Long walks, kit check and not doing the long run

Right now I am supposed to be roughly 4 miles into a 20 mile run (from Leeds to home along the Leeds-Liverpool canal) but that’s not happening. Apart from it being a change of plan I am ok about that. We were trying to catch up with the training plan but that turns out not to be very sensible. It would see us do 3 really long walks on Saturdays and long runs on Sundays for 3 consecutive weekends (the training plan actually has 2 ‘easy’ weeks inbetween). It’s too much and today our  bodies let us know. Kath has a twinge in her left knee which feels a bit like her right knee did just before it gave up the ghost for a while and if I am totally honest about it, my right calf muscle is screaming for a rest. So we did the sensible thing and turned this weekend into an ‘easy’ weekend and called the 10.68 miles walk yesterday it.

The walk was nice though. We walked from home along the Leeds-Liverpool canal to Skipton. We weren’t striding out  – just walking along nicely and the pace ended up being about 19 minutes per mile. We stopped at the post office on the way and had a couple of stops early on to watch the kingfisher whizz up and down the canal alongside us and then to watch a second kingfisher further along. It was cold, there was a dusting of snow on the hills and in places the wind was biting. It was nice to be out though. I wouldn’t say it cleared my mind but it stopped me thinking about anything at all. Once in Skipton we went into a pub for food and enjoyed a lovely beef stew before having a little look round the shops and getting the train home. So not much running news!

Skipton walk small
View on way to Skipton with flooded washland and snow capped hills

Last week I went through all my running gear and also bought the last bits and pieces I might need. So I now have a choice of kit to take. I tried the Salomon trainers I hadn’t worn yet on a short run and they were great. I will try them for one long run and providing they’re ok I will take them and my New Balance ones and see how I feel on the day. I have 4 pairs of 3/4 length running pants (including a new pair and a pair I have had years which I can now fit into – for the first time since 2013 and fit in easily for the first time ever!) and I also have a selection of t-shirts and vests to choose from. I will have one last trying on session before I pack but it is looking pretty good. I also have a new Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Sports Bra (catchy name!) which I am not 100% sure on yet. It is comfy and it eliminates bounce completely but there is something comforting about wearing an old worn in (out?) sports bra – like taking an old loyal supportive friend with you… We’ll see. Maybe the new one and I will bond over a long run next weekend. So the kit is sorted bar the final decisions about what travels with me.

It’s weigh in day. I have lost 2.4 pounds. I am really chuffed with that (it puts me on a round number) and it means I have now lost exactly 2.5 stone this year – that’s 35 pounds – that’s 15.8 kg. With every pound that comes off the running gets a little bit easier – there’s less of me to drag round and that in turn makes it easier to keep the weight off and keep losing a bit more. I’d love to shift another half stone before the marathon to make it a round 3 stone loss on 2015. That would be great but I am just going to keep going as I have been – running, eating relatively healthily and doing yoga most days.

I don’t quite know what to do  with myself today – the plan was run 20 miles which was going to take most of the day… I’m not good with changes of plan at the moment so I am on my safe sofa for now. I’ll do more yoga later, more blogging, more Disney planning, more writing… more anything as long as it means I don’t have to leave the sofa or engage with people



Sunday Slog and October One Big Fat Run

We did our 45 minute run today – it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t really that hard either. It was grumpy. Yes that’s it, it was grumpy running. No idea why, it just was. We ran 1 minute/30 sec intervals again. We were going to go to Bolton Abbey but that doesn’t open until 9am and we were ready earlier (thanks mainly to the clocks going back) so we went from home, past our sheep which also gave us a chance to check on our ram (he’s been poorly with an infection) and still gave us some gentle hills.

Just past our sheep, on the slope I probably dislike most in terms of uphill running round here, there was a bullfinch puffing out his bright colours. There were also several robins along the way. I wondered if there are more robins around or whether their red chests just make them easy to see at the moment. The autumn colours are getting more vibrant and stunning every day but of course soon they will disappear (oh look grumpy again). There were amarous ducks on the canal and one or two other people, walking dogs mostly. We were passed by a runner who said something about ‘…isn’t going to be any help to you’ – I didn’t hear what he said though so I initially decided that it was positive but I couldn’t shake off the niggle that he wasn’t particularly complementary. It bothered me.

I bought ‘Run Fat Bitch Run‘ by Ruth Field yesterday. I have got through Part 1 and I wonder whether that has something to do with my grumpiness. There is quite a lot in there that I agree with but I also found it incredibly patronising and not at all motivational or inspiring. I may just be in that mood – I will review the book properly when I have finished it and when I have given it a fair shot. I think possibly I like and totally agree with the idea but not with the approach. We’ll see.

This weekend is the October iteration of the One Big Fat Run which I think is a great idea. It’s a virtual 5km run and it’s just about getting that run in at some point over the weekend and sharing the achievement of getting our butts out there. Time doesn’t matter, there is no coming last because the ‘race’ isn’t a race. It’s about us – you and me – getting out there and doing it at our own pace in our own way. You print your own race number (it’s the same for everyone 001) and you can even buy a medal in the Too Fat to Run shop. So our 45 minute run today was our Big Fat Run for this month – we did a little over 5km, 3.48 miles. Because I was all grumpy though I forgot to print race numbers and I also forgot to take a finish line selfie. Sorry. Maybe you can do better! Get yourself out there and round 5km, hop, skip, dance, walk, crawl, run your way round and then share your achievement on social media using #onebigfatrun.

Oh yeah – Sunday – weigh in – stayed the same – grumpy

And we’re back

So, flu. Is that nature’s way of telling me to stay in bed for two weeks? I could have done without it. I didn’t have time to be off work ill. The thing about academia is, if you’re off sick, your work just waits for you and piles up and you get back and there’s all the work there just going ‘hello, welcome back. You were 2 weeks behind already, you’re now 4 weeks behind and the week you had planned this week was always totally unrealistic, so make that 5 weeks’. But it is  what it is, it’s just that without running I am not very good at the ‘it is what it is’ mindset. I knew running was helping me keep a level head and I’ve blogged about my mental health and my little black labrador puppy (my symbol of depression) before but I didn’t quite realise how much it makes a difference to the little day to day niggles and stresses that we all have. So while I was getting more stressed about being off work and generally feeling crap the three things I do to destress and make sense of the world around me where all out of the question: reading – couldn’t see the page without inducing a major headache, writing – ditto and running – I could barely walk upstairs. That mix made for a particularly grumpy and gloomy me.

I started feeling much better on Wednesday and went back to work Thursday. By Friday I was looking forward to trying a run. We had talked about possibly Saturday. Kath’s knee is much better and she is keen to get going on it and start getting back into things and luckily the flu didn’t hit her quite as hard as me and she is recovering well. However, we had to move our sheep from one field to another – sounds simple, it’s only 200 metres or so along a track but add in 7 perfect, experienced and willing sheep and 7 inexperienced, highly strung and skittish ones and you end up with quite a lot of running around, then there was the 5.30am start to avoid dog walkers etc and then the work to get the field and shed tidied up and sorted… We were really quite wiped out after that. Run postponed until this morning.

I woke up and was quite surprised to see it was 8am. Not sure why I was surprised, I’ve been sleeping at least 10 hours a night for the last week or so. I got up and was even more surprised to find that Kath had only been up an hour or so – she’s usually up really early. We had a cup of tea and then did 15 minutes of flexibility yoga. We drove down the hill just in case Kath’s knee relapsed and we’d need the car to get back up the hill. Then we tried running along the canal..

The autumn colours along the canal are stunning at the moment. We’re clearly not the only ones who think so – it was quite busy with walkers, runners, cyclists and dogs. We had set the intervals to one minute running/ 30 seconds walking and planned to be out for 45 minutes. It felt so good to be out. As I was trying to suck the oxygen into slightly unwilling lungs I also made a conscious effort to look around, take in the colours, watch the ducks, watch the dogs – some excited to be out, some plodding along in the slight drizzle; same as their owners really.

It would be wrong to say that the 45 minutes were easy. That’s not quite it. Running for a minute at times felt about all I could manage (but that’s because I knew it was all I had to manage!) and my body didn’t really quite agree that this running things is a good idea. It felt like I had accumulated a load of crap in my lungs, it felt like my legs were a mixture of concrete and jelly – heavy and wobbly at the same time, I felt slightly uncorordinated and not very sure-footed but I also felt a sense of being able to do it. Maybe my ‘I can’t do this’ voice still has flu, or maybe it’s gone on holiday – whatever, it wasn’t there today. Eventhough the run was hard physically it was probably the easiest run I have had mentally. I was excited to be out, running, doing, getting back on track.

We didn’t worry about pace at all. We didn’t look until we had finished. We were at just over 13 minutes per mile. It may sound slightly ridiculous but I am really quite happy about that – we used to work hard to get to 13 minutes per mile and now this was just a first jog after weeks out. I really do think we are making progress and the training is working!

Kath’s knee held up. She said it is a little achey now and she’ll be careful and get some ice on it etc but there is no pain.We came home and did 15 minutes of yoga for runners. Then Kath made pancakes but not before we got on the scales for our weigh in – I have lost a pound, Kath stayed the same. Happy Sunday.

We’re back!

Post half marathon run and stupid little dogs

I have had a bit of time to reflect on the half marathon now. I can’t quite believe that I actually did it. I’m annoyed at myself for walking as much as I did and it somehow feels like life should somehow be different. I mean, hello people, I ran a half marathon, you can’t just carry on as normal.

So here’s what I think I could have done better: Not run the first mile at a stupid pace; settle into the intervals sooner and stick to them, have a banana – the potassium in them is good for avoiding cramp; being a bit tougher mentally when the running got hard – I need to work on those mantras!

Here’s what I think worked well: porridge pot roughly 2 hours before the run, drinking stupid amounts of water the day before so that I am really hydrated and don’t need to worry about it on the day, the little date/dried fruit energy balls that Kath made me; trusting the process – I can run for much longer than I think I can; having amazing friends screaming at me to run in the last 200 metres or so.

I haven’t been too sore. I am stiff and my right foot has a funny little niggle in the arch today but calf muscles and knees are behaving. If I stay in one position too long it takes me a little while to get going but it’s all ok. Still the idea of going for a run today was a little daunting. It is so easy to think ‘ah it’s fine, I ran a half marathon, I don’t need to go today…’ but I do. Training doesn’t stop just because I ran a stupid distance! I am gearing up for an even more stupid distance.

So, with a little proud smile I pulled on my Robin Hood Half Marathon top and headed out with the aim of completing a slow 45 minute plod. I planned to go past our sheep, down the golf course and along the canal. I didn’t take the Garmin because I didn’t want to do battle with it. I took my stopwatch for the timing thinking that I might drop to 2.5 minutes run and 30 sec walk just to take it easy. I felt ok though so I sort of forgot to walk. In fact I ended up just running for 47 minutes without a walk break because I felt comfortable slowly plodding along. My legs were tired so I really was going slow but it was sort of nice.

Nothing to report for the first mile. I waved at the sheep and then focused on the slope which I always find tough. It came and it went. I’d like to say I enjoyed the downhill down the golf course but I really didn’t. I didn’t feel very balanced going down on my tired legs but I got down in one piece. I turned right on the canal and after just a few strides a little dog came bounding up to me and nearly tripped me up. The owner didn’t call it back until I looked directly at her and said ‘Really?!’

I carried on and ran past a woman who had a Westie with her which saw me, growled, showed its teeth and then launched at my ankles as I ran past (no harm done, its aim wasn’t great and it bounced off me). I turned to shout at the woman but she was just bent double laughing. I carried on. It wasn’t long before I had to turn round and therefore run past her again. As I approached she laughed and said ‘If you run faster he won’t get you this time’. I told her to fuck off. I’m scared of dogs (no idea why) and incidents like this make me a little worried about running along the canal on my own.

I wasn’t sure how far the woman was walking and if she was turning round but I wasn’t going to risk her seeing me walking so I just kept plodding along. It was a slow plod because when 45 minutes came I wasn’t at the bridge I was aiming for yet. I just thought I might as well keep going to the bridge and tried to speed up a little. I managed a little mini sprint and got to the bridge in 47 minutes dead. I ran all the way without stopping (well other than tripping over the dog). That might be the longest time I have ever run continuously

Oh I also just remembered- we missed the Sunday weigh-in because of the half marathon so I got on the scales on Monday instead and I have lost 1.5 pounds. Getting closer to the next stone marker!

A steady 2.5 miles

Just a quick one. Our schedule is a bit to pot because of my melt down and then having to get back to the 11 miles but we are trying to catch up -you know me and gaps on the training schedule. So we headed out for a short loop. The schedule said three miles but I’ve been getting a bit obsessive about schedules and it was just about going for a short little jog today to see if the legs would move after 11 miles  on Friday so we just did a simple loop from our house – no doubling back on the canal or anything like that. 2.58 miles with a pace of 12.34 minutes per mile. Everything works, nothing hurt. Calf muscle and right hamstring are tight but ok. I didn’t feel great getting up, I feel better now I have run.

It’s Sunday so it’s weigh-in day. I seem to have stayed exactly the same which is fine. Judging by my clothes I suspect it is one of those funny weeks were my clothes feel big but the weight hasn’t shifted. I’ve just moved my belt on another notch. They weight may come off next week.

It’s also Great North Run day. I’ve got it on the telly now. I think maybe one day I’d like to do that run. Maybe that’s something to aim for to make sure we keep running after the RunDisney event. For a start it’s a half marathon and half is beginning to feel slightly less insane in my head. It is beginning to feel doable (just as well really – 2 weeks today I’ll have to do it in Nottingham!) Anyway, watching all those people slowly setting off is sort of emotional but how I think about it is changing and I’ve just realised something – I want to be there, I want to be part of it. Wow.

Good luck everyone – it’s just one foot in front of the other!