30.02/500 – Down with the sickness

First came the cough, then the ears were filled with fluid, then the fever, then the chills, then the blocked nose….

I still had to go to uni, start a new school placement and carry on as if everything was ok. I even spent a weekend in, that’s how drastic it got!

I went to parkrun Saturday but I didn’t finish. I was still fevery, so this is my first run since last week, which happens to be the first time I’ve been able to use my nose. 

I took it easier, thus the longer time, but still pretty consistent. 

I’m very aware of my 6k on the 26th of this month but even at 5k I think I have enough reserves to power through. Plus, I’ll be dressed as a mermaid so that’ll help, right?

Can’t wait to be healthy again!

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6.2/500- when yer face is the same colour as yer top

I wasnt sure I’d do today. I spent the day editing words and helping my sister, plus I didn’t feel like it. But miles don’t do themselves.

Change. Shoes. Wear that top I don’t even like. I don’t put on make up (having come to the realization Meg Ryan moments don’t happen in the Strathy gym). I stop caring about my crop trousers/long socks combo. I just need to do the miles.

I gym. I push. I give myself a higher minimum and a lower maximum and much of my time is spent thinking ‘eff it, just run’. I ignore my notifications, don’t change song, keep going.

The result is a faster time than yesterday:

So yay! But unfortunately my face is the colour of my top, kinda why I avoid wearing it.

Alas! 

Keep going eh?

Six-cess

My 10k looms. We are getting there. The goal recently has been to not walk and to learn how to run ‘hard’ then recovery ‘jog’ so there is constant movement forward. 

The treadmill has been very useful in this respect.  Fiddly buttons make walking very difficult so its just easier to keep the pace going. 

Pretty proud in my pushing that I have managed to run 6k, no walking! (I’ve done it 3 times now so by science it must be a thing right?)

The time is less than stellar, I know, but I’ve stopped caring. 

I’m learning to listen to my legs, my lungs, my stomach, and to stop listening to the voice in my head saying stop. 

I’m learning to listen to my post run body to see if there is more in the fuel tanks and more often than not I feel ‘yeah, theres another 0.5k in there’.

Next goal? 7k. 

We can do this!

Where Angels Fear to Treadmill…

New university, new gym membership, new type of running… the treadmill. 

Historically I have a poor experience with treadmills, that said I couldn’t run for even 5 minutes never mind 5k. Those running for extended times on treadmill were beyond me; they had such purpose, such stamina, they looked good in work out clothes. By stark contrast I felt like I was playing at gyms, was breathless and looked like a minivan. If I ran it was for short periods, walking lots, feeling useless. 

Well, things are different now…ish.

I kitted up and sheepishly walked into the gym. Machines, weights, bikes, and people all doing their thing. I was nervous. I aporoached the treadmill with caution, do you use that clip thing? What speed is a good speed? Will my feet make a loud thud? Will I fall off? I’ve played the sims 3!

5k was the aim. We can do this!
I struggled with speeds. 6 was too slow. 7 was ok but it didn’t tick through distance fast enough for my liking. It was so different from road running where 0.1k was a distance put behind you, a distance achieved. This felt much more like an endurance test. 

I did 2.5k at speed 7 and the rest bumped between 8 and 8.5. Is that good? Who knows! The numbers felt so arbitrary I didn’t really feel like my time at the end justified the effort. I felt like all I had done was manage to stay in one place for 40 minutes getting progressively more red. 

Will I try it again? Of course! It’s too convenient during the uni day to just cast it aside. Also, it might be interesting mixing up treadmill with… weights. Hahaha. 

New experiences eh?

Pastures New

My next big race will be a 10k so I have started planning increased distances for my runs. One tactic is to get out an explore every street, nook, cranny and in today’s case country path. 

Instead of taking my normal route I decided to take a path I have seen lots and never thought anything of… and how surprised I was! 

This road went to Edinburgh if I went far enough! I hadn’t even realised. I knew that there was a canal nearby which went from Glasgow to Edinburgh but in my head it was further away. The path was very scenic:

Rivers, grass, bridges, sheep! Who knew eh?

The whole path is about 1k and pops out at another convenient path. New route for me 😉

Playlist Pleasures 😘

My recent songs of choice are 2000s-tastic. I was more than excited when the recent my chemical romance announcement came out so down the rabbit hole I dived headfirst!

It’s upbeat, it’s angsty, it’s full of ridiculous lyrics, it’s fast… and it’s helping me keep going without stopping.

Much like a dancefloor when your jam comes on, you have to stay and dance! ‘Mate, that drink can wait! I need to sing all the words to nicki minaj!’, ‘mate, blur? Dance now, toilet later!’…

That’s how I feel when I hear one of these guilty pleasures. Keep going, before you know it 0.5k has gone by! Anything to keep up the energy and make the task more fun. 

So here’s my jams… part 1. 😉

Little Victories.

This week has been all about my 5k on Sunday. I understand that 5k is not a ground-breaking distance and that ultimately I should be doing that anyway, that there isn’t some special diet or training I have to do to finish it…. but enough of that self-depreciating nonsense! Let’s celebrate!!

At the end of July I managed to beat 40 minutes. Since then the aim has been to keep beating times a little as I go. Today was a 14 seconds better runner. 

Life can be tough and it’s important to take time to appreciate the little victories as they come. In this case I can fist pump to staying under 40 mins and being able slowly chip away at time. Well that and fitting into a size smaller jeans 😉

This gives me hope for Sunday and I look forward to crossing my first finish line, getting that medal and taking that.celebration shot. 

Bring it on! 

Too blind to see success.

Its been a while since I blogged. I felt the same way about blogging as I felt about being back from China; the adventure was over.

This wasn’t true of course, this was just cabin fever setting in. I spent a week at home not doing much but watch TV and going my daily run, not a bad life but I felt bad. I imagined I should be doing something else, something drastic but this was all wistful, I was fine and in a nice place with people who loved me. It was the lack of routine before university that was making hours drag.

This all sounds very waffley and sad. It was easy to focus on this. But after today’s run I can see that my daily run had worked wonders.

I had been using my watch to track my 5k runs, running the distance with fewer stops and walks. I am still slow but there is improvement.

46 mins.
44 mins.
42 mins.
And today? 40 mins!

Woah hold on. That’s been less than 2 weeks and there’s 6mins difference? That’s like having a cup of tea! More than an ad break! I can shower in less time!

6 mins is substantial. I can consider that success.

Now let’s not rest on laurels, I’d like to get sub-30 mins pretty soon then move onto 10ks, but at least its progress.

Reflecting on this has allowed me to see my ‘wasted days’ were not in fact wasted and being a negative Nancy gets you nowhere.

Now running? That gets you places.

I get knocked down…

I fell.

Well, I didn’t fall flat but I stumbled enough to make my ankle twist and shake me up.

It was a cross country run; puddles, mud and potholes. I was going downhill. I was weaving, going a fair pace. It was a small puddle. Instead of weaving it I take a big step, a leap over. The mud gives way to my right foot which in that moment supported my body weight. The mud slid and I went with it. My ankle bends to stop me falling. I slide back and my hands go out to stop the fall happening. I end up in a starter position, looking like I’m waiting for the gun to go off. I’m relieved that aside from a pair of muddy palms and mud on the side of my shoe I am unscathed, spared the humiliation of a mud covered face through housing estates.

Then the pain hits.

My ankle interrupts my momentary relief to alert me to the odd position it is in. It starts as a murmur and quickly escalates to a scream of pain. I realise it twisted much more than was safe. I can feel the unnaturalness of what it has done and I am sorry.

Ultimately I am fine, there is not a breakage, nothing out of place and I will live to fight other puddle based battles, but my nerve has gone.

They say running is a mental test and I would agree. The mental will to keep going km by km, mile by mile is what separates you from success and failure. I feel I have conquered my will when it comes to going forward but I have a new beast in my way. Hills.

It’s not going up hills that bothers me, walking or running. Its going down. I am convinced I will fall, smash my head open and die… Quite melodramatic I know but it is a fear none the less.

It started in China. The private school I worked at had marble floors everywhere which is not very ‘health and safety’ when all the corridors were outside, summers have rain daily and the winters are foggy and damp. I worried when kids were slipping and sliding all over. I slipped myself a few times and each time I walked a little slower and held on a lot more. It developed into a fear of going downward generally, hills, stairs, small dips, the lot. Climbing the great wall was amazing… Up until I went up a staircase, looked down and the panicked about going downstairs.

Running roads in Scotland has seen a development of this fear, either avoiding down hill sections completely or walking down only. Mum pointed out ‘won’t your races have down hill bits?’. Damn. I couldn’t avoid it forever.

I have started slowly to incorporate these parts, watching my step and taking my time.

Today was a disaster. I slipped and hurt my ankle trying to overcome the thing I was scared of, reinforcing the fear. I limped home and put some ice on my ankle where a faint bruise looked like it was developing. I frantically Pinterest   searched for tips and set about various rubbing and stretching to make sure I wouldn’t be hurt long term. I limped around the living room. Damn damn damn! No no no!

That night I went out to run 5k again in sheer defiance. It was probably a terrible move medically and I would probably be doing more damage but my nerves couldn’t hack the failure.

I ran up. I ran. Screams from my ankle. I ran down. I ran. I didn’t think about the hills. I stumbled once on a pavement kerb but kept going. I was not going to let the fear of falling get me. No. Falling is temporary. Success is long lasting.

I did it. I got home and sat down, ignoring my screaming ankle. I write this now and am still ignoring its intermittent tantrums. I’ll be fine. No matter.

Stand up to your fear. It’s not fixing itself you know.

Testing New Running Gear; TomTom Runner 2

Disclaimer; This isn’t really a review. I’ve never owned a GPS watch before so this is my experience with one and it happens to be this watch. I’m no expert. Sorry.

Now I’m well set up back at home and trying to focus more on distance rather than time ran, I decided to invest in a GPS running watch. It was not a light decision, they are not exactly cheap, but considering my investment in running and races coming up a new motivating tool to help couldn’t go a miss.

I looked up Garmins, pricey. I looked up cheap ones, unreliable. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. I got an email through from the Great Scottish Run store and thought that was as good a place as any to trust.

IMG_20160710_151541.jpg

I picked myself up one of these bad boys. A TomTom Runner 2 (not the music playing version. It was a good deal and all but after the panic about my left hand the idea of being totally free on my right hand was terrifying) built to track distance, speed, calories, gps, maps, and all that stuff while also something about my sleep and steps. Awesome!

Set up was super easy. Plug it into its wire, into the usb slot and that is pretty much it. TomTom asks you to register an ‘account’, which every time you plug the watch into your PC updates your data allowing you to see your past runs, GPS maps via googlemaps and general awesome stats. It’s well worth doing.

I wore it a few days to get used to it. There aren’t fiddly clasps or anything, just simple click in buttons into holes. I have the small because despite my round middle I do have oddly small wrists. It’s a good fit. The face of the watch sits nicely on top of my arm and the strap doesn’t feel too tight or loose.

I tested it out in Elie on the beach. Running along the shore line I put it on the % tracker screen, which is awesome for getting an idea of how much you have done without actually bogging down on distance, which for me was great. It was so odd actually running to distance instead of some clock. Things like speed started to matter, it was all too much.

My first clocked run was only about 2K. It was too much pressure too fast and I wasn’t quite comfortable with it yet. While on holiday I didn’t really push myself but upon coming home I really went at it.

The watch is simple to use when setting goals, either time, calories or distance. In this instance I’m practicing 5Ks which I know I can do but having it on my wrist gives you the immidate satisfaction of knowing you did it rather than the old method of looking at maps trying to map a route that equates to around the distance you need.

The gps tracker does all the work which gives running a sense of freedom, not being limited to a certain preplanned route (the idea of which had been demotivating me). This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be running with a free spirit anyway and be able to go where you want but personally I liked having a target, a goal and the freedom to pound random pavements to reach that in any order I liked.

I found myself looping round, taking a housing estate I knew popped out where I was going anyway just because it added another .4km. I looped one block 3 times to make up .6km near the end.

The most satisfying feature was the last 1km. You see it and after the boring 2/3 km middle section it gets interesting. I once again publically cheered myself on, gave a little fist pump and told myself ‘finial stretch! I can do it!’. 4.6… 4.7… 4.8… It was addictive. Seeing the numbers rise as I ran, seeing progress before me that it didn’t matter if it was raining (it was.) I had come this far damnit and I was going to finish!

5.1km in the end showed on my watch. I plugged it into my computer and saw the route I took, the splits I did it in (including the conceded walk downhill, but that’s a story for another time).

Overall I’m pretty addicted to my new companion. It’s proving useful and with less than a month before my first official 5k in about 6 years it’s great to be able to train my time over a set distance rather than just extending my time generally.

I almost can’t wait for tomorrow’s run! Almost…. it’s still freezin’