Frustrating Running Day

I think most of my running posts have been relatively positive recently and it’s tempting IMG_9850to just write about the successes and good runs or the ones where it went wrong and then we fixed it and it was ok. But when I started I said I’d share my running journey – all of it. The good and the bad so it’s time for a not so upbeat post. Today has so far just been frustrating.

It was a gorgeous morning but it took me forever to wake up fully and drag my butt out of bed. We wanted to do a 10 mile-ish loop on Ilkley Moor, got organised and set off. I didn’t even make half a mile. Stunning as it was, I couldn’t breathe. I was trying to work out if I was panicking about something, just finding it really really hard or something else. I settled on something else. I actually felt quite strong and I was looking forward to the views from the moor. I wasn’t aware of panicking or even worrying about anything really. It got worse as we came past freshly IMG_9849cut grass and I think the pollen count must be high and then grass cutting will have disturbed lots of grass pollen in particular. It felt like I couldn’t get air into my lungs at all. I turned back. As I walked back the views were glorious and it made me smile and a little bit grumpy at the same time.

I tried again this afternoon. I set off thinking I would do a 4.5 mile ish loop taking it slowly. It felt impossibly hard from the start and I kept thinking I would settle in. I wanted to drop down to the canal thinking that the ducklings might cheer me on and I waned to see if there were cygnets but at the first bridge there was traffic chaos so I kept going along the road, at the next bridge there was a boat coming trough so I huffed and puffed my way up the gently sloping road. I thought about walking, I thought about turning round but kept going and finally dropped down to the canal bank. I thought I’d settle and get my breath back but it didn’t happen. It looked busy ahead. I gave up. My legs felt dead and I still couldn’t get enough air. I walked home – very slowly. I was proper grumpy until I saw this little fella – he made me laugh.


2.5 miles is better than nothing. I may try again this evening – I haven’t had a late evening run for ages – or I may just be grumpy about running for a bit.



Will do fartlek for pie

I need to  tell you about a fabulous couple of days of running in Northumberland but I haven’t sorted the photos yet so for now – here’s today’s fartlek session. What possessed me to think it would be a good idea to do this after a night in Manchester with theatre and wine and a day looking at the People’s History Museum fuelled by mostly coffee and cake? Nutter! However, I will run for rhubarb and apple pie and it seems I will even do fartlek for that! I had a bit of a meltdown in the 4 minute section and briefly stopped and then got my act together and got on with the job (slowing down a little on the 5 minute section might help with that!). Quite happy with this really – previous attempts in brackets

  • 10 minute warm up: 11:47 (12.27, 12.20, 12.43 pace);
  • 5 minutes:  9.43 (10.37, 10.26, 10.27);
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 4 minutes: 10.50 (10.30, 10.11, 10.18) pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 3 minutes: 10.11 (11.03, 9.56, 10.18) pace;
  • (then 5.5 minute rest);
  • 2 minutes: 9.51 (10.17, 8.56, 9.52);
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1 minute 30secs: 9.07 (9.41, 9.09 ,9.47) pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1 minute: 9.01 (8.41, 9.28, 9.29) pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds: 8.03 (7.39, 9.17, 8.37)  pace;
  • 1 minute rest
  • 30 seconds: 7.49 (7.38, 8.28, 7.39) pace.
  • 10 min cool down 12.34 (14.23, 14.17,15.16) pace

Overall 4.24 miles and an average of 12.08 pace  –  and coming home to this (made by Kath) wasn’t at all bad!


300 Miles of Happy Running (mostly)

Well it’s been a little while. Usually that means I haven’t been running but this time I’ve just been busy. My last blog post was a couple fo days after the half marathon and recovery went pretty well. Following the run on Toronto Island, I then had a treadmill run in the hotel gym – in spite of rather spectacular views from there, I managed only 2.5 miles and a stupidly slow pace. Slower than the half marathon average pace in fact.

The day after getting home I had a lovely run through the wood with bluebells and wild garlic. It was the first run in really warm weather though and it felt tough. Then I didn’t run for a few days – busy, couldn’t be bothered, usual excuses. Then I got my act together and went for a sheep loop trot out. Last Sunday I thought I best get training for multiple loops so in the morning we went up. 3 miles of up (ok 2 miles of real up). It was sooooo 33834416_989649484548533_537151107076456448_nhard, I’m really not hill fit at all but once up on the moor it was gorgeous. It was a perfect day for being up there and we’d gone early so we were on our way back down when the first set of hikers were making their way up. We saw some lapwings and heard curlews. The grouse were chattering away in their grumpy way and up on the moor I felt like I was running free and easy. It felt perfect. Those moments you just need to hang onto and file in the memory bank so you have something to draw on when the dark closes in.

In the afternoon we went out for round 2. A gentle estate, road, canal jog with lots of little excuses to stop and watch wildlife. I think it was on this loop I saw the deer vanish into the wood in front of me and stopping to watch ducklings always makes me smile. It was good to get out twice and not feel too knackered or broken.

Last Tuesday we added some hill sprints to our sheep loop backwards route. Instead of walking up the golf course we made our way up it in 10 -15 second sprints with 90 seconds (ish) recovery in-between. That took us to 4 out of the 5 sprints so we walked back down the last bit and did it again. So hill sprints – by how my legs felt afterwards I’m guessing they’re quite effective!

IMG_9614Then I went to London. The less said about my first day there, the better! I did blog about it here if anyone is interested in my thoughts on legal education but in short – I was exhausted and wired at the same time and thought running would help with the wired part so that I could actually sleep. I’d got to the hotel about 5.30pm though, it was busy. I felt a bit self-conscious. I got my gear on anyway and set off. I had no idea about where I wanted to go – I was roughly a mile away from the river and roughly a mile away from Regent’s Park and I didn’t want to go far so in the end I just decided to randomly loop round the streets for a bit. I did a little circuit round the British Museum dodging tourists and commuter cyclists and weaved in and out of side streets, eventually ending up at a Pret where I bought a salad box and little dark chocolate bar for my tea. Then I walked back to the IMG_9607hotel. I managed to somehow not turn on my watch when I started off and then turn it on when I thought I was turning it off at Pret and then realise and turn it off at the hotel. I tried to retrace my steps on google maps and I think I did roughly 2 miles. I was out for just over half an hour including buying food so that sounds about right.IMG_9591

The next morning I woke up early, got up and headed out again. I still wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go or how far really – I thought the river might be nice. I set off. I don’t understand how London hangs together. Don’t laugh – I spent years only being able to navigateit by tube and really have only recently started exploring on foot – mostly through running – but it means I have a warped sense of direction and distances. So I headed pretty much in a straight line through bits of theatre land I don’t usually see and eventually to Trafalgar square where I tried to take a selfie with a Lion and couldn’t get

IMG_9590the angle so took a selfie and then a picture of the lion – grumpily. Then I headed straight towards Buckingham Palace (this wasn’t the plan, it’s just what happened) and when I got there turned off into St James’ Park. I ran a gauntlet of ducks and geese and continued until I came out at Horse Guards Road.  I saw a mouse (or very small rat, who knows) run into the FCO and chuckled. I made my way to the river, across the river and ran past the London Eye and all the way along to Millennium Bridge. I stopped to take a few pictures and walk across it talking to Kath hoping that Lord Voldemort wouldn’t choose this moment to play with the bridge. London had woken up and was now much busier with runners and people
IMG_9597walking to work or going about their business than it had been when I left the hotel. I turned left past St Paul’s and stopped to look at google maps – Oh look Fleet Street – who knew! I ran down Fleet Street, took a picture of the Royal Courts of Justice sign, carried on and saw a coffee shop out of the corner of my eye. Mmmmmm cofffeeeeeeeeee! I decided I wanted coffee. It was just before 7am. The coffee shop was still closed but the one next to it wasn’t. I got coffee and walked back to the hotel. A great 6 and a bit mile London loop.

I didn’t run Friday and Saturday dragged by butt out for 3.25 miles after our gym induction at the Leisure Centre (more on that another time). I wanted to go out again really but I was absolutely shattered. No double running for me, I fell asleep instead.

So today. I knew I was going on my own because Kath has a little foot niggle that she’s been looking after. So the original 12 mile plan needed revising. I’m not sure 12 miles on 34036580_989647691215379_7069943930778812416_nmy own is really necessary. I looked at my chart and a plan formed. I walked down Ilkley Road with Kath who was off to pick some wild garlic for our risotto tonight and then I set off. I headed towards Morton and kept running apart from a few steps along the path to avoid breaking my ankle through the narrow uneven bits. I ran the first 5km relatively quickly for me – just over 37 minutes, comfortable. Then I walked for a couple of minutes to have a drink. Then I ran to 5 miles and it was now getting tougher and towards the end I realised that I was developing a blister on the arch of my left foot. I’ll spare you the picture but it’s a bitch. I wanted to get under an hour for the 5 miles but I’d walked for too long to make it – just over. Still happy with that though. I walked and watched a kestrel zig zag across the canal accompanied by a cacophony of smaller birds’ warning cries, then I tried to plod on. I was hot. I pushed to 6 miles. I could really feel my blister and my legs were getting tired. I walked up the golf course hill. I ran down the other side and past our old sheep fields. My legs were now protesting. Hot.

I walked quite a lot from here to home but recovered well with a jog downhill.  I felt pretty good when I got to the bottom of Ilkley Road and thought I would try run up it, I stepped off the curb to go round a dog walker and whimpered at the pain of the blister and the shooting pain the move had sent up my leg. I was obviously not running properly in order to avoid the blister pain. I walked the rest.

IMG_9543So, including the walk with Kath that was about 8 miles but if I count the 7.75 recorded by my watch then the Year to Date Total now stands at 300.18 miles. 300.18. I’m thrilled with that! It took me well into August to get to that amount last year and I don’t feel like I’m really pushing the miles or working at an unsustainable level. I feel like I’m running strong and that I have a pretty good balance between running for fun and pushing myself. As part of the #Run1000Miles Challenge I’ve said that really I just want to do more than last year (500 miles) but that 750 would be awesome. I’m now wondering whether 800 might be on the cards. Let’s see.

Happy Running!

My hamstrings want a divorce

Muscle soreness is always worst on the 2nd day after doing something, right? Well I was IMG_9286(and sort of still am) feeling pretty good about how I feel 2 days post half marathon. Walking around and just going about our ‘being a tourist’ stuff I can barely tell that I ran a half marathon. I feel good. The plan for today was to head out to Toronto Island and go for a run out there. We checked  online and from one end to the other should be roughly 5km. 5km, well I reckon I can do that.

IMG_9287We woke up early again after another pretty disturbed night. We decided we would ask if there was another room available that wasn’t opposite a service door where staff seem to chat and where some work is obviously done at 11pm and around 1.30am. I have no idea what but that’s when the conversations and banging happen. They then start up again around 5am so sleep is not easy. We were told there would be a room available so we packed all our stuff, left it with bell services and headed out. We got the 8am ferry to Hanlan’s point and then ran across the islands all the way to Wards Island ferry port. Oh my goodness.IMG_9266

So walking and running use very different muscles or the same ones differently! The minute I started running I realised just how tired and tight my hamstrings were. They
were screaming at me to not be an idiot and just stop moving. Had I not been in such striking surroundings I might have listened. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and with encouragement from Kath made it to the other end. I didn’t dare stop running because I didn’t think I’d get going again if I walked. At the other end we stopped, had a little walk along the lake front on the beach and then realised that the boardwalk that we thought was closed was actually open. It was too tempting. We decided to run at least a short stretch of it. As I started running again, my hamstrings filed for divorce. They did not want anything further to do with this madness. They felt like they had shortened by about 3 inches and just didn’t really fit me any more:

Hamstrings: You’re being unreasonable

Me: Why?

Hamstrings: Come on – 13.1 miles just 2 days ago and now this?

Me: 13.37 actually and shut-up, you’re fine

Hamstrings: No we’re not, we’re too short

Me: Nope, you just feel too short

Hamstrings: Same thing

Me: No, just get on with it.

Hamstrings: That’s it, it’s definitely you and not us. You’re just unreasonable. Stop it.


Me: Nope. See, you’re fine really

Hamstrings: Ok, maybe, maybe… ok.

Me: See

Hamstrings: Hmph. We hate you.

Me: There, done.

Hamstrings: Unreasonable, just unreasonable.

Left calf:I agree with the hamstrings!

Me: Shush, nobody asked you

After that we were hoping to at least get some coffee but nothing opens on the island IMG_9329until 11am it seems and even after walking around Centre Island a little it was only about 10am. So we decided to head back, get a coffee and pastry and Queens Quay and then walk to St Lawrence market before going back to the hotel. At the hotel we picked up our new room keys and had our bags sent up to us  – seemed easier. The room initially seemed fine – smaller than the original one and a lot lower down obviously but fine. Then we realised that the air conditioning vent on a lower roof below was rattling badly and banging and even with the window closed was incredibly noisy – we tried again and this time got a room on the 10th floor which seemed fine. We went to retrieve our luggage from the 6th floor room and the key cards didn’t work. We were by now a little irritated with going up and down the hotel’s various lifts. We spoke to a manager and she sorted it and we could get our bags. As a gesture she has given us a voucher for breakfast tomorrow – suppose that’s fair.

Once settled we had a little swim and 10 minutes in the whirlpool. That seems to have made my hamstrings reconsider their position. They seem a little friendlier even after walking to the CN Tower for dinner and back (it was fab) but then I haven’t tried to run so I’ll let you know how my relationship with my hamstrings develops over this week.


Toronto Half – the morning after

I feel good about yesterday. I have had a few ‘should have pushed harder up that hill, could have taken a walk break out down this or that slope, should have pushed on through the mental doubts a bit more, could have run just that little faster on the slower miles’ sort of thoughts but actually, I’m happy.

I fell asleep about 8.15pm. I slept really well until 11pm and woke up thinking I’d had a right good night’s sleep. Hm. I dozed off again and slept in fits and starts until 5.30am ish. Still, I feel quite rested this morning and I’m a big fan of afternoon naps! So, let’s see where we are after running 13.1 miles faster than I ever have before

  1. Nothing is injured, nothing really hurts or is really sore
  2. My hip flexors are tight
  3. My calves are tight
  4. My hamstrings are tight
  5. But none of them are ridiculously tight. I’ve had far far worse – it’s what I call smug tightness  – reminds you you achieved something
  6. My feet feel a bit tired and I got one little blister but it doesn’t hurt – it must have popped during the race anyway
  7. Vaseline will have to be my friend for a few days and undergarments will have to be carefully chosen for exactly how they fit and where exactly they sit- should have used bodyglide for bra and knicker line!
  8. I haven’t had any post long run/race cravings and I’m also not eating everything in sight like is normal post running
  9. I’m looking forward to a day of being a tourist

Looking back at the race, we got lots of things right. Having porridge about 3.5 hours before race start works. It could probably be a bit closer, maybe 3 hours but I think previously I have eaten too close to the start – like 90 minutes before and then I get tummy issues. I obviously need longer and yesterday that time frame of 3 hours plus worked. I was beginning to get a little nibblish when we set off but that was fine, that, I think, is the feeling I am aiming for.

I reviewed tailwind for fuel the other day. We used that again yesterday and it worked. I had two 125ml bottles and didn’t actually drink it all. I’d made it up on the strong side. It definitely helped and caused no tummy issues at all. Towards the end –  in the last 5k, my calves were beginning to just be a bit crampy and I had a couple of big sips and it stopped. I think we also got the water stations right – in that we ignored them mostly. I stopped at one because I felt thirsty. I have to walk to drink the water though and then walk a little longer for it to settle. I don’t get the same with sips of tailwind  – I can easily get my bottle out of my pocket, have a sip and put the bottle back within a 30 second walk break. I suspect I could sip it on the run. I think when I focus on water stations I drink more than I need and risk upsetting my tummy. I’m much better with slightly more frequent little sips of tailwind.

With our last order of tailwind we got 4 stick packs of their Rebuild recovery drink. I had packed them so immediately after we finished we picked up our bag and sat down, stretched a little and I made up the recovery drinks. We had one of each flavour. I poured the powder into the water bottles we’d packed and gave the bottles a good shake –  it mixed well. Kath had the chocolate one. She said it was quite nice and that I’d probably like it (safe bet, it’s chocolate). I had the vanilla one. Well. The smell is terrible. As I went to take my first sip I breathed in and nearly gave it up as a bad job. It smells absolutely vile. It’s hard to explain but the smell turned my stomach. I took a sip anyway. It actually tastes better than it smells. It’s drinkable but it wasn’t exactly pleasant. I got it down and at least it doesn’t have a lingering after taste. I do think the recovery drink helped though. Kath did not go flakey like she often does straight after a long run so there was no rush or stress to find somewhere for food and for both of us it stopped the post run cravings and munchies. I also think the lack of any real soreness is due to having it and of course due to keeping moving. It seems Rebuild does exactly what it says on the tin (well packet and website) and I really do think it helped repair muscles and restore energy.

Today is all about active recovery. We’re going to explore the Distillery District and when we get tired later we might come back to the hotel and have a swim – we may also have to venture to the Eaton centre – we never go shopping unless we’re away somewhere. Somehow it seems more fun when on holiday.

Happy Monday!