Category Archives: recovery

My mini 10k series

Over the past four weeks I have run three, really quite different, 10k races, and when I say races, I mean runs or more realistically, events. Running is so popular and so mainstream now (and that isn’t a criticism, just an observation) that the opportunity to race and achieve a PB at any big event seems to be limited.

As a sport science student and someone who cares passionately that people should participate in sport I am buoyed by the number of people who take part in these events. Unfortunately, I’m also quite competitive and when I enter, I would like to achieve the best that I can. I have learnt a lesson this summer about what I should realistically think I can achieve.

The first of my three was the Nike Women’s 10k in Victoria Park, London. I love that park, I run through, round and just in it a lot. The waves worked fairly well and when we were catching people on the second lap, runners did move to the side as the race rules suggested and the marshals reminded people. The worst bit was seeing a woman nearly fall as she tried to overtake someone right at the start. It was a heart in mouth moment as she went almost down, but recovered in time to save herself. With so many people crammed together at that point it could have been messy, my adrenaline levels were peaking!

Overall, it was really well organised – apart from the ridiculous warm up at the beginning and the notable shortage of toilets, we’re all girls, more cubicles please! – and a very positive atmosphere. I think I’d do it again, if runners continue to respect the letting people pass guidance and especially if they move it back to the night. Oh, and one of my favourite ever race T-shirts! It is so light and comfortable to wear, hmmm, is that because they want to encourage you to shop at Nike? (It worked, but it’s between me and my credit card!)

Next up was the British 10k, a loopy, u-turny route through central London. I did this event last year, so should have been slightly more realistic and not considered it a PB event. You start in waves, but it’s all mixed up, so if you get to the front of your wave, you get to run at your chosen pace and in space for about two minutes. Then you catch up the back runners from the wave before, then it’s a constant, catch up thing. There’s a lot of weaving in and out. I know that I could have avoided a lot of this if I’d got to the start line really early, but I’m in this awful habit of going to the loo at the the last possible minute! So I accept that it’s my fault that I’m not closer to the start. I enjoyed the route, but didn’t really enjoy waiting for my bag for almost as long as it took me to run! This run is on the top end of expense for what it is so I might not do it again, if I did I’d definitely try to think more about where I am and what is around me and not think about time.

The last of the three was the Newham 10k, billed as #BackToTheStadium as you ran the final 300m on the Olympic track inside the Olympic Park. Having watched that Super Saturday with Mo, Jess, Greg and everyone, the chance to run on that track and experience the Stadium was one not to miss.

It was really hot, there were slightly more inclines than I’d remembered, but it was amazing. There was surprisingly little crowd support along the route but it was fantastic. We started in waves according to our predicted times and it was one lap so the PB potential was high too. It was so exciting to enter the Olympic Stadium, but slightly confusing to discover we had to run round the bowels of the place before finally emerging onto the track. At that point, everything was forgotten.

It was the most amazing feeling to run on that Holy Grail of running tracks. Crossing the finish line was such an incredible high. Follow that up by seeing my family in the crowd and a real roar as you entered the stadium it is definitely on my do again list for next year – I think you can sign up now, must do it today….

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Pants, I’d forgotten the gym sucks

This is a bit of a catch up, not a great week for blogging, but not a bad week for #janathon. Every day, I’ve still had my early morning core/stretch/yoga thing going on, followed by 30 minutes on the bike (mostly in pjs, although a couple of times, I’ve actually got out some proper kit to wear!).

I had a hard physio session on Tuesday, so abandoned my swim and pilates, which was probably the sensible thing to do although it put me in a very bad mood to miss it. (Just ask my partner!)

Thursday was more physio and nothing much allowed over and above the usual until today. I’ve been back in the gym for the first time since I last broke my foot four years ago. And I’d sort of forgotten how much I hate it.

All I was to do – under instruction from my physiotherapist – was 10 minutes on the cross trainer, 3 x 10 sets on the leg press and then a final 10 minutes on the cross trainer.

Ok, sounds straightforward, but no. I got on the cross thingy whatsit and pressed all the buttons, nothing seemed to be happening, so I tried another, then on the fourth a guy behind me advised that you have to move your feet and arms to spark it into action. Huge thanks to him, but why doesn’t just pressing start work? Grrrrr, made me miss running even more.

After getting that sorted, I was supposed to use the leg press, of course none of the things in the gym have a label and it really wasn’t obvious what it was, so I had to find someone to ask. After a 10-minute wait – they really need to employ more people – a really lovely member of staff showed me what it was and what to do and gave me a bit of extra help and advice about my foot.

A final 10 minutes on the cross trainer and then I was free! I headed to the pool as my reward, doh, forgot my bag and had to go back, wasting more time and so ended up only doing 40 lengths, not the 80 I’d hoped for as I’d got my timings all wrong, what with the nonsense in the gym and all. It did remind me how much I enjoy being in the pool more than the gym and running even more.

Still, I’m back in my blogging mojo now so hopefully that’ll get me more motivated to try more in the gym again, even if it’s just so I can use this space to have a big old moan about it. If I’m moaning a lot, that means I’m in the gym a lot right? All good?

Longing for a real bike

After treating myself to a session in the Olympic Pool on Monday, I couldn’t face the local 25m pool yesterday with only one lane given over to swimming, the rest of the pool was filled with lessons. I’d come out of a Pilates class and was going to have a quick swim to refresh myself and stretch out but it was just too busy.

Still, today, I managed my core work, stretching and a bit of yoga, followed by a tougher than usual session on the bike, a 25 minute speed cycle, before cranking up the tension to start increasing my strength.

I’m enjoying doing my cycling at home, in my pyjamas if I need to, catching up on a bit of iPlayer or listening to the radio. This morning I discovered that I can watch a Merlin on Netflix. While all this is very enjoyable, I’m desperate to get out on my ‘proper bike’.

I was back at the physio today and will be again tomorrow, I’m still being told I have to wait a little bit longer to get outside, my balance and strength isn’t quite there yet. I have thought about turning the bike around so it faces outside, but I think that might be more frustrating, watching a lovely sunny, crisp morning while I’m stuck static.

Still, on a positive note, I am definitely getting stronger, and by the time the snow, ice and cold weather disappears and spring arrives, I should be out and about properly, if not quite running, then definitely on my bike.

#janathon is making me stronger, I’m really glad I signed up for the extra motivation.

Making a splash

I can’t believe how ridiculously excited I was this morning knowing that I was going to go for a swim in the London Aquatics Centre – the Olympic swimming pool no less.

It’s been more than a year since I last went for a swim in a 50 metre pool so I was a bit nervous at the thought of stepping up the distance. Then I walked towards the pool and was completely blown away. It was just as impressive as I remembered from watching the Olympics there.

And then, there I was, in that pool seen all over the world, graced by the likes of Rebecca Adlington and Ellie Simmonds. It was a fantastic feeling, the space is filled with lots of natural light which was really uplifting.

My last few swims have been 80 lengths, but I didn’t want to set a target for this, I was just going to enjoy the moment. But then, once I got going and fell into the rhythm, I’d got to 40 before I realised – the equivalent of 80 in my usual pool. I couldn’t leave it there though and splashed out another two lengths.

I had to force myself out of the pool, it was such a treat to swim there, and at just £3 for a session, I’m definitely going back. It’s been my highlight of #janathon so far!

A sneaky peak at (my) normality

Today felt a little bit more like the old pre-break days, which has definitely given me a bit of a lift. I managed to fit in another Pilates class today and followed it with another 80 lengths of the pool. Plus, of course, the usual early morning routine, and I’m still at 25 minutes on the bike (pjs obligatory).

Today’s Pilates was a little harder on my foot, the teacher called for a downward dog, and I behaved like a naughty puppy and refused. Ok, that’s taking it a bit far, but at the moment it just won’t bend that way. I also discovered that I can’t do that side plank thing, I’m sure there’s a proper name, but it’s late on a Friday and I can’t think now.

After this, I was feeling a bit tired, up early to cycle, walked to class, an hour of Pilates, so I ummmed and ahhhed about whether to go swimming. I put my coat and boots back on – easier to carry them downstairs, honest – and got to the pool changing area, where I hung about for a few minutes, procrastinating.

I had a little chat with myself, as you do, and reminded myself that I never regret doing any exercise and as I’m a member and pay whether I swim or not, it doesn’t matter if I only do 10 lengths or two – and anyway, I still needed to have a shower from this morning and now I’ve left the Pilates changing area and moved to the pool, I can’t go back up…

Again, swimming costume on, goggles on, I was having my pre-swim shower – I like to stick to the rules – and contemplated for minute of sneaking straight out again, no one had seen me after all. But then I’d know. So I finally committed. And boy was I glad that I did!

80 lengths later I forced myself out of the pool, with a satisfied smile on my face.

My favourite days pre-break were when I managed to get in an early run, then cycle to yoga, a quick swim and cycle home. Today was a slight twist on that, but almost as good.

The endorphins are still raging!

So, #janathon day 9 summary, strength work, 25 minutes on the bike, hour of Pilates and 80 lengths of the pool. I feel the need to add a big tick.

Just keep swimming….

Back at the physio again today, first thing, so nothing outside the strength work, yoga and pj cycling. Still, time on the bike is now up to 25 minutes, so I feel like I’m getting somewhere and finally breaking into a sweat. I’d forgotten how good it feels!

Another plus is that each day I increase the time on the bike, my right leg muscles hurt the first time, but the second day, it all seems a lot easier, so I must be getting stronger.

Yesterday, I only managed a tweet, but had a good session in the pool. I’ve been doing about 40 lengths, which I didn’t think was too unrealistic to start off with. Then, I felt strong, so thought, ‘why not go for 50?’

I looked around and realised there was only me in the pool, it doesn’t happen very often so I thought I’d go for a mile, I got to 64 and still no one in the pool, then still just me at 70. Two people finally got in at 72, but I just can’t stop when it’s not a round number, I know, don’t ask, so up to 80 it was.

Thought it was time to get out then, no more excuses, plus, I needed the loo, desperately and so I had to get out.

So that’s day seven and eight of #janathon done, after today’s physio session, I’m slightly hopeful of getting maybe one tiny run in before the end of the month!

For the love of Lycra

Well, the big news of the day is that I’ve been back in Lycra, hurray! I’d forgotten just how comfortable my thermal Kalenji running tights are (must check to see if they’ve got a sale on) and to feel properly sporty again. Oh dear, that means I have to admit to doing my exercise bike stints in my pjs, ok, it’s true, but just because it’s been first thing in the morning and I have worn sensible trainers.

I’ve only ever done one Pilates class before, and it was years ago, but the class times didn’t really work for me then so I didn’t make it back. Then in 2014 I became a yoga convert, to the point of being evangelical about it to anyone who would listen and many who had no choice but to.

My physio said it was ok to go back to yoga or Pilates, so I decided that perhaps the latter would be more sensible and I think I made the right decision. There was no real pressure on my foot and very little I felt unable to do. I’m going to stick with it for a bit, I think, I’m definitely not ready for any downward dog or child’s pose yet but getting through a whole hour long class has given me a real lift.

So today, day six, has been my most uplifting #janathon day so far, especially when I add in the two mile walk to the class and back and, of course, 20 mins on the bike (in pjs), a few core exercises and a longer plank.