fairweatherrunner

running blog


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I hate long runs!

I have been thinking recently about how I feel now that Spring Marathons are in full swing and that I have pulled out of the Milton Keynes Marathon.

I am full of admiration for everyone who has made it through marathon training this winter. The weather has been foul and the cold has certainly contributed to some of my niggles.  How anyone finished a 20(+) mile run in the sleet this March with the added wind chill is amazing.  I didn’t even manage to get out for one lap of my 20 mile race let alone 5!

I am a little envious of everyone’s successes so far and that wonderful feeling of achievement that many friends will get when they complete their marathons over the next few weeks. It all takes hard work and putting the hours in on long runs. It was trying to fast forward and catch up my long run distance after injury that made me admit I was over doing it and postpone my marathon number 2.

I am tempted looking at other marathons later this year or for next and still hold ambitions of improving my marathon time but I think too much about the ‘whens’ and ‘ifs’ of the training and best timings with other commitments.

So my thoughts always come back to long runs and I have to admit that I just don’t like doing them. I can’t help but think that maybe if I liked them a little more I might not have been so quick to drop out of my marathon training.  I am happy to run 8 or 10 miles (and race a half marathon) but over that and I get a bit of a mental block and dread them before I start.  It was at the 12 mile point (or maybe it’s the magic 2 hour curfew) of a long run when I admitted to myself I was bored, cold and fed up and probably trying to push myself to hard too soon after injury (so got on a bus) and made my decision.

I then had a bit of a running slump week.  I cross trained and went to BMF where the runs are short before picking myself up with thoughts of shorter races.  I did manage to force myself out for a long run last weekend because the odd long run is still a necessary evil for half marathon training.  However even with a pre planned 12 mile route my legs somehow brought me home after 10 miles!  I dragged out another mile looping the block before I had enough muscle aches and pains to justify calling it a day.

Fortunately my recent saviour of my running mojo has been BMF run club.  I’m lucky that BMF Hyde Park is one of the BMF parks that holds a run club for members.  I’ve meant to go ever since I’ve been a member and after 6 or 7 years I finally ran out of excuses! (Dark won’t kill me and being home at 7pm for dinner and bed time for my sons, now 16 and 14, isn’t an issue anymore.)   There I have really enjoyed running some fast intervals.

It’s hard to describe the buzz I get from it which I don’t get from long runs.  I know it’s going to be hard work beforehand but don’t get that feeling of dread.  It’s amazing how you can blast out a km or more at best effort, thinking you’re ‘all-in’ but after 90 seconds recovery bounce off to do it all over again, and again. Running in the dark doesn’t bother me and it’s great to be running at my pace but within a group.  Fortunately both times I have found myself well placed mid-pack where there is the challenge to chase the front-runners and comfort of not being at the back.

The tired feeling after speed intervals is better too!  I sleep so well afer a tough speed session and my muscles feel happily tired rather than being painful and stiff after long runs.  Speed is giving me a spring in my step.  It’s great to find some pace again and my legs are feeling lighter now that I am leaving the slow shuffling heavy legged long slow runs behind me.

Good luck and well done to everyone who has or is about to run a marathon in the next few weeks.  If like me it’s not happening for you either this time, our time will/may come!  Or maybe as with many things in life, each to their own, embrace our differences and maybe admit we are more suited to other distances.


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Bupa Fitness Assessment

Last week I went for a Bupa Fitness Assessment courtesy of Bupa Running.

Mo Farah (a little more photogenic than me) undertaking the Fitness assessment.

Photo from Bupa Running

I was met at reception by a Health Advisor and taken to a treatment room (large doctors consulting room with a treadmill in the middle).   We started with the pre fitness tests, measuring height (I’ve exaggerated mine by 2cm for years),  weight (ah em.. but not too different from what I will acknowledge at home), waist (breath in!) and then from electrodes attached to my wrist and right toe (fortunately my least mangy and not black or missing toenail one) for body fat analysis.  Then lung function test (a couple of attempts blowing hard into a mouth piece) and blood pressure.

Next I was wired up with 10 electrode pads (I know how many because I was counting them when trying to find them all to remove!) for the ECG.  Don’t worry Ladies you don’t have to strip to the waist and run that way like the gorgeous Mo for the test!  A discreet undress under a towel, sensors and wires placed and re-dress. Like the blood pressure test I lay on the bed while they took heart and pulse readings at rest.   The health advisor then went out to review my heart trace data with the doctor and I sat on the edge of the bed legs dangling like a nervous teenager for them to return!

Fortunately they both returned so I assumed my ECG showed that everything was functioning as it should be!  Onto the treadmill attached to many wires plus a blood pressure cuff and a mouth piece and nose clip.  It took a while to get used to breathing from my mouth only and cope with being attached to many tubes and wires.  The V02 test used is actually an estimated VO2 max  extrapolated from analysis of exercise at an estimated 85% of maximum heart rate.  My heart rate, blood pressure and gasses (what breathed out) were analysed while I walked/jogged on the treadmill for periods of 2 mins at increasing speed, starting out at 4km/hr up to max 8km/hour.

So, what did I think?

As expected from Bupa, it was well done in a professional way with every care.  The Doctor checked my resting ECG before the treadmill test and was present while it was carried out.   The need for safety is no doubt the reason for using the sub VO2 test and not risking someone who might be unaccustomed to exercise, over exerting themselves at maximum heart rate.

I was a little disappointed that the VO2 max test was not a full test.  The test is based on estimates of max heart rate (220 minus age which is 175 for me) and testing to 85% of this took my heart rate to 148 only during the test.  I didn’t have to work very hard during the test and know from wearing my heart rate monitor for BMF classes my heart rate is probably higher, regularly reaching 190 and sometimes over 200 and wondered if this would affect the result.  I’d also really like to know what my max is!

That said the estimated VO2 max score for me, according to various tables I looked up the internet show my level of fitness range from above average to excellent and my feedback in my report is that I have a ‘high level of fitness for my age’ so it probably is a useful test despite my worries!  I do wish I could have done this when I started out 6 years ago as it would be nice to see the improvements I’ve made in black and white as stats!

It was great to discover that my body fat % is lower than I thought so the past 6 years have been gradually doing some good and I can use the ‘athlete’ mode on my scales which give the same result!  I am still working on losing a few pounds (less weight to carry round a race) and as expected, the results show me to be at the upper end of normal for weight and waist-height ratio so I need to continue to work on the belly fat despite having a good body fat %.  What was also very useful to find out from all the gas analysis and body composition was a calculation of my basic metabolic rate calories which is higher than I currently work from.

I received a full report with all the data and results (cardiovasular, and respiratory performance, metabolism, lifestyle (from pre-assessmsnt questionaire) etc.. with traffic light indications on action required. Yay all green! Got to keep it up!  The report is personalised and includes references to our general conversation during the assessment, encouraging me to keep up my running and BMF classes for overall health and fitness, wishing me luck for my 10K goals and makes suggestions for interval training and training programmes for races.

A useful and interesting assessment.  It didn’t tell me anything, as a regular exerciser, that I didn’t expect (I should be fit with all that running) but it did highlight a few things.  It would be good to have an assessment like this before and after a long period of exercise to get feedback on results and I think would be a very useful review for someone thinking about starting running or training for a race or concerned about their health and needing motivation to get exercising.


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Stinky fish and the two missing miles!

On Friday morning I bought some trout for supper. I was looking forward to it as was my younger son (a budding Ray Mears) who volunteered to fillet it for me. Unfortunately when we opened the packaging it was immediately obvious that all as not well and we hurriedly got the fish out of the house into the bin in many layers of bags before we passed out from the smell of rotten fish. Supper take two was hurriedly defrosted beefburgers which didn’t go as well with our stir fried veg and new potatoes.

For once I decided I would claim a refund, after all food is getting more and more expensive and Tesco are hardly short of profits so they can at least refund me my £10 for our disappointment. I enquired on twitter what I needed to do (not wanting to keep the stinky fish) and was told just returning to the packaging with the receipt to the store should be OK. Stinky packaging dug out of bin!

I didn’t get chance to get back to the shop on Saturday and I also had to bail out of my long run after 4 miles because my legs felt so tired. I’ve had 3 good BMF classes this week and have enjoyed getting my sprint speed back, almost keeping pace with the fastest (for 10m) without the use of a car! So I do have to remember that although we only run 2.5 to 3 miles in a class the amount of 100% sprint efforts make it a hard run so no wonder my legs were not up for big punishment yesterday.

So I still had the need to run 10-12 miles hanging over me today.

The temperature dropped over night and it was poring with rain this morning. I started to work out plans for a Monday long run instead. But the rain started to clear after lunch and I ummed and ahhed about getting out there. By 3pm it was getting to the last opportunity to get going if I wanted to fit in 12 miles before dark and supper as OH had to leave to go off to Devon for work tomorrow. Then he reminded me about the stinky fish packaging and when was I going back to Tesco?

Bring on the multi tasking! Run to Tesco with Stinky fish packaging, get refund and continue with long run and hopefully be home to make dinner at 5.30 after 12 miles!

My first mile to Tesco was quite quick! Even well wrapped in 3 bags my package stunk a fair bit so I reckoned passer-byers would prefer my presence with fish odour to be brief so I kept up a good pace! I don’t think I was chased by too many local cats but I didn’t turn round incase they sensed weakness and got me!

I got my refund eventually but my experience at customer services was not great. I should have taken it back on Friday (really at 7pm after a glass of wine when we needed to eat?) and I should have kept the fish (yuk – stink out the neighbourhood) or frozen it until I could come back (that was not going anywhere near my freezer thankyou). Sunday must be the day for complaints and wingers at Tesco as I was not the only one in the queue at customer services and added to the obvious lack of staff and a duty manager ment the experience wasted 25 minutes.

I finally (£10 refunded… was it worth it? YES, in principle anyway) got on with my run. I felt weary for the next few miles but by the time I’d clocked up 4 miles I’d pulled myself together and was getting on and enjoying my run. The only problem was the passing time and the realisation, that I’d lost precious minutes of my run and that I would only manage 10 miles if I had to make it home by 5.30.

I’ve got the Silverstone Half Marathon next weekend and hope that those missing two miles don’t make any difference to my performance because I will know who to blame!!

10.01 miles in 1.29.35


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New motivation

After Janathon I really felt the lack of motivation once the need to run everyday had been removed. I know Janathon isn’t compulsory but I set myself the goal to run every day and something in my head clicks and I feel obliged to complete the challenge. Afterwards is hard. I miss the routine of running everyday.

This year I carried on the next day and went to British Miliary Fitness (because the 1st of Feb fell on a BMF day). The following day I had an urge to run, and should have, as it was a beautiful day, but thought I’d better have a rest day to avoid injury.

This was probably a mistake as having stopped I’ve struggled to get running again (apart from BMF classes) and then the snow came and I missed my long run at the weekend. My drop in motivation wasn’t helped by the fact that I am unable to make the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon this weekend due to family commitments (not because I’m fair-weather and its likely to be arctic – honestly!) which is a shame seeing as I’m ready and trained after all those Janathon miles.

I managed to get myself going again this week after signing up for another HM on 18th Feb, in place of Portsmouth, and receiving the news that I’ve got a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon from the second chance ballot. So I went out and ran 10 miles in lieu of my weekend long run on Tuesday despite serious DOMS in my glutes and thighs! (At BMF on Monday we did rather too much lying down and too many situps in the wet slushy snow. When we complained about freezing wet bottoms we were given a warm up by way of the 150 squat challenge.) I recovered the ability to walk properly again today and then after smashing my to-do list I got out for an afternoon run (before the threatened snow).

The squats (or something) is paying off because everything felt good today and after a few easy warm up miles I ran miles at 8.45 and 8.24 pace and finished up on a mile at 8.20 without feeling I was having to put in much more effort! There is nothing like a good run to give you a boost and I actually find that running gives me more energy than resting!

10.07 miles in 1.38.55

6.21 miles in 55.39 mins


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Tired or not tired?

Janathon day 30 and I’ve now run 148 miles and I’m in a very strange state, a mixture of completely shattered and full of beans!

As usual I struggled to get out of bed this morning and get the boys up and out, but by the time I got to BMF I was wide awake. I had a great class. My legs felt good and I was keeping up a good pace. The janathon miles plus my half marathon training long runs are paying off and I’m getting back to my best speed and fitness from before my injury last year.

The energy however was lacking by this evening and I needed a bit of a boost and a nag from twitter to get my blog done. (Thanks guys!) The thing is you see that BMF classes can either be the stuff that good blogs are made of (mad and hilarious) or not. Today was not. Not that it wasn’t a good class, it was and I enjoyed it because I worked hard and took it seriously. (Boring blog). Also for the first half we were running fast laps in between exercises so there was no breath left for banter!

I then had to come up with some inspiration for todays Lego.

Um ah… I ran fast? I’m surprised how OK my legs are after 30 days? I discovered that the calorie calculation on Garmin 405cxs is way off? It’s day 30 and haven’t we all done brilliantly? I might even miss Janathon next week? Blogging is like running – It all comes together once you start!?…

So I asked my son who ignored me. So I bribed my son which started to work. A packet of Jaffa Cakes later he came up with this.

1 hour BMF class, 3.46 miles running.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/145856415

1 day to go. I also notice that Iliketocount is also on 148! (Yay! looks like we will make it to 150!)

So how far will I run tomorrow? 2 miles or 7?


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Longrun doodle

Today I ran 14 miles, my longest run ever (by a mile!) and I did a bit of run-doodling which together with listening to Tony Blackburn count down the top 30 from 1980 (sad Radio 2 listener I know! But some great songs to plod along to and I was delighted to find that number 16 was my favorite Bee Gees track, Spirits Having Flown.) made the time go quickly.  As you can see I now know Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens even better than I did already!

An uneventlful run, other than having to detour to the loo twice ( I know… Too much information!) and I did not appreciate having to queue either!  Oh yes, and I also found a Lego mini figure lying lost on a path so she came home to join the others

14.12 miles in 2.20.13

142 miles in Janathon, 3 days to go.

New blog feature:  Arabliz’s Saturday night movie quote.

If you guess the line you get a virtual cookie!


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The Sunshine Trail

Several factors came together today. Janathon, being on the Isle of Wight for the weekend, wanting to run 12 miles as part of my half marathon training and the fact that I have always wanted to run the 12 mile family circular cycle route on Isle of Wight known as route 13 or The Sunshine Trail. So that’s what I was determined to do today.

I also persuaded my whole family to come too, well it is a family cycle trail! All started well with no fights dragging the boys out or stress getting the bikes loaded onto the back of the car and we were off to join the trail at Merstone. We decided to run/cycle the route in an anticlockwise direction so we tackled the parts of the trail we hadn’t run/walked or cycled before and from reading the route details it meant we would have the toughest terrain to cope with over the first part of the route while fresh.

Plans started to go a bit awry after the first few yards when eldest son, riding on husbands old bike (because he has doubled in size since he last cycled) complained that the saddle was too wobbly to ride on. Husband, now riding his 35-year-old racer rescued from parents attic, suggested that son should put his weight on the pedals and it would be OK. After 3/4 of a mile of pot-holes we realised we wouldn’t be able to continue unless we could tighten son’s saddle but the spanner we had brought didn’t fit. Fortunately we were only a mile or two from The Bike Shed (where you can hire bikes if visiting the Island) which he cycled back to while we waited. The Bike Shed were fantastic, while they didn’t have a suitable spanner to buy they found a surplus scooter set that might fit which they gave to my husband. Thank-you Bike Shed.

We went on over dirt roads with pot hoes but generally flat going. By now we had wasted a fair amount of time so at the 2 mile point husband suggested that completing the trail was not going to be possible today and suggested that the boys and I went on for a further 2 miles while he cycled back to pick up the car and meet us at the 4 mile pont.

It turned out that the next stage (Godshill to Wroxall) was the “challenging off road mountain bike section“. (There is an on-road alternative I find for next time.) Mostly uphill and the road went from tarmac lanes and got narrower and rougher as it went upwards. At this point my run was a walk as I encouraged the boys pushing their bikes, moaning. (I later thanked my dear husband for leaving me with the boys to do the toughest part of the trail with the main climb and his response was “Well I can read a map!”)

We were however rewarded at the top of the climb by Capability Brown’s Fremantle Gate and then some of the best views of the trail.

The trail then dropped down past Appuldurcombe House (English Heritage) and not long after we got to our meet point. Decision time for me. It was after 3 O’clock and light was limited. I’d run/walked 4 miles of trail and the rest of my family were heading home. Should I bang on and compte the remaining 8 miles to finish what I planned for today or go home and have to plan another long run tomorrow? Two gulps of tea and I left them to their Jaffa cakes asking to be collected in 80 mins at our stating point.

The trail continues on the old railway line from Wroxall to Shanklin, still scenic once out of Wroxall with country side either side of the raised track. After Shanklin the trail signs you onto roads through quiet residential streets which while being quiet are not scenic. At this point I didn’t follow the trail exactly, saving time and light by running straight down the main road on the pavement, and not taking the cliff path. So I didn’t quite connect with the start of the Sandown to Newport cycle way (route 23). Just as I was feeling a little lost running down a very quiet road having passed Sandown Academy I recognised where I was and knew I would cross the cycle-way from the Adgestone quiet road.

It was after 4 O’clock when joined the cycle path and getting towards sunset. I know the route well and that I had 4 1/2 miles to go. My Garmin read 9 miles and I didn’t really want to push my legs to run 13 1/2 miles, nor run the last stretch uphill to Merstone at dusk under the dark railway bridges. I therefore rang and arranged to be picked up a mile and a half nearer at the main road junction so I could cut out the last section of the run.

As I got the gate to that road crossing in sight my garmin clocked 12 miles so my planing was pretty good!

12.07 miles in 2.07.34