Saturday, 28 February 2015

Self loathing from my sick bed

My companions try to comfort me
Day 319
Sit, lie down, sit, eat, cough, blow nose, take painkillers. Repeat. All day long. Feeling fat and achey

Ill, but not ill enough, it seems. I have a nasty cough, ache and feel a bit hot and out of sorts. However the thought of running, walking, or even a spot of pilates on the mat seems out of the question. I snoozed through Parkrun event, ate a large bowl of cereal, dressed and washed hair and allowed myself to be driven to Morley College to watch daughter sing, then came home and made myself an elaborate, if healthy lunch, with a multiple biscuit chaser. I cannot stop eating. The Pollyanna in me says this is because my body knows what it wants and it wants biscuits, for healing. The bitter and twisted self-loather tells me I'm just laying down belly fat and bra-strap overhang so that I will look even plumper in my race vest, eventually give up trying to be lean and swift and turn into Mrs Lardo.
I have to pull myself together. In two days' time I need to bound gazelle-like up the stairs of Tower 42 and the way I feel right now, I wouldn' t be able to do it if my life depended on it. I wish I could be more picturesquely ill, or at least have a lack of appetite to complement the ack of exercise. I could be palely reclining against my silken pillow, my high cheekbones sharpening as my beloved tries and fails to tempt me with a thin consommé, my long fingers plucking fretfully around the coverlet. Instead I am shuffling, sniffling around the house, making frequent forays into the kitchen for tea and toast and feeling my trouser waistline cut into my spare tyre.
When I feel well, I will continue the training seriously quest, and use this excess fuel to maximise speed and mileage. Oh yes. Atchoo.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Positively ancient!

Gorgeously Greenwich
Emma Warburton's view from Lewisham

Day 318
Ill. Greenwich for Buggyrunners. Cycling and walking, a little jogging and stretching

So out of sickbed I drag myself to coach eight young mammas toting buggies full of baby. While in the unwonted sunshine up there on Lovers' Lane I feel euphoric and benign. The new runners gel really well with my stalwarts and there's a lot of laughter and chat. They laugh at my jokes. When the subject of the marathon comes up I mention, en passant, my GFA place. They seem suitably impressed, so I gabble my usual self deprecation about how being ancient of days, and a weak and feeble woman, gives you special status in the eyes of the Virgin Money London Marathon. One young woman asks if I feel patronised by that "aw, she's so good, for her age" label.
Oh no, I say, you are the age you are.
I mean it too,
I'm saying more and more often to young women these days 'when you get to my age....' and I quite enjoy showcasing my age and experience, because it's packaged in physical fitness, is why.
I am still vain. Even at my age!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Feed a cold, starve a fever

Erik demonstrates no rope skipping

My last Buggy Runner session at Southwark Park

The phantom gardener had plunted more spring flowers in Ladywell Fields
Day 317
Rather half-hearted training today. This feverish cold is sapping energy. Erik session with upper body work, then cycling to South wark Park to train one woman, then cycle to lunch in town with old friend, cycle home

All of the above seemed like a tremendous effort. I shivered and coasted through Erik's training session, having turned up half an hour late. I am quite intrigued by that non-rope skipping rope, though, You just twirl the foreshorturned rope handles, as Erik demonstrates, and don't have the problem of getting the rope over your head.
As clients for Buggy Runners have not signed up in sufficient numbers, Southwark Council has pulled the plug on this particular session. In April I will start a session in Dulwich Park, in the expectation of a more yummy clientele. One can hope.
Standing in the rain instructing my one loyal client in her dynamic drills was almost too much to tolerate while feeling unwell. I have not had a cold in a couple of year, but this malady seems to have followed on from last weekend's distress. I have had enough of feeling poorly. The one comforting fact is that being ill now may boost immunity when training moves into high mileage. Yes, it should be high mileage now but I'll have to play catch up.
Only eight weeks left, and two of those should be taper.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Why the Virgin Money London Marathon gives invisible women something to live for

More thoughts on late blooming as I ran this morning
Day 317
Rose at 6am to do a tempo run in the rain. I managed six miles around Hillyfields, a bit slow, but hampered by this virus thing still. Not enough stretching. Plenty of healthy food consumed (to starve that fever) still in pain around the stomach and hips. Too much sitting. 

Today I wrote a piece for a Local Living magazine, about the number of middle aged women running the Virgin Money London Marathon, and it reaffirmed why I am doing this and how large 26 April 2015 looms in my life.
Question is, what will I do with myself afterwards?
The answer comes via my friend Siggy, who was happy to record a half marathon time of 1:44 in Brighton last Sun. We're about the same age, so have taken on a noble quest: to score 1:40 in a half marathon in 2015. To set a current PB, and to see how much more I'd need to do to break 1:40 befor ehte end of the year, I entered the Paddock Wood Half Marathon today. It was the first half I ever ran, in 2008. It's on 29 March 2015, but I'll use it in training. I need to focus on another for summer. Perhaps Women's Running will help me out there.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A training session missed, an obsessive pissed

There was only time to take the air and strategise
Day 316
Both Tuesday sessions missed, still a little ill but eating like a horse and working at desk for an eight hour stretch. Stressed. 

Obviously rest and recovery is needed. A run streak at 52 is not to be advised, especially since these 52 year old hips spend last night aching fit to break - a girdle of pain caused by possible virus (although I am hungry still and my stomach bloated), wear and tear? If so, sensible rest scheduling, stretching and rollering is in order. It is only a week to go until I must run up 942 stairs as quickly as possible. I have reneged on my published vow to train seriously for this. Clearly, this pledge blog is built on crumbly promises.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Flexibility in a messy world

Celebrating, er, creativity in Catford
Day 315
Monday rest day, with stretching/yogamat/walking only

That sounds so neat and simple. The rest day should be about recharging, ready for the Tuesday circuits with Erik and a track session, sitting down at my desk and planning serious training around the working week. yet I am not fitting this bill. Meeting a deadline this morning, while my body ached and responded to whatever virus, hormonal haitus, stress-related malady is causing the stomach pain and bloating, sore throat, swollen eye and achey, achey hips, was hard enough. When work is scarce, then bits of it come all in one rush, all to be done in the same few days, while training commitments and the schedule on the fridge press on your conscience, that's when you feel it's all spiralling out of control. Resting seems impossible, but the fear of fatigue haunts you, because you know the only way to mend is through quality sleep.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pacing with a happy face

Hampton Court Half Marathon: freezing at the start
and a celebrity cheerleader at mile 10  
Day 314
Pace half marathon at 2:10 and felt gratifying fresh all way round, despited very painful guts, damped down by yet more Ibuprofen. Worrying, also about 4 miles extra getting from Surbiton to Thames Ditton

At one point this morning I worried about having some sort of messy internaL breakdown. This pain has to culminate in something.  had plenty off access to food so made the most of it, but fear I should perhaps be fasting . Six ibuprofen consumed today. Running 9:40 m/m is obviously far too slow as LSR, but it suited my poorly state. I was pacing with a very cheerful man, for whom I will find a link, and we gathered a grateful crowd around us. I led them to quite a decent PB sub 2:10, but worried I'd made it too fast. Still, I was gratified by all the thanks I received,

Saturday, 21 February 2015

IBS and cross country, a potent mix

Day 313

No photo yet, but I fear it will not be a triumphant image of women in their Kent AC vests, for my part at least.
A night of knotty bowels and pain. Eating is not affected, so I'm fuelled and trying to ignore gripes.
Feeling pretty rough, but hell, it's only 8km.
More tomorrow, as am away for the night.
Abject misery
The men did well
Mud, cold, discomfort
 As I feared, it was quite a trauma. Four ibuprofen did not help the stomach pain much, and lack of sleep cannot have been beneficial. Even so, I was slw. The first mile, up Parliament Hill, rendered my legs jelly and my spirit broken.
Not a great ending to the glorious cross country season, but I am so glad it has ended. Now I will concentrate on getting back on track (in every sense of the word) dealing with these internal difficulties, and preparing for Monster Month.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Breastfeeding while running a marathon? Can't imagine that

Buggy runners in Greenwich Park this morning
Day 312
A six mile tempo (ish) run with Kent AC buddy
Buggy running with 5 clients in Greenwich Park
Not very well this evening - bent double over griping IBS. This needs sorting out

Sitting here enduring intestinal spasms that feel as bad as childbirth (although my last expereince of that was 17 years ago, so I may well have lowered my threshold since then) I am remembering a conversation I had with one of my running mummies this morning. She, like me, is running the marathon on 26 April. She, unlike me, has a PB to be proud of (3:30, in Washington) and she, unlike me, is still breastfeeding her baby daughter. She says she will arrange for her husband to have daughter ready to feed about mile 13 (although that's Tower Bridge, where the biggest crowds are, so I suspect they'll choose a  more thinned out place to convene). The thought of squeezing lactating bosoms into a sports bra and running makes me wince (most of the buggy runners do this every week). The thought of running a marathon and nourishing a baby (a known energy sapper; 500cals a day, they say) seems superhuman. I am in awe. When I was feeding my babies, running was not even on my radar. Still, being a running granny, on the eve of the National Cross Country championships, even while doubled up in pain as I am right now, makes me feel a little bit proud,

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Healthy competition

Smackdown. Team 6 training
Southwark Park
Day 311
Team 6 training: tyre slams, elbow swings, deadlifts, 1,2, side to side, ball slams
Southwark Buggy runners, two clients

Cycle rides, to Hillyfields, to Southwark, to Greenwich and back

Erik's training session had added piquancy, as Sarah joined in to add a more competitive edge. She beat me in the low hurdles, stepovers. I am beleaguered by work and deadlines still, overeating and over sitting down. A gloomy mood was dissipated by having to be upbeat and chipper for this morning's training schedule. It just goes to show; if you don't get out there and make the body go through a range of motion, you risk atrophying through negative thoughts and low self esteem. Too weary to say anything more profound today.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Facing down the Monster Month

A glorious day outside for morning bike ride to work
but I was stuck indoors all afternoon, trying to make sense of it all
Day 310
No Wednesday recovery run or swim, just a cycle ride into town to do an interview. And back again.

Ordinary life really gets in the way of serious marathon training. Or, at least, it does for me. Other people, I notice seem to be able to work, eat, sleep, socialise and train without cocking it up. Last night a review deadline had me at my laptop until gone midnight, then I had to rise betimes to finally check it and prepare for today's interview. And the consequence is befuddlement and unreasonable hunger. Yet, my friend Ted, who organises all of our training runs, owns a successful architecture firm, has a family to provide for and far more deadlines than I, plans to run 3:17 on 26 April and will run seven miles this evening, eight at marathon pace tomorrow, the same cross country championships as I am fretting about on Sat, (and the men's race is 10K compared to our 8km), followed by 20 miles on Sunday. If I cannot do the requisite weekly mileage and live my life my 3:45 hope will become an impossible dream. With the Monster Month of March looming just 10 days away, when mileage needs to climb to 50 or 60 miles per week, the seriousness of this training year has to peak. The question is, am I woman enough to face dow all the other demands on my time, too?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

'Go hard or go home'

Day 309
Team 6 training with Erik, Rebecca and Joan: battle rope, deadlifts on one leg, high knees, chest stretch, blades, bicep curls and shoulder press
Cycling to and from various appointments
Kent AC track 1m warm up, strides, 1600m, 1200m, 800m then 3x400m, each with 200m recoveries, then 1m warm down.

Very tired, after hormonally and husbandly disturbed night, but glad to have gotten through the physical demands of this Tuesday, made more demanding by overnight theatre review and research for an interview with a big shot city type I have tomorrow. However, as Erik said, you have to work hard to achieve the results. Today I have worked hard, so please excuse me as I have more work to do before I sleep.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Warning: marathon training may make you fat

Hard work, and you get dog tired
Day 308

Rest day, travelled to Brighton to see my friend's new puppy, after a bit of a yoga/pilates, and a bit of a walk. Plenty eating.

Most people assume that all the running you do when training for a marathon means you can eat whatever you like without gaining weight. Fond hope. This will be my ninth marathon and, as with all the others, the extraordinary hunger and fatigue plays havoc with my healthy eating aspirations. I find myself shuttling from breadbin to biscuit tin to cereal box, cramming starch down my maw in a most unmindful way. Fact is, a few miles running most days does not burn half as many calories as most people think. And if you don't weigh much anyway (and that doesn't mean you look slim, believe me, as one lightweight who does not) you burn even fewer calories running a mile than the average 10-stoner. You get hungry, and the fatigue messes with your discipline. You gobble food, you don't sit down and chew properly, so your digestion goes all to pot, too. This means you don't sleep so well, and you get hungrier. Training, tiredness, sleep interruption, hunger, more at this stage of the marathon schedule the weight creeps up. I crept fearfully onto my friend's accurate digital scales: five pounds heavier than I should be. I am full of toast and pasta.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

How to pratfall like Lee Evans when running

The obligatory LSR selfie
and that sinking feeling in Woolwich
Day 307
Sunday long slow run: 16miles, with about four miles at target marathon pace, but others super slow. Extraordinarily achey at the end.

We met at the track, and a Beckenham route was mooted. As that suburb never appeals, I rather highhandedly vetoed that run and instead led us a merry dance via Manor Park Gardens and Blackheath to the river. Trouble was, having taken on mother hen role, I felt duty bound to keep the group together, although that was never going to work, with people ranging from 8-10m/m.
In the event, there was a gradual paring off...and then there was one. The loneliness of the long-distance runner, who wants to do a few extra miles, and the hills above Woolwich. Except I ran the wrong way, so decided to ascend an interesting looking escarpment to see where I was. Hilariously (for anyone watching) the wet, clay-heavy soil might just as well have been ice for all the traction my road trainers offered. Every foothold I tried to place slid out from under my weight and brought me to my knees. At several points I feared sliding full frontal down the 20 or 30 foot slope I'd managed to scale. In the end, I had to grab barely rooted scrubby broom brunches to haul myself up. Gaining the summit, I was none the wiser as to how to get to Maryon Wilson Park
So I ended up running back along the Thames path again, then up to the top of Greenwich Park and back down to Lewisham. At least covering the extra miles brought me back on course for following the training plan. Now all I have to do is follow the Week 9 instructions for Tue-Fri, while trying to fulfil work commitments, without sliding into a slough of fatigue and falling on my arse again.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

'Me hormones again, doc' More menopause for you women runners

Southwark Park Parkrun
Day 306
One 5km Parkrun completed in 
Southwark parkrun results for event #77. Your time was 00:22:26.
Cycled there and back

Menopause, or perimenopause (until one has been period-free for one year, one is still in the peri- warm up act) does not make you ill. That I asserted, with some vehemence, in The Guardian  some weeks ago. Yet these training weeks are being compromised by sleep disturbance (overheating, IBS discomfort), which I'm wondering is to do with my hormones.
I met a fellow Kent AC women marathon hopeful here this morning; she ran 19 mins and something (she is 12 years younger than me). She had ran 17miles yesterday. I cannot blame fatigue for my slowness, and I don't really think I can cite age as a factor, given that runners of my age and much older record much, much faster times than me. Yet I am told that I am running much faster this year than previous years, (my Age grding is 76%, I'd like to get it to over 80%) so after about eight years of training, I can still improve. And I should be pleased that 22.26 is this year's PB, which I can look forward to smashing when my head, stomach, guts and, yes, ovaries, are feeling better.

I am still haunted by the words of a managing editor I once worked for, who threatened she would never listen to hormonal excuses for skiving (she was talking about Time of the Month, which has been on the airwaves these past weeks, thanks to Laura Watson and Jo Pavey - well done those women for getting the subject on to the airwaves, it has to be discussed, because even if you sail through periods like the woman in white jeans of the advertisements, you still have to faff with tampons, and some women lose a significant amount of blood, necessitating iron supplements).

The Old School, sharp elbowed feminism of the 1980s perhaps took Thatcher as its model - don't be a womanly success, man up - has had its day, but I am a construct of that era, and I sincerely believe that much hot air (literally, given the power surges?) is expended on the horrors of menopause. You do have to ride these hormonal rodeos, don't let them floor you. but don't be ashamed of change. Periods do stop, and the hormones that make that happen do cause a bit of a kerfuffle. The best thing you can do is stay as active as you can. The proof of that pudding was apparent at 9.22am, because I felt much, much better for having run. That is the most important lesson of all.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Run tall, run straight and look the world right in the eye....

Get it all into perspective
Day 305
A five mile run with club buddy who's training for a half marathon, then training women up at Greenwich Park for Buggy Runners. Achey thighs from training yesterday - all that hip flexor work - still sleeping badly owing to stress

'I wouldn't have run if you hadn't knocked,' confessed my equally stressed friend when I called this morning at 8.30am. We're all the same in this training game; a bad night, a family row, an unforeseen tax bill, general world weariness...such things are sent to try us, sap our energy, knock us off the  programme. This is why there's safety in numbers, or even just One Other, who's planning that morning run with you. Neither runner wants to let the other down, and so we go. Usually, after about 15 minutes of running, and moaning about whatever it is that's stolen your mojo, the muscles and synapses warm to the running theme and you fall into an easy rhythm of pattering feet, measured breathing, swinging arms; you've forgotten your troubles and the blood is pumping.
Then, when you're gloomily surveying your emails, there's Runner's World with the latest batch of spring Marathon tips 
you're in the zone again, and the raison d'etre of this often rambling training blog becomes clear, once more.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mens sana in corpore sano

Focus with Team 6
Fresh air fun with Buggy Runners
My contribution to the Museum of the Mind
because this was once my daughter
Day 304
Ridiculously active, when fatigue threatened to scotch training. Cycled my complaining carcass to Erik Lee for circuits - loads of posterior chain work (need to look that up) mainly counteracting the old fat back syndrome), thence to Southwark Park where I had once Buggy Running client, on to Hayward Gallery on bike, then cycled back to cook, then cycled to Bethlem Royal Hospital for the opening of the Museum of the Mind, where a little piece of me will always reside. So, about 20 miles cycling and lots of training. Pooped.

Leaden grey skies made it feel dark at 8.30am this morning at Hillyfields where I fetched up for Team 6 training in a filthy mood after a terribly disturbed night. As the body loosened up and muscles fired my vitriole subsided, and I set off for Southwark Park in a more sanguine frame of mind.
The theme of mental health permeated this dismal winter day. I could not believe how physically below par anxiety about work and finance has made me feel. Even cycling up hill seems more of an effort when your mind is all pickled by circular thoughts. I know the mums I coach feel inadequate and vexed when babymothering doesn't come easy. Then going to the Royal Bethlem hospital this evening, on tired legs and with an achey, stressy head, to have the can of worms of my daughter's anorexic months reopened...reminded me how strong I'd had to be back in 2011 and early 2012. I'm not sure how I got through it. More on the Museum of the Mind when I have slept and my thoughts can be better articulated.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Self promotion

Grey day, sought spring indoors
Day 303
Small recovery run (not quite two miles) at careful jogging pace, with a 25-length swim in the middle. 

As I should be demonstrating tenacity in the line of duty, picking up more freelance work, rather than gadding about in my trainers (or, indeed, swimsuit) I almost snuck out of the house today, so as not to attract disapprobation from the old man, who works at his desk more than 14 hours a day, most days. Not being in a magazine office is blessed relief, in so many ways, but it does not get me noticed.
Today I applied for a part-time editing job for a charity, so had to big myself up. As a coach and runner, I am often required to  promote my classes and various races on social media. News of the latest Buggy Runners classes ricochet around the Twittersphere, thanks to me, and today I was required to air my future plans for this race, as I am an official pacer for this organisation (I am mostly green, FYI). Stuff like this keeps me busy, visible and although it doesn't net me much in terms of salary, it stops me spending money on race entry fees, and bags me a few freebies. Although, it has to be said, I have far too many event T shirts, they will have to go to the charity shop, which is where I buy my best clothes, being mostly unemployed.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A writer in training

Team 6 training
Garrya Elliptica in Brookmill Park, Deptford
Day 302
Team 6 strength training with Erik Lee and Hyacinth, Joan and Rebecca: skater jumps; shoulder press, mix ladder, chest press/reverse press and rope siders
PM Kent AC session: warm-up on the track, then a jog over to Hillyfields, to swarm up the hills and down again

Picture this: a tracksuit-wearing couple in their fifties, surrounded by fitness equipment on the sparse February grass of a handsome south London park. He's black, she's white. He is training her. While he corrects her shoulder pressing technique (those dumbbells are really quite heavy) he holds forth about the range of movement in the human body. There are, he says, only limited planes along which the body needs to be trained: movement wise they can be summed up along the lines of arm rotations, leg lifts, front and back, lunges, squats, side steps and spine extensions. All drills and training moves are variants along these core truths, and before you teach them you have to practise them thousands of times. That, he says to the woman, would explain why you are so inarticulate when it comes to coaching the women who come to Buggy Runners. Until you've been coached sufficiently, you're not going to be comfortable passing it on.
Sometimes the woman pays scant attention  to what Erik says although she's always on the listen out for his funny little soundbites 'you're training for a purpose, not a circus,' is one of her favourites.  This piece of information makes her take stock, however, for it chimes with something else she knows, from way back when. Is it really true that there are only seven stories in the world? (the seminal book on this subject is 'The Seven Basic Plots' by Christopher Booker) . It gets her thinking, once again, about how to conjoin the two strands of her so-called career, or the career she fancies she has – running around and being fit, and trying to be a writer. Of course, Haruki Murakami cornered that market, and with that realisation, she sighs, then goes home to check her emails to see if anyone has popped up to offer her any 'content writing' work. She is not content writing such content.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Bloated and interesting mix

Stay-at-home snowdrops
Day 301

Monday rest day. Yoga, stretches, walking.

It's there on the schedule, there on the fridge. One, or two, rest days per week. These are the days I feel most crap. I think it's because long runs are inevitably followed by insane food choices, overeating, bad sleep most probably occasioned by same and, because I am chained to my desk, checking my emails and social media, then struggling with tidal waves of self doubt and towering envy of my fellow freelancers.
It is particularly bad, being under employed and singularly unable to make hay with this downtime. Everyone else in this position would be cheerfully cross training, redecorating, sorting out the garden, writing their novel, going to matinees. I seem to be like a rabbit in the headlights, slouching about the neglected house or going on silly missions to the library, the charity shop, the park for my daily inspirational tweet for Ruth Jarvis
To make matters worse, this Monday, I am still suffering from the bloating and antisocial IBS symptoms that have plagued me all weekend. I know I should do something like go on a rice and water fast to banish whatever little digestive difficulty is bugging my bowel, but as I've mentioned before, I'm a greedy, foodloving person; even more so when forced to work from home. The kitchen is a veritable box of delights: Christmas chocolate is still knocking around; the cake from yesterday pressed on me by my waistline-watching sisters, a full breadbin and biscuit tin... they're all waiting to be pillaged, and the more consolation I require in the teeth of this spam-filled inbox, the more time I spend fixing rocket fuel meals in the kitchen, but not running, swimming or cycling enough to merit it.
Tomorow, will be my training day.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Up betimes to greet a lone rower on the Sweet Thames
thence to Hampshire

A country walk en famille, with a literary destination

pretty things

Day 300

Sunday, long slow run day, 10 miles averaging 9m/m, with a few marathon paced ones (8.30-8.45m/m)

It's a while until the vernal equinox, but the soft Hampshire countryside bathed in clean February sunshine put Spring into my head this afternoon, if not exactly in my step. My run was before breakfast, over a familiar route through Creekside to the river and back via Blackheath. After that wholesome early start, the rest of the day went downhill, as far as training and healthy eating were concerned. Rick and I drove to Farringdon, in Hampshire, where my middle sister is renting a house, for a family gathering. My elder sister, 60 this year, was catapulted back in time when we walked past the handsome house where Jane Austen lived. Teresa hadn't seen it since she visited as a conscientious English Literature 'A' level student. I was about 10 or 11 when she was memorising passages from Persuasion and I committed them to memory too. So long ago, our Hampshire childhood. Now we trudge across the countryside reminiscing and talking about grandparenthood, retirement, paying off mortgages, Dignitas. We come home and blow our noses and eat three types of home-made cake and drink many cups of tea. We're all middle aged, in denim, relatively fit and healthy, slightly too full of wine, cheese and cake as the sun goes down and that typical Sunday evening mix of fatigue, torpor, dissatisfaction and vague regret washes over as lamps are lit and long drives home are faced.
Next week will be a more abstemious, fitter, better organised, higher achieving week.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

'Open your legs!' ....oooh er missus

It's pretty chilly up here at the start
warm women at the end
Day 299

Race 4 in the Surrey Cross Country League; 2 laps (5.5miles) Farthing Downs. Big hills, deep mud.

We all love a bit of encouragement when we're up to our arses in mud, and sweating like pigs in our underwear, but to hear a coach shout 'open your legs' as a crowd of comely women race past...well it all sounds a bit dodgy.
I think he was trying to stop us, fatigued as we were mid mile four, develping that knock-kneed, droopy hipped stance that comes to non-elite runners as they tire.
My new mantra 'hips high and aligned, shoulder loose and low' (thanks, Martin Yelling) ran through my head on a loop as I slipped and slid, in trail shoes rather than spikes, on the marshy cambers. Last time I ran hree, my 15mm spikes dug viciously into the ball of my foot as I gunned down the flinty hill, but I had under estimated their truly wondrous grip on wet, muddy slopes. I wasted precious seconds trying to steady myself as I skidded over on two r three occasions. I felt I was going faster than I did in December, but my Garmin at the end begged to differ. Ellie beat me again. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Hilly, chilly and rather silly...self loathing

Sharp, cold winds make cool cloudscapes over Greenwich Park
A bit too chilly for much core/mat work
Day 298
Not much going on in terms of my training seriously. I coached a Buggy Runners class of nine women and babies in Greenwich, park, cycling to and from it, then spent the afternoon cooking and the evening eating and drinking

Which does not bode well for a cross country race. That's two nights of alcohol and rich food consumed when the schedule insists on high mileage and clean eating. This fall by the wayside is not so serious, so long as it is shortlived. I just need to get through - and enjoy - a mostly indulgent weekend, then get back on to what my mother used to call 'the straight and narrow'.
Diet books often talk about how little lapses should be built into the regimen, to avoid that rather kneejerk response to the temptation of the biscuit tin (I've eaten a couple of chocolate covered shortbreads and now am well and trulybuggered, so may as well consume whole packet - that syndrome).   Shortage of sleep, quantities of alcohol and an unsatisfatory week, work wise, has tumbled me straight into a similar mindset, which has rendered me bloated and dissatisfied, still eating chocolate long after hunger was satiated, hating myself while hoovering up roasted cashews from the pre-dinner vodka-tonic-nibbles stage well after everyone has gone's a dirty stinking hole of a mindset that I need to dig myself out of, and it's reaching a critical stage.
Do different, tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Coach Ronnie waxes lyrical

Freezing day in Southwark Park.
where they appear to be refurbishing the track

Day 297

Cancelled Erik this morning as I was desperate to tick to tempo running plan for Thursdays. I did four miles at between 8m/m and 8.30m/m
Buggy Runners at Southwark, two women, one brand new. 
Cycle to and from Southwark, planning a jog to Brockley to pick up train for book club tonight

Muffled up to the nines in running kit, tracksuit, bike wear and bobble hat
Jogging, running, jumping and being brisk, to store up warmth for more languid, stretchy interludes
It's easy to forget the simple fatigue that stays in the bones from birthing, feeding and all that
I bounce around, gurning at babies, dispending advice, giving garbled instructions, scanning their faces for clues

Are they bored? Is it too easy, does something hurt?
Should I ask them, when running, to step on the gas
Might they pull a muscle or fall in the dirt?
And sue me for not paying due attention and care
Am I right to try to earn a crust like this?
Aren't I too old, is this quite dignified?
Who cares what people think, it gives me a kick
To earn a living by staying outside

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Unscheduled energy sappers

The day started prettily and promisingly

...but I became mired in unforeseen difficulties

Day 296
An awful lot of walking in ankle-punishing boots: plus a cycle to Greenwich and back

An active day centred on friendship and doggie playdates. Whether or not many miles walked, coffee and brownies consumed and many hours spent in brisk winter temperatures, with nose dripping and hands purpled with cold contribute to overall fitness for a future 26.1 mile run is a moot point. At some stage I will have to shelve social engagements and high jinks so that the training plan on the fridge can be followed.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Wake up, butt!

Day 295
Training with Erik, guilty because I was the only one and he had to get some equipment out of the van especially (above): hopscotch jumping to open out hip flexors, bicep curls, weighted squats, arm resistance bands....
Lovely morning warming activities in the snow.
Kent AC this evening, which at 4pm on a snowy February afternoon, doesn't look attractive...
(postscript: we did 1mile warm up, strides, then 1200, 800 and 6x400m, then 1 mile warm down round the park...achey now)

A light icing of snow and the unpleasant memory of corpsey fingers frozen on yesterday's bike ride was enough to make me forgo two wheels and jog up to Hillyfields instead. A bit of a guilt trip in the event, as I discovered that Erik was waiting for me and was happy to lay on a special, snowy session just for me. Gladdened by the subsequent rosiness on such a wintry day. Bumping up the activity levels while offers of work come there none is sensible in theory, but a body that's done 52 years should perhaps have more care taken of it.
Erik posited the theory, which most trainers and physios support, that the seat (literally!) of most injuries and twinges is the gluteus maximus and the rest of the arse muscles. We 'joggers' (hated word, 'non-elite runners') think we can achieve the high mileage required for marathon training without serious attempts to engage lazy glutes 
It's imperative that I click that link, and make that link between my indolent arse and the catastrophic aches and pains that I wake with every morning. If I do not address the problem of an under used posterior muscle I will be looking at injury shattering the optimism of this training year. This fact was brought hone to me following a rather gloomy warm down after the session this evening with a fellow Kent AC marathon hopeful, whose training plan has been scuppered by the re emergence of an old calf injury. If the niggle becomes proper pain on training, she will have to defer her race place.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Cold Comfort Farm

Surrey Docks Farm  

Day 294
Rest/recovery day, but some cross training is necessary, so cycled to Surrey Docks City Farm to leave fliers in a probably futile bid to swell Buggy Runners numbers at nearby Southwark Park. So a little under an hour's cycling, whimpering with numb-fingered cold and self pity

There's much in the media about the bogglingly unfair distribution of the world's wealth: 1% of the world's population earn more than the other 99% put together. Always ever thus? According to the economists, the income gap has never been this stark. Living in London with only eight years' worth of mortgage left to pay until I own my semi detached townhouse in a laughingly 'almost desirable' area, I am one of the lucky ones - am I in the 1%?
However, these are straitened weeks for me; trying to live on my coaching, writing and, er, dogwalking gigs alone and with no properly paid work on the horizon. Such a dearth of office work should make this year's the most assiduously followed Marathon training plan I've ever had on the fridge. However, as sod's law dictates, this lack of busyness professionally is sapping my enthusiasm for the exra curricular. This could well have been a running day, since I did not run yesterday (I don't think walking 18 miles really counts as LSR) but I feel physically affected by unemployment. All the chores, admin, and, yes, training I could be spending time on I feel too jangled to do. Life seems constrictive, symbolised by the discomfort of my too-tight trousers after a couple of weeks of ill advised 'fuelling' for unsatisfactory running. The poorer and less in demand I feel, the more moribund and hopeless. It's not just a plan on the fridge I need, it's a life coach. This was a blue Monday. Tuesday must needs be rosy and pink.