The Thing with Consistency…

The thing with consistency is that, well, you have to be consistent. I like the idea of consistency generally. Consistency is sensible and safe and likely to see success in whatever it is you are being consistent about. The problem is, I’m rubbish at consistency. I don’t consistently blog, I don’t consistently file my emails or anything at all, I don’t consistently eat well, I don’t consistently exercise and I most certainly don’t consistently run. It’s been a month since my last running blog post and oh goodness has it been a fun sort of running month. Let’s see.

Just after my last blog post we went away to the Northumberland coast for a few days and I nearly threw in the towel completely. I didn’t seem to be able to run, I couldn’t do it, it stressed me out and I just felt crap about it all. Instead of a gorgeous 6 mile happy plod along the beach, I had a couple of barely a mile, tears, snot and general tantrum sort of events. I was quite ready to never really run again.

Once home, I got myself together again and decided that actually, yes, I do want to run. I managed 3 miles and then a couple of days after I managed 5k non-stop. Then we went to Bolton Abbey and I did the little loop while Kath went on to the next bridge. It was good to do it and I didn’t walk that much but neither of us were really feeling that one. Then we had a go at some speed work which I bizarrely sort of enjoyed – it was a sort of fun fartlek for beginners where you simply count strides and do the same amount fast and to recover going up in increments of 10 (starting from 10). I made it to 80.

Then  we hit June and I did a couple of short runs including one in the gym on the treadmill which was horrendous but, accidentally, very fast. I thought the treadmill was set to km rather than miles – reasonable assumption because that’s what it usually is – and therefore set it to run a steady 5k at 8minutes per km pace. That should have been easy but felt impossible so I quickly dropped to 10 minutes per km pace which still felt impossible so when I hit 2km I stopped, wheezing, huffing, puffing, sweating like mad and very very very very very grumpy. As the workout summary flashed across the screen I realised that the treadmill had been set to miles. I’d run 2 miles in just under 20 minutes, not 2km. Madness

Next I wanted to go out for a 5 mile little run but couldn’t do it. Head shut down and then my feet started hurting so I gave up half way and walked home. Two days later I thought I’d better have another go and I managed 5 miles non-stop running feeling pretty comfortable all the way. Then I had a gym session with lots of stretching and a bit of strength work the next day but no more running during the week until today. Today I managed 6.5 miles. I’m not sure how because it was awful, hideous, vile running.

We set off from Bolton Abbey Cavendish Pavilion and crossed over the bridge and ran towards the Abbey. I felt tired before I’d run 100 metres. I was a little worried because my tummy has been a bit uncomfortable for days – days of work travel, eating on the go and eating crap! It remained uncomfortable but more in a painful way than a ‘I’m going to wait until you’re as far away from the loo as possible and then make you really need to go’ kind of a way. I plodded, walked the hills, plodded. Bleurgh. We got to the car, had a sip of water and energy drink (more on that another time I think), nipped to the loo again and then set off again on our usual loop. I did not at all want to go, not one little bit but I just silently gritted my teeth and kept trying. We dropped into intervals of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking and that’s how I got round. An eternity and 6.5 miles after we set off we got back to the car. The running was a whole new level of awful but at the same time it was fabulous to be out. We saw lots of ducks, blue and great tits, sparrows, chaffinches; we saw a dipper chick being fed by its parent and we ran a few metres with a sandpiper before it flew off showing us the way. A little further on we saw oystercatchers and then a heron flying across the field. On our way home we saw a further 3 herons.

When we got to the car I grabbed the water bottle and wobbled across the car park to the edge of the River Wharfe and collapsed in a sweaty mess. Kath came over and she brought me the first of the RunDisney Virtual Shorts medal for completing my run. I may not look it but I was excited and happy to get that! I earned that one. What a slog! The virtual run series is supposed to be for 5km runs really but in my head I had sort of decided that I wanted to keep them for the bigger wins in each of the months the series covers and running that route, just over 10km, is huge. We’ve attempted it a few times and I’ve never made it and I haven’t run over 5 miles since I abandoned the Half Marathon at Disneyland Anaheim in November. I got this monkey off my back and I feel better – even if the actual running was hideous.

But anyway, consistency. I have been running but not consistently enough. I seem to manage 2 back to back runs and then there’s a huge gap to the next. It’s ok in terms of maintaining that bit of fitness I have but it is not enough to build and it doesn’t make increasing the miles easy. I’m off to Mexico City for a conference on Monday, I have packed my gym stuff and I will run. I’m not sure about treadmill running but I’ll try!

Sunday weigh-in is back

Right, well. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Julie Creffied of Too Fat to Run said this in her recent blog post and I’ve been thinking about this since. It’s absolutely true and in my experience so far running actually isn’t that brilliant for weight loss. Of course when you go from not really doing very much to running regularly chances are you’ll drop a pound or two but after that I’ve found that it’s great for maintaining weight and also for changing shape but not for getting lighter. Particularly when the distances get longer, fuelling becomes so important as does rest. However being lighter makes running easier.

I am about a stone heavier than I was at Dopey. For my next Dopey attempt I’d like to be a stone lighter than I was then. Plenty of time but nonetheless worth thinking about my diet and whether it is actually bad. Well, no, overall it isn’t. We mostly cook from scratch and have very little processed food. We probably eat a little too much meat but overall our 3 meals a day are pretty balanced and generally healthy (without being saintly). I do have a sweet tooth though and I do eat quite mindlessly a lot of the time meaning that sometimes I’ll have something just because it’s lunchtime or tea time or I’ll eat more than I really need because it takes a while to realise I’m full. I do also snack. Mostly healthy snacks though – fruit, nuts… but then the sweet tooth kicks in.

We also eat out a fair bit and I’m not that good at making healthy choices or not having pudding when we go out. The other thing, and I suspect this might be a key thing, is that I don’t drink enough water so I suspect that sometimes when I think I’m hungry, I might actually just be thirsty. So just to focus the mind a little bit, I’m bringing the Sunday weigh-ins back. I’d given up getting on the scales – they’ve resolutely stayed exactly the same since January and I know that the number on there means far less than how I feel and other measurements but I think I need a bit of focus. So baseline set today. Next weigh-in will be next Sunday – we’re away Thurs-Sunday so we’ll see. The aim is to be consistently back to Dopey weight by the time we get to the Lakeland Trails runs in October. That weight is my sort of plateau weight so getting there and then staying there will be  challenge. If I can maintain there for a while I can then push on to loose a little bit more.

As for running – I went yesterday on my own. I ran just under a mile to our sheep, fed them and then carried on to do just under 2.5 miles running and then the half mile walk back up the hill. It felt like hard going really but I was glad I got out. I’m not getting my fuelling quite right at the moment and my tummy isn’t settling well for running but I guess doing some is better than nothing.

Trail Slope Repeats and Planning

Ooh slightly behind on my running blogging. It’s marking season. Life sort of stops during marking season and I’ll emerge feeling a bit fuzzy and disorientated in a couple of week’s time.

Anyway, I’m sort of sorting paperwork and hanging about after lunch waiting to go for an afternoon little jog. Kath has a slightly sore knee so is sitting this one out. I’m not really sure how far I want to go or where but I’ve got a couple of hours to decide. However, I haven’t told you about Thursday morning’s run yet.

If you’ve been following this blog a while you may know that I don’t like hills. I have always ignored hill repeats if they appeared on a training plan (even if I put them on the plan). I mean, running up a hill once is bad enough, why on earth would I want to walk/jog back down just to run back up? Anyway, on Thursday morning we did hill repeats. Well, we did slope repeats. We used the slope on our sheep loop which isn’t steep but it’s uneven and very much trail territory and it’s a slope I have always struggled on. So we happily tootled along to that slope which starts just after our far field – so just about a mile away. Then we took it in turns to run up the slope as fast as we could and then jog back down. Kath went first and she went all the way up to the top. I went second and I went to where the slope levels before a final little climb. The first run took me 45 seconds exact and it was hard! I was tempted to walk back down and I was huffing and puffing like I haven’t in a long time. But I jogged.

Then Kath went again. Then me again and I think it was faster. I don’t know exactly because my watch battery gave up as I set off. The temptation to collapse in a heap was quite overwhelming but I managed to jog down. Kath went for round three. She’s too bloody fast. She was back in no time which meant I had to go. This was definitely more measured and my legs were screaming at me to stop from about half way. I got there, whimpered, turned round and sort of rolled back down. Kath went for the final time. Then she was back and off I went. I tried to keep an even fast-ish pace all the way up. My legs were a bit jelly-ish as I got to where I’d been turning round. I walked a few steps and decided I would take the last one right to the top so set off again as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast at this point!) I made it. I jogged down and we walked a little, had a little jog and then we walked home running just a couple of hills en route. 3 miles total. It was a really good exercise actually. It was really hard work but also sort of felt doable. Choosing a slope rather than a hill was a good start to get used to it and choosing trail terrain meant I could practice going faster (rather than slowing almost to a stand still) on an uneven surface. I wouldn’t exactly say I enjoyed it but it felt good to have done it.

Yesterday was a rest day. Today we were going to run several loops with breaks in between but Kath’s knee needs a rest and I don’t fancy going out on my own repeatedly. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow but for today I will just do something which allows me to feed the sheep on the way. We’ve also been planning though. We are going to run the Dirty Double in the Lakes in October. Lakeland Trails does a 15km Helvellyn Challenge on the 14th October and a 14km Ullswater Challenge on the 15th October so we have booked onto those. I really like this idea – there is a race version with a tighter cut off time and then a challenge option with a more generous cut off so you can still do it if you’re slower or if you just want to take it easy, enjoy the scenery and not race. Given these challenges, I suspect I will be doing a few more hill repeats between now and then! The week after we’ll be off to Scarborough to do the Yorkshire Coast 10k there. It should feel lovely and flat after the hills the weekend before!

Running Meltdown again

Two miles into my 10k run I was sat on my arse at the edge of the River Wharfe with tears running down my face trying to focus on a little chaffinch in the tree in front of me. Yep, running meltdown – again. I wasn’t even really aware I was struggling. We’d had a lovely first mile with a little stop to watch a deer for a few minutes and I felt fine really. My legs were a bit tight but really, nothing dramatic. We were running at the Bolton Abbey Estate and had just gone under the aqueduct when panic set in. I said that I thought I should go back, we walked a bit, then I stopped completely and then Kath sat me down. So there I was, not quite 2 miles in. FFS.

This mental wobble I can’t explain. I didn’t see it coming, I had been looking forward to being out, it was a gorgeous day and the sun on my face was lovely. But all of a sudden my black puppy pounced and got me. I couldn’t dodge her or outrun her. She just attached herself to me and growled. So I sat and looked at the chaffinch; a sweet little thing right at the end of the branch, silent mostly. At the time I thought it was a female but I’m not sure now. It might have been a male but I just couldn’t see the colours because I was looking into the sun. It was really more of a chaffinch silhouette. Slowly I began to realise that I had stopped panicking. Slowly I decided that I could probably manage to go on. So on we went. It was ok for a while, a short while and then doubts crept back in. The puppy was keeping pace but then we saw a heron and walked so we could see him better – he rotated slowly so he could keep an eye on us. Onwards. We stopped again at Barden bridge and watched some ducklings and some goslings – all neatly lined up in a row between the parents. Then we continued.

It was ok for a bit and then it was ok for a bit longer. We had a few little walks along the way but I tried to keep going. The puppy was somewhere but she was keeping her distance now and as we stopped to watch a pied flycatcher she disappeared completely. As we saw lots more birds I tried to remember that this is why I run out there. If we wanted to run fast, we’d go to a track Kath rightly pointed out. Running out there is not about pace or even really distance, it’s just about being out there. I mean really being there.

I agreed that we would stop at the Pavilion rather than go further and aim for the 10k. I knew that would be about 4.5 miles. I decided I wanted to do 5. I informed Kath of that as we came onto the flat out of the wood and ran alongside the Wharfe. We kept going along that path but soon turn round to head across the bridge to the Pavilion so that we didn’t have to run through a whole load of people. To get the distance we ran passed our car and along the car park. The puppy caught up. In my head she was running rings round me trying to trip me up shouting ‘hahaha you can’t do this’. My tummy gurgled dangerously but I focused on the image of the puppy and kept thinking ‘you’re wrong’. My legs felt heavy and my mind kept wanting to give in but eventually, after what seemed like forever, my watch beeped for the 5 miles.

I have felt focused and strong for the rest of the day and I have rattled through the first batch of marking really well. I left my puppy licking her wounds somewhere out there. She’ll be back I’m sure, but not today. Today I won!

Mind Over Matter

So I entered the London Marathon ballot and then headed for the trails. It was meant to be a repeat of the awesome 5.5 mile loop we did the other day and I was looking forward to it. We set off and it was ok and then it wasn’t. By the time we got 3/4 of the way across the golf course I was in meltdown. We sat for 10 minutes, I had a little cry and then continued. I made it down the hill and across the fields but a little way along the canal I lost it again and gave up. We walked home. I’d sort of run/waddled about 3 miles by then and my tummy was bubbling and my calf muscles were tight but to be honest that wasn’t the problem. The problem was in my head, all in my head. Now that I am back I feel so disappointed and cross with myself but that’s the running game I guess. I’ll just keep playing.

Later

I sat on the sofa a bit grumpy for a while, had some brunch and then wondered whether it was sensible to have another go. I felt physically fine. My legs felt ok, my ankle was a little tired – I think that’s the best way to describe it – but otherwise it was all good. I asked Kath what she thought. She didn’t want to go again because her ankle was a bit niggly so if I was was going to do this it would have to be on my own. I hate being defeated by anything depression or anxiety related so I felt like I needed to have another go and leave the head gremlins out there somewhere.

I set off having agreed that I would see how I felt once I got to the turn off for the trail and text Kath and let her know if I was doing the shorter sheep loop or the longer trail. I felt pretty good so went up. I walked the steepest bits and then headed across the golf course. Slowly but surely I made progress. I ran it all and still felt pretty good when I got to the other side. I plodded up the slope to the gate, once through I walked up across the field to the wall, climbed over and then jogged down the trail through the wood. I still very much dislike downhill and this is pretty steep. I was going very slow I think but I kept moving all the way which was my aim. Here are some images from the wood section – doesn’t look that steep. Hm.

 

IMG_4965
Looking back across the fields I’d just run

Once at the bottom I made my way across three fields, running (well plodding) it all and just stopping to open and close the gates. There’s nothing like  field full of geese to make you go a bit faster – luckily they just stared but stayed where they were. I got onto the track and made it onto the canal. In terms of actual running I was now on the easy bit – pretty well maintained, flat canal towpath. Yay. I was beginning to get a little tired which isn’t really that surprising given that I was on a total of about 8miles for the day at this point. Still I was plodding

IMG_4967
Track after the fields just before left turn to canal

quite nicely putting in a 15 second walk here and there. Then I saw people ahead, a big group of people and my heart sank. I’d been doing well mentally since about half way across the golf course where I’d decided I was doing this and had counted my way out of a rough patch. I did not want people. Why the hell were there people going for a walk. Outrageous! I put in a short walk break, took some deep breaths and started running again. I said a few ‘excuse mes’ and ‘thank yous’ and weaved my way through the group and kept going. Anxiety levels were sky high but nobody said anything. Nobody laughed. I kept going.

As I was approaching the golf course bridge, I thought I might cross there and walk up the golf course and go back that way because it was likely to be quieter and there were more people walking along the canal, there were also a fair few canal boats. However, as I got to the bridge it was open for a boat to go through and I didn’t want to stop. So canal towpath it was. Onwards. It was definitely getting harder now but I still kept to just a few short walk breaks and focused on landmarks to run to – a tree here, a wall there, IMG_4973then I concentrated and catching up with and going past a canal boat, then the bench in the distance. As I was heading for the bench there was an alarming gurgle in my tummy, then another and another. I made it to the bench, stopped my watch, stopped, closed my
eyes and squeezed my butt… Either this was going to induce disaster or avert it. I wasn’t entirely sure but whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I opened one eye, then the other and breathed a sigh of relief. Crisis averted. I decided to have a little break before tackling the last mile.

I sat on the bench for a few minutes, let the canal boat I’d over taken earlier catch up and then raced it to the bridge (I lost on purpose so I could have another little break waiting for them to open the bridge to go through and close it again so I could cross). Then I marched up the hill stopping briefly to reply to the last in a series of lovely and encouraging texts from Kath, jogged down the slope and came up Ilkley Road run/walking post to post. I had a quick chat with one of our neighbours and ran the last few metres to our drive. Phew. So that was tough. I was definitely getting tired by the end and my tummy was a little dodgy BUT I left the gremlins out there on the golf course somewhere and I did it on my terms. I needed that run.

I suspect I might feel this tomorrow. I’m heading for a bath shortly. I’ve had some food and put my compression socks on for a bit. I’ll do some more stretches before bed too. I’m glad I did the 10.6 miles today but I really am looking forward to not running tomorrow.