Managing running and exercise with the joys of menopause – plus the Wonder Woman:Poop scale

It’s been a while since I dedicated a blog to menopause which is after all the caption on my profile. Today I’m sitting here watching women’s cycling just recovering from a bout of nausea and dizziness and after having yet ‘another’ nap.

Yes I mean I did run 16k this morning on trail and some hills, though not as hilly as usual at somewhere between 1,300-1600 feet (my watch and my husbands disagree by quite a bit). Still, I would normally feel a bit tired after such a run but not sick, dizzy and very tired. This is not some weird virus; this is menopause.

Over the last few years I’ve dealt with the annoying hot flashes which came every 30 minutes to an hour ALL THE BLEEDING DAY LONG and were often accompanied by a bout of nausea and always accompanied by temporary loss of ability to think. You could be sitting there one minute talking to a colleague, the flush comes along and then they ask you something and you think ummmm I know you asked me a question but I can’t think or verbalise anything right now. This is all happening in your head so they on the other hand are met with a blank look akin to rabbit caught in a headlight.

The other symptoms no one seems to mention is the hormones surging up and down randomly at their own pace, which gives rise to great days and sucky days. Today was a sucky day. I knew the minute I started running that I was finding it harder and that my heart rate was higher relative to speed. This combined with watching my naturally faster husband open up a substantial gap ahead of me left me feeling about a 7/10 on the Wonder Woman – Poop mentality scale whereby 1 is I can conquer the world; I’m ‘on one’, I’m Wonder Woman and 10 is I suck, my fitness is rubbish, mentally and physically I feel like a big pile of poop.

Above: Last weeks run felt like Wonder Woman. Below: todays run – forcing a smile before slowly emerging out of the feeling poop phase

Thankfully after about the half way mark I managed to pick myself up mentally; accepting this was going to be a higher heart rate run and just get on with it, I pushed myself a bit more and started to enjoy the run and pick up my spirits to a 4/10 level on the Wonder Woman – Poop scale.

So sleeping as any woman going through menopause knows is “interesting”. Thankfully due to the joys of medicine I’m able to get through a night without waking every hour to throw off the duvet, go for a pee and walk around the landing to walk off the hot sick feeling; however, I still find I get really twitchy legs (much to my husbands annoyance). It’s not just legs either, the desire to throw myself onto one side then back the other way every minute is so strong, its hard to resist. Still I’m grateful when I’ve had a night of only waking 2 or 3 times. One should be thankful for small mercies.

So if you know a woman who is probably of ‘that age’ and she is walking around like the living dead, looks at you wide eyed when you ask her questions, repeatedly loses things and asks ‘where did I put my glasses’, throws her sweater/jacket off then on then off then on, repeatedly chomps down any snack you put in front of her and goes from looking rosy cheeked one minute to distinctly wan and even green the next then please be nice. Tell her where her glasses are, fetch her a chair, offer to open the window if she is hot, ply her with little snacks and be thankful you don’t have to deal with this – unless of course you are.

My husband feeling good on the run – its ok though, he did find my glasses 🥰

Private Hill – a perfect place to escape, cycle and run

My husband and I decided to try glamping and a friend mentioned Private Hill looked great. We found it hard to get in as its so popular but managed to get 4 nights midweek booked in September in the Druid dome.

It’s hard to find words to express how amazing this place is. The domes are fully equipped with supersize beds, log burners, a kitchen, a bathroom, a sofa and some comfy chairs. You also get free luxury goodies in the bathroom and the place has WiFi. The inside of the dome is decorated so tastefully, we found ourselves going ooh I’d like to see if we can get one of those tripod lights and large clocks for our house, lets look online 😆.

Outside your dome tent there are spectacular views to wake up to each morning and you can simply pull back the curtains in your tent to see these views from your incredibly comfortable bed or go out onto your individual patio (with another fire pit if you wish to use it in the evening) and see the views there. Also outside you will inevitably see the three Alpacas everyday who roam around the field. They are incredibly cute and so lovely to see when you wake in the morning.

Top: Smiling on our day of arrival, having dinner in the restaurant on our first night. Bottom: Me with the Alpacas, Perseus, Ziggy and Renoir aww.

In all there are four domes for people to stay in and one larger dome, which is the restaurant for breakfasts, afternoon teas, dinners and drinks in between. The food was awesome and I highly recommend the almond croissants and red pepper soup – delicious (not together of course!). The service is excellent and everyone is so helpful and friendly. We always felt safe and at ease also; social distancing is respected and staff wear masks where necessary.

In addition to all the above my husband and I love to cycle and run and this was a perfect place for both these activities. We cycled to Bridlington one day which was a nice 100km round route; to Dalby Forrest and back (77k) and to Castle Howard on the third day which was a 40k round route. This last day we cut the ride short as my bike seat fell off (quite literally!) 😂. A side note to cyclists: We expected it to be flat but there are a few nice 16-20% hills around to have a go at.

Top: Getting up that hill, making it to the sea. Bottom: A beautiful field of sunflowers, starting the 20% ascent back to our ‘glamp’ site.

We only did one 4 mile run as my husband had recently suffered a mini sprain so we were keeping it light but you can still find beautiful places to see in that distance and thanks to Emily from Private Hill we found a lovely partial trail route for our run.

Top: A road section of our run. Bottom: Me cycling through the entrance to Castle Howard grounds, on an evening walk to the local pub (right)

All in all I highly recommend this place and we will certainly be back. I enclose some more pictures, which speak louder than words.

North Yorkshire wolds, alpacas and a ride to the sea 🚴‍♀️ ☀️

I’m sat here surveying the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside on decking outside my glamping pod (which has to be beholden to be believed). Drinking my frothy cappuccino and chuckling to myself as off in the distance a farmer rounding his sheep reminds me nothing of that programme ‘one man and his dog’. Instead the farmer is on some kind of vehicle that makes a loud beeping sound. He does have a sheep dog but I’m not sure if its doing what its supposed to. Instead of ‘come by’ and ‘away’ I am listening to ‘no wait, not that way, wait….Waitttttt!! Spat out with ever increasing frustration. Meanwhile the sheep from this distance look like a shoal of fish running back and forth from my right to my left and back to my right again; with the farmer sounding increasingly cross. It’s incredibly comical to watch from the comfort of my camping chair.

Surveying the world this morning over my porridge

We arrived yesterday at our glamping site and unloaded our car full of unnecessary things into our glamping pod. Apparently last weeks posh tent was not enough and we decided to up it a notch. In reality this is instead of our May Mallorca holiday which was cancelled for fairly obvious reasons. The ‘pod’ is amazing so I’ve included some photos below.

Inside the ‘pod’

Yesterday evening we enjoyed dinner in the main ‘tent’ which is set up as a restaurant and bar. It’s full luxury so we dressed up a little for dinner. The food was gorgeous and you cant beat the views as you dine.

Ready for dinner, having dinner in the main ‘tent’

Amazingly it only took a G&T, a beer, half a bottle of wine and a wee dram of whiskey for me to believe that jumping onto the bed was a great new game. My husband found it amusing to video this. I’ve seen it back – clearly I wasn’t very good at it. I must try this in trainers sometime and see if I can get more bounce.

A great new game 🍷

This morning after our first night in our “tent” we opened the curtains and looked out at the utterly gorgeous views and the Alpacas which wander around the field in front of us. They were tame enough to allow me to get pretty close but did move off once I was within touching distance.

Morning views including the lovable Alpacas

Following my porridge and coffee, the friendly alpacas and the amusing sheep herding incident we set off on our 100km bike ride to the sea at Bridlington and back. It’s supposed to be very flat around here so I was surprised by some of the undulations not least including the 20% starting gradient immediately outside where we are staying. Since the path on the “campsite” is large stones you cant ride your bike until this road so we had to hop on and start on this ascent which is definitely not easy. I managed and was feeling pretty smug with myself and crawling up this hill when my husband says wait…I think we might be going the wrong way 🤔. I carried on for a bit thinking he doesnt sound sure and if I stop I’m not going to be able to get back on here.

This was followed by ‘no wait’ its the other way! So I turned around and started going downhill – lovely………well it was until he stopped, looked at his Wahoo (Cycling device) puzzled and then waved his arms at me again and started coming back towards me – ah nope its uphill after all. What??!! Ok so for the second time I had to try to get on my bike on a steep hill. Thankfully it went well and I started crawling up the hill again.

On the way to Bridlington

After that our ride was very varied. The views were totally stunning all the way to Bridlington, which isn’t pretty (sorry Bridlington) and then stunning all the way back. The initial miles saw a lot of bumpy roads with gravel, which I’m not a huge fan of so it was a bit slow going for me. After that it was an easy and enjoyable ride all the way there – the landscape looks like Cezanne pictures with orange fields and haystacks. We stopped in Bridlington briefly for a photo by the sea and something to eat but both wanted to escape as soon as possible. Too many people and busy roads.

Made it to the sea!

On the return leg I felt fine up until 45 miles which is not surprising as that is about the furthest I’ve cycled in the last few months. After that I started to run out of energy and salted water plus was noticing the heat quite a bit. The last ten miles from 52 miles to 62 were a real mental struggle for me and I felt ecstatic when we were nearly back at the campsite. Don’t get me wrong I love cycling and the views were spectacular but ‘bonking’ on a bike is never fun. (Bonking in cycling/running terms is running out of energy or in my case salt).

Return leg views including the dismissed bike during a tired huff 😂😂

My husband suggested we go to the pub for a beer at the end of our ride, which sounded ace so we agreed to do that even though it meant descending the 20% hill past our campsite, followed by a 17% descent into Acklam and then onto the pub. It took my last bit of energy to do this so imagine my response when we found the pub was closed!!!! The air was definitely a shade of cerulean, Prussian, navy….you get the idea!

So we then climbed the 17% and the 20% again to get back to the campsite, which thankfully has a bar anyway so we enjoyed a well earnt beer (or two) in the sunshine.

Off for something to eat now, next blog later or tomorrow if I get blotto

Wild Glamping and the Kinder Scout Run

I’m chilling out in front of the Tour de France after a few days away um chilling out. We went “wild camping” in Edale, which was so much fun, especially the mini log burner and full double bed in the tent 😆.

Our bell tent, double bed, log burner, some nutter and the cooking area

It also made a perfect spot to walk and run from. On the day we arrived we walked up Grindsbrook Clough which was stunning.

Me on Grindsbrook Clough 🙂

Yesterday we ran from the campsite along the Pennine way via Upper Booth and ascended Jacobs ladder to Kinder Scout. Admittedly I did a lot of walking initially on this run. The combination of the everlasting ascent and not feeling fully well made me quite out of breath so I took it easy.

On Jacobs Ladder

Once on the top we ran past Kinder Low End, I was keen to push on and run but this proved intermittent as the ground was very technical to run on in places, small rocks were sticking out in the gaps between the larger rocks and boulders so you had to watch your step. We both tried to pick up pace but did do a ‘near fall’ or kick things numerous times.

Kinder Scout

We ran on to view Kinder Downfall and then further along a river with an idea to find a way back to Upper Tor and Ringing Roger. The path we were on ended in a peat mud fest so retraced our steps back to Kinder Low End.

Kinder Downfall

At this point I decided I’d prefer to return the same way we came as I was beginning to tire and at least I knew it would be 18km by doing this. Heading back meant we could run a lot more, especially where we could find grassy slopes which are so much easier to run on. We took the bridal path down Jacobs Ladder and at this point my husband went over on his ankle, hearing a crack as he did so. I was concerned but he insisted it was ok. At the bottom of the slope however, there was a nice frosty cold river and we both agreed it would be useful for him to bathe his foot and help early prevention of any swelling.

My husband feeling tempted to do a full naked immersion Sean Conway style but there were people watching 😆

We ran all the way back to the campsite from this point even though my stoic husband was in some discomfort. I’d of suggested we walked but in all honesty I’m not sure that walking the remaining 5k would of been any better really.

It really was beautiful in Edale so we have mutually decided to go back sometime, we can run there from our home, (25K), down some ales and whiskey, camp and run back.

Running was often over ground as per right below

How does swimming work during Covid? 🏊‍♂️

So I took my first ‘splash’ at the leisure centre the other week in many many months. I wasnt sure how it would work when I got there other than that I needed to wear my costume underneath my clothes and take my snazzy lime green hat just because you know it looks snazzy.

Once at the leisure centre I wore my mask although it clearly wasn’t obligatory as not everyone did. We were all pointed to the one way arrows which directed us to the ladies changing area (so everyone including men go through here). They had cordoned off a group changing area for men and a separate one for women within the ladies changing room by clearly hanging signs up on the wall. It did amuse me that there was a gent in the ladies bit and a woman in the gents bit, clearly people didnt read the nice little bits of paper cellotaped to the wall. I already had my costume on so simply stripped down and threw my stuff in my bag. You then went through to the pool with your bag as the lockers are all sealed off with those criss cross yellow tapes that make it look like someone got murdered in the lockers.

The swimming pool itself was split into just 3 lanes. Two wide ones labelled slow and medium and a narrower one in the middle labelled fast. I had already signed up to my swim online by using the booking appointment system and noted that two of the lanes would take 7 people maximum and the third lane just 4. I aimed for the middle lane and set off initially on my own as nearly everyone headed for ‘medium’. They should perhaps ask people to sign up to slow/medium/fast whilst booking so they can take this into account as to my mind there were too many people in the medium section.

Once you’ve finished your swim you collect your bag from the side of the pool and follow the one way signs through the men’s changing room. Again this has a group area for ladies and gents within it and there are also some individual changing rooms. There are no showers again more yellow tape, clearly it was a serial killer who liked taking out people in the shower and shovelling them in lockers.

So you dry off, dress and leg it out of there. It was seemingly the quickest swim session I’ve done as it all seemed pretty efficient with no opportunity to faff with shampoo or particular need to go searching for that old hairbrush at the bottom of your bag thats been there forever.

Outdoor swimming by comparison is easier again in some ways, trickier in others. I love outdoor swimming and this was opened up sooner than pool swimming in the last month or two. Again for outdoor swimming there are no changing facilities or showers. Arriving in your costume you stand wobbling on one leg trying to don your wetsuit in a car park or by the quay or lake depending on where you are (dont try one legged action whilst standing on the end of a pier though). After the swim is done the ‘tricky’ bit begins. Trying to dry off and get dressed without flashing everyone, which reminded me of getting changed on the beach where you end up holding the towel in a circle around yourself and trying to put your bra on unsuccessfully and end up strangling yourself with it instead. In the end I gave up on that and just threw a T-shirt on. I’m not Houdini.

Beautiful Lakeland trail race – Derwentwater 15k

I’m just digging the mud out from under my nails a good 7 hours after finishing this race. If you want great views, all types of terrain and all types of weather this is the race for you.

Beautiful views during the trail race

I was excited about coming to do the 15k challenge which starts in Keswick Fitz Park and undulates around Latrigg out towards Blease Fell and back via Lonscale Fell to Fitz Park. I did this race 5 years ago and it took me a long 1hr 53 minutes to complete so I was certain with my increased fitness and training I would easily beat this time……. 🤨

All masked up ready for our run

We set off in lines of 5/6 people maybe 3-4 metres from the next line of people and at 1 minute intervals crossed the start line. Everyone had to wear masks at the start until out of the park and put them on again after the finish. It was incredibly well organised and hats off to Lakeland trails for managing something so sophisticated where you felt completely safe in these times and yet still able to do the thing you love.

Hubby is in his line and I’m getting ready to join the next line before the start

I knew the first mile would be different to the last time I did the race as the start had changed due to Covid, this is so the exit and return did not cross each other. However a few kilometres in I was thinking hmm this feels completely different and most definitely tougher. There was a slow ascent in the first 2km, nothing difficult particularly. After that we went onto trail and the narrow path undulated up and down steeply with an ample supply of slippy mud to navigate as you went along. This made for slow progress for me as I’m a bit of a ‘slipping phobe’. However admittedly I was also suprisingly tired quite early on. Strava tells me my heart rate never dropped below 160 for the entire race even when walking. I have felt a little under the weather this week so its hard to say if this affected me or if it was the drinking the night before, (oops), lack of water or just not being quite as fit as I would like.

At one point this guy was running just slightly in front of me and I asked him if they’d changed the route and it felt different. Oh yes he says, there was a landslide and a part of the old route was flooded/buried. Oh right says I looking down at the drops as I run hmmmm.

We seemed to run up and down over and over for quite some time before finally coming to a part of the run I recognised from last time – welcome to Bogland. They should seriously have a sign here that says exactly that! ‘Welcome to Bogland, beware of losing legs and shoes’. Bogland went on for at least a mile maybe two. There often seemed to be no path at all, you are simply trying to either walk or at best ‘trot a bit’ over long watery grass, mud and avoid the sink holes where your feet disappear down up to your knees. Of course you dont succeed but its great fun trying 🙂

At this point I stopped a few times to take a number of photos. For one thing I already knew that a) I would be considerably slower than last time, b) I had no chance of currently making up the time and c) I may as well look up and take in the fantastic views around me; after all thats why we run right. Every now and again you have to remind yourself to stop and take it all in.

As I was navigating the bogs and the river crossings (did I mention those?) and bearing in mind this is all on a slant as you are running on the side of a hill but also going uphill at the same time. The rivers run from your right uphill to your left downhill so you have to cross them ‘carefully’. Anyway as I was saying….as I was navigating through the here I saw this lady pass me who was managing to make faster walk/trot progress than me. I decided to follow her foot placement and style to catch up a bit. She clearly had it ‘down’. I should add that running at this point was pretty much impossible even for the die hard fit crazy people. So we all plodded, speed walked and bog jumped our way across this never ending mire.

This photo doesn’t do the bogs justice or the depth of them!

Eventually we escaped Bogland and a chap with a lovely smiley face and dreadlocks said ‘its all dry ground from here’ and I thought oh cool. Unfortunately he clearly hadn’t actually verified this statement as a mere minute later I was running puddles, I mean 6 inch deep puddles. In fact there were so many of them linked together, lets be honest we just seemed to be running through a river.

Another river like section but very fun

We then turned a corner and started the ascent up around Lonscale Fell. Ironically this was the first time in a while I was able to run again. It’s not an impossible elevation to run and the number of stones make it easier to run on. It does get narrower though and the drop on your left gets ever higher. As we moved up the hill, I found myself finding my ‘groove’ but I was also exceptionally tired considering I’d only done about 9k by this time. None the less I very much wanted to press on now having lost so much time in the first half of the run, however, the speedsters doing the ‘race’ (I was doing the challenge) who started 10-15 minutes behind us from the start had now caught up and were wanting to pass me. There weren’t really many passing points along the last bit of the climb. It’s quite narrow and there are smooth, slippy stones that you have to navigate. However, I respect people’s need to pass so would step to one side every few minutes to let another one of these fast people pass. I would watch in awe at their technique on this terrain. They run with very little kit and clothes in some cases (well the minimum shall we say) and run with a fast cadence and effortless glide over stones, rocks, mud and seemingly oblivious to the drop on the left. I guess if you can run the race in an hour you dont need things like clothes and water…

Just after the bogs and before the ascent around Lonscale

Once over the top I felt an increased high as the knowledge hits its all downhill from here. Although tired in a way I haven’t been in quite a while and already reaching for my cliff bar having knocked back two gels already (which over this distance is just ridiculous really) I then managed to step it up a gear and speed my way down the hills for the last 4km into the finish line in Fitz Park.

Me on the downhill section
Chris on the downhill section

Unfortunately it took me 2 hours to run 15km which saying this out loud sounds crazy and my very fit husband did it in 1hr 35 so chapeau to him. It was incredibly technical I would say as races go so I’m pretty happy with my performance on balance.

I would recommend not only the race but the Lakeland Trails in general to anyone. They are well organised and very well signposted. I did find myself at the front of a group a few times navigating the way and anyone that knows me would know that this is a bad idea but I didn’t get lost as its just so well flagged and there are also plenty of Marshall’s on the route to show you the way.

Running into the finish line and realising when the commentator said ‘I think she is smiling, I cant tell’ that I didn’t need to mask up until after finishing. Whoops 😬

Trail running adventures and getting lost

I had a fun and productive week with “training”. With no big coming up it’s really just ‘having fun’ at the moment but I did have 7 hours of cardio fun and 2 gym hours. Strava tells me my weekly intensity was up so I’ll have to have an easier week next week (well bar the little trail race we are doing).

We’ve been doing more home gym workouts again, one with our personal trainer (early one before work) and some on our own. We are gathering more kit for this.

Looking forward to playing with these big balls 😝

I missed out on my swim sadly but I did sign up for my first pool swim next week which I’m quite excited about. I’m not sure how its going to work other than the fact I have to turn up to the pool wearing my costume under my clothes. I have no idea what happens after the swim or if I can shower? It amuses me that they are ‘restricting’ numbers to 7 in each lane. In non pandemic times this would be high and irritating as everyone goes at different speeds etc. It looked like not many had booked on though so I will see and am hoping I’ll nab the lane alone or maybe share with just a few. I assume I don’t have to wear a mask 😷 😂

Hubby went off on his long trail run on Friday and managed 21k on hilly terrain in horrendous weather so chapeau to him. I did a shorter 16.5km on Saturday. It was supposed to be all trail, 14km and flattish but being clueless it was longer, hillier, 50% road and I got lost twice. In fact I ended up using my google maps on my phone so much I ran out of batteries so resorted to the old fashioned method of finding people to ask the way in the last few miles.

The first time I got lost I’d jog/walked up this really steep hill (you know the kind where cyclists are grimacing) for about 1km only to discover I was supposed to be going down instead. Running back down was joyous however 😁. The second time I went wrong I’d run across a field and down a path to a farm only to discover it wasnt a public path and no I wasnt supposed to be there. The farmer was thankfully amused rather than cross. After that I was just generally uncertain as to where I was and stopped to ask the way a few times. I finally found the park near our house and a cafe moreover, so stopped for a lovely latte 😁.

Today hubby and I did 64km on the bike which would normally feel fairly easy, especially as it was mostly flat (ish). However, I started to zonk out on the return leg and had to partake of two gels to get home. Since then I have inhaled, a veggie English breakfast, a spinach/blueberry smoothie, a slice of hubby’s banana loaf with pumpkin seeds (so so nice) and a few mouthfuls of his homemade granola (well it was supposed to be flapjack but it went a bit wrong 😆).

Lovely views on my run, before I got lost and ran out of batteries

Outdoor swimming 🏊‍♀️ and a beautiful trail run🏃‍♀️

Since we currently have no race coming up soon (well apart from one 15k trail run that is) there is no real need to work out for 8-10 hours a week as would of been the case had I been training for the Ironman (well and the rest tbh).

So this week I only did 6 hours training which weirdly feels on the light side now. You definitely notice the difference; I don’t feel tired enough today. Still I should savour these moments really, since I normally reach Sunday afternoon completely wiped out and stuffing my face with flapjacks.

The 6 hours of training were all super fun hours, however. I spent just over an hour on the turbo which was great as I hadn’t been on it for a while so it felt like a novelty again. I managed an hour of physio/strength work (generally core) which I enjoyed as my shoulder is now recovering from the rotator cuff injury and I’m allowed to do press ups again woohoo. Having said that I do mean baby/girly press ups and I can only do 10 but you have to start somewhere so I was still thrilled 😆.

I went swimming for the first time in half a year! It was also the first outdoor swim in over a year. I felt quite nervous and excited about it. I used to, and still do love outdoor swimming but there is something slightly uneasy about swimming out into a lake when there is hardly anyone in it and you cant see the next buoy. My prescription goggles have broken so I had to wear normal ones and even though the buoys are huge orange things I genuinely cant see them that well when I’m initially setting off from the last one. Unbelievable I know!

I started off drafting off my husband as it gave me a chance to be pulled along and take it easy at first (its a bit like drafting on a bike); it also made me feel safe as I only had to follow his legs so if there was some kind of evil creature in the murky water it was going to get him first 😆.

After the second buoy I pulled away and felt confident enough to carry on alone but promptly then stopped at the third buoy as I couldn’t see where to go next. Chris caught up with me and his friend also came zooming past and Chris shouted follow him! Well his mate was a bit too fast for me but he was usefully towing one of those orange float things behind him (I think people put there possessions in them). So I followed the moving orange blob in the water until I had to then return to the jetty whilst both his mate (and Chris) carried on to do further loops.

Unfortunately my physio had said only do 100metres at first and build up. Naturally I did 600 metres and will do more next time (well the loop is 600m so what was I supposed to do?). Anyway my shoulder is fine 👏 and Im very excited about doing more next time and rebuilding my swimming.

I find swimming, particularly outdoor swimming so very relaxing. I need to work on my sighting though. When you swim in open water you have to lift your head slightly out of the water (crocodile eyes they call it) in order to see where you are going (well this is for people who can see 😆) and then you turn your head to the side to breathe and continue with your front crawl. This looking up and taking a breath to the side is ideally done in one smooth flowing movement. I haven’t done this for a year so I guess I was lifting my head too high as the muscles in my neck were really tight and sore afterwards.

I have got my weekly running mileage up to 31k now. It’s not much for most runners but I’m building it up slowly to avoid injury and I should now be able to add 10% to this amount every 3 weeks out of 4 (in week 4 I’ll drop it back a little to recover).

18.5k of this was done today on a beautiful trail run. Unfortunately my husband is poorly so couldn’t come after all which was not only a shame but also he had planned the route. Following advice from him I set off to do 50% of the planned route and then diverted off half way through to do my own route on the return leg. I passed through an area called the Roman Lakes. I’ve never run there before and it’s really lovely and he was in fact right when he said it was easy to follow the signs and you cant get lost. Initially when he said this I was thinking but yeah I can get lost in Marks and Spencers so…….you know I’m pretty useless with directions 😆. Honestly, though, even I couldn’t get lost on this route. I included some canal running on the way out and back and then finished off by running up Werneth Low and down again. It was very muddy and a lot of fun.

View from the canal
Actually cant remember where this one was 🤔
The Roman Lakes
I was trying to capture an interesting backdrop in this selfie as well as my face (complete fail on both counts!).

Training Plan Whore

I’m a training plan whore – I love writing training plans! No seriously I really love it! Once I know I’ve signed up to an event, my palms get sweaty at the mere thought that I will soon be able to start designing my training plan. Why o why would you love that I hear you say? I’m not sure, maybe I’m a planning nerd, maybe its motivating for me, if I set it out I know I’m going to do it or maybe it just makes whatever madcap dream I now have feel realisable. Whatever it is, it feels like the starting point of a new adventure to me.

I’ve written quite a few plans now and would consider myself reasonably good at it 😆. I will generally start by looking online or in books for ready made plans and then change it to suit me, my strengths and weaknesses, my available time and finally build in lots of buffer weeks* to allow for injury/getting ill/holidays. It’s also essential to be mindful it has to be as flexible as a Yogi in a Ashtanga class, as you will never be able to stick to it religiously all of the time and it would be like watching paint dry to do so. Mind you being a spreadsheet nerd, flexing it about is half the fun for me 😆.

*Buffer Weeks: If the set training plan is 20 weeks I’ll make mine 24 weeks. I generally add 4 weeks but might add more if the training plan is longer. I insert buffer weeks at intervals or keep them spare on the side (as you wish). If you don’t need to use them then just do week 5 (for example) twice. If you are poorly and cant do anything for a week but weep under your duvet about missing your training then hey presto use a buffer week or two, do some easy training in the second week and then go back to your training plan thereafter. In this way you are not going back to something that has moved on too much from before and thus you don’t risk making yourself ill again by getting back into it too soon. So thats my buffer theory, adopt it or not as you will, but its a useful tool option in the planners box.

So this last year I was working my way through Lorna’s Ironman plan which was loosely based on the Fink competitive plan as a starting point but I switched it up to include more strength work, more cycling and less swimming as this meant I would spend more time working on my weakest areas. There is simply no need for me to swim for 3 hours a week. The marginal gain of 10 minutes on the swim isn’t worth it. When it comes to the bike, however, additional TITS and I’ll cut my Ironman bike ride by 30-45 minutes, possibly more.

I’ve also learnt that I can make a big step up in my swimming/cycling mileage without running the risk of ending up on someone’s physio table whining about aches and pains. Running, however, is SO different for me. If I miss a run or increase my running by more than 5-10% volume per week my Achilles, hip, back or some other new part of me with a long name I never heard of before will say hey ‘what the hell are you doing?’ and stop me in my tracks.

I realise not everyone is like this (my husband can run 10 miles in one week, 20 in the next with nothing more than tired legs – not an injury in sight) and I envy that but for me I stick to this rule like a fruit fly in honey. Experience has taught me if I ignore this and go oh I’ll be fine I’ll just do this extra 5 miles; I’ll end up bathing my feet in ice, booking in for a massage and moaning yet again that I didn’t listen to my own advice 😝.

The odd thing is missing running and going back to it suddenly can be just as detrimental to me as doing too much. It’s as if my feet/ankles say “hey I thought you’d stopped this prancing uphills lark? You are not in fact the hoppity skippity mountain goat you’d like to think you are, chill your boots please.”

I’m hoping in the future to increase my running days to 4/5 days week as not only will this be the minimal requirement for Ultra training (we can’t all just slide in on a shrimp sandwich – Swedish saying for having things given to you without working for them) but I believe it may also help reduce injury for me. Ironically I believe that more constant motion will make my body adapt and be less ‘shocked’ or seen another way spread the heavy weekly mileage over more days. This is the theory I’ll let you know how it pans out 🤔. Ice buckets at the ready…

Since I’ve now decided that next year will be the year of Ultras but I still want to do the Olympic triathlon I signed up to; I will need to come up with a new plan that focuses on trail running and building up my running miles. However, I will need to balance this with the need to don my wetsuit and go Buoy dodging occasionally as well as keep up my cycling without the risk of burnout. This may be a tricky balance but I look forward to the challenge of planning it. I am giddy with excitement already, bring me my spreadsheet, a mug of tea and some chocolate digestives; I’m ready…. 😁👏.