Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Alive and Amplified

Due to work commitments I'm doing most of my running at the gym and it sucks. It's boring. There's nothing to look at aside from the TV and it's always on some rubbish reality TV show or MTV. I find myself thinking about how many more minutes I've got left to go 1 minute into the run. It's not as good as running outside in terms of technique,the difficulty of propelling yourself forward versus keeping up, not to mention fighting strong winds or dodging around people going slower than you are. It's hotter than running outside with no wind to cool you down and I get really sweaty. :(

Still, it's always there. It's never raining inside the gym. It's never sunny inside the gym - although sometimes in summer the AC does sometimes fail. It's never windy inside the gym. There are no jokers telling me I should be running when I'm walking to cool down after a 4 mile run. There are no hecklers at all in fact. I'm not going to be run over by someone on a school run. I'm not going to get overexcited Jack Russels running up to me and doing circles around my feet.

Today's run was a 35 tempo run. I intended to do 10 minutes warmup, 20 minutes at 85% of HRM, and 5 minutes cooldown. But I forgot to set a custom 85%, thought Garmin Level 5 corresponded to 85% when as far as I can tell it's closer to 90%. I should have known something was up when I was running at suspiciously close to race pace, but I kept up anyway. I know better for next time. It was a good run, and despite the dull surroundings I enjoyed it and felt knackered but energised at the same time by the end of it.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What a Difference A Day Makes

Ahh... Today's gym session went better than yesterday's. I had a better (but still not great :( ) night's sleep and two days of eating healthy and balanced meals at the correct times under my belt. Following Hal Higdon's plan  I had to do a 3 mile run at an easy pace. I set the treadmill to do a hill session at no more than level 3 to mimic running outdoors and used my Garmin to keep my heart rate under Zone 4. (I've just realized this is probably closer to 80% instead of Higdon's recommended 65%-75% so I need to set a custom max for my next run.)  I did the same yesterday and finished the 3 miles in 30:22 with an average heart rate of 161. Today I did it in 28:35 with an average heart rate of 161 as well.

I really love being able to do this.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dragging Me Down

Today's song from my gym playlist is one I usually skip because the tempo is too slow and being dragged down is the opposite effect I want to get from my workouts. But I haven't slept well recently due to travel for work and work-stress and today I went to the gym expecting an easy time but actually I struggled quite a lot due to being knackered. It was a drag (badum-tish).

I've settled on a 10k plan for my next 10k - I'm going to do Hal Higdon's 10-K Training: Intermediate. It's an 8-week plan that incorporates some basic upper body strength training which shouldn't result in straining my core, some speed workouts, and some long slow runs. It looks like it's the right intensity for what I want to achieve plus I will hopefully be able to go through it twice before the race in November. I will also be doing some yoga. I can't join a class because I can't find any near to me which are at a convenient time and location so I'm on the look out for a good yoga DVD or podcast. At the moment I'm sticking with a very basic one by Chaz Rough called Yoga for Runners.

I did the first session of the training plan - a 3 mile run and strength - today and the run was difficult when it shouldn't have been, mainly due to being tired and not doing much running last week. Although maybe I shouldn't beat myself up too much because I ran two hard races last week and my body did need to rest.

I've subscribed to a couple of running podcasts as well recently - the best being RunRunLive2.0. There's always interesting interviews and useful tips. Even if I'm nowhere near as fit or accomplished a runner as the guests I find their stories inspiring. Some of the tips I can use now, and others I'm keeping in mind for when I'm a better runner.

Do you subscribe to any running, fitness or health podcasts?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Missing - Mojo - Last seen on 17th July

Like the title says I've lost it big time. If I'm honest I think I'd even lost it before the 17th July. I've been stressed and unhappy about work this last week in a way which I'm not going to go into on my blog, and this has been affecting my eating habits. I've been miserably stuffing my face knowing I'm not hungry. I got halfway through a bag of chocolate-covered brazil nuts and thought, "I don't want these. They're too sweet and I feel a bit sick and I'm not hungry." But I finished them anyway. On top of that I've done no exercise at all since my last race.

I can diet, I can moderate my intake of alcohol, I can eat fresh fruit and vegetables, I can hit the gym hard.  However when I'm feeling unhappy I hit calorific food hard. There's no middle ground with me - I'm either gaining weight or losing it, and I'm getting sick of it. I want to lose this final stone and reduce my bodyfat %.  Come payday I'm going to get Intuitive Eating, which I think will help me

Overall I need to:
Work out a training schedule for my next 10k.
Get back to the gym.
Stop eating crap.
Stop wallowing in self-pity.

Has anyone else had any luck with other intuitive-eating promoting books, or is Intuitive Eating the be all and end all?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sunderland 5K Road Race 24:26 NEW PB!!!

The website bills the Sunderland 5k Road Race as 'fast and ideal for PB's'. The race is held in the paths through the park around the Silksworth Sports Complex. The course through the park goes around the lakes and so it's attractive race for one held in Sunderland. It's also very flat. I'd go as far as saying it was mostly downhill because the first part was downhill and the rest of it didn't contain any major hills. It was well organised and stuffed full with running club runners. I felt very nervous and out of place being there on my own.

Route of the Sunderland 5k.

Elevation of the Sunderland 5k. Verrrrry nice.

The first mile started off with a long stretch downhill and was very easy. In mile 2 I deliberately slowed down so I didn't burn out, and sped up in mile 3 because I was worried about not getting a sub-25.

I almost managed not to embarrass myself, but right at the finish line I thought someone pointing pointing out the finishing line was holding out his hand and I slapped it like an absolute muppet. How embarrassing?! I only afterwards realised what he was doing because I saw someone running down by the the side of the finish line instead of crossing it.

So how did I get a sub-25 5k? I've been training for a 10k which built up my endurance and stamina. I got a psychological boost from knowing that if I could run at a certain pace over a longer distance I could certainly go faster over a shorter one. I did interval training which increased my speed. I've done about 5 5k races now so my body is accustomed to running at a high effort over that distance. I also chose a race that was well known for being a good one for PBs.

Time: 24:26 (from my Garmin - my whistle time is easily 15 seconds longer because it took me a while to cross the starting line)
Avg Pace 07:42
Splits: Mile 1 07:22, Mile 2 07:53, Mile 3 07:50, Mile 4 (0.17 miles) 01:20 (avg pace 07:45)

Things to work on: Getting a sub-24 5k, not slowing down too much in the second mile.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm off to have a victory glass of white wine!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

And rest...

I'd barely finished Sunday's race before I was trying to work out my next 10k goal. My long-term goal is still a sub-50 minute 10k but right now I'm going to aim for a sub-52 10k. There's a couple of 10k races coming up in the northeast over August but I'm going to hold back and give myself a few more months to train. All being well I'm going to enter the Town Moor Memorial on November 13.

HAHA! I LIED  My next race will not be in November. A week ago I entered the Sunderland 5k Road Race. The course is billed as being flat and fast. I probably shouldn't have entered another race so soon after my last one. I'm going make another attempt on a sub-25 5k. I'm probably going to be desperately disappointed and will be whinging about it on here, but the flat course and convenience meant I couldn't resist. I rested yesterday and am resting today, kidding myself that if I treat Sunday like a long slow run I'm sort of 'tapering' before my 'proper' run. Um. Or something like that.

Anyway. Over lunch I went vegetable shopping in a local greengrocers and I was a bit like a child in a sweet shop. I bought globe artichokes, yellow (YELLOW!) tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, some of those flat peaches that are popular right now, and boring red tomatoes. I also saw some samphire and salsify, two vegetables I've never eaten before, which I didn't get because I really had no clue how to cook them. The internet tells me samphire is best steamed, and salsify can be peeled and treated like any other root vegetable. They are on the mental 'to buy' list.

Yummy yummy fruit and vegetable haul

 I've got some ground flax seed left over from the GN10k goody bag - how do you prefer to eat it if you do?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Great North 10K Recap - Edited

When I got up on Sunday morning it was tipping it down. Ru-roh, as Scooby Doo might have said. Fortunately the rain had eased by the time my family and Mr Scientist and I parked in Newcastle and it was merely drizzling by the time we got to Gateshead Stadium for the start of the Great North 10K. I was really anxious before the race and the weather did nothing for my nerves. I found myself alternatively wishing it would be called off, feeling sick, and wondering why the heck I put myself and my family through this for fun, and not only that, but paying for the privilege as well. Glumly I set my Garmin running partner to a slower pace, anticipating finding running on wet roads more difficult.

Full recap after the jump. I've edited this post to include a bit more info about the run.

Route of the Great North 10k according to my Garmin

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sort of walking the Great North 10K

I popped over to Gateshead yesterday to try to walk the Great North 10k. I went a bit wrong at the beginning, and didn't walk all to the end but I got a good feel for the area's hills and flats. It was hot and sunny. It is not hot and sunny today. It will not be hot and sunny tomorrow either. :(

Right now I'm having a lazy afternoon with a DVD of Tamara Drewe and a pot of green tea with mint while I wait for my parents to arrive for dinner. They're staying over and will be cheering me on at the race tomorrow. :)

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Here are some photos of the route of the run

Beautiful Gateshead International Stadium Industrial Park.

The Millenium Bridge over the Tyne

The Baltic art gallery

The Sage

Sculpture on the banks of the Tyne.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Good Run

Today I ran a 3 mile race pace session before tapering ahead of the 10k race on Sunday. I put it off and put it off even though I knew it was only 3 miles and it would be over in around 26 minutes. I was worried my stomach ache would reoccur. To be honest though I'm quite chuffed 3 miles is a short distance and a run which covers it in around 26 minutes is one which doesn't leave me feeling like my heart is going to explode or that I'm going to throw up. The sense of achievement and accomplishment was brilliant.

The first mile was tough and I was huffing and puffing and often falling behind Mr Sticky the running partner representation on my Garmin. Then when I got out of town and on to the disused railway I run on I got into the swing of it for the remaining 2.1 miles. I even considered speeding up to make an attempt on doing a sub-25 5k attempt but decided to stick to the plan and not risk wearing myself out. It was a typical evening run - still warm, still sunny, lots of midges and flies that I had to avoid swallowing. The most trouble I had was a touch of a stitch in my right side and a slight tugging in one of the muscles in my inside right thigh. NO STOMACH ACHE! YAY! HURRAH!

I did 3.1 miles in 25:58 with an average pace of 8:37/mile, and I'd do the 10k in 53:32 if I keep that up for the race on Sunday. Hahah oh I wish. I kind of felt like I could have continued at that pace for at least another 2 miles but I'm not expecting to be able to maintain that pace for the whole thing. Mainly because I've never run longer than 7 miles, haven't run 10k at my race pace, haven't run at all in the Gateshead area so the course will be very unfamiliar, and because I think the course is hillier than where I've been training.

Still no sign of my pack. I emailed the race organisers and they said my pack had been sent out but that duplicate packs are available on the race day.

I have tomorrow afternoon off so I might pop to Gateshead to scope out the course of the 10k if I get time.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Nerves and New Complete Vegetarian Review

Hello, hello.

Last night I had a dream about the Great North 10K on Sunday. I dreamt I ran it in six hours and when I looked at my Garmin I'd only covered 3.2 miles or thereabouts. Wail!

Running has been better and I no longer have stomach aches, but then I've been slacking recently and haven't been pushing myself at all. It's feeling like I've been building up to the race forever and I'm beginning to get bored of it. I think this apathy is due to being worried because I haven't received my race pack with my number yet. To my paranoid mind that means it's not going to come and I'm not going to be able to run in the race. I've been raising money for charity and if I can't run in the race I'll have to tell everyone and it'll be humiliating. Also even if I run I've been so rubbish recently I'm going to run it really slow and come in at 1 hour 30 or something because I still haven't gotten around to walking the course and I don't know what the hills are like and I'm worried that they're crazy steep and and and...

And breathe.

On to the review. A while ago I bought Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian. I like it. It's clearly and concisely laid out and has some gorgeous photos, but not so many that as with some other cookbooks you wonder if the glossy photos are padding out a book lacking in recipes.
 The recipes are well written but invoke my pet cookery book peeve - no indication of how long it takes to prepare and cook the food at the beginning of the recipe. Grumble grumble.

I've tried out a few of the recipes. They tend to be on the easy and cheap side to make and favour everyday vegetables like carrots, courgettes, peppers, potatoes, and peas etc. Even the curries have ingredients you could easily find in a supermarket and won't languish unused in the back of your cupboard. Most recipes are healthy and just a touch on the 'wholesome' side of life with lots of brown rice, pulses, fresh vegetables and little oil. However there's plenty of cakes and bakes at the back of the book if you want to indulge.

I've tried peppers and macaroni (sauted peppers, onion, and tomatoes mixed with macaroni), courgette rice (brown rice cooked with courgettes, tomato and onions), and pea, potato and carrot curry. On the whole they've been quick and simple to make, although sometimes lacking in a little oomf when it comes to taste. Mr Scientist thought the peppers and macaroni and courgette rice were bland, although by 'bland' he actually meant 'not a curry containing 3 chilli peppers'. They were still nice, however, and the peppers and macaroni perfect for a quick midweek supper.

This book is not going to collect dust on my shelf, and I'm going to use it a lot.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Running Woes and What I Ate Thursday

Hello, and how are you doing this Wednesday?

I was due to do a 4 mile race-pace run and I really didn't want to do it. Earlier this evening I got caught in a rainstorm on the way home and soaked. I was debating all the way through the storm whether or not to go for a run when it stopped. It stopped, I got home, found out I only had a neon pink top and my teeny-tiny race shorts clean, but went out any way.

It was still very wet out so I opted for a run along country tracks rather than the main road because I didn't like the way drivers had to go around puddles to avoid splashing me/potential potholes. I got nettled, thistled, very muddy, and really missed my 3/4 length capris. I also wished I was wearing wellies or trainers that didn't have holes in them.

My stomach ache came back as well with a vengeance about one mile in and I had to stop due to the knotting feeling in my upper abdomen. I'm annoyed because it didn't occur at all during an intervals session on Tuesday and cross-training session yesterday. I debated turning around and going home, but decided that putting in the miles slowly would be better than not doing them at all. I think I walked about a mile in all, and feel a bit worried about how I'm going to perform on race day.

I have the sneaky suspicion the stomach ache may be due to overstraining my core muscles due to the press ups and sit ups I've been doing, so I'm going to pause the programmes until after the race. I hope this will sort it once I've gotten over them.

My weight-loss attempts have also been a bit pants lately and I haven't eaten well at all. I find that tracking everything I eat helps me lose weight and prevents me from cheating or falling off the wagon. I was going to do What I Ate Wednesday to get back on the straight and narrow, but my partner and I went out for dinner before going to see Senna at the cinema (go see it even if you don't like Formula 1 it's still a breathtaking story of dedication, rivalry, inconsistency, risk-taking and passion) and I ate a yummy hummus and tzaziki starter with lots of toasted pitta bread then even more yummy yemista, but didn't photograph it.

So on to What I Ate Thursday.

The day started with overnight muesli made from porridge oats, Tesco's low-fat natural yoghurt, a fruit and nut mix, and black cherries washed down with a mug of black coffee. Before work I had an unpictured small latte.

For lunch I had two Food Doctor pitta breads toasted and filled with Tesco halloumi with chilli, three tomatoes, some lettuce and some home-made beetroot. I also drank a couple of glasses of water. I almost forgot to photograph it, which is why one of the pita breads is half-eaten.

After lunch I marinated some tofu in a dessertspoon of sesame seed oil, a dessertstpoon of Sriracha chilli sauce, a dessertspoon of soy sauce, and a teaspoon each of crunchy peanut butter and honey then stir-fried the tofu for dinner in another dessertspoon of sesame seed oil, a Sainsbury's stir-fry vegetable pack, and some straight to wok Singapore-style noodles. It was delicious and tasted creamy, spicey and not too sweet.

If I'm hungry later I may have some Kallo hint of chilli mini rice cakes and an apple.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Quattro (World Drifts In)

I can't believe I haven't featured one of my favourite bands, Calexico, yet. The driving drums but laid back feel to the song were perfect for my easy recovery run. I should have run it yesterday, but went to the beach instead, so I swapped the days around. I headed out of the village and into the countryside. I love running outside in the summer. No stomach ache, but then I didn't run fast at all.

Time: 45:04
Distance: 4.22 miles
Avg Pace: 10:41


On Saturday I ran the longest I've ever run. A long slow 6 miles along the high street, through the retail park dodging afternoon shoppers pulling out of the carpark, down the hill on a lane that runs between fields of oats and cow, over the river and the sportsfield and along a trail through the wood. Then I turned around and came back, I'm not very good at working out circular running routes. I ran later than I usually do, starting at 5pm because it was so warm up here in the usually frozen north. The air smelt of cut grass and the trees were a deep green tinged with blue in the late afternoon haze. I was glad to be outside.

My run wasn't so good. I've been suffering from mildly uncomfortable tummy aches over the last few runs. They're worse when I push myself, but even my long slow run was tough. I had to stop about 6 times in order to alleviate it. I'm not sure what's causing it and the internet is no help. It could be drinking too much water before running, not drinking enough, eating too much or not eating enough to fuel my body, not having enough core strength or straining my core with the pushups and situps I'm doing, etc etc etc. It could also be due to some pills I'm taking which can cause nausea and stomach aches as a side affect. Last week I also did more exercise than I usually do, so it could also be due to that.

It's worrying because it means I couldn't push myself as much as I'd like to, and if it continues it will badly affect my run on 17th July. I just hope that like the and hamstring calf twinges I had a few months back these aches will pass. I got the advise to try to keep my breaths in sync with my feetstrikes, so I'll try this today.

I'm still pleased I ran 6 miles. When I first started going to the gym I could barely run a mile, and when I first started losing weight I couldn't run for the bus.

Distance: 6 miles
Moving Time: 57:06
Elapsed Time: 01:01:44
Avg Pace: 09:39
On Saturday The Guardian had a few articles about fitness and specifically running.
I read the article about tips from Olympic coaches for advice on how to deal with stomach aches, but no love.

One of them had short pieces about why people run. One journalist said they run to look as fit as George Clooney, another said she runs to have some time to herself, and the last said he runs to help his mental health. I'm a mixture of the first two - vanity and space. Running and exercise help me lose weight, and when I reach my goal weight they'll help me maintain it.

I also run to get fitter and improve just like you'd practice an instrument.

Running helps me if I'm in a bad mood or upset. I was in a foul mood on Friday and, frankly, being a right mardy cow for very little reason. I started off angry and running fast before I physically told myself to slow down or I wouldn't finish the run at all. I slowed my pace, got my breathing under control, and I could feel myself calming down. I completed the run despite having to stop frequently to ease my stomach ache and was a much nicer person by the end of it...

The only problem I had with the article was the response of some of the commenters below the line. I know the internet is full of nutters and malcontents and that opinions are like bumholes but some non-runner commenters seemed to feel that they were somehow superior to runners for not doing something they don't enjoy. I may need to be called a wahmbulance but this smug attitude of denigrating someone else's hobby or choice because you don't understand the attraction of it is one I find intensely irritating. I think it comes from insecurity, but also from plain narrow-mindedness and it's something I find baffling. Surely as an adult it should come as no surprise that different people have different hobbies, and that it's pointless to feel smug about not doing other people do enjoy.

Anyway, whinge over. I also discovered parkrun and there are a few nearish to me, so I can use them to work on getting that sub-25 5k without having to pay to enter loads of races, although I'm probably going to enter a race on 20th July.

Another thing - there's a running club that meets within walking distance of where I live. I'd like to join to improve my running with people who know what they're doing as well as to meet new people. , However I've seen them out and they all look impossibly fit and slim.

Should I join now, or wait til I'm a slightly less blobby and slow runner?

Friday, 1 July 2011

June Goals Review and Goals for July

In June I set myself some tentative goals for the month.
  • Lose 4lb 
3.4lb lost. Not bad, I'm a bit disappointed but I haven't eaten particularly well this week, nor have I stuck to my no-alcohol goal, so to be honest I'm lucky I've lost this much. Hurray for running!
  •  Complete every 10k training session 
I missed an interval session on Tuesday because I had the wrong shorts on. I had accidentally packed the shorts that creep up my legs and I hate them but I only realised when I put them on at the gym. I'd planned an interval training session but decided to go for cross-training instead, and was too busy to make up for it on Wednesday or Thursday.
I did weeks 1 and 2, then decided to go back to week 1. By the end of week 2 I was cheating a bit by doing shallow pushups or collapsing to the ground on the last pushup of the set. I knew I wouldn't be able to move on to week 3 and didn't want to cheat so decided to take a step back and repeat the weeks to build up my strength. It worked and I did week 1 very easily, but then life somehow got in the way and I didn't do any more. All the same I completed 130 pushups in June. I don't want to come across as smug, because there are people out there able to do a lot more than this, but I'm still pretty chuffed! Also, I'm getting some muscle definition in my back and arms and losing a bit of the fat in that area.
Life somehow got in the way and I've just completed week 3. My situps are strong, fluid and with good form. It hasn't been easy, but I feel confident I can work through the programme without having to repeat weeks. I think I can see a bit more muscle definition on my belly as well, although this could be due to weightloss. I completed a total of 631 situps in June.
  • No alcohol till me 10k run 
 I didn't drink at all until last Thursday, when I had a glass of wine. Then a few more wines and beers over the weekend at my parents, then another glass or two with a friend on Wednesday. This may be why I failed to lose 4lb this month...

 My goals for July are going to be very similar.
  • Lose 4lb
  • Do weeks 2 and 3 of the 100 pushups programme twice
  • Do weeks 4-6 of the 200 situps programme
  • Do not skip a training session. NOT EVEN INTERVALS.
  • Complete the Great North 10k in under an hour
  • No alcohol until the Great North 10k