Speed work in the rain

Speed work is not my favourite. I’m not feeling it at the mo. I look back on January and having enjoyed the running  – at least in hindsight. In February I’m a bit ‘can’t be bothered’. I’m running because I need to. But speed work, really?

I managed to programme my Garmin to do the 8 x 30 seconds sprints with 90 seconds IMG_8493recovery. I added a mile warm up and a mile cool down either side. It took me a long time to persuade myself off the sofa. I kept doing just one more thing. But eventually I pulled my rain jacket and my rather lovely road shoes on and headed out. I slowly jogged down towards the canal – about 13 minutes per mile pace. Then I started the sprints. Well when I say sprints what I really mean is ‘going slightly faster than usual’. I did my 8 sprints and walked in between to recover. I tried but my heart wasn’t really in it and I didn’t even find having to hurdle some ducks funny.

I did have one spectator though and it felt like having my own little cheer squad of one. A cheer swan. Once sprint 8 was done I decided to stop being grumpy and enjoy my cool down mile by walking along the canal, spending some time with the ducks I had been grumpy about and saying hello to some more of the swans.

There is something sort of bleakly beautiful about the canal on a grey rainy day. It cheered me up and by the time I got home I was ready to have another go at my inbox.

So another 3.2 miles added to the total. 32.6 miles for February and slowly closing in on the first 100 miles.

Just keep running

Treadmills and Mud

It has been one of those weeks. I mentioned in my last post that the black puppy has been hanging around and I have struggled with depression all week. I’m not all that good at acknowledging it and often don’t until it’s too late but running and writing about it seems to help me realise that it’s sneaking up on me. So I’ve tried to be careful, early nights, no booze, good food, lots of water, trying to reduce the caffeine. And maybe that has worked because I’m still standing. At the same time though I have too many unfinished things on my desk at the moment, I don’t feel in control and I am struggling to prioritise.

Anyway, after my 8 mile story last Saturday, I managed another 8 miles on Sunday. I woke up on Monday, opened an eye and slowly slowly moved a toe, then my ankle – nothing. Hm, ok. I sat up. Still nothing. But I ran 16 miles over the weekend – why does nothing hurt? The running gods work in mysterious ways, best not question it. I enjoyed my rest day. I was also looking forward to running on Tuesday. I felt on top of the world.

Tuesday I missed my chance. I just couldn’t make myself get out of bed early enough to run before work and by the time I got home it was slippery – the sort of slippery that doesn’t bother most people but makes me curl up in a ball and cry. No matter, I thought – I can use the treadmill at work tomorrow. Oh what an idiot I am.

Wednesday – meetings at the different campuses and then evening teaching. Basically a 12 hour day. Really the perfect candidate to take some time out in the middle and head to the gym. So that’s what I did. Here’s how it went:

  • Me: Hi, be nice
  • Treadmill: *raises eyebrow
  • Me: 5km – we can do 5km
  • Treadmill: *angrily flashing – programme your pace in woman
  • Me: Ok ok, let’s go slow – 7.5minutes per km
  • Treadmill: *sniggers
  • Me: *sets off running
  • Me: Why is the treadmill so uneven?
  • Treadmill: I’m not uneven, you’re wobbly
  • Me: Urgh, hate this, this feels tooo fast
  • Treadmill: *Sniggers
  • Me: Surely I’ve done a km by now
  • Treadmill: Hahahahahahaha – NO
  • Me: Urgh, can’t do it
  • Me: Oh ok, Bon Jovi ‘Have a Nice Day’, thanks Ipod
  • Ipod: You’re welcome
  • Me: 1.5 km. Really. WTF is this?
  • Treadmill: Get off if you don’t like it
  • Me: I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t fucking like it but I need to do 5km and some hills
  • Treadmill: *sniggers
  • Ipod: How about Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger?
  • Me: Thank you, yes, that’ll help. Good
  • Me: Right, some hills
  • Treadmill: *sniggers. Are you sure?
  • Me: Hill repeat 1 – OMG; Rest – yay; Hill 2 – FFS
  • Treadmill: Oxygen?
  • Me: Fuck off – Hill 3 – that was more than 30 seconds up!
  • Treadmill: Nope
  • Me: Last hill – bring it
  • Treadmill: OK
  • Me: NOT THAT STEEP
  • Treadmill: Sorry not sorry
  • Me: Bitch. Right, 3km done.
  • Ipod: Excuse me but my battery is a bit low
  • Me: Ipod, don’t you dare die
  • Ipod: Sor…
  • Me: Stupid fucking electronic piece of fucking junk
  • Treadmill: Concentrate, you nearly fell off
  • Me: what do you care
  • Treadmill: I don’t. Wanna slow down?
  • Me: Yes, Yes I do but you’re not winning this.
  • Treadmill: *raises eyebrow
  • Me: 1km to do. Just 1km. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming
  • Me: Oh look suspected drug deal outside the building opposite – oh actually I think they’re just sharing sweets. Mmm sweets. Wonder if I have any chocolate in my desk
  • Treadmill: Stop wobbling
  • Me: Nearly there, nearly there, nearly there
  • Me: Done it!
  • Treadmill: 5 minute cool down
  • Me: Go fuck yourself, I’m off
  • Treadmill: Suit yourself but I’m telling you – cool down 5 minutes

So the 5km with the 4 hill repeats took me 40 minutes and 45 seconds. And every single of those minutes was pretty miserable. There just wasn’t anything fun about it. It felt like hard work, really hard work and it was so utterly boring. Anyway, I had a quick shower and got changed, did my teaching and headed home. I phoned Kath to ask her to pick me up but she couldn’t come out. She’d introduced her foot to a rabbit hole on her run in the morning and was in agony. So once I got home we headed for A&E where we spent the next 3 hours to find out that her ankle isn’t broken (thank goodness – she’s already walking almost normally for short stretches). So Thursday I was tired, really tired and every single bit of my body was properly pissed off with me. My ankles were so sore, my feet hurt, my lower back niggled, my hamstrings were more painful than post marathon and everything just felt achey. 5km on the treadmill seemed to have broken me – the running gods and their bloody mysteries.  Friday I was a little more with it but a bit tired and by the time I got home and my ankles felt like they might snap. I didn’t run thinking it wasn’t too bad because I was doing two long runs at the weekend anyway.

Saturday I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I don’t think I ever really woke up. By the time I’d got up, helped Mum buy a new washing machine and then done our shopping I was ready to go back to bed. Running just somehow didn’t happen. Today I was going to have another go. I woke up quite looking forward to it and then between getting up to get a cup of tea and taking it back to bed to come round, our road was covered in snow. My heart sank. I can’t run in snow. I thought I would just see how it went, made some porridge and went about my morning. Eventually it cleared and looked nice out with the road clear and wet rather than snowy and icy. I was stuck on the sofa though. I didn’t think I could move really. But I did. I put my gear on and decided I’d just see how I got on, no pressure for miles. I really enjoyed the first 4 miles or so. I was happily plodding along looking around and was lost in my thoughts yet not really thinking about anything. Then I had to make a decision – carry on along the towpath into the mud or turn around. I have mentioned before that I am really struggling with slippery. It’s not rational and it’s not a normal, healthy sort of fear. I actually panic, I freeze and hyperventilate. Anyway, I thought I’d practice. I decided I would try and walk a section. Just as a crossed under the

IMG_8488
Me, Sleet and Mud

bridge into the muddy bit it started sleeting like mad. I stood for a minute, gathered myself and then walked as purposefully as I could. I didn’t stop, I kept moving forward, at times my instinct was to freeze and it was stupidly hard to keep moving but move I did. After about a third of a mile or so I turned and headed back. I was happy with that. I had managed to negotiate a really muddy stretch without having a meltdown. (Yep, I take my wins where I can get them).

I started my run/walk again and realised that I was getting quite cold and that I was starting to feel a bit miserable. I’d had enough. I decided to stay true to my promise of not being miserable and the #MyRunMyRules philosophy. I decided to take the next bridge off the canal and head for home. So I set out for 10miles but I’m happy with my 6.5. Only 9.6 miles of running this week. I was a bit disappointed with that when I put it on the chart but given that getting out of bed has been a win this week, I’ll take it.

Oh and Sunday Weigh In – who gives a toss! No idea. Haven’t been near the scales.

Happy Sunday.

An 8 mile story

Yesterday I mentioned that I think we get (even more) judgy of each other in January. Well I think we also get judgy of ourselves. I have struggled and struggled and struggled to remember that comparing myself to other people who run is less than helpful. I see other people’s stats on strava or on FB posts and I judge them and I judge me. I see them as runners, I feel crap about my running ability… But that’s changed a bit.

I think one, possibly unintended, consequence of joining the #Run1000mile Challenge last year when there really wasn’t a hope in hell that I’d get there was acceptance of different running. In that FB group there are people who routinely run more in a month than us mere mortals usually do in a year, there are people who will have nailed the 1000 miles by spring, people who run up mountains like I run up molehills and there are some who can actually run downhill (I know, weird, right). Then there are those who run marathons, halves, 10ks at speeds that look closer to my 5k PB than anything you should reasonably expect over those distances; there are people who race, people who don’t, people who think 10 minute mile pace is a nice easy run and then there are – wait for it – people who run slowly. People who are amazed and ecstatic that they have managed over 50 miles in a month, people who are slow, people who are building up distance, people who are just starting, people who have started several times, people who have been running forever, people just doing it because it might just be possible – people a little bit like me.

The group supports everyone, we celebrate all successes and I think the people who make that group special, who are always there commenting are people who really understand that running is personal, it’s our own private rollercoaster. We all got on that rollercoaster for different reasons but once you’re on it’s one hell of a ride and that ride is different for each of us. It can be about speed or distance, about climbs, about challenging terrain, about weight loss, about physical health, about mental health, about getting out and seeing the world, about racing yourself or others, it can be about anything you want it to be. And it doesn’t always have to be about the same thing. I had no idea running could be like that – I presumed that runners run to get faster and go further and chase PBs and beat others in races. That presumption shaped my perspective for a long time but slowly slowly slowly I am learning that it’s my run, my rules. It’s funny because I have used exactly that line so often when people have asked for advice on their running – like if it’s ok to take walk breaks or whether that’s cheating. Your run, your rules. Why didn’t I ever realise that this is also true for me?

So recently I have tried very hard to not compare, not to others and not to what I could do at the height of Dopey training in the second half of 2015 or what I once did somewhere on a particularly good day. I have tried to forget about pace and distance and I promised myself that running was always going to be a safe and happy place free from judgment and self-loathing. That’s important because I run mostly for mental health and if running starts to impact negatively rather than help, well then I’m in serious trouble – there’s nowhere else for me to go. It’s sort of working. I’ve said before I try and judge ‘good’ when it comes to a run based on whether I enjoyed it and/or saw something cool along the way.

So this was quite a longwinded way to get to my 8 mile story. Here are the stats – look at them and think about what you see, tell me what you see if you like – then I’ll tell you the story of that run.

IMG_8470

So you might see slow (ish) first 4 miles but fairly consistent pace and then it all falls apart. Mile 5 pace drops significantly, mile 6 recovers just a little, one last push maybe before crashing out completely and having to walk the remaining 2 miles home. Yep, well if I look at those stats in a few months time, I’ll probably think something similar (which is why I’m writing about it now and will add a comment on strava too).  So here’s my 8 mile story:

I didn’t really want to run. The black pup has been hanging around wondering if it can be bothered to come and pounce and I’ve rather been hoping it might not find me on the sofa (of course in reality, it’s the depression that’s keeping me on the sofa but stick with me). It was also sleeting. I was scared the canal towpath might be slippery. It wasn’t. So we set off to run across to Bingley and feed our friend’s cats and then run back. 4 miles there and 4 miles back. The first 4 miles were great. For the last few weeks I have mostly been running 1 minute walking 30 seconds; I changed the intervals today to run 2 minutes and run 30 seconds. It felt good to be running a bit longer, my feet and calves were ok with the increase and while it definitely felt harder, it also felt comfortable. The first 4 miles are therefore actually just awesome and about 45 seconds per mile faster on average than I have been doing along the flat – without trying, without being miserable.

At half way we had a few minutes rest obviously as we sorted the cats and I stretched out
my calves. They were ok but just threatening a niggle.

IMG_1071

Then we set off back. Mile 5 was great but included the Bingley Locks – 3 and 5 rise and while I ran up the 3, I needed a slightly longer walk to recover and there was no way I was running up 5.  Mile 6 I started to struggle a little but this was close to the furthest I’ve run for a while and I wasn’t struggling in the sense of needing or wanting longer walk breaks or even stopping. I suspect I did slow a little though and then decided to try an new footpath to head home and ended up walking a bit to get onto it and then walking a bit more as it got steeper.

Mile 7 then – well mile 7 was up the muddy footpath and across a couple of muddy fields and then an section uphill on the road. I am struggling with muddy. It’s not normal. I don’t even think I’m scared of falling – I’m pretty well padded all round – I don’t know what it is but it’s panic inducing. It’s far beyond a healthy respect for the conditions and not wanting to fall. So not rational. My instinct was to turn back or to curl up in a ball and rock, or freeze and cry. I didn’t to any of those, I kept moving forward, very slowly and with the odd whimper but I kept moving. It took a while to calm down and then we tried a little jog again. Then came the footpath between two estates – muddy of course – so panic set it in again and I just had to keep moving forward – slowly but surely. I got there.

A last little jog and final walk up hill – done. Longest run this year – and for quite a while. I have also already run more this February than I did in the same month last year. So my 8 mile story is a really positive one – 6 good miles of running and 2 miles of facing fears and battling through. I seem to have banned the pup to the hallway too. So let’s not judge our runs by the stats – they don’t tell us what really happened out there.

 

January Stuff and a bit of Running

So, that silly month which starts out with you not quite knowing what planet you’re on, what day it is or whether it is still acceptable to have mince pies and prosecco for breakfast and ends in you running out of money and in a perpetually frazzled state wondering how it is possible that that you really only just had ‘a break’ is finally over. One of my friends replied to a text asking how she was saying that she was a bit ‘januaried’. Yes, that’s it isn’t it. We’re all recovering slowly from having been januaried – sick of people and enforced frivolity and craving solitude and quiet.

January sees resolutions, new fitness regimes, healthy eating crazes… all the things that don’t work and can be hugely damaging. I hate running in January. I hate going to the gym in January. I hate buying a salad in January. January is the month we seem to get all judgy – or even more judgy – of each other. Obviously I am only running, going to the gym and eating a salad because it’s January and my resolution is to lose weight. Obviously. That must be it. Why else would a fat woman run, go to the gym or eat a salad?

Well that’s not been my January. I didn’t make any resolutions. I’m working on the basis that I was fabulous last year and will be fabulous again this year. Clearly I don’t actually believe that. I’m a woman and an academic and I’m fat and unfit, I have my issues and imposter syndrome is my normal. However, I’ll let you into a secret – I like salad! I don’t eat any differently in January to any other time. I eat healthily overall except when I don’t. I eat out too much and I have a sweet tooth. I could do better, I could also do a lot worse. Second secret (it’s not really) – I have been to the gym once so far this year. I don’t give a toss. I enjoyed that session, I’ll enjoy the next when it eventually comes.

Now, this one really is a secret, I may have enjoyed my running in January. My friend Liza said she wanted to print t-shirts with ‘I’m not a beginner, I’m just fat’ on them and I would wear that. I think it’s what us fat, slow runners need in January. No people, I’m not out here plodding along for the first time because it’s January and I want to lose weight. I don’t need your unsolicited ‘Good for You’ comments. I’ve run two marathons and several halves, trust me, I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing and it has very little to do with losing weight! I am actually just trying to keep my black puppy at bay but you go ahead and judge, it’s fine, you’re januaried too. And yes of course you are just being supportive and encouraging, I know this and when it’s not January I love you for it!

I have undoubtedly had the best January ever in running terms. I have run just short of 62 miles for the month. Yep. 62 miles. I am thrilled with how my #Run1000Miles Challenge is going. Yes, I am a little behind schedule but I am ahead of where I ever thought I could be. I haven’t pushed for miles. In fact I had a week where I just ran 4 miles. I have cut a few runs short because my feet and calf muscles have been sore and had one disastrous run where I just felt shocking. I have run at home, at Bolton Abbey and in London this month. My shortest run was just 1.45 miles and my longest 5.8 (although most miles in a day were 8.66). I’m not sure I enjoyed the runs, some I did, some I didn’t but looking back over the month I enjoyed the running. In spite of having gone back to basics with run/walk and being slow I feel like I’ve made progress and I have enjoyed being outside, I have made fewer excuses, I have been more consistent and I have pushed through ice and mud. I’ll make a decent trail runner yet!

So here’s to February, to the quality of light changing, the greyness giving way to something a little more hopeful, to days slowly getting longer and running continuing to be something I actually want to do. It started well with a stunning moonlight run which was partly terrifying because it was slippery in places and I didn’t cope well with that. But it was undoubtedly utterly beautiful.

IMG_8440 2

 

Almost Lurgy, Running Errands, Mud and Sheep

I was secretly quite smug about having completed 8 miles on Monday and even more smug when I woke up Tuesday and there was no aching, no pain, nothing. Result! Tuesday was a rest day and I was in London for work anyway and wouldn’t have had time to run anyway. Wednesday I felt pretty tired, went into the office for a bit and came Bolton Abbey selfiehome early to try and get a run in while the weather was decent. The minute we set off I felt sluggish, tired and like I was running on empty. I had eaten sensibly and should have been well fuelled. I was possibly very slightly dehydrated – I’m rubbish at drinking enough at work – but not obviously so. I barely made it a mile before I nearly threw up and then we turned round and walked home. For the rest of the day I felt like I had been run over by a truck. I went to bed early. I slept and on Thursday I felt a bit better. Not great but better

It was gorgeously sunny outside and I needed to go to the post office and we needed (well no, wanted) some crusty white bread to go with lunch so I put my big girl pants on, found my trainers and set off. I didn’t feel too bad as I made my way down the hill. I had decided to just to a very short run, take the pressure off and walk if I needed to. As I headed into the estate towards the bottom of the hill I wondered whether I should walk. I 3D9E1B8C-5A16-4D49-94CB-BF270E80E69A 2felt like I was going backwards. I looked at my watch wondering just how slow I was going and if maybe it would be more sensible to walk. I stared at my watch for so long that I nearly ran into the back of a parked car – I was running at 11.30 minutes per mile pace. That’s speedy for me. Well never mind walking, Could always just slow down a little. When I heard the 1 mile beep I glanced again and my first mile had been 11.31 minutes. I stopped at the post office, posted my stuff and walked to the co-op where I bought the bread, some reduced peanut butter and some reduced malteasers. Then I walked up the hill with my provisions.

Friday was rest which was good because I didn’t feel much like getting off the sofa although I did walk down the hill to see Mum and back up again. This morning we wanted to have another go at doing a little recce of the bit of the Bolton Abbey half marathon that we haven’t done before – the one where something always comes up and we end up not doing it. As we pulled in we saw a sign saying ‘orange route closed’. Sod’s law if the orange is that route, we thought. But it wasn’t. We set off on run/walk intervals of 1 minute/30 secs. I knew the first part of the loop from Cavendish Pavilion towards the Priory Church and Ruins but then instead of dropping down to the Stepping Stones and bridge, we turned up a slope to the left and followed the path until it opened up into fields. It’s a lovely route alongside the Wharfe.

The route was muddy. I don’t usually do mud. You know, mud is like icy – slip inducing. I don’t like slipping. I tend to walk through mud or possible mud. Today I ran more than I would normally have done. I was close to losing my sense of humour when we reached a flock of sheep and seeing them cheered me up and I suppose walking slowly past them helped too. I even ran a downhill on a vaguely muddy slope after seeing them. In spite of being mostly terrified I actually had a really good time. The mud was quite energy zapping but I felt pretty good at the end of the 3.67 miles. It was a good run. Just over 50 miles for the year so far and  8.27/100 Bolton Abbey Miles. And here are the sheep:

Bolton Abbey Sheep