running blog


Back to my roots


British Military Fitness is where it all began for me.   BMF classes got me back into regular exercise 9 years ago and into running. All these years later I’m still going regularly and the classes are what I can always manage to drag myself to when all motivation for running or anything else is waning.

So it is always so good to get back to classes after a break, even if it’s pouring with rain.

Us BMFers are a hardcore bunch and we jump out of bed at the crack of dawn in all weathers to fuel and limber up well before jumping on our bikes for a brisk warm up cycle to get to Hyde Park.

Something like this…


Although I was tempted during the conversation to wimp out and run back to bed I had already stated on twitter that I was going so I was committed. My friend waivered but did turn up at the last moment (excellent turnaround from duvet to class in 20 min!)  and after a last heavy shower we were rewarded by blue skies and very sodden grass.

BMF classes the day after a long run can be  a bit brutal at times (tight hammies don’t like burpees) and today was one of the hard ones. I was slow and aching for the most of the class before finally warming and limbering up for a burst of decent effort in the final 5 minutes!  At least I’m all recovered and ready for tomorrow.

Janathon day 6  1 BMF class (average class 3 miles run)


Long run with an old firend

A couple of old friends actually.

First I found my favourite running gloves in the pocket of an old coat  (now you know where to look for yours) which are not only cosy but more importantly small so when they come off after the frist mile they are compact to tuck in my bra. I also grabbed my Thunder Run buff from this summer for the first time to keep my hair back, ears warm and stop me going out totally dressed in black from head to toe.


But  my most successful choice of old friend was putting Audiofuel back in my iPod.  I haven’t run with music recently but now I’m starting my marathon long runs I wanted something to listen to today for 10 miles round and round Hyde Park.  Most music bugs me over a long run with it’s changes in tempo and lyrics so I decided to plug into a continuous long run training mix and see how it went.  It went really well.  Maybe too well as I probably ran at too fast a pace for a long run.

Audiofuel was just right, it’s a smooth continuous couple of hours at a consistent tempo (starts easy, builds, then cools down) the regular beat gets you into a nice long run rhythm and the absence of many lyrics means it doesn’t interfere with your mind’s wanderings while running. A bit of coaching gives you just enough motivation every 10mins or so you don’t feel alone and forgotten! And it was great to hear after an hour or so that my training was helping me to run a good time in my marathon! I hadn’t listened to this one for a year or two (over-did it when I first got it) and really enjoyed hearing some of the tracks again. I even turned back on the way home to loop around Round Pond when my favourite came on. And because some are 10 minutes long a whole mile or so can fly by before you know it

Janathon day 5. 10.37 miles  in 1.37.50



Cycling in London

I’ve lived here for over 20 years but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally cycled on the streets of London. And what a time to start. Cycling in London is very much in the news at the moment after a bad week with 5 cyclist deaths in 9 days. As I planned to go out for the first time I read and listened to the news, hearing about vigils, campaigns and views from all parties about dangerous drivers, busses and lorries, bad road designs, reckless cyclists and so on. Whatever the reasons, with the huge growth in cycling in London lets hope some solutions and actions are found and acted upon soon.

So maybe not the best week for me as a novice (or returning) cyclist to be pushing my shiny new bike out the door. Or maybe it’s a good week because the more ordinary Londoners who take to two wheels the better for increasing understanding and communication between pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers (many of whom are users of all). More cyclists to create the demand for an increase in safe cycling routes and help to break down barriers between different road users as we learn to adapt to our congested changing city and make it better and safer for us all.

I have to add that I will be cycling in London in the mildest sense. I will be mostly cycling off-peak on quiet roads and cycle paths through the park. I’m lucky I have that option and won’t have to cycle anywhere in a hurry at busy times because I don’t have to commute nor take my exercise at peak times or after dark. I am happy to be the one you will see dismounting and using the pavement across a busy road junction before I go on my way. For now anyway while I build confidence and experience. Who knows where my cycling journey will take me.

Why has it taken me all these years to get on my bike? Fear (lack of confidence) and not having a reason to cycle until now when suddenly I find I have many reasons to get on two wheels.

Fear? Yes, London’s roads are daunting for many new comers, even in a car. I remember being petrified when driving for the first time in London as a student and it took me several years to get confident enough to drive where and when I wanted. Since then I have assumed that as an inexperienced cyclist (beast of a mountain bike in rural parts only) London cycling was not for me,

However these days, as a runner I notice that sooner or later many runners take to a bike. It follows that outdoor types will find that cycling makes sense as a form of cheap efficient transport. Cycling is one of the best forms of cross training for runners and the solace for many injured runners seeking a cardio fix. And road cycling has to be better than spinning class, hasn’t it? (Yes I hate treadmills too)

So when my OH told me he was buying another bike for training for a 3 day cycle ride next spring I decided that maybe it was time we had a joint activity (I’ll never make a runner of him) in preparation for our teenage sons flying the nest (wishful thinking) and he should buy me a bike too. I am one of the few people still driving to BMF classes and paying a fortune in parking charges when it’s only a few miles, much of which possible on cycle paths. Somewhere to start.



So how has it been? Fantastic! I love it. As a friend said today there’s nothing like getting the wind in your hair to take you back to your youth. Straight out I felt good (yay for a bike that’s light and nippy). I have found the quiet roads far less frightening than I imagined and I have calmly coped with being passed by traffic of all sizes. I have used busier roads than I thought I would and have dismounted and walked less. I think my experience driving a very small car in London for the past year has helped me learn to be cautious of large vehicles and to adopt an assertive road position to indicate my intentions as well as learning all the back street routes.

I have new-found respect for cyclists. I’m reasonably fit and have even zoomed past Boris Bikes but have found many new muscles that other exercises haven’t touched. Today I discovered what triathletes refer to as a Brick Session. Trying to run at the start of my BMF class straight after cycling there, definitely a new wobbly legged experience! Next time I’ll leave earlier so I have a bigger rest between the two activities.

I start my marathon training proper next month. I don’t plan to use cycling as formal cross training but hope that commuting to BMF classes and running my local errands by bike will all add to my general fitness. All this extra fresh air is helping me sleep well too, which is essential for marathon training.


Where’s my Zimmer frame?

One thing we do (a little bit too much for my liking) at BMF is getting chest or back to floor and standing up again over and over. It sounds easy, and I used to wonder how it can help get us fitter, but do lots of repeats as fast as you can and you soon find out.

Some days I can slide down and bounce back up again very quickly but on others I resemble an old lady in need of a Zimmer frame.

This morning during BMF we were adding a lie flat, chest to floor, at either end of a shuttle run. Guess what sort of day it was? I’ll give you a clue. I didn’t run many reps in 2 minutes!

Juneathon day 21. 1 hour BMF class, about 2.5 miles run and lots of faffing about lying down, standing up and lying down again.

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Run club (again)

Run club. The session you sometimes dread and wonder if you are too tired to cope with, and maybe on a warm night after a busy day you should wimp out of. But it’s also the session that if you do push yourself to go to, and once there try to put in as much effort as you can muster, the reward is the most wonderful feeling of achievement!

I was a bit stressed when I got there. Another busy day and then the traffic on the way was horrendous. There were far too many idiots and selfish arrogant ‘what nots’ driving expensive cars or chauffeur limos, cutting in and thinking they own the road right in front of me. And I was needing to get to run club and be in the first 20 there because the park authorities have limited us to 20. Grrrr

I made it, and things got better when we saw who was running the session and even (maybe) better to hear it was intervals. (Yay! she lied.) We ran a mile and a bit warm up followed by a pyramid of pace efforts for 1.5 mins, 3 mins, 4.5 mins and 6 mins with 1.5 mins recoveries in between. Unfortunately we ran out of time on the way down and only managed the 4.5 min effort again before running back.

Worn out, de-stressed and with a smug smile from a good workout I will sleep well tonight!


Juneathon day 20. 5.75 miles in 48.48 mins

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Crab crawling

I worked out it was Wednesday by about 8.30am and decided that going to BMF would get my exercise done for the day without engaging too many more brain cells  (using my right arm and left leg  at the same time during the class did slightly overtax me a later!)

I wore my Garmin  and this is where we went…


and this is how long it took…


As you can see my excellent crab crawling skills do wonders for my average pace.

Juneathon day 12, 1 hour BMF class, 3.24 miles.



Shuttle runs and jumps

We have two groups at the BMF classes I go to, which means we are split into a harder class and a less hard class, and the reds (intermediates) are divided between the two groups. At the beginning of the week I force myself not to be lazy and make sure I join the faster (green/red) group and do some work. On Friday’s, after run club the night before, when my legs are aching, I make very sure I am in the slower group (red/blue).

Some days I just stand in the middle as they count out numbers and let fate decide. Today was one of those days and I stood in the middle of the line, in a daze, yawning and just made the cut… into the red-greens. Aghhhh. I woke up very quickly as we ran off and I realised I was at the back and needed to wake up and get a wiggle on, sharpish !

(For those interested, the main difference between the two classes is the pace run at and the distance covered during the hour, the exercises being the same. All groups still have a mix of abilities, some people are stronger and others good runners. Very fast Greens or very new Blues need not worry because within the classes the instructors are very able to pitch the class to the group’s ability. They give different reps for exercises and normally know who’s not stretched and needs an extra little run before catching up! So it shouldn’t matter which class you’re in.)

This morning we ran, stopping for the odd press up or burpee. We ran round circles of trees doing more burpees while our partner ‘rested’ doing squat thrusts. And when I was fully awake and sure I was not going to be sick we got to a new stretch of grass and I prayed for a rest and some situps. They came later, but first we did shuttle runs and a few more shuttle runs before some nice tuck jumps, squat jumps and burpees all rounded off with a 200m sprint to earn our swig of water. I wasn’t last, just. Actually I was being nice to the greens who had to be in before all the reds! Honest.

Juneathon day 10. 1 hour BMF class, about 3 miles run.

10 days done, 20 to go!


The problem with shorts

Is they can ride up and ride down at the same time!

Today was one of those rare warm days when you need your lightest shorts for a run.  I found my favourite pair (there aren’t many I will wear and  I’ve tried lots).  I waited until nearly 6pm for it to cool down before I went out.  I’d missed the opportunity to run or go to BMF this morning, when it was cool because I was waiting for builders who didn’t show.

I’ve  not worn today’s exact running top and shorts combination before.  My experience is a good example of why you should always test out what you plan to wear for a key race!  I spent the first mile or two in an uncomfortable struggle to pull various items of clothing in different directions.

I finally became less aware of moving clothing but then began to worry about the gap between my ridden up top and falling down shorts was exposing too much flesh.  (There’s nothing wrong with exposing midriff in public, but it’s probably best saved for people a tad younger and certainly more sun tanned than me!)  By half way round the Serpentine in the warmth, I’d seen a lot worse and worried less.  On the way home feeling hot and tired, who cares!

Juneathon day 5.   5.7 mile run to and around the Serpentine in the sunshine.


The wine won


My gym this morning. I can’t complain about that, nor the fact that is was a lovely warm day, even if I was wilting in the sun at 9 in the morning. It’s amazing the power of very simple exercises, burpees (again), squats and shuttle runs put together and performed in sets of intense blasts of 45 seconds with only 10 seconds rest between to reduce me to a quivering wreck. Some very simple Pilates core exercises were equally innocent looking but had me melted into the grass.

I was thinking of adding an easy run around the block tonight, after a boring day working at my PC, but distractions by my sons, both taking exams, and both in need of encouragement to do a little preparation led me to a glass of white at 6pm instead. I will make up for it tomorrow. Famous last words.

Juneathon day 4. 1 hour PT session. (Some running involved.)