Sunday, 29 May 2011

A week of excuses

This week I have not had a busy week workout-wise. But that's ok becuase I am prepared with my excuses for this, or as I prefer to call them, 'mitigating circumstances'.

Excuse number 1: No school

Monday was a local holiday, and so as usual, the schools took the opportunity to close for a full 3 days. Even worse, Emma's playgroup gave themselves the whole week off. Nice for them, but I do all my cycling and some running during the mornings when Emma's at playgroup and Robbie's at school, so this really threw a spanner in the workouts. Consequently, I've hardly done any cycling this week, nor been to the gym, nor pilates.

Excuse number 2: A cold

All week I've been battling a mild cold, with sore throat, congested head, and a bit of a cough. On Sunday night, I had a real fever, and was shivering in bed for a while, but felt a lot better the next day. When I managed to fit in a quick run on Tuesday evening, I was wondering why my legs felt tired and sluggish and my pace was slow. It was only when I ran the last few metres to my front door, and my legs started to feel really achey, that I remembered that I had a cold, and should probably have taken it a bit more easily. Doh!

Excuse number 3: Spontaneity (lack of organisation)

On Thursday I found myself coming home unexpectedly early from work. I had an hour or so before having to pick the kids up from the childminder, and I suddenly realised I could fit in a run. The problem was that I had eaten too much and drunk coffee too close to running, but I actually ran 5k in just over 27 minutes, so I was quite happy, and I don't really need an excuse for this one.

Excuse number 4: My constant companion

Due to the aforementioned selfishness of playgroup organisers, even when Robbie was back at school at the end of the week, Emma was still around. So I decided to attempt a cycle with her on the back of my bike. I usually take her to playgroup like this, but it's a 1.5 mile journey which is downhill all the way, and I pick her up afterwards in the car. This time I tried to keep to flat roads as much as possible, but there was still a fair amount of hills, and it was hard work with her weight on the back. I only managed 4.6 miles, but it took me nearly 34 minutes, and I'd had enough by then! Great quads workout though. My too-heavy passenger

Excuse number 5: Wind

Yes, my old foe, the Scottish weather has been very active this week. After the scary gales on Monday, it's continued to be very windy. This morning I headed off to try a 6-mile run, as I've only run up to 5.3 miles since my comeback. It didn't start well when the route I'd planned to take was blocked (by men clearing and chipping broken branches off the road from the recent gales). So I had to change my route, which left me in a bad mood and I kept changing my mind about where to go. The first 2 miles were great, as it was mostly downhill, and mile 2 took me a thrilling 8m26s! Unfortunately as we all know, what runs down must run up, and as I came back uphill, it was straight into a strong head wind. Mile 5 took a horrendous 10m21s - bleurgh. By this time I also had a bad stitch, and eventually I stopped at 5.5 miles. As I got home, I thought this was one of the worst runs I can ever had! However, after such a long period of injury, I'm remembering to keep counting my blessings that I'm running at all.

So the stats for this week are pretty sad to look at.

Cycled: 4.6 miles
Run: 11.9 miles

...and that's it. Thankfully next week should be back to normal - but you never know!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Back online!

Thank Goodness. While Pete could still play his video games on the computer over the weekend, for those of us who spend far too much time on the Internet it is impossible to be offline for 2 1/2 days and remain sane. No email, no Facebook, and worst of all no blogging = nightmare. All better now though - phew.

Last week I didn't manage a huge amount, what with my foot still bothering me and not being able to run much. I only fitted in 2 bike rides too, and then went to the gym on Friday. This was my 3rd week in a row of having a great gym session on a Friday morning. It only came about because I've started giving a lift to a girl in Emma's playgroup on Fridays, which means I have to go in the car, rather than the bike. So instead of going for a bike ride, I started going to the gym instead, and I've been really enjoying it. I usually have time for 60 mins of cardio, before a few reps on the upper body weight machines.

Last Friday, I did 20 mins on the bike; 20 mins on the cross trainer, then decided to try 20 mins on the treadmill. My foot felt fine, and I plugged in my ipod, turned the music up loud, and had a great time pumping up the endorphins while trying not to sing out loud in public. In fact I wasn't running that fast, but I felt like Usain Bolt, so I didn't care. I was pleased to be running again.

Encouraged, I went for a 5K run on Sunday morning. It was my usual hilly route, but somehow I managed it in 26m58s - which averages out at 8m39s per mile - score! (Having said that, I ran on a flatter route yesterday and was far slower - swings and roundabouts...).

This week I've been busier. School has been closed for 3 days for a local holiday, and playgroup is closed ALL WEEK. Yes, that was indignant shouting. So it's been hard to fit much exercise in. Added to that, we had gales on Monday which were actually quite frightening as trees were blown down and the roads got strewn with branches and whole trees. Almost every train route in Scotland was closed, so Pete had a long bus journey back from work, and the local road bridge was closed, leading to long traffic jams in our town, which I got caught up in.

Just round the corner from our house

We've also had plumbers round to fit a shower in our bathroom. They turned up last night to finish the job, and as they were drilling through the kitchen and generally getting in the way (we live in a tiny flat), we ended up getting a Chinese takeaway, despite having a fridge full of healthy food. It is great to have a shower in our home at last though. It'll be so much quicker than a bath, especially in the mornings after a run and before going to school.

So last week looked like this:
Cycled: 16 miles
Ran: 5.1 miles (including treadmill)
Gym x 1
Pilates x 1 class

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


We have no Internet. I am writing this at work, because it is clearly an emergency. So in case anyone wondered why I haven't blogged or why I've stopped reading and commenting on other blogs, this is the reason. Some sort of techno problem at home, which is hopefully in the process of being resolved now.

Normal service should resume soon...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

When Nature Attacks!

My parents were visiting over the weekend, so I didn't quite stick to my usual routines. I did manage to fit in a nice bike ride on Monday morning though. I cycled to playgroup with Emma on the back, and after I dropped her off, I headed into the local country estate for a rural, woody bike ride. It's a scenic route, but there were millions of buzzing insects all over the place.

Again, I felt quite fit and kept up a good speed. I had about 30 minutes to cycle before meeting Mum and Dad back in town, so after about 3 miles in one direction, I turned round to come back.

On the way back I was just wondering whether I was going to make it on time, when suddenly, a huge black animal flew into my face! Well, maybe I exaggerate slightly, but a black fly definitely went in my eye, and it felt pretty big. I didn't have time to stop, but I rubbed my eye for a bit and it felt sore. Annoyingly, I was wearing contact lenses when I usually cycle in my glasses, so it was access all areas for the opportunistic fly.

When I met my parents, Mum had a good look in my eye but there was nothing there. Anyway, we browsed a few shops and I had a lovely cup of coffee with them before I cycled (and they drove) home.

All day my eye felt sore on and off, and by the time I went to my Pilates class at 8pm, my vision was quite blurry in the left eye. As soon as I got back home I went in the bathroom to take my lenses out, and as I looked in the mirror, there was a big black squidge in the corner of my eye. The fly had been lurking round the back of my eyeball and then come out the other side - an intrepid journey which had taken 11 hours! Yuck!

See - it's massive!

(I wasn't totally unprepared for this, as the same thing happened once before with a contact lens, and luckily I'm not too squeamish about eyes. If something had flown into my ear I'd have died on the spot).

My eye felt a lot better after the unwanted body had been expelled and full vision was restored. I think I'll be wearing my glasses if not proper goggles every time I go out on the bike from now on!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Weekly stats - not as I'd planned

Last Sunday I was pleased to see that I had run my furthest weekly mileage since coming back to running, with 15.2 miles. This week I have totalled one paltry run of 3.1 miles. Hmph. I mentioned a pain in my foot in my last post, and unfortunately it is still giving me trouble and stopping me from running. The good news is that I don't think it's got anything to do with the PF injury, but I really have no idea what caused it. It almost feels as though I bruised it when I was asleep, becuase I have no memory of doing anything to provoke it - I'm not sure it was caused by running.

I had a great run of speed intervals on Tuesday morning, and then during Wednesday, I gradually felt a pain coming on in the left outside of my foot, under my toes. I can't put weight on the outside of my foot, and it hurts to flex it, so I've been walking with a bit of a limp. This in turn has lead to tightness in my calf muscle, which feels like cramp. I'm sure this has been caused by the way I'm compensating for the pain when I walk.

So it's all very frustrating. Last week I really felt that I was getting my fitness and speed back, and now I've had to stop again. The foot seems to be getting better, but it'll be a few days at least before I'll want to risk a run. Sad face.

So this week I've been back to the old cross-training. I went to the gym on Friday, and tried to use the elliptical machine, but I found that it hurt my foot, so I could only really use the bikes. Added to that, I've been out for 3 bike rides this week, so I've really been getting those quads working. Quite by accident, it seems that this has been my highest cycling mileage week this year!

Monday's bike ride was lovely and sunny, but it involved an almost vertical long uphill, which was really tough. I'll definitely be avoiding that route in the future. On Wednesday I felt tired, it was rainy and I'd forgotten to take my inhaler - yes a litany of pathetic excuses - so I only managed 6 miles. Today I had a really nice cycle on a cool, overcast morning, and it was a flatter route than usual. My speed was the fastest yet, averaging over 11mph! It seems that I am definitely getting fitter, and faster at cycling.

Monday's cycle in the sun

My stats for the week are not quite what I'd planned, then:
Cycled: 24.3 miles
Run: 3.1 miles (flipping heck...)
Gym x 1 - 60 mins of cardio plus weights
Pilates x 1 class

Hopefully this foot pain will clear up soon. I'm not sure if I'll be able to run at all this week, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a run next weekend, perhaps. Luckily I've really been enjoying my last few bike rides, so it'll be more of the same for now. At least this foot pain is stopping me from overdoing the miles as I come back to running, and aggravating the PF. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise - in which case it's a really good disguise, because to be honest, it seems more like a total bummer!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Midweek Musings

1. I am so glad I finally took myself in hand last week and cleaned up my diet. I wasn't all that strict, I just had my own rules about not overdoing it. It shouldn't be that hard, but I find it really difficult to be disciplined for 6 whole days in a row. On Sunday, we met some friends for lunch in a restaurant, and I did have pudding (cheesecake and it was massive).

This week I'm trying to stick to it for 5 days, then I can be a bit more piggy at the weekend. I can't believe I haven't done this sooner - I put on about 8 lbs at Christmas, and I kept 4 or 5 with me until last week - what an idiot. It seems to me that I can either be properly strict, stick to a plan and keep a record of what I eat, or I just have no self control whatsoever - there is no middle ground.

2. I got up for a run yesterday at 6.30am, and I felt distinctly unmotivated. This was partly because I wanted to sleep a bit more, and partly because I just felt a bit bored of my usual 3 mile run. I couldn't decide what this run was for, other than to increase my mileage for the week, and burn some calories. As I got to about 1 mile, I passed the local High school, and saw the running track painted on the grass. So I decided to do some track intervals instead.

I've only run there a couple of times before, over a year ago, so it was a great change from the usual plod along the streets. I basically ran 400m fast, 400m slow x 3, so after I'd run home, I'd reached 3.1 miles in total. My average pace was 8.49 min/miles, which is about the same as my usual pace for a short run, but it was much more fun, and I really enjoyed pushing myself on the fast intervals. It reminded me how important it is to keep things varied and not get stuck in a rut.

3. I felt fine after that run, but today, 24 hours later, I've got a bad pain in my foot. It's not even in the heel, and seemingly not PF-related, but I can't really flex my left foot, which is making me limp when I walk. I'd planned a run tomorrow and a longer one on Sunday, but I'm not so sure now. I'm going to rest it as much as possible (while looking after 2 kids), and hope it feels better after a night's sleep.

4. Regarding the Mum part of Runner Mum, look what I achieved this morning!

I am totally useless when it comes to hair-dos, but both Robbie and Emma begged me to do a plait for her, so this is my best effort. Emma quite often gets her hair done in a fancy way from other girls at the childminder's and their 10-year-old efforts put my boring ponytails and bunches to shame.

Anyway, I'm off to spend the rest of the evening with an ice-pack on my foot, and I'll be moving from the sofa as little as possible. Please let it be better by morning!

*Sigh* 'Mum, what's wrong with your feet now?'

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Scottish weather 1 - Me 0

Having run over 5 miles last Monday, I decided to head out for a 6-miler this morning. I planned to go at a steady, comfortable pace, as I was increasing distance so I didn't want to push the speed as well. I thought I'd aim to average 9 min/miles.

About an hour after breakfast, I left the house at about 9am. It was cool but not cold, there was quite a nice breeze, and the sky was overcast - it felt like good running conditions. I felt really good, and ran the first mile quite gently. When I checked my Garmin though, I'd done it in 8m50s. So I tried to slow down but keep a steady speed for the next mile, but that also beeped at exactly 8m50s!

I felt really good - I was feeling strong and fit, running well and I knew I could easily run 6 miles, and hopefully keep this pace up for the whole run. This was also my first run over the Forth Road Bridge since injury - one of my favourite routes, despite the fact that it is always windy. I got onto the bridge, ran about half a mile across it - and the heavens opened. Suddenly the rain absolutely poured down, and for a few moments it was hail. The wind picked up, and within seconds I was drenched. It was really uncomfortable, as all my clothes got heavy with water, and my socks were squidging around in my trainers.

After some miserable metres, I decided to turn back. It was just horrible to run in, and I was worried about chafing or blisters from my wet clothes and socks. I turned round and it was even worse! The wind was blowing straight at me, and the rain was almost horizontal. The force of it stung my eyes, and I ran to the end of the bridge with them mostly closed.

As I got off the bridge the wind died down, but I was thoroughly soaked, so I stopped in a bus shelter to squeeze water out of my shorts and top, and wipe my glasses. The run home wasn't too bad, but my wet clothes and shoes made me feel pretty horrible.

So in the end it was only 4.6 miles. I did maintain 8m53s / mile average pace, so I was pleased with that, but I was a bit fed up that I had felt so strong to start with and still didn't complete 6 miles. When I got in I dripped water all over the house before jumping into a hot bath.

Absolutely drenched!

As for the rest of the week, I have been very strict with my diet everyday, and avoided cakes, biscuits and other snacks between meals. At times I found it quite difficult, and the lack of chocolate made me pretty grumpy. But I weighed myself yesterday morning, and I had lost 3 pounds! Yay! 1 more to get me back to my pre-Christmas weight! I think I'll try and be good this week too, as my parents are visiting next weekend, and we'll probably treat ourselves most days.

Stuffed Butternut Squash and salad - one of my healthier recipes!

In total, I ran 15 miles this week, which is 5 miles further than the previous highest week, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Next week I'll have to try that 6-miler again, so I'll be keeping a firm eye on the weather forecast and choosing my day carefully. Needless to say, the rain soon blew over after that downpour, and it turned out to be a lovely, sunny afternoon. At least I got my own back by hanging my washing out on the line and getting it all dry in the sun - take that Mother Nature - KAPOW!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spring is sprung!

Well the weather here for the last few days has been absolutely glorious. I'm quite capable of getting out and pounding the streets when they're covered in snow, or going for a cycle in the wind and pouring rain (albeit reluctantly), but I just find it soooo much nicer to go out in warm temperatures and sunshine. I'm the sort of person who is always too cold and never too hot, so running on a hot day doesn't usually bother me. (I say 'usually', because of last year's heatwave on 23rd May, which added about 30 mins to my marathon time, or so I claim).

It only seems a few short weeks ago that our village looked like this:

That was all very pretty, but rather impractical, and after a few weeks it just got boring. Thank goodness for spring, when we can enjoy even more beautiful scenery which I'll never get tired of, such as colourful fields of blooming rapeseed;

big blue cloudless skies;

we can dig out our sun hats and summer dresses;

and play around in the cherry blossoms.

Ok so the weather forecast is currently saying that we're going to have heavy rain and hail for the next 4 days running, but hey, that could be wrong! At least it should stay warmer, and hopefully the sun will be back out again soon to join me on some gorgeous spring runs and bike rides!

Monday, 2 May 2011

April stats

April has been a month full of distractions, with only 8 days of school amongst the Easter, Royal Wedding and Bank holidays. We also had a weekend away for my parents' Ruby anniversary celebration. What I'm trying to say is, I haven't done as much cycling and running as I would like, especially last week.

However, on the up side, I have done my first race since September; I've been increasing the miles as far as running is concerned; and the weather has taken a distinct turn for the better. The last few days have been glorious - warm and sunny.

So here are the stats for April:

11 runs = 37.4 miles
6 bike rides = 52 miles
2 Pilates classes
1 Aquafit class
0 gym visits

In comparison with March, this was quite a bit less cycling, and obviously the improved weather (and the fact that we've been away a bit) kept me out of the gym altogether. However, that's 15 miles more running than I did last month, which is my priority after all.

So what's the plan for May? Well we still have quite a few school holidays to look forward to - unbelievable but true - so I'll need to negotiate those. I hope to keep increaing the running distance - my furthest run so far has been 4.6 miles, so I want to get up to a 10k soon (6.2 miles). I hope to continue with pilates and cycling, and I don't want to abandon the gym altogether.

My other goal is to clean up my diet. This last week of Easter eggs and a family visit has lead to way too many calories finding their way down my neck and I really want to lose 4-5 lbs. So this week I'm going to try to cut out the snacks and stop indulging in treats. I usually manage to be good for about 3 or 4 days, and then I crack, sending Pete off to get me a mint chocolate Aero (my favourite). So I think I'd better keep a list of what I eat and be strict with myself. Let's hope the blog will keep me accountable - watch this space...

Sheep and lambs enjoy the sun!