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.

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New Year’s Resolution!

Really, that’s what a parent at the school gate had the cheek to call out the other day as I ran past. She clearly doesn’t know me!

Happy New Year and good luck to any of you who are trying to stick to new year’s resolutions, I don’t have anything against them, I just think January is a crap time of year to deprive yourself! It’s the perfect time to try something new and commit to getting fitter though and, with so many group initiatives to help you along, you won’t be alone. This year I’m logging my activities on Jantastic as part of the Hilly Fields parkrun group. I did this last year and found it gave me a real focus and helped me commit to a set number of runs/swims a week. Another group endeavour I’ve taken part in previously is Janathon, where you jog, blog and log every day for the month. It’s a great way to receive some support and encouragement to get you out there (and there are prizes too!).

I thought this might be a good time to look back over some achievements in 2014 and look forward to some new challenges in 2015. Last year was a fantastic year for my running, with a new direction and a new pace. My regular involvement with Hilly Fields parkrun helped me make lots of new running friends and encouraged me to become a regular at Kent Athletic Club, which inevitably helped me to get a bit faster, at last ducking under the 25 minute mark for 5k, something I had been aiming towards for a long time. This sense of camaraderie also saw me entering more races and smashing my 10k PB along the way. 2014 was also the year I tried triathlon, with a local race at Crystal Palace really giving me the bug. This new interest made me realise just how much I love cycling and led to me competing almost to the point of collapse at the London Duathlon in September (it hasn’t put me off wanting to do it again!). I also took part in my first sportive, hopefully the first of many.

It was a good, consistent year, giving me a strong base to move forward with this year. First up is the Brighton Half-Marathon in just a few weeks. I haven’t run this distance in a very long time, with the Cabbage Patch 10 being the longest recent race, so I’m steadily building up towards the 13.1 miles. This is going to be a very sociable one, with a group of us heading down from Hilly Fields, and Edward and Hector coming to cheer us on. A month later I’ll be facing the distance again, with the Salamon City Trail Richmond Half-Marathon – I enjoyed Richmond Park so much in the duathlon, that I wanted more! There are still places available, and you can also enter the 10k race alongside it. I’m hoping to get a place in the Crystal Palace Triathlon again, it was such good fun last year and, for my birthday, I was given entry to a triathlon, so went for the Hever Tri in September. I decided to set myself a greater challenge by entering the Olympic distance race, so that’s a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. I’ll definitely need to work towards this one, especially the swim, which is in open water, expect lots of posts about tentative dips in slimy ponds…

For now I’m ticking off my four runs and three swims a week on Jantastic, and keeping it interesting by visiting some lovely locations. Good luck with all your running/swimming/riding adventures in 2015!

Aquatics Centre Mile

Aquatics Centre Mile

Bend it like Fitartist

I yoged again 🙂 We had a different teacher this morning and, at first, I thought ‘Oh no, she’s putting on weirdy floaty chanty whaley music’ but actually she was very good and, once I’d stopped being distracted by the fact that the beautiful white walls are already scuffed after just one week, I had a good old stretch and even drifted off in a relaxed state a couple of times. Her class wasn’t as ‘sporty’ as last week, more ‘relaxy’, but I really liked it.

To get there I decided I would run. I got some gorgeous new shoes in the post this morning and couldn’t wait a moment longer to try them out. Now, I know you’re supposed to ease gently into minimal running shoes, but I was just too eager, and I decided one mile to yoga, a bit of bending and stretching then one mile back is quite gentle enough.

Cute shoes

Cute shoes

As I set off I was stepping gingerly along, afraid that I might heel-strike and do myself a mischief but, once I’d got over the initial weirdness of it all, I remembered that I strike with my mid-foot anyway, and didn’t really need to adjust much. The fronts of my lower legs started aching quite quickly, so maybe I was tensing up a bit, but I guess that comes with time. I felt much lighter and springy, which seems odd when you consider that these shoes have very little in the way of cushioning – the spring was all my own! I will keep you updated with my ‘barefoot’ progress as I try them out further this week. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Hector’s Lego Daft Punk for Travelling Hopefully, who has been enjoying the pumping beats at the gym:

Daft Punk as seen by a six-year-old

Daft Punk as seen by a six-year-old

You may wonder what an very-nearly-six-year-old is doing listening to Daft Punk, well they look like robots and they sound like robots, so what’s not to like?!

Real life robot

Real life robot

You may also wonder where I’ve been hiding for the past few days. Well, I have run – I did the 10k section of Peter’s class on Saturday. This was a one-and-a-half hour session with very many press-ups, a gruelling up and down hill section and a forty minute run – when he said ‘And now you will run for fourteen minutes’ I thought ‘Oh that’s ok’, but then I realise he had in fact said ‘forty’. It was hard-going but really good stuff. I have also been to the gym and I have stood around cheering on fellow runners at Hilly Fields Parkrun, something I always consider to be running by proxy…

Chasing Lamp-posts

That other Adele chases pavements, I chase lamp-posts. As is usual during Juneathon/Janathon, I have come down with a cold, which decided to creep onto my chest yesterday (the yoga only really happened because I didn’t feel able to run…). This morning I half-heartedly put on my running gear and thought I would go for a gentle plod. When I got to the park I noticed the lamp-posts and remembered the ‘lamp-post’ session I did a few times with the running club, and thought ‘Why not?!’

The ten lamp-posts illuminate a long hill, that stretches diagonally across the park and are spaced evenly, allowing an opportunity to use them for some serious hill training. So I went for it: down to the bottom, back to the top, down to the next lamp-post along, back to the top and so on. It’s hard work. I distracted myself by watching the skulky teenagers who were avoiding going to their school, which can be seen clearly from that spot. I was very tempted to tell the big floppy lad that his pants were falling down (what’s that all about?), but decided I shouldn’t, since he was much, much bigger than me…though I could easily out-run him…oh, the things that go through your head when you’re battling through a hill session!

Distance: 2.97 miles

Time: 30 minutes 40 seconds

Average Pace: 10.20

Best Pace: 7.34

Calories: 359

Yo-yo-yogaaah!

I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting the blogging bit of Juneathon, so I am going to quickly move on and try and distract you…

I’m a bit giddy, having just enjoyed this delightful little film on the Guardian Running Blog.

Click here

It makes me want to run up and down a hill right now, he makes it all sound so easy and so inviting (especially that bit about a free beer at the end of a race). It does look a little like an advert for Inov8 though… The closest I get to fell running around here is Hilly Fields. We do have lots of good, challenging hills in South East London, but there is something magical about that hill they run up in the film.

So, back to my Juneathon. On Friday I went and did a trial session at the shiny new leisure centre, and there I was, with just one other person in the lovely big gym, with all that brand new equipment. It could be very tempting to have a go at everything and overdo it, so I reigned myself in a bit and stuck to what I normally use, with a few added extras just because. Saturday morning I went along to the running group of a friend/gym instructor/personal trainer. It was a beginner to 5k session and it was really good to see how you can ‘go back to basics’ and still get a really great workout, I was pushing myself as much as I would in a more ‘advanced’ session, and certainly felt the burn.

I have become slightly obsessed with the new gym and did a really intense session there yesterday but, as it’s now ‘officially open’, it was much busier. It’s right next to the train station, so I’m guessing it will be popular with commuters and there was a steady stream of people looking around while I was there. Every time I embark on a Juneathon or Janathon challenge, I say I will start doing yoga as part of my programme of activity, well today I actually did! Yup, I slowed down for an hour and got my head to touch my knees. It’s been a long time. I can see that I have a lot of work to do, but the teacher was lovely and I can see myself heading there every Tuesday for some one-to-one with a mat.

And breathe.

Snowy four

I’m so glad I got out and ran this morning. School was – amazingly – open and I pulled Hector on his sledge to the gates, the best way to travel right now. On my return I knew I had to get that snowy run in before it all disappears, so wrapped up warm and headed out along the Waterlink Way. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

Golden glow

Golden glow

I ran along the river, hoping to spot the kingfisher, and was delighted to not only catch a glimpse of the blue flash, but to be treated to a perching/swooping show as he darted under the bridge I stood on then briefly settled on a branch until he decided to dart again. I crunched happily through the snow and spoke to pretty much everyone I saw along the way; it just felt right.

When I got back I didn’t want to stop, so decided to go to the gym as well.

Untouched

Untouched

I commented to the lad on the desk that it looked beautiful on the track, and he said people keep coming in and asking to build snowmen there, but they’re ‘not allowed’. Imagine a series of snowmen going around the track! I found myself stepping up and down in an attempt to warm back up and started to chatting to the man on the treadmill next to me. He was proudly telling me how he is running the London Marathon, his first marathon, at the age of sixty. I told him I have done three and said he could ask if he needs any guidance. We chatted happily about marathons and running in general for about half an hour, the stepper a mere distraction.

Yesterday I put on my running gear then weighed up my options (slightly in the wrong order). I made the decision that I can run any day, but it’s not often I get to go sledging and play in the snow with Hector, so off we went up the hill again. I’m glad I chose option number two, it’s such excellent fun whizzing down hill on a bit of plastic, screaming!

Off they go!

Off they go!

On our return home, we didn’t want to go inside, so spent some time building another snowman, well, snow alien (I think). The orange thing is ‘his eye popping out’.

Garden alien

Garden alien

Winter fun

Yes there was snow on them there Hilly Fields and yes we were going ahead with our Parkrun. Forty-five runners turned up for a frolic in the snow this morning, but I resisted the urge, being Run Director and marshal, then satisfied my snow-fun needs afterwards:

Oh, what fun!

Oh, what fun!

Hector and Edward kept themselves very busy building a snow monster/alien thingy:

Watch out!

Watch out!

Yesterday was a gymmy day, then I got hot running around in the park after school, avoiding being hit by snowballs.

In yer face!

In yer face!

And trying to persuade Hector it might be getting dark, and we should go home.

So angelic. Ahem.

So angelic. Ahem.

On Thursday I succumbed to the lure of an extra layer and wore a vest under my long-sleeve top, I even wore a hat. I normally reserve such excesses for when there is snow on the ground, but I seemed to require a little extra help in getting out. I woke with a few alien aches, a result of my hard work on the floor on Wednesday: that Pilates class is good, with the aches being in all the right places (abs, butt) so I will definitely be back for more next week. It seemed like the perfect time to try out a pair of tights I am testing, the new ACTV tights from Puma. I had a sneak preview of these leggings back in the summer at a Puma press day up in East London, with the backdrop of the Olympic Stadium to glance at wistfully. The thing that interested me about these tights was that they are like a compression garment, but instead of being worn post-exercise, they are designed to be worn during exercise. The inside of the fabric is lined with little rubber tracks that massage your muscles as you run (this is the inside-out view of the knee area):

Wiggly

Wiggly

They are interesting to get on, with the rubber bits sticking slightly – there was some stealth-like manoeuvring going on in the bedroom and, as my legs are seemingly shorter than the average leg, some interesting wrinkling occurring around the ankle. Oh, to be able to order a few extra inches of shin online… As I left the house, it was very tempting to rub my thighs, but that would mean looking like Vic Reeves and getting the neighbours talking, so I resisted (whilst in public anyway). Did I mention it was cold? Well, I wasn’t expecting one of the qualities of these tights to be extra warmth, but they did seem to keep my legs warm and there was something reassuring about the gentle hug they were giving my lower limbs. I have been experiencing some ankle and knee pain in the past few days, but amazingly there was no sign of this. Maybe this was coincidence, but it would be great to find a garment that can offer this much support during a run. I suppose if I was doing a more scientific sort of test I would have gone out for a run in a regular pair of tights to offer a comparison, but I really needed to jump straight in the shower and grab a cup of tea on my return. The Puma tights will be available exclusively from Sweatshop and will retail at £100.

It was a gorgeous day for a run along the river and I was treated to views like this:

Through Ladywell Fields

Through Ladywell Fields

And this (but no kingfisher today):

The River Ravensbourne

The River Ravensbourne

And, on my way back, this caught my eye:

One sided

One sided