a tempo run. I should really try to get from front door to desk in an hour or so, but I'm invariably slower than that. Well, my office is 7 floors up. Of course, the office worker cannot just run in and sit at desk without causing some consternation among her co workers. This one can't at any rate. When I fetch up at my work station I am running with sweat and in desperate need of the workplace shower. Note the singular noun. There is but one shower, and quite a few people running in to work these days, because they're all training for the same Race for Life as I am. Of which more in future posts.
Fact is, I have to compete for the shower, and plan quite carefully what I can and cannot carry on the run. Today I squeezed into my Camelbak a few necessities, but had planned ahead and left my towel, make up, conditioner and other essentials under my desk yesterday. Being a freelancer, though, I cannot keep stuff like that in the office permanently, because I am shifted from desk to desk.
Running to work takes planning then, running home from work is less labour intensive. I've written about both for Women's Running magazine and am pleased to see that the Evening Standard has a whole campaign about the Shanks's pony commute. I'm a big fan, if only because it means that I cannot bring in a box of leftovers for my lunc, so I just have to buy something delicious from Pret, or Itsu, or Leon, or Paul........

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The rain it raineth every day

Soggy lunchtime walk

Yesterday I was the subject of ridicule from my husband and daughter, because I moaned lustily about the weather as we squelched through our Witsun Walk.  How can an avowed cross country runner and outdoor enthusiast complain about the rain? Easily. When you’re not running, but walking, the rain feels colder, wetter and altogether more belligerent. When it falls at the wrong time of year, when you’ve got cold Champagne and a picnic to celebrate anniversaries and the coming of summer, when you want to sit among the daisies and turn your freckled face up to the sky and feel is all right with the world.

When you’re running in club singlet and shorts in the driving rain you feel heroic, you’re gunning for your PB and keeping warm. The mud spattering the back of your legs is a badge of honour. The sweat don’t show and the steam rising off your body as you double up at the end of the finishing funnel makes you feel EPIC.

The only running occasion that for me was spoilt by cold and rain was the hideous inaugural Milton Keynes Marathon. I started tired and under prepared, I was wet and cold from the cycle ride to and from various stations. It was the first day of my period. I finished practically in tears. You should have heard my lusty moaning then.

Monday, 26 May 2014

A long walk in suburbia

QE2 Bridge over the estuary at Dartford


Husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary - traditionally the time for a long walk along the Green Chain, bearing champagne and a picnic. The walk is about six miles. Today we were jinxed by
rail replacement services that didn't constitute an adequate or usable replacement, appalling weather and my aching limbs. Despite all of this we made merry and enjoyed watching ducklings on the Cray, swans at Crayford Ness, lots of shaggy ponies and foals on the saltmarshes, the pretty old churchyard at Erith and hearing soaring skylarks twittering above the semi industrial poppy strewn brownfields. The six mile walk takes in the ruins of Lesnes Abbey:

By which time it was raining too persistently for us to even pretend we were enjoying the great suburban outdoors, So we wended our way homeward. It was cross training enough for me, though, walking briskly, strolling cheerfully, having a laugh in the open air. An evening in the curry house and a glass of beer. Sleep recovery for me now, I think. After a little nightcap.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Time to go long again

The river wild, Thames riverside at Enderby's Wharf, near the Cutty Sark Tavern

With my spring marathon well behind me, a half marathon in a month (the Hackney Half, which I'm running with my Women's Running hat on) and a trail marathon - Avebury to Stonehenge - for the Alzheimer's Society, on 6 September, of which more in future blogs) my Long Sunday Run must needs grow longer. I'm mindful, though, that just churning out pointless slow miles is good for nothing except getting your body used to being on its feet for three and a half hours. My body is perfectly good at that. Sunday Long Runs are usually followed by an afternoon upright and active, either in the garden, out walking, or in cooking. Men, I notice, tend to reward themselves with extended periods of feet up on the sofa. Women go about their domestics, feeling a little weary (wearing that old shabby dress....etc)
So today, I took a run out to the river, mixed it up with a bit of tempo (7.30-8m/m), a couple of hills in Greenwich Park and a test of speed plus endurance, the 1000m Greenwich Park circuit I used to do with Rob's  group. I should be aiming for less than 4 minutes, but sadly was more than 4.5 today. Put it down to fatigue and menstrual shenanigans. I've laid the LSR base, the building starts from here.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Organo Gold effect?

Soaking wet but happier with my time

Bleary with last night's vodka, soaked by heavy rain, I jogged in a state of some apprehension to Hillyfields Parkrun. After the gallingly slow run of two weeks ago, when I struggled to keep up with women I usually beat,  I was damned if I was going to suffer such ignominy again, except somehow, the vodka last night went down just too easily...
Still I was up in time to eat some Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and drink a cup of Organo Gold Coffee, which contains ganoderma, which according to its advocates, has an extraordinary effect on stamina. I'd bought a batch a few months ago and had been pretty impressed withits effects. I had one sachet left, and was deliberating about buying more. Today decided me. I felt much more energised, and my plan to try a 20 second sprint on every loop of the park, with a view to shaving half a minute off my PB, nearly came off. I may not have managed 22.45, but I did this:
Hilly Fields parkrun results for event #93. Your time was 00:23:27.
Congratulations on completing your 58th parkrun and your 55th at Hilly Fields parkrun today. You finished in 24th place and were the 2nd female out of a field of 70 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 00:23:14. Congratulations on your fastest time this year.
Hurray. Ish. That figure is 23.25.
Next time, 23.10?
The Hillyfields Parkrun is, of course, hilly. Flatter 5ks are much faster. May the ganoderma force be with me at Battersea Park on 11 June.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Sitting is the new smoking

But Rufus prefers me seated

The fitness bible says we should sit as little as possible, and if sitting on ones arse is really as bad for ones health as sucking tobacco smoke into ones lungs, I've smoked a packet today. The only exercise has been in a sitting position - my bike ride from Lewisham to the Strand and back, via New Cross. This evening was spent, seated, listening to a concert in Goldsmiths Deptford Old Town Hall site, in honour of Dmtri Smirnoff's 65th birthday. After which I drank a great deal of vodka so am currently squiffy. And seated on my arse. Work was rather full on, and therefore seated, squinting at a computer screen, although I did manage to escape to the large lavatory for yoga stretches and press ups. So, I suppose, this was a rest day, if mentally gruelling. It ended with a drunken bike ride singing at the top of my voice and a large sufficiency of toast and peanut butter to soak up the vodka. It will be interesting to see how I fare at tomorrow's parkrun. I must get off my arse.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The arms have it

Making waves requires effort with this heavy rope trick

Today's workout: an uphill cycle to Hillyfields for a Team Shape-U workout
Our playground today: battling with the rope; quick feet in a square, high knees over low hurdles, shoulder press with 7kg medicine ball, balance with straight legs, punchbag, side to side in a figure of 8, trying to develop fluidity of sideways movement.

The last two sessions have seen Erik in a  more expansive and  complimentary mood. He says of Joan, Hyacinth, even me,  that he's seeing improvements, we're working hard. My movements, he says, are smoother, stronger, less erratic. Perhaps the proof of this pudding will be in the running of Parkrun in 48 hours time. I am desperate to improve. Going faster depends on so many factors when you're a woman of a certain age. My hormones are all over the place, and I'm feeling suspiciously pre-menstrual for one who thinks all that monthly stuff may soon be over for good and all. Still, these internal, oestrogen-based shenanigans should have no effect on my running form, and the exercises I did today, involving upper back and arms, and lifting the knees to strengthen the core, can only help improve the forward impulsion and, as a consequence, the speed. I have to believe that, and Erik is very convincing. I hope he'll be looking out for me on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Tracking improvements


Last night's Kent AC training session wasn't on the track,  but this is the location where I am best able to gauge improvements with any accuracy. A couple of years ago, when my daughter's illness caused me to withdraw from formal training with the club, I tried to maintain a grip on speedwork all on my own. The track was open, and free to use, from 6.30am until about 8am, as I remember. I was working in a school at the time, so I'd divert in here on the way, and run 6 400s (ie 1.5m) as fast as I could. Sam Murphy's Running book told me that this distance was the best test of running speed and endurance. She included a table for women to assess their progress. I forget most of the gradations and categories, but I remember that the fastest one was being able to run this distance in under 11mins. The comment in the book for women who achieved this was something like 'You're on fire....Paula Radcliffe, look out!' Most mornings I was finished in under 11mins, so I aimed for 10. The trouble is, I still feel self conscious on the track. It looks ridiculous for someone as old and slow as me to be toiling round it. I don't mind in the evenings, when there are so many people here, and so many Kent AC men whipping round in a blur of sweat and sinew. They make me try harder. All alone, in the mornings, though, feels hellish. The park paths around the track are marked up at 400m intervals, so I can still test myself that way, but I know that nothing makes me try harder than knowing there's another woman hot on my heels. Only running in a pack, on track, will bring my speed back.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Shorts stuff

side to side cones in the foreground, skater cones behind

Fast feet, fast reflexes, a range of quick, explosive movements. training to improve all these very non-me sounding skills will help me achieve speed/endurance dream team. Setting realistic goals is what it's all about, and I think it is realistic to believe I can knock a minute off a 5k. This morning I felt confident of that, as I saw my rep times increase in each circuit. So the skater move (basically a sideways jump using arms like a skater and bringing the following lower leg behind the leading one), I think I nailed quite easily. My side to side shuttles, too, leapt from 24 reps to something like 38, I think. I should be tracking all of this on a graph, (and monitoring my protein intake while I'm at it) but I'm not doing so. Erik said another funny thing this morning. I remarked that Skater was a bit girly. 'That's because you're not doing it right.' was his laconic response. I do like him. Personal trainer and a grandaddy. About my vintage, possibly younger, since he's a Lewisham guy, and grandchildren occur around 40 round here.
So my mood was high post morning training, but evening session with Kent AC left me feeling old and slow again. More circuits, plus 500m relays and a 1000k at speed, when most of the new (young) women overtook me. However, having Andy as my partner helped with the 4x500m relay. We were second. I despair of my pelvic floor, sometimes, though. It was in a dodgy state this evening, but I retained my dignity. More worrying is the fact that warm weather means daring to bare, and the fake tan issue. Although I have vowed in this blog that I'm going to wear my unwontedly brief EVBs and hang the consequences, so I should have the courage to stand by that. I'm sure people aren't as horrified by my fuzzy, freckly legs as I am. Running is not glamorous, although some of those youngsters look just gorgeous in their summer kit.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Summer running

Blue skies and unfurling roses
Monday rest and recuperation (after a weekend of not very much). Cycle commute: 14m

Everyone's talking about the weather. Everyone's looking a bit pink. Everyone not doing exams or chasing horrible deadlines is taking their lunch outdoors.

It's weather for positive energy, early morning training sessions, after-dinner walks and bicycle commutes. It's also shorts weather, and there's the rub. When you're a redheaded Celt like me, shorts become an issue. Throw into the mix age issues (short shorts post 45? Wrinkly knees?), the depilation issues (can my fellow runners see my stubble?) and tan issues (I don't, so should Dove self-tan moisturising lotion be my best friend?) and you find you spend much of your precious training time preparing the pins for baring.

For years now I have told myself that, as an invisible woman (of a certain age), I need not let these petty preoccupations get in the way of my training sessions and race kit. Just run, and enjoy the endorphins, no-one is judging you by the mottled purple of your legs.

And yet, I'm not brave enough to follow my own convictions, so I still find I'm factoring a shave, a moisturise and the odd self tan rub down into my toilette. It means getting up at least 10 minutes earlier.

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, but blows a blast of self doubt through my mind. Try that to the tune of the Isley brothers classic.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Pastures New

Manchester's Arty Quarter

In Manchester for  jolly with best friend from Sheffield days. Unexpected sunshine and plenty of sitting around outdoors in nostalgic mood. Despite a pretty tiring Saturday night I was awake betimes, so crept out of our hotel room for a tempo run (mindful that I did not want to keep my companions waiting for breakfast I refrained from running long). I ran to the Withington area, taking in a few 400m bursts of speed and aiming for 7.30-8.15m/m. Truth be told, I stayed in the 8s, but was glad of the workout after uninhibited eating both yesterday and today. I did about 6.5 miles, worked p a sweat and was ready for my big breakfast. Manchester ale at lunchtime, alongside salads and large wodge of bread and butter, followed by large ice cream. More ice cream and biggish dinner tonight. A large tummy is my reward this evening. I've had too many jolly, full fat weekends, so must get back to the drawing board. Still, refuels and recovery tends to result in shorter race times in the long run. Time will tell, Roll on Parkrun.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

In for a stretch

Rufus has a stretch too

No time for runing, as am off to manchester, so it's a series of stretches devised by my good self: plank (natch) and the one Anne-Marie Lategan showed me, which involves holding up opposite arm and leg, straight, while in plank. Then bridges, crunches with weights, crab, slides....then panicking about catching a train, as per. Meanwhile teenage daughter with GCSEs ebels about going to her music college, So oil on troubled waters required.

Friday, 16 May 2014

As good as a rest

Avon & Kennet canal towpath


It has been such a long day that I'd forgotten when I set out to write this (can't say sat down to write as I am standing at the kitchen counter) that I've already been for a run, so I was going to put it down as a cross training day. In fact at 6.30am I ran up to Hillyfields and did a couple of loops of the Parkrun course, trying to get it down to 7.30m/m per loop (it is very hilly). I was a bit slow, but hit 6.45m/m going downhill (!)
Later, the cross training consisted of an 18-mile (ish) round cycle ride to Paddington and this walk along the towpath, in highly adaptable black dress, with stilettos in bag and trainers on feet, because I needed to find the crematorium where my dear old Uncle Peter was being dispatched. He was a lovely man, terribly charismatic. A farmer and gardener like my old dad. The service at the crematorium was moving, and the nostalgia in the pub afterwards so sweet. I'm so glad I made it, although I nearly didn't, as after the relaxing stroll along the towpath, I ended up half jogging a mile in the wrong direction on the A4 (!) A man pointed out my mistake in a shop in Woolhampton, and gave me a lift to the crematorium. In the event, then, a highly active day. Warm, bright, sunny and, cycling home at 8pm, suddenly too exhausting. I had to stop for a banana, as I had perimenopausal hot flush/low blood sugar shakes and suddenly turned as weak as a kitten. The banana saw me right, as did husband's curry waiting on the stovetop. Pea and potato. Enough protein, with yogurt, I hope.
Uncle Peter, when he was in his spry 80s (he was 92 when he died last week) told me he had a horror of becoming a bent old man, so he used to brace his upper back against his walking stick, placing it across the broad of his back with his forearms resting on the stick either side. I do that with a broomstick while waiting for the kettle to boil. Like Peter, I have a dread of the dowager's hump.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Punch up

Lovely morning for it

This morning’s session with the Shape-U girls, presided over by Grandmaster Erik Lee,
was just what the trick cyclist ordered. Consider, you leave the house with a slam after a row, feeling pissed off with your partner, then you have instant access to a punchbag? Well, what would you imagine?

This was my first go at a punchbag and it felt effective. For a while now I have been haunted by the spectre of bra-strap overhang (and of course World Peace, etc). Haunted is not quite the right word, since the nasty flaps of back fat overhanging my corsetry is no figment of the imagination. That’s what occurs when the decades roll on past 30. The skin, once so prettily filled, seems to drop like the melty things on a Salvador Dalí painting. However I have a friend exactly the same age as me whose back is as tight as a canvas on a frame. It is probably genetic. Forgive that tangent: the point is that upper-body strength and conditioning is what I need. So today’s session, flipping tyres, crossbow, ball slams and punchbag punching, then the usual sideway runs, static bike, slides and crunches, was a good one for me.

My upper back and shoulders ache now, but running speed is dependent on core and arm stamina as well as the power in the legs and arse, so this kind of work might see me to my goal. In any case, it sees me to work chirpy, and more kindly disposed toward my partner of 25 years.  

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Early doors

Blue skies returned

Not as early as the title would suggest, I emerged blearily from a troubled night, beaten down with self loathing and the sharpening realisation that my bold resolve is being eroded by little matters like work deadlines and domestic duties. Humdrum, but intractable. Still, small triumphs should be counted, like spilling out of the door and running a quick 15 minutes circuit around Ladywell Fields, covering a couple of miles or so and diving into Tesco to buy a still warm chocolate croissant for dear daughter, who has her Spanish GCSE today. So I am trying to stick to my promise in the teeth of unpromising home conditions. I will do my utmost to nail that 5k PB and try to find ways of upping protein and sleep levels. It's easy to make these promises when the sky is blue. I have cycled to work with unwashed hair and a belly full of illicit cereal. There is much to be addressed. Small steps.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fit for strife

This is what I did before work
This is what I did after work
My day was topped and tailed by fitness goals of very different complexions. I suppose, for brevity, the morning was one the truer to this record, since it has the better chance of netting me some results. Erik at Shape-U has his clients bashing tyres and flinging medicine balls around to fire glutes and adductors, hip flexors and various unnameable core muscles. We work, we sweat, we ache the next day.
The Fitness Writers' Assocation, however, with  whose members I convened this evening at a Finsbury Park Health Club, exists to allow those who want to make career in this beefy world to network. So after a day's jobbing content writing I betook myself there, to network. I felt adequate among the ultra runners, PTs and nutritionists, and jealous of all who had better fitness writing stamina than me. The chap to the right had a PhD and Masters Degrees in sudying the gym industry and had completed various exhaustive studies into people's fitness goals, routes to achieving such goals, and staying power in the process. What people want to see, he stated, is Results, as we can see on the whiteboard here. They just don't want to put in the effort. That's how I feel about freelance journalism. Too much networking. A sub 3:50 marathon looks more achievable, by comparison. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Old boneshaker

The dear old Pashley is hard work and no mistake

On a Monday, having done the Long Slow Run on the Sunday, my only training is my 14-mile round trip to the office on The Strand. Cycling is useful cross training. It gives your running muscles a bit of a break. When my daughter borrows the white bike, I ride this baby. My eternity bike (ie given to me on the birth of my first child, 25 years ago).
It was windy and hard work on the way to work; rainy on my return. It takes me a very long time and involves one hard-work hill, Vicar's Hill. Other cyclists shoot past me but don't seem to be expending any energy. I pedal hard but can't seem to make the bike travel any appreciable distance. It's a vicious cycle. Riding a bike is supposed to strengthen your glutes, isn't it? But with my pathetic, unmuscly arse, my performance on a bike is as slow as ever. I suppose at 51 I can never hope to have the muscular lower half that makes a body good on the pedals. Yet one of my best friends, exactly my age, is pedalling up steep dirt tracks in Peru. I bet her buns are quite steel like. You can find her, Ruth, on Contours of a Country, on blogspot.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sea breezes

If you can see Old Harry rocks, it means rain to come. if you can't, it's already raining
After an evening of excessive eating and drinking with family to celebrate Eurovision, another sleepness night plagued by cramps and gut turmoil as recoted in previous blog. I slept in snatches, then rose at 7am to run. When I am by the sea I love to do my long slow run along the promenade. I managed eight miles, ignoring the bloated stomach and breathtaking stomach pain that seems to wave like peristalsis. I know I should starve my body to clear this germ of whatever it is, but I still feel a hunger of sorts, or an appetite for the lovely food available at every turn. Teresa's fruit cake, Celia's brownies, roast potatoes this evening, ice cream, chocolate. the sugar and fat are feeding the problem, but I feel miserable and eat mindlessly, then am doubled up in pain and making for the lavatory. I wish I had more willpoer. I did one fast mile (7.30m/m) a couple of 8s/8.30s and the rest were slow. Sort yourself out, woman. You've had your mini break, now back to work.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Running backwards

 from my faster days


Parkrun is not supposed to be a source of misery, and I do love it dearly. However on an off-Saturday, which seems to be most of them these days, you can feel gutted when those you usually overtake effortlessly are steaming past you. Gutted is an apt expression. This morning I woke before 5am in need of the lavatory. I visited the smallest room a further 5 times before jogging blearily up to Hillyfields. I did not feel ill, just rather scoured out. It's all to do with these few days of IBS I get every month. Hormonal changes, I suppose. I am stil in perimenopause, but periods aren't as reliable, and other symptoms are coming to the fore. I refuse to let them interfere with my passion.
So I ran my 5k, and Aimee, Kirstin and three other women overtook my. My days as 2nd or 1st chick are a memory. I tired, I sweated, my bowels stood up, but my time was poor. I doubt I managed under 24mins, which is shocking. I need to get in under 23 on that hilly course.  Will my visits to Erik help? I'm not sure. When I ran my PB last August I'd put in heavy mileage weeks, training for Berlin. Now I am scarcely covering 30m/week. And so, so slow.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Seeking Sanctuary

The soon-to-close Sanctuary Spa, Covent Garden

Last night's carousing took its toll today: walking was an effort. I did a little yoga on waking, and after breakfast took a walk to blow away the hangover before settling down to work. Thank goodness I had scheduled this afternoon to take advantage of a friend' gift to me: half a day and a treatment at the Sanctuary Spa. Amusing that after 30 years in London and many promises to test this legendary place, with its Koi carp pool, hamam, treatment rooms and oft-photographed floral swing over the plunge pool, I nearly missed my chance altogether. The spa is closing at the end of the month. Another London institution bites the dust.
I was almost too tired to enjoy it, but swam about a bit, sweated and fantasised in the steam room and enjoyed a delightful rose oil facial  followed by a sleep retreat. I read about orgasms in Cosmo and listened to a bunch of young women who said 'like' every other word talking about hen nights and honeymoons in Bali. Was I such a cliche at that age? Unlikely. Mine was a shotgun wedding to a man I scarcely knew. We're just about to celebrate 25 years of marriage.
So, a rest and recuperation day. Competely exhausted, a little down in the mouth. A little hormonal. It's Friday.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Running up that hill

Greenwich Park has useful undulations

That's the hill. The path I take is to the west of it. When training for Snowdonia I circuited the two miles of the park four time as part of each Sunday run. It's time I practised that hill training again, for the Avebury to Stonehenge job in September.
Today I ran up Vicar's Hill to meet Erik, but he'd cancelled the session owing to heavy rain. So I ran on, beyond Hillyfields to more, hillier fields up at Greenwich Park. Hills are as good as intervals for building speed. I was desperately slow again, though. I have this deep, in-skull tiredness that shows in my face, hollowing out my eyes. I am ravenously hungry for much of the time. My guts are complaining vigorously at the amount of sugar I'm consuming and I'm feeling low-level atopic symptoms, evidenced by a constantly dripping, sore nose and stomach disturbances. A heavy work schedule for the next fortnight means I'm going to struggle to recoup the sleep and address the poor eating habits. An effort of willpower is needed. This written in a drinken state post bookclub at 1.30am. Sigh.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

That sub 22 5k

At a recent race my mile speeds were disappointing

A few years ago my Garmin showed me a shade under 21mins when I completed a 5k Assembly League race. I learned later that this was a short course, and did not quite come up to the 5000m mark, but even so, this was a fast time. I was about 48 years old. Now I am 51, and agree with generous hearted friends when they say that clocking anything under 25mins is an achievement most women of my age would be happy with. However I am committed to improving my times over shorter distance, while all the time having my eye on that 2015 VLM prize.
The next Assembly League is on 3 June, followed by a gig as team leader or Women's Running magazine team at the Battersea Park Race for Life. I'm hoping my Erik sessions and club sessions will help fire up my core and legs to get everything moving faster.
Today though, I set my Garmin to measure my 5k run after a 10 minute warm up and could not get the thing to read much under 8m miles. Given that a usually slower Parkrun buddy recorded her mile (on the (50th?) anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister's sub four-minute mile) yesterday as 7.10m, this is a poor showing indeed. Perhaps I am still fatigued from the Conti Lightning Run. Perhaps the distrubed sleep from hormonal fluctuations and snoring bed partner is more detrimental than I thought. Perhaps my abandoned noshing of Easter chocolate and biscuits is slowing me down. Whatever it is, I have to address the problem and start burning up the intervals, from 200m upward.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Bash a tyre, glutes on fire

Erik Lee shows how it's done

Blearily, I toiled up Vicar's Hill on my bike for my Tuesday training session with Team Shape-U. One of our missions today was to pound a half tyre with a heavy mallet. Fearful of staving in my face with its metal head, I was a little pathetic, to say the least. My fellow trainees, Hyacinth and Joan, really gave that tyre some welly. In fact they led the way in every discipline today. Leg lifts, halo lunges, ball slams, side-to-sides, balance...they ripped it up, while I trailed feebly in their wake.
I'm still weary from my efforts at the Conti Lightning Run  in Derbyshire on Sunday. I sent much of the day exchanging photos, obtaining quotes and generally interacting with my team of powerful women - the Women's Running Team. As Eerik said, I did a lot of cardio over the weekend and now need to look to my strength training and nutrition. Sounds good.
For more on our Conti Lightning Run experience, go to fellow Women's Running Team Captain Laraine Wyn Jones's blog:

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bank Holiday Glumday


After the endorphin rushes, the festival atmosphere, the lack of sleep, excess of exercise, great outdoorsiness of the past 24 hours, there's a creeping sense of heaviness taking over. The day was spent in the impressive rus in urbs Hackney garden to celebrate the birthday of an old friend. Multiple glasses of bubbly, excessive amounts of pasta, walnutty salad and chocolate cheesecake , lots of people to catch up with....but the fatigue kicked in as the feasting went on and I found myself sitting wanly over a cup of tea trying to concentrate on what people were saying to me. It's no surprise that 18 miles of cross country running, following a freezing night in a sleeping bag with a broken zip in a tiny tent, topped off by a long and arduous train journey home that took me until 1am, would render this exhausted body rather susceptible to unlimited alcohol and rich food. My senses are dulled, my brain fuddled, my stomach bloated. It's time to reboot. This has been a rest day and no mistake. Obviously (to quote new snooker champion Mark Selby). Fillin' up. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A festival of running

4 May 2013

Look at us five. We are the Women's Running magazine team that podiumed in third place earlier today. A job well done and, speaking personally, a job that has sparked  a newfound love of 10k crocountry run. My laps were 53.52, 51.25 and 52.33 mins respectively. And I was proud.