Going for 1000 Miles Again…

….or the one where I need to talk about weight.

Well here we are again. 1st of January. New Year. New Decade. Bla Bla. Yep, I am my usual grumpy self about new year. I wrote about how I like New Year for the reflection it brings last year. I haven’t changed my mind on that but somehow I am always a little disappointed that nothing happens at that magical midnight moment when one year or in this case one decade ends and another starts. Surely something should be different?

Well it isn’t. The world is still turning, arseholes are still arseholes and lovely people are still lovely. I am still me. Actually the last two of those are not disappointing. They are just as they should be but could we start a thing where every year at midnight on the 31st December an arsehole we each know turns into a lovely person. That should sort the world out pretty sharpish. Anyway, two things are on my mind. One is the the fact that Kath and I once again signed up for the #Run1000Mile Challenge – which you already know but which is now official. I have no idea if I’ll make it, we’ll see. As of today I am ahead of schedule! I went for a very slow and painful 3.66 mile run/walk. I tried 30/30 second intervals to see if I can nurse my calf muscles and feet a bit but it didn’t seem to help that much. Any slight up or uneven ground and everything tightens up and starts screaming. At least today it was manageable on the flat – yesterday I could only run downhill.

The second thing is weight and the new year new you bollocks that is going around as it always does at this time of the year. Honestly, I haven’t actually noticed it as much as I have done in previous years- but it’s early yet – still plenty of time to guilt-trip us into some sort of diet or gym membership. Anyway, the obvious thing is that I am still the old me and I am perfectly happy with the old me. There need not be a new me or indeed a new you just because there is a new year/decade. You do not need to upgraded, renewed, replaced or upcycled. Also the whole start and end of decade thing that is going on with pictures of 2009 and 2019 – if looking at old photos etc is bringing you joy then yay for that. If it’s not and you’re finding the entire experience uncomfortable then just don’t do it. I seem to be totally indifferent to it. Which is odd because I often get caught up in things like that. I am also lazy though and for 2009 pictures of me I would have to actually turn on the old Desktop computer… yeah, forget it. In 2009 I was also just me. A decade on – still just me.

So weight. I’ve been thinking about it as I grumpily flick past the ‘running to lose weight’, ‘yoga for weight loss’ and ‘get your dream body now’ adverts not to mention the weight watchers, slimming world and diet product marketing… Over the last few years I have genuinely shifted the focus from what I look like to what I can do. I am no longer concerned about the number on the scales or the number on the label in my clothes (though not being in-between sizes would be really really welcome). I’ve read stuff and learned stuff (and written stuff) about weight discrimination, about fat shaming, about body positivity about being fat and healthy and all of that. And I am uncomfortable with all of it. There is something about body positivity that just freaks me out. Maybe it’s that the focus for me is not on what you can do… anyway I am digressing – not the point of this post though I may come back to it…

The point I was trying to get to – in a roundabout, long sentences, thinking as I am typing kind of a way – is MY weight. I’m too heavy. Ok, now before you start with the positivity or with the telling me off for thinking and writing about weight and weight loss, calm the fuck down. Don’t tell me I’m not fat – I am. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter, I look just fine as I am bla bla bla – nobody cares. I know how much I weight today, after a bath, butt naked with wet hair. It’s not a number I’m keen on but I have spent a lot of time trying to move away from caring about numbers and that has worked – so it wasn’t the number that made me think I was too heavy. It wasn’t even the tightness of my jeans – I can buy bigger pants – it was a general feeling of bleurgh. A feeling of being unfit, sluggish, weak and a bit sack of spuds-ish. Things niggle or take more effort than they should and running is so much harder.

So – am I doing anything about it – Am I going to be lighting up the search engines looking for the next trendy diet, how to burn fat in 6 easy moves? Don’t be daft. I’m not going to do anything about the weight. The weight isn’t the problem. I’m going to do something about feeling less strong, less competent, less fit and generally less wonder woman than I want. No, I’m not changing anything major or joining a fancy gym. I hate the gym. I am simply going back to what I was doing and what brought me joy as well as fitness. I am looking forward to starting to feel the benefits of daily yoga again and the sense of fitness that comes with consistent running and the feeling of power that comes with strength – gained through yoga and through the strength and conditioning exercises. The number on the scales will change in a downward directions – almost certainly – but probably not by as much as you might think.

And just to be clear, this isn’t a January new years resolution thing. I kicked this off last year when deciding to look to RunRight for help to make sure I can run injury free in 2020. While the sessions with them were getting too much for me mentally at the end of last year (well no, everything else was so I had nothing left for them), I am now looking forward to going back later on this month. December was a month of slowly coming back to things I’d neglected and the trick in future is going to be to make time for at least some of those when things get crazy busy and I get tired.

Anyway. Happy 2020.

Christmas Running and 500 Miles at last!

So that’s Christmas 2019 done. It has been a quiet one. After a Christmas Eve pottering about in the kitchen making oatcakes, the last batch of mince pies, chocolate mousse for our Christmas day pudding and what turned out to be delicious braised red cabbage, Christmas day started slowly. We woke up later than we normally do, had two cups of tea and mince pies in bed before opening our presents from each other. Then we set off for our Christmas day trot – our sheep loop backwards to end up at Kath’s mum’s for bacon sarnies and more presents.

The run was lush. Slow and with plenty of walking because my calves are still playing silly buggers and my feet aren’t much better either but we ran down to the canal. We were treated to an absolutely gorgeous sunrise with stunning colours. We stopped for a photo and as we set off again Kath spotted some deer. We stopped to watch them a little while and then were about to set off again (again) and I saw the blue flash of a kingfisher streaking through the air. It landed on a branch just a little further along the canal and we slowly walked towards it watching it. Such a stunning sight. Eventually it flew off and we went on our way too following it and being lucky enough to catch it take off and land further along a couple more times.

The rest of the stretch along the canal was a pleasant plod as we chatted, said Merry Christmas to the ducks and made the one or two dog walkers we met smile with our Santa hats bobbing along. We crossed the bridge over the canal and started walking up the hill. We stopped to watch squirrels and small birds and then saw a woodpecker. As we reached the top of the golf course we met a dog and his human who cheerily informed us that he had already escaped the kids to the lovely peace and quiet of the outdoors. As we made our way out of the wood at the other end we met some more dogs one of which was terrified of us in our Santa hats and after staring at us for a while she pinned her ears back and ran past us as fast as she could.

The rest of Christmas day was basically making food and eating food. Then came my birthday and another morning of tea and mince pies in bed. Eventually we got going and set off to Bolton Abbey for our Boxing Day/ my birthday trot round the Strid Wood/Aquaeduct loop. My calves were not playing in spite of starting with intervals. I made it run/walk about a mile before I admitted defeat and we walked the rest of the loop. Still, somewhere along that first mile I hit the 500 miles for the year. I should of course be excited about that. 500 miles is a lot of miles but it’s bitter sweet. At the start of the year double that number was on the cards. I was running the weekly miles needed with ease and was having fun. And then I wasn’t – running or having fun and getting to 500 miles seemed unlikely – so I am pleased to have got there. Anyway, I’ll leave the reflections on my 500 miles til the next post maybe.

I am sort of ready to end this running year, to re-set and start again, to work with the excitement of the endless possibilities a blank spreadsheet and no miles on the clock for the new year brings. The thrill of runs not yet had and adventures not yet started, the fun of planning, the routine of sticking to the plans and the rebelliousness of changing plans, breaking the rules and doing something different. I will end the year on 500 and a few miles but next year just imagine… maybe I will run 1000, maybe I won’t run 500 but just imagine the adventures that await.

Holiday Running

Right, cards on the table: I am half a stone (pretty much exactly) heavier than I was before my holiday. I can feel it. My pants are tight, I feel heavier and our run today was evidence that booze, Mickey waffles, puddings and Disney World sized portions for 10 days plus jet lag make running when you’re back home pretty miserable. Still, no regrets, not really. Just need to refocus on moving my butt more now.

August was a high mileage month. I clocked up 84.05 miles and the plan was always for the first half of September to be a bit of a rest. We wanted to run in Florida but shorter distances and not every day. Well, we did run. We managed 4 short runs. I was hoping for a few more miles but it was hard going. So, run 1 was on the 7th September, we got up early and headed out in the dark. We left the hotel and headed towards the Magic Kingdom. We were hoping to pick up the path towards the Grand Floridian Hotel but as we got level with the Magic Kingdom entrance we were turned back by some self-important Disney employee who insisted it wasn’t safe for us to be running there. It was annoying but we just headed back and went round the hotel running loop instead. The loop is only 0.9miles long but it’s not an unpleasant route. It was hot and humid – oh goodness the humidity. Running in that was hard, harder than I’d imagined. Anyway – here’s run number one on Relive – and me hot and sweaty at the end of it.

IMG_7110 copy

The second run was another early morning run and the humidity was again intense. I did two loops of the running loop. Kath did a bit more. Then I was done. It was just too hard to breathe. How do people run in that? I was soaked in sweat before I even started running and basically just a giant puddle within a few steps. Still, going out for 1.8 miles was better than no miles! Here’s the loop.

Runs 3 and 4 were either side of hurricane Irma. We had watched the news coverage of the hurricane making its way towards Florida and into Southern Florida. It looked scary. We were being told that we were in the safest place around and the hotel were great at reassuring us and giving us information on what to do. We were under curfew from 7pm on Sunday to 6pm on Monday. So on Sunday afternoon we went for a little trot round the hotel loop before the curfew kicked in. It was already very windy and there had been a significant amount of rain already. It was raining a little while we ran but it wasn’t anything compared to what we saw later in the day, overnight and on Monday. It was still hot but not as humid so actually the 2.25 miles felt much easier than the previous 2 runs. Just at the end of this run I hit my 350 miles year to date milestone too so it felt pretty good and the towels at the door came in handy!

Once we were allowed out again on Monday we went for a walk round the hotel grounds and surveyed the damage. There was surprisingly little damage and the clear-up had already started.

Tuesday morning we set out again. We’d celebrated Irma passing the evening before with a bottle of wine and more pudding so we both felt sluggish and bleurgh and the humidity was back so I just managed 1.25 miles but I did run a little stretch of it with a squirrel who seemed to have forgotten that stepping off the path was an option for it.

Now we’re back home and today I went for my first run. I was actually supposed to run on Friday after landing but jet lag is a bitch and there was no way I was running anywhere, I was barely functioning. Kath ran yesterday but I was in London for work so today I just had to get it over with. It was fairly horrible. I managed to run the first mile, then I ran walked the second and then walked the third. My ankles tightened up really badly and my feet were achey. Still, it feels good to have the first one out of the way and I am sure the next run will be better. Here’s a reminder that actually, mostly, we do enjoy running!

IMG_7217 copy

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.

Meltdown, 3 loops and 8 miles

I had a running meltdown this morning. We were going to do a long run up on Ilkley Moor this morning. A loop of about 7 miles. That’s a fair bit further than I have been for quite a while but with some walk breaks and photo stops etc perfectly within reach. It is a gorgeous morning, the sun is out, it’s not too warm or cold for running and yesterday I was really looking forward to it. In fact when I woke up this morning I was looking forward to it. Kath brought me a cup of tea and breakfast (bagel and peanut butter) in bed and went to feed the lambs. I got up, put our slow roast dinner in the oven, went to the loo, drank some water, went to the loo again…

Then, quite suddenly I had the overwhelming urge to run away and hide, to not leave the house, crawl back into bed and forget the whole running thing. I couldn’t breathe. Once the little panic attack had passed, we changed plans and Kath suggested instead doing a route we know and do several runs today to start training for the Endure24 race where we will be doing several 5 mile loops in a 24 hour period. So below is a quick review of each of our loops today written pretty much immediately after the loop.

Loop one: Home – sheep – wood trail – Scott Lane – Kiln Bank – Home

This was horrible. With every step my mind was screaming at me that it was all totally pointless because I couldn’t do it anyway. Every step was a mental battle. I never settled but I did keep going. I ran to the wood without stopping, then walked a few steps to find the start of the trail and then slowly made my way through the trail with a few little panics and stops and then we walked up the slope, jogged along Scott Lane and walked up the hill. Once up the hill we jogged to the bottom of Ilkley Road and then run/walked lamp post to lamp post home. Roughly 16 minute mile pace. Awful, just awful!

Loop two: Home – sheep – wood trail – Scott Lane – Kiln Bank – Home

This was slightly less horrible for me. We had about 2 hours between finishing loop one and starting loop 2 and I just had a coffee and water and a bit of home made chewy bar crumbs in that gap. I sat with my feet up watching the London Marathon coverage on tv. I ran until just before the slope up to the hill, walked a little and then ran up to the wood, found the trail and ran most of it. Slowly but with fewer stops and starts. Enjoyed it more this time and my feet hurt less. At the end of the trail we walked up the slope, jogged the road to the bottom of the big hill, walked up, jogged down and went post to post again up Ilkley Road. Almost a minute a mile quicker than loop 1. Poor Kath learned that coffee and fruit doesn’t work so well for her in terms of fuelling. She’s recovered now but don’t think she had a very pleasant run on loop 2.

Lap three: Sheep loop backwards (Home, down Kiln Bank, along canal, up golf course…)

After lap two I watched more Marathon coverage, made and had lunch and faffed around on Facebook and Twitter and didn’t do much other than randomly burst into tears. Lunch wasn’t the best choice but it was planned as a post run lunch not as lunch to have with more running to come. We had slow roast lamb, carrots, potatoes and spring cabbage. We ate about 12.30 and were planning to go again about 4pm ish or when we felt like it would be ok to run. We both felt ok ish to go again just before 4pm so off we set. Well, ready my body was not, not at all. I felt about a stone heavier than I had in the morning. Still on I went. I ran all the way down to the canal and most of the canal with a two little short walks because I got a stitch. Then we walked up the golf course and ran down the slope past our sheep and pushed to Kath’s mum’s house. We stopped our watches there, she made us some milk for the lambs and we fed them and all the sheep and then set off to run home from there. My legs felt tight and I had a little walk break before the Western Avenue slope, then we ran to the bottom of Ilkley Road and went home from there run/walking post to post. Again the Garmin said about a minute a mile faster than the other loops but this is obviously a different loop.

I have now uploaded the runs to Strava and Strava adjusts for moving time rather than time overall so the first loop was actually 14.51 minute mile pace when I was moving – I just had a couple of stops on the trail where I was actually standing still – a couple of hugs after tricky sections and a short stop to admire the bluebells. I also stopped ‘to admire the view’ half way up Kiln Bank. Lap two was therefore not actually much faster when I was moving – at 14.30 mile pace – I just had fewer actual stops and lap 3 was 13.40 pace.  The first two laps were 2.5 miles and then final was 3.2 so I have run 8.2 miles today (or 8.4 according to Kath’s Garmin which seems to think we went further than mine does). We learned quite a lot about hydrating and fuelling today too and I learned that using my memories from running the London Marathon is not a good way to help me on my runs. I just remember the total emptiness. Better to think of all those other amazing people running it  – that kept me going today, thoughts about last year just made me want to stop. I’ll stick to visualising the Magic Kingdom run up to the castle or running around the World Showcase in Epcot to get me through I think.