Wednesday, 25 May 2011


I haven't died, fallen off a cliff, gotten lost while running or been buried under a pile of books. I've been very very busy and not really motivated to blog.

I have, however,

  • Received my Garmin Forerunner 610 which I'll be reviewing shortly when I get over its new and awesomeness and stop wearing it all the time, even when doing the cleaning.
  • Tried to walk to High Cup Nick and failed due to bad weather last weekend. ('Shall we go back?' *Looks at horizontal rain and soaked Mr Scientist* 'Yeah')
  • Missed an interval training session simply because the gym was far and I was lazy.
  • Baked a lemon polenta cake for a friend because she's moved house and it's the first time I'll be seeing her since she moved.
  • Made an aubergine and chickpea curry from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. It was delicious.
  • Taken my car in to have the brakes fixed. I'm pretty sure this officially makes me an adult, but I haven't received my card yet.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Buddy Holly

I did intervals today. 10 x 1 minute jogging at 10 min/mile followed by 1 minute running like my life depended on it at 07:24 min/mile. By the 6 repetition it was kicking my arse, by the 10th it was handing it to me on a plate. I remembered why I hate interval training, but I've really struggled with my last few sessions so it was good to see that I could do this.

I finished The Beauty Myth last night and it was brilliant. By the end I'd grabbed a biro and was underlining bits and writing notes in the margins and I never do that.

I'm not going to go into much depth about the book because it's been reviewed by people more talented at getting to a book's essence and well-versed in feminism than I.

In the book which was originally published in 1991,Wolf asks the question why do women feel under greater and greater pressure to conform to certain physical standards while actually when it comes to political and personal rights we enjoy more freedoms than ever. She theorises that the monolith of 'them', 'the patriarchy', 'the establishment' feels threatened by the gains women made during the first wave of feminism and as such needs to create what Wolf calls an Iron Maiden. A metal sarcophagus in which victims are placed to either suffocate to death or be stabbed by the spikes inside and bleed to death. 

According to Wolf the Iron Maidan which can be found imprisoning and suffocating women in all aspects of their lives: work, culture, religion, sex, hunger, and violence. It is not enough to merely be, women are told in all domains of their lives, they must also live up to a rigid and perfectionist set of standards which they are simultaneously being told they will never be capable of doing.

What Wolf doesn't really examine is how the myth affects non-white, non-middle class, non-heterosexual, non-professional and non-college educated women. Ethnic minority women and working-class women get a look in occasionally, but only as bit players that support the perspective of middle-class women. I suspect the book would be a multi-volume affair if she had. Subsequent books on similar topics, such as Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, have made greater efforts to be more inclusive. 

I read this feeling more and more guilty about the makeup bag in my bedside cabinet. Was my mascara a political statement saying I have bought into the self-loathing and misogyny? Wolf points out that there's no shame in wearing makeup or dying your hair or wearing skyscraper high heels, (or, ahem, losing weight) as long as the place from which you approach them is positive and not negative. I run to be strong, not to fit some else's ideal.
Also my frown deepened and deepened as I read it, because I don't know any men that buy into the beauty myth. The men in my life - my partner, brother, father, male colleagues and friends and acquaintances - treat women with dignity and respect, or rather, as human beings. But Wolf acknowledges that patriarchical institutions and not men as individuals enforce the myth. 

Wolf is astoundingly perceptive - she notes that the beauty myth hurts men as much as women, and goes on to say that men will begin to be targeted by the rigid perfectionism of the Iron Maiden. She predicts a rise in male anorexia and other eating disorders. 20 years later men are being targeted by the beauty industry in similar ways, and eating disorders in men, which were once almost non-existant, have increased. 

However I think that progress for men and women has been made since The Beauty Myth was published. I think equality has risen. How can it not have now fairer paternity leave is being openly mooted? And yet female badminton players are finding out that being female badminton players is not enough, they must use their femininity to market themselves and attract male attention (Hat-tip to Inspiring Sports Women and Muslim Women in Sports )

To steal someone else's phrase, I believe in very gradual change.

And I wonder what Wolf would make of the internet if she were writing today. 

Congratulations if you made it this far. But what does this have to do with Weezer? When I was in the gym Buddy Holly came up on my iPod and there I was running along to a song which felt as fresh and relevant today as when I first heard it in 1994, much like The Beauty Myth, which was published a good two decades ago, does today.

Both of them made me feel a bit old as well. Seriously? The Little Mermaid's closer to the moon landing than today?  I remember getting a free Flounder and Ariel with a Happy Meal. Jesus...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Octopus' Garden

I woke up with this song in my head and kept humming the same first line over and over again while at the gym today.  "I'd like to be under the sea/in an octopus' garden..."

Aside from that I've got nothing much to post. Today was supposed to be a rest day, but work and life commitments on Wednesday means I'm too busy to workout or even run so I've swapped Wednesday's CT session for today's rest day. I did a relaxed 30 minutes on the elliptical at level 10 and a slow pace followed by 30 minutes on the reclining fixed bicycle-thing at a fat burning level.

I've got 9 weeks until my 10k race so I've worked out a training schedule which I'm going to try and post. It's unleashed the geeky side in me and I colour the cell green when I've done the session and note far/fast etc as well as how I felt afterward.

Anyone else do anything like that to log exercise?

ETA: To add further detail, the schedule's based on the Advanced Beginner 10k training with an interval training session once a week.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


I learnt a few things while running the 5k race this morning.

1) If you haven't been training to run a 5k race at a certain pace which just happens to be faster than the pace you were aiming to run a 10k in found but found too difficult and had to reassess how fast you will be able to complete said 10k, you will not magically be able to run the 5k at this pace.

2) If you wake up feeling lethargic and bloated, it won't help either.

4) Despite losing 14lb, and training somewhat regularly, you will only knock 1 second off the PR you set over a year ago.

5) After running you'll end up with phlegm in your lungs so that whenever you laugh you sound like a 65 year-old woman who's smoked 40 a day since age 14 for a good few hours afterwards. (Seriously, lungs, WTF?)

So I finished the race in 25:30, deducting the time it took to get over the finish line. I couldn't keep up with my mate who was pacing a 24 minute 5k from the word go. I was really hoping to finish in under 25 minutes at least, but I just didn't have the energy to sprint at the end.

I was talking the race over with my partner Mr Scientist, and he made a very pertinent observation which lifted my spirits a lot when he pointed out that consistency is a good thing. Finishing a race in a similar time isn't as good as finishing it quicker, but it isn't worse either.

I've had to reassess my goal for the 10k. I have 9 weeks and I'm going to aim for a sub-hour 10k. After that I'm going to train for a sub-25 minute 5k, and I will achieve it.... eventually.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

State of Affairs

I had a rest day today.
I have transportation sorted out.
I have my breakfast for tomorrow ready.
My running stuff is all laid out.

Tomorrow I will attempt, for the first time ever, to run a sub-25 minute 5k.
The quickest I've managed so far is 25:31
I was a stone heavier when I did that in June last year.
I have a colleague who is a better runner and much fitter than me who is going to mark out a sub-25 5k.

On Thursday I ran 2 miles in 15:06, which is a 07:33 pace.
To do a 25 5k I need to run a 08:00 pace.
I should aim for a 24 minute 5k, which is approximately a 07:44 pace.

I'm terrified I'm going to fail, like I did the fitness test, like I have at losing much weight recently, like I do most challenges I set myself. I will go to bed worrying about letting myself down. About letting my colleague down.

I will get up anxious tomorrow. I will have a shower anxious, I will eat breakfast anxious, I will drive there anxious. I will meet my friends at the race anxiously. I will warm up anxiously. I will stand in the crowd, moving from foot to foot anxiously, making sure my laces are tied anxiously, making sure my the bun in my hair is tight but not too tight anxiously, I will check my iPod is ok anxiously, I will look from the start banner to the road I'm going to be running on for the next 5k anxiously.

When the start gun goes I will turn to my colleague, grin, and start running.

And I will not stop. I will keep going. I will push myself even though I'm tired, even though I'm sweating, even though my throat is tight and my lungs gasping for air. I will keep going even though I want to stop.

I will refuse to give in.

Wish me luck.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Sing Sing Sing

I've had two easy days as I've begun to taper ahead of the 5K race on Sunday. Yesterday was a 30 minute jog then 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, and today was a slow 5 mile run. Tomorrow I'm resting.

I the above version of Sing Sing Sing is one of my most favourite songs. Many moons ago I used to play the trumpet in a jazz band to a standard which never really got above middling to fair, but this song was one of the most fun pieces to play. It's the way it starts with the drums driving out a rhythm, the trombones chug out the start, in comes the rasping trumpets then the smooth saxes all in harmony and the drums keeping pulsing on. The variation in screaming stacatto brass, smooth legato wood wind, tinkling piano, loud and quiet, intricate and simple and all the sections playing different rhythms all together make it a joyous, bouncing piece of music. You can't help but move when you listen to it.

I listened to this in the gym and may have had a bit of a boogie moving in my hands up and down a bit while running in line with the parts I used to play...

Do you ever dance a long in the gym or out of it to music?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

São Paulo

Well I failed the fit test with a measly 6 push-ups and 15 sit-ups. At least I know what I need to work out. I've started and stopped the 100 pushups challenge twice now, but I'm going to start again and continue. I'm also going to do the 200 situps challenge so I can get fitter and hopefully pass the test in a few months or so.

I aced the run, however, running 2 miles in 15:06.

We did the fit test before work at 7.30am, and I did what I usually do when I exercise in the morning - ended up sleepy by 11am despite having refueled after the test on a healthy breakfast of porridge, fruit, and a boiled egg washed down with black coffee then overeating at lunch time. It was very hard not to stress about not losing weight this week.

Even though I was careful at dinner and ate well I managed to only go slightly over my daily calorie limit I got obsessed with going to the gym to burn off enough to bring me well under. I found myself thinking, 'If I jog for 30 minutes then go on the elliptical for 30 minutes I could easily burn 500 calories'. Even writing this out has woken up the antsy worried voice in my body that is saying I need to exercise like crazy even though my hamstrings and my sciatic nerve in my right bum muscle is aching like crazy so I've had to take ibuprofen today to dull the pain and I need let my body recuperate. Yes, I'm a wimp! I keep telling myself it'll be ok, I can eat well and work out tomorrow and I don't have to risk injuring myself.

The songs from an album I adore, by Guillemots. It's one of those rare albums where there are no filler songs and every one is a gem.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Walking on the Sun

I mentioned in my last post that a song by Amr Diab had started my gym sessions for what seemed like forever so I offered up the song and its video in all it's cheesy mid-nineties habibi pop glory to the gods of my iPod. It worked! Smash Mouth started this one and I was instantly transported back to being at secondary school. Looong time ago now.

Anyway, today I did a hill run at 6.5mph for 35 minutes. It wasn't that hard at all, but then I wasn't pushing myself either.

I've agreed to go to the gym with some colleagues tomorrow and do a fitness test. The easy level involves running 2 miles in 20 minutes 30 seconds, 17 push-ups within 2 minutes, and 45 minutes in 2 minutes. I could do the run easy-peasy since it's no faster than a slow jog, but like most runners I have zero upper body strength and haven't done a sit up in yonks. I could also do the elite test, which is 50 push ups in 2 minutes, 82 sit-ups in 2 minutes, and 2 miles in 15 minutes and 48 seconds.

I'll let you know how I get on tomorrow. :)

Oh, I keep getting aches after running in my leg muscles - one developed in my right ham-string after today's run - so I'm thinking about getting a foam roller to use for stretching. I know I've had the princely sum of 2 comments, but if anyone sees this post and has used a foam roller could they let me know what they thought of it?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Habibi Ya Nour al-Ain

My iPod shuffle earphones broke the other day and I've been stuck with using my normal headphones while working in the gym until I can be bothered to replace them. So I can't skip songs, change the sound etc.


I'm putting it up to placate gods of the ipod so hopefully the first words I hear won't be 'Habibi ya nour al-ain ya sakin khayali...' *sobs*

Anyway, today I did a long slow 'active recovery run' for 45 minutes.

I met my boss on the way to the gym and he suggested the reason I was finding my race pace and interval runs hard was because I was running 6 days a week and not getting enough rest, and maybe overtraining (for my standard of fitness which is admittedly still at the 'blobby plodder' level) by doing too many interval runs. He pointed out that a hill run is also a interval run, so I was doing 3 interval runs a week and only needed one or too.

So the training plan is roughly:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Hill
Wednesday - Cross-train
Thursday - Race Pace
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Slow distance increase
Sunday - Interval

Saturday, 7 May 2011

What Else Is There?

I needed a good run, something I could do and afterwards feel like I'd achieve something, a distance and speed I could run and get into the rhythm and remind myself why I enjoy running: my feet tearing through the miles while I let my mind wander and relax. So gave myself a break. I ran 4.5 miles for my distance increase run today in 41.14 with an average pace of 09:10 or thereabouts.

While I was running What Else Is There? came on my iPod and the chilled out vibe suited the way I wanted to feel when I ended my run.

I think I had an easier run today because I've consciously eaten more. I'm trying to lose weight so am restricting calories. I think I found Thursdays and Friday's runs so hard because I'd been eating barely over 1000 calories net on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'd had a bit of a binge on Monday so even though I hadn't eaten healthily I had more fuel for my Tuesday run. I'm going to try to not restrict how much I eat to stupidly low levels and give myself a break on the food front as well.

Friday, 6 May 2011


So I found it hard to do my allotted 20 minute interval training this afternoon. Going over my blog just now I realise it's because I set my jog pace too fast - 6.5mph instead of 6mph. No wonder I couldn't recover after running for a minute at 8.1mph. Either way I'm going to downgrade my aim for the 10k to running it in under 55 minutes, because I really doubt I'll be able to complete any runs if I keep trying to train for a sub-50 minute 10k.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


I need to stop whining and finding excuses for why I can't run. Today the reasons were: I forgot a second hairtie and couldn't tie my hair in a bun so it was left in a pony tail to flop around my neck and drip sweat down my back and irritate me, the almost-new earphones on my iPod shuffle broke the other day so I had to use my normal headphones and couldn't use the special toggle on my special iPod headphones to adjust the volume or skip tracks, I'd quickly bought some new running shorts and when I wore them today I realised they were far too short for my fat legs, a colleague got back from holiday so we all caught up on the gossip and the situation at work pissed me off all over again.

So what I'm trying to say is I failed to run a proper Race Pace Thursday again. I'm beginning to seriously doubt if I can manage the 10K in 50 minutes or even an hour. You know what's the most irritating? I started running 7.5mph on the treadmill, dropped to 7, then dropped to 6.5mph after I was finding it hard to breathe. And I still couldn't do it. I had to stop at 2 miles (instead of the planned 3) . And only the other day I had comfortably done 4 miles on the hill programme on the treadmill at... 6.5mph. So today I failed to do something easier than I did on Monday.

I have no idea what to do. Part of my thinks I should aim at a sub-55 minute 10K, part of me thinks I shouldn't be discouraged and still aim for the sub-50 minute 10K, or simply train for it and take what comes on the day.

I've signed up for a 5K a week on Sunday. A couple of us are running together and aiming for a sub-24 5K, so whatever happens I'm going to try to keep up.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Last Mention of the Royal Wedding

This had me giggling like a loon.

That is all.

Ambling Alp

About a year ago I was getting a lift home with a few colleagues when this song came on. It blew me away, I loved it. And I was introduced to the genius that is Yeasayer and a song which is named after an Italian heavyweight boxer Primo 'Ambling Alp' Carnera, references the German heavyweight boxer Max Schmelling, and American heavyweight boxer Joe Louis's fights with them which came to symbolise the fight against fascism, although Schmelling wasn't a Nazi and emigrated to the US. It went straight on my gym playlist.

So today I did cross-training. 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes cycling.

I've heard about a 5k on the 15th which I'm going to enter to see if I can break 24:30 to gauge how well I've progressed on my aim to run the 10k in 50 minutes. I'm feeling confident, to be honest.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Question - GPS

I'm thinking about getting a GPS sportswatch.

1) I don't own a watch and don't want to cart my brick of a phone around to time my run. If I remember to look before I head out of the door I usually time myself using the clock on the cooker. Timing my runs is difficult.

2) I often run through a local housing estate near I where live onto a disused railway line so I can run without having to cross roads and keep an eye out for traffic, or having to stop and wait at traffic lights. So I do out-back-runs because it's more convenient than a circular run around the housing estates or streets of the town where I live. This makes it difficult to know exactly how far I've gone because I have plot a run on memorize where to turn around. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't and I find out afterwards I've run too far or turned back to early (usually if I do this I'm cheating because I feel lazy). A GPS would fix this.

3) A GPS watch with a HRM would help my training

4) I like gadgets.

Loads of bloggers use Garmin Forerunners and seem to love them.

I'm not sure whether to get a Forerunner 405 as reviews mention the bezel goes haywire if it gets wet and I don't really intend to run in the rain, ever, but I am a bit of a sweaty betty so this could be a problem,

Or a 410 which doesn't seem to have the wet bezel issues,

Or pre-order a 610 because it is the newest and the shiniest with a touch screen (OMG A TOUCH SCREEN! Old technology at a premium price, people!). It would be neat, but it is eye-wateringly expensive and I would be really annoyed if the touch screen is over sensitive or doesn't work well if it got wet from sweat. I could always sell it on ebay (one careful yet disgruntled owner...) and get the 410 instead. It's pre-order only with a shipment due in early May so there is still the chance it may not arrive in time to aide the training I'm doing for the 10k.

I don't know what to do!

Wasted Little DJs

Today I ran a 4 mile hill session on the treadmill at the gym. It was supposed to go to level 8, but I found out that if you select level 8 the treadmill only inclines to level 6.7, which is odd. I ran at 6.5mph for all but the last half a mile when I upped it to 7mph. I was pretty chuffed with it to be honest because a month ago I wouldn't have been able to even contemplate running at 7mph, let alone on a hill course.

The last song on my session on Sunday and today was Wasted Little DJs by The View, which is a nice coincidence.


Today is a rest day. No exercise. So I'm posting a chilled out Sufi song that I love. This is a strange song. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I find it grating because it never goes anywhere and the slightly discordant music gets on my nerves. Right now I'm feeling a little stressed, so closing my eyes and letting this song fill my head is what I need.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


I popped to the gym and tried my first interval session for over a year today. I jogged 1 minute at 6mph (10 min/mile) then ran for 1 minute at 8.1mph (07:24 min/mile) for 10 repetitions. It was bad and by the last 2 repetitions I was gasping for breath and beginning to feel sick during the 8.1mph sections. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be as I had imagined I would be dying by halfway through. It was a challenge, but not impossible. Hopefully it will do me some good.

The first song that came on during my run was Yawlidi by Souad Massi, an incredibly talented Algerian singer/song writer who lives in France. Yawlidi means 'My Boy' in Arabic (welllll, if you're being pedantic it means 'Oh, My Boy' but I'm a lazy translator and when I see 'ya' in front of a name in an informal context I tend to ignore it)  and is a list of instructions from a mother to her son on how to live his life well - he has to get up early, go to school, keep his mind strong and independent, and know when to walk away and when to stand his ground. A translation of the lyrics can be found here, which is a blog I love run by a blogger far more talented than I. The song jogs along and always puts a smile on my face. Sometimes I can't help but dance a bit while I'm listening to it in the gym.

I'm already red in the face, sweaty and panting. A little more public humiliation won't hurt.