Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hadrian's Wall

I visited another friend in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, last week. We went for a walk along Hadrian's Wall from Once Brewed to Housesteads Roman Fort and back. It was a blustery late summer day, and the weather was markedly different to the October storm when I first visited when I was 15. The area kept its bleak beauty, and I have to admit I enjoyed it best when it was bitterly cold with a biting wind and horizontal rain. We borrowed a dog.

I thoroughly recommend borrowing a dog for enhancing any walking experience.

For enhancing any experience, really.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Marsden Bay

I've been absent from blogging and commenting due to being very busy then going away to the Leeds Festival. Normal service will resume shortly after I've caught up with reading blogs.

The other weekend some friends and I got together for a walk around Marsden Bay near South Shields. We hadn't done many walks around this area so it would be a good opportunity to explore somewhere closer to home rather than trekking all the way to the Peak or Lake District.

Monday, 22 August 2011


And and it's not about you joggers who go round and round and round...

On Saturday I popped down to my local Parkrun. It was a glorious late August day - you know the ones where the sky is blue, the cornfields are ripe, and the trees look a glossy green. Absolutely beautiful.

Parkrun is a volunteer-run network of timed 5k races that take place every Saturday in certain locations around the world. They started in London but have branched out across the UK and into Denmark and Australia. You register on the website and are given a barcode which you print off and take to the event so you can get it scanned at the finish line. Laminate your barcode. I didn't and had to borrow a safety pin from a marshal so I could pin it to the bottom of my running shirt so it didn't get sweaty.

The parkrun was friendly and welcoming with an informal atmosphere. About halfway round I got a painful stitch and I had to keep bending forward to ease it. I was worried at mile 2 that I was going to have to stop and walk but I kept going. I managed a bit of a sprint to the finish but forgot to turn my garmin off as I crossed the line. When I did stop the timer and looked at my watch I saw it was 24:21, which was a new PB! When I got home I opened the parkrun email and saw that my actual time was 24:01, an even better PB! I'd knocked 23 seconds off my previous PB. :)

1 07:50
2 07:49
3 07:46
4 (.8 of a mile - and I forgot to turn my garmin off) 00:00:55

Friday, 19 August 2011


I've just started reading Intuitive Eating. To celebrate this and the fact that I've lost 4.6 lb so far this month I had a binge today and ate bread, two Graze box punnets, loads of dates, a bag of Percy Pigs (they're vegetarian now so it's ok), and a 230g bar of dairy milk. I feel thoroughly blah.

This morning I ran an easy 2 miles and did a 1 hour Yogalates session.

Back on the wagon with a healthy meal tonight, Parkrun tomorrow, and a long walk with friends on Sunday. That should blow the blahs away.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Good Life

Love this song. So uplifting and joyous. It's a song that makes you lift your head and chest, stand up straight and push yourself harder, if only because you're going to leave stress behind you.

Today was another club run. I was told it would be 10 x 1 minute fartlek sessions. I've never done fartlek before so I was looking forward to trying something different. It started with a 10 minute jog, then fartlek along a trail, and then when we were done ended with a 10 minute jog up a huge hill. In the end we did just over 6 miles, longer than the easy run on Tuesday. I was too out of puff to chat mych but it was great fun. However I struggled to keep up and didn't pace my speed intervals well. Sometimes I didn't push myself; sometimes I pushed myself too hard. I've never done speed intervals off the treadmill before so it's definitely a skill I need to work on.

I was also held back due to suffering from stomach cramps. Yup, the stomach ache when running fast is back again. :( One of the club runners who's a physio said this was due to not having a strong core. In laymen's terms this is due to the stomach muscles over-compensating for the extra movement in your legs and arms when you run fast and contracting aggressively in order to keep your internal organs stable and to provide a tighter base from which the rest of your body moves - I think! 

I've been doing 2 sets of 12 pushups a week over the past few weeks which might have aggravated my core muscles. I've stopped doing that in favour of yogalates so I hope the yogalates is gentler on my core muscles. If I don't notice an improvement I'll try dropping the number of sessions to one a week. The physio also said I don't need to go crazy about this and that doing a plank stretch during an ad break while watching TV a few times a week would also help. So if I continue to suffer I'll drop the yogalates and do that until I increase my core strength.

After the club I came home and defrosted a quorn spag bol sauce to eat with macaroni. When my food baby's gone down I'll be doing a yogalates session to stretch out.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Not Over Yet

Yesterday I popped down to my local running club for the first time. I wanted to join because I tend not to push myself in training, I wanted to meet more runners, and I wanted to be able to improve my technique and speed/distance without risking injury. I was nervous that everyone would be very serious and very fit and would laugh at me for being slow. However they were lovely, very friendly and immediately made me feel welcome. They were all keen in an enthusiastic way.

My 10k training schedule specified a gentle 4.5 mile run and I found a group that was doing a long slow run due to most of them recovering from a 10K on Sunday. One of the runners was an 86 year-old man who ran it in 56 minutes. I hope I can run it that quick when I'm 86!

I ended up doing 5.08 miles in 49:46, and was troubled with a bit of an aching stomach for most of it. I've been trying to do press-ups again, so I wonder if it's the same problem coming back. Either way, I'll definitely be going back for the next session of intervals on Thursday.

I bought a few exercise DVDs recently. This included Yogalates 6 for Weight Loss which, despite the horrible name, is a relaxing hours mix of yoga and pilates for core strengthening and toning. I'm a beginner when it comes yoga and pilates but I found it easy to follow aside from a few harder poses and stretches which require more balance than I currently have! I don't think the DVD contains much for someone who has done yoga or pilates before, as they might feel they're not being stretched (ahem) by the routine, however.

The instructor made some dubious-sounding claims which annoy me. She made out that doing the routine several times a week would result in weight loss. Only if you include it with eating more healthily, and a shedload of cardio exercise in my experience. She also made the random claim that twisting your torso from one side to the other can aid digestion and hanging foward from the waist means all the blood will rush to your face and act like a mini-facelift. Um, really? Are you sure?

Quibbles aside it was cheap, it's easy and convenient and I'm going to be keeping it up. I did the hour-long routine as a warmup stretching session before doing a 4 mile run this evening. A slow 4 miles in just over 40 minutes run. I definitely need to be in a running club to stop me slacking off!

I was going to do WIAW today, but forgot to photograph dinner. Maybe next week.

I guess the theme of this post is persistence. I will never be an elite runner; I will never be the best runner I could have been since I started too late and wasn't active in my teens and early twenties. But I will still enjoy it. I will dedicate myself to improving - to running faster and further - and when I reach an age where I cannot physically improve and I begin to slow down, I will persist at running for the mental and physical benefits it brings, and because I enjoy it.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


I wasn't going to post because all I've been doing is running and working. Boring work and boring runs. But Mr Scientist asked me when my next post was going to be since I haven't posted in 4 days and I can't disappoint him of all people.

Last night I was up late attending to a colleague's leaving do. Late as in 2:20 bedtime late. No alcohol though, which was a good thing. I didn't realise how much it would affect my run until I started. My legs felt like lead and every second on the treadmill felt like an hour. Soon I was getting antsy and bored. I felt no elation or enjoyment, just a trudging kind of annoyance at being stuck there. I was supposed to do a 40 minute tempo run, but I opted for a less intense and slower tempo run instead. On level 0.

I chose Glosoli by Sigur Ros on my iPod at around minute 36 to carry me through to the end and I was just getting into it when I accidentally hit the emergency stop button.


I hate it when I do that.


I mentioned in a comment on Every Day's a Picnic that I used to have a blog about living abroad. I lived in Syria for 10 months and blogged the hardcopy diary I kept as a way of updating my friends and family about what I was doing there. In 2007 I deleted it in a fit of madness and only have one post saved - a post about the afternoon my friend and I visited the semi-abandoned Jewish Quarter of Damascus.
I've been thinking recently about rewriting it so it contains pictures and history of the area where I lived rather than just my friends' and my exploits and reblogging it.

Would you be interested in reading one post a month about it?

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Are you a big manly man running on the treadmill in your gym?
Are you getting totally sweaty?
Are you running with your eyes closed and your iPod on?
Are you listening to some totally awesome tunes that you love?
Are you totally getting into them?

If you answered yes to all of these questions then by all means occasionally burst into high-pitched wailing like a dog singing along to the Eastenders theme tune.


I wish I knew what he was listening to, it was obviously very good. Unfortunately due to his poor singing I could not make head nor tail of it, unless it was, "ARRARAROOO!" by HEYOAWAY.

I was listening to the latest Mark Kermode film review podcast (which was being done by Boyd and Floyd because Kermode and Mayo are on their hols) so there was no singing from me. I did five miles very slowly.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Mowgli's Road

I couldn't find a version of the original song I wanted to feature, Je ne suis pas ta chose by Camille, that was still available on youtube. All the ones I found were pulled by the record company. Check it out anyway, it's a great song.

Mowgli's Road is also brilliant, with a bouncy rhythm that was great for my interval session today. Plus the video is simple and trippy. It reminds me of making paper figures at primary school with long trailing legs and arms made by crossing two strips of paper over each other again and again, plus its a pop song that doesn't rely on dressing the female artist like a stripper and casual misogyny.

Gym wise I went to a step class on Monday for cross training and my calves are protesting. Yesterday I ran 3.5 miles, and today I did some intervals. Blargh. I hate intervals.

Monday, 1 August 2011

July Goals Review

So in July I set some goals. They included lose 4lb, keep off the booze till my 10k, and continue on the 100 pushups and 200 situps challenge. I failed all of them. Wahey. I've actually put 1lb on due to emotional comfort eating in mid-July and not doing much running then either, didn't keep off the booze as I had a few drinks in the week leading up to the 10k and drank a lot after that, and I had to abandon the pushups and situps challenges due to the number of reps causing me abdominal ache when I run.

Oh well.

I have goals for August though.

  • Lose 2lb or stay the same weight - I'm going to Leeds Festival at the end of August so I'm trying to be realistic here.
  • Cut down on emotional eating - already started as I've found out my work contract is ending almost 3 months earlier than I expected. I'll be out of a job by mid-October instead of New Years Day, which is good for job hunting but bad for missing out on November and December's paychecks. I desperately wanted to just eat loads of crap and cake on Friday, yesterday and today etc but I managed not to, aside from a few sweets, because I recognised that wasn't what I really wanted. What I want is have already secured another job. ;)
  • Continue following Hal Higdon's Intermediate 10k plan. This will be tough at the end of August because I may be going away for a week, but I've already reworked it around the Leeds Festival so hopefully all will be well.