Slowly does it, recovering runner

An early morning weight training session this morning.

Not exactly helped by a night out with my friend Anja, Mr M and three French martinis. Well they have fruit juice in them, it’s almost good for me.

Adam had me in the alpha male, rock music room doing Olympic lifts, 12kg Kettlebells and swinging around 5kg dumb bells while lying on an exercise ball, pushing up my hips and trying to count slowly and not pay attention to my screaming core muscles.

If I don’t have a six-pack by August I will be miffed.

My last set of exercises were one-legged squats. Not too deep, more an exercise in keeping core firm, hips straight and feeling the muscles work without exhaustion. There’s a special name for it, which of course I’ve forgotten, but they are about building muscle around joints to ensure the body can cope with the demands sport puts on it. According to Adam this is why footballers etc get injured, because they can do all the speed and control work, but the joints aren’t properly supported to prevent what is often avoidable injury. Of course, you are stood in the middle of the alpha male room, stood on one leg, looking a bit like you’re attempting ballet in trainers… it’s not exactly the stuff of alpha dreams.

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 🙂

Running in rotten weather

Firstly, big shout out for iddex today who is running in the Manchester marathon right now in what can only be described as… crap weather.

It’s raining, it’s lashing down. Sometimes it’s sleeting and it’s hideously windy. The man is a real trouper going out in this – I admire his determination, never mind he can actually run 26 miles. The marathon is an incredible feat of mental strength as well as physical endurance. And running in today’s weather he requires gills and fins.

I know how crappy the weather is today because I was out training earlier for an hour.

I have to say my Alpha Me was more interested in staying curled up under the duvet than heading out into sleet this morning.

Along the way I spotted flowers out and I thought, ‘well, if a bluebell can survive in this weather, i probably can’.






And some forget-me-nots

Aren’t they pretty? The weather may be wintery but it’s lovely to see more greenery and there’s something so charming about flowers growing along the pathways.

Running training was a bit full-on today. As I had a weights session on Monday, today was intervals at real pace. An eight-minute mile, two nines, working on form and breath control.

Remember the other week when I did this and I was running 7.5 minute miles? Turned out I’d misunderstood – I was running at 7.5mph pace, but for two-thirds of a mile, not the whole mile. So apologies for giving the impression I’m faster than I am.

We then did some sprints for the last 15 minutes. Apparently I have really powerful acceleration. Adam keeps going on about how strong my legs are now. This is all thanks to squats and lunges, folks. They do form the backbone of my strength training and they definitely pay off. I hated them to start with, but I’ve got the hang of them now I’m stronger, they really are worth persevering with.

My homework: keep doing what you’re doing – one set of intervals, one long run. Don’t up your mileage, don’t do anything new. Steady as we go.

Bit poorly, but still running

I have a touch of tonsilitis. Or something similar.

The back of my mouth, going down to my throat, is sore, raw and possibly a bit blistered. Tricky seeing down there.

Anyhoo, nice spicy food is off the menu, as is anything salty, acidy, lemony…it all stings most unpleasantly.

But it’s not going to stop me running. Fortunately I like milk and I can get that down. I had mushroom tortellino and avocado yesterday. strangely pleasant.

And this unpleasant little throat infection is above the throat, well not below it anyway. So I am off for a run in a bit.

Adam the running trainer is running Bolton 10k today. Wonder how he’ll get on in the rain. It’s super hilly, that course. You virtually have to take on an escarpment in Leverhulme Park.

Good luck, Adam!

I’m going out in a minute to do a six-mile loop. Can’t do splits because i forgot to charge the garmin. Tsk. I’ll let you know how i get on in a bit…

Weighing into gym session running training

Last night was my weekly running training session with Adam.

I’ve not been sleeping well. Apparently not even running can save me from insomnia now. Over the past few weeks I’ve slipped into that midnight world of semi-sonambulistic internal incantation, my mind charting impossible scenarios that always start badly and never turn out well, that make no sense but stillvhaunt me like the ghosts of personal disasters never-were.

Consequently I’m not firing on all cylinders. I am pondering random lines of poetry – mostly Keats, yes it’s THAT bad – but apparently I can still run. And lift weights. Lots of weights. Bloody love the weights just now.

Last night I did circuits of one-mile jog-sprints on the treadmill, at various inclines. Seven mph 30-second bursts with 5.5 mph recoveries was pushing me.

In between squats with a 10kg medicine ball, press ups to standing and lifting two 5kg dumbbells, jumping on and off steps and wee table things (quite easy, don’t tell Adam) and swinging this heavy pole about (for muscles down the sides of my body, I guess).

I really enjoyed it. Weights training is completely different from running. While you’re doing the exercise you’re fine, it’s only after you stop that you’re panting and pouring with sweat. And the challenge – great fun.

Adam’s got family staying so more homework for the weekend – same as last week. A timed 10k and one-mile intervals.

Let’s hope for some decent weather here – it was hailing when I got in last night!

Up hill, down with recovery

I ran into Adam today. Not literally.

Within minutes we were talking about training. You’ve got to admire his enthusiasm for his subject, he loves it.

Apparently on Sunday I’m going to be doing hills (which I knew) with less recovery (which I didn’t).

That’s designed to up my stamina, my wheezing threshold and no doubt test my capacity to keep my breakfast down. I’m really good at that now. If not vomiting after 5k of tempo pace were an Olympic sport I’d be hanging with Paula Radcliffe.

But the job in hand, in reality, is an hour of pushing it – up hills. Of course I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Lone wolf or pack animal?

I’ve always been a lone runner.

It’s not that I don’t mix well with others, I’m quite a social creature, generally, I just like my own company for certain activities. Running is one of them.

Running gives mes time to think properly uninterrupted, to review and think through problems, savour my triumphs, contemplate the future What I really enjoy is listening to my body; wheezing in and wheezing out, aching here, and aching there. Adjusting my stance, dropping my shoulders, standing tall, moving my arms, feeling the tightening of my quads and then the release as muscles warm and something else vies for my attention. Being within myself. Running is a meditation and that’s perhaps why I like doing it on my own.

Crocuses: hanging out in a crowd on my run route

Sounds dreadfully self-absorbed, but I don’t tire of listening my body and hearing when to push on, when the pace is too much for my breathing. I’ve got the knack of controlling my breath, at last, and that makes a huge difference to my running confidence.

But today, being running training day, I was running with Adam. He ran a little bit ahead of me, staring into his phone to track pace, and I wheezed along just behind him. We ran four miles, which felt like forever in my cold-recovery state, and we ran it in 42 minutes 20 seconds. That is a minute a mile faster than I manage on my own!

How can this be? Well clearly someone pacing you makes you keep your pace up. It looks like in a race scenario I could manage a 10k in one hour pretty confidently, which is a huge relief. And he doesn’t talk much, other than to check I’m not about to keel over and shouting out times and words like ‘keep the pace’ at random moments. Actually, I don’t mind running with him. If I could find someone to run with who kept quiet I’d be fine!

This week I’ve been set homework. Two interval sessions and one long run.My intervals are:

  • warm up run five minutes
  • one minute fast
  • two minutes recovery
  • two minutes fast
  • three minutes recovery
  • three minutes fast
  • four minutes recovery
  • four minutes fast
  • five and a half minutes recovery
  • five minutes fast
  • seven minutes recovery

and then back down the other side and five minutes jog off.

That should keep me out of mischief!

Gym v outdoors

I don’t know how many people caught the story flying round Uk social media about LA Fitness being shamed into dropping the £360 contract it was enforcing in the case of a pregnant woman who was trying to deal with an economic nightmare.

I certainly read it on a friend’s Facebook  wall, via Twitter retweets, twice and I saw it on the Guardian’s website. Can you believe the cost of these memberships, or the fact they will tie you in for two years? If ever there was an example of bad news going viral, this was it.

This week the Guardian has followed up with a feature on all-nighter, no frills gyms. Much better priced and I can understand why a woman who wants to work out at 3am would prefer a gym environment.

But for me, I’m a free-range runner and the thought of being cooped up in a gym, with other people’s sweat flying around, with all that machinery thumping – it just makes mme think of battery chickens.

So I started thinking about the pros and cons, especially relevant in these hard pressed times.


The gym costs lots – £50 a month isn’t unusual, the outdoors costs nothing?


Gym – I know they have security and all that but let’s think about it. If you’re a fox, where are you heading – the hen house or a meander round the fields on the off chance of finding a lone chicken?


Outdoors has benches galore for steps, push-ups and dips. All right, it doesn’t have those fancy machines, but who really needs them?


Bit of an obsession with me this one – someone once showered me in sweat as he came off a running machine. Yes, people are supposed to wipe machines down afterwards but are they really clean, even if they do bother to wipe them down?

Give me the wide open pavements where the air is clean-ish, definitely not recycled and mostly fresh. I’m convinced the big bad wolves mostly live in fairy tales and your personal safety is likely to be more at risk in an enclosed environment where there are lots of victims to pick from! All packed in together nicely. And the money I could be spending on being a battery farm runner is spent, and more, on a running coach. But if I were strapped for cash I would not be signing myself up for a gym when the world’s your oyster, albeit not quite so heavily marketed.

I love my running trainer, I hate my running trainer…

Dawn over Northenden

Taken on way to training - how peaceful, how genteel, how unlike hill repeats training

Adam: “Push, push, push, push.”

Me: “Wheeze, wheeze, wheeze, wheeze.”

Adam: “Push, push, push, push.”

Me: “Wheeze, wheeze, gasp, squeak, wheeze.”

We’re doing hills in my Sunday running trainer session. Five sets (if you’re counting the warm-up loop – and I bloody am) of six hills today. Fast as possible up, jogging it off on the downs.

In between hill sets, lunges swinging the medicine ball, bouncing from one lunge to another (burns your thighs and bottom) and squats while pushing out the medicine ball (piece of cake, but don’t tell Adam!).

On the warm up round of hills I was thinking “Oooh, this is ok, I can do this.” By round three I was thinking more along the lines of “Oh no, I’m not going to be able to do this… yes. you can.. I don’t think so.. you can, you can, you CAN..” (Does anyone else have these inner pep-talks with themselves? Mine are more like inner-bollockings, but I digress…)

Adam does lot of “Good, good, excellent, pump those arms, pull up those knees, yes, brilliant, fantastic,” chat too. But when he said: “One more set.” I actually said out loud “oh no”.

And yet I made it. These trainers know what they’re doing. They don’t drive you into the ground. And yes, I may be cursing him on hills No5 and my only distraction is looking up from my pumping knees, to notice the hill’s brow has somehow shifted and I’m still going up. But without him I would never have made round three.

I am sure there are plenty of people who can push themselves past wheezing into the air-gasp suffocating-while-running state, but I’m not one of them. Not because I’m lazy but because I’m genuinely amazed I can achieve what I obviously can do and so would never think to go round one more time. I’ve got to love what Adam helps me achieve, but I’ve got to say sometimes… grrrr!

Run like the wind

Today’s my personal trainer day. The day where I get up at stupid o’clock on a Sunday so someone 20 years younger than me can bounce about like an excited puppy while I wheeze, indiscreetly wipe snot on the sleeves of my micro-fleece and contemplate whether it’s possible to suffocate while running due to the fact my lungs can’t get the crap out fast enough to let oxygen in.

Whythenshaw Park was looking pretty gloomy today and it’s rained so much over the past couple of days little lakes have popped up all over the place

Lodge at Whythenshaw Park entrance

Lodge at Whythenshaw Park entrance

New lake

New lake

Today was interval training session. We did 1.5 minutes slow, 1 minute fast x 10. Twenty-five minutes with matching winds speed, squally showers with 25 mph winds pounding at me was, shall we say, refreshing. About the sixth interval I was really feeling it and as Adam is chatting away about how he wants us to do four more, I’m thinking… well, more praying really… that I won’t cave and walk, but suddenly we’ve done eight and I’m thinking ‘I can do this’. In the end I finished strong.

We then spent half an hour doing Mr Kettlebell drills with varying success. Although my lunges are much improved and my squats are almost a pleasure, I had some moments losing control of the kettlebell as I swung it over my shoulder. It’s only the blind terror over the potential damage I could do with 8kg of steel and my skull that keeps me in check.

I have now eaten an obscene amount of bread, butter, ham and about half a gallon of tea. I am complete; and bloody knackered.