Greetings from bingo wings on fire world

Running training with Adam in the gym tonight.

Circuits of:
* lunges swinging 5kg medicine ball from one side of my body to the other, across the room
* stepping up onto something the height of a coffee table and pushing up 4kg dumbbells over head and then back to shoulders x 12
* swinging a 12kg kettlebell about x 15
* pulling myself up on gym rings x 12

Repeat everything above again and then nice little quarter-mile run on the treadmill at 6.5 mph.

And then repeat three more times and see how wheezy you are on that last run when 2mins 20secs seems forever.

Of course running trainer Adam likes to mix it up so in those starred activities there was also:
* hopping on and off a bench
* press ups off a medicine ball and then lifting it over your head
*squats off a bosu (inner thigh killer) and
* something with one of those big space ball things that made my hamstrings go into spasm (was supposed to work my glutes, what can I say – lazy bot ;))

Those gym rings – you’ve got to love them. There’s something really empowering about pulling up your body and trying to control the rings while the muscles on the back of your arms burn. I mean really burn.

I can pull up my body if I lean back with my feet on the floor. How you actually lift yourself up, feet off the ground, goodness only knows. I will be watching those men in the Olympics with great awe. Nice shoulder muscles too and I smugly note there are no women on these things in the pictures I could find. Guessing any ambitions I may be fostering in this direction maybe pipe dreams, I suspect it’s going to be harder than running ūüôā


Dilettante of the gym

Apparently I’m a bit of a dilettante.

MrM¬†hoots with laughter when we walk past the golf course and I’m watching the golfers trundle¬† their clubs about in their natty smart casual clothes. He just says ‘no’ and then gaffaws a bit more. He¬†knows how interests go with me… He likes to remind me how I’ve read every Henning Mankell¬†novel ever written and¬†seen every Jean Cocteau film.

You see, I am an obsessive, but I’m an obsessive dilettante so ‘yes’ I¬†do wear a Breton¬†top every time we go out (I own five, what’s not to like about stripes?). I can be really, really, REALLY into something and then… not so much. I’ll be over¬†Breton¬†tops by September, even if two of them are real sailing tops from the cutest little shop on Shaftsbury Avenue where they sell sailing ropes and hooks and not much else…

And at the moment I am really, really not into running on the treadmill in the gym. Over it. I get too hot, I keep banging my hands and I swear I run worse on it than I do outside. I did one mile of steady pace, speeding up for a tenth of a mile, but it felt hard work. And not fun hard work.

But I am loving the weights. Well they’re a new toy aren’t they – and so many of them.

At last night’s training session with Adam¬†I did 12kg¬†kettlebell¬†(Hello? Anyone want¬†to buy a 6kg¬†kettlebell, bought at Christmas? I want a bigger one), stepping onto a box swinging an 8kg¬†medicine ball (was using 4kg¬†last winter) and doing lunges while pushing 5kg¬†dumbbells. I can jump forever, till my calves are on fire, and I’m a fan of the¬†bosu contraption. I had a go at rowing and learning how to use your whole body, not just your arms, and I did squats walking sideways like a hot sweaty crab (not one for impressing anyone,¬†I can tell you).

This week is all about one-mile intervals and now my blistered throat has cleared up I’m thinking good to go.

I’m planning on doing three sets of three-mile intervals this week.

What are everyone’s training goals this week? Do you set goals every week or do you have chill-out weeks too?

Does anyone else find their treadmill running isn’t as good as their outside performance?

Kettlebells and asanas, like Fred and Ginger

Today’s my non-running day.

I like to do something though, a day without physical challenge doesn’t feel right these days.

In December I bought a kettlebell, 6kg, and I’m getting lots of use out of it. There’s something fun about swinging a Kettlebell about. Tests thebody but keeps the mind engaged. This website has some demonstration videos if you’re interested.

And after swinging my Kettlebell about I did some yoga. Yoga is great for stretching and for identifying imbalances in your body. If you’re not wild about the idea of spending 90 minutes running through a series of postures there is one that is highly recommended.

I’ve read many times that if you only do one yoga move, do the sun salutation.

Of course, that’s a bit of a cheat as the sun salutation is a sequence of positions designed to stretch and strengthen your body top to toe. I like to run through it five times and feel the tightness melt away from my calf muscles. And hamstrings and shoulders and lower back… For instance, while in downward dog (about half way through the sequence) I can tell my left calf is tighter than my right.

Next? Corpse position, technical name – savasana. Savasana isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s not just lying still. It’s about quietening the body and the mind.

Now that’s a challenge for me!

But now I’m crashed out on the sofa, watching a cheesy murder mystery and trying to resist the call of the chocolate Easter bunnies in the pantry. Gotta love chill out day.

Hell’s teeth, I can run!

Running training today was three one-mile tempo runs with some 5kg medicine ball and 8kg kettlebell exercises in between. Incorporating lunges and squats – the usual fare of Adam’s strength training.

Strong legs, strong core, strong shoulders.

It was a beautiful morning for training – frost on the grass but bright and clear.

frost on the grass at Whythenshawe Park

Frost on the grass - early morning at Whythenshawe Park

The first bluebells are just peeping through their buds now as well, so pretty.


Budding bluebells nestled under a tree

And the early morning light made tall shadows on the path to the  car park where I meet Adam, my running trainer.

Long shadows in Whythenshawe Park

Long shadows in Whythenshawe Park

Sitting on the fence, waiting for Adam

Sitting on the fence, waiting for Adam

Having had some less than positive runs this week I was a bit apprehensive about today.

We started off with a mile loop. Much wheezing. Adam was babbling something about having been training on a treadmill on a gradient all week. I wasn’t really listening, I was concentrating on repeating ‘You can, you can, you can, ignore the wheezing, it’s normal, keep going, run!’ That and keeping sight of his ankle just ahead of me before remembering to keep my head up and look at his shoulder.

Anyhow, first mile loop completed without trampling a small dithering pensioner and a sprint to the finish. 7.5 minutes! Like, proper running – and everything.

After strengthening exercises another mile loop – another 7.5 minute mile!

I couldn’t believe it. Twice?!

More strengthening exercises – my switch lunges being praised as ‘impressively bouncy’ – and we were off again. This time – not so fast. I was wheezing within a minute and my legs felt like lead. They kind of came to life again two-thirds of the way round but I was struggling and I was focusing on keeping going – with a sprint finish just to prove to my brain my legs had it in them. Not so fast but I completed.

Left to my own devices my average mile speed is 11-12 minute¬†mile pace. Today I was almost 25% faster than on my solo runs. Of course it’s one mile at a time – not four or six, but it’s impressed on me what I can do. I can run. Not jogging, proper running.

I also have homework this week. One mile tempos x 3. Let’s see if I can match that pace, solo. With some thumping musical inspiration I think – it’ll drown out the sound of my wheezing for a start.

Two PBs. Sleep, sunshine or shorts?

How does that happen, then?

Having trained on Thursday with Adam, I had today for my long run. Supposedly a steady, easy eight miles.

And yet I ran my best 5k and 10k times.

How weird is that?

Furthermore, I ran down by the river for a fair part of it and so was running on grass, which is far harder to achieve times on than tarmac. And I was running in the morning on nothing more than a cup of tea and a banana. Bizarre.

Of course I had about 11 hours sleep last night and I slept on the sofa for an hour yesterday afternoon after a four-mile gentle jog round the meadows.

Is that the secret to best running – sleep? I think we under-estimate its importance in our post-industrial revolution world. WIth factories and urbanisation came regimented sleep. When the lightbulb was invented man slept three hours less a night. Is that good for us? Perhaps not enough is impacting on our health. I don’t know about you, but I make do with six-seven hours a night, more often than not. Is that good for me?

It was a lovely fresh sunny morning, possibly a factor. Fresh cool air in your lungs is a treat when they’re used to shrinking against icy blasts.

I was wearing shorts – sounds minor, but fresh air around your legs is one of my favourite feelings – just delicious after months of being trussed up in lycra. Did that send me round faster?

I wasn’t even trying to run fast, I was just trying to keep up my pace, but I hit 5k in 33.20, 10k in 69.25 and finished 8 miles in 1.35.10 – yes, jogging it home.

Perhaps the strength training I do has a hand in it. I swing that kettlebell around every evening. Are all those squats paying off?

Anyway, moving forward and that’s the plan isn’t it – running faster.

Hill running, wonders never cease

It’s difficult to drag yourself upstairs and get ready for training when the other lady of the house has other ideas.

Our cat, Fifi

'Don't go running, stay and cuddle me'

But I am strong and Fifi is easily distracted with a ball of paper to chase.

Training today has been all about hill sets. And using the 8kg kettlebell to further work my glutes. So consequently I am sitting here with one well worked out, achy bum!

I had two big revelations today: one, listen to your coach and try to do what he says – it works! Secondly, controlling your breathing is possible.

But firstly can I say a big thank you to Keeping My Pace and The Dancing Runner for all their encouragement earlier this week. I was thinking of you both as I huffed and puffed up the last hills. ‘Doing it for the girls,’ I thought as I wheezed up the final hill on each lap.

Grey running day - 7 degrees

Grey running day - 7 degrees

This is what we did:

  • Set of eight hills
  • Kettlebell lifts – two feet on the ground, one foot on the ground, each side x15 (repeat)
  • Set of eight hills
  • Kettlebell lifts – two feet on the ground with squat combo (nice), one foot on the ground, each side x15 (repeat)
  • Set of two hills with running and 100m at pace in between x 2
  • Lunges x 3 each leg, then a set, of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (ouch!)
  • Set of eight hills

Most of the time Adam was running along beside me shouting ‘lift those knees, pump those arms, in time Deana, IN TIME.’ Clearly I was flailing around like a drowning woman at that point, but taking little steps, lifting your knees and driving through does power you up hills with less effort. Pumping your arms in time just powers more effort into your stride.

This bit isn’t the toughest for me, even when my legs are like jelly I know they’ll get me up. My bete noir, the thing about running that makes me panic – not being able to breathe. But you know, today I turned a corner. On the last set, when I should have been on my knees, somehow I was doing it – without wheezing. First hill – long steady climb, no wheeze. Second hill, short but steep, no wheeze. Third hill – fine, fourth hill – high, steep and seemingly endless – wheeze just started to kick in on the summit but i recovered on the way down and was ready to go back up. Suddenly ‘Can I?’ became ‘I can’.

And on the way back I was thinking about my blogging chums as I powered up the last hill and ran down the other side wheezing but happy in my wheezing? Happy in my wheezing? Have I turned a corner into my Spring?

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring