Wednesday 30 March 2011

Just the stats, man

I love a few stats. As soon as I get back from a run or a cycle, I can't wait to plug in the Garmin and check exactly how far I've gone, my time, my speed etc, and to compare it to the previous few runs or cycles. Did I cycle 0.1mph slower than last time? For heaven's sake why? Was that my fastest run so far this month? Will I be able to beat it next time?

No matter how much I try to convince myself that these details are pretty irrelevant, and the important thing is that I'm keeping fit and enjoying it, I can't help but place too much significance on these stats. I am the sort of idiot who will run a little way past my house to round up 2.95 miles to 3 miles. Since I was given my Garmin, 16 months ago, I have rarely run or cycled without it. Why would I? I always want to know the stats.

Looking back at the stats on my Garmin for the month of March, I feel pretty happy. I had a crappy January, as the foot was stopping me running and flu stopped me doing anything else. February was a lot better, as I did a fair bit of cycling and started going to the gym, although I still wasn't running. This month I've started running again, kept up the cycling, started Pilates, and made a few trips to the gym.

If you don't love stats, look away now:

2 bike rides = 17 miles

9 bike rides = 65 miles
8 gym visits

9 bike rides = 68 miles
9 runs = 22 miles
3 gym visits
3 Pilates classes

Oooh, I could pore over those numbers all night... So ideally of course I'd like to build on that next month, and obviously I'll be aiming to run more often (I'm still tentatively at twice a week), and further (just a little each time), while keeping up the cross training (a silver lining around the big black cloud of Plantar Fasciitis). Unfortunately this may be unlikely, as April is a month jam packed with school holidays, not leaving me much time to exercise.

This weekend though, we are off for a family celebration! It's my parents' Ruby Wedding Anniversary, and 18 of us are spending a few days at Centre Parcs in the west of England. I've never been to Centre Parcs before, but there are loads of activities to do, including fitness classes and a gym. Hopefully, I'll be busy eating, drinking and having fun, with maybe just a little working out on the side. I will of course, be packing my Garmin.

March on my Garmin

Monday 28 March 2011

Weekly recap

The sun has really come out this week, and temperatures have been way above average. I'm so glad that I have been able to run when the weather has been good - I miss running most on sunny blue-sky days.

I have had a bit of juggling to do this week, mainly due to Pete being very busy with work. I had a good cycle on Monday morning, then on Tuesday I planned to run. I was particularly looking forward to it, as I had now run 6 times since starting again, and my goal had always been to build up to 5k without pain. Last week I did a 2.7 mile run, so this was to be my first 3.1 mile (5k) distance. Then Pete came home on Monday, and told me he had to go in to work early Tuesday morning.

Harrumph. That was the end of that plan. I could have got up at 5.30am to fit an early run in, but I knew I would feel too tired for the rest of the day, and week. As I work on Tuesdays, there was no other time for me to fit it in, and Pete was late home that evening too.

So I left it until Wednesday morning. I did it! I have a 5k loop from my house which I used to do a lot, and it was great to be able to run it again. I was a little concerned though, as I had a bit of discomfort in my ankle before and after the run, but not during. The heel itself has been ok, but it was the ankle pain that made me limp when I first got PF in September, so I know it's from the same cause.

Anyway, in a fit of madness, I also went for a 6-mile cycle on Wednesday, as I wanted to make up for doing nothing on Tuesday. This left my legs pretty tired. On Thursday Pete was off to London overnight for work, so I couldn't get out on Friday morning either. But I did have my Pilates class at least.

Then on Saturday, I did another 5k! Same route, but 35 seconds faster. Every time I go for a run I sternly remind myself that speed is irrelevant, and I just need to concentrate on increasing the distance steadily and sensibly. Then I start running, looking at my Garmin, and thinking 'I reckon I can run faster than last would be terrible if I got slower...' etc. I just can't help myself. Anyway, I'm averaging about 9.05 min/miles, so I can't complain too much, and I haven't really had any ankle pain since then, so yay!

On Sunday I thought I'd have a go at cycling a loop. I usually do some sort of out and back ride, but for a change, I picked a 4-mile loop and did it twice. It was odd going past the same places twice and getting deja vu. When I went past my house I had a strong urge to cycle straight down the path and put the bike away in the shed. I definitely prefer to choose a longer route and do it once. So this week in total I've done this:

  • Cycled x3 (20 miles)
  • Run x2 (6.2 miles)
  • Pilates x1

Considering time constraints then, not a bad week workout wise. I have cleverly balanced it up though by eating a load of total crap, so I'm sure I've cancelled out any weight loss benefit. Ho hum - must do better next week etc.

Sunny Days in Scotland!

Thursday 24 March 2011

Ich bin ein Guestblogger!

I was invited to write a guest blog, so I did. Have a wander over here to read about my beginnings in running, and why I think that absolutely anyone can learn to run.

Back at this blog, here's a picture of the family in the woods last weekend to keep you sweet.


Wednesday 23 March 2011

The Power of Sport

Next year, the Olympic Games will be held in Britain, in London. I think this is really exciting and I will definitely be applying for tickets. I hope I'll be able to spectate at some of the free events too - particularly the marathon and cycling road races.

However, not everyone shares my enthusiasm. We Brits are Gold medal ranking moaners - we love to be cynical about this kind of event, and decry the waste of money and work going into the Olympics. There are plenty of journalists and commentators who can't wait for something to go wrong, so they can laugh at the idiot idealists who thought we could host an Olympic games. There are also many members of the public who complain that we can barely afford it, in the current economic climate.

It is hard to argue that spending millions on sporting arenas is a better use of government money than putting it into hospitals. But there is an argument that in difficult times, it is more important than ever for people to have a diversion, and something to celebrate. This is why we need the arts as well as sport.

I was thinking about all this while I was running this morning, having read an article in the Observer newspaper on Sunday. There was an interview with Martine Wright, a victim of the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. She was severely injured and had both her legs amputated. Since then though, she has been skiing, learnt to fly, done a parachute jump, got married (and walked down the aisle), and had a son. She has also joined a volleyball team, and is now training for the Paralympics.

Her story is inspirational and incredible. She tells of how sport has changed her life, given her back her confidence, and given her goals to aim for. It's a testament to how important sport can be in our lives.

It's only in the last few years that I've started to participate in sport (in my own small way!), but it has given me so much. Running has made me fitter and healthier, but it's also made me feel more confident and happier. Us humans are built to be active! Sport can be good for us in so many ways, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that next year is a great Olympic games. (However, I have to admit that this logo is total pants...I am still a cynical Brit after all).

Sunday 20 March 2011


I can't believe it's been a whole 1 year since I started writing this blog! On 19th March 2010, I began keeping this record of my training and preparation for my first marathon. This time last year, I had just run my furthest ever distance of 14 miles.

The marathon came and went, but the blog continued, and I'm so glad it did. It's been a great way to communicate with like-minded people (mostly runners), and following other blogs has been a fantastic source of information and experience.

Since I felt the first unwelcome beginnings of Plantar Fasciitis in September, the world of blog has been invaluable to me. As I was suddenly stopped from running, when it had become such an important part of my life, it would have been very easy to give up, and sit myself on the sofa with cake and biscuits, and put on a load of weight. I'm pretty sure I would have done this if it had not been for blogging. How could I come back here and post if I had nothing to say? Wouldn't I feel bad if I had to admit to doing no exercise and losing all my fitness? This blog kept me accountable.

I threw myself into cycling and bought Jillian's shred, and worked hard not to lose my fitness. Because I didn't want to stop blogging, and I was inspired by all the bloggers out there for whom fitness is an essential part of life. I want to be one of those people. It was also very encouraging to read about runners who were or had been injured, and follow their progress back into running.

Thank goodness I'm starting to run again now. This week, I've had 3 rest days, 1 due to having as cold, and 2 due to work demands. But I've done 2 bike rides, 2 runs and 1 pilates class. I ran 2.4miles on Tuesday, then 2.7miles on Friday, so my next run will be 3 miles - my goal since I started again! Once I've got to 3.1m (5k), I'll try to stay at that distance for a few runs to check that my foot is ok with it.

I usually run in the mornings, but on Tuesday, I didn't get out until 7pm. When I came in, Robbie was waiting for me to read his bedtime story - I didn't even have time to stretch - imagine. I really like this picture as it shows me fitting running in alongside home life, and I love how involved Robbie is in the story.

Runner / Mum

Thanks to all bloggers and the blogging world for keeping me going for the last 6 months, and I hope my next year of blogging has more posts about running and fewer about being injured...

Thursday 17 March 2011


Recently I have been trying very hard, and eating plenty of these:

But it's not all bad - last week I went a bit mad for a couple of packets of these:

And this week I had some 'fun' with the kids baking these (and then eating them, which was true fun):

Having increased my fruit intake to try to eat some everyday, I was somewhat miffed when I woke up last Sunday with a sniffle. Isn't fruit supposed to ward off germs and colds? Luckily it was only a slight cold, and after sneezing and sniffing my way through Sunday and Monday, I felt a lot better. It did cause me to miss a run and a bike ride though, grrr...

A few years ago I started keeping a food diary as I tried to improve my diet. It was more an attempt to be healthy than a bid to lose weight, and I aimed to list at least 5 fruit or vegetables a day. (For Non-UK residents, the government here has been telling us for years that we should eat a minimum of 5 fruit and veg a day). I did pretty well for about a year, had lots of apples, and ate plenty of other fruit and veg. And funnily enough, I noticed that I didn't get a cold for most of that time. It really seemed to make a difference. When I did eventually catch a cold, it was a real humdinger, though. Yuck.

I couldn't work out whether the apple a day really did keep the doctor away, or if it was the combination of fruit and veg, but I was convinced - all those vitamins were doing some good.

Since then I have often fallen off the fruit-and-veg barrow. I'm a big fan of vegetables, but I'm really not keen on much fruit. I tend to stick to apples, grapes and orange juice most of the time, and there are so many tastier snacks, such as crisps, biscuits and cake to name a few. Now I'm trying to be better, because it really shouldn't be that hard to eat at least 2-3 portions of fruit and 2-3 portions of veg each day.

I don't know much about nutrition, and I don't find it all that interesting, because for me, food is a great source of pleasure, not something to be analysed. But for the moment, I'm hoping that a few more apples will keep me reasonable healthy, and I'm also including copious helpings of my favourite fruit portion;

Monday 14 March 2011

Weekly round up

Well after my last post, the weather continued being crazy. We were forecast heavy snow on Saturday, but luckily it wasn't as bad as predicted. We had a sprinkling, then it turned to sleet and rain. The layer of snow on the roads was enough to put me off of cycling in the morning though.

Poor snowdrops in the rain

Then on Sunday I started getting a cold, and although I did go for a bike ride in the rain, it was shorter than I would have liked ideally.

Anyway, it was a pretty unspectacular week. I cycled twice, ran twice, went to the gym once and did a pilates class. None of these were long sessions though. here are the stats:

Cycled - 12.5miles
Ran - 4.2 miles
Gym: Cross Trainer 40 mins (5+ miles); Bike 20 mins

So there.

The running is going ok. On Friday I got up to 2.2 miles, which is the furthest I've run since October! I am getting some soreness in my ankle though, so I'm taking it really easy for now. At the same time, I'm getting a lot less pain in my heel, so that's encouraging, if the ankle-ache isn't.

Although I didn't do any specific exercise on Saturday, it was a day full of activity. We went swimming with the kids in the morning, and with the snow falling outside, the water was actually warmer than usual - I think they might have set it to 'cool', which bumped it up a few degrees from 'f***ing freezing'.

Then in the afternoon, it was our second experience of orienteering. Despite rain, we clad ourselves in old trousers and welly boots, and threw ourselves into the mud. The ground was soaked after the morning snow followed by rain, and almost all of the route was in fields of mud, rather than paths.


Still, although I spent half the time shouting at the kids to 'mind the puddle', 'watch where you're going', 'NOT IN THE MUD!!', etc, we had a good time.

Race to the finish

Wednesday 9 March 2011

What's the Weather like on Wednesday?

Welcome to an occasional series in which we discuss the weather on a Wednesday.

It was with shock and horror that I looked out at the garden this morning and saw this:

Yes, that is actual proper snow.

About 2 hours after I took that picture, though, it looked like this:

Glorious sunshine. We have also had strong winds all day, and later this afternoon, there was rain. Talk about 4 seasons in one day. Spring, I thought you wanted to stay. Will you please make up your mind whether you're coming or going.?

Monday 7 March 2011

The week in workouts

At last a week with some running in it. In my last post I planned to start running again with short distances, gradual build up and 1-2 runs per week. So last week I did my first running since 8th January (a sad little 1.7 miles). I started with 1.5 miles on Wednesday, and increased that to 1.8 miles on Saturday. So a weekly total of 3.2 miles!

There has been some pain in my foot, but I was still having that before trying to run anyway. What I'm most worried about is pain around the ankle or up to my lower calf. That's where the pain went after I first ran with Plantar Fasciitis last September, and what made me hobble and limp. I am getting some occasional aches there, but I'm hoping I can control it with rest, stretching and ice packs. We shall see.

In non-running news, I had 2 bike rides last week - a tired cycle in the sun on Monday, and a more energetic 11 miler yesterday. It was going to be just over 9 miles, so I thought I'd make it up to 10, then went further than I should have and ended up on 11. I was pretty achey afterwards.

I also went to the gym on Friday and set a new PB on the cross trainer - 5km in 20mins 45secs! Again, I was dreaming about being able to run at that speed. Apart from that, I've been using free weights a few times to try to tone up my arms, and doing the core exercises that Ms Physio left me with.

So it feels good to be running again, even though it's pretty limited at the moment. I just need to enjoy being out for a run, instead of being constantly obsessed with this image:

I am worrying about it too much!

Thursday 3 March 2011

Farewell Physio...

Yesterday I said a sad goodbye to Ms Physio. This was not, I hasten to add, because I have suddenly exorcised the curse of Plantar Fasciitis, but because she is leaving. Ms Physio is abandonning me to jet off to Boston (yes, the one in the States), to live and work for the foreseeable future.

I was quite sad when she announced this two weeks ago. I've been seeing her for almost a year, and we've always got on well. We've had some laughs too; I well remember the hilarious time when she zapped my foot with an electric current and made me lose all feeling in my toes. Then there was the fun session when she found a knot in my calf and kneaded it until I thought there was a burning needle in there. And how could I ever forget the numerous sessions of having her push down hard on my back and crack my spine all the way along? Ah, memories...

When I first went to see her, I had calf pain which two previous physios and a sports masseur had failed to help me with. Ms Physio diagnosed it as a nerve problem, rather than muscle, and corrected it in a couple of weeks. Her expertise and friendliness kept me coming back with every niggle. Although she never really cured the Plantar Fasciitis, it is much better now than it was, and I think our sessions were helping.

But I have had a change of thinking this week. After reading some articles about PF and reflecting on friends' and other bloggers' experiences with it, I've concluded that it is a condition to be managed, rather than cured. I don't think it is ever going to completely disappear, so I've just got to deal with it.

To that end I'm dipping my toe back into 'running' water (pun!), with Ms Physio's approval. I started on Wednesday with a mighty 1.5 miles! The reappearance of the sunshine this week has really made me want to go out for a run - so I did. And so far no worsening in the heel. However, having hardly run for 6 months, my legs were more achey after a 15-minute jog than they are after a 60-minute bike ride! It's going to be a long road back to running fitness.

The plan is:
  • only one or two runs a week
  • increase mileage by no more than 15% each run
  • plenty of cross-training
  • ice packs after running; ibuprofen if necessary
  • a firm belief that this will work and I'll get back to where I was!