So I got off my arse and did my final workout for Cycle 3 just now. I did the Super Sweaty Saturday Live from yesterday. Well, I’m sweaty alright. Anyway, honestly my heart sank when Joe Wicks cheerfully announced that the were stepping things up today and were going to be working for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds. I wondered if I could just quickly set my own timer and try and work on 30/30 but that seemed like too much of a faff so I thought I’d just see how I got on. Then Joe said how tired he was and how he needed the workout and later on in the session he talks about how exercise always gives energy rather than take it away. So I spent the first few minutes, the entire warm up basically thinking about that my reaction to the ‘stepping things up’ and the point about being tired and therefore needing the workout. I don’t like stepping things up. Stepping things up usually means that I can’t do them. I think over years of PE at school, exercise classes, the gym the language of stepping up has come to mean making it so hard I can no longer do it. I realised I don’t think in terms of stepping it up when I teach or when I am doing anything other than exercise. I think in terms of progressing or sometimes in terms of working a little harder but never in terms of stepping up. I completely understand that this is a language thing going on in my head and that it’s a bit silly but my brain is conditioned to think that ‘step up’ is not for me. ‘Step up’ is for fit people who ‘do’ exercise and fitness. ‘Step up’ is not out of comfort zone it’s out of the zone you’re in when you’re out of the comfort zone. ‘Step up’ is not nice territory. ‘Right then’ said me to me ‘Let’s not step things up then, let’s just stick a toe out of our comfort zone and see what it feels like and if we don’t like it, Joe and his 40 seconds of burpees or whatever can go take a running jump’. So that was the stepping it up sorted.
As I ran on the spot for the first exercise I was still thinking about being tired and how I have been all week and the extent to which that’s just an excuse and I really should just get over myself and get things done. As I went through the exercises I kept coming back to that thought. And I think there’s an element of that but for me there are three distinct types of tired. One is just lack of sleep, general busyness tired and for that sort of tired exercise always helps. Usually though with that sort of tired I also know that, keep it in mind and motivation isn’t an issue. Then there is the tiredness that comes with anxiety, too much busyness, high stress levels and idiocy and a system running on high alert for too much of the time. Here motivation can be hard and it is a fine balance between whether exercise will help or make things worse. Sometimes I won’t know until I try. Sometimes exercise is exactly what’s needed and it feels good to do something with the excess adrenalin. Sometimes though it seems to add to stress and I get panicky. Bizarrely even the calmest yoga sequence can make me panic when I’m like that. And the third sort of tiredness is the depression tiredness which is hard to explain to anyone who has never experienced it. It feels like I physically cannot get off the sofa. It feels heavy and dark and overwhelming. I am sure exercise would help but it’s impossible until that depression tiredness lifts and the only way to make it lift, other than just wait it out, is to move, which feels impossible. Sometimes I can go for a walk or do some gentle stretches and when I can, I can then often progress to something else like a run or HIIT quite quickly, even on the same day. But often I just can’t move. So tiredness is not just one thing and whether exercise helps or is even possible really depends on the type of tired for me. Sometimes of course I am also just lazy but that’s another story.
I put music on for today’s session. We moved the CD player into the back room (where we have all our exercise stuff) last weekend and I wonder if it might be a game changer. There was random dancing in the rest breaks yesterday which just made the whole thing fun and somehow feel less like just exercise and more like just being silly but today the music actually really helped with the workout. I noticed it most on the upper body exercises or those that require some sort of upper body strength. For example for both the Mountain Climbers and the Plank Jacks I can’t normally do 35 seconds before my shoulders cave in – Or I can do so if they are the first exercise to really put pressure on shoulders but not if they come later in the sequence. For the first round today I managed the Mount climbers by just focusing on the music and the rhythm of that. I managed the Plank Jacks with just one brief shake off of the arms in the middle. In the 2nd round I had to shake off the arms for both once but that was the only break and it was less than 5 seconds. I suppose the music just shifts the focus or gives the brain something else to hang on to and makes it easier to just push through. It helps build that mental strength I always think I don’t have. When running outside it’s easier to distract yourself and keep going. In our little exercise room I am finding other ways, music is clearly one but facing the Dopey medals on the wall helps to motivate to work just that little bit harder, facing the generic medal hanger with everything else on serves as a reminder that I can do this and sometimes watching the birds come and go to the bird table on our back fence is a nice distraction.
About half way through the workout I decided I didn’t feel quite right in my vest. I have been doing my workouts in shorts and sports bra but I only have one pair of shorts so today had cropped running tights on and initially felt odd without an actual top. But half way through I ditched the vest. It wasn’t uncomfortable or anything, it was just that I was in my wonder woman zone. It’s that zone, often but not always exercise related, where I am working really hard but with absolute certainty that I can do it, that there is nothing that can derail me from what I am doing and that what I am doing is right. It’s that being unfuckwithable that I’ve talked about before but that feeling/ state of mind comes after having completed something in the wonder woman zone I think. It’s all nonsense really but I still think there is something really powerful about exercising just in shorts/leggings and sports bra. I don’t care what I actually look like doing it. That’s so totally not the point. It’s about how I feel and when I am gritting my teeth to get another push-up done (off my knees, people, off my knees, don’t get excited) or trying to suck in the oxygen to go full sprint on the spot for the last 10 seconds while Dolly reminds me to pour myself a cup of ambition, then anything more than a sports bra just spoils the vibe. Like I said, wonder woman zone.
1st of March. Hmph. Time seems to be flying and yet not moving at all. Time is weird. I went for a run today. I didn’t want to. I did a workout too this morning, didn’t want to do that either. I didn’t sleep well. My knees hurt in my sleep and I couldn’t get comfy at all and wherever I turned there seemed to be a cat making it impossible for me the stretch out or move. I didn’t make 30 miles in February – I nearly did but not quite – because I did not want to dodge all the people that the glorious sunshine brought out yesterday. They were everywhere and in hordes, even on the roads. So no quick 30 minutes to just tip the mileage over 30 and no 4.5 miles to fulfil my obligation to the plan.
Anyway, I woke up early. Not that it felt like I had been asleep much. An exercise session was on my mind but I thought if I just keep quiet maybe that feeling that I should just get it done would go away and I could stay in bed drinking coffee, cuddling cats, watching the sun come up. Well there was no sun to be seen in the fog anyway and then Kath uttered the words I didn’t really want to hear: ‘I was thinking about doing a workout’. Oh sod it then, let’s do it. Let’s start the month positively. It was actually fine and I did feel better afterwards. There was a lot of ‘not quite’ in the session though, the not quite managing the same number of push-ups as yesterday, not quite sprinting on the spot until the timer beeped and not quite managing the bear crawl for 30 seconds… not quite.
I left my sports bra on as I had planned a run today and having to change bras is a major factor in not actually making it out the door (no? Just me? Oh ok). Kath headed out after she finished work. I was still faffing with stuff but decided I wanted to get it done. I wanted the first day of the month at least to go to plan. Well, not quite. I got changed and headed out. I felt cold. I rarely feel cold running and even if I do it’s only for a few steps really. But throughout the whole run I could not get warm. I couldn’t quite get into a rhythm, not quite. I was always not quite settled. I told myself that if I got to the end of the road and still wasn’t feeling it I would turn round and come home. At the end of the road I was neither settled nor more unsettled and on autopilot I just kept going. Everything though felt not quite right. I dropped to run/walk. I’m not sure why. I was going downhill. I had been quite clear in my head about the planned loop but now I just couldn’t face it. I turned off early and significantly shortened the loop. I kept going on run/walk. Sometimes though I didn’t run the full 45 seconds – not quite. I met Kath coming in the opposite direction as I huffed and puffed up a gentle slope. She turned round to come with me. From there it was uneventful, a walk up the hill, a run/walk home. I was supposed to do 30 minutes. I did 28.22 minutes. Not quite. I only covered 1.86 miles, not even 2 miles. Not quite. I also didn’t really feel better after the run. I felt better when I put my sticker on the calendar for today showing that at least on Day 1 I stuck to the plan – even if not quite.
Well so far this week has been a funny one. I tried to go for a run on Monday. For those of you who know me, you will know that I generally function well on caffeine and have a pretty high tolerance for the drinking coffee in the afternoon. Not so on Monday. I had an espresso a little while after lunch and soon after felt sick and dizzy, like you do when you have too much coffee. I thought it would pass quickly and got changed for a run but it didn’t pass quickly. As I curled up on the bed trying not to puke I felt pretty crappy about running and exercise. Eventually the nausea eased and I decided to get over myself and head out for 30 minutes. Initially it wasn’t too bad. I headed down the road and then turned right going slightly uphill before taking the road down towards the canal. I had a loop in mind so didn’t head straight for the canal but along the road that would take me parallel to it. It slopes up. As I plodded along I was very aware of the sick-y feeling coming back. I kept telling myself it would ease when I got onto the flat. When I got onto the flat I told myself it would ease as I got my breath back down the slope I was about to get to. It didn’t ease and by the time I got to the bottom of the slope I felt both sick and dizzy. My watch beeped for a mile, I took a few more steps and then stopped.
I walked home feeling sick and grumpy but it was the right call. Tuesday was my planned rest day and even though I hadn’t done loads it felt like I needed it. Wednesday was supposed to be Body Coach and run day but my head wasn’t playing ball. It was one of those sofa days. I wasn’t so much tired as stuck. I barely moved off the sofa. I did try a Body Coach workout but it started with slow motion burpees and they hurt my knee and honestly, I just could not be bothered so I went back to the sofa. After tea Kath did drag me out for a walk in the rain and I am glad she did because up until our little 3 ish mile loop I had taken a grand total of 279 steps! The movement and air did me good.
On Thursday I woke up and it was one of those mornings where you get to decide what mood you’re going to be in rather than just waking up with a predetermined one. I hovered between continuing the flatness of the day before and being more positive. While I wasn’t exactly bouncing with positivity another day on the sofa did not appeal either. So I got out of bed, walked to the end of the bed and bent down to touch my toes and settle into ragdoll pose. There’s something quite nice about just hanging upside down for a while. I remember thinking that out floor was dusty and my hair stupidly long. I went to say good morning to Kath and then to make french toast with pineapple and blueberries for breakfast. We did the food shop for us and for our mothers. Then I was back on the sofa. I didn’t think that was such a good place to be really, it wasn’t a healthy sort of rest. So I got changed and did a Body Coach workout. Then I made lunch, then I prepped our tea and then I got on with some other stuff and then we went for a run. 30 minutes nonstop running. It was fairly horrible. It was such a mental battle. Anxiety levels are high at the moment and I could really feel that in my breathing and from the minute we set off the brain gremlins were telling me how crap I am at running and how there was no way I was running for 30 minutes today. I hadn’t actually planned on running nonstop – the route I had suggested has a big hill in it which I always planned to walk but I really didn’t want the gremlins to win so I asked to change the route so I could try and keep running. I made it and that felt positive. Friday wasn’t a bad day and I did a Body Coach workout and decided not to run because I wanted to run at the weekend and don’t want to overdo it and then crash.
This morning we went for a run together and I was quite looking forward to it as I got sorted and then suddenly felt really scared about it. I went anyway. We did a run/walk in 45/30 second intervals and it was just a continuation of the mental battle from Thursday. Mantras didn’t work and instead my brain flooded my consciousness with negative running memories. Our old first field offered a little respite with 2 gorgeous black lambs tucked in next to their mother but then it was just me against my thoughts again with Kath doing her best to reassure and nurse me round. My breathing was off and everything felt tense. Along the canal we saw more lambs and it wasn’t until then that I actually relaxed a bit. We had breakfast and pottered about a bit and then I did a Body Coach workout from the app before lunch. I think this week has been one of just getting through it. I sort of acknowledge having done the runs and workouts but I haven’t exactly enjoyed them. I suspect if I hadn’t done them I would feel much much worse and maybe ‘not feeling worse’ is the win I take from this week. And maybe it’s actually a big win.
I started a blog post yesterday. I was tired and grumpy and a bit worn down by general crappiness, lockdown and stuff. I wrote
Well, I am about half way through Cycle 2 of the Beginner Body Coach app and my mojo has sort of disappeared. It’s not the app I don’t think. I am just generally not feeling it. I can’t be bothered. I think my really bad period I wrote about the other day sort of threw me off a bit. The bleurghness lasted for the full 6 days rather than just the first couple and I still feel a bit sluggish.
We went for a short run on Sunday. It was our anniversary and it was a lovely start to the day. We saw deer and a kingfisher and I managed to up the running intervals to 45 seconds. It was good. But I haven’t run since. Partly because it’s been cold and potentially icy. I am pretty sure the roads round here would be fine for a 30 minute loop but I just haven’t felt like pushing those buttons. I have missed one Body Coach workout last week and I haven’t done one today. My knees are a bit niggly. I have just started wearing trainers when doing the sessions to see if that helps but if they don’t work I might buy some actual HIIT trainers.
And then I went to bed.
I thought after a good nights’ sleep I might be in a better frame of mind. I wasn’t. I procrastinated for a while. Then I grumped quietly into my coffee for a bit, then I scrolled through social media trying to find something to either grab my attention or provide some inspiration or motivation. Nope. Then I thought I might as well go for that run. It’ll be awful but at least it will be done and it’ll kill half an hour or so.
So I got changed and went out. It’s gloriously sunny and bitterly cold. I don’t really remember thinking anything when I set off running. I wondered if the 45 second running intervals would be hard given that I haven’t run all week. They weren’t. I wondered if it was going to be slippery. It wasn’t. By the time I hit a mile I was sort of settled into a very slow and gentle happy plod. I didn’t know which way to go so when I got to the junction at which I had to decide and there were walkers, bikes and cars seemingly everywhere (there weren’t, just felt like it), I looked at my watch, realised I had done 15 minutes and decided to turn round and just go the same way back. Now this might seem like a bit of a cop out. It’s not. My plan says 30 minutes so doing 15 minutes out and then back is fine AND the way back would be mostly uphill. The kind of uphill I don’t usually bother with because it’s too hard. This time though I did it. Same intervals, no additional walk breaks and only one minute per mile slower than on the downhill.
So do I feel better now? A little maybe, less vague and generically grumpy. I am pleased I went out. The sunshine was lovely and it was nice to manage the uphill running bits.It feels like I have achieved something today. And in a fit of optimism I have left my sports bra on to do a Body Coach App workout later on this afternoon. In the meantime our two youngest cats are keeping me entertained fighting over the hammock (Odin is currently holding the position but Kilian wants it, or just wants Odin not to have it).
Running is sort of on semi-hold while the weather decides what it wants to do. I’m trying not to be grumpy about it. I get stupidly scared in snow and ice. While part of me really wanted to go and play in the snow, face some of those fears and rediscover some of the winter childhood joy, now is not the time to risk injury or to add to stress levels. So running is paused until the last of the ice has melted and the paths are safe again.
For once I am not too concerned about the pause. I have been doing my Body Coach App workouts so I am at least doing something. I am also confident that I can run/walk the distance on my plan so am happy to just tick those weeks off for now and pick up the plan wherever it falls when I can get outside again. This weekend I am to do a 2.5 mile run and maybe, just maybe I can do that tomorrow.
I seem to be managing 1 run a week in-between cold snaps. Last Tuesday I had a therapy appointment at Bolton Abbey and took the opportunity to have a little trot out while there. I was only going to run/walk from the Abbey to the Cavendish Pavilion, grab a coffee and walk back to the car park with it. However when I came out of my session the path towards the bridge across the river and beyond towards the Cavendish Pavilion looked really busy with dog walkers and families with small children. I really didn’t fancy trying to navigate my way through that lot. I briefly considered not running and just heading home but the sun was shining and my brain was whirring from therapy. Running would be good.
So I set off in the opposite direction for a little trot out along the river and soon moved off the path onto grass. It had that delightful consistency that you only get from slightly frozen wet fields – squishy and crunchy at the same time and a little bit spongy. I trotted along in my 30seconds / 30 seconds run/walk intervals and wondered why it felt like such hard work. Then I remembered that for the last year or so I have hardly really run properly off road. The bit of running I have done has been road and canal towpath – and the towpath locally here is proper path not mud. I have not run on grass and mud for absolutely ages. And it showed.
The section I ran is only about half a mile each way so I ran a little loop round the field which also tested out my feet and ankles more on the slightly longer grass and avoided the muddy bits where lots of people had walked. Then I ran back up to the Abbey and round it back towards the car park to make up my 30 minutes. It wasn’t a great run in terms of pace or even how I felt doing it – a bit sluggish and can’t be bothered but it was 30 minutes of moving my moomin butt in the sun, it helped my brain stop whirring and it felt good.
The run really got my quads and I was sore for a couple of days after but not sore enough to not do the Body Coach stuff. I have a week to go on Cycle 1 so I’ll do a review then. I’m quite enjoying it all. I’ve switched rest days around a bit this week as I was just dead yesterday but overall I think it’s going pretty well. Now, if the weather goddess would be so kind and remove the ice, I can get going properly on that 10km plan!