Running with (a) purpose

I’ve had a few good runs but haven’t blogged about them yet. I’ve been busy working on my book, clearing out the study, moving furniture and organising the sale of remaining sheep equipment. I feel like running has been good really. After the Simon’s Seat adventure last weekend, the next run was awesome. It was meant to be our long slow run. Initially we were meant to do back to back runs but I needed a rest day so we went out on Tuesday. I quickly settled into a really nice steady paced rhythm and just kept plodding. We saw 6 herons along the way and a kingfisher at the end. When we saw the first two herons I thought ‘I’ll run a non-stop mile for each heron I see’ and then I kept bloody seeing them! I didn’t stop plodding though until I had reached the bridge to come off the canal and walk up the hill. I even managed to speed up a little in the last half mile and I never felt like I wanted to or needed to stop. We did a total of about 7.3 miles and I ran 6.6 miles of that without stopping. I was (still am) excited about that.

We then had another couple of rest days (well I did, I think Kath went out) and on Friday went out for a little potter round after work. We ran down to the canal, along the canal bank and then up the golf course and home. 3.6 miles I think. Saturday got busy with IMG_6910sorting furniture and books so I didn’t run. We’d got all geared up to do parkrun with our new bar code thingies (technical term that!)  but in the end we didn’t go to parkrun because the fair was in town in the park making the course narrower in places and just not very nice. So today the plan had the fartlek session on it. I don’t really like any sort of pressure of having to try and go fast but I was also sort of intrigued to see if I’d improved at all. We took some furniture on to a friend’s in Bingley yesterday and forgot the screws, nuts and bolts so I suggested we could run on this morning and drop them off. So the plan was to do the Fartlek session going towards Bingley, drop the stuff off and then run/walk back.

So here are the Fartlek stats from this morning – 4.08 miles at 12.37 minutes per mile average. Last time’s pace in brackets. I’m pretty pleased with that and as an added bonus I have earned myself the 3rd of the RunDisney virtual run series medal with that

  • 10 minute warm up:  12.20 pace (12.43 pace);
  • 5 minutes: 10.26 (10.27);
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 4 minutes: 10.11 (10.18) pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 3 minutes: 9.56 (10.18) pace;
  • (then 5.5 minute rest);
  • 2 minutes: 8.56 (9.52 – I think, deleted it by mistake and can’t be bothered to check);
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1.5 minutes: 9.09 (9.47) pace;IMG_6943
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1 minute:  9.28 (9.29) pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds: 9.17 (8.37)  pace;
  • 1 minute rest
  • 30 seconds: 8.28 (7.39) pace.
  • 10 min cool down 14.17 (15.16) pace

The first 5 minute faster run felt good, the 4 minutes was hell, the 3 minutes was doable, I needed the rest but recovered well, I liked the 2 minutes, I really struggled for the 90 second run, the 1 minute was ok and then I realised with complete terror that some of the next 30 sec run would be down the steep hill at 5 Rise Locks. Absolutely terrified I sort of flung myself down the hill for the last 15 seconds of the run. The next and final 30 seconds I felt like I was going really really fast so I’m bemused (and a little disappointed) to see that it was a fair bit slower than last time on that one. Oh well. The cool down took us right to where we needed to be and then we set off back.

The way back was 3.78 miles in 1 hour 6 minutes and 5 seconds. We walked lots -watching ducks, fieldfares, swifts, gold finches, sparrows and a blue tit. We also tried out a new footpath so came up off the canal earlier than we would and made our way along the path which is perfectly runnable with just a few tricky bits which might need a few walk steps.

I’m running purposefully and happy at the minute. Hope you are too!

Oh Sunday Weigh-In: I have lost just a smidge under 2 pounds.

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!



The Thing with Consistency…

The thing with consistency is that, well, you have to be consistent. I like the idea of consistency generally. Consistency is sensible and safe and likely to see success in whatever it is you are being consistent about. The problem is, I’m rubbish at consistency. I don’t consistently blog, I don’t consistently file my emails or anything at all, I don’t consistently eat well, I don’t consistently exercise and I most certainly don’t consistently run. It’s been a month since my last running blog post and oh goodness has it been a fun sort of running month. Let’s see.

Just after my last blog post we went away to the Northumberland coast for a few days and I nearly threw in the towel completely. I didn’t seem to be able to run, I couldn’t do it, it stressed me out and I just felt crap about it all. Instead of a gorgeous 6 mile happy plod along the beach, I had a couple of barely a mile, tears, snot and general tantrum sort of events. I was quite ready to never really run again.

Once home, I got myself together again and decided that actually, yes, I do want to run. I managed 3 miles and then a couple of days after I managed 5k non-stop. Then we went to Bolton Abbey and I did the little loop while Kath went on to the next bridge. It was good to do it and I didn’t walk that much but neither of us were really feeling that one. Then we had a go at some speed work which I bizarrely sort of enjoyed – it was a sort of fun fartlek for beginners where you simply count strides and do the same amount fast and to recover going up in increments of 10 (starting from 10). I made it to 80.

Then  we hit June and I did a couple of short runs including one in the gym on the treadmill which was horrendous but, accidentally, very fast. I thought the treadmill was set to km rather than miles – reasonable assumption because that’s what it usually is – and therefore set it to run a steady 5k at 8minutes per km pace. That should have been easy but felt impossible so I quickly dropped to 10 minutes per km pace which still felt impossible so when I hit 2km I stopped, wheezing, huffing, puffing, sweating like mad and very very very very very grumpy. As the workout summary flashed across the screen I realised that the treadmill had been set to miles. I’d run 2 miles in just under 20 minutes, not 2km. Madness

Next I wanted to go out for a 5 mile little run but couldn’t do it. Head shut down and then my feet started hurting so I gave up half way and walked home. Two days later I thought I’d better have another go and I managed 5 miles non-stop running feeling pretty comfortable all the way. Then I had a gym session with lots of stretching and a bit of strength work the next day but no more running during the week until today. Today I managed 6.5 miles. I’m not sure how because it was awful, hideous, vile running.

We set off from Bolton Abbey Cavendish Pavilion and crossed over the bridge and ran towards the Abbey. I felt tired before I’d run 100 metres. I was a little worried because my tummy has been a bit uncomfortable for days – days of work travel, eating on the go and eating crap! It remained uncomfortable but more in a painful way than a ‘I’m going to wait until you’re as far away from the loo as possible and then make you really need to go’ kind of a way. I plodded, walked the hills, plodded. Bleurgh. We got to the car, had a sip of water and energy drink (more on that another time I think), nipped to the loo again and then set off again on our usual loop. I did not at all want to go, not one little bit but I just silently gritted my teeth and kept trying. We dropped into intervals of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking and that’s how I got round. An eternity and 6.5 miles after we set off we got back to the car. The running was a whole new level of awful but at the same time it was fabulous to be out. We saw lots of ducks, blue and great tits, sparrows, chaffinches; we saw a dipper chick being fed by its parent and we ran a few metres with a sandpiper before it flew off showing us the way. A little further on we saw oystercatchers and then a heron flying across the field. On our way home we saw a further 3 herons.

When we got to the car I grabbed the water bottle and wobbled across the car park to the edge of the River Wharfe and collapsed in a sweaty mess. Kath came over and she brought me the first of the RunDisney Virtual Shorts medal for completing my run. I may not look it but I was excited and happy to get that! I earned that one. What a slog! The virtual run series is supposed to be for 5km runs really but in my head I had sort of decided that I wanted to keep them for the bigger wins in each of the months the series covers and running that route, just over 10km, is huge. We’ve attempted it a few times and I’ve never made it and I haven’t run over 5 miles since I abandoned the Half Marathon at Disneyland Anaheim in November. I got this monkey off my back and I feel better – even if the actual running was hideous.

But anyway, consistency. I have been running but not consistently enough. I seem to manage 2 back to back runs and then there’s a huge gap to the next. It’s ok in terms of maintaining that bit of fitness I have but it is not enough to build and it doesn’t make increasing the miles easy. I’m off to Mexico City for a conference on Monday, I have packed my gym stuff and I will run. I’m not sure about treadmill running but I’ll try!

Poorly tummies

As usual after a conference I spent quite a lot of time on Wednesday asleep. On Thursday I felt ready to have a go at a decent run. We thought an extended Bolton Abbey loop would be nice. It would be about 4.5 ish miles probably which is the furthest I’ve been for a while but it didn’t seem scary. We got there just after 9am when it opens and set off to walk up the first slope. As we were nearly at the top I suddenly really needed the loo. We walked back down, used the facilities and walked up again.

Then we started running and the first couple of intervals seemed fine. We were doing 2 minute runs with 30 second walks. I haven’t done 30s walks for a while but actually it felt fine. Then the pressure in my tummy started building, and building, and building. I had to stop. I persuaded Kath to go on and finish the loop and I turned round to head back to the toilet. I realised I wasn’t going to make it if I just walked so I ran, slowly but determinedly back towards the little outbuildings that would save my dignity – if I got there in time.

I did. Just. I was a bit grumpy about having a particularly bad episode of the runners trots but it seems not actually to have been that because I was out for the rest of Thursday and yesterday with a very poorly tummy. It’s still not right now so I am sipping peppermint tea and every now and again daring to nibble a bit of a cracker.

Anyway, the positive from all of that is that I can indeed run a mile without stopping when I have to!

To cheer me up Kath has signed us up to the RunDisney Virtual running series. We did this last year too but were grumpy about most if it (well I was). The series consists of 3 virtual 5k runs throughout June, July and August with a medal for each and then an additional medal for doing all three. So now we’ll think of 4 little challenges to run over the summer months to earn those medals

Yellow Shoes Run and a redstart

I have just got back from a brilliant little run at Bolton Abbey. We wanted to do our RunDisney Shorts virtual run somewhere nice and fun and not take it seriously at all! so after a lovely little yoga session (Morning Stretches for Back Pain from Yoga Studio) we set off and drove to Bolton Abbey. It was a little overcast but dry and actually looked like it would turn into a gorgeous morning.

So we set off from the Cavendish Pavilion and walked to the top of the first slope – we were meant to be having fun after all, not killing ourselves on the first hill!. We had changed the intervals to try running a bit longer – so running for 2.5 mins and walking for a minute. I thought I might not notice as much if we sneaked in an increase on our fun run and I was planning on stopping for pictures anyway.

The colours were fantastic and the smell of the wild garlic really strong in some places.


The trees and ferns seemed to offer every imaginable shade of green and brown and we couldn’t help but stop and stare every now and again.


We pootled on alongside the Wharfe and up to the Strid where this little hill thankfully coincided with a walk break and I just about had time to stop at the top, turn around and take the picture.


Onwards and downhill a bit – I have to admit, I was scared going downhill – probably even more than usual after my fall last week but it was all fine and soon we came out of the wood and into the open with the aqueduct just ahead of us. This must be roughly half way – obligatory selfie as we crossed the river.



Just past the aqueduct on the other side of the Wharfe a group of people were standing with binoculars pointed into the trees. We asked if they could see anything good and they said they could see a male redstart and were even kind enough to let us have a look through their binoculars. I’ve never seen a redstart before so that was really exciting and we continued on our way with a spring in our step.

This stretch of the route is what you might politely call ‘undulating’. I call it fucking hilly. I managed to stick to all the intervals and just kept going lost in my own little world just letting my mind wander. And then we came to my nemesis.

Annoyingly it does not look like all that much on the photos but trust me, it’s a bastard. It has literally brought me to my knees and to tears in the past. Today we were having fun so we walked it, took a picture at the top and then headed off again. Downhill and flat from there!

We completed our 3.1miles, or 5km with lots of photo stops and stops to look at birds and the scenery in exactly 45.5 minutes. It was a slow but really lovely run and we have earned our Yellow Shoes Medal (although Valley of Desolation doesn’t sound very Disney, does it?!?)

We celebrated with coffee and breakfast at the Cavendish Pavilion sitting outside in the gorgeous sunshine.