Morning Running

Our summer is still happening here in Bonnie Scotland! Apart from a day of rain, that everyone moaned like crazy about, we’ve had lovely weather here. As my hubbie has been working throughout the holiday, I’ve been getting up as he leaves for work at about 7:15 am and starting my run then before breakfast. Last night we had a meal at the pub with my folks (the out-laws as my husband calls them) and I knew that I would still have plenty left in the fuel tank!

I’d checked and Jeff wanted a longer run today, about 9km. I chose to run the Bankend road, which follows the shore. It’s quiet, just a bit of traffic, at this time of the day and on a bank holiday. I was well prepared today; SPF50 on my shoulders and neck, water bottle filled to the neck and my Lolo beat synced music. LoLo do an app called Beat Burn which takes your playlist and determines the BPM. I’ve got that playing through my Jeff Galloway app to keep my feet hitting the road at a constant pace. As I headed off Status Quo started the guitar riff of “Caroline”. Perfect.

The pace was measured. It wasn’t slow for me though. I was running fairly hard when I was running especially in the first and last kms. I figured this was good for my strength and endurance so I just went with it. I hit 5km at around 33 minutes.

I met three bikers, all waved and said hi and a bearded hiker with his rucksack and bottle of Lucozade. He said good morning and pointed in the direction of my legs and said something I couldn’t make out. Luckily I was running and so a polite chuckle was enough to see him off. I didn’t meet him on the turnaround though. Can gnomes hike?

The views were just jaw-droppingly gorgeous this morning; it was so clear and crisp. The most beautiful sight though was that of a young deer running parallel to me in the field between me and the shore. The grace as it leapt over the grass was astonishing. If only I could run like that I said to myself.

All of a sudden Jeff started to have a bit of a hissy fit and began to freeze. I restarted him a couple of times and he was OK, but in the end he just crashed and burned and now won’t start up at all! I emailed LoLo to tell them Jeff needed oxygen and to have the crash kart on standby; it doesn’t look good for him, poor guy.

My beat synced music kept me going and when Jeff stopped I’d done my 9km, but I still felt okay and decided I’d just do the full 10. It’s been a wee while since I did 10k and I felt good enough to stroll it. I finished it in 72 mins which is just 3 minutes slower than I managed 10k on the treadmill, this time running steadily and on the road.

There’s more to come from this gal!

Distance: 10.04 km
Run Time: 1:12:03
Average: 7:11 /km
Fastest Pace: 4:26 /km


Buoyed up by all the amazing things my running friends are achieving, I set off early again this morning for a slightly longer run than of late. Still following the Ultimate 5k app, I had checked ahead and saw it was about a 7km run, so I decided to use the Twahats route.

I set off an an easy pace. It felt a little too easy at first, but I know that after half a km my asthma kicks in and makes breathing tough for the next km until my lungs have had a chance to expand. I’ve gotten use to this experience and, no, I really am not going to die.

The app doesn’t really prepare you for what is going to happen, so when Jeff told me it was time for intervals I was a tad shocked. I wasn’t really into my running for the first interval, so I found that tough especially as my breathing hadn’t sorted itself out yet, but after the second interval I was into my stride.

The 400m intervals were punctuated by 2 minute walks. I recovered that well by the end of each walk that half way in I decided to crank up the intervals and did them at 13kph instead of the 10.5 it was asking me to do them at. That felt an altogether better pace and I ran strong through each one.

Obviously the walks and two slower paced sections slowed down my overall pace, so I’m not taking much notice of that. What I was pleased about was that I was running faster without much effort. My fastest pace was 4.03 /km and I had a negative split at 4km out, even with those walks! I ran Runmeter at the same time, mainly because I just don’t trust Jeff’s GPS, and it kept shouting at me that I was behind best and then at 5km I was catching up. I finished behind my best pace on this route, but only just – which is great!

Before I sign off I want to give a big shout out to two running buddies in Australia who tomorrow will be competing in the Wild Horse Criterium. To Steve (33k) and Craig (55k), the very best of luck.

Run Strong, Run Long.

Running into the Shade

I don’t think I’ve mentioned much about the gallery my husband and I are getting ready for opening shortly. It’s been an 18 month project, almost a rebuild, of a Victorian shop in the centre of Dumfries. At times we’ve felt that it would never be finished, but now we’ve actually set an opening date so we are all out to get it finished in time.

Being at the gallery has had a knock on effect for my running. Finding a time to fit it in hasn’t been easy and often that’s why I’ve had to make such a lot of use of Trevor Treadmill. By the time we’ve got back it’s been dark and running on unlit roads is a big no-no. I’m sure you can imagine how long our working days are at the moment. My husband calls the gallery the night-shift and we tend to come home after our day jobs, have something to eat and head straight up to Dumfries, coming home at 9pm. Time for a shower and half an hour’s rest before going to bed! We are living and breathing this wee shop! I know that this won’t be for ever, so I’m happy to put my running on the back burner and just go out when I can.

That doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty, of course, especially when I have a great bunch of incredibly enthusiastic running friends here and on Facebook running enormous distances in superhero times! I have to consciously talk myself down into being a recreational runner who is just doing this for fun. Just a run in the sun, I said on Facebook yesterday. It was like I have to explain why I am running so slowly! Truth is, for me, I’m not running that slowly and I’m not the slowest runner either. My mind is a complicated thing I just have to trick now and again when it’s not looking!

Anyway, back to running!

Fitting my run got even more complicated this week when summer arrived! From frost to blazing sunshine in a day. Ah yes, welcome to Britain! We’ve had a week, so far, of high pressure weather, with no wind at all and high temperatures. Here it’s been in the low twenties centigrade at midday and being pale skinned running for an hour in that is asking for trouble. So my only option has been to either get up out of my cosy, warm bed early or wait until the sun is going down. Well, that’s not much of a choice, bearing in mind what I’ve written above. I have no choice. Getting up out of bed is the only option! I actually love running in the morning. It sets you up for the day. There are fewer people about and less cars. What I don’t like is getting up!

I braved it yesterday though, getting up at 7am (yes, I know, the best part of the day had already gone) and heading out of the door by half past. I met my neighbour getting ready to travel to Yorkshire to see his grandchildren and Nancy walking her two dogs. She was off to Pilates afterwards, telling me how her lower spine was fused and it made it tough to straighten up properly. Nancy, without wanting to be cruel, will be in her 70s and I would say was probably a bit of a handful when she was younger! We talked about me running and she wished me well. It was lovely to have that short catch up time with people who live around me. It’s just a small village, but people can be so insular wherever you live.

I set off with Runmeter clocking my distance and Jeff Galloway drawling away on day 10 of the Ultimate 5k. I have to say, I don’t think I’m improving much. I think I was actually better doing my own thing, but I’ll stick with it! I can’t shortchange Mr G when he’s worked so hard to develop this training plan and, hell, what do I know?

The cool air was punctuated by a rising sun, gathering strength, as I ran down towards the shore. There was a gentle mist hiding the hills and a peaceful stillness in the air. I always have my music on, but turned down enough that I can hear my feet and the birds and the trucks! I set off well, completing my first km in 6:24. My pace picked up on the second km and I was managing 5:06 pace on the straight. I did start to feel tired early on though, which surprised me. This was only a 5km run and I’ve been training way above that. My average pace on the third km was faster, but then I hit the forest.

I’d chosen to do the run I would normally do for 5km, but in reverse. I figured that by the end of the run I’d be hot and running through the shade of the forest would be kinder than running in the sun. Trouble is the forest track is all uphill that way, which I don’t mind, but it zapped me yesterday. My last km was the slowest, but I equalled my fastest pace during it!

That speaks volumes to me. Jeff’s philosophy is that you should be able to run consistently by using walk breaks. Your pace shouldn’t suffer the further you run. My pace was reasonably consistent throughout the run and, if I was on the flat, it would have been until the end I’m sure.

I had hoped to do 5km in around 30 mins, but I was off that pace by a bit. I finished my 30 mins having covered 4.60 km and then forgot to turn off my Runmeter! When I remembered I’d clocked 32:44 mins for 4.65km.

I felt good that I’d fitted my run in. I tried not to say that I’d ‘got it out of the way’ because that’s not how I feel about it. It was in the bag and I was relaxed and happy. Time to live the rest of my day!

Why am I so hard on myself?

Flippin’ heck. I am such a bozo at times. Yesterday I had that tough run on the grass which was meant to give me my mile pace. App malfunction aside I was disappointed with my performance, so I decided today to have another go.

Now a normal person would think OK the grass was wet yesterday, how about running on the road today. Yes, that’s what a normal person would think. Me? No, I don’t think like that. I look at my dogs and think awww bless them, they could do with a run, let’s find the roughest track we can for us all to run together on! So that’s what I did.

The trail I run on is lovely, but it’s been wrecked by the timber lorries. The first section is all loose stones, all lying in wait to turn an ankle. The second section is ankle deep mud that you have to pick your way around and the third section is well rutted wheel tracks that you sort of dance across to find the best surface to run on. Sounds great doesn’t it? By the time I’ve reached the fourth section, which is GREAT, it’s time to turn round and come back…through sections three, two and one!

Needless to say my time was total rubbish! And, to add insult to injury, my GPS wasn’t working properly and said I hit the mile mark long after I actually did. I really don’t know why I bothered timing it at all.

If you believe Mr Galloway I ran 2.78km in 19:43 mins, giving me 7.05min/km pace – which is alright. If you believe my Runmeter information I ran 1.91 km in 16.33 mins, giving me 8.39min/km pace – which is like walking. I think I ran 2.06km (checking Google Maps) in 16:33 mins, giving me 8.02min/km pace, somewhere in the middle.

Whichever it is, next time I do this ON THE ROAD!

Now check that time y’all

When I was heading out for my run this morning I started planning this blog post. I decided I would charm you with my list of things I like to take with me on a run, even a short run like today’s.

That all changed when I got down to the playing field.

It’s been really wet here for the last few days and I decided against taking the dogs into the forest. Last time I was down there it had been dry for weeks and still the paths were muddy. It would have been a doggie disaster if I’d taken the pair of them there. So I opted for the less interesting playing field which consists of a field about the size of two football pitches with, funnily enough, a football pitch in the middle. There’s also a bowling green for the wrinklies and some playground equipment that no one under the age of 15 seems to use.

Jeff Galloway told me cheerily that today’s run was going to be a mile time trial and that if I added 30 seconds on to the mile time that would give me my 5k pace. Great. I was ready for this. He said to stop after a mile and check my time. I had the GPS on the app, so I assumed that once a mile was up he would shout “Stop! Now check that time y’all” in his southern US drawl. Like heck he did!

I set off well, but after a few metres my Nikes started to fill up. The grass was really long (for a footie pitch) and really wet and I felt as if I was wading rather than running. My thoughts of securing a great time started to slip away. I ran on regardless, although it was tough going. I didn’t bother checking my distance because, like I said, I was rather expecting Jeff to do that for me! Eventually I looked (you know when you start thinking surely I’m not that bloody slow!) and I’d done over 2k – way past my mile mark. I was shattered. That had been the point of the run and I’d missed it.

I completed the almost 3k in 18 minutes. At least I know my pace was 6 minutes per kilometer. Spot on for a 30 minute 5k. I hope that running on something more forgiving than grass will give me a faster time. In fact, I’m that pissed I might just hop on the treadmill and try again knowing exactly how far I’ve run!

Back in Black

AC/DC is actually one of my favourite bands and I have quite a few of their tracks on my running playlist, but this post isn’t about Aussie rock bands. No, no.

I last ran a week ago and then real life kicked in. I can’t help it, especially at the moment. My adoring and adorable husband and I bought a small shop in the metropolis that is called Dumfries just over a year ago and we’ve been restoring and renovating it ever since. The shop will open in May and be my new studio and gallery! It’s incredibly exciting and incredibly time consuming, leaving me grasping at tiny bits of precious time.

We took a few days off this weekend and spent them at Coniston, in the Lake District. It’s fantastic walking country and we walked we did. The hills certainly worked my muscles, so I didn’t feel quite so guilty about not having time to run.

Today I got back to it, dressed in black, well apart from my pink compression socks. You get the picture – back in black! The workout comprised of speed intervals over 5.8k, each interval being 400m. It was great to be running again and the intervals were just what I needed to blow some cobwebs away.

Oh, nearly forgot….

Sunshine? Time for fake tan and sunscreen.

The sun has found its way to Scotland. It was meant to be here a few weeks ago, but got lost somewhere over the south of France. Damn those pesky Frenchies.

I will be out running later, but I have more serious matters on my mind – my legs.

Despite being English, I might as well be a Scot. I am a red-haired, freckled skinned lassie who turns pink and blisters at the slightest hint of sunshine! I am a lot better now than I was as a kid, but sun protection is a biggie for me; I’ve learnt from too many bad experiences how much sunburn hurts and scars.

I started running in three-quarter leggings a few weeks back. As most of my leggings are black and most of my socks are also black, my wee white legs certainly look WHITE in between them! People have to turn away from the glare! So it’s time to hit the fake tan before I smother the sunscreen on!

I hate fake tan, I have to admit. It smells, it goes all streaky and everyone knows it’s fake, but what choice do I have? I have been toying with the idea of getting a professional spray tan, but that only lasts for a week tops and that makes it an expensive option. So supermarket streaky legs it is.

If I’m brave enough I’ll post a piccie to show how badly I’ve applied said streak. I’ll try not to be as bad as this!

The Ministry for Silly Walks and My Beating Heart

Today I treated myself to a heart rate monitor. I’ve been looking at these for a while and haven’t been really sure if I needed one, so I bought one from Lidl (my favourite cheap but not rubbish shop) for under 15 quid, just in case it wasn’t really what I needed!

To sum it up it has:

– Easy-to-read LCD display
– Wireless chest strap
– Current, average and max. heart rate
– Stopwatch
– Time, timer, calendar, alarm and hour chime
– Pedometer and kilometre/miles counter
– BMI calculator and calories/fat burnt display
– Water-resistant
– With bike mount
– 3 year manufacturer’s warranty

The bumph said it was “A precise training aid to help monitor your performance” and that my “heart rate is wirelessly transmitted from chest strap to watch.” Impressive for £14.99 (GBP)

I strapped the chest band on (quite where to put it when you have a bust and the picture in the guide is of a bloke I wasn’t sure, but I managed!) It picked up my heart rate immediately at it settled around the 55 bpm mark. As I started my run the bpm raced up to 193, which was quite alarming to see! However, I was really interested to see it settle at 2km in as I started to find my groove. It averaged 127 which was ok I think. It gave me a percentage reading which for most of the run was well above 80%. From what I’ve read before I think that should be lower for fat burning; maybe it will be on longer runs.

First time using it, it was fine. It did what it said it would without much sorting out.

My run was fine too. Sadly the weather has taken a turn for the worse here. We’ve had some real torrential rain and high winds for the last few days and visibility, my main concern, isn’t good. If I was running on paths, pavements and sidewalks that would be fine, but I’m not; I’m running on the open road. So, for safety’s sake, I opted for the treadmill.

I wore my compression socks again, despite what happened last time because I checked them out and they are definitely running socks. I also wore compression shorts – I decided that if they made a real good job of compressing everything, I’d wear them forever! They were good, but not that good!

My run was absolutely fine, so I’ve no idea why I struggled with the socks last time. Just a coincidence maybe?

I did, however, have a crack at the dynamic stretches, briefly turning my house into the Ministry for Silly Walks. How I’ll manage that in the wide open nakedness that is the outdoors, I don’t know! I did feel loosened off more than usual, which may have contributed to the general feeling of well-being as I ran my 5 and a bit km.

Post Script: Comparing the data from my treadmill, iPhone and the HRM the HRM is spot on for distance accuracy which really surprised me. I’m hoping that if it’s that good for distance it will be that good for everything else.

Dynamic Stretches

My Aussie mate Steve Beck (follow his blog here Becksercise) commented on one of my posts and mentioned the dynamic stretches he does. I was intrigued. I’m one of the no-stretch-before-exercise gang, but that only applies the damaging static stretches. These I keep for post run. Usually all I do to warm up is to walk and then start off slow.

These dynamic stretches are designed to give a better range of movement, warm up the muscles and also raise the cardio-vascular rate prior to starting running. It’s something I haven’t really done, although I do some of the Chi Running warm ups which are similar.

In my internet search (according to my husband I Google everything) I found this video by Runner’s World. If you have better examples, please let me know!

Swing one leg out to the side, then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg. Repeat 10 times on each side. Feel wobbly? Hold onto a steady object.

While standing tall, walk forward with an exaggerated backswing so that your heels come up to your glutes. When this is easy, try it while jogging. Do 10 reps on each side.

Get in a “pike” position (hips in the air). Put your right foot behind your left ankle. With your legs straight, press the heel of the left foot down. Release. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Lift your left leg up, bending the knee so it points out. Try to tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand without bending forward. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Keeping your back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes. Advance this by adding a skipping motion. Do 10 reps on each side.

Step forward using a long stride, keeping the front knee over or just behind your toes. Lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight.