Me Vs. Hills

I admit it, I plan my running routes to avoid hills.

All well and good if the upcoming race you are training for avoids hills too…

Alas, mine doesn’t. In fact, there is a pretty mammoth hill to climb to get to the finish line. Bummer!

It’s not like I totally avoid hills altogether – actually I’d go as far as to say that I enjoy doing Tabata hill sprints on the treadmill (is that weird?!). Deep down though, I know that it isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, Tabata hill sprints make for an extremely sweaty workout and I will definitely continue to do them. But it’s just not the same as having to climb a ‘never ending’ hill in the middle of a 10k race.

With only 10 days til Race Day, this morning Gym Buddy and I figured it might be a good idea to pull our heads out of the sand and drag ourselves up some hills.

The changing of clocks has made the mornings dark again so getting up has been a struggle. To make matters worse, it is still bitterly cold and windy out. Had I had sensed even the teeniest tiniest droplet of rain, I think I would have been back under the duvet in a flash!

With our brains still in bed (it was 06:50AM !) we couldn’t come up with a decent 10k route which incorporated some hills, so instead we did a couple of loops around a shorter route. The main hill is a particularly long and nasty one. The sort where the peak seems to be an ever moving target, like trying to find the end of a rainbow. The gradient eases but never seems to level off entirely. And worst of all, when you do finally get to the top it doesn’t offer the relief of an instant downhill.

We conquered it twice despite a bit of resistance from my usually patient left knee. However, I can’t exactly say that we had as much fun as usual. Instead of constant chatter and laughter along the way, all I could hear was some poor soul gasping for breath…Oh, that was me.

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

When I arrived home , my skin was stinging an attractive shade of red from the cold. So I warmed up with a tasty bowl of Chocolate & Raspberry porridge. Note to self, next time – add more chocolate!

Enough moaning, it’s time to man up. Next week the aim is to complete 3 loops.

Runners out there – do hills ever get any easier?

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Me Vs. Wind

Nope, not that sort.

Sorry to disappoint all the fans of toilet humour out there (I’m definitely one of them) – this post has absolutely nothing to do with flatulence (I thought I’d at least give you something there!)

Here in Blighty the weather at the moment is pants. Think snow, ice, grey skies, cold and arctic wind and you are almost there. Spring has definitely not sprung. Unfortunately, with only just over 2 weeks until I will be taking part in a 10k race, the training must go on.

Morning runs the past few weeks have taught me that even at -2 you will soon warm up after the initial ‘AAAHHHHHHHHH It’s FREEEEEEZING!!!!!!!’ panic. So, when I woke up feeling quite sprightly this morning (AMAZING for a Tuesday!)  I decided to brave the weather once more and go for a quick 5k run before my regular Circuit Training class  at 7:30AM.

What I was not prepared for, was the wind.

It felt like I was trying to run through a force field. A force field which  steals your breath with it’s icy fingers. A force field which whips through your leggings and makes your skin sting.

I battled on, clinging to the hope that when I turned around, I’d be able to comfortably ride the wind all the way back. Why then, when I changed direction to head back towards the gym, did the wind decide to change direction too?!!!

The only thing that kept me going was the realisation that if I stopped running, I would be colder still AND it would take me even longer to get back. So I carried on, as fast as my stinging legs would carry me.

So I guess what I’m getting at here is that, wind is a bitch. No doubt about it. But, on the bright side, once you are out there it is also one hell of a motivator to run home as hard as you can!

Me Vs. Stretching

I hate stretching.

I also hate how terribly inflexible I am.

Yep, I can see the correlation there.

There are only two occasions when I actually stretch:

  1. When I am forced to ie. in a group exercise class.
  2. When it is already too late. ie. when I wake up the day after a tough workout and discover that I can’t sit on the toilet without wincing.

I’ve always envied the yoga babe / dancer types who can bend their slender limbs every which way with grace and ease. I on the other hand, can barely touch my toes. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. Not only that, any attempts at deep stretches usually leave me not so gracefully grunting and grimacing.

I’m sure that my flexibility, like any other area of fitness, could be improved if I were just to put the training in. So why don’t I?

Well, there are a few reasons:

  1. I’m bad at it (I realise this is a stupid reason, but I’m sure some of you will be able to relate to the fact that doing things you are no good at is not fun!)
  2. It hurts.
  3. It’s boring.
  4. It takes too long (30 seconds for each stretch, psshhhhh!)
  5. I just don’t like it, alright?!

So why do I suddenly feel like this needs to change?

Last week, after I completed the workout mentioned here, my gym buddy warned me that I should stretch afterwards. Do you know what I said?

“Pah, stretching is for wimps. I never stretch, I’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t fine. Turns out, 100 dead lifts in one session really gets those hamstrings screaming.

Thursday morning when we met for our 10k run, I was struggling, whilst she smiled the whole way.

It wasn’t just the hamstrings in the end either, other little niggles were beginning to appear here and there.  Running 6 miles in the rain at 07:00 is bad enough already without tight hamstrings, a dodgy ankle and a twinge in your knee. After 53 minutes of listening to me moaning, Gym Buddy informed me that all the little aches and pains I was experiencing were probably connected to the fact that my leg muscles are too tight. Makes sense really!

I hate the thought of  getting an injury, especially as we all know that on the days when you can’t run, the sun shines brightly and there is a gentle breeze in the air (also known as my PERFECT running conditions!)

All of this got me thinking, maybe stretching isn’t just for wimps after all…

So here is my pledge:

  1. I will make time to stretch thoroughly after every workout.
  2. I will use the evil foam roller after every run.
  3. I will never say that stretching is just for wimps ever again. Promise.

I won’t blame you if you don’t believe me, taking into account my most recent promise and subsequent failure. But trying and failing is better than never trying at all!

Me Vs. Tuesdays

In my book, Tuesday’s are the worst day of the week.

Sure, Mondays aren’t exactly ideal (especially if you’ve had a heavy weekend) but they do have their perks. The way I see it, the week goes something like this:

Monday – A fresh start to the week. The perfect day to start a new project or get back on track with an existing one. Everyone at work is chattering about what they got up to at the weekend. Monday’s at work always seem to whoosh by.

Wednesday – The half way mark. About now, people start to plan things for the next weekend.

Thursday – The day before Friday. Once you have got yourself to work, you can tell yourself that you only have to get up just once more. Hooray!

Friday – Well, it’s Friday! Everyone seems to be in a good mood, you may have fun plans for the evening, or just be looking forward to a night on the sofa with [insert desired vice here.]

Then we are left with Tuesdays. What happens on a Tuesday? Nothing. Nada.  The past weekend is long gone, the next weekend is still an eternity away. Everyone is a bit grumpy, including ME.

When I arrive at the gym on a Tuesday morning, I pretty much always say the same, totally nonsensical thing to my gym buddy….

” Lets do something where we don’t have to move too much.”

By this I mean no ski jumps, no running, no squat thrusts and NO burpees. Usually, I like to reserve Tuesday’s for strength training. Slow (but painful!) movements seem to work the best.

Today however, I had to do a little more moving than I’d usually like. My gym buddy had heard about a workout challenge that people at our gym had been attempting to do within 30 minutes. Here it is in case anyone wants to give it a go!

  • 800m Rowing
  • 50 Press Ups
  • 50 Sit Ups
  • 50 Squats
  • 20 Bent Over Rows
  • 800m Rowing
  • 50 Dead lift into Clean and Push Press
  • 50 Dead lifts
  • 50 Shoulder Presses
  • 800m Rowing

I managed it 27 minutes and 24 seconds.

For about 10 minutes I was able to enjoy my post workout rush. Then I remembered that it was Tuesday and I still had to run home and wash my hair before work (you don’t know this yet, but I have a lot of hair!) That’s when in true Tuesday style, it all started to go wrong. My knee randomly started hurting so I was forced to walk home, leaving me even less time. I limped through the door and thought I’d whip up a quick protein shake for breakfast. Somehow, despite the lid being on, my shake ended up all over the worktop!! I salvaged enough for a small glass then hopped upstairs for a shower. In my haste to lather my hair up as speedily as possible, I knocked the entire shelf of shampoos, shower gels (and most worryingly my razor!) down onto my head. I rushed out of the house with slightly damp (if you’re in the UK today then you understand that this is made worse by how ridiculously cold it is!!!!) totally frizzy hair and no make up and made it to work just 1 minute late. Sat down at my desk to tuck into an orange…dropped it on the floor, bent down to pick it up and hit my head on my desk.

For all the reasons above, I am now going to DEMOLISH the last Carrot Cupcake from this weekend’s bake off… (told you my cake coma wouldn’t last long didn’t I?!)

How is your Tuesday going? What is your worst day of the week?

Tough Mudder

Last week,  my gym buddy and fellow cake loving friend suggested we take on the ‘Tough Mudder’ challenge together in June. The event in fact falls on her birthday, a factor which would likely deter most normal folk.  Well, not her. Her motivation was simple – once we had finished the 12 mile obstacle course, we could freely eat MOUNTAINS of cake, because we would have earned it.

This theory sounded right up my street and whilst in a daze – which I part attribute to dreaming of the sugary buttery goodness of birthday cake and part attribute to being mid way through a set of burpees – my initial and somewhat flippant response between gasping for air was – sure, OK!

Arriving home from my workout,  I announced my plan to the man in my life, and even suggested he should join us. His instant reaction – no thanks.

WHY NOT I ask??!!! It will be fun! We can eat lots of guilt free cake afterwards! And after a long pause….It can’t be that bad, can it?!!

I grab the laptop,  head to http://toughmudder.co.uk/ and scan through the website whilst he sits watching me. The 12 mile distance doesn’t phase me too much, I completed a half marathon last October, with relatively little pain. But then I stumble across the ‘Obstacles.’ Fire Walker. Ice Baths. Electric Shocks. Mud Mile. Trench Warfare. I needn’t go on.

My panic is interrupted by a text message…

Gym Buddy:         “Sooooo excited about Tough Mudder now!”

Me:                          “Look on the website.”

5 minutes pass before my phone flashes up with a reply.

Gym Buddy:           “OH CRAP!”

Turns out we were both us unaware as each other about what Tough Mudder actually involved. Now, I’ve done some crazy things in my time to justify eating too many sweet treats, but for me, this is one step too far. So we, ahem,  wimped out came up with a compromise! We’re going to download all of the workouts from the website, and from now until June we’re going to train as if we are going to be participating,  but come that date in June, the only thing we’ll be doing together is eating cake.

Now that’s my kind of compromise!

Has anyone out there completed a Tough Mudder?