Thursday, 31 January 2013

Janathon Round-Up

And done. Not well because of the snow, laziness and a big project that needed to be finished, but completed anyway. It was a good challenge - I think if I'm going to do it again I need to commit to indoor activity a bit more, and make sure I don't arrange or sign up to anything else! I probably won't do Junathon, much as I'd like to, because it would be daft to overdo it with multiple swimming events coming up. But you never know! Big thanks to the organisers, it was fun following people on Twitter and reading blogs.

This month I've covered 13km in the pool (B+, not bad, could do better), 0km in open water (trying hard not to think about it because it makes me overly sad), and 18.35km running (C-, must try harder). It's not a bad start to the year and I'm pretty confident I can top that at least most months over 2013. It'll be a whole lot easier as the weather picks up, of course.

Nipped out for a slow 2.75km run this evening - not particularly enjoyable, unfortunately, my hips (never the most reliable part of my body) are playing up and I'm almost certainly going to pay for it tomorrow. I think a week of wearing YakTrax on hiking boots over ice, and then switching to brand new small-heeled boots today probably has something to do with it. I walk like a constipated duck in the snow which makes me ache all over. But I saw a badger! Blimey, those things are big. Also this one appeared to have nicked a slice of pizza from someone's bin...

Finally, I will now be working on Mistressing The Pull-Up - we finally managed to fit a bar in this shonky old house!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Downs and Ups

Just about sneaking a couple more Janathon sessions in!

I must admit, it's been a bit difficult over the last week or so. Snow-inflicted inactivity has stalled me in all sorts of directions. The desire to lose some weight leads to misery more often than not - sometimes I think weighing and measuring is the road to madness for me. It certainly leads to what I now recognise as "bad head stuff", anyway, which used to express itself as both low mood and a tendency to defiantly over-eat (as in "well, I'm never going to shift it, I may as well snarf down the entire bar of chocolate right now SO THERE!"). Since I more or less have the defiance under control, I'm left with low mood, which isn't a great mindset before a Masters session.

Sunday was a big pile of epic failbeans, then - I woke up fluey, poor progress with weight/measurement loss led to low mood and I wasn't hungry at lunchtime so didn't eat very much; certainly under 500cal all day. There were loads of new starters at Masters, which usually I welcome - there's nothing like sharing your enthusiasm with new people! - but it did lead to some fairly congested and cluttered lanes as everyone tried to sort out their speeds. Katie moved me up to Lane 3 (Lane 4 is the super-speedy types!) along with a few of the other folks I'd been lanemates with last year, but my attention was shot. I could barely wrap my head around what we were doing, let alone keep up. After a trying hour I bailed - it was obvious I wasn't in a good place mentally or physically. The coaches were both very sweet, though - I am dubious as to whether I'm ready for Lane 3 but it was nice of them to acknowledge I was still making progress no matter how crappy I felt that night. It's pretty much what got me out of the door tonight.

Dave had left extra training plans out "in case we got chance to swim in a public session during the week" and it was exactly what I needed tonight; I'm so glad I picked them up. I had a much better session - numpty-free! Actually it was amazing how quickly the lane cleared of, erm, head-up swimmers once me and my friend Mr RedShorts (I have no idea of his name, he's an older chap who swims a good fast breaststroke and is very good at lane ettiquette!) arrived. 300m warm up, 300m IM - which I switched to just freestyle/breaststroke alternates as it's NOT safe to do backstroke/butterfly with people who aren't good at sharing lanes! and then a 1950m endurance build, working up in 25m increments from 25m-300m. I was supposed to alternate easy and hard sets but I lost track of which were which and more or less did everything at medium pace. But it felt like flying anyway! Everything came together (yes, after the first predictable) and I was quite sad to find I'd completed the set and needed to do my 200m warm down.

Again, my tactic of "where would I be at this distance if I were at Salford?" worked tremendously well to get me through the tedium of a pool session. I just wish I could get my new cap to stretch a bit. It's bloody annoying. But I'm looking forward to getting out for a run on Thursday!

Monday, 21 January 2013


Because occasionally I do other things than sport

So that's my girls and our tiny Snowthing. It's been thick ice or snow here since 17th, so I guess that's me failing at Janathon - couldn't get out to run or go to Masters (boo!), had to cancel my classes on Saturday, and in all honesty just too knackered and busy with other stuff to find the energy to do anything indoors. I did make a point of getting some pre-midnight bedtimes and feel a bit better for it, even though I'm still sneezing my head off. We have been out to throw snowballs and build snowthings, though, and there's been extra walking involved as it's been too risky to take the car up the hill to school. Today school texted to say they were short on staff, so whilst they were open, we could keep the kids home if we wanted to. I only need the flimsiest pretext not to walk up that hill in bad weather, so impromptu snow day it was.

It looks like we're stuck with it til at least the end of the week so I doubt I'll get much more done in the name of Janathon - it was certainly fun whilst it lasted, though, and kicked off my fitness mindset very well. I am actually looking forward to being able to get out for a run.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Very lazy night - a 1min plank with good form (I'll feel that tomorrow!) and a wall sit, just to do something. I'm not sleeping well as I'm full of a cold still, and really really hoping this ice doesn't get any worse so that I can run tomorrow. I might have to find a new route around the back streets and town, which I'm not at all happy about - I like the lonely, dark moor route the best. I have an inkling I might enjoy trail or fell running when I'm fitter.

Spent the evening doing random bits of work, writing, and reading, and actually I feel good about that; my brain has needed a workout too. Watched the first Skillshare: Get Fit In the New Year... class video and wrote up my "project" for that - so far there's nothing I didn't already know, but I think it's a great intro if you're new to fitness. Here's my Goals Project, anyway, by way of some meaningful content for Janathon.

Swimming In The Big Pond

I've always been a swimmer. A knee injury at 18 stopped me; from there I went to university and discovered beer, got a desk job, and had children. Exercise just didn't figure until I realised I couldn't actually pick the baby up without pain, let alone the 6yo.

I managed to get hold of a Beta invite for Fitocracy and together with support from family, friends and the Fito crew I've never looked back. I started to swim again just over a year ago; cried and complained my way through the first few months of lifting and then startled myself by not only starting to run but discovering an all-consuming passion for open water endurance swimming. Last season I swam Great Manchester Mile and ran City of Salford 5k. I find running helps my breath control and lifting is giving me the all-round awesome (my arms and legs are looking great, though I can't seem to shake it off my belly).

I now train with a Masters group and a fantastic Channel coach, and after some time off for illness I'm back to running 5km. In 2013 I'll be swimming a pool 5k, the Manchester mile again, and I'm off up to the Big Pond - Lake Windermere - to swim 2 miles in open water. I also want to take part in my Masters group events and run a 10k by the end of the year. I want to do it all faster than last year and be ready to swim 5-10k events the following year, perhaps with a running half-marathon too. By then I'm hoping to be fit enough to get over my fear of the hilly area I live in, get my bike out and complete a triathlon before I turn 40.

My problems are:

a) sticking to an effective training schedule consistently whilst managing a family and freelance work 

b) managing the nutritional needs of 1 endurance nut, 1 runner/lifter, and two small, rapidly growing, incredibly active little girls. We all need different things. I've built up a lot of fat over 20-odd years of inactivity and I know it's slowing me down - but I don't really understand how to get rid of it and how to balance my needs with everyone else's. That's what I'm hoping to get out of this course.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Don't Bore, Drill

The CBA Fairy nearly got me again tonight. It's down to -3oC here and pretty slippy underfoot. Smallest girl went for her taster session at preschool today so it's been top-full of mummy-angst - I stayed with her and she had a whale of a time (headed straight for the water trough: born a waterbaby, can't keep her away from it). Straight from there to school through the ice and back down the hill to Eldest's swimming lesson. Smallest was having lots of fun in the main pool with me until some other kid vomited. That meant everybody out, and the floor had to be raised and cleaned. It takes about 15mins to do, but we gave up waiting when Eldest finished her lesson. We were all pretty cold by then and even after tea I hadn't warmed up properly. I know how to take care of myself coming out of cold open water and never really get chilled afterwards, but when you've two little ones they (and the mediation of their inevitable arguments) come first. By the time I'm dressed I'm often frozen. Roll on Smallest being able to dress herself!

Nagging and Janathon got me to the pool tonight, late, but present and correct. Two laps in I was bored silly. I'm not getting on well with this new cap - can't hear my MP3 player properly, and it ran out of charge halfway through anyway - and the numpty-creep was starting. In desperation I decided I was just bored because I'd done a few endurance swims lately and what I needed was to drill until I was grateful for the boredom of a long swim. And it worked! Four warm-up plus six drill laps and I was ready to start an endurance-build mile. This is something Dave has us do sometimes (I have no idea if it has a proper name, that's just what I call it) and it is tough, but I feel like I maintain a better speed. You start by swimming 25m, then rest 15s, then swim 50m/rest 15s, and keep adding 25m each time til you hit 1650m. The last set is 275m. By that point I'd swum 1900m and the numpties were absolutely swarming, so I finished with a 100m cool-down and gave up in disgust at just under an hour. It's ok; as work-outs go it was short and not too boring; I know I worked my core and my mental arithmetic to boot, so it'll do til Sunday. Please, please let Masters run properly this Sunday!

Monday, 14 January 2013

No Time

Plank (45s with very good form!) and a wall-sit are all I have time for today - ran a workshop this evening for a local nursery, forgot to eat til after nine, scrabbling around doing the post-workshop paperwork til now. Ready to collapse and get an early night as it's double swimming tomorrow!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Can't Be Arsed Fairy

Have you met this evil little creature? It's the thing that grabs you at maybe 1-2km of a run or 20 laps, something like that, and you think "oh, I just can't be bothered with this". It often starts before you've even got your trainers on or hit the water - all the little things are wrong and you're fidgety with everything. Maybe you can't find a parking space at the pool or you've forgotten to charge your MP3 player. It's a bit brisker, or warmer, than you'd thought and you're under or overdressed. Perhaps you could do with a lip balm, or there's someone with a horrific screw kick splashing everyone as they go by. You start thinking about your homework, or a piece of writing, or planning a meal. Every little distraction builds and builds to the point where your energy and love of your sport is just sucked out of you. Heaven help you if you're already tired or achy from the previous day.

Well, the little swine got me at 14 laps today, probably a new record for running out of arsedness. Overtired from last night's run, I didn't want to get up in the first place. Didn't get on with the new swimming cap I'd bought. Not too bad for numpties, but I was well off my usual pace and not keeping up. I don't mind being lapped and giving way at Masters, where I know I'm not exactly top of the class (and besides, the beginner lane group have been together for three or four weeks now and we roughly know our speed order and who runs out of steam after an hour!), but it is disheartening and irritating in the public pool when you already feel rubbish. And yes, the lady with the terrible screw kick was there - she's not particularly slow for a breaststroker but one foot comes out of the water each time, so if you're behind her it makes a loud BOOM noise I can hear even over my MP3 player. Swimming in the opposite direction you get a gobful of water every time you go past. Add her to Mr Fast and Mr Thinks-He's-Fast and it was another set of niggles for the CBA Fairy to prod me with. Oh, and I forgot to eat anything before I started - having not had a snack after running last night. So a long, slow, boring mile it was.

I'm going to need to change my training schedule around a bit next weekend to allow for Masters...better try for the 5k again on Thursday and just a maintenance run on Saturday. Not sure what I'll swim on Tuesday - 2.5km would seem a sensible minimum.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Props Me Before I Expire

Twelve days ago I said:
"No specific plans for February and March as yet but I'd like to be getting close to 5k in both swimming and running."
 On my way to work this morning I used the car to measure a mile from my usual start-running-place. It was another half a km or so into the unlit section with an evil little hill right at the end - I run a hairpin out-and-back so if I go up, I have to come back down it and vice versa. When I got back I added it to my usual route, inserted a slightly longer loop at the end, et voila, a 5km. Thought I'd give it a try. It took me 38m 44s: slow to any experienced runner, sure, but within seconds of my time for last year's Salford 5km (which was a PB despite all the walking and awfully hot weather), and the first time I've hit 5km since September last year. I think that just goes to show how much fitter the Masters sessions have got me - if I can do this hilly route in the freezing cold (it must be -2oC again, lots of frost) in the same time as last year's flat then this year's flats ought to be faster.

A few weeks before Christmas I came out of Masters and said it felt like I'd left my lungs at the bottom of the pool; that's how I feel tonight. But I noticed a big jump in what I could cope with the following week, so let's hope it's a good sign and I can get a bit more confident at this extension to my route. I had a lot of nasty head stuff to deal with tonight, along with a stitch and protesting ankles. Much chuntering about fat lasses running badly. My shadow is not my friend on nights like this and I had to spend a lot of time debunking the lies. Hopefully it will soon pass. Guess I need a new target now...

I am sore, stiff and still slightly out of breath 30mins later (!), but I'll be in the pool in nine hours. That'll fix me!

Friday, 11 January 2013


Brrr. Five layers on today and I still felt cold - indoors! Also croaky and sore; gee, thanks fog. I have to work in the morning - for which my voice is essential - so I'm taking it easy with just some yoga and stretching. I'm terribly inflexible, always have been, so I want to make it part of my routine somewhere. Somehow.

I feel I've stuck to the spirit of Janathon even though I'm now pretty much kissing good bye to one of my duels. I'd probably have been more competitive if I'd been a bit further along with running, and knocking out a solid 5km each time. Masters is cancelled on Sunday since the pools are booked out to other groups (cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth, DAMNIT I was really looking forward to that!) so I'm going to have to try and make it up with another long swim on Sunday morning. If I can get a fairly numpty-free session I can probably turn out two miles in the 1hr 30 available. Fifteen weeks to the new outdoor season...yes, I'm counting down the days. There's an app for that. :P

In other news my OH has a little green tick next to his Great North Run entry so I guess that means he's in! First ballot, too. Very lucky. We missed seeing him come over the line at Great Manchester last year so fingers crossed we'll get to cheer this time. It's definitely going to be a big sporting year for us.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Things I Learned In The Fog

Oh my god, I am freezing now. That was one of the weirdest runs I've ever been on; I think it even outranks the time I had to hurdle a dead goat. Turned out of the house at about 10pm, knowing it was pretty cold, so I'd put my long-sleeved top on under my high-vis and my gloves on as well. Having swum at 10oC I tend to think I'm well 'ard when it comes to cold (I'm not, I'm just even more rubbish in the warm!), so I wasn't too worried about the temperature when I set out. And actually, I was fine by the time I got to the top of the hill. It was fairly heavy fog all the way up, but evened out after a mile and once into the dark it was almost clear from maybe 50-100ft up. The stars put on an amazing display; all the ambient housing light was covered by the fog down in the valley and the fields and trees were settling into a hard, bristling frost. I know from previous experience it must be at least -2oC up there now; I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's more like -4oC.

Cars coming into the unlit section are often quite dazzling, and I discovered tonight that if a car has full beams on coming up behind you, the fog in front of you is lit in a perfect halo. It's like running down a swirling white tunnel - but the stars are fiercely bright up above. That is very eerie indeed.

The other thing I learned was that I may be alright walking in thick fog, but running in it is a very different matter - especially when it's got even thicker in your absence - and it was only sheer stubborness that made me complete 30mins/3.5km dead tonight. I would have liked to have got further, but whilst I may be competitive I'm not stupid. I know what the next section of my route is like, and I know that pushing myself any more in those conditions could easily lead to injury. Although I did almost turn around and run back into the dark so I could get more time running in the clear!

My hair was absolutely soaked with condensation when I got in. I'm now going to take a very sweet cup of mint tea to bed and try to warm up a bit!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Week 1 of Janathon Done

Maybe not, but I'm working on it...

Well, that's a week down and I'm knackered - how about you? In the last seven days I've done two runs of 2-3.5km each, swum 2km and 3.5km (and outperformed my last times at those distances significantly), and lifted a whole lot of heavy things, both for the sheer awesomeness of lifting heavy and as a specialist swimmer's routine. I've tracked my food every day even though I HATE doing so, and tried to keep it mostly on target - I've gone well over on two days, but they were my swimming days so there was at least some compensation for snaffling up the Christmas chocolates. I've lost a pound - I guess it would be more if it wasn't for that! I've gone up to Level 29 on Fitocracy, am ahead on both duels (though only just on one and that'll plummet tomorrow because running points are rubbish - it's all dependant on how hard I work at Masters on Sunday!), and ranking reasonably well in all the challenges I joined. Can't say fairer than that, really! So Janathon is doing great things for me. Whether I can stick to it when the duels are over, I don't know - a girl needs a night off! We'll see.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tea & Toast

Feeling entirely justified in my inhaling of two rounds of toast when I got in from my swim this evening, because, ladies and gents, I have just pulled off 3.5km in 1hr 29mins and still had more in the tank even after not training pure distance properly in at least a couple of months. So there. It was a great swim, I'd say 95% numpty-free - just a few slower people who had the courtesy to either wait or switch lanes and one dude who just couldn't get the lane rhythm right. I had to wait around a fair bit for him or I'd have been up his shorts, yuck. I can really, really feel the difference the Masters sessions have made; I'm paying a great deal more attention to the technicalities and correcting where I can rather than trying to brute-force the distance. For example, my left arm has a tendancy to drop into the same pattern as a ripple drill when I get tired, so that was nice and easy to deal with. I do still need to get a coach to look at my rotation and breathing as I think I'm over-extending my head to the right and not turning enough to the left in the hip.

So where does that leave me in terms of events...I took tonight's swim as a single set so I don't have the exact times, but my 3km (120 lengths) was 1hr 17mins, and 2 miles (128 lengths or 3.2km) was 1hr 22mins. That includes a few minutes stoppage time for drinks, numpties and the splitting of my favourite swimming cap. Boo hiss. I still have some work to do to get to my target of 2 miles in 1hr 15min before Windermere, but I would like to note here that this is an improvement from the last time I did 2 miles, in September, of eight minutes. I think I can safely say that's all due to the incredible coaching and encouragement I've had from all the folks at USWIM. Speaking of, their new events listing has just gone up - this is going to be an expensive but very enjoyable season.

Onwards! I still want to get that 5k under two hours...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Getting Heavy

Oh noooooes, Fito is down in the middle of logging a fairly epic workout. Damnit. That'll teach me to depend on the internet.

Had a ton of work to do (uuuuuuuuurgh, January and being self-employed sucks), so neatly talked myself out of the run I didn't really want to go on anyway. I got enough drizzle on the school run to put me off, yadda yadda, excuses excuses. I know. I'm not sure of the merits of running three times a week versus twice a week for a swimmer, and my OH only runs twice a week - it was C25K that had the 3x week set-up and I do find that harder to stick to. I'd left myself enough time to lift weights and the Fito points are a heck of a lot better, anyway. So I'm competitive, shoot me. I'm so pleased to see my dumbell bench press back up to 14kg already; last time I was lifting heavy I got as far as 16.5kg. I'd really like to hit 20kg.

Here's hoping for a clear swim tomorrow...numpties stay home, please!

Sunday, 6 January 2013


It is, of course, a matter of perspective, but I do feel lazy for "just" swimming 2km this morning when I'm capable of far more. And it was lazy, nowhere near a decent pace (2m15/100m or 2.4kph - I'm aiming for 2.6kph or more by Summer) and all done in 51mins. I didn't push it at all and had enough in the tank to do another km, but it was getting busier (I felt very lucky to be sharing with just 1-2 sensible people for the hour - a numpty-free swim!) and I didn't want to cut into OH's run time too much. As with running, the first mile is the hardest - I do wonder if that's what puts people off endurance swimming, actually. It really is easier once you get that first 1500m down.

It was definitely shorter than my usual swim - Masters is 3km or more - though I don't think you notice the distance as much in a longer pool or outdoors. Just as I've found my local pool too warm at 27oC, it's now seeming even more boring at 25m. After 1km or so I flipped my watch to show total distance rather than laps and imagined where I'd be on the Quays course at that distance. It was a lot more interesting to picture the BBC buildings and The Lowry in front of me and fish below than the wall! I was glad I had my MP3 player, too - whilst I prefer a quiet pool it does mean the local radio they play seems much louder and harder to ignore. Anything is better than being stuck with Kylie Minogue's 80s hits for an hour.

I can't wait to get back to Masters next week - and April can't come soon enough.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Double Time (ish)

Aaah, I'm such a cliche today...been ouching around the house suffering with DOMS and wondering if I'd even get out of the door tonight. Of course some gentle nagging and my towering pride sent me out and I became that person who didn't want to go but comes back being glad I did.

It was lovely out there, actually - two runs in a row with no rain! It's a miracle. Bit chilly on the hands to start with but a strong warm breeze coming back. I find it hard to keep remembering it's January, actually - when I first started running last April you could see your breath at 9pm and I went out in much heavier shirts. Couldn't see my breath at all til I'd got well out into the dark - I've swum at colder temperatures than this! Not that I'm complaining; it'd be much tougher to get out there if it was snowing.

Anyway, I was going to do the same run as Thursday - I can't really do C25K exactly because of the long hill (it's a 10% gradient and I ain't running up that when I'm just starting back!) but I was going to stick to warm-up sets/rests and try to just add a few minutes to the return leg. Yeah...I did my 1 mile warm-up walk, then 1min, 2mins, and then I was going into the dark section and thought "What the hell, I'll just run til I feel like I need a break, it's too much faff to check my watch". So I ran all the way down to the cottage on the corner (about 5mins), turned around and ran back to the light, saw it was 10mins and figured I may as well just run home at that point. So it was 27mins with no pauses, 3.5km for that section. Pretty good - I'll never be fast, don't care, point is that I'm not all that far off my previous pace and I can only improve, right? Add in a couple of lovely "ooh, this is really me running!" moments and feeling my breathing settle right down to something that matches my swimming breath, and it just felt very nice indeed.

Course, I'll be dead on my feet tomorrow's swim day, yay! Not Masters, sadly, but I'm going to try to get to the pool as soon as it opens and get some maintenance km in then head home asap so OH can go for his run too. Then park for the kids if it's dry!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Dry Land

Friday has traditionally been a rest day, which is a nice way of saying "I'm so full of Chinese food I can't move and anyway, don't I get just one night a week to slob out and watch telly?". But, you know, Janathon and duels and all that. I'm pretty stiff from running (can't wait for that to be a thing of the past again) and I try to alternate body parts anyhow, given that I'm supposedly an all-round wannabe athlete.

For Christmas my lovely husband bought me a copy of Swim Smooth: The Complete Coaching System For Swimmers And Triathletes, which is something I've been after for a while. I usually buy everything for my Kindle these days but this is one of those few books you really need the good colour photos for. I can't wait to get stuck into it properly, particularly the open water section; for tonight I just looked up the "dry land training" chapter and did that, saving the routine on Fitocracy (if you are a Hero I think you can take this from my account). It's pretty much stretching, core work and shoulders; and probably light enough to do daily should you feel so inclined. The book doesn't say how often, actually, but I think I'll probably see a fairly rapid core improvement if I keep it up. Doesn't get me a lot of points, though! And neither does running. Pffft. Despite my being pretty competitive, I'm not too worried at the moment - I have some swims planned, which will help. We'll see!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Run For The Joy

We're back, baby. The perfect night to start running again - damp but not raining, cloudy but not completely overcast (Orion was lovely), quiet, and a good strong breeze. It's actually pretty warm out there - I only wore my jacket and cap for high-vis and in case it started raining. Part of my route is completely unlit so fluro-yellow it is.

I couldn't decide what to do tonight at first, but it occured to me that I could use the same tactic Dave had us doing at USWIM Masters last session - a good long warm up followed by ever-increasing distance with short breaks. Obviously it's harder to gauge distance when running outdoors than in a pool, so I decided I'd walk the mile up to the Chinese at the top of the hill (that place always smells amazing and has the added bonus of reminding me that the more I run the less guilty I have to feel about Friday's take-away!), then run 1min/2min/3min/4min with 15-30s rests in between and see how I felt.

Well, I did the first three sets ok then took a 30s walk after 3mins to get past a junction (it's very dark and I wear headphones, so I take extra care). Then I ran for 4min 25s without noticing. 1 min rest again to get past a junction, and by then I was on my downhill home so I just kept running until I noticed my shoe was rubbing a bit - I think I'd laced it too tight, but I could do with some decent socks. 12mins! So utterly chuffed with that after - jeez - 15 weeks off. Five minute cooldown walk and there we go, that'll do nicely thank you! It works out at something like 3.2k total running out of a total 6k distance, with 2.2k of that being the 12min set.

Do you know what was best, though? No crappy head stuff. No "I can't do this", but just a calm "I am doing this". No crazy runner's high, but a simple acceptance that yes, this is me, and I can run a bit. Now that is a joyous thing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

I Got 999 Problems But A Wall Sit Ain't One


Yeah, yeah, I'm aware that's a rubbish title. But hurray, I got started! Ok, yes, should have started yesterday but between the hangover and the rotten headcold I've had for a week the drizzle wasn't appealing at all. Wednesday is OH's run night so I lifted a whole bunch of heavy things over my head, did a few planks and a 2.5min wall sit (woo!) and by the time he got back from his six mile run (aaaaargh, I am never going to catch up) I'd scored 999 points for my workout on Fito, which is too funny a number to do any more to.

I'm ahead on the first day of Duel 1 (which sure as hell won't last!) and all geared up to head out for a run tomorrow. Can't decide whether to just restart C25K from week 1 and treat it as HIIT up the hill out onto the daaaaaaaaaaaaark moor road - since I now have the flashy thing for the back of my Ron Hill jacket, thanks mum! or walk the mile up it and then run back home downhill. Might be a bit risky on the knee, that tactic. We'll see!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


I love this picture, it makes me laugh every time. Snagged from this article on willpower at Sohee Lee Fitness. It is a great post and what I'm about to tell you about will seem to fly in the face of it at first glance, but it's all part of a Master Plan, honest.

I haven't blogged for a month or so - just way too much busyness going on - but I have kept going to USWIM Masters every Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's hard, hard work, swimming between 2-3.5km of drills and time trials/endurance work per session but I'm making obvious progress both on the clock (my 750m time is down to 16min from 20mins at the end of September - you can't sniff at a 4min improvement!) and in terms of the effect you can actually see. Definitely getting swimmer's arms and legs! Pity the Christmas excess has settled around the middle, but it'll go again. I also got my "Growing Gills" Fitocracy badge in December. That means I've swum 100km in my lifetime on the site, which actually tallies pretty accurately with 100km swum in this year.

Here are the challenges I've set myself for 2013 so far:



Participate in Janathon, which means daily exercise (though not today as I am somewhat hungover!) with an emphasis on running, and blog posts about it. This will help me both restart Couch to 5k....

...and hopefully win the two Fitocracy Duels I'm in, which run from 2nd-16th January. I plan to start tracking on My Fitness Pal again as well, so the first two weeks of this month are about shaking myself up and getting moving in the right direction. I haaaaaate tracking food but Christmas always makes my portion sizes (and sweet consumption) go haywire. But it can be fixed. USWIM Masters is back in session from 13th Jan so plenty of points to be gained there!

From 15th-24th I'll be taking part in Get Fit In The New Year... And For Life class, which is being taught by the founders of Fitocracy, to get a better grip on where I need to go with my training.

February & March

No specific plans as yet but I'd like to be getting close to 5k in both swimming and running.


 April is Swimathon month and I've entered the 5k Individual this time. I did the 2.5km last year and the 5k in 1992. I don't have an official record of that time but I'm pretty sure it was 2hrs 20mins or so, so that's the time I want to beat this year. I'm fairly confident I can get there as my 3km time is just over an hour now, so I should be pushing 5km at around 2hrs by April. My main issue at this distance is just getting enough clear water - not a problem on the day itself, but in open public sessions it's hard to get 2hrs without interruption. USWIM Summer season reopens on 20th April, though, so I should get a couple of nice long open water sessions in just before it.


No plans for May yet other than continuing to train for....


...the two-mile wave at Great North Swim. I finally made a decision! Well, it was made for me really because I don't have a two-mile event time and therefore couldn't be sure of completing the 5km in the right time-frame. Completing this one will give me a time for 2014, though, and after conversations with friends who live down that way, there's a good possibility I may do the 5k at Great East in 2014 as well. It starts to get really quite expensive at this point in both entry fees and transport/accomodation costs but it's just possible I may enter all five Great Swims in 2014.


July brings me back full-circle to Great Manchester Swim. I've completely changed my stroke and training regime since July 2012, with stacks more confidence and experience under my belt too - and it's my home ground. I'm hoping to shred at least 15-20mins off my 2012 breaststroke time (50m 59s) - sub 30mins would be ideal but we'll see on the day.


I plan to be properly prepared (ie, remember my goggles) and swim in the North Sea, no wetsuit, at least a few times!


Assuming it runs again in 2013 I'm keen to do the 3.8km distance of the Media City UK challenge, in my home waters at Dock 9. I finished last season at just over 2hrs to do 4km, and I'm sure all my training will pay off - so a sub 1hr 45 would be lovely for this one. And then...maybe the 10km in 2014? We'll also be heading up to Newcastle for the Great North Run, where at least one, probably two and maybe more of the Wood family will be taking part. But not me. Not this year...

After that, who knows? I'd love to get a few 5km runs in there, and a 10km would be amazing. There's also the Edinburgh 2k and Bala 3 mile swims to consider, if I can find the money and the transport. And I know of at least two other places within reach where I can swim open water, it's just a matter of getting there. And that bike's going to see the sunshine at some point, honest. But then, there's Tri-fle Ambitious and Far Too Ambitious....:)