Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bog Bashing

With friends visiting at the weekend and the weather not dry enough to climb the running option was set in motion. Now where to go? I actually didn't want to go running. With Cor being here and her desire to do a route that didn't end up wrecking her with the 3 boys I didn't have much choice. To actually get out and run was a good choice. I had fun. The boys were off up James Thorn-Over Exposed-Shelf Benches-Dog Rock-Cock Hill. Too far and they'd run too fast for us. I didn't fancy a great uphill slog. I wanted to run. And be in the hills without being wrecked when I got up there. So we drove to the summit of the Snake Pass....had a tactical pause while the garmin got signal (aka dodging a heavy rain shower)...then ran along the Pennine Way northwards before cutting left up to 621 Trig Point. We'd turned a little earlier than the nice trod, but it was easy going, and we picked up the trod on the west side of the stream without losing any height.

A trot...walk....jog....and we're at the trig point. Quite windy too. There was a short run section where feet placement had to be done on an angle to hit the spot you were aiming for. Any lack of concentration and your foot would have been blown sideways!  We reckon that if we head a little further west we might get a glimpse of the boys heading up hill....and we do.

Looking south westwards...white dot is where the boys are....
There's only a short wait sitting on a blustery outcrop til the boys are with us. A brief discussion and they slightly alter their route so they run with us to Hern Stones....bog bashing all the way! There's another brief pause as we get to the plane wreck of Over Exposed - then we're off again.

I'm pushing my pace on this section a little. It's interesting when running with other people what happens to your pace. With Cor I was certainly being pushed faster than I probably would have on the trod, and now, with the boys, I'm keen to see just how much I can keep up. There's no way I can keep it's more like seeing how far behind I will be when they get to the stones, even though I know Tim isn't pushing himself to be quick. The ground is pretty wet, lots of mini-streams and marshy bits to cross. It's very liberating running over them, not knowing quite how deep your feet are going to sink in. The boggy bits are fun too....squelching down and up the peat tufts...keeping up a decent speed seems to work best, go too slow and you sink in further and get stuck more. There's also a bit of skill in choosing a good line down and up the bogs....not so much down, but you need to have your exit on the far side sorted or, as I did in one place, you come face to face with peat bog that is too steep and slightly over hanging. Then you're back to a walking pace and slipping around and back towards the bottom if your not quick enough. All good fun. I manage to get to Hern Stones relatively unscathed...muddy gloves, but then you're not really trying if you don't fall over. Just ask Tim if you don't believe me.

We regroup and have a brief pause at Hern Stones for a chunk of kendle mint cake...mmmmm.....and then the boys are heading northwards to Wain Stones while we turn east and back to the Pennine Way. The rain is holding off, but the clouds look threatening. I give Tim my spare kendle mint cake as the boys are more likely to need it than us. We soon pick up the paved path and turn south, heading back to the car. The run is mostly easy going under foot now, a few rocky bits that need careful foot placement but a mostly downhill run back to the car with just a blustery wind to contend with. With the increase in water up on Bleaklow the path is not so easy to pick out in paces as it weaves in and out of the bogs - there's a lot of weaving and crossing the river. I'm sure with practice you can just run down the river. I'll add that to my things to learn about fell running. Something I'm sure will be very handy as we head towards autumn and winter.

I feel determined to keep a decent pace up, even with the wind blowing straight into my face. I know that if I was out here alone today I would be having a few walk breaks, blaming the wind and my crappy lungs for needing a break. But, I keep a steady rhythm is kept as we pass a few groups of walkers....onwards, splashing through the puddles without a care now - feet are wet so it doesn't matter at all. I even see Cor not totally avoiding the puddles....(think she was secretly enjoying it)!

For stats geeks here's the garmin track. Do ignore the max HR - that has to be a garmin blip!

Back at the house we've just had time to have a drink and shower, stretch a little and then the boys are back. I'm really happy with the long as the laces are done up tight enough (so you don't get them sucked off in a bog) they are great. They don't hold the water, the grip is good, they're light and to be honest, I can hardly tell I'm wearing them. Here's our shoes drying out....all INVO8's!

The run was great. Running with friends is good. I seems to take the pressure off monitoring pace, being vaguely anxious about how far or how fast you're running, and it's a good laugh when you're negotiating the bogs, wondering who'll be the first to face plant or sink in a deep one.  Thanks for getting me out there Cor, a decent 7.58km run in about an hour. Good times.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Quick run

Did a quick 5km run on the road. Think I set off pretty fast owing to the music I'd chosen - dance beats do it every time! It felt ok though, definitely out of breath but able to keep the pace going.

Moving time of 25:59 for 5.05km. Happy with that.
First 2 kilometers were 4:44 and 4:46 and first km included waiting for traffic lights to cross main road. Nice.

Was a hot run. Should have been wearing shorts. Glad I didn't do a fell's nice to mix it up, and get some speed and strength in the legs.

Got my max HR up to 195bpm!!! Average at 170bpm.

I started to play with my stride length on the flat/downhill sections - stretching out a bit. Will do more of that on road runs....see how I can gain efficiency.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Blame it on the Bread?

We all need it (food that is, not just bread). Quite a few of us over indulge, gain a few pounds, get a bit lazy, stop being conscious of what we're stuffing into our mouths day after day, week after week. I've been there. But that's changed. At the end of June I was noticing my weight was creeping upwards. I have some clothes which are a guide to my weight and they were starting to feel a bit on the tight side. What to wear in a morning was starting to be dictated by what wouldn't pinch round the waist later in the day. Now I'm not saying I was obese. But in my mind I know there's a top limit to what weight I feel comfortable with, and what weight is just downright stupid. I was there.

So, we made a conscious choice to cut out bread for one week and see what it did to the number shown on the scales. I'm not obsessed with numbers, but it's helpful for monitoring. I was shocked with my weight and knew there had to be some serious change. It was reaching a magic number I don't ever want to cross over. I'm getting to a stage where change has to happen or the weight will just continue to creep upwards, new clothes will be a larger size...and the downward spiral begins. So the non-bread eating was stage one of a mini-experiment.

The non-eating bread thing was a bit of a wake up. I hadn't realised just how much of the lovely fluffy stuff we were eating. At the time we were learning to make our own, Tim was having mixed results with his artisan bread - some excellent if odd-shaped loaves were being baked. So so tasty. And with fresh bread you have to have real butter. And homemade lemon curd and jam. So the calories, as well as carbs, were sky high. It seemed like a really difficult thing to cut out bread - what would we eat instead?

But, we survived the first week. A little weight was lost. Without too much thought we just continued with the non-baking of bread. We didn't buy any bread. Though we had the occasional bit while out, either with a meal or for a snack. I'm not one for total exclusion on diets, somehow it just doesn't seem healthy. But this was turning into a mental challenge to see how I could cope without bread, and what it would do to my weight.

So far so good. I lost a kilo or so in a month without really trying that hard.  It did coincide with me increasing my exercise, so the combination will have helped. I'd had an issue with my left ITB/knee which stopped me running, and rehab was taking time as I wanted it to heal properly. It was, and I was pleased I'd taken a month out to recover fully.

On 21 July we had an assessment at S&P gym - to work out what level of fitness and strength we had. Then from the following week we started on a 4 week foundation course, down at the gym twice a week. I was back running twice weekly as well, and doing recovery and rest days in betweeen.  For food, I needed to alter the way I ate if I wanted to achieve my goals - lose some weight and get leaner. To do that, putting it simply, I needed to cut out carbs, and increase protein. There's some other rules, like not eating cereal for breakfast, but that's one I'm still working on. I think my reduction of bread intake had been a good kick start to lowering carbs.  Essentially if I eat carbs I need to earn them. So on days I work out at the gym I can have some carbs - rest days = no carbs.

This is where it gets interesting because Tim is able to stuff his face with pasta 24/7 - he's got totally different goals to me. He's doing fell races, and he doesn't need or want to lose any weight. It proves interesting at meal times. Sometimes we'll have a dinner where I can just exclude the rice or potatos; other times we'll eat totally different things.

So what's easy?
Being able to eat loads of meat. I'm downing plenty of clean meat - roasted chicken, rump steaks for lunch, rump steak for dinner, tuna, makeral (omega-3 fish oil is essential). Knowing I'm eating a really healthy diet helps keep up the motivation. The fun of making salads interesting a tasty.

And what's difficult?
Snacking. Adjusting from my lifelong eating patterns of having pretty much whatever I want for a snack, to a few brazil nuts, a protein shake, some fruit. No flapjack. There's a tough one. I make it and it's really nice. I'll continue to make it - Tim can munch through the whole tray full. I'll have a tiny bit as and when I'm allowed (that is if there's any left).
Another tough one is dinner times, given that Tim can have what he likes its making dinner choices really hard. But we're managing. And we'll continue to evolve our food choices so it will get easier.
Hunger pangs - I feel like I'm living with the constant niggle of feeling hungry. To offset that I'm drinking loads more water. Don't get me wrong, I'm not starving myself. But I'm not giving in to the hunger between meals with silly choices - flapjack, a crafty slice of toast and lemon curd, a mouthful of pasta.

In general I'm liking what I'm eating. It's a clean diet and I'm seeing the results. I've dropped about 4 kilos in 7 weeks. As I said earlier - I've increased my exercise, sticking to a good weekly routine now for 6 weeks, so the loss is a combination of food, exercise and keeping the two consistant.

I'll reach my target weight with the amazing support of Tim, some wise words from Sean at S&P and a lot of determination. I'm liking my body a lot more now, and that can only get better.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

S&P Gym - weeks 5-8

I got the new training programme yesterday and did the first session. Wow, that was a bit harder. Mostly because of the killer finisher - more technically called a metabolic killer I believe! Well that's what I'm calling it.

Here's the programme (finisher shown separately below):

Yesterday had me undertaking session 1. I'd had a good look at it and could see there was only 2 super sets. Nice. So that initial thought lulled me into a false sense of security. I had the exercises explained to me and off I went.

First up, Bulgarian Split Squats. These were just body weight today to get me used to the technique. It's actually harder than it looks - you have to maintain good balance (good core strength and pelvic floor control help) which is not easy when one foot is behind you on a bench and you squat down. I got the technique in the end, just need to make sure my planted foot is forward enough. 8 reps on each leg. I could feel the stretch quite significantly in the quads of my raised leg. Need to focus on the drive up and glute squeeze on the planted foot. By the 4th set these were really hurting.

Then Assisted Chins. Just what they say. Though this week I've progressed to just the green band looped over the top and one knee in it, rather than green and blue across the cage with both feet on it. Interesting I thought. But only 5 chins to do. First set seemed OK, 2nd not too bad, 3rd and they're getting harder, final set - oh my, they are tough. Really had to dig deep to get full clean chin ups at the end.

Final part of the first super set - Ring Press Ups. With much amusement on my part I took a fair while to grasp the position needed to do the press. In my head I see the rings as tough just to keep your body position stable, let alone do 10 press ups on. Let's just say all sets were hard. The 3rd particularly but having Sean there urging me to press it did help - no slacking when he's right in front of you! Not that I'd dare slack anyway - I'm sure they have hidden cameras!

So, 4 sets of A1-3. I managed to do so with 1 minute rest in between. I'm keen to time rest periods, otherwise you end up wandering about for 2-3 minutes, chatting to someone and focus slips. Having the stop watch keeps you focused and determined.

Now, onto super set B.
B1 - RDL to wall 3x12
B2 - DB Alt Standing Shoulder Press 3x10
B3 - DB Rows 3x12
B4 -Plank 3x45 seconds

B1 - I'd mastered the RLD technique over the previous 4 weeks so settled into these nicely. I think the weight will notch up one next week and progress over the next 4 weeks.

B2 - just as it says, dumbbell shoulder press, alternating sides. I started with 6kg not sure how that weight would be - as it turned out, I managed the 1st set OK, 2nd not too bad (starting to breath heavier), 3rd and I'm counting down the reps to make sure I reach 10 on each side, and the final set are just hard from rep4 onwards - but I manage it. To keep at 10 on each side I think I'll be sticking to 6kg for a few weeks. We'll see. Progression each week is nice but finishing the set in good form it just as important.

B3 - dumbbell rows with 7.5kg. Needed a few pointers on technique here - keeping elbow tight, rotating shoulders slightly and not pulling too far back. All sets completed without too many issues, but did feel tired in lower back towards the end. Will check technique with Sean again next week. Weight will increase for sure on this one next week.

B4 - here's the killer - after B1-3 then straight into plank. Oh my, that's tough. I'd been managing to increase time on the plank over the past 4 weeks quite nicely but today there was no way. So much so that on the final set I failed - managing only 35 seconds, rested for 5 then did 10 more seconds. Slightly disappointing. But boy was I tired. And weirdly starting to feel a bit sick too.

Now. Here's the kicker. They like to do a finisher with you down at the delightful S&P gym.  It's usually something to dread in a fun sort of way. But looking at what was in store for me, and another female athlete in the gym, was not going to be fun. Take a look:

So we start with 10m long, 2inch thick ropes - you have to beat your arms as though you're hitting drums. the ropes are heavy. Straight outside to drag the sled forwards 20m then backwards 20m - it's got 60kg of weight on it. Next up - 10 sledgehammer smashes onto a big tyre - on each side. (my first time on this piece of 'equipment' and technique needs a little work - still, it was nice getting some decent hits going). Finally, if you're still physically able to, it's a 10m bear crawl forwards then 10m backwards. And collapse. But don't rest too long - you've got 5 sets of those to do AFAP - As Fast As Possible. 

I didn't take note of the time but let me tell you, had the other woman given up I could have very easily joined her. As it was, she was up first and I followed...all the way through 5 sets, and all the way to near being sick. Just to check I wasn't going to actually be sick I took a steady jog to the end of the mill and back.  I wasn't. But that's the closest I've even been to illness though exercise/training.

So, reflecting on this a day after. I don't feel to bad. My shoulders are the main area of tension so I'll be cashing in a sports massage from Tim later on. Recovery run later for me today. Just a short one, maybe 30 minutes. Might do a road run too - less thinking involved and can keep a steady recovery pace easier than off-road.

Despite the hard work and sweat factor, training at S&P is wonderful. There's a great crowd of people get down there and just get on with it. No frills, no magazines to read. Just heavy shit to move. Love it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

S&P gym - training

There you have it. 4 weeks of foundation training complete at S&P gym. It's the first time I've ever had a structured training plan that involves strength and conditioning work, well actually it's probably the first time I've had a properly structured training plan at all. I've enjoyed it. It's meant that I've gone down to the gym and worked. My goals, as I've probably mentioned elsewhere, are to lose weight and get leaner. This has meant a low carb/high protein diet plus hard work in the gym. It's been tough some days. On the food side it's mostly tough when the food planning has gone awry. One could also say it's tough when the lunch choice is rump steak and a fresh salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing, but hey, someones got to do it!! 

I'll write more about the food side of things separately, it could take up some line space.

So here's what I've been doing for the past 4 weeks:

I have to admit, it's been really good having someone tell me what to do - it's made me work much harder than I would have if I'd just joined a regular gym. There was one Thursday session I could quite easily have missed (various reasons including house sitting elsewhere which made for a longer journey to the gym) - but I didn't want to a) let the S&P guys down b) let myself down by slacking and c) get behind Tim who's following his own programme but training on the same days as me.  I'm looking forward to what's coming in weeks 5-8 of the training; there'll be a new programme waiting for me when I get there tomorrow. It's with slight anxiety that the training will be hitting a new (ie harder) level, but also with excitement that I'm going to get pushed harder once more. The last week of foundation was starting to, not exactly get easier, but the familiar programme was not challenging my body to the extent I know the next few weeks will.

As a final note, a couple of the ladies who train at the gym have been competing in figure athlete competitions - now, seeing them at the gym training hard is a real inspiration. Sean keeps joking that I'm next. I'm firm in my statement that getting me on a stage posing is NOT going to happen. All the same, it's great training in the same venue as the ladies. Truly inspiring.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saturday wandering

Today is run day. I slip on my INOV8 Roclites after much deliberation over whether to go road or fell running. Fell is the choice I settle on, though I prepare myself for uphill walking and jogging what I can as the lungs permit me. Heading off from home I'm still not sure which way I'm going...vaguely towards Bleaklow. I don't fancy Mossy Lea/Shelf Bench today, so choose to make my way over Shire Hill and up Lightside to Yellowslacks. I'm ok running on the track in the bottom but come the uphill bit my lungs just don't play nice. I'm working out slowly that the more I think about it the more stressed I get about not being able to breath sufficiently to keep some uphill momentum going - the worse my breathing gets. Annoyingly I only figure this out later in the run as I settle down my breathing rate, oxygen gets in and muscles begin to work again without screaming in pain.

So, I walk all the way up to the slope to gain a great view of Glossop and over to Shelf Moor. Where now? I could head up to Dog Rock, then down via James Thorn. Or, as I chose, I could head to Cock Hill via Glossop Low. I'd read on the FRA forum about there being loads of big black flies out in force on Kinder. So far no sign of them. But as soon as I got heather bashing across to pick up the wooden boards and path to the shelter on top of Glossop Low there they were....hundreds of black flies. And they weren't shy about landing on me. One thing it did do was make me pick up my feet and hav a go at running through knee deep heather - that takes quite a bit of effort when, like me, you're not used to it. I had a few near misses with ankle twists in hidden holes, slowed a little to a fast walk, up and down the various water run offs and groughs, and catch sight of the wooden boards - lovely - I'll be able to pick up a bit of speed and leave the flies behind I hope. The plan works out and it's nice to be on squelching peat bog underfoot in between the boards.  Before I know it I'm at the top, quick turn south west and I'm on the path to Cock Hill. I say a cheery hello to some guy fixing a grouse butt without slowing pace. I'm not sure if there's a path/trod to the trig point from this direction so I just cut right after a short while and bash to the trig.

I check in with Tim - sending him a quick message with my location (he has no idea where I could be so to be safe I do this when I'm out alone) and take this snap.  The sky is starting to cloud over fairly significantly, and while I don't mind getting wet when running (it's nice to keep you cool), I'd prefer to be off the hill top if it starts hammering it down as these clouds could well do. Off I go, light footed and easy on the lungs down the nice path towards Moorside. There's a couple of horses with ponies in the field under the lower tree outcrop - one horse in particular doesn't seem to like my presence, then I realise it's foal is only a few metres away so I quick step it down the hill. I'm thankful it's still dry as I get lower down on the path - it turns quite rocky under foot and I'm certain my pace would be slower in the wet.

Next decision at Old Glossop - to go down through Manor Park, which I'd kind of planned on doing, or back up and over Shire Hill. I reckon I'll be near 10km by the time I get home on the latter and chose that way. Ok so it's got a kicker of a hill I'll have to walk but it's shorter. Working out vague timings I reckon I can get home in under1.5hrs.

distance: 9.61km
total time: 1:28:48
moving time: 1:23:07 (that allows for very short breathers and photo taking)
average moving pace: 8:38min/km

I'm slightly put out it's taken me 1.5hrs to do less than 10km. But, looking at the map I probably walked 3km of that in the uphill section and across the heather when I wasn't trying to run. Putting figures aside, I was very happy with the run. It was a glorious day (forgetting about the flies) to be out on the hill. I only saw 1 person close by and a couple of others in the distance. It was like the hill was all mine - how much better than that can it get right on your doorstep?

A final note - my INOV8 shoes are going great, no niggles at all. I am slightly on guard for damage to laces when bashing through heather following Tim's getting wrecked that way, but so far all good with mine.  I might get myself a pair of those sock gaitor things for over the shoes - stop all the bits getting in an itching the top of my feet...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


That's how today's run was. I felt 'heavy' though the scales this morning have me at the lowest weight for the month. Not that I really bother with numbers much, preferring to notice that my most recently bought pair of trousers are looser on me now than a month ago - that's progress.  So today's run was a steady 5.75km, average pace of 6:23/km.  Not too bad looking at the figures. Best bit is I felt strong in my legs though heavy in my shoulders so the natural flow didn't feel so easy. I could have gone further, but today is a short day. Slow steady progress is the key to avoiding injury, no drastic gains in distance, speed or terrain. Speaking of terrain, my run was partly tarmac, stony track and grass - a good mix up for the legs and ankles to build up strength slowly. Another mix in today was the shoes - wore my Walshes which performed well - more comfortable off the tarmac, but that goes without saying. In fact with any more tarmac than I did I reckon I'd be getting tingly numb feet.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The weekend

I did a climb at the weekend.......just the one. Check out Tim's post here for a picture of me on the rock at Hobson's Quarry, just down the road from Glossop. Great to have that place so close to home.

Tim and his mate did some more climbing at Wormstones on Sunday though not me....I was out for a run. I walked up to Wormstones with them, hung about a bit - but the midges were out in force so I soon left them to it and headed up to Harry Hut trig point, along to the paved path and some searching for a trod down to the shooting cabin on Chunal Moor - managed to completely miss it spectacularly. My options - 1) keep going on the paved path and trundle down Doctors Gate or 2) heather bash til I come upon the path somewhere below the cabin. I quickly dismissed option 1 - too far for me to run today so heather bashing it was. I managed to run a bit of it - narrowly missed a huge hole at one point - saw a hare at close range a little later....and eventually found the path. I'd dropped down by a line of grouse butts - but not the ones I'd expected (directly above the cabin) - and a set of butts I'd not noticed before. On previous trips up that way I've always turned uphill right behind the shooting cabin. So my minor navigation error of not finding the right trod actually turned out OK as I found a feature I didn't know was there.

Once on the path I headed down hill. In hindsight I should have taken the short trip up to the cabin as I soon realised I was fast running out of track and would be back on tarmac pretty quick. Oh well. I made the best of it by focusing on keeping my breathing calm and steady and my pace the same. I pretty much ran all the way from Moorfield back home, with just a couple of very short walk breaks. I'd planned to keep on Derbyshire Level passing the Jumble turning, and turn back towards home after the big house...but I felt strong in my legs so carried on right to the end and the A57....quick left, then left and back home.

I felt mildly disappointed with my 1hr run - only 7km, so averaging 8:26 min/km. I'm told that's fairly ok for the terrain I was on, so I feel better. And thinking about it, it was rough going for a good kilometer. I won't analyse it any further. It's done. what I do know is that I felt strong on the road, and wished there was more path to run on this occasion. Better planning needed!


Here's the foundation programme I've been working on for the past 4 weeks....just session 2 to complete on Thursday:

Then next week I'll be issued a new programme - and let the hard work begin. My goals are to lose some weight and get leaner - so that means a low carb/high protein diet.  I'm still getting used to the eating side of things - and am keeping a food diary for a week so that Sean down at S&P Gym can show me where I can make better choices - and cut out stuff I shouldn't be eating. There's also the issue that what to eat changes depending on what level of exercise I'm doing - so for someone who's never put a huge amount of thought into diet and exercise this is all very exciting, and challenging.

I'll write more about my training programme and how I've got on with it soon.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Today is my low mileage day...or so it's meant to be. I'd arranged to meet a friend in Hope (where I'm house sitting for a few nights) today about 4pm to go for a run. I'd warned them today was a short day, and I'd be taking regular walk breaks, and walking the uphill sections. So. 4pm comes, we meet and off we go. It's a lovely sunny afternoon and I'm heading up my favourite hill. I know Win Hill pretty well. I used to head up there after school fairly regularly, and it's most likely the first place I dabbled in fell running. I recall being bored of walking as it took too long to cover familiar ground; by running I could cover ground I knew well then explore other parts of the local area. I'm pretty sure I didn't do much running when I lived round here years ago, but it did fire up something inside me that's never left. I love the hills. And I love being in them and exploring them. So today, heading up Win Hill I was a little nervous. I have to say that my friend is someone I've not known for long, but she's a good lass, and also a good runner - well a good athlete all round having done quite a few races, and many of them long distance endurance stuff.  Me, I'm just a humble aspiring fell runner. And I was worried I'd be way too slow. No problem, I catch her a few days after the Long Tour of Bradwell where she came lower down the field than last year, but then she is nursing some interesting injuries, including ribs that popped out!! I feel even more humbled in my effort to trot up the hill....but no need, she's glad of a slow steady run.

What I'm getting round to is that I feel like I sustained a steady pace on the uphill section, which is steep if you know Twitchill Farm - and onwards to the top. I've not downloaded the garmin stats yet, but looking at my overall pace it is promising for good improvements in my fitness. We chat away as we walk to the top with the sun beating down on us. Turning towards Hope Cross we start running and what I've not admitted to is that this is only my second fell run in nearly 10 weeks! It's an easy track, grassy but rutty, nothing too challenging. I take one short walk break just because my head says it should then we continue, taking a short left hairpin back towards Hope.

Now the track turns interesting. Rocky. Loose rocks. And not uniform in any way. My running companion doesn't look bothered at all but I am fully concentrated on each step, not wanting to twist an ankle or trip. I end up running directly behind her part of the way as I figure she's picking the best line. In reality it's much of a muchness across the track. Lower down it calms down and I can pick my own line. Wow, I need to practice this much much more.

I manage to only feel like needing one short walk break on the way down, and wonder again if it's more for effect than necessity. Who knows. We run on, past the farm, on to the grassy field, through another gate and on to the dreaded tarmac lane. It feels tough on my legs - they're tiring now, but not so much that I need to walk.

I've managed to keep a pace going where I can talk the whole time, and feel really good. My tibialis anterior (lower leg muscle) on both legs feels tight and I know I've got some foam rollering to do later on. Down the lane and before I know it we're back in Hope and waving goodbye to each other as I head back to house sitting duties and she heads home.

Running with someone today made such a difference. I probably ran slower than I would on my own, but I ran way further than I would have done. Today was, afterall, a short run day. But hey, if I can manage 8.5km in 1hr 10mins (or so - no stats yet) then I'm happy. I wonder what my long run at the weekend will be.....I know I don't like the up hill bits, but just digging in and walking them, then enjoying the flat/downhills is great. Of course good company and sunshine on a crystal clear day help. Equally I like the solitute of exploration that the Dark Peak gives.

I do feel stronger on my runs. Physically that is. I think I now have some mental work to do, focussing on less walk breaks which I probably don't need, but also stopping all the "I can't do it" thoughts that creep in. Today has shown me I can do more than I think. I'll hang on to that feeling when I lace up my running shoes at the weekend.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rest day

So today was a rest day....but the call of the Dark Peak Fell Runners calendar box (its essentially a geocache) was strong. We found a spot to park up then trotted along the track for a couple of kilometres at a reasonable pace of about 7:30/km - it was afterall a rest day and I shouldn't really be running. A hike up the hill took us to our search area where we split up on high and low ground. It was great for me, gaining confidence on tufty, rocky steep slopes, scrambling over boulders etc. After a fuel stop (homemade rocky road from the Woodbine) we retraced our steps and found the box tucked in its hiding spot.  Nice one.  Taking a rolo each we replaced those with a mini snickers, and Tim wrote our entry in the log book and headed down.

Tempting as it was to head up the hill from our location and jog along the top, we chose to head down, it is a rest day after all!! Steady on the down, walking steep/rocky sections and jogging out the grassy bits. Legs feeling good we cross the stream and back on the track towards the car. I could definitely tell I'd run yesterday. If I'd been on that track with fresh legs I could have run all the way back to the car. As it was, I took a couple of short walk breaks and enjoyed the feeling of being out in the hills on a rainy day. We'd managed to avoid the worst of the weather, but gladly took my goretex proshell for the couple of heavy downpours we did get. Temperature was warm throughout, and by the time we were back at the car it was lovely and sunny.

At the car we took some time to learn names of the local features...then headed home for a cuppa.  I'd publish a picture, but that would give away the location, and we want everyone else to get their maps out and do the search using the clue map. Good Luck everyone!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Saturday run

Eventually got myself into the right frame of mind to go running tonight. The weekends are long runs, so focus on keeping going for longer run sections and shorter walk breaks. I was aiming for about 8km, with some of the route off-road to get my legs/ankles back into fell running. The route took me past Mossy Lea farm...up to this point my garmin was telling me I was running at 2:06/km - just not possible so I hoped it would calm down so I could have stats of my run later on (it did thankfully).

Turning right after the farm I head up hill. To this point I'd stuck to 1 min walk, 3-3.5mins running and I felt good. This is where my lungs start to complain about going up. I just don't seem to be able to use the air that I get inside me. Air is going in, but I don't feel like the oxygen is getting around my body. I push on, trying to keep to 1 min run, 1 min walk and do this up to turning left rather than continuing down Doctor's Gate. Now the hill is going up more and I aim to walk to the left turn in the track then run/walk as far as possible. Between the farm building and Spring Cabin I manage a couple of 30 second bursts running but I'm immediately gasping for air and unable to recover at all...not even after walking for 3-4 minutes. I try to keep my walking pace under 12min/km but as I head up through the gap in Shelf Benches I just get slower. Somewhere along the way I take yet another puff on my inhaler, in the hope that it will relax my lungs but it doesn't appear to have any effect at all.

Reaching the high point of the run after about 4km I head over to a well worn trod. I could just bash across in a vaguely south direction but that's on tufty grass and my legs aren't ready for off-path terrain just yet. Slowly slowly is my build up to that sort of underfoot ground. Reaching the trod I turn downhill back towards Mossy Lea. I saw a couple of walkers on the track as I was heading up and I wonder if I can pass them or whether they'll be long gone. I'm fairly recovered now from the uphill section and head into the wind, taking care with foot placement but gaining some momentum as I descend. My speed picks up when I hit the grassy hard packed wide path, quickly through the gate and I spot the walkers down by the stream. Determined to keep running and get my average pace up I keep running, but not before a 30 second walk break. They're important to keep legs fresh.

I easily pass the walkers before the first stile on the way towards Old Glossop and keep running until about half way down the track where I take another very short walk break after the metal gate (bottom of Lightside). Onwards...and onwards....the track seems longer than it should. My lungs are into a steady rhythm now but the legs are feeling it a little. I contemplate going through Old Glossop and back along the road but dismiss it - too much road and maybe a bit too much distance today. Nothing for it but left, over the bridge and up over Shire that steep bit is Steep!! Legs really feeling it at this point I get to the grassy track and am off again running. One panicky moment as a small dog is quite undecided whether it wants to run through me or round me, and on I go back down to tarmac and the final half km or so back home.

I get home and immediately jump on the turbo - I didn't walk at the end to cool down and that's an important part of exercising. I knew if I wandered around outside today to cool down I would have got cold, so the inside turbo option is great.

Writing this later on I feel a slight sense of congestion in my left calf, gratefully Zephr is on hand to massage it and release the toxins back into circulation to be cleaned. I do some foam rollering too as part of the recovery process, noting my left ITB is particularly tight about two thirds the way down. More rollering tomorrow for me. If it hurts it needs more attention!

Total distance: 8.10km
Time: 56:49
Average pace: 7:01 min/km

I'm pleased when I compare this run to a similar one in May. The May run took me down Doctors Gate a little then left up the steep grass - but overall ascent was the same. However, my May run took me 1:07:31 with an average pace of  8:06 min/km. It appears I am faster now. I hope that's down to the training and rehab programme I've been doing. I'm sure it must be.

Saturday stroll

Out with family today for a short stroll up on Bleaklow. Parked at the top of Snake Pass and ambled in a northerly direction on the Pennine Way until reaching the point where you can get to Hern Stones along a small trod. Brief stop there in the shelter of the rocks to have a bite to eat and to find the geocache which is stashed not too far away, then headed southwards to the plane wreck of Over Exposed and continued the few metres to 621 Trig Point overlooking Doctors Gate, Crooked Clough and Shelf Moor. I bagged another geocache then it was off on the trod eastwards back to the Pennine Way. If I was alone or just with Zephr I would have headed to the eastern edge of Crooked Clough, past the waterfall, but a better path was needed today. All totalled to about 7.5km in about 3hours - a slow pace, good to be getting the map out noting various local features etc.
The weather was kind to us, claggy but dry, just the odd few rain drops. Nicely warm, only needed icebreaker on most of the time.

Friday, 5 August 2011

S&P Gym - session plans

Here's what I do at the gym on Monday's:

RDL is a Romanian Dead Lift - hard to describe and difficult to do at first.
Press ups for me are done on a bar - not yet being able to do full body weight press ups means I'm building up to them by gradually lowering the bar as I gain strength.
KB = kettle bell

and on Thursday's:

SB HE +KF = swiss ball, not sure what the rest means - I put my feet on top of the ball, shoulders on floor and roll the ball towards me, lifting my lower back/glutes up and squeezing glutes at the top. Man these are hard after the first 7 or 8 in each set, and by the third set I'm shouting expletives!

Think the rest are self explanatory - if not, let me know and I'll explain them.

I'll take a snap of my notes next session, and give an explanation of my hand-written scrawl. The paper isn't so pristine now I've done 2 sessions...sweat and pen mark all over it.

Shelf Moor Fell Race

A few months ago I posted that I might run this fell race in September....that's out of the question now, having had a knee issue from running, a month of total rest and a month of rehab - although I'm back running my fitness isn't going to be good enough. I know I could run it, but I want to run it and feel good, rather than struggle the whole way round and let it put me off racing any more.

In brighter news, I'll be at the race anyway as I'll be providing sports massage for the runners. Global Therapies have been tasked with providing pre- and post-race massage for the fell runners. The race is organised by Glossopdale Harriers and we'll be based near registration and all donations go to Glossop Mountain Rescue Team.


As I sat on the turbo earlier today I realised that I was only doing a recovery exercise (today was 30mins turbo, easy pace, keeping HR less than 130bpm) because I had planned my workout schedule. I'm doing it monthly now, as I have a few things pretty much fixed in the diary.

On advice from Zephr (who's done a Gym Jones foundation course) I do 3 hard days, 2 recovery and 2 rest days per week. Now I'm training at Strength & Performance Gym (in Stockport) where I also provide sports massage for their clients I am training under the expert guidance of Sean and Zoran on Mondays and Thursdays. That's 2 of my hard days training. The final hard day is a long run at the weekend. That leaves me 2 recovery days and 2 rest days to slot in. This month I'm going with a short recovery run on Tuesday's, rest on Wed, recovery on Fridays, and rest on the final day at the weekend. Friday recover is either turbo, swim or pilates. I'd like to do more swimming and pilates but with such a heavy schedule I am not going to risk burning out. I'll review this as my fitness increases and see if I can slot in an extra session somewhere.

I'm 2 weeks into the foundation month at S&P. This month is all about getting my body and mind used to working in a functional way, which will get me to my targets. My targets are:
  • lose some weight (number not all that important, for me it's about body shape and lean-ness)
  • be able to run a 10km fell race in a reasonable time
  • get my name on the S&P records board - most likely seems the dead hang, but we'll see!
  • do 5 chin-ups
  • body weight press-ups
To get leaner and lose weight I am getting help with my nutrition - essentially less carbs, more protein. I've not yet got to grips with when to eat what, though I do know I have to earn carbs, and that I'm not supposed to have cereal (carbs) for breakfast. Sean is fully aware I'm still eating my chosen cereal, though I'm pleased to report I had omlette one day and bacon/eggs another for breakfast this week. I felt quite pleased with myself! I'll be picking Sean's brains more about this aspect of my training. He know's his stuff.

For me, if something isn't planned it probably won't happen. Not to say I can't be spontaneous, I can. But if you take today as an example in relation to training. I woke tired. Yesterday was a long day - at S&P for 7.15am to train, working (doing sports massage treatments), talking to potential clients, over to Rock Over Climbing wall - more work, more talking, on my feet most of the time - back home for about 9.30pm, then some admin to do for work, reviewing the forthcoming days etc and bed about midnight. That's a long explanation, and you can see it was a long day - so I woke tired. I had more paperwork to do, research, housework, needed to pop into town to the post office to collect supplies for work, back home, lunch....still no sign of wanting to do any form of exercise - and a client at 5pm. But, I checked my schedule - saw it was a recovery day on the turbo and got on with it.

Had I not planned in my recovery session I would have just passed the day doing "stuff". Now I've done my recovery I'm in a better physical state (having pumped fresh blood to the muscles I've been working) to do my long run tomorrow (or Sunday - that depends on when family are going to visit).

At S&P my sessions are planned. If they weren't I would do less. I wouldn't turn up. I'd be like a whole heap of gym users who have membership but rarely go down there to workout - you know who you are!! I've been guilty of that in the past. I think it is a great testiment to the guys at S&P that they have such a good ethos about their clients. You're not on your own. You get personal attention everytime you're in there. OK some of it is shouting at you not to stop or slack off but it's all encouragement. They listen to your goals, get to know you so they know what buttons they can push, and then work out how you're going to get from the start to your target. What I do like about their training programmes, apart from them being Totally Unique to each person, is that you have to record your sessions - weights used, reps, and you're encouraged to make notes about what worked, what was difficult, if you had any issues or things were just easy. Then the guys adjust what you do next time. There is no hiding. There is no cheating. If you write something down you've not done you're only cheating yourself, and will just get embarrassed later on. It will bite back.

I guess the way they work there suits me. I'm not lazy by any means, but I work best when what I need to do is written down - that way, however I feel on the day I will get on with it. If I feel tired or lethargic I feel heaps better afterwards. And I feel proud that I've got out there and done stuff to make me reach my goals.

So, setting targets, planning, and being determined all get me moving forwards. I'm also hugely inspired by others around me - Tim is top of the list without a doubt, and also the folk at S&P, fell runners I know (and some I don't), a guy who's running across America right now (due to finish in a couple of days... his blog is here if you're interested - he's an inspiration and a half).

If your interested in stats my HR graph in Garmin Connect is below....otherwise it's just a very pretty wazy line I quite like....
Recovery turbo HR <130bpm at Garmin Connect