Exercise in three acts

Bit of a busy weekend, going to a family wedding in Norfolk this weekend. So that meant we had Friday off work, to pack, get sorted, pick up his mother and travel.

But I was diligent and went out for a run almost before my body had woken up on the Friday morning. In fact, I’m pretty sure that at least parts of me did remain in bed. It was just a simple out to the pylon and back, making 2.7 miles. And I didn’t try and be too ambitious, it remained a 3 minutes run 1 minute walk outing. Went OK, although it did rain just as I set foot outside the door. It’s hardly rained in ages, such that this was the first run in any precipitation in a very long time. The world had that fresh smell after rain, and it was lovely to be out.

Saturday was the wedding. All went OK. The weather let itself down slightly, and at one point there was a mad dash into the hall as it suddenly bucketed it down. Usual deal, wedding, reception and then the evening entertainment, which took the form of a barn dance. I was one of the few ladies who had clearly  thought about their footwear for the entire day, wearing my work shoes and happily dancing the night away in them. No matter how sparkly they are, a wedding dress and baseball boots is not a good look! Saw the bride & groom off, then back to the hotel. I’d been on the water all night, so I drove back, having first to adjust virtually every setting in his car. I do like causing havoc.

Sunday it was back home, drop his mother off and have a bit of a flump on the sofa. What with sleeping in a strange bed for a few nights and an enormous cooked breakfast, we didn’t do a lot until mid afternoon. When I decided that I ought to shake a leg and get out for a run. I’d decided that I wasn’t ready to try and extend the runs times from 3 minutes to 5 – not quite yet. At present, I feel that I’m stretching my fitness – it has not been my legs that have been crying enough, it’s been the breathing and heart.

Well, fatal last thoughts and all that.

I’d got out to start running again at 8 minutes gone and something sort of went “ouch”. I carried on for 30 seconds more but it wasn’t happening. Left leg, lower calf, on the inside something has gone ping. Hurts at the point in the step that you lift the heel and all the pressure is on the toes. Botheration. I think I’ve had a similar sensation before and it was the “other” muscle in the calf (not the big one, the other one – whose name I forget). It took rest and some stretches last time to get it to play ball again. So that could be what I do next.

Botheration, again, just in case you didn’t hear me first time. So it’s back to the wait and sees. Bother.

Back in the habit.

Sunday again. And this running lark seems to be getting to be a habit.

I’ve been watching some of the Olympics coverage. It’s that one time every 4 years when you suddenly develop an obsessive interest in some of the most obscure sports. Husband and I watched the synchronised diving and developed a real critical eye on the amount of splash and degree of synchronisation, despite the fact that I’ve never dived into a pool head first in my life, and the last time either of us stepped into a pool being sometime in the last century! That didn’t stop me clapping with delight when we won a gold medal. Then there comes the way Team GB seem to excel at certain sports. We seem to be pretty good at rowing and cycling. You spot the connection? They’re both sitting down sports. If you’re going to be good a a select set of sports, choosing those that are undertaken in a sitting position seems reasonable to me. Put it this way, sitting down for sport always seems like a pretty good plan for me.

Sunday morning saw us up and out for ringing. I’ve had a few weeks off Sunday morning ringing, for various reasons. So this was just about the first time I’ve had to work out what my Sunday ringing/running routine is going to be. Toast first, then an upper body workout and some mental exercise in the form of Stedman Cinques, Cambridge Max and Grandsire Cinques. After that, we’ve taken to heading to Costa for a coffee (decaf for me please – it does very odd things to me now. Long gone are the days I could put away an entire percolator full in a morning). So what sort of coffee do I want prior to a run? I opted for a small decaf black coffee, not wanting a large volume, not wanting loads of milk. It’s one to ponder for later. Followed by home, change and out the door.

I was having a bit of a debate about what to run. I didn’t make it out for a run on Friday (work got in the way – don’t ask, it is a very sore point!), so had only done 2 runs this week and, therefore, only 2 at the current run/walk pattern. As I headed out I was having a debate with myself about whether to run 2 minutes or 3 minutes. I got to the roundabout, and had to stand and wait for the traffic to I could cross. I ran across at a gap, and then found that had all taken me nearly 3 minutes anyway. OK, 3 minute intervals it is. And, you know what, it was OK. Although I seem to have lost the ability to do simple maths, failing dismally to work out that 16 minutes plus 3 minutes means I should have stopped running at 19 minutes, not 20 minutes. Meaning that there is an inadvertent 4 minute run in there somewhere. Oh deary deary me.

A smidge over 3 miles covered in a smidge over 40 minutes makes for a pretty good outing. It felt good enough. I have since spent the rest of the afternoon nailed to the sofa watching touring cars and, in between races, the women’s marathon. Once upon a time, I too, covered that distance. I did NOT do it in less than 2:30 and Brighton in April bears little relationship to Rio in August in terms of temperature, I assume you! I still feel cross about how I performed that day, but I still don’t feel the need to do it again… However, I am enjoying being on my feet and out in the wide world again, taking the time to run about a bit. In fact, race entry has crossed my mind…

You should learn something new every day

Although I should say that this is more a list of things I need to learn to do.

Post work run again. I could run tomorrow, but as I’m going for a second appointment for root canal, it is possible that I’m not going to be in the mood. I’ve 1:45 of being upside down in a dentist’s chair to look forward to. Yippee, lucky me.

Anyway, leaving tomorrow’s worries until tomorrow, it was run day today. So I hopped in the car to come home and found the remains of a bag of Haribo Tangfastics. I adore these, so happily scoffed the whole blinking lot.

Learning point 1) don’t eat sweets when you’re going for a run later, stoopid.

Learning point 2) Don’t buy the things in the first place and you’ll not be tempted to scoff them in the first place, dopey.

The Haribo made it into the car on Monday night, when I filled up at the petrol station on my way home for work. It was late, I was tired and the sweets were on offer. I’m afraid the willpower was in short supply and so the purchase was made.

After all that, I left it an hour after I got in and headed out for the run anyway. And it was alright. No tummy trouble with the sweets was probably more than I deserved. Headed out to the pylon, as usual. On the way back I saw another runner on the other side of the road, heading towards me. He saluted, I waved like a raving lunatic.

Learning point 3) Learn to wave neatly, muppet.

I suspect he may have thought I was a complete nutter, as it was a cross between a very girly wave and a widely energetic arm movement, Not cool, missus, not cool. But, then again, he was wearing fluorescent green shorts, so we probably could call it a score draw on the lack of cool points. Maybe he didn’t think I was all that nutty, as later on he passed me again and waved at me again. I assume he’d also turned round somewhere, but was clearly going a lot faster than I was. Probably keen to get away from the lunatic, huffy, puffy woman.

The huffy puffy woman made it back home and, all in all, it was a pretty good outing. Just a few things to learn. Although maybe I’ve left it a bit late to learn how to be cool…

(Not) Easy like Sunday Morning

Sunday, the day of rest. Unless you happen to be me, in which case Sunday has a list of things to do. Top of the list was run.

So I ran.

I don’t always tick the jobs list off in order, but this one was the easy one to get out the way – especially as it has turned out to be a deliciously warm, sunny day. I like the heat but I do tend to turn the colour of a ripe tomato when I run – even in the depths of winter. That is best avoided, so run was done ahead of the heat of the day.

Out of bed, running togs on, out the door. Mission accomplished. Each time I have built up the running, I have a mental block about the progression  from running 1 minute to running 2 minutes. No where else in my progression of running periods do I ever double the running interval – except here. And so I headed out with my head already telling that this was going to be hard. It was a bit tough, but if it was easy, we’d all do it. After the first 5 minutes, I stopped telling myself this was going to be difficult and settled down.

I made it out to the pylon, my turn around point this far, in 18 minutes. That’s 2 minutes faster than I did on my first outing, this running lark does show small improvements quite quickly. The thing about running more is that you cover the same ground faster, so using a fixed turn point means that the running time gets shorter. In which case I decided today that I would go further and head from the pylon across the cornfield (actually on a footpath, I didn’t just head out into a field for the hell of it) and turn at the large oak that marks the field boundary. Turned round at just over 20 minutes, feeling pretty good, if truth be told. Tired, not finding it easy, but not struggling too much either.

Then I discovered that I’d been running with a tailwind. Quite a strong tail wind, as it was now like running into the teeth of a howling gale. (That might be an exaggeration, but it felt like a howling gale). How come I never spot a tailwind until I turn round? The return leg was a bit more difficult. The 2 minutes runs became more like hard work, with me looking at my watch after increasingly short time had elapsed. The 1 minute walks seemed to be shorter and shorter and I wasn’t ready to start running again. I eventually gave in and allowed myself a 2 minute walk between runs, but it was, at least, only the one extended walk.

I got back to find I’d made 3 miles for the first time and approaching 42 minutes. No, it’s not fast, but that the longest run in terms of both distance and time. And while I did, indeed, look like a ripe tomato when I got back and jumped in the shower, I felt far more energetic and pleased with my performance. Not exactly an easy sunday morning, but a productive one.

It’s all about the space

I’m not on about space in the sense of other worlds and galaxies, I’m on about the other end of the spectrum – inner space – head space.

One of the things I have missed about not running is the way that run time is exclusively “me” time. I’m not usually with anyone. I can run along being distracted by the world around me. I can put the world to rights. I can think about anything and nothing. I don;t owe anybody anything. It is time for me and my head when I can concentrate on me and me alone. I think it fair to say that I have missed that mental element of running as much as my body has missed the physical benefits of the exercise.

Today’s mind clearer was well needed. It’s not going to be a silver bullet to solve all of my issues with stress, but it can only help.

Resisting the lure of the sofa

This was the first serious test of my willpower – the after work run. I find it easy to get in from work, flump down on the sofa and barely move again all evening. Very easy…

The intention was to leave work promptly (not my strong suit..), get in and get straight out to run. Would I manage all of that?

I almost managed the leave promptly; 15 minutes after my intended exit time is practically early for me. However, there had been an incident and part of my route home was blocked. A detour was 6 miles further and an hour longer than my usual trip home, such that instead of getting home at 6 ish, it was gone 7 ish. Would I have the willpower to get out? It was Tuesday night or nothing this week.

You will be pleased to know that I seem to have discovered some will power in my running shoes. Yay me!

I got in, threw some liquid down my neck was in, changed into running togs & dashed out the door. In fact this being determined to run business seems to be good for my pace, as I made it over almost the same distance and the same 1 minute run:1 minute walk as Sunday but a minute quicker. Not in any way intended, it just was.

I did get back, stretch, drink cook tea and then allowed myself a flump on the sofa in front of the TV for an hour, but that amount of flumping is clearly allowed. Feeling unduly proud of myself.

Back for more

Sunday morning is usually ringing, but this week we’re a bit short on numbers, so a that fabulous luxury of a Sunday morning lie in was enjoyed. The alarm clock didn’t go off until gone 8; which might not sound like a lie-in, but it is when you consider the alarm clock on Monday goes of before 6 am. Then, after he vanished off to the station, I vanished out the door for another run. The spell of warm weather is continuing, with this morning being warm and a bit overcast. There was a bit of a breeze and it was quite nice out.

Nothing especially exciting to report of the run itself. I stepped up to a 1 minute run followed by 1 minute walk. The run segments were no longer than last week, but reducing the duration of the walk breaks makes it that little bit harder overall. And so it proved. I made it on the outward leg without too much trouble, but on the return it did start to feel slightly tougher. The walk breaks slowed down a bit and it was getting harder to start each time. Not helped by a fellow runner who came past me just towards the end of a walk break looking as cool and unbothered as a pink clad cucumber. Actually just as I was considering making that walk break longer than one minute but that thought vanished and I set off again in her wake. However, I did forego the last walk break and run home from the roundabout for the last 2 minutes. It always feels good to finish strong and not crawl in to the finish.

The one thing I have managed to do is, somehow, to change something on my Garmin or the Connect page such that it is no longer showing pace as a graphic. It’s showing me elevation, which is not the most interesting statistic – apart from the slight aberration which means I seem to climb 18 meters and descend 14, all while starting and finishing in the same place. Not sure quite how that works, but hey ho. I just need to work out how to get the technology to do what I want it to and we’ll be fine.


When is a runner not a runner

So, here I am, back again. Running and blogging once more. Well, running might be stretching the definition. So far I’ve been out 3 times at a 1 minute run: 2 minutes walk pattern for about 40 minutes each time. Which is by no means fast, but it did feel good.

Well mentally it felt good. Physically I am a complete mess! Lungs burning, throat raw with breathing hard, every muscle having a shout about being overworked, some of them having a go the next day as well, just in case I;d not noticed them the day before. Having had that moan, it was good to be out on the road again.

And that brings me to the thought behind the title. I’ve not taken part in an organised event in over 4 years. I’ve not run for more than 10 minutes without taking a walk break in 18 months. But I have never stopped thinking of myself as a runner. I still have all the gear, I still have my trusty garmin and all the necessary to get that to work, I even have an unworn pair of shoes. I might not have been actively running, but my mind set was that I would run again – it was just a question of when. At the start of this year I set myself a series of incremental resolutions to sort my life out. Simple things like have breakfast, don’t skip lunch, leave the biscuits in the tin and to do some exercise. And that’s where the running comes in again. I’ve been saying to myself for the last 4 months that I would run, it was just that I always found an excuse not to do it. I was too tired, I had to work, I had eaten, etc. etc. etc. But at some point the excuses have to stop. Mine stopped last weekend – which was one of the hottest of the year. And so I am a runner again. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it proved that I am a runner after all.

Not just a flash in the pan

Yes, I have indeed been out for a second exercise session that included some running. It still feels a little like cheating to describe something that involves more walking than running as a “run”, but I’ve done it anyway. Same route as before, out to the pylon & back. Although this morning the pylon was hiding in the mist. Either that or my distance vision really is horrendous and I ought to wear my glasses far more than I do. No, it really was a misty morning, a thin grey sky with the sun trying hard to burn its way through – it looks like it might turn out nice later.

Out for an early morning session, as the husband was out the house at 7, and seeing I was up, I figured I may as well do something with the time. And very nice it was too. The mist sitting on the fields gave the whole thing an autumnal look very much season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and the blackberries are certainly looking ripe and heavy. I may well have to go for a repeat journey armed with stout shoes, a walking stick and a tub to put all those lovely berries in. mmm, Apple & blackberry crumble. Mouth watering at the very thought…

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In fact all sorts of transport options were spotted on Saturday’s long run. Everything bar a traction engine, a pogo stick and a space hopper!

The husband was due to be bell ringing at Lockington, and then going on to his parents for the afternoon. So it was suggested that we both go to Lockington, with me then running to his parents, where I’d meet him. I could have a shower, and change and we’d then drive home once he’d done all the jobs that had to be done. I had 18 miles on the schedule for this weekend, so I plotted a route from Lockington to the River Trent, then along the river towards Nottingham and up to his parents from there. On paper and Google maps, the route looked possible. A quick question on the Runner’s World forum, asking for some local knowledge, found that most of the river path would be entirely suitable for running, so the plan was set.

Friday night and I prepared everything to take, as it was a fairly early start saturday morning, 8:30 departure, and I needed breakfast before then. 2 shirts, socks, gloves, shoes, hat, leg wear, 4xgels, waist belt & water bottles, £20 note, cash point card, charged phone, print out of the route to the river, Garmin, bag of clothes for afters. All of it collected and assembled OK. Saturday morning went to plan as well, and we set off on time, me with a bowl of porridge warm and comfortable inside me. I wore a long sleeved top, with a short sleeve and my wind proof gillet in the bag, which one to be decided on once we arrived.

The weather was gorgeous to look at, clear blue skies, heavy white frost, still air, just a picture-perfect winter morning. I decided against the gillet – it can be too warm, especially if it’s not windy, and went with just 2 T shirts. It was still cold enough to see breath in the air, but the sun was quite warm. After a quick look at the map, I set off in the right direction – away from the river. This sounds odd, but there is the small matter of a dual carriageway and a railway to be negotiated before I could reach the river. My best route over these two hurdles was not the shortest.

Headed up the lane and up a hill before heading across a field towards Castle Donnington and a second lane. At which point I could hear a tremendous engine noise, turned to see the tail fin of an aeroplane heading behind the hill. Of course! East Midland’s airport was just over the hill, the noise was as the plan turned to head down the runway. Form of transport number 1.

from there, into a village before turning and heading into Castle Donnington. From here I got to go through the industrial estate, before picking up a little trackway towards Clifford’s Bridge. This is a bridge across the Trent, but I wasn’t crossing it here, I was just going to join the Trent here. In the industrial estate, there were the obligatory cars and trucks and things that go. Including one posh looking Chelsea tractor on trade plates that I seriously hope was heading straight to the local garage, as it was pumping out enough oily smoke to make a pretty impenetrable smoke screen! hmm, I suspect it’s not supposed to do that…

On the trackway, I passed cyclists and horseriders (yet more forms of transport) went under the A 50 but passed over the railway without sight of a train.

Joined the Trent path and it was just a beautiful morning. Not too many people about (which was useful when I stopped to, um, water the tree), and I counted only 2 sets of footprints in the frost ahead of me. Kept seeing lovely frost laden plants and views that, if I were a photographer, would have made lovely pictures, but I have neither the skill nor artistic eye to make it happen. Joined a tarmac pathway here, and encountered my first local. I did my second degree in Nottingham, and one of the first things you notice, as an incommer, is the bizarre greetings you get. “Eey oop me duck” being my best interpretation of how these strange northern folk say “hello”.  But it was such a lovely morning that it seemed to put everyone out in a good mood, such that most people were exchanging greetings as I passed.

Had a moment’s route uncertainty as I got to Trent Lock, where the Trent & Mersey canal leaves. I knew I crossed the Trent at Sawley Bridge, but I’d got it into my head that this was the first bridge I passed. But there’s a foot bridge at Trent Lock that I’d missed seeing. I made the right call, and stayed on the south side of the Trent at this stage and carried on. I knew I’d got this right when I got to the M1. Big old road, the M1, can’t miss it. Strangely, it was very peaceful right under the bridge. From there it was just a short run to Sawley Bridge, where I did cross the river and headed through the marina.

And here I ticked off yet another form of transport, with boats and canal boats being present on the river here. It was quite nice running through the marina, with the fires being started on the boats, and the passing smell of breakfast cooking. Up and over the arm of the lock, and under the second railway bridge of the day – still no trains.

Stayed on the side of the river all the way into Nottingham. Passed the power station at Ratcliffe on Soar, where I passed through a very cold shadow, cast purely by the gasses being emitted by the power station. Made me wonder if there’s a permanent cloud effect that rotates round the power station caused by this. However, shortly after passing this, I finally saw a train! Only passed 3 railway lines before I nabbed this on my lists of transport for the day.

One thing about running along a river is that navigation is fairly simple, don’t fall in seems to work fairly well! As I passed the junction of the Erewash canal, again it was a bridge over the side arm and continue along the river. This was heading along the edge of Attenborough nature reserve. There were more people out and about here, such that at times it was a bit like trying to run along Piccadilly Circus! And some people have no idea! One group of birdwatchers stopped, blocking the entire path. I don’t dispute they have a right to be there, but I do deny that they have the right to use the entire path, blocking it for other users. A yelled “excuse me” provoked minimal movement, so I just hurtled through the  middle of them to some of their evident dismay. Part of me thinks “sod ’em” they should have been a bit more considerate in the first place. One pair with their dogs did amuse me though. I came up behind them, so again an “excuse me”. They moved right, the dogs moved left, I wondered if I was supposed to skip over the leads! But we managed to untangle ourselves and I went on. Approaching Beeston lock, I heard my phone go with a text. Hubby had said he’d let me know if there finished early, just so I knew. I didn’t check it until after 12 miles, as then I slowed to a walk for a gel and a drink, and checked the phone at the same time. It was him, and no need to reply. At this point there’s a weir and a canal cut. I needed the extra miles, so headed over the canal and round by the river towards Clifton Bridge. I passed very close the the weir, and it’s at times like this that you see the real power of the river. It had seemed very peaceful and static on the level, but where it cascaded over the weir, there was a tremendous roar of flowing water, and considerable movement thereafter. Very impressive – but not a place to get caught.

The final stretch was just round the playing fields to Clifton bridge, then back by the canal. From here it was into ton and to his parents. I crossed the railway one final time (over a nasty bridge – who put that there?!) and arrived at their front door with 17.4 showin on the watch. This confused me slightly, as I’d mapped it at 18.5 miles. But, to be on the safe side, I did a loop round the houses for the final 0.6 miles, making it to 18 run and recorded.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 18.0 miles
Time – 3:38:13
Average pace – 12:07

The distance is actually more than that. when I got home and uploaded this to the Garmin software, I discovered that I’d managed to stop the timer and had missed about a mile out of the run! As I came through Clifford’s bridge, I passed a pub. I thought about going in to use the loo, so stopped the watch while I took the detour. only the pub was closed, and so I carried on – without turning the timer back on! It wasn’t until sometime later that I saw the watch wasn’t running that I realised. Working on the fact that the route I’d mapped was 18.5 and I only recorded 17.4 miles, I think I under-recorded by a mile, meaning I ran 19.1 miles. Which is all to the good. When I stopped, I was ready to finish, but I certainly wasn’t anything like as tired as I had been a fortnight ago, when I ran 16 miles.

It’s 90 days to go. As I write this, in 3 months time I expect to be reclining in a bath with a glass of something containing alcohol and bubbles to ease my weary self. I wouldn’t have necessarily volunteered to run the extra 7 miles yesterday, but I’m beginning to feel that this might well be achievable…