Exploring new places, re-trying old ones

After the beach run on Friday we had planned another run from the Wild Running book for Saturday on our way home: the estate drive loop around Cragside house and gardens just outside Rothbury. We got up and had breakfast (not a full fry-up given we were running but a rather delicious bacon bagel instead) and got on the road. Seahouses to Cragside was a lovely scenic drive, not sure how long it took but it really wasn’t far.

We parked, changed our trainers and sorted our pockets out and headed for the visitor IMG_6606 2centre to use the loos. Then we set off. I knew the route was about 5.5-6 miles long and a road running round the estate. That’s all I knew.  I had no idea how much uphill I was going to have to do but just looking at the estate made clear that it was likely to be significant – for me anyway. It was raining, grey and atmospheric. Gorgeous really. We set off on a slow plod up a slope, stopped to walk as it turned into a steeper slope, ran a little as it evened off, walked as it went steeper, ran a bit, got grumpy because it was so bloody hard, kept it together and ran from tree to tree and walked a bit and ran a bit… the first mile and a quarter were relentlessly uphill and my legs were tired from running on the beach the day before, my calf muscles were tight, I was cross at myself for being so stupidly bloody unfit. Eventually though it levelled out and at 2 miles I got my act together and my head in the game – the view helped.

Miles 3 and 4 were awesome – ok so they were mostly sloping downhill but they were gorgeous. We each had our own personal cloud of flies around us which was a little irritating but I started to remember to look around and take in the colours, all sorts of different greens and browns and the rain felt soft and welcoming somehow. Mile 5 contained a few more ups and I did walk a little again but I was still enjoying it and then IMG_6602 2we saw a deer. She’d been grazing by the side of the road and as we approached skipped away across the road and off into the woodland. We caught another glimpse of her a little further on but then she was gone. We puffed up the final hills to the visitor centre and car park and got out wires crossed resulting in both of us being rather grumpy for a little while. We got changed in the visitor centre toilets and then had a jacket potato and drink in the cafe. – and started talking to each other again. Then we drove home. There are loads and loads of paths and trails to explore on that estate and we will undoubtedly be back!

We thought we might have another little run today and had planned a route which would take in the short wood trail and the uphill golf course track. Yep – I’m determined to get better at trail and at uphill – eventually together and I haven’t run the wood trail for a little while. I decided on my Mizuno trail shoes and off we went. All fine on mile one. Just after the one mile point we turned off onto the trail. I overthink this usually, I’m too hesitant, I don’t trust my feet but this time I just kept going – slowly but going. I didn’t stop once on the trail, just kept moving. My feet were hurting like hell. I don’t think it’s the shoes, I think it’s just different running and I was probably more tense than usual. By the time I got to the end of the trail I was pretty much in tears. We stopped a few minutes and I stretched and wiggled toes and let it pass. Rather than push too hard and risk injury we cut the route short and headed towards home. Still, 2 miles run and half a mile walked up the hill home. Happy with that.

So I have had 3 days of pretty awesome running and for that I am rewarding myself with the RunDisney Shorts virtual run series medal for July  (Bling whore, it’s terrible, I know). Rest day tomorrow and then on with the training plan’s next run on Tuesday.


I brought back Sunday Weigh-In a while back and then haven’t really posted anything on it- it’s because I’m grumpy about it. My weight is resolutely staying the same. Exactly the same. It went down a pound randomly a couple of week’s ago and then went back up to the same number. Quite honestly I am sick of seeing that number. I am going to try and have a saintly week (oh apart from maybe tomorrow where I may be going out for tea) and see if the number shifts. I’ve even made Kath get on just to check that the scales are working!



Road Running

Quick update

Didn’t run Sunday because K had a niggly knee and I am not known for my willpower or desire to go running on my own. So it’s just as well we went on Saturday. For today the plan said 50 minutes slow. I do like a plan that says slow. I can do slow.

We had toyed with the idea of going this morning but I wanted Kath to have her knee checked out first which she did this morning and she is cleared to run. Our track record of going for a run after work is poor. Once I get in from work I really don’t like to be parted from the sofa! However, this moomin butt needs to keep moving! We arranged for Kath to pick me up from the station and then to park at Mum’s and run from there. I got changed there and then we set off. We ran along the road which had the advantage of street lighting and of being relatively flat. It has the disadvantage of being a relatively busy road and a boring out and back route.

We set the watch to 17 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals (51 minutes) and then the Garmin wouldn’t lock onto the satellite. Rather than messing with it we just set off. It felt fast but it also felt quite flowing. Well when I say fast, I mean fast for me – for the rest of the world I am really talking about marginally faster than a brisk dog walking pace. Running along the road is odd. We’ve never really done it before. There wasn’t much to look at and there was the traffic noise so my focus was different and I realised I was focusing on breathing – not in a ‘I can’t breathe’ sort of way but in a ‘oh I prefer to sound of breathing to the sound of traffic’ kind of a way. I was focused on me and that’s not something I am all that comfortable with but it did mean being more aware of form, breathing and when things tightened up and when things felt good.

Surprisingly, mostly it felt pretty good even if hard and on almost all runs I managed to keep the pace until the end of the 2 minutes, I just had one wobble as we were heading up a slope and I lost my stride pattern and everything felt out of sync. I kept thinking I was surprised at how ok it all felt. Ok is not something I usually feel when running.

As we don’t have the data from the Garmin we had to rely on Google Maps which reliably informs me that we ran 4 miles exactly. So that means that finally -for the first time in ages – we managed a decent length run at under 13 minute mile pace.

In other news – Sunday weigh in yesterday showed a 2 pound gain. Hmph but ok – readjusting after the few days of no food and I suppose I’ll have to admit to the chocolate biscuits and the 2 days of university sand which lunches…

In more other news – the Wanderlust TV yoga – we’ve done days 1-4 and it is helping although I was struggling to keep up a little on Day 4. It’s useful to get more guidance on technique and this morning we did the yoga Studio 20 minute beginner am sequence and goodness it is harder when you do it properly! Right I am off to have a bath and then try Day 5.


Sunday Weigh In is back

I stopped getting on the scales a while ago initially for positive reasons – I didn’t care at all what the number said, I knew I was getting fitter and stronger and healthier so the actual weight didn’t matter. Then the running got patchy and we fell off the food and booze wagon a bit – which is silly because when we were making the effort we were eating really yummy healthy food that we were both really enjoying. In the run up to Christmas I knew my weight was sneaking up again and just after I suddenly worried that it might even be getting as high as it was 2 years ago before I started running. Clothes don’t fit properly, running is so much harder than it needs to be. A good few pounds need to come off.

So on the 2nd January I set a new baseline – a stone lighter than the baseline I set 2 years ago but also over a stone and a half heavier than I was at my lightest during Dopey training. Hmph. I was determined to have a good food and exercise week but as I mentioned I was ill instead. I have lost 6 pounds but I’m not really celebrating that because it’s more due to being poorly than anything else.

We have a food plan for the week with lots of fresh, yummy things but also included comfort food to guard against the cold and grey ‘pass me the biscuits’ kind of feeling. We’re starting today with pancakes (a healthier version K once found a recipe for, possibly in a Runner’s World or from a Running Bug) – a lovely Sunday treat with yoghurt and raspberries. For lunch we’re having cottage pie with a mountain of veg and for tea a salad with a few nuts and seeds sprinkled in for crunch. This week is relatively conservative with food – familiar things to not upset my tummy which is still getting back to normal. Next week I think we will be more adventurous, we’ve seen some lovely recipes that look healthy and delicious. I’ll try and remember to share.

We’re also going to start running again this coming week. I’m not sure about starting the 10k programme – yesterday I was still quite wobbly after my 2 mile walk so I will see how I feel after a walk today and then see if I need a very easy, very short run week or whether I’m ready to have another go at week 1 of the 10k programme. The programme isn’t aligned with a race so it doesn’t really matter.

Happy Sunday

The thing with honesty…

So here’s the thing with being honest about life, running, fitness, weight… It doesn’t make you feel any better. It doesn’t do anything for your confidence. It makes you feel great, well, when you feel great. The reverse can also be true.

This post is triggered by a number of things I’ve seen, heard and read over the last 2 days. I won’t single them out because that wouldn’t be fair – they’re not my stories to tell. But my story is my story to tell. Here’s the deal:

I am running a half marathon on Sunday. I am not ready. I haven’t run enough, I haven’t done enough mileage, I haven’t been consistent. I am excited about it nonetheless because I have a little glimmer of hope that I have gained enough experience over this last year to be able to just see it for the adventure it is and go with it. I have posted my excitement on social media. And I am being honest in that BUT there’s also a whole load I haven’t said. I think maybe I should say it now.

  1. I packed yesterday. I started off excited and ended almost in tears. I packed my running gear first  for the half marathon- easy. Then I decided I wanted a long sleeved top for the 5k and thought maybe a Dopey one – they were on the small side when we got them but the next size up would have been too big – they’re too tight now, all of them. Then I wondered about what to take to wear the rest of the time. It’s all about Disney and running and celebrating how far we’ve come so I thought I’d wear my ‘I did it’ t-shirt from Dopey. I tried it on. It doesn’t really fit. I tried on the 5k cotton T we got at Dopey – that doesn’t really fit either. I tried a couple of others – nope.
  2. I have put weight on – or let’s put it another way. I liked the shape I was just post-Dopey better. I wasn’t actually much lighter at all (half a stone maybe) but I was different and now things I bought then don’t fit and that upsets me more than it should
  3. I am worried that the race t-shirts won’t fit because the sizing is always a bit hit and miss and now I don’t really know what size I am.
  4. I don’t mind being at the back of the pack. I don’t mind being a slow runner but I don’t like the idea of being the fat lass at the back. The fitter (and thus more shapely) I get the less I mind being slow but now that I don’t feel all that fit and am super conscious of the wobbly bits I somehow mind being slow. Confidence?
  5. I am not confident today. I am self conscious as anything and I’m just sitting at home, trying to write. Nobody is going to see me today really and yet I am wondering if my t-shirt is perhaps a little too tight or if it will be ok even if I take my hoodie off.
  6. Today I feel fat. You see I think there’s a difference between being fat and feeling fat. I am fat. I have no real problem with that, I’m used to it after all. Being fat isn’t the problem. Feeling fat is. When I feel fat I stop feeling like me. Most days I just feel like me and my insecurities and issues are not really related to body shape or whatever. But sometimes I feel fat and then I feel like I can’t or shouldn’t do stuff, then I am suddenly aware of every bit of me where my clothes stick to me or stretch or whatever. It’s rare thankfully
  7. I wish I didn’t feel fat just before a half marathon because now I think fat people don’t run half marathons which in itself is utter nonsense.

Anyway, I could find more negative shit to write about but that’s not the point. The point is that getting fitter and healthier, losing weight, running…all that stuff isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not all amazing. It doesn’t make you feel like a new woman all the time, it’s not all fucking awesome. Some days I feel like shit, some days I feel like crying, some days I look in the mirror and look away in disgust. If that’s you today, that’s fine. It really is. Tomorrow I might look in the mirror and smile – but for today I think I’ll keep my hoodie on


Trying to go faster – sort of

I have been trying to get back in the game ever since we got back from Florida. The last run was hard but done but that was Tuesday, the rest of the week was a bit of a write off. I’ve been tired. Probably because I went back to work and put a lot of effort into not getting caught up in work stuff and just letting it go (oh look Frozen’s Let it go on a loop in my head). We were supposed to run Thursday, we didn’t. I meant to go to the gym at the hotel I was staying at Friday, I didn’t (ok so I freaked out over trendy London types spilling over into the lobby area from the bar and the idea of having to walk past them all in my gym stuff – totally pathetic but at the time a real issue) and then I meant to go again on Saturday, I didn’t (didn’t get up in time).

So Sunday came. With some trepidation I looked at the training plan we are now using although I knew what it said anyway: 4 X 1 mile. That means running a mile at about 30 seconds faster than race pace and doing that 4 times with 5 minutes walking in between. I don’t do fast. This is part of a Jeff Galloway plan so it’s all still about run/walk and really shouldn’t be a drama. To help me build mental strength and stamina to keep running for longer we agreed that we would run each of the miles without walking. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Mile 1: We were both off like coiled springs in spite of having agreed to go out slow. We ran down the road stretching our legs nicely, turned right and started the hill, still felt fine. I took a deep breath as we levelled out for a few steps and then pushed hard up the last bit of the hill. Then there was downhill, a bit of flat and more downhill and then I suddenly started really feeling it. The last quarter of a mile (ish) was hard, really hard and I could feel my lungs like I haven’t for ages. On the slow long distance plods it’s my legs that give in eventually, here it felt like my lungs were about to explode. The walk break came. Time – 10.22

Mile 2: we started just as we come out of the wood and onto the golf course so this mile included the dreaded downhill section. I made it safely and then felt OK for about half a minute. Half a mile in my lungs reminded me they were there and working far too hard and a bit after that my hips started protesting. Kath asked if I wanted to take a walk but as much as every bit of me was screaming to walk I said no. I’d set out to run this bloody thing so that was what I was bloody well going to do. It was awful and then over. Time – 11.21

Mile 3: I felt good for a quarter of a mile. I was running in a nice rhythm and running seemed to make sense. My breathing was working with rather than against me and it felt easy… And then it didn’t. Then it got hard again, so hard I muttered something about just giving it all up and then swore. I was really trying to focus on positives and tap into that memory bank. I wanted to think about that amazing feeling of jogging gently through Epcot on 5 k day but my mind kept dragging me back  to the endlessness and pain of the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex on marathon day. But this mile did end. Time- 11.29

Mile 4: Last one. I was done with this running thing. My brain was not helping at all. It seemed to have come to the conclusion that because I ran Dopey, this should be easy. I was questioning why it was so hard. I mean I did Dopey FFS. But  I forget that Dopey was bloody hard, that the training up to Dopey was hard and that running is almost never easy. And then it was over and within seconds I was thrilled to have done the 4 miles even if I did hate almost every step of the way. Time- 11.31

So the pace is probably a little faster than I do when I go out normally but then I usually run/walk so it would be. After the first mile I wasn’t really thinking about pushing the pace I was just focussed on running the whole mile without walking. I counted in my head a lot today and that seemed to help.

Then we met my friend for her first run. We did the first run in a Jeff Galloway 5K programme which was 30 minutes of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds. She did really well, much better than I did when I went out for the first time! I remember not being able to do it so it was really nice to see her complete it with relative ease and it was nice to see how easy it was for me to do it while chatting. It was a little reminder that I have made real progress.

We just missed a bus home and it being Sunday there was a big gap between busses so we walked the 3 ish miles back home. Once there I reluctantly got on the scales for the first time since the 29th December. I weigh exactly the same as I did then. I’m happy with that and I feel like I am back in the game. I went fast- ish today for a bit and spent a good chunk of the day outside and moving. I feel a good sort of tired now, a physically tired rather than just mentally drained. Happy.