Tuesday, 28 June 2011


On Sunday morning I went for an easy 45 minutes active recovery run. I headed down a disused railway track near my parents' house in a rural village. It was hot, I toddled along passing dog walkers and families on bicycles. Just as I was coming off the railway track at the end and turning down the main road to the close where they live I spotted a sheep trotting down the road in front of me and slowing the cars down. It looked like one of this year's lambs and had obviously squeezed out of the field where it lived. I shepherded it down the close, into a neighbours' garden (I was aiming for mum and dad's) where it ate their veg patch for a bit then my dad and partner managed to somehow scare it into another neighbour's garden while I went for a shower.

We stood there looking at it, when the neighbour drove up and asked if we'd like to put it in her field. We had no idea, but the week before they had asked to buy partof the field adjacent to their house. The farmer had said no because he was seeking planning permission for it, but allowed them to fence a bit of it off. So we popped the sheep in there and eventually the neighbour found out which farm it had come from and it was taken home by the farmer.

Distance: 4.05 miles
Time: 55:11
Avg Pace: 10:29

Friday, 24 June 2011

Carmen - Overture

I procrastinated loads before today's run. I'm off work at the moment, which is why I was able to procrastinate loads before 4pm. I think it was because I needed to take my car to the garage to fill it up, hoover it and possibly put it through the car wash so putting off my run was a way of putting off doing that because I couldn't possibly sort my car out before I went for a run. Let me explain: I have a car, however I have an irrational fear of garages. Everyone's in a rush at the because seriously who wants to take their time when they are only stopping off on the way to somewhere else they want to or have to be? So I get stressed about messing it up somehow and delaying people. I'm terrified I'll accidentally put diesel in my car instead of petrol - even though I'm pretty sure this is impossible nowadays because they have different nozzles or something. I'm also scared I'll accidentally drive into a bollard or a pump.  I guess since I'm a new driver I'm just scared that somehow, somewhere, I am going to fuck it up for me and everyone else and someone will yell at me for it.

So delaying going for a run meant I could delay going to the garage.

So I sat around. Then I rang Mr Scientist to ask him how much it costs to vacuum your car out at the garage, because somehow it made me feel better. His answer, "I didn't know you could do that." Then I rang dad since we're visiting this weekend to tell him what time we'd be arriving and asked him if I needed to take my aerial off if I put the car through a car wash. His answer, "Maybe, why don't we jetwash it with my jetwash when you get here?" Dad bought a jetwash a while back. He loves it. It's like a grandchild to him. He's jetwashed his and mum's car many times. He's jetwashed the path and the patio. Like the Daily Mail's never-ending quest to split the world into things that either cause or cure cancer, world is now split into things you can jetwash, and things you can't. Then I cleaned the inside of my car and sat around some more.

Then I womanned up, got in my car and drove it to the garage and filled it up and put it through the car wash.

After that I still didn't want to go for a run. So I got into my running stuff, sat around a bit more, then went.

4 miles through the housing estate and onto the old railway line. I had a wind at my back on the way out and was running into the wind on the way home. We had a torrential downpour yesterday so I was splashing through the odd muddy puddle as well. It felt wonderful, like I was a proper runner and everything. My tummy ache turned into proper cramps that I had to stop for 3 times, and on the last 3/4 miles I was really flagging... until the overture from Carmen came on.


Lesson from today's run: Just get off your bum and do it. Everyone else does it. It's not scary or difficult. It's just life, so get on with it and stop worrying.

What things do you do to procrastinate? Do you use exercise to procrastinate, or do you procrastinate before exercise.?

4 Miles 34:29
Total time: 35:31
Avg Pace: 08:27

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I heard cathedral bells tripping down the alleyways


I went for a run on Monday night. I turned out of the block of flats, down the main road, through the retail estate, down the single-lane track the leads down the steep sides of the lush hill with a view across miles more of valleys and woods, into town, along the streets crowded with students and runners, across the bridge and up to where the cathedral resides. There I remembered For Emily Whenever I May Find Her, which is a lovesong of heartfelt gratitude, and the line about hearing cathedral bells tripping down the alleyways.

I headed back for the river bank and the languid waters with students floating in rubber tubes and rowers and deep green trees overhead. There I stopped and began to walk, tired and melancholy. I followed the river around and under bridges until I reached the road that leads up into the hill on which the suburb I live in sits.

I reached my block of flats, worn out, my mind calm.

This is why I run, I told myself.

Right now I should go for a run. I skipped on a gym session after realising I'd forgotten my sportsbra, a vital piece of equipment any woman would agree. I've eaten too much today having never felt full, I feel weepy and melancholy. It's dusk and I'm seized with that feeling I used to get dusk when I was a child when I just wanted to get out there and run and run following the path along the rugged coast near where I grew up until I reached Lindisfarne or Scotland or somewhere far away.

But right now it's getting dark and from my window I think can see another rain storm sweeping across the rooftops and treetops towards me.

I can run tomorrow, it's ok.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

No Music

Today I went to the gym with the intention of running a 4 mile race pace trial, doing day 2 of week 2 of the 100 pushup challenge and 200 situp challenge. Halfway through the situps my iPod ran out of power. I was in a workout mindset so I ran anyway.

34 minutes and 14 seconds later I completed it with only one pause - because the treadmill is automatically limited to 30 minutes. I'm not a treadmill hog, honest, there are about 30 treadmills and only about 10 were being used. I'm a very conscientious gym user, really.

The run felt good. Not as good as if I'd just packed up my trainers and gone and done it outside later on but I was in the mood and I knew if I did it after going home it would be late and I would probably put it off till tomorrow or some such thing.

But the run felt good. It wasn't easy and I spent too much time looking down as the miles crawled by as there was little else to look at. Before the run I remembered that I found last week's 3.5mile race pace run incredibly difficult because I felt like I just didn't have the energy, and I was worried I was going to need the music to get me through it.

But the run felt good. The act of concentrating on my form to keep my shoulders and arms down felt good. I tense my shoulders and my hands creep up to my chest resulting in aching shoulders. I swear to God I can come back from a run with my leg muscles feeling fine and no blisters or anything like that but my right shoulder blade killing me. Also, pushups give me short-lived headaches. WTF, body?

The act of putting one foot in front of the other, managing my breathing, keeping my body going felt good. It would have felt better with the sun and wind on my face but it still felt good. And I needed it, I really did. After last week I needed a boost to let me know it's going to be ok and I can do this 10k. I've been overthinking training recently, worrying about if I'm training effectively, if I need to speed up, slow down, do something different, use my HRM more... so it was good to just set a target and enjoy getting there.

I now know I can run for 4 miles in very boring circumstances, since I run better outside, with an average pace of 08:33.5. I would not have been able to do that before I started training for this 10k. I now know I can enjoy running for itself.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Short Change Hero

Ok so I'm at the gym. Last night I discovered an amazing song by an amazing band, Short Change Hero by The Heavy, and I thought, "That is going on my gym playlist RIGHT NOW." I could see it being used in a western film with cowboys getting ready for a shootout at noon in a flea-infested town somewhere in the deserts of Utah. The wind whistles and raises a small dust devil that rolls along the main street. The hero chews down on his cigar and squints. The townspeople rush inside. The churchbell tolls...

So I downloaded it, loaded it onto my iPod shuffle and practically skipped to the gym today knowing that THIS AMAZING SONG would feature in my workout and I was looking forward to my planned CT session because it's not as hard as the intervals I did yesterday or the race pace run I've got tomorrow.

So I got to the gym and hopped on the elliptical. 30 minutes later it still hadn't appeared. Never mind, I had 30 minutes on the bike to do as well, it would surely crop up.  15 minutes in and still no 'Short Change Hero'. My earphones have been dodgy recently and I lost Lefty last week. 15 minutes in Righty joined him in the big earphone factory in the sky.


So I got off the bike and went home.

How do you handle music disappointment?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Thor's Cave and the Manifold Way

Manifold Valley from Thor's Cave
I have been major internet problems, so that's why I've been somewhat quiet recently. My 5k race and last walk in the Peak District after the jump.

Monday, 6 June 2011


So here is a peaceful song for a peaceful run. On Sunday I ran a slow 40 minute recovery run. Usually for my recovery run I just run slowly for the set time, but this time I used the heart rate monitor on my Garmin to set my pace... If I'm correct, and I could be wrong because I'm still getting to grips with using a HRM for training, recovery runs should be at 50%-60% of the max heart rate and I found out for me that's slightly faster than a brisk walk/jog (omg embarassing!) and I have been running too quickly on my recovery runs to fully benefit from them. So I ran slower and it was a lot harder than I thought to keep my heart rate down. And today was a rest day so there's little more to report on the training front.

But going back to hiking in the Peak District. On the first day we walked in the Hope Valley up Losehill, along the Great Ridge to Mam Tor and back down to Castleton and it was beautiful.

The second day we did one of the most famous Peak District walks - Kinder Scout from Edale. The route we followed can be found here.

We started around lunchtime, having had a lazy breakfast of American pancakes and general faffage.

Grindsbrook, near the start of the walk. In this little valley we were met with two ways around a steep hillock at the side of Grindsbrook - along the rocky beck or over the top of the hillock - and a very kind man all in green told us they both met up after it, but the way scrambling over the rocks in Grindsbrook was more fun so we followed that.

After following Grindsbrook Clough for a while you come to the last ascent onto the Kinder Plateau, a scramble that looks formadible but which is easier than it looks with lots of well-rooted boulders to climb up. This site has much better pictures than I of tha part of the walk in much better weather too! We overtook a family who were climbing it with their children. One of the girls was just 6 years old and she was bouncing up it, how amazing is that?

After that we headed across the Kinder Plateau for Kinder Downfall. On the map it looks fairly straightforward - follow the path across a flat bit. Only we lost the path. And had to scramble around peat bogs intercut by gullies where streams flowed in order to find the path again.

On Kinder Plateau

After that we headed for Kinder Downfall - a waterfall that plunges off the edge of the Kinder Plateau and down into the valley below. Only it would if it wasn't so windy it was being blown back up onto the plateau.

Kinder Downfall.

Sheep sheltering at the top of Kinder Downfall.

The sheep around Kinder Downfall were among the friendliest I've ever met, in fact they're the only friendly sheep I've ever met - they must be used to walkers feeding them sandwiches.

We were dog tired by the time we got back to the farm, but ready to walk through the Manifold Valley to Thor's Cave on the Sunday.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Bang bang bang

Today was a fairly easy 4 mile distance run at a 6.5mph pace. Fortunately the AC in the gym was fixed and I didn't feel like I was trying to run in a wetsuit.

Today I also roughly plotted the course of the 10k I'm doing in July - the Great North 10k - on walkjogrun.net. From what I can tell there are quite a few steep hills, but they're not very high. I'll walk it when I get the chance. Where I live if you're not going down a hill you're coming up one, so I'll work as many as humanly possible into my runs to try to get myself ready.

What other things would you recommend?

I mentioned I went to the Peak District over the weekend. We found a few walks from walkingenglishman.com and followed them since none of us knew the area at all. The site's brilliant - it has a great many walks from all over the UK and is very detailed as it has full routes mapped out on OS maps as well as information about potential hazards and where you can get refreshments (beers in our case!) and so on. Some websites just list the start and end points with a few directions where to turn left etc, so it's great to be able to plot them out on your own map. I can't recommend it enough.

We started with a walk along the Great Ridge to Mam Tor in the Hope Valley. We started near Castleton, not Hope, and curtailed the walk because we were hungry and the pub was beckoning. Rather than walk across the hill from Mam Tor to descend into Castleton between Peveril Castle and Peak Cavern we turned and followed the road/path to Mam Tor Farm and down into Castleton that way.

The walk was a beautiful introduction to the Peak District.

Looking back toward Lose Hill you can see the path we followed along the ridge with Edale to the left and the Hope Valley to the right.

Here you can see the edge of Mam Tor cliff looking back over Back Tor and Lose Hill in the distance. Ignore the date, we didn't travel back in time...

A perfect walk to blow the cobwebs away and get us ready to walk Kinder Scout the next day...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Burning Down the House

Hello, I'm back. I'm not dead or abandoning the blog. I've been busy and I've been away. My partner and I spent the bank holiday weekend walking in the Peak District with friends. The calories I burnt walking just about covered the pub meals and beer, but only just. I'm going to blog our walks later this week when I've a bit more time.

Today's song is in honour of a) one of the best bands ever, and b) the gym today because the AC was broken and it felt like it was around 28C in there. I was doing some sit-ups and pushups on a mat and I swear to God my shins were sweating. Not the healthy I've-just-done-some-heart-pumping-cardio sweat, but the miserable itchy sweat that your body does when it's too hot and it wants you to find a nice fridge to sit in. Or is this TMI?

Anyway, my 3.5mile 6.9mph race pace run on the treadmill was incredibly difficult, and I felt a bit sick afterwards but I refused to give up (aside from a short pause to swig some water around 2 miles in) because I've been slack recently and missed a few training sessions. I missed an interval and a long-distance run last week on top of the runs I'd already planned to drop because I'd be walking instead.

All I know is if the AC is still broken tomorrow there's no way I'll be able to do my planned interval session. :(

I'm going to tentatively put some June goals up. I'm a bit loath to do this because I rarely achieve stated goals, but here goes anyway.
Anyone else got any goals?
Anyone want to do the hundred pushups and two hundred sit-ups challenge with me?