Sunday, 23 October 2011

Timed or timeless?

October, the month of Autumnal leaves and burning orange heathers across the forest as the purple colour fades away. Ferns fading from green to brown and my training fading from bad to worse. Um.....well no actually the training is going pretty well :-)

I decided that trying to run out with others just was doing nothing for either my training or my confidence, so nothing for it but to be self sufficient.

I worked out that if I planned a run/walk strategy and practiced it well, it would come as second nature and I'd be on the way to dealing with the longer distances while still not being fully fit.

I have a Garmin 305 I ask to beep at me nicely every 2 minutes, every mile and when I drop below a certain pace. Armed with this my training runs have been fairly successful as I know when my next planned break is so can push myself until then.

Then disaster......... well actually no, success (see I am getting this positive vibe going eh?) I headed out for a planned 11k ish run, knowing it would be nice to be back by 10.30 (having set off at 9am) an achievable goal I thought. Until I got to the start of my run and found I had left my trusty Garmin at home. What to do?

Well, I thought.....let's just see how good my internal pacing clock is. So setting off on the planned course, I knew the pace I could comfortably travel at and I knew the time I wanted to be back by. Time to put this internal clock into practice.

Almost half way round I realised that I felt I was slower than I should be, so mentally revised my finish time to give me a range of 10 minutes rather than a set time. Look....I know I should have picked up my pace instead but that is another training plan entirely, I am still on the get me round principle.

So taking my walk breaks only when I really felt I needed them and goading myself into continuing on the running path otherwise, I started to settle into the run. I am certain I could have gone further, but will save that for another day. I arrived back around 7 minutes after my initial expected time to complete the run in 1hr 35. I felt good, I hadn't missed my watch and I had achieved my goal (sort of - but modified by the way i felt I was running not by looking at the watch to see)

The moral of the tale - ditch the watch every so often, go on a planned route and set yourself a time to be back. See how close you can get to that time and start to recognise your own feel for pacing. It gives you a different challenge for a run rather than always focussing on time or pace and does really make a difference to the way you feel.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I love Leap Years

Well no getting out of it now as the "Congratulations" magazine arrived today. A few minutes of panic as I suddenly wondered if in fact I had paid for my entry or if I needed to pay for it (in the financial sense as I know I will pay for it physically in many ways), but a quick check of bank statements shows I paid on 15th June for 2 years worth (last and this - see previous for explanations on this). So 6 and a bit months to go eh?

Interestingly I have been very unfocussed this far, even having known the date was approaching, and I have known I was doing this from October 2010 when I received my 2011 acceptance (see previous also). Something tells me I can ignore no longer.

As of today I have 206 days or 29weeks and 3 days or 6 months and 23 days including the extra day very kindly added into the training known as 29th February, which I am certain will make all the difference. Which sounds better I am not sure at the moment, but am banking on that extra training day :-)

How short is this post eh? Impressed???

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ha!!!! After all it is only money

Well here we are again, confused myself completely with the last post being dated 21st June when I know I posted it in July, so that'll teach me to hold onto a post for weeks before uploading it eh?

Anyhow, I know you are dying to find out how my training is isn't :-( I know, I know, just get on with it, it'll be less painful if I keep going with it now than put it off and try again later, but.......

I think I may have been to the gym at least once since my last post, spent an hour and got sooooo bored that I had to get out of there before I screamed rather loudly. Mixed up the programme a bit by rotating the exercises rather than completely overloading one muscle then moving on to the next. Maybe not strictly the idea but surely the same effect with marginally less muscle soreness afterwards. Seriously that intro session really put me off and if it was meant to encourage me to continue and improve it, that certainly failed in its objectives.'s the running? I hear you ask. Well again, things are not quite going to plan.

Calf muscles seizing after 15 minutes, hips (most probably tight ITB) giving me pain from the off and lower back tightness that really kicks in after a short while, have almost made it impossible to be out for more than half an hour. Something needs to be sorted or I shall not be doing any running anytime soon and the marathon will be even more of a challenge.

Along comes a lovely groupon voucher, offering a deal for 2 visits to an osteopath for £19 instead of £80. Snapped that one up quick, so decided to get some torture sorted of a different kind. A very nice Osteopath asked lots of important health questions and had I seen an Osteo before, to which I replied I had but felt that I was being brought back weekly to pay for a new car while everyone else was discharged after one or two visits. Famous last words then came from new Osteo....there should be no need to continue any treatment beyond a couple of weeks, we can sort you out. Ha!!! Like to see you try.

First problem.....pelvis may be out of line as a result of the fall I had last year (remember the pretty knee?) ah yes, leg length is different and pelvis a little out of line, so that sorted. (Ouch 1) neck and shoulders "Bloomin 'eck" or something similar, have never felt muscles as bad as that. Deep sigh from me. Nope not going to get the neck sorted I am afraid and I apologise for not being able to help more. Oh well that's more money to be thrown at the body then, maybe more massage will help first.

Next visit, day after a deep full body Thai massage, muscles much better :-) good stuff, back still OK but tight, shoulders/neck a little better but still no result. Maybe come back we go!!! (Ouch 2)

Later that same day, couldn't walk, the pain was constant, how people who have more serious problems cope i do not know. Hot water bottle and lying down was the only was to feel better, so much for a day of rest!!! (Big Ouch 3)

Wondering if I can win the lottery and have daily massage to pummel the muscles into submission then maybe I could be fixed OK.

Oh yes and the running? well a couple of friends, who also find club nights difficult to keep up with invited me to join them on their short runs. around 7k and slowly increasing will mean improvement etc. Started fine until the back and ITB started causing problems.

OK another tack to try Thursday morning ladies seem to have all disappeared for their holidays, so me, myself and I alone, had the enclosure to myself and worked a strategy I felt I could cope with, managed to push myself to get around run/walk styleee but finished feeling a sense of achievement. The next week was even better, much quicker and ready to develop onwards. I wonder if I can run/walk the marathon like that?

Final challenge for this blog was the first big Road Race League race of the season a 5 mile 2 lap race fairly hilly but short. Oh and look they do a 2 1/2 mile fun run being just one lap. Right done, 1 lap it is (the same distance as my Thursday run at the moment) I can run/walk and still be back at the finish in time to see the 2 lappers come in. Result!!! Well yes the result was I was last out of the 32 that ran in the fun run, most of whom were about 12, but I did it, my first race in a long time (and had the bonus of a nice policeman called Paul on his pushbike trying hard to stay on while I toddled round the course). But....I did it, I seem to have managed to get back onto the racing horse after a good few years absence, time to schedule the next one and start cracking at that long distance training build up.

But first I think I need to book another massage and some physio, let's get this ITB and back completely sorted. Ah well...after all it is only money!!! (Biggest Ouch 4)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The evils of a gym membership

So motivated was I by my one hour at the gym that the next day I decided I needed to get the actually membership sorted and decided to sign up for 6 months, while I was enthused and there was an offer on to encourage me. Then I promptly went down with a cold and found myself unable to exercise for nearly a week after. As I said...evil things these gyms.

So what to do having actually paid for the rest of June in membership and a regular DD ready to be taken from my account, I found that having signed up it was 12th July before I decided I really, REALLY needed to make use of that money spent, and besides I needed to collect my membership card.
Zumba class cancelled that evening, (my exercise for that day), so with no other place to be I had no excuses not to go, have to find an excuse somewhere. Can't find one, Oh bummer.

Collect membership card at desk...could go straight home again...but no..., stay for an hour on various bits and pieces then foolishly decide that the needs have to get the better of me, so sign up for a proper programme setting session. A that a good name for it, we shall see.

3.30pm on a Friday afternoon, is that a good time for torture?

Headed to the gym, checked in then an evil trainer called Josh sat me down and went through some exercise/health questions with me to determine what torture he could devise. I tried to get him to make my weight lighter than it was, but the machine wasn't having any of that, so documented for future reference in its entirety along with the body fat and starting measurements. Hoping no-one ever breaks in and steals it eh? But a starting point to work from and of course can only get better.

"What would you like to achieve?" was the question....well "London marathon coming up so need to get fit for it, might like to start on endurance first and the weight loss will hopefully follow" "OK" says Josh "I think we'll go for some metabolism boosting weight loss stuff first then" hmmmm maybe it is a personal trainer trait thinking they know best what you need (or maybe they just do know best!!!) anyway the list seemed to go on and on and I asked whether it required me to be at the gym from 9am to dusk at which point I was duly informed that this should take around 60-75 minutes. (I guess that's not allowing for breathing or serious lack of motivation or even for avoidance of pain - hang on I am motivated, strike that bit, it is the inevitable pain I wish to avoid)

OK let's go and try some things out.....Oooooh fun time. Rower for warm up then some intervals....Yep can deal with that. Lunges and squats....Oh dear, let's just have a go and see we won't do the full amount of sets....good, then step ups....HOW HIGH??? um...this is going to hurt, we'll work this on one leg then the other, we'll just do the one for now...WHAT I shall be lopsided when I walk out of here and what's with the WE stuff? From here I think Cross trainer....intervals then some static machines (which we talked about but didn't actually do).....then back to the mats for some nice core stuff....Oh boy this is going to hurt lots. And to finish off a bike cool down for 5 mins. Then if I want to I can use the foam rollers to ease out the muscles. Hamstrings, ITB Quads and Calves. Hey what fun. Oh and nothing was mentioned about stretching, but as it is on the card I suspect that will need doing too.

So an hour later, I had talked through my programme, unsuccessfully managed to get him to work on things other than pain and weight loss stuff, with a projected review in 6 weeks time. Thank you very much and good night. Downside now is I only did less than half the programme designed for me and I am shuffling round like my quads and gluts are on fire today. I am seriously going to have to time my gym visits for days when I do not wish to run within 48 hours after.

The gym is just too evil to contemplate.....but.....needs must with the marathon challenge looming large. Hey ho bite the bullet and plan some more torture. I will let you know once it starts to improve (or not as the case may be)

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Perils of Motivation

Right then no excuses any more, I have 10 months to get fit, lose some weight, remain uninjured and complete hours and miles of training, just so I can put myself through the torture of 26.2 miles on a Sunday morning in April with around 38000 others. Hmmmm remind me why this was a good idea again?

So what next?

My ladies group I take out on a Thursday morning all decided to run in the local carnival race on the Wednesday evening. "I think we may not run in the morning" they all decided. Nothing to stop me though, on my own, from going out and running eh? Well nothing except the heavens opening and rain deluging at a vast rate of raindrops. Hmmmm not venturing out in that......

So a pang of conscience and I took all the nice coats and jackets off my clothes horse, I mean cross trainer, dusted it off and jumped on for a 10 minute warm up. Blimey it still works!!! 10 minutes quite enough as the back started to tighten, so right, onto something else. I know, I have some old step videos from my aerobics days I'll put one of those on. Reebok step taken out of box and dusted off, video started. I knew how to do all this once, and of course it is an instructor video so moves at ten times the pace you would teach in a class. Lost the routine by the middle of the 2nd section (there were only 3) so once the whole thing was put together I followed the first and made up the rest, vowing to "teach the woman a lesson and learn the whole thing over the next few weeks to keep her on her toes". A dance DVD came out next, but after 5 mins (of a 10 minute piece) I was bored...not really what I needed. So decided I was now feeling incredibly virtuous and put everything away, restoring my coats to their rightful place.

Weather eased and everyone helpfully suggested I could now go for my run........what? Massage called anyway...excuses excuses.

Arriving home later there was a message from a fellow runner who suggested I might like to join her for a slow, gentle 5k run now that the sun was out in the evening. Choice now eh? I could ignore it and pretend I haven't seen the message or I could just get out there and do it. Something about this motivation lark isn't there, as I had arranged to meet and was out the door before you could say..Neighbours and Home and Away are on!!!

Friday morning loomed and a 3 day "free" trial at a local gym was registered for. Need to put some effort in now to get myself to full fitness ready for my impending doom, I mean challenge, and to be fair I need bullying really. So toddle off to said gym with all my gear in a nice bag. Going to make the most of the FREE!!!

Thwarted, however, by lockers that need padlocks and none available, so full day of gym, swim (well dunk and drown) and sauna was scuppered by not being able to leave stuff somewhere handy. Note to self...purchase large padlock in readiness for membership (Oh dear I am thinking of signing up already - that's worrying)

A quick tour of the facilities, and head to the gym equipment. I remember now why I stopped going to the gym before.....terminally boring, but needs must and I have some training to do, so just choose the bits I know I need to work on and get cracking with it. Cross trainer, chest press, bike, wanted an incline chest press but couldn't find one, and lat pull down was occupied, so onto the rowing machine then for some 500m intervals. Avoid fitballs and stretch mats and decide enough is enough for a first trial, bemoan the fact that a nice swim and sauna now would have been good, and head home for lunch. Worked up an appetite at least.

A friend who is also a member at said gym tries to persuade me I'd like to go back again this evening. I think too much of a good thing can't be good for you, or too much too soon will do me in. I have seen too many people join the running club and get so inspired they run themselves ragged and have to give up, so me....I shall be sensible and wait. After all, tomorrow is another motivated day.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Cheers to my Entry - Update.

Just a brief update (Is that possible?) Cheque for the entry went into the post with a long verbose letter (is there any other kind?) stating my case for previous non payment. In my hurry to send it I just headed for the post box and fingers crossed decided I would give them until the next Wednesday and I would contact again. (What no registered/recorded letter??? I hear you!!!!)

Daily checking of email showed nothing, Wednesday arrived (15th June so still 9 days to the deadline date) and I decided to phone again.

A very nice lady answered, "How can I help?", she said. I explained about having sent the cheque and she confirmed it had not been received. Mild panic before I asked, "Can I pay by card over the phone?" short pause while I held my breath, "Oh yes of course".....huge sigh of relief followed by irritation at previous Male (un)helpfulness.

I explained my conversation on Friday and she seemed completely unphased. "Well obviously we prefer cheque.... but there's no problem, I can deal with that now and you will get the link later today"

Regular email checking during the day and sure enough, early afternoon the email with the link appeared. I just needed my runner number to make the final link.....I think I have it somewhere.

Previous year's information found, email checked, link completed, more money paid and a nailbiting wait for the "Thank you for completing your 2012 Virgin London Marathon ill or injured entry, we can confirm that you now have an entry for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon."

I am hopeful that my cheque in the post will not constitute a duplicate entry to cancel all the work I have just done, but I think that is a straw clutching idea, so....

Ah!!!! Penny drops!!!

10 months to go then....better start training (have I heard that before somewhere?)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Everyone MUST pay!!!

I have hit a BIG snag in my 2012 plan and it may just cost me the whole London Marathon place, unless I cross everything very tightly and wish on several shooting stars all at once in unison with pink pigs flying overhead and chocolate bunnies dancing in the moonlight. (not sure about the chocolate bunnnies but the thought was pleasant)

"So what's the problem?" I hear you ask. Well. When my 2011 Marathon acceptance magazine came through I happily immediately withdrew as the written text said to do this if you knew you would be ill or injured and that an email would arrive in May 2011 to offer entry for 2012. I knew already I was entering for 2012 so magazine in hand, withdrawal completed on computer, why wait? I had checked all the info on the website, there was no mention of having to pay.

I then sat back and waited for my email to arrive and after 27th May the due date, came and went, I had still heard nothing, so I thought I had better phone them up to check.

"According to our records you haven't paid so therefore you haven't received an email link" I was told.....Aaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh what????? "I was never asked to pay" I said. Well says the man at the other end, "you got a magazine didn't you? it said so in the magazine, so if you want the link, you have to pay for last year and then we send the link so you can pay for next year". Hmmmmmmm I had thought at the time that maybe not having to pay twice was too good to be true. No such thing a as free London Entry postponement.

"So..." he continued "....if you send a cheque for the £28 for the 2011 entry we can send you the link to pay again for 2012" (I am mildly paraphrasing now as I was getting very twitchy and could see my London 2012 place slipping away rapidly).

I found him extremely intimidating as he spoke accusing me of ignoring the payment bit, which I genuinely didn't know I had to do. Then I found the magazine. It clearly says about withdrawing and states the place for the following year will be open provided the entry dates are adhered to and the relevant fee paid. This does not state for which year the fee is relevant. Nor was there anywhere in the withdrawal process that checked whether I had paid for my entry if I wished it to be carried over to 2012. Nor was there anywhere that stated YOU MUST PAY FOR THIS BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. (That would have been good and clear eh?) I had to put the phone down on him I was getting very frustrated and I found his attitude very confrontational.

Then I had a eureka moment.

I do not think I received a payment email for 2011 because I withdrew my entry before they were sent out. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it. I really have no recollection of an email arriving asking me to pay for an entry I had already withdrawn from. If indeed I did receive one I would have ignored it as nowhere in the withdrawal process did it say I needed to pay after withdrawing. Oh dear......I knew that if I entered and got injured just before the marathon I could defer my place then and would obviously have paid for it. But I didn't want to run for 2011 so I assumed the withdrawal meant I had withdrawn free of charge and transferred to the following year. Bad explanation I reckon and interestingly I have written to tell them this, so watch next year's acceptance magazine for more clarity (I hope). And maybe he was really just informing me that I did now have to pay to secure the place then get another entry payment in, but there might have been better ways of him saying it.

Anyway I re-composed myself and phoned again to speak to the same fellow, who calmly listened while I suggested I may have found the reason for my non-payment. He advised that if I sent a cheque now, outlining what I had mentioned, for the 2011 entry I still had time to get the link and enter for 2012 as that has to be done prior to 24th June.

Panic time, letter written with long explanation (I must learn to start being more concise) and now need to cross everything for the link to come through so I can pay yet more money to enter and claim my 2012 place.

If only I'd listened to people at the time expressing their surprise at my insistence for non-payment, and in future I might be tempted to enter first and pay the fee, then consider deferral later.

Hang on ...what am I talking about?? There isn't likely to be a next time is there!!!

There was something to be said for the old system where you sent a cheque then you knew that if you had a place it was paid for and if the cheque got returned or just not cashed, then you weren't in (follow that if you can?). So much more simple than leaving people to try and understand their stupid explanation of the rules. I wonder how many others may have been caught out by withdrawing prior to the acceptance/payment emails coming through and thinking "well I've withdrawn so why pay?".

A further check to the online marathon site and their info is slightly updated but still ambiguous, but hey I should be thankful that I chose to phone today and not after June 24th.

Anyhow, please cross everything, I only have 2 weeks to make sure I get my place, otherwise I may just have to change my blog title.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

LENT for a while then taken away again???

Lent started with a rush of Willpower. A giving up of anything with Wheat in it and a 5 day detox to begin with and kick start the 6 ½ weeks up to Easter.

“The Harcombe Diet” provided me with a 5 day Phase 1 diet plan to boost me onto the right path and to help shift some blubber and thus remove the lethargy towards my training and fitness.

A 5 day eating plan removing all carbohydrate intake meant I was brimming with energy, had lost nearly 7lbs (in 5 days!!!) and could see the next target on the scales looming large at me.

6 weeks on and the scales are still looking at me with that “well where is the rest” attitude….oh it may just have numbers on it but I can tell it isn’t impressed with my lack of continued progress in the weight loss department. Though at least I have not yet managed to get myself back to where I started. I have found a new operating level, which is fine for the moment.

From Phase 1 I headed into Phase 2, which in brief meant no mixing of Carb foods with anything remotely animal/fat related. So no bacon butties, no jacket potato with cheese, no fish and chips!!! Just meat/fish with veg or quorn chilli with Jacket potato etc. which is fairly straightforward and of course for me extremely healthy, but after a while my lack of love for vegetables meant I started to dream of a roast dinner with all the trimmings (mixing potatoes and meat together!!!!). I know many people who would be happy with a plate of just vegetables and meat, but sadly I am not one of them, so this is a serious challenge for me.

Being wheat free is also a challenge but that gets easier with time, label reading becomes the norm and with no bread I am suffering much less with any indigestion.

Not combining the foods was straightforward to begin with. The aim - to eliminate blood sugar swings and other potential food intolerances, cutting cravings for food that is caused by these intolerances. And to be fair, my need for food has decreased and I am happily restricting my eating to 3 times a day with lack of snacking in between, which completely changes from my previous continual grazing habits. So something good to come from this so far. However as time progresses I notice I am choosing not to eat at all rather than eat more of the same thing, so I know my time with this "diet" is coming slowly to an end before I create other problems for myself through not eating at all.

So, 6 weeks in I find I am starting to slip. Bacon and Eggs is a nice start to the day, but nicer with a few potatoes and maybe beans and a slice of toast (even wheat free bread at this stage would be nice). Crisps (being my main downfall) suddenly have shifted from the supermarket shelves to my shopping basket and I am looking for alternatives to just eating salad and chicken for my lunches. Not being a great vegetable lover I have found this challenging and am building up to a good roast dinner with all the trimmings mixing the meat with potatoes and veggies all at once on Sunday.

What this has shown me is that I can do willpower (for the 5 day plan with no problem) and that with effort I can do the weight loss
With between 7 and 10lbs lost (depending on severity of previous days “cheating” or food avoidance) I am now on the way to better fitness, but as yet have not cracked it.

Time to plan the next phase before my willpower dries up completely and continue the good work I have started.
So a food diary next and watching what I eat then it’s increased exercise time.

The only person who can change the way I am is me and I need now to concentrate on my will power after all if I continue to do what I have always done I will always get the same results, so change is needed in order to change the outcomes I need. Phew.

So onwards and downwards (in weight) with more planning now needed.

Then next....the exercise regime.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The final puzzle piece AKA Who LENT me this Will Power?

Suddenly overcome with a vision of inspiration (can I have one of those?) I realised that each and every year I have my period of resolve and determination, right there in front of me.
It is called LENT!!!
Now don't ask me why I have such resolve and willpower during those 7 weeks but somehow it seems to work, and no I am not a religious person, so the meaning has no real significance for me, apart from the ability to stick with whatever I decide to do/give up etc.
WOW don't know why I didn't think of this before (well obviously it only happens before Easter so kind of precludes doing so at any other time of the year).

Anyway.......Lent fast approaches for 2011 and with a late Easter this year I have from now (28th Feb) until 9th March to PLAN my attack for this year, that gives me just over a week to plan my 7 weeks of determination.

More to follow.....really soon........honest