Hurdles – Accepting when you are wrong

I couldn’t find a picture of a physio studio so decided to include one of Mallorca instead. Relevance: None. Loveliness grade: 10.

Yup I said it. I’m happy to accept when I’m wrong. In my last blog I mentioned that I’d been doing strength exercises, yoga, stretching, basically everything I thought was right to ‘resolve’ my hip issue. This was because I wrongly assumed that the pain was caused by either tightness or weakness.

So according to the learned Physio I visited last Thursday – turns out there is a third option. Inflammation. Ahhhh. And what should do when something is inflamed? Rest it, rest it, rest it. Possibly ice or heat it and take ibuprofen. Ahhhhh whoops then.

Last week I was happily forecasting that the physio would send me away with a list of physio exercises to do and tell me to stop running for a bit. Well there was no fancy physio list of contortionist exercises or magic wand waving. Just realised. Im glad I didn’t ask my physio if he had a magic wand. Might of taken it the wrong way.

In actual fact the conversation went something like this…

Me: “So I assume I shouldn’t run?”

Him: “You assume correctly” (slight grin, raised eyebrow)

Me: “So should I do some, you know, easy physio type exercises?”

Him: “Nope. I want you to do nothing.”

Me: “What not even cycling?”

Him: “Nothing.”

Me: “What about swimming, I already booked myself onto two sessions?” (Eyes now twice the size, imploring – reminiscent of the cat in Shrek).

Him: “Hmmm. Well its not ideal.”

Me: “Well I could use my pull buoy (float between your legs) then it would only be an arm workout!”

Him: “Ok. If its only arms then you can do that.”

Me: “I was thinking I’ll keep it short like 20 minutes?”

Him: “And how many metres can you swim in that time?”

Me: “Um a few…..like 1000 maybe”

Him: “Make it 15 minutes max”.

Me: “Ok”.

I should explain that the reason he was being so strict about the ‘arm’ swimming is because I went to see this same physio last year with a rotator cuff injury….

Whilst he was attaching me to the Stims machine and letting me know I should speak up if my muscles start to contract too violently….I decided to tell him about my plan to run from John O Groats to Lands End in 2022. Instead of rolling around on the floor laughing (which to be fair would of been a reasonable reaction in the circumstances) he simply said, “oh thats really cool”.

Me: “So you think thats possible?”

Him: “Yes we will get you there. And you can put our name on your T-shirt as you come into the finish line”.

Me: “Whoop, great, I will”.

I think he was kidding and he was probably placating me like a child. Perhaps he will go home to his other half later and sit and laugh at the person who wants to run 1200 miles when they cant even walk right now. “Oh and then she said…..Isn’t that hilarious darling….”

Ok, my imagination is getting carried away with me. I doubt this guy calls anyone darling. And I’m probably doing him an injustice. He might actually believe I’m capable of this aim. To be fair I can walk a mile, thats a start right?

So since last Thursday until the next one I’ve done some front crawl (arms only) but otherwise absolutely zilch. Unless you count teaching my friends some belly dancing and salsa in a back garden after three cans of gin and two cans of wine.

No I know right. I didn’t realise you could buy wine in cans either.

Unfortunately we’ve now cancelled the Ultra end of August and I do feel bad for my husband as this obviously affects him too (we were running as a team). However, its better to admit its not going to happen now and I do feel relieved to not have that immediate pressure anymore. Next year is another matter.

When I will be able to start running again is still a mystery to both myself and the physio. I think I heard him say ‘weeks’ but equally it will depend on progress.

The other bonus about only being able to swim right now is that it is making me get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning. This is a habit I definitely grew out of during lockdown in favour of rolling out of bed into my joggers at 6.55am in order to start work at 7am. So swimming is going to help me get back into my old habits. With this being said it means that tomorrow I will get up at 5.30am to start my day. I cant honestly say I’m looking forward to this, especially as I would like to watch Line of Duty tonight at 9pm with a glass of vino. Hmmmm. I’ll let you know how it goes…

What a difference a day (week) makes….24 x 7 little hours….

A week ago, my husband and I were still planning our Westhighland Way 96 mile midge dodging, hill scaling Jog in June. Sadly on Tuesday I finally had to admit I could no longer ignore the pain in my hip flexors/psoas/lower back (take your pick). I also had to recognise that no amount of buttock clenches, bridges, massage or doing cat-cows or happy baby poses were making a difference.

So we decided to cancel it for now and hopefully rebook this later in the year, provided I can recover from this current ‘hiccup’.

I like the occasional obstacle in life, it allows me to take stock and think ‘how I will tackle this latest difficulty’. Sometimes you find interest in other things along the way. Things you just wouldn’t have seen or done if everything had gone to plan.

However, I would pretty please like a brief intermission from said obstacles. There was the sore back that stopped me running for a full year, 4 years ago. Then there was this little virus that strolled into all our lives.

Last year I pulled my rotator cuff and took three months to get to the point of being able to put my hand behind my back without clenching my teeth in pain (this is not some torturous desire or weekend circus act – but a seemingly necessary task a woman must do every day – think about it). It also made swimming uncomfortable and heavy weights went right out the window. Not literally! I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 1kg for a while.

After that things went hiccup free for about half a year. I felt fit, was running 50k a week injury free, the shoulder was manageable and we were looking forward to the West highland Way adventure and considering running a crazy 72k Ultra in August.

Thats when I fell over and punched a hole in my knee – see earlier blog…. enough said about that.

Amazingly I was up and running just 4 weeks after the fall with the scar, despite its alarming red and raised appearance, healing nicely. At the time I knew ‘don’t build up again too quickly’ your body doesn’t like this. I knew this and yet for some reason I told myself ‘go by feel’ your body will warn you if you are doing too much…..

Two months down the line and the ‘going by feel’ plan failed miserably. I’m now having sports massage weekly, drop and do yoga at the drop of a hat anywhere, anytime (no seriously) and groan like a 100 year old when I stand up after sitting in a chair for any length of time.

I’m seeing the physio on Thursday but I already know what they are likely to say. Do less running, let your muscles recover, rebuild your glute strength and then rebuild your running back up SLOWLYYYYYYYYY…….. but I still feel inclined to pay an expert a lot of money to tell me this. I’m still hoping they will wave some kind of magic wand.

Anyway I have digressed……I was talking about the enjoyment of obstacles. So, as ever, I’m looking for the positives in this latest development. Here are the ones I’ve discovered along the way and based on this latest hurdle.

– I love yoga now – in fact I love it so much, I may seriously consider training to be a Yoga teacher when I retire – are they called Yogis (are they smarter than the average bear?)?

– I take some comfort in now knowing my body really really well including all its flaws and weaknesses. I mean forewarned and all that right.

– I had dropped my strength work to just once a week. This experience has reminded me I need to do strength exercises several times a week (if you want to run long distance with an arched back that is).

– All the ‘breaks’ have given me time to do other things. I’ve enjoyed painting, baking, writing a book and in general just ‘chillin’.

– Having done less running miles in the last week or so I’ve had time to pull the route together for running JOGLE (John O Groats to Lands End) via the 3 peaks. I have had my heart set on doing this for 6-7 years and due to above mentioned obstacles have struggled to get this plan underway. I’ve also barely dared to mention it up to now since it does sound crazy when you consider how often I’m paying specialists to check my hips or pummel my glutes. But recent events have also reminded me how much I want this. There is now a space in the autumn of 2022 for the offing.

– So, having finally decided on the date for this adventure, I intend to arrive at the start uninjured and ready to go. Nothing will stand in my way (I do hope you are listening body). But if you do throw a few more obstacles in my way, I am learning to hurdle now….

Just a few more hurdles to go – wish me luck

Getting back up again….

For some time now I’ve been sans blog, blog less, in a brain fog with no idea for a blog, figgity foggity definitely not blogging…… you get the idea.

A little over a month ago I thought, I know I’ll write a blog tonight. I’m running 50k a week and our goal of running the West Highland Way in four months time is in sight. I’ll write about that.

I was having this thought whilst running on a beautiful but decidedly muddy ground day. I’d navigated my way over hilly, muddy and rocky terrain and was just on my 21st kilometre, feeling quite tired, when I fell over. I should rephrase that. I caught my left foot on something, my right carried on forwards, my left foot didn’t and I fell forwards and hit the ground hard and slid for a few feet.

None the less, falling is a natural side effect if you run a lot so I jumped up and thought I feel ok, I look ok, all good.

Then I noticed the hole in my leggings and some blood. Ah whoops. On closer inspection my leg looked ‘mushy’ underneath. It’s the only way I can think to describe it. Still I figured, no one gets that hurt out running for the day so I must be imagining it and I carried on walking up the hill. It was only about 3 miles home from there after all.

At this point I phoned my husband and I actually cant remember what I said as unbeknownst to me I’d obviously gone into shock. So I may have rambled. I do remember being determined to walk home though and he kept asking me where I was, which at the time, I found a tad annoying. In the end, he told me strongly to “stay still” and he would come and get me. Wise man.

I’ll save you the bit about how we went home first because I thought a plaster might do it…..

Anyway… a few hours, a visit to A&E and 12 stitches later and my life had changed. Not forever, lets not be dramatic here….but in the short term my running intentions and blog intentions had certainly been stalled somewhat. The nurse told me 1-2 months before I could run again and the latter was more likely. Ah….right then…..

So here I am. It’s 5 weeks later and I’m walking and running again. It’s oh so so slow and I’ve got a way to go to build up my distance again but I’ve made a start and recovery should be faster given my previous fitness.

I’m astonished at how amazing our bodies are. I’m amazed in all honestly at how delicate they are. I never thought a tiny fall would result in such a deep puncture wound and I equally never thought the body could knit itself back together so quickly. It’s kind of cool to see, in a weird way.

Time off running has given me more time to do other things. I’ve spent more time doing Pilates and stretching. I tried some one legged indoor cycling which I was rubbish at. I’m on my third jigsaw puzzle and I’ve started to give the house a good spring clean. Not sure why that feels good for the soul – but it does.

My version of a press up and crunches (not allowed to bend da leg)

With the West Highland Way we now only have 3 and a bit months to go and I wont be ready to run it all or even 80% of it (as I’d intended). However, I should be able to run half and walk half (I hope). I’ll be happy with that.

Moreover, having some time off has given me more time to mull over my ultimate dream. It’s a running dream that involves covering roughly 1,200 hilly miles. I’ve yet to iron out the details and of course there is the substantial training still to do, but more on that another day in another blog. Watch this space.

So long and thanks for all the fishing rights…

Well what a few years its been! A choice on Europe that divided the nation.

‘I think that person voted for Brexit, how could they? Oh dear sniff, that person is a remainer, I mean what else do you expect?’ This was followed, sadly, by people throwing virtual dung at each other over facebook, twitter and other social media. It also went on in cafes, bars and homes too. Once you had formed an opinion on this matter you were either a Brexiteer or a Remainer. Sorry is that label for life? With an irish background, this smacks of the old religious divisions where knowing someones surname would tell you what their religious background was.

Just at the point where we were all switching off the television, for fear that one more word on Brexit, would result in the need for copious amounts of gin and a straight jacket, along came the pandemic.

And so we were all glued to our televisions once again. Every day got more and more bizarre. The pandemic caused fear, illness and tragedy but also caused further division. ‘Have you seen that person wearing a mask under their nose. What do you mean, masks don’t work anyway. I don’t trust these politicians. I don’t trust these scientists. I wont be told what to do!’ I do not exclude myself from such banter. Its how we all live as humans and how we find meaning in amongst this utter madness. We make observations and we make judgements.

However, at times the diverging opinions can turn into further somewhat heated mud slinging; and not the kind that leaves you with a mud mask and glowing skin unfortunately.

And now as we roll towards the 1st January, we are down to the last moments of Brexit. Deal or no deal without Noel Edmonds or the possibility of prize money. And one of the main sticking points seems to be down to fish. I bet the cows are feeling smug right now. They can fill the air with their trumps as we all concentrate on the agreement over the seas.

With the new vaccine we can look forwards to a future without the pandemic. Covid may still exist but life should eventually return to normal, I hope. We can look forward to seeing loved ones and giving them big hugs. We can look forward to holidays or nights out with our friends.

With Brexit its hard to know what the future is but we can bravely face whatever it is together. The pandemic also showed us how we can all pull together. From millions raised for charity, runs and walks from inspiring people, communities helping each other get their shopping or standing behind their local businesses. It has brought us awareness of our local areas and the support we need to show each other.

For 2021 my new years wish would be, that we can put our wonderful diverse opinions aside and look forwards to the future, however hard it is, at least we are all in it together.

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.

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…. 😁👏.