Accountability post

I have not been running to a plan at all lately but theoretically my 10k plan starts tomorrow. It’s a plan from a Runners World I think and I like it because it has 3 runs a week on it. I might run more, I might not but experience has shown that when I have a training plan with more than three runs a week I tend to not manage it and end up missing key elements of the plan – like the speed sessions. So with three runs a week – most of the time split into one long, one pace practice or speed and one easy, I am more confident that I can stick to the plan as well as fit in the sessions with RunRight and some yoga.

Kath is in the process of adding a new spreadsheet to our files to track our 2020 miles for the #Run1000Miles challenge. I’m excited about having a blank sheet to work with! If you haven’t heard of this or signed up, do it. Have a look at the Trail Running Magazine website for info and get yourself into the Facebook Group for lots of advice, support and encouragement as well as pictures of stunning landscapes. It doesn’t matter whether you make the 1000 miles or not. It’s a fabulous challenge and I still think that for me it is doable. I managed 500 miles with a rather last minute 7 miles on New Year’s eve in 2017 and then I ran over 800 miles in 2018 and am at just over 500 miles for 2019. So I am again setting my target for 2020 at 1000 miles. I need just a little more consistency.

So really I am writing for accountability – Either tomorrow or Tuesday (tomorrow may be tricky as we have a funeral to go to) I need to get my moomin butt our for 40 – 60 minutes of easy running. Obviously for me that means run/walking. My easy running is basically walking so I shall be giving myself a break and accepting that while earlier this year I could run a long way without walk breaks that is no longer the case and intervals are fine! I also need intervals at the moment because my calf muscles are protesting if I try anything more ambitious that running for about a minute at a time. Which brings me to the next paragraph.

The other thing I really need to and want to do as I head into this training programme is doing all the things that are so easily neglected. I want to keep doing the yoga after running to stretch out everything that is pulling tight. My calves are suffering but I suspect that the cause is really my hamstrings which seem ridiculously tight. And then there’s the strength exercises and sessions with RunRight which I will pick up again mid January when I am back from a workshop in Germany. The sessions that is, the exercises I need to seriously pick up today really – I have been doing some of them some of the time and I was giving myself a break because everything was just so impossible (thanks black pup) but we are now in excuses territory!

So please do keep reminding me to do yoga and exercises, keep asking me about them and holding me accountable. In particular remind me that I want to do them because they make me a better runner. I am actually not at all keen on gym related stuff or on strength work or any of that – except of course I like feeling strong and capable and I totally get that that takes work so I need reminding that while I might not like the process I do like the result and I usually enjoy having done it even if I don’t enjoy doing it. I also say that about running of course so maybe one day I will actually enjoy a strength and conditioning type session while I am doing it rather than just afterwards. Who knows.

Anyway – this coming week I want to tick off

  • 40-60 minutes easy
  • 5-6 x 1 mile at 10k pace with 800m recovery
  • 70-90 minutes long

I’ll let you know how I get on

“I got bored of rules”

In my most recent therapy session which is a week or so ago now we were talking about some of the more creative things I am doing with my teaching for the coming academic year. As we were discussing those things I suddenly heard myself say “Well, I got bored of rules”. It’s quite a big statement that and I am sure it’s one we’ll come back to in my sessions but I’m not quite sure why or how but we didn’t linger on it and got side-tracked into something else. I don’t remember now. But that simple statement and how I had no idea I was going to say it, how I hadn’t thought about it and how it surprised me as much as anything in that moment have stayed with me. I’ve been thinking about it on and off since then.

I got bored of rules. Well yes I did but not recently. I think I probably got bored of rules a long long long time ago. I got bored of rules the minute I figured out that most of them make no sense, that most of them serve no real purpose, that most of them are bad rules. Was I a pain in the arse child that constantly asked why? I honestly don’t know – ask my parents. I am, like we all are full of contradictions though. I mean it seems a bit odd for someone bored of rules to study law, right? And perhaps even odder then for someone bored of rules to teach law. It’s also odd for someone bored of rules to have coined #MyRunMyRules as their running mantra. So here’s where the blog post splits – keep reading here for the running bit or click over to my academic blog for the other stuff.

“I got bored of rules” seemed to, in that moment, sum up so much of life. Sometime in the middle of the London Marathon – probably about when I picked my tired body off the tarmac around mile 15 – I was done with running rules. I was done with the unwritten and unspoken rules that you have to enjoy the achievement even if not the run, I was done with training plans, speedework, hill repeats and running familiar paths and loops. I hadn’t really realised just how done I was with the rules around running, even the ones I made myself until I said it out loud in the little quiet comforting space where I go for help to unswirl my mind. I have tried, with some success to free myself from some of the running rules which are not helpful to me: I try not to be ruled by pace. The rule that faster is better doesn’t apply to me. I try not to be ruled by distance – I don’t have to go further and further or higher and higher. But fundamentally my rules are still rules. I must run. Running is good for my mental health so I must run. But I don’t want to. But I also don’t want to not want to run. I want to want to run. If you’re rolling your eyes – welcome to my world, I roll my eyes at myself all the time.

So what about running without rules, without a watch, not setting a distance, choosing routes with options and just seeing what happens. Ah yes, those runs. Those runs have hidden rules. They’re the runs I must enjoy. They’re the ones to rediscover the why and the fun and the love of running. That’s what they are for. But at the moment I don’t like them. I don’t like feeling like I have to rediscover a love of running I never really had in the first place. I have vague memories of quite enjoying the odd run and not hating running but… Anyway running just seems so full of rules, so full of things I ought to be doing or not doing. So not running is the obvious solution isn’t it. Finding something else that I want to do which gives me some of the same benefits. Well yes but while I don’t actually want to run I also very much don’t want to not run. I miss running while at the same time hating every step of every run I am doing at the moment. And while I am somehow pushing back against all the shoulds, musts and ought tos in all sorts of areas of my life I am also craving the discipline of a running programme.

I want to follow sensible rules. I want a programme to tell me how far and how fast I should run on any given day. I want the programme to make the decision for me. I want the rules there, on my wall planner and I want to tick each run off with a little sticker and more than anything I want to break the rules. I want to do Wednesday’s run on a Friday and cheat on the hill repeats and add a mile on on Sunday and skip the speed session altogether. I don’t know what any of that means. “I got bored of rules” somehow says everything and nothing about how I feel about running right now.

Day 4 of Dopey Simulation- Worrying about Ernie-Cat

So today was meant to be our 20 miler. Well that wasn’t to be but the drama wasn’t really about running. Neither of us slept very much because Ernie-cat was really struggling to breathe and was all wheezy and sneezy. We were worried about him. We know that he’s not getting better and that how long he’s still going to be with us can probably be counted in days or weeks rather than months so we had to wonder whether this was it, was this him suffering too much?

It was early, we had a cup of tea and porridge in bed and cuddles with the cats and then we got up. I felt a bit grotty – the beginnings of a cold which have been the beginnings of a cold since Thursday. I also felt emotional – it’s Rachel’s birthday today. It would have been her 40th. I miss her. And then there’s our Ernie-Cat. So getting out for a run was not a given –  it was tempting to curl up in bed and try and sleep or at least hide. We decided that we would change plans slightly – rather than running all the way to Skipton we’d run a little bit that way and then head back in the other way with lots of options for coming off the canal and finding other ways home if we needed them.

We made it out the door and kept plodding along mostly in silent togetherness as we ticked off the 2 minute run and 30 second walks. Occasionally we’d walk longer to have a drink but mostly it was just one foot in front of the other, lost in our own thoughts. Mile 5 came fairly quickly and then we hit the muddy path as we made our way through Silsden and towards Skipton.  I kept thinking that if I could just nudge us to 8ish miles in that direction …

Just after 7 miles comes a stretch of canal towpath that goes very close to the road and is noisy and not very nice to run along – we turned before that and headed back. The mud was zapping my energy but we kept moving. All the way my mind was all over the place. It pinged between Rachel, happy memories and things left unsaid, the random joy of moving, the effort, our Ernie-cat as a pot-bellied kitten, his operation and his journey back to fat cat status over the last weeks and that horrible noisy he made in the night trying to breathe. And then, at maybe mile 8 ish I blurted it out ‘ I don’t want Ernie to die’. We walked a bit.

We made our way to 10 miles. It was a relief to get off the mud at 9 miles. I just didn’t have the energy for it. At 10 miles we both gave up trying to be brave. We had a little cry and talked about our Ernie – like the first night him and Shackleton spent in our house, in the bedroom with door closed and we lost them. We spent about an hour looking for them until a bowl of food brought Ernie out from under/behind the bedside drawers which, it turned out, didn’t have drawers going all the way to the back leaving a kitten sized gap. Anyway, from 10 miles we just walked back home. Arriving 3 hours and 17 minutes and almost exactly half marathon distance after we left. We had some food and a bath (ouch – chafing) and are looking forward to a Sunday roast at Kath’s mum’s later today.

So it wasn’t 20 miles but there are lots of positives to take from that run:

  • We actually left the house and set off
  • 5 miles seemed like nothing
  • My Roclites were great on the mud
  • The 2 minute/30second intervals actually seem to work ok and I can see myself going far longer  – particularly if there’s no mud
  • There was no running meltdown or drama really – there were tears and struggling to control breathing and a bit of a meltdown but none of that was about running
  • We ran 10 miles yesterday and my legs weren’t really that tired today
  • We got home in time to call the vet and get an appointment for Ernie

Ernie cat went to see the vet. He got a thermometer up his butt and and an injection is his neck and we will try and help him clear his sinuses with steam. He’s not getting well again but he’s hanging on for now! After the indignity of the thermometer he came home, had a treat and fell asleep on Kath who fell asleep on the sofa. Isn’t that what Sundays are for?

What Sundays are for!

24 Mile weekend

Our little Ernie-Cat is giving us a bit of a scare. Last week we took him to the vet because IMG_2475he just didn’t seem right. Last year he had a nasty deep ear infection and we thought it might be that again so we got him checked. The vet didn’t see anything obvious but agreed he wasn’t quite right. He was given 10 days of antibiotics and we kept an eye on him all week. On Friday he just wasn’t right at all. His fur looked dull and he seemed really dazed and confused. The I went to give him some treats and he couldn’t eat them. We decided we would go back to the original Dopey training plan to do the long run on Sunday. We’d planned it for Saturday because the weather forecast looked glorious and much better than Sunday. But Ernie is more important so we took him down to the vet first thing Saturday. The vet had a good look at him and again couldn’t find anything but did take some blood. She said she’d call us in a couple of hours. Those couple of hours came and went as did the rest of the day. The vets were just run off their feet with appointment and emergencies. So Ernie-Cat is complicated. He has slightly elevated white blood cell count and calcium but only marginally. We have found that he is hungry but can only manage really soft food (like our porridge or really expensive cat food).

IMG_2476Anyway you’re not reading this because you are interested in Ernie-Cat. After waiting for the vet all day and worrying and convincing ourselves that it was something nasty and then unconvincing ourselves we were exhausted. We were both ready to just curl up on the sofa where I spent most of the day anyway and not do anything at all. But it was such a lovely evening still. The sun was out and the colours looked amazing. I grabbed a bag, chucked a water bottle into it and filled a little bag with nuts and then found the remaining chocolate and peanut butter  thingies Kath had made in the freezer and chucked them in too. Then I grabbed Kath’s hat and gloves just in case and then Kath and we set off on a walk. The training plan actually had a 7 mile walk for today. We usually run/walk or do some combination of running and walking on the long walk days just because usually walking for that duration when we could be running just seems odd. But we weren’t up for running, walking was perfect.

We walked along the canal towards Silsden. We weren’t at all striding out, we were just walking and chatting. Then we saw a kingfisher. The metallic blue seems particularly striking and vibrant at the moment. We got to watch it quite a lot because it kept landing in places where it was actually quite visible. I tried to get a photo but I couldn’t zoom enough. Then it headed straight for the canal bank and we realised there was another one and there was a split second of bright orange and metallic blue kerfuffle and then they were off and soon out of sight. Stunning. A little further along we watched a buzzard pair glide overhead and a little beyond that we saw loads of geese flying  – well we heard them first. We stopped to watch them a while. We walked on until we’d covered roughly 3.5 miles and then turned just after we’d seen a group of goldfinches fly past. We wouldn’t quite make 7 miles that way (we weren’t going the same way back at the end  – I do know 3.5 miles is half way to 7!). The sunset was now behind us and it was a stunner. The colours were incredible reds, pinks, oranges and yellows.

As we got to the golf course bridge (I forget what it’s actually called) and crossed, the moon was beginning to shine quite brightly claiming its place amongst the clouds. We stopped off at Kath’s mum’s briefly and then walked home, had some food and went to bed ready for a 17 mile run today.

IMG_2526I felt good this morning. I felt well hydrated, well fuelled, confident. A little anxious about the distance but not daunted. It’s only 2 miles more than two weeks ago and there is virtually no uphill in it! Our train was a few minutes late but eventually we were in Leeds and ready to go. We went out the back so we could start right at the end of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. On our way out we saw a heron. Always a good sign!

We set off and the plan was to run the first mile and then settle into two minute runs and 30 second walks. Well, that worked well until about 5 miles as we ticked off the miles chatting about our Disney plans. Then I started finding it hard. Not really hard at all  – I could just feel that there was a little more effort in doing this than in just walking and then my head kicked in. By about 7 miles I was losing the battle. The voice saying I couldn’t do it was too loud, the repeat message was to just give up long distance running and that my absolute limit was probably somewhere around 7 miles. To just stop. So I had a bit of a meltdown. At about 8 miles we sat for a bit and I changed the intervals to running 1 minute instead of two and I tried a bit longer.

I can’t articulate what happens in my head but it is exhausting and its a battle that went on for the rest of the miles. A battle between just keeping going – even just walking – and stopping with the urge to stop becoming near overwhelming at very regular intervals. I tried to refocus on the autumn colours. We saw another heron and there were ducks and plenty of things to keep my mind occupied but I could only ever focus on those things for seconds in-between trying to drown out the voice telling me to stop. Somehow we made it to Saltaire. I don’t really know how but there we were. We had been basically hurdling anglers for the last 2 miles or so and had also mostly walked with just the odd 1 minute run thrown in. We walked up into Saltaire village to get a bottle of water. While the fuelling was good with Tailwind, I was thirsty. I think maybe I need to take just water as well as the Tailwind.

From Saltaire we walked back with just a couple of little runs thrown in – so I did IMG_2544actually run in every mile. Once I had hauled my backside up 5 Rise locks we walked just a bit more and then I managed another little run down the road and then another little run down into the car park and we were done. It wasn’t the run I wanted but the last couple of miles walking and talking things through were probably useful and we finished the 17.26 miles in just under 15 minute mile pace.

I’m mentally tired and I’m trying to be positive about the run as a training run. I covered the distance and the first 7 miles were actually comfortably under 13 minute miles and when I look back I was, like Kath said all along, physically fine. My running form was good, nothing hurt, breathing was fine… On the plus though all miles were within Disney pace except one but I think that’s the one where we went up into Saltaire to buy water. I learned that I need water as well as tailwind and that I need to keep working on the mental side of running. I need to get better at defeating the voice in my head that tells me I can’t do it and I need to stop being annoyed at myself for not running more or whatever. It happened, I got the distance done anyway. Next time will be better.

So, 24 miles covered this weekend means that I have smashed through 600 miles for the year. I am on track with the training and the good news is that I’m not really broken. I’m tired and I’m sure I’ll feel a bit sore and tight tomorrow but it’s all good. It’s all good.

More importantly though Ernie-Cat seems a little happier and more settled.

IMG_2546

Sunday Weigh-In news – I lost 2 and a half pounds if you take the pre-run weight or 5 and half if you take the post run weight (which I don’t because I usually jump on the scales before running).

Happy Sunday.

Toughing it out with hill repeats in the rain

I had an early burst of energy this morning and then ran out of steam very very quickly. I woke up before 7am. I had a cup of tea in bed and it seemed to take an age to fully wake up. Then Kath went for a run, I wasn’t ready for that yet. Instead I washed up, made breakfast (a variation of a hash recipe by Joe Wicks – grated courgette, potato, broccoli, spinach and egg – I added bacon this time because we had some that needed using), made bread and sung along badly to Bon Jovi greatest hits. That was it. I could have gone back to bed.

The fact that I needed a short run today to tick off all the Dopey plan runs this week was on my mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to not be behind on something for once. I’ve pretty much given up on work being the thing that I’m on top of so why not just really try and keep ticking off those runs. I could maybe manage that and how amazing would it feel to not be behind? (I have no idea, it’s not something that generally happens to me!).

IMG_2437Kath dragged me off the sofa eventually and out of the house to run the sheep loop in the rain and do some hill sprints on the old golf course slope. It has got a little cooler and less muggy which was good. I settled into the running and finally started to enjoy being out after about half a mile. The autumn colours are stunning. I managed to keep running until we got the point at which I was doing the hill sprints. Kath did hersIMG_2453 this morning so I left her at the at the top of the hill and walked down. Ah hill sprints. Hm. Well I tried. I ran up the hill as fast as I could 4 times. By the 4th time my legs were burning! I had a minute at the top and then we set off running down the hill. I hate running down hill and was really tense so my arches started hurting. My calves are also very tight at the moment.

Just as things were getting tough Kath spotted a kingfisher and this time I saw it too and kept my eyes on the spot where it had disappeared from view and sure enough it popped out again and I watched it fly straight down the middle of the canal until I could no longer see it. Then we were nearly at the canal bridge and had to decide whether to cross or whether to carry on to the next. I thought I might be able to run on the flat for a bit longer so opted for going straight on but then we saw a couple of horses (with riders) ahead and decided to leave them to it. We turned back and crossed the bridge and I managed to keep running a little bit. Then we walked up the hill. My arches were killing but they settled down, same with the calves. I felt like I really wanted to make an effort so after a a few deep breaths we set off running again and I was getting my head round going up Ilkley Road run/walking post to post.

I ran past the first post and felt ok, the second, hm, harder but ok. Then I thought I’d walk at the next one which was close to a Pub. A bloke came out and watched us so I just couldn’t walk. I wasn’t sure I could keep running either though but then he said ‘faster faster faster’ and I thought ‘well sod you’ and kept plodding.

Well that was a hard run but it did me the world of good.

Sunday weigh in – yeah well what do you expect with apple pie, pints, apple pie, crisps and pretzels…