Saturday, 31 January 2015

Football training: Janathon day 31

It's the final day of Janathon, I feel quite emotional about it! I've exercised every day, and only two days were something I'd consider "weak" (a short walk and some sit ups).

Today I took my daughter to football training. She cycled there and I ran alongside. Unlike 2 weeks ago, when I spent an hour stood in my running gear talking, today I ran around The Green where football training takes place. A lap is 0.25 miles, and I did 13 laps, turning after 8 so I didn't go lopsided or dizzy. I should've done another 5 laps because I still had 30 minutes of training to watch and get cold during.

We ran home a lot slower because we were both cold, and got home just before the snow started. And now I'm in the bath defrosting!

Check out my 4.7 mi Run on Strava:

Friday, 30 January 2015

Rest day workout: Janathon day 30

I always struggle thinking what I can do for Janathon on a Friday, because Friday is always a rest day for me. Today I decided to have a walk after the school run, which is an easy way to fit in half an hour of exercise before work. I've done quite a bit of walking this January, it's been quite fun really, and it clears my head and sets me up for work.

This evening I have done some vigorous cleaning (I have a cleaner now but she couldn't come this week, so this is exercise that I wouldn't normally do ;) ) and some ab crunches and oblique curls while watching 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Icy slippery walky jog thing: Janathon day 29

I woke up this morning with a very sore "back of the knee", which I have diagnosed as "running too slowly with children". Fortunately I had Pilates this morning so I could stretch it out.

Similar to last week, I walked there and back, via the shops (1.5 miles roughly). I was a lot better at the exercises this week, possibly because I haven't done any circuit training or Sworkit workouts (so far). We did a great exercise called Chalk Circles, where you lie on your side and then move your arm around your head as if you were drawing a circle on the floor. It really opens up the shoulder joint and I love it! The class flew by this week, usually when I glance at the clock we've only been working out for 30 minutes, but today it was 50 minutes before I started to feel ready to go home :)

This afternoon we had a brief snow shower, which was perfectly timed for the school run. My daughter loved walking home in it, and we made a tiny snowman outside our house :) Unfortunately the cold weather made the paths rather slippery by the evening, and when I headed to run club just before 7pm, slipping and sliding my way out of the estate, I began to doubt whether running was a good idea.

Arriving at the shops and discussing with Pete, we decided to officially call off the club session for safety reasons. But a few people had driven a long way to run with us, so we had an unofficial run out to Arlesey. I only ran to the underpass just past Etonbury Academy, so just short of 3 miles in total. It was enough for me on icy paths. I might have to start to love my treadmill in the next few days.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Run-walk to collect the boy from school: Janathon day 28

Today for Janathon I had planned to do a Sworkit workout but my husband needed the car all day and my son needed picking up from school after rugby club (because it finishes at 4:45 and it's going dark).

So today for Janathon I ran-walked to school while my daughter cycled. We covered 2.8 miles (there and back) and it was freezing :(

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Run with my son: Janathon day 27

My son is a lovely boy, he doesn't mind accompanying his sad old mum on a 2 mile jog around town, even if it means delaying his tea by half an hour. What a gem!

We jogged over to the Scout Hut so we could drop his sister at Beavers, then we set off at a nice easy pace (10:15 min/mile to start with!). While I warned him about kerb edges and approaching pedestrians/cars, he told me about his plans for developing his Scratch games, how much he's looking forward to his school trip, and what he's been writing in his diary. He didn't pause for breath for the whole run.

We had one short walk to cross a main road, but otherwise he ran all the way. He even managed to get over a stitch. He has vowed to "run the whole way" the next time we do the FSOTM 5K (which is next weekend). The only downside was me getting very painful shins, which I have put down to running slowly and concentrating on someone else.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Hill training with Ralph: Janathon day 26

I was busy at work this morning so couldn't go to my usual circuit training session. Instead, after I'd finished for lunch, I met up with my friend Ralph from running club, who had offered me the delightful option of running up hills together. (This session was payback for the 1 km intervals I "made" him do at club on Thursday.)

We ran about 1.5 miles to the first hill, which was a long shallow hill about 150 m long and 3% gradient (according to Strava). We ran as fast as we could up the hill five times, and I managed each repeat in 1 min 4 s (range 57 s to 1 min 6 s). We then ran over to the next hill, which was a lot steeper (5% gradient) but about the same distance (although the Strava segment is shorter than the distance we ran). My pace on these five hills was around the same as the first five, but with the steeper gradient I felt a lot more tired on them.

I showed Ralph a new footpath on the run back, always good to learn a new route! We ran 10K in total, a great training session.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Early run: Janathon day 25

I'd planned to run 13 miles slowly today with a friend but he wasn't well at 6:30 am. I texted my friend Tracey and we decided to run at the same time but for around an hour (viewing the session as "cutback week").

We drove to Letchworth and ran around the roads, it was quite slippery so we took it easy. 4.5 miles at 9:20 pace.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

bike ride with my son: Janathon day 24

Today my daughter is playing in a football tournament in Ware and her dad has taken her. We only have one car and unfortunately my son has a karate workshop in Arlesey too. So he and I cycled to karate in the cold.

It's 3 miles to Arlesey on flat roads, so nothing too taxing. My son complained from about a mile in that his legs were hurting him. I've never seen someone put so little effort into an activity, I spent the next 2 miles telling him to hurry up and to at least look like he was trying. We should've set off 15 minutes earlier in hindsight but I figured 30 minutes would be long enough!

After dropping him off I continued for another 5 miles or so to Letchworth at twice the speed and up some hills. I would've gone further but I was on my husband's bike and the gears were slipping.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Janathon day 23

Today for Janathon I walked for 5 minutes on the treadmill while my lunch was heating up. I managed 500 m before the microwave beeped.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Pilates and punishment: Janathon day 22

This morning was my usual Pilates class. My back felt stiff and sore today, possibly because of all the push ups I've done this week, so I was looking forward to having a stretch out. My Pilates instructor spotted almost immediately that I was "wonky", she said "something's not right Sarah" and proceeded to watch me like a hawk and prod me every so often. She didn't ask me what I'd done though so I didn't have to admit to the push up marathon yesterday or doing Janathon or unnecessarily running 13 miles at the weekend.

I walked to and from Pilates, which was around 1.5 miles in total. Was good to get out in the fresh air instead of driving.

This evening was run club. I had a hankering to do speedwork, which was lucky because Pete said "let's do speedwork". His plan was to do 200 m/400 m intervals but I really fancied something a bit harder, plus I don't think people work as hard as they can over 200 m (they start fast then slow down), but if you say "run 500 m fast", they will at least run fast for 200 m and then slow down. That's my theory anyway! So I suggested 500 m/1 km intervals. We offered the beginners a Fartlek run over the 1 km distance, so they could vary their speeds without having to run all out, and the more advanced runners could do either 500 m or 1 km intervals. I initially planned to run 4 x 1 km intervals and then maybe 2 x 500 m, but my friend Ralph (who was a bit unhappy at the 1 km plan) made me run 6 x 1 km "as punishment". I was hitting sub 8 min/mile pace over the intervals, which for me is OK I guess (although I used to be able to run 13 miles at that pace without a break after 1 km).

Had a chat with Ralph about marathon training, he thinks I'm starting training too early, but I've just read my blog from around this time last year and I was already running 16-18 mile long runs, so I reckon I'm OK at 13 miles now.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Home workout: Janathon day 21

Had a really rubbish day at work today so I could've done with a long run to cure all, but unfortunately that wasn't to be. I did a 20 minute Sworkit called "Feel the Pain", which made me sweat and my son (who was watching me throughout) announce "that looks well easy mum I could do that". So on Friday he will be joining me in a home workout.

This workout featured a lot of push ups and cardio, I need to spend time making my own custom workout because too many push ups isn't good for my back.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Run after Beavers: Janathon day 20

If I could count helping at Beavers for Janathon I would, because I sure as heck didn't fancy exercising afterwards. But I did anyway, found it best to get changed as soon as I got back so I didn't have the opportunity to procrastinate and end up doing 5 minutes of sit ups.

I decided to run to Wilbury Hills in Letchworth, which is about 5 miles and on lit roads so I wouldn't need a headtorch. I also decided to try out my new trainers.

Oh my goodness,  I forgot to mention yesterday that I have new trainers! I have new trainers, Brooks Glycerin 11 in bright blue.

In view of the new trainers I also decided to make the pace easy and focus on foot strike and that sort of technical stuff I pretend to know about.

The pace was about 9:40 average and I ran 5.7 miles, which I'm happy about.

Check out my 5.7 mi Run on Strava:  

Monday, 19 January 2015

Press up power: Janathon day 19

Today for Janathon I went to circuit training for an hour. The session revolved around press ups and squats, or rather, how quickly someone could do 35 of each.

There were five of us this week, and five stations. Four stations had three exercises, which were done in rotation, while the fifth station was press ups and squats. The time spent on each station depending how quickly the person on the press up/squat station could finish their 35.

I've done this type of circuit before, and know from experience not to start on press ups, because if there is time at the end you end up having to do three sets! So I started on the station after press ups, which comprised bicep curls, ab crunches, and jogging on the spot (strength, core, cardio). The next station was tricep dips, back extension, and squat jumps, followed by hamstring curls, reverse crunches, and climbers (my favourite station! Apart from a slight top and pants malfunction during climbers when everything went separate ways). Finally, we did lunges, bicycle curls, and star jumps.

Then it was my turn for press ups and squats. I tried hard to focus on technique this week, to ensure I was getting the best from my workout. Hence I was a bit slow. I've noticed my knee dipping in and out when I squat, which is something my physio Kieran has told me I need to work on, so I focused really hard on keeping everything tight. For press ups, I keep hearing my Pilates instructor when I do these: "shoulders back and down". Makes the press ups super-hard but you do feel the difference. (I also need to remember "pelvic floor and transverse abdominis" and "HIPS, Sarah", but these things take time.)

Fortunately for my friend Duncan who was following me round the circuit, I was slow enough on the second set that he didn't have to do a third round of press ups. He definitely owes me a drink. He also called me out last week for not writing in my blog about how much noise I make when I workout. So I'd just like to add that he was really noisy today.

I'm happy this week because I weighed myself last night and the scales finally read under 150 lb (for a week or two I actually wondered if they were broken). I now weigh 146 lb and have lost 1% body fat. My body water has increased slightly, which is a good sign because I have been actively trying to drink more water during the day. So, 4 lb lost in 2 weeks, I'm happy with that and it keeps me on course to lose a stone by the time I run VLM. (Less than 100 days to go!)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Half marathon: Janathon day 18

I was supposed to run the Folksworth 15 today (15 mile race up near Stilton), but I decided to give the race a miss after I decided I hadn't done enough training. My marathon plan called for 12 miles, but a friend asked on Facebook if anyone fancied a 13 mile run on the Letchworth Greenway, at a pace somewhere between 9 and 10 min/mile. It sounded OK to me so I said I would go.

We met at 6:30 am, which meant I needed my headtorch for the first hour. It was quite fun running in the dark. I would never do this route on my own in the dark, I don't mind running on the roads in the dark, but not off-road. I felt really tired after only the first half mile, bodyshock or the immediate big hill or something, but it soon passed. I shrieked like a cat when an old man materialised in a bush, but I managed to wish him "Good Morning". We passed another runner after about 3 miles (he had no headtorch and was wearing black, very ninja-like) then a couple of men, one of whom I recognised as an old uni friend. We saw them again at mile 11, they were running the same route, so we stopped to say hello and make introductions.

Pace-wise, we maintained between 9 and 10 min/mile pace, about half the run was 9 min pace and the rest nearer 9:30, and miles approaching 10 min/mile were when we stopped to chat or cross the road. I felt very tired at the end, and having to run past my car for a minute to make the distance 13.1 miles was very hard! Strava says this run was two-thirds endurance and a third tempo, which I would agree with and am very pleased with.

Muddy walk: Janathon day 17

For day 17 of Janathon I had planned to run to my daughter's football training (while she rode her bike) then do intervals around the pitch. I ran to and from the training session (1.5 miles total), but I didn't manage intervals because I got talking to a dad and then decided I'd look stupid.

In the afternoon I took my children out for a bike ride (while I walked alongside) and we were taking pictures of the town's coat of arms ready for cubs on Monday. The bikes (and my boots) were covered in mud when we got home! But it was a good 2 mile walk.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Detention saviour: Janathon day 16

Friday is always a rest day, but yesterday I said I would do something "core-focused" today, so I did 5.5 minutes of a Sworkit core strength workout while waiting for my husband to come home with a greasy kebab for tea.


I also walked to my son's school to deliver some football socks for his cross-country club (he gets detention if he doesn't have his socks).

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Keeping it together: Janathon day 15

Halfway (almost) through Janathon and I'm still holding myself together, just.

This morning I had my usual Pilates class. We did a lot of stretching, which felt really good at first until the stretches progressed into a hundred with out-turning knees and "STRAIGHT LEGS SARAH, I know you can do it". I definitely know about my glutes, inside thigh and knee muscles, and shoulders. Not so much core work today so I will do something ab-focused tomorrow.

This evening was run club. I was prepared to do a run-walk with the beginners and then a run alone later, but Pete said he would run with the beginners so I could do my planned 5 miler (thank you Pete!). I ran with Tracey, Ed, and John, who are all much faster than I am but slowed down tonight so we could have a social run (for me it was a tempo run!). It was really good and we chatted the whole way about challenges for this year and events people are doing. My shins were hurting before we even set off (I desperately need new trainers and as soon as I have written this blog I am going to browse Sweatshop online) and I thought my knees were going to give way at one point, but I managed the run without feeling exhausted. Which I'm really pleased about. Apart from the leg pain. I think I need a massage or to get my foam roller out. Both those ideas terrify me.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Jeans Jogging: Janathon day 14

At the beginning of the week I had planned all sorts of fun things to do today. I had a 6 mile run on my training plan, which was swiftly removed because that's just a silly thing to plan midweek (plus I had work to do and a British Gas man coming to fix the boiler "between 12 and 6").

I thought I might create a custom workout in Sworkit and do that, but I had to collect first one child and later another from school, then a husband from the station, then make dinner, then go to a cub meeting...

I've just got home from the cub meeting, so I was running out of time to do anything for Janathon. I contemplated a dressing gown dash but that would've required my husband's assistance to video it. So while the kettle was boiling to make a cup of tea I jumped on the treadmill (in my socks, jeans, and hoodie) and ran at 12 km/h for 3 minutes.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Exhausting treadmill run: Janathon day 13

I had to get a run in today (my training plan called for 3 miles, or 4 x hills) and the treadmill was the only way I could manage it. I'm not sure why I hate running on the treadmill so much, I immediately feel exhausted, even if I'm running at 10 min/mile pace. Maybe it's the humidity, or lack of oxygen because I'm inside? Or just boredom. I always say I'll put the TV on next time but I never do (it would involve moving a TV for one thing...)

Anyway, I knew I had to get my run in between 6:15 and 7:30, while my daughter was at Beavers. After sorting my son's homework out, I had less than 30 minutes left in which to run. 3 miles was out of the question, so I opted for 2 miles at 11 km/h pace (around 9 min/mile). I managed one full mile at that pace but then had to slow to 6 km/h for a few minutes' walk, then back up to 11 km/h until the next mile was up. 21 minutes of running and just over 2 miles run (Garmin readout below is slightly wrong because I forgot to start my watch).

Heart rate was really high despite the slow pace, showing how hard I found the run.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Playtime: Janathon day 12

For Janathon today I did an hour of circuit training (including warm up and cool down). Unlike last week's class, which was bodyweight exercise only, this week we had equipment to play with.

The class comprised 16 stations set out in groups of four; we did every "four" twice before moving on. I like this format the best :) Each station lasted 40 seconds, with 15 second breaks in between and a longer break after completing a "four".

I started with press ups, hamstring curls, back extensions, and star jumps. The equipment for the back extension was a bosu ball under the hips, to give extra range of movement. A great exercise for the glutes!

The next four was bicep curls, kettlebell swing, plank, and jogging. We used a resistance band for the bicep curls, a range of kettlebells was available (from 8 kg up to 20 kg; I used 12 kg followed by 16 kg), and a hand wheel for the plank (which I didn't use because my back doesn't like it). It was hard enough holding a full plank for 40 seconds let alone doing something challenging too.

The next four was upright row (with a resistance band), calf raises, reverse curls, and squat jumps. For calf raises, we use a raised step and scaffold pole (you hold the pole above your head for extra challenge). Normally on this station I have the balance of a weeble but today I managed to remain fairly steady and could raise and lower myself without incident. A nice stretch for my calves after yesterday's long run.

The final four was inverted row, lunges, bicycle curls, and skipping. We do inverted row with the TRX suspended system, it is my nemesis exercise but today I quite enjoyed pulling myself up and then letting my shoulder blades stretch out and relax, a lovely way to release some shoulder tension. I ended on skipping (with or without a rope, I prefer using the rope!) and managed the final 40 seconds without stopping, which is a record!

I was rather ashamed of my poor plank efforts so I will have to start doing a daily plank again I think.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Long slow run, 11 miles: Janathon day 11

I have finally decided to admit to myself that my London Marathon training started this week (the plan I downloaded started on Dec 23rd but I've been ignoring it). It was the first week when I actually paid attention to my plan and tried to achieve the required mileage and speedwork. Of course, I failed at the speedwork, and Thursday's run didn't go to plan either, but it is only week 1...

Today I was scheduled to run 11 miles. After the 9 miles I ran last week (in 4 small circles around town), I wanted to actually get out and run a large loop. I got up really late, so a morning run was out of the question. After making Sunday lunch for the family, then going for a walk with the children to get us outside in the fresh air, I couldn't put it off any longer.

The route I chose followed the Letchworth Greenway for 2 miles (from Stotfold to Baldock), then along the A505 through Letchworth towards Hitchin, turning off into a housing estate just before the Greenway crossed the road (it was going dark and I didn't want to run across fields), across the railway line (via a bridge!), then back onto a lit section of the Greenway for a mile, before following the road back to Stotfold. I had to do a small loop of town to make the distance 11 miles, but I bumped into my friend while I was looping round so I slowed for a chat :)

I'm quite happy with this run. I am aiming to run my long runs between 9:30 and 10 min/mile, because I am hoping to run the marathon in around 4 hours 10 minutes, which is 9:30 pace I think. I should probably check that! Anyway, I consistently ran just over 9:30 pace, but my average was 9:45 in the end because of the short walk with my friend.

19 miles run this week in total, which I'm also happy with. Plus one swim session, two circuit sessions, and Pilates.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Garmin Swim test: Janathon day 10

I received a Garmin Swim for Christmas (I asked for a finger lap counter). Today was the first day I was able to swim (first day back for children's swimming lessons) and try it out.

We went as a family to have a swim. The pool was packed (New Year's Resolutions in force) so it was difficult to get enough space to swim properly. However, I did manage 500 m of freestyle, and I'm happy with that.

My Garmin Swim told me I swam at a pace of 2:30 per 100 m, which is a touch slower than the pace I swum my 400 m Duck N Dash swim leg in, but that accounts for having to tread water mid-length for a lady trying to keep her hair dry and a bloke who looked dead while swimming (I was actually expecting the lifeguards to rescue him at one point).

My daughter (age 7) swam 2 lengths of freestyle and 4 lengths of backstroke and crashed into the "dead" chap twice, which I was very pleased about.

If anyone has any tips on uploading Garmin Swim data to Garmin Connect, or any other third party website, using the ANT stick, I would be happy to hear them. The ANT stick is showing up but there is no linkage between devices despite enabling pairing and downloading the latest software.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Stretch it out: Janathon day 9

Friday is always a rest day and I really felt I needed a rest today. My legs (and glutes in particular) are feeling stiff.

I used the Sworkit app as usual, and first did a 20 minute core strength workout (which I terminated after 16 minutes because it was getting repetitive), then finished with a 10 minute full body stretch. The app covered all the stretches I knew plus a few new ones (the hurdler stretch was lovely). I had to skip a couple of stretches because I didn't think I needed to stretch my hamstrings three times.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Back to school: Janathon day 8

Pilates started again today after the Christmas break. It was good to be back; I'm in a new class now (my choice, I decided I wanted one evening a week when I wasn't rushing off somewhere), and I shall have to try to make friends with the other class attendees because I have failed at doing this with all my previous classes (not through being unfriendly but just not staying in a class long enough to talk to people!)

Anyway, Pilates was good, we had a good old stretch out and lots of ab and leg work. I was pleased the teacher didn't make us do press ups today because I'm a bit weary of them this week :) I suspect today was a gentle welcome back session and next week is going to hurt.

I'm writing this blog in my running gear because I am about to head out to my first run club session of the year too. My husband goes to Tuesday night sessions and I go on Thursdays; it works well apart from those days when he's late home from work (and then I moan at him a lot). He said there weren't that many new people on Tuesday so I'm wondering who will be there tonight. My plan is to run 5 miles but I know that might not happen if I have to take out a run-walk group. I can always run on Saturday morning if I need to get some miles in.

I'm also trying to coax some charge into my Garmin that I forgot all about and it's been on 6% since Tuesday. Whoops.

Rambling over, I'm off to lace up my trainers. Hope you're all Janathoning too :)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Sworkit baby! Janathon day 7

Today looked set for me failing to do any exercise and counting the walk to school as my effort. I've been busy with work and family jobs (mum taxi), a bit of cub stuff, and food shopping. I even briefly considered counting tomorrow's Pilates class as today's Janathon effort, since I'm going to be running in the evening.

Fortunately I have Sworkit on my phone and it sent a timely reminder at 7 pm that I needed to work out. I chose 3 workouts: 5 min light warm up cardio, 15 min full intensity cardio, and 10 min core strength.

This is the workout screen

I find working out at home is tricky because it's hard to get a sweat up and I typically feel dissatisfied. This evening I am sweating and tired!

Proof of my sweatiness

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Shambolic "interval" run: Janathon day 6

Urgh. If ever a run could make you feel depressed, today's run surely did that for me.

This morning, while looking at my training plan for the rest of the week (3 miles today, 5 miles tomorrow, and 4 x 800 m on Thursday) I wondered whether I could amalgamate the runs somehow because I wasn't sure I could (or should) run on Wednesday. I had hoped my husband wouldn't want to go to running club tonight so I could do a run then in company, but he says he does so I knew I'd have to run on my own, but I couldn't face the treadmill.

I decided I would run 5 miles (ish) on Thursday with running club, so today I would do 3 or 4 miles, with 4 min fast sections (the 4 minutes being a guess at how fast I could run 800 m) and 2 min recoveries. Bearing in mind I've not done intervals for a loooong time, this was possibly a rather ambitious aim. Anyway, I set off and, almost immediately, the rain began. No point going home now.

I felt I couldn't discern much difference between my fast and slow sections (probably because I was all over the place pace-wise), I just felt knackered. By 1.5 miles I was feeling defeated and decided intervals was a stupid idea. I had to walk up one steep hill just to get some energy back. I made myself run most of the way back, only stopping near home to walk up another hill and give myself a right telling off for being weak.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Circuit training: Janathon day 5

Despite today being a school inset day, it was back to the old routine, and I booked onto my usual Monday morning circuit training class. Working out at home is great, but nothing beats someone shouting motivational words at you to make you push harder.

There were only four people at the class today, which made it feel a lot like a PT session. The stations were all bodyweight this week (ie, press ups, ab curls, star jumps, etc), except for bicep curls (various resistance bands to choose from). The first eight stations (one circuit) were all done at our "usual" pace, the second was done as slowly as possible (you try doing one press up in 40 seconds), the third was as fast as we could manage, and the fourth was at our "usual" pace again (which was probably slightly faster than the first"usual" paced circuit!).

It was a good workout today and I was exhausted at the end. Despite the Christmas period and extra pounds I didn't feel out of my depth, so obviously something is working.

Day 5 of Janathon is done!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Running in circles: Janathon day 4

I had a bit of a late night last night and today's Janathon effort could quite easily be the mile and a half run-walk from the pub to home in my heels to be back before midnight for the babysitter (we were 10 mins late).

I had, however, made sketchy plans to run 9 miles later in the morning. Waking up at 9am to thick fog and icy conditions made my decision easy: no running until the afternoon (giving me several hours to rehydrate also).

By 4pm I was ready to run, but it was going dark so my plan to run up hills in Baldock was foiled. (What. A. Shame.) I plotted a route around my town that comprised two 3 mile loops and two 1.5 mile loops.

My aim was to take the pace easy (between 9:30 and 10 min/mile pace) and I managed that, finishing 9 miles in 1 hour 27 mins. Very pleased with that, although I have blisters from my heel-dash so now my feet are sore :(

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Janathon day 3: First Saturday of the Month run with my son

The intention for Janathon today was to take part in North Herts Road Runners' First Saturday of the Month 5K with my son. He's a good runner and has competed in several 1K and 2K events. His cross-country teacher at school has told him he needs to move up to 5K events now, so we thought we'd give today's race a go and see how he got on.

It rained all last night, so the course was very muddy when we arrived to register. I told my son we might only do one lap if it was too muddy to run safely. As it happened we did only do one lap, not only because of the mud but also because my son started to complain of pain in his shoulder and stomach. The shoulder pain I could've made him ignore but the stomach pain I could empathise with. We ran-walked one lap (2.7K, 1.7 miles) in 22:27, a bit slow but we can definitely improve during the year. I might not run the same 5K course though, it is too prone to muddiness.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Janathon day 2: Misfit and Sworkit

Christmas (and the preceding few months) was a rather excessive time, and I'm ashamed that I've gained about a stone in weight (from carelessness and indolence). I reinstalled MyFitnessPal on my phone after Christmas, and I'm trying to lose that weight and get more active in the run up to starting marathon training later this month. I received a great gift of body analysis scales for Christmas, which measure not only my weight but also my body fat %, body water %, and BMI. I'm already a bit hooked on my body fat %.

When I installed MyFitnessPal, I noticed there were a few apps that you could link to your account, to help keep track of exercise and activity during the day. One was Strava (which I already use to track my running), one was Misfit, and another was Sworkit.

Misfit rang a bell: I bought my mother-in-law and sister-in-law a Misfit Flash each for Christmas. I inevitably had to set them both up; I quite liked the simplicity of the device and was rather jealous! So, I treated myself to a Misfit Flash for Janathon ;) I have a pedometer on my phone but I was curious to find out how active or inactive I am during a "normal" day; hopefully this device will motivate me to walk home the long way. Plus, it was about half the price of similar devices (here's a good blog post comparing activity monitors).

To Janathon, and today I decided to try out Sworkit ( This app is just brilliant. It builds random circuit training sessions that can be customised according to which body area you want to work on or type of exercise you want to do (eg, legs, cardio, Pilates, or stretching) and how much time you have (you can work out for an hour or just 5 minutes). I opted for a 20 minute full body workout, which included a lot of push ups, sit ups, and high knees. Each exercise lasted 30 seconds, with a photo of the exercise as a reminder (and a video to watch if that didn't help) and voiceovers to tell you what the next exercise is and give you a 5 second countdown. I was relieved to discover there were 30 second breaks every so often (you can switch these off for a "pro" workout, and increase the duration of each exercise). I'm definitely going to try out a few more of these workouts during Janathon.

I finished off my workout with a 21 minute walk on the treadmill (1 mile), while listening to The Saturdays Greatest Hits. Seriously, I derive much motivation to exercise from looking at a picture of Frankie Bridge.

So... body stats. Do I really want to publish these? I guess it would be good to track changes, give me motivation to actually work on them, and I'm fairly sure only me and my friend Ralph read this blog. So, Ralph, here you go:

Weight: 150.6 lb (10 stone 10 lb, 68 kg; I averaged around 140 lb in 2014)
BMI: 25.7 (over 25 pushes me into "overweight" category)
Body fat: 32.2% (any % greater than 30% is regarded as high)
Body water: 48.7% ("ideal" range for women is 45-60%)

Lots of room for improvement!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Janathon day 1: 8 miles, easy pace

Happy New Year!

I might have mentioned once or twice that I'm running the London Marathon this year; the race is on April 26th, so just 114 days to go.

I started thinking about training plans before Christmas, and I downloaded one from to have a look at, which worked out to start on December 23rd. I've ignored it so far, I don't want to overdo training this time so I'll begin training properly at the end of January.

Since December 23rd this is what I've done as training:

Dec 24th: 4.5 miles easy
Dec 27th: 6.5 miles, slow on hills
Dec 30th: 2.75 miles, hard but not fast, on the treadmill

I missed an 8 mile run during that week, so I decided I'd do that today. I took it at an easy pace, and felt fine while out running. My hips started to ache during the last mile but I knew that was just down to not doing long distances since mid November. I was quite pleased to average 9:20 min/mile pace, and to finish faster than I started.