Friday, 17 June 2016

Half Way There

This morning I did 10k and got to the half way point in the Virtual Runner UK 1000 Challenge. I congratulated myself on a job well done - or a job half finished that is. My aim now is to finish by the beginning of December which means I'll have to do a few additional ks above my average up to now. And it's no bad thing.

I've learned a lot over the last six months of the challenge and I'm now really getting into how running feels day by day and how to churn out the miles and stay strong. So, ever onward........

This morning's run

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Well, I did it!!!

A happy finisher!!
After two years of waiting I finally got to run in and finish the Grasmere Gallop last Saturday, 4th June. I missed last year because I was ill and in 2014 I'd promised to be elsewhere on the day of the race.

It was harder than I'd anticipated but well worth the effort. Very well organised and a good day, quite warm but not too much blazing sunshine.

Just one hiccup - I thought I'd started my watch but pressed the rocker the wrong way. I was a couple of minutes into the race before I realised, so it clocked 5.9 miles in 1.15.

My official time for the full 6.2 was 1.17.28. I was very happy indeed with that having wanted to finish inside 1.20.00

A very good weekend. Hope to repeat it next year.

The official photo
A welcome addition to the collection

Saturday, 30 April 2016

First Third

That's the first third of the year completed today and I'm just over a third the way to the 1,000k. Very satisfactory!

I wasn't so confident a month ago because I'd overstretched myself trying to get a 5k PB for my Virtual Running Co. March medal. Result - mild shin splints.

But I never get injuries!!! I thought. It was the pushing too hard of course. So I had a week off and massaged my ankles and shins with vapour rub - yes, vapour rub. I'd read somewhere that it's good for muscle soreness. It seemed to help and it cleared my nose a bit too!

It was just about the time I'd decided to stop taking pain killers. You know, Co-codamol and Ibuprofen, which I believe is affectionately known as 'Vitamin i' in the USA. It's so easy to just take them for every little ache and pain and especially to take advantage of ibuprofen's NSAID properties. Well, I didn't cave in and haven't now for 40 days and 40 nights (a Biblical 'long time') and I have to say that I feel better for not taking them.

Over the last 3 or 4 days though I've applied some ibuprofen gel to my ankles where I've felt a twinge, just a twinge now. My shins are very much better and I'll stop using the gel between now and next weekend. And I've also begun to pay much more attention to running form. More about that in another post. But already, the results are remarkable.

But being at this point of my 1,000k year, it's the time when I have to dig in and just get on with it. I'm a long way from the start in January but even further from the finish in December. It's easy to give up. And that's why it's important for me to go for those 'journey goals' of virtual and other race medals along the way. What's important is for me is to make the most of where I am now and enjoy the present. For it's in the present where we can improve in our running in whatever way we.
want to. The medal comes at the end, and it's own delight with the sense of accomplishment. But, especially over the course of almost a whole year, there's so much more to delight in and feel accomplished about. Most of the joy is in the journey if we are able to appreciate it. And the end has its own special feeling.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Thursday's 10k Day - A New Route

Well, not quite a new route as I've done this route before. But I've done it today for the VirtuaRace 10k Yellow medal. It's on pre-release, scheduled for 15th March

The road bits of the run are straightforward but I'd forgotten how uneven the trail parts are especially in mile 2 going uphill and in mile 3 coming down hill after the climb. It was really quite exhausting choosing secure footfalls and I had to move side to side quite a bit which began to play havoc with my left hip. So another lesson for me about how to stay out of hip discomfort -keep as straight a course as possible.

I actually finished the run in my quickest 10k time this year; a minute faster than my last Virtual Running Co. 10k. But because of the difficulties underfoot, I think, I feel quite exhausted after it. Another lesson - on this route take my time on the long uphill going out section and conserve some energy for the faster down hill trail and then canal bank coming back.

I'm quickly coming to understand that different routes require different tactics if I'm after better times for each of them. But of course, the biggest variable factor is body, mind and spirit; and it's best to as quickly as possible to determine how each of those feel and then tailor the run accordingly.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Leap Year

I'd decided to have two days rest after my run on Saturday last. But then yesterday afternoon I realised that February 29th was coming around tomorrow and it wouldn't be here again for another 4 years. That year I will be 70 years old. So I couldn't let this 29th February go by without going for a run to mark it and hopefully next 29th February to see if I'm even still running!!

I chose to run a 5k in celebration of the day and I thought I'd rather like to have a medal to mark it. Virtual Runner UK's Leap Year medals had all gone. So I signed up for POW Virtual Running's POW! 2016 medal, which is an any time, any distance medal for the whole of the year.

With this in mind I set out this morning on The Virtual Running Co. 5k route I have, but doing it
according to the Level Up 13.1 training plan Level 7 run which is -  Run 15 Jog 3 Run 15 Jog 3. I thought that should help me cover it in a decent time and at the same time to do this next step of half marathon training.

As it turned out, I beat my Personal Best for this route by a good 1min. 30 secs fairly steaming along the first 15 minutes and not losing very much at all in the following jog. I'd finished the run before I got to the second 'jog' stage.

So I was very pleased with my effort this morning and I'll have a medal soon to mark it as well. I definitely feel I'm getting fitter and stronger as the weeks go by. I just have to watch I don't overdo it as I've done so much in the past, and get the rest days in.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Eating, Weight Loss and Running. The Truth!?

I think many of us get very stressed about losing weight, dieting, eating right and running and keeping our energy level up. And it's been my experience that the advice we hear and read is very often contradictory or too generic; especially when it comes to weight loss.

It's been my personal experience that you have to find the right balance for yourself, what works and what doesn't work. You have to treat yourself as a living laboratory and keep on experimenting until you find what works for you.

Each one of us is different and our bodies function differently one from another so that, like training plans that are generic and don't take account of age and weight and general fitness, any 'general' advice is only that and you have to tailor it quite subtly so that it works for you.

What works and What doesn't work for Me

So, I can't tell you what you should do. I can only tell you what worked and what didn't work for me. And then you can try some of it if you like.

I tried for a whole year to lose weight by running, staying in the 'fat burning zone' and controlling the calories. And I didn't lose a single pound!

Then I came across a book which told me why - Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. It's a revealing, although detailed, read. Basically Gary Taubes sums up over a century's worth of findings in nutritional experiments and surveys and comes at the problem of why we get fat and don't lose weight just about every which way. It boils down to WHAT we eat rather than how much we eat, or whether or not we take exercise. At the time I read the book I didn't run for a fortnight or three weeks yet as I took the book's findings and applied them to my own eating regime, my weight began to fall off almost right away. I've since applied it to myself with a 'light touch' and my weight has continued to fall very slowly. But you've got to keep going! And you've got to keep the discipline going.

It seems that for the majority of people, most of the time what causes our weight gain or inhibits our weight loss above everything else is consumption of concentrated carbohydrates - sugar, cakes, bread, potatoes, pasta for example. Linked to that, it has to do with the production of glucose in the blood and the way hormones like insulin and cortisol affect the retention of fat in the body's cells and what promotes and inhibits their production. And as I said, every body is different so for some even what Gary Taubes reveals through his book might not work. And he says as much. But it applies to most people.

A lot of fuss is made nowadays about getting a good amount of sleep if we want to achieve our weight-loss goals. The reason is a simple as this: Not enough sleep = tiredness/lack of energy = over eating because we feel the lack of energy. I know that this applies to me.

A high level of stress is a major factor in all of this too. Stress hormones play havoc with those that help to release fat for fat burning. Added to which a response to stress in many people is to eat. I'm one of those.

It's about CHANGE

Most successful weight loss I think is about bringing significant change to your way of life. And you have to apply change principles to the exercise. It's not only to do with changing your own habitual way of life but about changing your environment and the perceptions of the people around you too, to what you are trying to achieve. It takes a much greater amount of discipline to lose weight if you surround yourself with chocolate and cakes and everything sugary. Much better to remove them almost completely from your fridge and larder. And it's not good practice to go food shopping when you are hungry.

You've got to change your enemies into friends too. The people who criticize your efforts and try to force chocolate and cakes onto you or that extra sandwich or pie, you need to either turn into allies to your cause, or remove them as far from your personal space as possible.

You might want to do something about changing your rest and sleep patterns to give you more energy, and bringing in some discipline around relaxation, mindfulness or meditation to help reduce anxiety and stress.

These are just a couple of the change strategies you need to put in place if you are to be successful. And you need to apply all the strategies all the time. You can't just use one and expect it to work for the whole job.

All of this about change I learned from another book, one which is about any sort of change but can be applied directly to weight loss and there are lots of weight loss examples in it. The book is Change Anything by Kerry Patterson. It's very well worth a read and then taking the time to apply all the strategies outlined.

As for Me

I'm still working on me! I retired in September 2014, exhausted in every way, over weight, with higher than good for me blood pressure and a heart that kept missing beats due to years of excessive stress and anxiety. And all this despite knowing all the above and running regularly. Yes, I'd tried these things from time to time but had all sorts of excuses for giving up on them. KNOWING IT IS ONE THING, PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IS ANOTHER! But if there is a secret to all this it's just that.

Now I have no excuses. I've just about rid my life of most of what stressed me, and my heart beats more regularly than for ages. I'm enjoying running in a way that seemed to elude me before I retired, mainly because I'm doing it to enjoy it rather than for any other reason. It's all going very slowly, but it's going, and so is the fat. And that's the point. Even at my age, I'm trying to develop this new way of life which will give me a far healthier weight, a better feeling of well-being and who knows, faster times in my running.

It's never too late to start again and see results - even, and especially, at my age!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

If You Don't Go - You Won't Know

This morning was another beautiful morning. No cloud today and -4C. Lovely! I'd intended just doing 5k to keep the ks on target to 1,000, but I'd been intrigued by a footpath sign by the canal for a while, wondering where the trail led. I'd looked on Google Earth and seen where the footpath went so this morning I decided to follow. So I was a bit off piste.

But, 'if you don't go you won't know'. I've got lost more than once on my runs but you've got to give it a go. It helps to keep the motivation fresh. And this route worked out to exactly 5 miles which would be helpful in the future.

There's very often a downside and this route's was a bit of a longish stretch of road through an industrial estate to get back to the canal. But it was not too busy with motor vehicles at that time in the morning so worth the sacrifice.

I tried the path across the field to begin with, part of my regular route but the frozen mud was just impossible even to walk on without twisting an ankle, so I'll have to wait until more people have travelled over it and eroded it into something of a path again.

On the way back up from Crooke, had it not been so cold it would have been like Summer as I could hear birdsong overhead, way up, as I remember it lying in a field on my back as a boy and gazing up into the clear blue sky at birds hovering and singing their hearts out. Wonderful!

Good photos from the path this morning though: