Juneathon Week 4, A Round-Up

Oops, sorry, it was a busy week last week (an eighth birthday to plan and enjoy), so my Juneathon round-up is ever-so-slightly late! I’ve kept at it, I’ve been consistent throughout the month and really enjoyed having that little push on days where I might have given it a miss. My final week was a very wet one, trying to keep cool in the water. I swam a total of 6.5km over the week, not bad! Starting at my local pool, heading over here for Olympic Day:

50m of loveliness

50m of loveliness

and heading back to the Aquatics Centre for some birthday-boy fun at Extreme Aquasplash:

Extreme!

Extreme!

I must admit, I slightly wussied out on this one: I managed one circuit and quickly realised I’m not a natural faller-inner, preferring to cling on tightly with a fearful look in my eyes. I left the boys to their wildness and opted for a lovely swim in the 50m lane, pausing every so often to enjoy watching Hector’s antics. My Juneathon came to a slightly abrupt halt on Hector’s birthday, when I simply couldn’t fit in a formal activity (I was running around like a loon) so made up for it the next day with two activities (I’ve doubled up on quite a few days actually, something I hadn’t really realised I was doing!).

Wow!

Wow!

On the last day of June I ran hard in the heat, tackling some local hills, then found myself stuck on a hot train on my way to the Serpentine Lido, where I should have been carving through some refreshing water. I got there in time for the second half of the session and realised that I might just have got over my fear of the open water.

Lovely lido

Lovely lido

…which is perfect timing since I have my first open-water triathlon this Saturday!

Monday: A lovely swim
Tuesday: For Olympic Day, a swim in the Aquatics Centre then a tough hilly club run in the evening
Wednesday: A hot and sticky run with a friend
Thursday: An errand-running bike ride
Friday: Friday road date at the Velopark and a swim during H’s lesson
Saturday: Some fast and furious setting out of cones for parkrun and lots of mobile cheering 🙂
Sunday: An awesome birthday Extreme Aquasplash session at the Aquatics Centre

Monday: Just a lot of running around after the birthday boy and friends!
Tuesday: Hot hill session (to make up for Monday) and a swim in the Serpentine

Again, another varied and fun week!

Running: 12.9km (oops!)
Swimming: 6.5km
Cycling: 51.7km

So, my total for the month is:

Running: 70.8
Swimming: 11.55km
Cycling: 116.2

…all across 35 activities 🙂

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Juneathon 2015

Errr.

You remember Juneathon? I used to throw myself wholeheartedly into this (and its colder sister, Janathon), but in recent years I have decided I need to focus on my training and not knacker myself up by trying to run every day for a month. This June I’m sticking to that plan but still participating in Juneathon. ‘How so?’ you may ask, well I normally do something active every day anyway, so why not share it with everyone else and encourage others along the way? I will be doing my usual run/swim/ride combination, but making sure I log it (mostly via Twitter, but with a weekly round-up on here) and maybe pushing myself out of the door/into the water on days where I might normally have opted for the pyjamas/sofa combo.

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have been trying to overcome my slight fear of the open-water and this has become especially pressing as I have now gone and entered an open-water triathlon in July. Eeek! Action stations! Juneathon will be about me getting my head and body around this challenge so, to really get myself closer to that goal, I have signed up for a couple of coached sessions in the Serpentine in Hyde Park (yup, where you watched those elites showing off their nerve at the weekend). If you’re one of those people who happily leaps off a tree branch into a river, cheering as you go, you might wonder what I’m so afraid of. It’s certainly not the swimming, remember I took on a 5k swim (and all the training leading up to it) in April? I’m now a strong swimmer, I can carve up and down the fast lane with my head held high (though not too high. You know). I guess I’m afraid of the unknown, the darkness of open-water, the creatures, the weeds that might curl around my ankles, the cold, not being able to breath and – in competition – the other swimmers thrashing around me. But I am going to overcome this.

I do need to get myself kitted out with a wetsuit though. My lovely friend Siggy has lent me her wetsuit, but I am yet to actually get it wet! I have taken it on tour, but it has stayed very neatly packed in its nifty bag…

Wetsuit on tour

Wetsuit on tour

If anyone has any tips on (budget) wetsuits, that would be great. I have been looking at the Wiggle DHB wetsuit, and if anyone has tried it and can recommend it, I’d love to know (though they are out of my size at the moment!).

Something else I am going to use Juneathon to focus on is my diet. I do eat healthily, I don’t drink alcohol and rarely succumb to the take-away leaflet, but my default lunch or snack seems to have become toast, which can’t be a good thing can it? I am a typical Mum: my child is well-hydrated and full of fruit and I’m parched and probably only reaching my one-a-day. I keep reading fellow bloggers experiences of the Whole30, so decided I’d try and stick to that for the month (and beyond?). It’s not about losing weight or going hungry, it’s a kind of re-boot towards a healthier diet. Since it means no bread for a month, I can see the toast-for-lunch thing getting smashed to crumbs (though this will be hard!). My book arrived today, so yesterday I just did a combination of guess-work and gleaning ideas from blogs. Now I’ve got the literature, I can try out some recipes and be a bit more informed. I shall update you on this when I write my round-up at the weekend…this will be way trickier than being active…mmmmm…toast.

Run It!

I became aware of the Join In campaign last summer when we looked for a parkrun local to our holiday in Devon and ended up meeting the lovely Chrissie Wellington in Barnstaple. Join In is all about encouraging people to volunteer at sports activities taking place in their local community and recognising the benefits for everyone, not just the people being supported by this generosity, but the boost to the general well-being of those who share their time to help others.

RunIt

RunIt

This is definitely something I can relate to, with my own experience through being Run Director at Hilly Fields parkrun (and now junior parkrun) and also coaching the girls’ group at my local running club. I will go as far as to say that volunteering in this way has changed my life – I can’t go far from my home now without stopping to talk to or being waved at by someone I have met through my involvement in local sport. On the few occasions where I have had to miss a session/event, I have realised how important it is for me to maintain this contact because it goes way beyond a functional organisational role and helps me to feel less isolated and to be a part of my community…we even have a book club as a result of getting together through running 😉

I was delighted, then, to attend an event in Hyde Park on Tuesday to launch Run It, a campaign to help existing clubs to get in touch with volunteers and to build on their success and to also encourage people to start running groups in their community, either through an event such as parkrun or even on a much smaller scale, like helping a friend go from couch to 5k over the summer months and sharing with them your own enthusiasm for being active and involved.

Grow your club

Grow your club

I arrived at the event with fellow runners Helen and Geraldine and we headed over to the Serpentine Lido to be greeted very casually by none other than former 5,000m world record holder David Moorcroft, I know! Looking around the room, I thought ‘I know that face too…’ when I spotted Mara Yamauchi chatting in the corner, what great company I keep!

Mara and Dave

Mara and Dave

Once Jo Pavey (yup!) had joined us around the table, Dave went on to outline what Join In and Run It are all about. We heard how running has grown and grown in the past few years and how research shows that joining in really does make us feel happier and boosts self-esteem. Sitting around talking about running is all very well, but it wouldn’t be a successful event without some *actual* running, so out we went into Hyde Park to warm up with a gentle jog, do some drills and attempt to keep up with Jo Pavey as she gave us a taste of her 5k and 10k race pace (my sprint)…

Speedy drills

Speedy drills

We then had a bit of fun with a 5k. Being committed run-geeks, we all had GPS bling on our wrists but, for once, we had to part with our digital crutches and go ‘on feel’, which is far harder than you might imagine. To add a bit of competitive spirit, we each had to give a predicted finish time, so the winner would not be the first to cross the line necessarily, but the runner who ran closest to their predicted time (this turned out to be Geraldine 🙂 ). And off we went. I felt good running through Hyde Park, keeping pace with another runner, trying to catch the runners ahead and enjoying a flat 5k for once. Around the course were marshals (of course!) who encouraged and directed but this wasn’t enough for me and a few others, who went off course and sprinted in ahead of Jo (!) in around 18 minutes. Well, that’s the only time I’ll clock a time like that! We mapped the route and worked out we’d covered 4 instead of 5k but, based on the pace we were running at, I was heading straight towards a PB. Oh well, it was fun, gave me a little boost and made me think I need to take the opportunity to run in different places more often. Once we had had a drink and got our breath back, we had a chance to chat with the athletes and take some star-struck photos (which I shared with the girls’ group later that day at the track). Join In and Run It are great initiatives that can help existing clubs and run groups, but also hopefully inspire people to share something they love.

Jo and me

Jo and me

Fitness First Home Run London

I’m really lucky that I am able to run during the daytime when Hector is at school (holidays present another challenge entirely), but it can be hard finding time to run when your day is spent mostly at a desk and this working day is wrapped up in a long commute. Many people decide to fit in some training by cycling to and from work, which is great because you can carry your change of clothes and paperwork in a set of panniers and not worry too much about travelling light. I often see runners though, plodding up our road in the morning, laden down by a rucksack bobbing up and down on their back and wonder just how good that can be for their poor old spine. I might just position myself outside sometime and tell them about a great service for London runners called ‘Fitness First Home Run London‘.

This is an excellent idea for runners who want to attempt a run-commute but would prefer to run with others and also not have to worry about carrying a heavy bag or working out complicated logistics around ‘travelling light’. Runners can run all or part of the way home and their bags will be carried for them. Commuters are offered a six season calendar, organised in six week intervals, with four routes available within inner London including Bank to Clapham Junction (via Waterloo); Tottenham Court Road to Highbury; Liverpool Street to Stratford; and Canary Wharf to Waterloo (via Bank). Each route takes runners on a cityscape journey covering iconic London locations such as the Houses of Parliament, South Bank and the Gherkin. The Fitness First Home Run London guided runs started last week and commuters can sign up for six weeks for only £15.00 (12 runs in total); which includes a complimentary t-shirt and the use of the bag carrying service for every run. As Home Run’s official fitness partner, each route will start or finish at a designated Fitness First gym, and Fitness First members can participate free of charge. If you visit the website here, you can check out the routes and decide which one works for you. If I worked in central London and wanted to make sure I fitted in a set number of runs each week, I would definitely give this a try, it looks like fun…

 

Core!

(Read that in a Cockney accent)

There’s so much to remember, so much to fit in. In amongst the running, the swimming and the cycling, I also need to think about my core. Sheesh! It’s worth it though, I love the feeling of everything lifting when I pull in my abs and the propulsion I get when I swing my arms strongly on a hill. I guess it’s all about finding a spot in the day where you can fit in a neat little routine to cover all the wobbly bits bases, something to smooth out your…

Humps, Welsh style

Humps, Welsh style

I’ve been trying to get down every day and have a go at the Tribesports Core Workout. It’s great to have a really simple guide to work through in about ten minutes (though I must admit to only managing part of it so far…I promise to try harder). You might like to join Tribesports and log your core-busting efforts and check out other challenges that might help give you some focus.

I’ve been slightly distracted this week with a trip to Wales to see my family. I did get out and run on three out of the four days though, so not too bad. And it’s hilly! I was constantly reminded of where my desire to get my head down and tackle a hill comes from…it’s worth it for the views. I did manage a pool visit too, I won’t call it a swim because I was mostly stepping back and admiring Hector’s nerve in the water as he attempted to teach me how to tumble (yes, I am taking lessons from a fearless six-year-old). Round and round he went, six tumbles without taking a breath. As I hesitated he looked at me, concerned: ‘Are you scared?!’ Busted! Not wishing to disappoint him, I moved aside and practised, over and over and over until I managed a somersault. It felt good. I am yet to put this into action with a swim stroke, wall-push and butterfly legs…unless watching You Tube videos over and over counts…So, to add to my already triathlon-dense training schedule there’s good, hard core work and a spinning attempt at tumble-turns. I might find time to sleep.

Decathlon Squared

Do you fancy a new challenge? I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment, but I’m not entirely sure I’d manage some of these challenges…

Decathlon have come up with a series of tests of grit, determination and all-round fit-bod prowess. Just sign up, check out the various challenges, such as Plank Push-Ups, Russian Twists and Skip Squats, make a little video of yourself in action and share this online. Of course, it’s not all about prizes, but there are some great sporty spot prizes up for grabs and a top prize of £500 to spend at Decathlon. Not bad for something that also gets you that little bit fitter along the way.

This chap makes it all look so easy.

Erm, I might give it a try, but I think I’ll have to do some training first and choose the right camera angle 😉

Project Fitartist

It’s back-to-school time. I feel blue. It’s been a fantastic summer, with long, fun days spent building miniature boats to sail down the river, picking blackberries for jams and crumbles, playing in sandpits, splashing in the sea on our North Devon camping adventure and riding our bikes to wherever we please. I like the freedom of not being tied to a school timetable, and it’s fun starting a day not knowing what lies ahead. This morning Hector hid what I think was excitement at going back to school as he whizzed along on his bike in his uniform, he caught up with friends in the playground and lined up with his new teacher, blowing kisses as he went (this all makes me happy, knowing that he has the confidence to go in without getting upset, a long way from when he started out!). I then caught up with other parents on a slow stroll home, back into the same old routine.

I knew that fitting in any kind of structured exercise would be challenging over the summer holiday, so I decided not get stressed about it, and just did what I could. I did have a couple of weeks at the beginning where I didn’t run at all, then Hector was booked in for a week of intensive swimming: half an hour each morning. I would drop him off at the pool-side then run to the gym upstairs, run fast on the treadmill for twenty minutes then back down to get into my swimming costume and spend a bit of time in the pool with Hector after his lesson. Our holiday was spent along the South Coast Path where I managed three runs during the week. I say runs, but it was more of a climb, then a pause to take in the stunning view, another climb then another view, perfect.

Now I am able to fit in some structure again, what shall I do? To get me straight back into it, I booked myself in to the RPM class at the gym this morning, I’ve no idea. It’s a spin-type class I guess, I’m imagining pumping music, high action, sweating, calorie-burning. We’ll see. I have also registered for a local 10k on October 13th, so I have about five weeks to get 10k fit again. I would really like to run it comfortably and enjoy it, so will aim to fit in some longer runs in the next few weeks. Any ideas? Any challenges? Any races I should aim for? I’m open to suggestions!