Aaaaargh Body Image

Aaaaaargh, body image. I am struggling with that. Of course I have my moments and my insecurities but generally I don’t actually pay much attention to body image. Particularly since Dopey training it’s been about what my body can do not about what it looks like. Before that I didn’t even think about that – my brain was always more important and powerful. But at the minute…. wow.

It’s that time of year maybe – lots of ‘party wear’ in the shops and advertised, the fashion, diet and fitness industries are ramping up their campaigns and even the models used to advertise more realistically sized underwear look remarkably skinny as far as I can see. So there’s that and then there’s some other stuff I won’t bore you with including my sense of just not being able to run at all. So if I can’t run and I’m struggling with some of the yoga sequences I could easily do not so long ago then focusing on what my body can do is actually not very helpful because the answer is: not much. I can’t measure myself by number of miles I run because I’ve hardly run any through November and into December so the dominant measure, the number that suddenly becomes important is the one on the scales. I know it’s not important, I know, I know, I know. But….

I have actually lost weight and I actually fit into some jeans I haven’t worn for ages (and I don’t even have to lie down to fasten them) so it should be all good. But there I go again equating lighter and slimmer with better. Urgh. Actually I want to be fitter and stronger; lighter and slimmer may (or not) be a side effect of that. So why the niggle, why the doubts, why the insecurities? Why can’t I get slim = good and therefore I am not good enough out of my head at the minute?

Enough of that. Let’s try and focus on what I can do. Today was the second run on the half marathon plan. 3 miles ish with some speed work – 4 sets of 30 second strides in this case (basically accelerating to flat out sprint over the duration). I didn’t exactly feel energetic and bouncy when we set out. I also felt ridiculously self conscious in running gear – running gear I have worn hundreds of times without giving it a second thought. We had a warm up jog down the road and then did the first 30 seconds as we turned slightly uphill on our usual route. 30 seconds is a fucking long time when you’re trying to accelerate to full sprint – uphill. It was ok though and after a short recovery walk we continued on at a slow pace. It was really windy and I was struggling to breathe a little but the second 30 second acceleration was also fine. I tried to keep up with Kath as she pulled ahead but no chance. Next came the slopes which I really struggled on today and then my head went. Why am I so bloody crap at this?!? And given that I am so crap at this why the hell am I still trying? I nearly fell over several times on my way down the former golf course to the canal because I couldn’t really see for tears.

Once on the canal I got my act together and did another 2 lots of 30 seconds acceleration with short recovery walks after each one and then I walked up the hill and slowly ran/walked the last bit home. I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t really get a buzz from the running or even from having done it but it did help clear my head a little. The afternoon was undoubtedly more productive than it would have been without the run.

Next up is a 6 miler at the weekend. I vaguely remember 6 miles being really quite scary. Now 6 miles is just 6 miles. Progress of sorts.

 

 

 

 

To Run Every Day – or Not

Thought I’d posted this on Sunday – obviously not!

Today marks the start of the Ronhill #RunEveryDay October Challenge. We’d talked about this a while ago and thought it might be fun to see how we get on with it. We’ve never really done a run streak and there are of course some pretty good reasons for that – mostly that rest days are pretty important for recovery and for getting stronger and staying injury free. I also don’t think I have the motivation or discipline. While the initial attraction wore off and I’d forgotten all about it, the temptation has sneaked back in now that October is here.

However, the wheels have come off a little in our house. Work has been busy. I know how this works – the terms starts and insanity kicks in for a couple of weeks and everything seems chaotic and too busy and a bit silly. This year is no different but it always gets me. So I’ve been tired and working long hours and Kath, who had been making great progress, has been floored by nothing in particular. So between us making time and finding the headspace and motivation to run has been difficult. I didn’t run all week and I think that is having an impact on my mental health. I need to get out there, it helps me cope.

Last Sunday we went for a run at Bolton Abbey after the 9 mile up and down of the day before, doing one 4 mile loop slowly and with a fair bit of walking was quite enough and I felt quite sore after. On Monday I made it to the gym and stretched loads. That was it for the week. We were thinking about going yesterday but spent most of the day asleep.

This morning we watched the Aussie Rugby League Grand Final and then we went for our run. We were going to go the sheep loop and the first mile was ok but then my feet started hurting, it didn’t really ease with walking either. I’ve tried the Mizuno trail shoes several times now and I keep thinking they’ll be ok but I think I just need to accept that they are too tight for my feet. So 2.2 miles in I gave up and we walked back. Goodness it was nice to take the shoes off and massage my feet!

We had lunch and watched something on telly – can’t even remember what – and then we went out again. We had to nip to the shop to get something for tea and for in the morning because we haven’t been shopping, we weren’t going to be at home this weekend, and thought we might as well run. It was a good 3 mile run at a decent pace. Mile 1 and 3 are pretty even at just under 12 minute mile pace and mile 2 was a bit slower  – probably because it included the downhill where I go a bit bambi-ish. It felt good to go out again and finish on a positive.

We grabbed some crusty bread, smoked salmon and hummus and walked back up the hill. So we covered a total of 8.05 miles today. I actually have some time to run tomorrow and probably on Tuesday, too so I may have a mini run streak. I don’t think I’ll run every day though, I need rest and I need to not be injured. Maybe my October can be #RunMoreDaysThanOtherMonthsButDon’tGoSilly. Catchy that.

Sunday Weigh in News: Last week I’d lost 3 pounds. This week, well if you take my weight this morning it was up by a pound but I couldn’t resist sneaking back on after the second run and if you take that I am the same as last week.

 

Tentative Ten and Accidental Five

I didn’t set out to run 5 miles today. But I did. Well I ran some of the 5 mile outing, possibly most of it but I had a great time. But let’s start at the beginning. I put off running all week. Somehow I never really quite got round to getting my butt out the door. I did go to the gym on Thursday and did a bit on the bike and some strength work but my hip was a bit niggly so I spent time stretching and then walked on a fairly steep incline on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I wanted to be sure I could manage the planned 10 miler at the weekend. Eeek. On Friday I finally got my butt out for a little run. I used the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse training run which was a Take 5 run. So you run to cover 5k, take 5 pictures and note 5 things you’ve enjoyed about the run. Here are 5 photos from that run: First bit of proper trail on the run (and a bugger of a slope but you can’t tell on the picture), blackberries, downhill across the old golf course, heron by the canal, me.

Then came the 10 miler. We’d thought about Bolton Abbey and doing our extended plus normal loop but then we were awake early and thought we could go closer to home rather than wait for Bolton Abbey to open. Then we had an argument about the route (mainly because I got canal bridges muddled in my head so we argued about distances), got grumpy, bitched at each other a bit, got over it and had breakfast. We decided to do our 1 hour run instead and the ten miler the day after. At lunchtime we decided we could try for the 10 miles after all, agreed the route (now that wasn’t so hard was it!) and set off.

I never really settled down properly. I ran the first mile, walked a little in the second, then ran the third and most of the 4th although I wondered whether I should just do the 1 hour and have another go at the ten another time. I felt like I was cheating, not doing it right – but then I thought that as I was out, I might as well try and do it now. Seemed silly to have to worry about it all over again. Towards the end of the 4th mile we walked a little and I had a couple of sips of the torque energy drink we had in our bottles. When we set off running again at about 5 miles I got really nasty tummy cramps and nearly threw up everywhere. I walked a bit, tried again and felt very very uncomfortable. We walked a bit more and then sat on a little wall watching a heron on the opposite side of the canal. Here he is just before he crossed over to where we watched him.

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I’d pretty much decided to give up and walk to the golf course bridge and up towards home but as Kath pointed out, I’d done 6 miles, seemed silly not to carry on. I tried running a little and while uncomfortable, I was no longer in pain and no longer felt sick so I settled back into running very slowly for mile 7 where we saw another heron and a little further on a group of swallows seemingly playing around two moored canal boats.  Then we turned back towards home run/walking mile 8 and 9 trying to walk up hill as fast as I could and stopping briefly to say hello to Dino – the last time we’d ever run past him as he was being picked up by his new owner later.

The we walked most of mile 10. My hips and lower back were tight, as were my calves and I was now feeling the lack of fuel but otherwise I didn’t feel too bad and I recovered really well once I had some water and food in me. I was grumpy initially for having walked so much but that grumpiness has gone. I did 10 miles. I learned a bit and I’m looking forward to having another go. I also did pretty well on a number of strava segments in spite of my walk breaks and the distance. I am excited about the distance and doing it without it being a massive big deal – which it was the first time I attempted double figures.

Today we were supposed to do an hour. I woke up feeling a few after effects of the 10 miles but nothing too bad. Calves a little tight maybe but they soon got moving. I did want to be careful though so decided not to run first thing and wait until everything had got moving and I was sure nothing hurt. Then it got hot and then we thought it might be busy and we didn’t want people so we ended up going late afternoon after having had a curry for lunch. To make her miles up to this week Kath wanted 6 miles. I’d thought about an hour gentle, slow plod with walking to look at things and thought maybe 4 ish miles for me, max. Really I just wanted to go for a walk with the odd little run thrown in. 3 miles would have been fine!

So we set off at the same time, going the same route. Kath went ahead and when she got to 3 miles she was going to turn round and collect me on the way back. I figured that if I was going about 13.5 minute miles and she was going about 10 minute miles we wouldn’t be too far off and it’d be close enough to an hour. I was so proud of her as she sped away down Ilkley Road into the distance. By the time I got the the end of the road and turned left she’d gone. I didn’t see her again until she came back to meet me.

I was going too fast. I didn’t mean to. I felt quite comfortable for the first mile and a bit

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Where the Weasel Wasn’t (ok, Mink)

and then I was suddenly aware of the sun and felt hot so at a mile and a half I walked for a minute and then set off again. I still felt good and even though I was consciously trying to slow down, I didn’t by much. At two miles I decided to walk because I didn’t want to suddenly feel tired when Kath came back. I also didn’t really want to go much further. I wanted this to be an easy run. I walked and as I did I saw movement in the water. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘a water vole’ but it was the wrong shape and size. I swam straight at me and I got a good look. It was a mink. It hadn’t seen me. It moved gracefully through the water, totally unconcerned and I marvelled at how absorbed it was in doing what it was doing (which may have been just swimming for the fun of it). As soon as I moved to get my phone for a picture though, it clocked me and disappeared. Kath had seen it too it turned out.

At 3.36 miles I decided to run slowly to the next bridge because I’d got bored walking.

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I thought I could wait there for Kath. She was going fast when I last saw her so she couldn’t be far off (Yes that was over 2 miles ago but still). I didn’t have to wait long at all but while I did I watched some cows and their calves in the field opposite and then as we started back we saw the little calf frolicking in another field. Lovely to watch.

We ran about a mile and I was finding it harder now but just as I was getting a bit grumpy about finding it hard, there was the now so familiar (but always exciting) flash of blue and orange and a kingfisher came past, stopped on a branch as if gently teasing us, before flying off again, flying a couple of loops over the canal and disappearing into the distance. I managed a bit further and then walked for a bit to let my tummy settle. Curry for lunch pre run was turning out not to be the best idea I’ve ever had. We ran walked to the end of the canal section and then ran up the short sharp hill into a little housing estate, walked up through a snicket and up and up and up home. I did run a bit of the slope (it’s a f-ing hill) but I felt no need to push on past the pub or up our road. I felt really happy with my weekend running and wanted to finish with that feeling. 5 miles. 5 really easy miles. Yes I walked and yes my tummy wasn’t great towards the end but it was a lovely 5 miles and it wasn’t a big deal. My ‘not a big deal’ numbers are going up and I’m quite excited about that! I’m also excited that I am now fit enough to accidentally run/walk 5 miles the day after completing 10!

Oh – Sunday Weigh-in. Same as last week.

 

Up Up and Away

According to our training plan I was supposed to run for an hour yesterday but I felt tired, the sort of tired that starts in your bones and spreads outwards. I put it off all day and eventually decided to swap rest days and just, well, rest. So this morning I got my moomin butt out of bed and we headed out for a run. We went up. Yes, you heard, up. We ran/walked up the hill towards Ikley Moor. Wow. I am unfit. Even with lots and lots and lots of walking and just short little bits of ‘running’ (ahem – ‘waddling’ might be a more appropriate term) my legs were screaming and my lungs were protesting very early on. Still, nothing gets you fit quite like running uphill. So on we went.

We passed a very noisy jay and slowed to have a good look at it and then a little further there was a curlew circling above the fields. We saw more later on our way back down. The road is sort of undulating but relentlessly up at the same time. I tried to remember to look around and enjoy the views (which are stunning). There were some sleepy sheep just getting up and stretching and some gold finches and other small birds. Just as I was beginning to think I couldn’t go any further Kath pointed out our turn around point for this run. I made it there, turned round and then we set off on our descent. I’m scared of downhill. So really, other than on the flat, I am totally useless – too unfit to go up and too scared to go down. I suppose that makes this run really good practice for me. Anyway, we ran down. All the way, no walks needed because although there are a few undulations, it’s as relentlessly downhill as the other way was uphill (obviously). I tried to go fast – apart from the bit where we had to sort of hop our way through a load of tiny little frogs on the road that I’m sure weren’t there on the way up.

When going downhill I suddenly become terrified of slipping and falling. It doesn’t really matter what the surface is – this was road so no tricky uneven terrain or tree roots or mud to worry about. As I was running, pictures of me slipping and falling kept popping in my head. I worried about horrendously complicated breaks of my legs, that neither of us had taken a phone, how long I’d not be able to run, whether a broken ankle really ever heals right, how much it would hurt… But I kept running. I think I started to learn something on our little adventure on Saturday – trust your shoes. If you have the right shoes for the terrain you’re on you can trust your shoes. I was on a road which was wet in places and I was wearing road shoes. In fact I was wearing my trusted New Balance road shoes which carried me round the Dopey Challenge Marathon and the London Marathon last year. I could trust my shoes. So instead of slowing every time I thought of possible injuries or disasters, I went a little bit faster. It was fine. It was better than fine. I actually enjoyed the run downhill. There is something nice about learning what it feels like to go fast with the assistance of a long downhill because you can concentrate on form and balance and how it feels rather than labouring to push the pace. It feels a little bit like flying. As we turned into our road I even managed a little sprint finish to the driveway.

That 50 minute run was a great start to the day and I’ve been pretty productive since! The view from towards the top wasn’t bad either – the picture is actually one that Kath took a few days ago when she went up for a run but it looked pretty similar today – a little less cloud maybe.

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In other news – in spite of cake, booze, fish and chips and sitting on my arse for most of last week I somehow managed to lose another pound in yesterday’s Sunday Weigh-In.

1 hour solitary plod

I feel pretty good after my 7 miles yesterday – maybe a huge pub lunch, chocolate cake and later Victoria sponge birthday cake is actually perfect recovery food (hm). However, I started my period this morning and I hate running during the first couple of days of my period. I feel about a stone heavier than I actually am,  bloated, unfocussed and often my back and tummy are achey and sometimes cramp-y and spasm-y. So when I got up I wasn’t hugely looking forward to running for an hour. I did want to go though and I wanted to plod on my own. Kath set off about 5 or ten minutes before me and went up the hill – she had an awesome run easily banging out 5 miles while watching wildlife and taking pictures on Ilkley Moor. I went the other way – I didn’t fancy all the uphill.

I plodded along our usual sheep loop, turned right along the canal. Turned round at the stone bridge and came back the other way to Leach Bridge where I crossed, walked up the big hill and then waddled the rest home. It was just short of 4.5 miles. Once I’d settled in a little bit – after half a mile maybe, I started to feel better all round. I still felt like I needed a wheelbarrow for my belly but maybe a wheelbarrow with a racing wheel. With every step the tension in my lower back eased and the tummy cramps disappeared completely. I wasn’t paying attention to pace. I could go faster I think but I couldn’t be bothered to concentrate on going faster. I was happy to plod and look around.

I didn’t see much in terms of livestock or wildlife though. I somehow managed to sneak up on a blackbird having a bath in a puddle. It flew off complaining. I passed our ram and said hello but he wasn’t interested, he barely looked up from his bit of grass. On the opposite side of the path some of this year’s fat lambs watched me pass, keeping a safe distance but definitely showing interest. Then I had to go uphill a bit so don’t remember seeing anything – except that some of the bricks that must have originally been part of a building in our old field or similar and are now embedded as part of the path at the bottom end seemed particularly red today.

Once at the top and through the wood I made my way down the former golf course. Now that it’s not being maintained as a gold course, the different types of grasses and other plants taking over make it a sea of different greens. I was concentrating on going downhill so didn’t look around as much as I should have. I reached the canal and turned right. A little further along there was some cows in the field but quite high up the field. There was what I thought was a curlew but I had to navigate past a couple of walkers and when I looked back I couldn’t see it anymore. I’m fairly sure it was a curlew but I’m more used to seeing them up on the moors.

I didn’t see a single duck. I really noticed their absence. I missed my personal little cheer squad. After yesterday’s run I wasn’t sure how I’d feel today and whether I’d want to run the one hour or run/walk it but I seemed to be quite happy plodding and not really thinking about anything. It didn’t occur to me once to walk. I was slightly concerned about my tummy but thought that I could always stop at Mum’s if things got really desperate and I also thought that if things got really hard I could also stop there for a drink and a rest. I also wasn’t quite sure about how far I’d be able to go in an hour and what route would be best so I had several options in mind.

I walked up the big hill. I had to stop briefly half way up to stretch out my calf muscles – on the right in particular. Once at the top I set off again and was pleased with how I then managed to keep running up Ilkley Road. I’m getting stronger! I timed it pretty well – an hour and 12 seconds or something was my moving time according to my Garmin.

Rest day tomorrow. Yay.

Oh and the scales aren’t broken. I lost a pound which is much better than putting on a pound but quite frankly it’s just great to not see that bloody same number again!