Tag Archives: training

When are you a Proper Runner?

13 Aug

I’ve never really counted myself as a runner, even though I’ve always run.  I started back when I was about 15 and was rubbish at sport.  I have no hand to eye co-ordination, so was always last picked at netball and hockey and spent most of a tennis match apologising for not being able to hit the ball back.  But I could stick a pair of trainers on and go for a jog (I’m old enough that it was called jogging back then, not running).  I’d head out into the countryside and just run for a bit until I turned round and headed home.  There was no special kit, I was probably wearing plimsolls, no garmin and bearing in mind we’d only just got a house phone there was certainly no mobile phone app to record your distance.  It was always something I could rely on to clear my head and give me my space.  I probably didn’t even realise this was what it was doing.  When I left home and moved to London at the age of 18, tearful at leaving my boyfriend in Somerset, I’d go out and pound the streets and feel better.  Over time I started other things, aerobics, step aerobics, weights, I even learned to swim, but I always went back to running.  I guess I must have been ok at it as I can remember deciding fairly last minute to do a half marathon and coming in at under 2 hours.  I’m rubbish at remembering stats so I’ve no idea of exact time – I just remember that my fiance (the same boyfriend I’d left in Somerset) wasn’t at the finish line because, as he put it “I figured you’d be ages so I didn’t think I needed to hang around”.   I remember my entire shift (all blokes) making fun at me because jogging wasn’t proper sport or keeping fit and anyone could do it.  So I told them to join me in a 10k I was doing ….. I’d finished my race and jogged some way back along the course to run the last mile again with two of them who had to eat their words with a large portion of humble pie!

I had a bit of a falling out of love with running (and exercise generally) after the end of my first marriage, for lots of reasons that could be analysed by a psychologist but boiled down to my rebellion against a husband who’d been fairly insistent on me not getting fat (I was a size 8-10, I realise in hindsight I wasn’t fat, but that’s a whole different story and would be a very dull blog).  But I’d still get back to running – training to go to Nepal on a trek, I went back and pounded the streets and local wood (yes – trail running before I even knew what trail running was!  Bloody hell, I was ahead of my time!!).   I even remember my lodger – considerably younger and considerably slimmer than me – commenting in a rather annoyed manner, when I went for a jog with her,  that how on earth could I manage to run longer and faster than her when I did nothing!!  I guess muscle memory hangs on in there longer than you imagine.

Nothing else ever really appealed to me like running.  I like the solitude of it.  I know running clubs are great and lots of people like them, but I like that whole thing of just going out and doing my own thing.  Picking my own route, deciding a distance, plodding at my own pace and working through the crazy in my head.  When I have run with other people, I’ve been too pressured and picked up my first big injury from training with the next husband (plantar fasciitis picked up on training for a 10k – I maintain it was the hill sprints, he maintains it was me pushing to do an extra 500 yards to make an even number of miles on a run, but we’ll beg to differ).

Do you become a proper runner when you’ve had your first injury?  not sure, but its when you start to realise just how important running is to you.  When you can’t do it, you start to realise just how many extra lumps of cheese or Chinese takeaways those runs stop from settling on your legs and arse!  Its also when you realise just how jumbled your head can become when you haven’t got the consistent pounding of feet on ground to settle them into some sort of order or stomp them out of your brain.

But good physio help (thank you NHS!) and I’ve always been able to get back out there.  Even after two bouts of fairly major (non-running related) surgery, the aim of getting back out and building the miles back up helped speed recovery.

I think I still never thought of myself as a runner though, because I’ve never been fast.  I’ve never completed a marathon (half is still the longest distance I’ve run).  But I can get out and plod along and just keep going.  I’m like a little Shetland pony rather than a sleek race horse, but I was happy being a little pony.  I discovered that I loved to run in the rain.  I discovered the joy of head torches and running the streets in the dark, pretending I was escaping from zombies (as opposed to drunks, but they kinda look the same, just my version was more fun).

I started to think that maybe I was a runner, or could be.  I watched other people take up the recreational activity (sport?) that I’d always loved and achieve great things with it.  They smashed pb’s, they ran ultra’s, they lost bin loads of weight.  Why wasn’t I achieving that?  Maybe I wasn’t a proper runner, but perhaps I could be – so I put in for a marathon.  I started to train.  I was doing pretty well – got my distance back up to 11 miles, taking advice about proper fuelling strategies, nutrition, hydration and all the things that proper runners did.  Then it happened.  Another injury, but this time it just didn’t feel right.  My left hip was ridiculously painful.  Not a niggle, proper ‘hurts to run’ painful; ‘hobble like an old lady when you get up’ painful.  So I did what pretend runners do, I rested and figured it would get better on its own.  I rested for a month, the excruciating pain subsided to a constant ache – that meant it was better, right?  so I tried a gentle jog.  After a few hundred yards I had to stop and walk, pain was just too unbearable.  Now clearly the logical person would at this point think to see a doctor.  But I’m not a proper runner, it must just be lack of stretching or a pulled muscle or a bit of an ache.  So I rested some more.  It wasn’t til 6 months later when the realisation that the ache was always there, that going up hill was troublesome, that my dog walking had been reduced so that I wasn’t left hobbling that I thought perhaps I should see the doctor.  So I trundled along, figuring they’d refer me to physio and all would be well.  Instead x-rays and blood tests were booked.

I started to swim instead of running.  I found I enjoyed it.  But it wasn’t running.  I had to count lengths and so it didn’t have that mind clearing opportunity that running did.  It didn’t get me out in the fresh air and let me plan my world.  It was an interim until I could run again.

Then I found out when you are a proper runner.  Its when you find out you can’t run again.  Its when you sit in the doctors and get told you’ve got osteoarthritis in your hip, even though “it isn’t something we’d usually see developing so young”  (thank you at least for that, as my first reaction was “crap, did I fall asleep and age 20 years”).  Its when you’re told that its likely to also develop in the other hip.  That first action will be to refer for physio to try and manage the pain, but that it can’t be ‘healed’ just managed. That if the physio doesn’t help the pain management, there’d be a referral to orthopaedic surgeon, but reassuringly (??) “they don’t like to do hip replacement so early”.   That it will probably get worse, but no timescale.  You’re a proper runner when you ask “when can I run again” and you’re told to look for another exercise as it wouldn’t be wise to run.  When you realise you can’t run again and you leave the doctor’s surgery and cry in your car because it feels like you’ve lost something important.  That’s when you realise you’re a proper runner.

So I know that this is just another challenge that I need to face and tackle.  I know its not the worst thing in the world and I know that other people have far worse things to face.   I know that I need to now look at what I can do – swimming, non-impact gym work and so forth – and look at managing diet (ten pounds goes on remarkably quickly when running isn’t giving that calorie deficit!).  But somehow I’ve gone to being “someone who used to run” without ever really recognising that I was a Proper Runner.  And that makes me very sad.


Hope Stomps on Toads

9 Dec

There’s been a bit of a gap in my write ups, even though I’ve written a dozen in my head as I ran or walked the dog or just couldn’t sleep at night.  I was very conscious that I didn’t want to write a mopey, complaining blog (having just unfollowed a couple of people on Twitter for being a real life version of @uokhun, I felt it would be a bit hypocritical!).   A little while ago I did an informal update about how well things had gone this year, and they had – I’d left a marriage because husband was cheating, I’d moved out of the marital home and bought my own house, I’d taken and passed promotion exam, lost stone and a half and recovered sufficiently well from two lots of stomach surgery to be able to consider training for a marathon, all no mean feat.

Then I went into a bit of a slump and turned into an all round pity party for myself.  The toads were leaping around in my head, spraying their poison and croaking evil (am I misquoting Shakespeare there, not sure, I’ll google later).  But you know, after a couple of weeks of that it hasn’t actually made any difference.  Who knew? feeling sorry for yourself, crying pitifully, moping around and eating crap actually doesn’t result in life getting better – big shocker there, huh?   Hmm, note to self – that may be good title for a self-help book along the boot camp, tough love line.

Anyway, back to the point …. I have been dwelling on the things I haven’t got, but actually – what does that achieve?  Don’t worry, its not a test question, I’ll give you the answer …. It achieves precisely nothing, zilch, nada.  It doesn’t move you forward.   It just makes you feel like you’re sitting in a pit of treacle, and not in a good way.

So what if my 2nd marriage has gone tits up.  At least I know for next time what I will and won’t be prepared to live with and what I want.  There are plenty of people out there in relationships they don’t want to be in, but which they feel they have to be in for a variety of reasons.  All of those reasons may be valid to them, and that is fine.  But it doesn’t mean I have to dive into a relationship that isn’t right or what I want.  At least being single I’m ready and able to grab an opportunity if someone comes along that is right for me, who likes me exactly as I am  – bit bolshy, bit gobby, odd sense of humour, bit of a feeder, crewed up with an insane dog.  If that person doesn’t come along, then I’ll be fine on my own.

So what if work has been a bit frustrating lately.  If I don’t like it – do something about it.  There are plenty of people out there that don’t have a job.  Who are struggling to know how they’ll meet their bills or support their kids.  I’m in a secure job, I’m well paid.  I should be bloody grateful for that.  Passing the exam is first step towards moving on, so what if there might not be boards for a while.  It doesn’t mean I have to sit back and do nothing.  I can either stop moaning or deal with what is frustrating me or look for alternative roles.  I can even, if I really wanted, save up enough to take a career break, rent the house out and go travelling for a year or go and run a bed and breakfast/cake shop in Spain.  Those options are all there, sitting around moping isn’t going to change things.  Getting off my arse and doing something will.

So what if it turned out some people I thought were friends turned out not to be – I still have some amazing friends round me now.  I won’t do a shout out as it’ll embarrass those I name and turn into a bit of an Oscar acceptance speech.  But suffice to say, I’m astoundingly lucky to have people who will listen to me, drink vast quantities of coffee with me, talk random crap with me, laugh with me (at me?) and just generally be there for me (and I hope I’m there for them, too).   If I’m totally honest about things, I’d rather have those people in my life as friends than be stuck in a bad relationship.  I know those aren’t exclusive, but in my head I know what I mean and I hope it makes sense.  So thank you to my friends (again!) and I give you permission that if I start to go into a pity party again you are allowed to slap me, quite hard.

What I’m trying to say is, I’ve got a whole load of positive things in my life and most of all, I have hope and whilst it would be a strange game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’, I’m fairly certain that Hope kills Toads.


Your time is up, toad, mwhah hah hahhahhah!!

Another mile closer …

14 Oct

This week has been a bit of a struggle.  One of those where everything just seems to pile up on top of me and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball under my duvet and stay there for a month or two.   But I guess when you’re a grown up and you have responsiblities you can’t really do that.  Firstly, they’d stop paying me, but before that I’d probably die of starvation as noone to bring me food and then the dog would eat me as he’d be hungry.  Actually, scratch that, he isn’t the sort of dog that would wait for me to die – he’d smother me with a pillow and then gnaw on my leg!

I knew it was going to be bad on a personal level, but to really kick me in the head, work decided to be really difficult this week.  I ended up having to cancel a day off and I went in on the weekend, yet despite that everything I did just seemed to go wrong.  At one point I cried.  At work.  In front of my boss.  I hate crying in front of anyone.  At all, ever.  To cry in front of my boss was just mortifying!  Although I think he was slightly more perturbed by it than me!

On a personal level its been…. shall we go with ‘challenging’?   Its almost a year now since the day I found the text that showed me my husband was cheating on me.  So it was going to be a bit difficult anyway, he’s still with the woman he cheated on me with and I’m alone.  But in that ‘yes I am going to kick you when you’re down’ way that I mentioned before – they’re heading off to New Zealand on holiday (well, part holiday, part racing in World Championship Tri, but he didn’t qualify so that is sort of amusing to me!).  Its not that I want to be with him, I really don’t.  But New Zealand was a dream holiday for us a few years ago and we always planned on going back.  So that he’s going there with someone else is hard, its as though I’m being airbrushed out of existence.   But more than that, it hurts that I’m still alone.  It hurts that someone can go so quickly from telling you that you’re their soul mate and that they love you so much and then all of a sudden they don’t think that any more and they’re telling someone else that.  It hurts to realise there is noone in the world that loves you.

So I had a bit of a mope this week.  I’ve cried a fair bit at home (in addition to the work bit), I’ve walked the dog in quiet fields and howled alone as I whipped along on the pity train.   But I’ve got a choice, I can sink into a pit of wallowing or I can do what I was doing before – just get on with things.  Get up, go to work, come home, do stuff, watch the days pass by.  So that’s what I’m doing.

In the spirit of that, I’ll focus now on what has been positive:

Had a fabulous weekend last weekend.  Friends came up from Hampshire and we had proper girls night out.  Lunch, wine and shopping during the day.  Cocktails and all of us getting ready together in the evening.  I wore a boned corset that I’d treated myself to and I felt like I looked ok.   I did seem to attract attention from traveller types and not the good ‘aussie back packers on a trip to the UK’ type, but that meant I did get to learn some good techniques from my friend in how to get rid of unwanted attention (that’s never been an issue for me before so I tended to be too polite!!)

I’ve lost more weight and am now less than a pound away from dropping into the ‘tens’ (ten stone bracket, that is, not size 10, thats a bit away yet!).  Even after a blow out weekend last weekend, I got back on to the healthy eating and managed to lose a pound this week.  19 pounds to go to target weight.

I’ve run:

Friday 5/10 I got up early so that I could get a 5k in before work.  It was slow, averaging 12.29 minute miles and I walked some of it.

Recovery from weekend meant I didn’t get back out until the 11th, when I upped the distance to 4.16 miles and dropped the time to 11.10 minute miles.  This time I didn’t walk any of it.  It was also absolutely tipping it down, but not only did I still go out there and do it, I actually enjoyed it more.  I think I mentioned once before that I seemed to like running in the rain.  That does appear to be confirmed.

Today, I wanted to run for an hour just to see if I could.  I had in the back of my head that I’d like to start moving towards the 5mile mark as I’ve got my eye on the Woburn Reindeer 10k in November.  Imagine how pleased I was at the end of the run to realise I’d run 5.46miles at a speed of 11.01 minute miles.   Though clearly as  do like to be hard on myself, I also thought if only I’d run another .04 I’d have done 5.5 and if I’d just sped up a bit I’d have been high 10’s!!!  But it gives me an aim for next week.  A mid week 5.5, a fast 3.1 and a 6mile next weekend.  Also going to look up the application for the reindeer run and have it ready just in case.

The technical bits and a picture of the hilly bits

Hot, sweaty, pasty faced – but proud of me!!

Edinburgh and beyond … things I have done today

2 Oct

Things I have done today:

  • sat a promotion exam
  • run 2.5 miles

I’m trying to take on board some feedback I got from a couple of different people this week, but which was along the same lines:  stop being so hard on yourself and actually acknowledge that you’re doing quite well.  That doesn’t come easily to me, like a lot of us, I’m probably my own worse critic (and bearing in mind some of the criticism I’ve received from others, that’s a hell of thing to be able to claim).  But I’m going to take a bit of a deep breath and whilst doing one of the exercises the physio gave me – I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.  (I will be doing this whilst sitting down and then rotating to one side whilst keeping hips still in order to stretch my back at the same time, fyi.)  I’ve lost 17lbs.   17lbs – that’s actually pretty good.  That would be a fairly hefty baby (apparently), its bigger than a puppy.   I couldn’t run 10k carrying a puppy – that’s perspective!!

I studied for an exam and sat it, not because anyone encouraged me, in fact the opposite, noone has pushed me to do this.  This might be a bad thing and might be a reflection that people think I can’t do it, but noone has taken me under their wing and started pushing me to build a portfolio and all the other blah that is known to happen in my chosen profession.  I did it because I wanted to.  I had to build in the time and still run my house, on my own, while I did it.  That might not be much compared to what some other people have to cope with on a daily basis.  But so what – I did it.  The actual result is fairly irrelevant, I gave it a shot.

Right, now the praise-fest is over, back to basics.  2nd run of this week completed.  Although I was only supposed to be doing a mile to build slowly, that was really never going to happen.  I did keep things slow though, averaging a 12.16 minute mile for 2.56 miles.   Combined walking and gentle jog, warming up with 10 minutes gentle jog then 30 second walk followed by 2.5minute jog, finishing with 9 minute jog.  Took 31 minutes to do 2.5 miles, which is about the pace I was doing a slow 5k, but considering I haven’t run in a dog’s age, not too shabby.  I’d been advised to look at my form and try to relax my back as I run.  I admit I’m a bit confused as to what that means.  I’ve run on and off for about 30 years and have just tended to stick one foot in front of the other and keep going, without putting a huge amount of thought behind it.  So I’m not sure which bits I’m doing right and which bits I’m doing wrong.  So today, I tried to let my arms hang loose so that my shoulders and back weren’t so hunched up.  I’ve always run with clenched fists and sort of punched my arms forward, which when I stand and do it, I can feel is very tensing.  So instead, I left my hands unclenched and open.  I did wonder, as I ran past part of the hospital, whether medical aid would be sent out for me as during the walk parts I took the opportunity to try and shake out my arms and shoulders  to relax them – so there was some rather odd arm waving and shaking going on.  Think some sort of Baptist Church revival sermon and that might give an idea of what I looked like.   On good note – legs felt fine, no problems in legs or feet (which is where past problems have been), which is very positive.  Back does feel a bit tight – but I did spend couple of hours hunched over an exam paper so that could just as easily be responsible.   But to go back to the original point – I went out and ran, even though it was raining, even though I’d already been out and walked some distance with the dog (and got a headbutt into the bargain!), even though I hadn’t had any tea.  No excuses – got out there and hit the pavements.

Food wise – quite proud of fact that I ran right on past the chip shop and didn’t even bat an eyelid.  Got in and didn’t grab junk food, instead I poached fish, roasted butternut squash and made fish pie topped with mashed cauliflower and squash.  Which is what I’m not going to head off to eat.

Overall – a good day.  I’ve stuck a photo below of a poster that I saw advertised ages and ages ago.  I think its meant for a child’s room, but the sentiment holds true whatever your age.

Dream, Imagine and Aspire to be just who you are.

There are dragons to slay

Edinburgh and beyond

29 Sep

I’m supposed to be revising, especially as the exam is in just over 2 days time.  Even sent the dog off to spend the weekend with the ex so that I could focus on cramming.  Which means I’ve been to the hairdressers, watched Poirot, been for a run and am now updating blog.   My ability to distract myself from what I actually should be focussing on is fairly astounding.  I even washed the floors in the week (admittedly between mock exams, but still).

So where am I right now?  Well – clearly as I mentioned the exam and revision, I am taking steps to achieve forward movement in my career.  However, I’m not totally confident that I’ve done enough.  I can make all the excuses about not having time:  get home from work, walk dog, make dinner, realise its gone 8 o’clock, hardly time to get the books out.  Weekends have to clean the house, shop etc etc etc, blah, blah, blah.  Ultimately though, I could have found time.  I could have got up earlier.  But I didn’t.  I chose not to, whether consciously or subconsciously.  On Tuesday I’ll know how that works out.  However, I’m not stressing on it.  It will be what it will be.  If I don’t pass, so be it, I enjoy the job I do now, I work with a great team and I’m looking forward to starting work with a new boss from next week so lots of challenges and opportunities coming up.  If I do pass, fantastic stuff …. just got to then wait for a board and who knows when that will be.  So really, no change on what I’d be doing anyway.

Weight wise – Dukan has been a success.  Slow, but successful.  I didn’t get the massive weight loss that some people have reported.  But, again, I’m not stressing on it.  I can only run my own race.  I’ve been losing around 1-2lb a week and since 21 July have lost 17lb.  More importantly, I feel more comfortable in my clothes.  I can throw on jeans and tshirt and feel like I look ok.  I’ve dropped a trouser size in my work trousers and will soon need to order a smaller size again.  I’ve got 21lb to go, but I feel like I can do it.  I’ve got used to the way of eating and I have the cravings under control. I won’t say I’ve mastered them, more like I’ve shoved them into the back of the attic like a mad old aunty (to clarify, I think I read that in a book or saw it in a film, I have never locked an aunty or any other family member in an attic).

Running – hmmm, since the 10k Race for Life some time back I haven’t run.  In fact I ended up with such a bad back I resorted to going to the doctors (I hate going to the doctors) who then referred me to a physio.  Physio’s advice was no running until my back had been sorted out.   A few weeks of stretching exercises (ably assisted by the dog, who thinks the moment you lie on the floor its play time.  Have you tried to do back stretches and core strengthening with a 29kg dog trying to climb on you and lick your face, it ain’t easy.  You never see that in a celeb dvd do you, no you don’t.) and a bit of massaging from the physio (brought to a rapid halt on one session when whatever it was she was doing made me throw up!) and I’ve been given clearance to run again.  This was on the proviso of  ‘Taking It Easy’ and ‘Building Up Slowly’.  That was on Monday.  On Thursday I entered Edinburgh marathon.  Ok, I know that doesn’t sound like Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly.  But in my defence, the run isn’t until May, so that’s loads of time to Build Up Slowly.  I’d been waiting for VLM results (Virgin London Marathon for the non-runners, its not some new underwear malfunction like a worse form of VPL).  Part of me was thinking I hope I don’t get it as I really don’t want to run a marathon.  But something weird happened as I waited for the letter or the pack and I started to make back up plans.  By the time the postman knocked at the door and Elvis delivered the news, I’d already looked Edinburgh up online.  That there was a code included in the rejection pack to get a guaranteed place seemed sort of like fate.  Next thing I knew, the application was in.  So 26 May, I will be doing my 26.2 in Scotland.  That in itself is fine, but somehow my mind which really doesn’t understand how to not go over the top and stick to a balance level, decided that isn’t enough.  So my aims for the next two years now include:

short term : back up to 10k fitness by end of November (Reindeer run!)

medium term : Edinburgh marathon

long term : a 30 mile run

then that’s it.  I can tick them off my list, know that I’ve achieved it and then just stick to running nothing further than 10 miles BUT and this is the big thing, sustaining that running, so that each week I’m running at least 4 times a week.  Forever.

In the interests of Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly, I went out for a trial run tonight.  Plan was one mile of 2 minutes run/30 seconds walk all at a very low pace.  Somehow  I ended up doing 1.72 miles, as I was so busy counting that I couldn’t hear the micoach telling me the distances.  The micoach updates on 2 minute points, so after the first 2 min check point I had to keep counting and doing maths in my head, which meant talking out loud to myself because I can’t do maths in my head.  Either I’m going to have to build up fairly quickly or go back to remedial maths classes.  I averaged 12.05 minute miles, so managed the  fairly slow bit.  Legs felt fine, but I’ve realised that I do tense my back up as I run and I can feel a tight band across it even though I’ve stretched out when I got back.  I’m telling myself that isn’t an excuse to book a massage on the alternate days to running and that instead I should find out what it is about my running style that’s making me do that and build my core up properly.  The massage bit sounds nicer though.

In other news – still not dating, coming up for one year since found out husband was cheating and kicked him out.  Part of me thinks I should be back out there and looking for someone new.  Other bit of me really can’t face the whole idea of trying to meet someone new, risking being rejected, risking being hurt again.  Safer to just stay in my own little bubble.  But who knows, friends coming to stay next weekend and we’re hitting the town.  Ok, we’re hitting Bedford and that really isn’t all that great.  BUT a new pub has opened up, its supposed to be good and I’ve been assured there were men there who looked like they were single, so who knows, maybe next week things will change.

For now, though:  I’ve an exam to take and a marathon to prepare for, so lets get out there and get on with it!

This photo has nothing at all to do with the blog, I just really liked it – its my dog when he met up with some other Slovakian Rough Haired Pointers and then they bumped into a Weimaraner puppy!

A new C word

2 Oct

I don’t know if it was all the coffee or the nice weather or the thought of going back to work, but a strange thing happened this week.  A new c word came into my life.  One I don’t like to engage with too often as it seems a bit extreme and can make you a social pariah.  But I hope I can put it in context and you won’t think less of me for it.  Brace yourselves…. I was hit with a blast of commonsense.   I know.  Shocking.

I’ll try to explain.  Around this time last year I ran the Dunstable Downs 5K.  Whilst the distance isn’t too difficult, the terrain was like I’d never run before.  I’d always run on roads so hitting trails was a revelation.  Despite, or maybe because of, the need to concentrate fully on not falling down a rabbit hole (though isn’t that how Alice in Wonderland started, so actually that might not be a bad thing) or sliding down a hill on my arse or sicking up my lungs on the uphill bits – I enjoyed it.   So much so, that I set myself a target that by the following year I’d do the 10k.  That time is now almost here.  I applied a few months ago to make sure I’d get my place (and my TNF t-shirt).  Training was going well, I was up to running 10k on the road, it was just a matter of increasing distance, building speed, getting some off-road practice in.  No problem.

Now you know how people talk about ‘fly in the ointment’ – for fly read ‘surgery’ and for ointment read ‘addidas mi-coach training plan’.  What should have been keyhole surgery ended up as full cut and advice to take three months out of running.   That bit about commonsense not being something I like to subscribe to, kinda showed itself by me deciding that I could still run.  So over the last few weeks I’ve built up to a level where this week I managed a 5mile run, including some hills, around the streets of Clapham/Oakley.  I felt strong and convinced myself that with two weeks to go I could easily get that extra mile and manage the trails.  Afterall, trails aren’t that much different to nice concrete roads.  Oh, hang on, yeah, they are.  A lot different.   But still I was convinced I could do it.

Then a few things started to sink in this week.

I started to follow someone on Twitter who gave a great piece of advice about not trying to base your training on someone else’s and that although there are basic principles to follow, every training programme has to suit your own body and that everyone is going to be different.  Too often I’ll look at what other people are achieving and think that I ought to be doing the same, be it the same speeds, distances, build up or numbers of times out training.  But I’ve no idea what they’ve done to achieve that or what their body is doing – or even if they are risking injury to achieve their programme.  All I do know is my own.  So do I really want to risk a DNF (or worse, another injury that puts me out for months) on a 10k when I could more than likely achieve the 5k?  for the sake of a goal set a year ago when a lot has changed in that year and things have happened that I couldn’t predict?  So, no, I’m not going to do the 10k.  I’m going to switch to the 5k and be sensible.

Instead I’ve set some new targets.  And this is where common sense perhaps abandons.  A throwaway comment on someone’s facebook status and suddenly I’m thinking marathon.  I’ve done a half marathon before.  An awful long time ago when I was a good 2 and half stone lighter (at least!) and a good 20 years younger.  But what the hell, I reckon a bit of focus and a half marathon by April is very achievable.  So a full by November – Debbie, you’re on!!!   She’s talking NYC.  I was thinking Robin Hood or New Forest, but again, what the hell – I like her thinking better!!

So with this new commonsense approach, I decided to focus on my short term aim of Dunstable Downs 5k.  Which saw me dragging my sorry arse out of bed before 8am and running up and down the hill several times yesterday morning.  Ok – anyone who’d seen that probably wouldn’t have had ‘hmm, that person is imbued with a deal of commonsense’ as their first thought.  I did also think I ought to get a bit of practice in on grass, so tried where possible to run along the verges at the edge of people’s gardens.  I’d done this for most of my run, and I can only blame the early hour for not noticing until almost the end of the run that the opposite side of the road was all grass, a good 8 foot wide strip of it.   Maybe its because it was a new route, no hang on, I’ve run that road regularly up and down.  hmmm, I’ll go with I was focussing so much on my run that I didn’t see it.   But it does give me a new, easy to get to practice spot for a weekly or twice weekly 5k off non-road run.


As an addition to this mainly run based update – I will add that I wasn’t patting myself on the back quite so much at getting out and doing a 3miler up hills later that afternoon when following an off-road Segway session, courtesy of friends we then went mountain biking in Thetford Forest and got very, very lost.  What started as a gentle bimble around ended up with us doing about 25 miles up hills, through sand, along gravel.  Put it this way – it weren’t easy!  with an added sprint to get back to the bike hire place when we finally worked out where we were as it was due to close in 10 minutes!  All I can say is – if you go to Thetford, the Segways are awesome!  they will merit their own separate update very soon. But if you mountain bike – there are two different marker posts that use the same colours but don’t link to each other and the trees are numbered to correlate to squares on maps (thank you to the man who had broken down who told us that one with a look of ‘grockles, why are you even without trainer wheels’).

Give thanks to Jeyes Fluid

22 Sep

This was going to be an update on my running* but earlier a miraculous thing occurred.  So surprising and so humbling, it almost brought tears to my eyes and instantly decided I had to share.

Ed walked to heel.

For longer than 33 consecutive seconds (previous record was around 33 seconds, not consecutively and mainly made up of 3 second bursts).

I’d like to think it was the time I put in with him on the agility course,  maybe the respect that Ed now has for me, his desire to please me, the persisting with my plan of ‘turn around and go back in if you pull’ despite the weird looks I was getting – (in summary:  I left the house about 6 times with Ed, tried to walk, turned round when he pulled, gave him another chance, if he pulled again, went in, took off lead, sat down, tried again 10 minutes later … and again…. and again….), .  But in reality – it was the Halti.  Let me just put on record now:  I LOVE THE HALTI. 

For non-dog people, a halti is a sort of head collar – sort of like some MPs and dj’s might wear in ‘special’ basements in Soho (allegedly).  The idea is the dog doesn’t get to pull so much.  For those people with the sort of dogs that would be Head Boy and Prefect (yes, you Border Collies and Labradors) they have probably no need of such things.  Ed is more the kid in school that could be found staring out the window, planning how to get a car into the headmasters office and then encouraging others to help him do it.  He’s the one who’d be running round the playground with his coat held on only by the hood pretending to be a superhero… and then climbing up the wall of the building because the caped superhero then switched to Spiderman.  He’s the one that would cause the temporary teacher to cry … and the temporary teacher had only been brought in because Ed had made the full time one resort to keeping a bottle of whisky in his desk.  You get the picture.

We had a trial run yesterday, which mainly involved me trying to slip the collar on to Ed’s head.  Retrieving collar, attaching it to my own hand to work out how it works.  Retrieving Ed.  Rugby tackling Ed to ground and attempting to put halti on.  Retrieving halti.  sliding across floor to kick door closed and trap Ed in utility room.  Grasping Ed between my legs (those ‘special’ basements spring to mind again).  Getting halti on his head.  Retrieving bits of halti from his mouth.  Shuffling Ed against the settee and jamming him there with leg, whilst using a wrestle hold last used by Big Daddy on Giant Haystacks (yes, I know, I’m old) to keep his head still.  Retrieving halti.  Letting Ed go.  Reading instructions.  Preparing a lot of treats.  holding halti and feeding treats through the gap (back to those MPs and dj’s – allegedly).  Slipping halti on a seated Ed, whilst constantly feeding him treats.  The last part was repeated several times so that Ed could get used to wearing the halti in small bursts (I’ve paid attention to ‘Me or the Dog’.  Kind of).

Today – the Big Test.  A walk to the dog park.  The dog park is about 5 minutes walk away.  It usually takes longer to take account for the constant stopping, changing direction, trying to get Ed’s attention and every other technique we’ve been told.  Now I’ve got fairly meaty arms.  The heritage of a North England/Northern Ireland parentage is arms like a washer woman (and legs like a pit pony, but I’ll save that for a running update).  Those arms are made for hefting sacks of coal and potatoes, so I should be able to handle a 7 month puppy.  Yeah, right.  No.  That dog can take a shoulder out.  My left arm is already 2 inches longer than the right.

But with the halti (and second lead on his usual collar just in case he slipped the halti), he didn’t pull.  Ok, admittedly part of that time was because he was doing a strange walk which involved him hopping on three legs whilst scraping the head collar with a paw and gurning to the sky in attempt to get the thing off.  But at least he wasn’t pulling. In the dog park I left it on so he could get used to it, and he barely noticed it was there.  Even learnt a new trick – he can pick blackberries off the bush and eat them.

And then The Miracle.  On the walk back – he walked.  Alongside me.  Like a normal dog.  The whole way home.   It was beautiful.  Woman and dog as one (not in a special basement way, in a ‘man and beast in harmony’ way).

Oh, the Jeyes Fluid?  after a couple of weeks of trying the scary man’s advice of no treats, I’ve gone back to treats.  I needed A LOT of treats for the halti wearing and agility practice.  Sudden increase in treats might help the walking, it doesn’t help a dog’s stomach.  Or more to the point his bum.   There has been A LOT of sluicing.  But increase in Jeyes Fluid is more than worth it to save my washer women arms

Ed in the dog park, sniffing. Ok, you can’t actually see the halti, but its on.

Ed patrolling around – you will notice the strapping around face, that’s the Halti

Nothing to do with the walk, he just looks so cute!

* 5k today at 31.06 minutes.