Saturday, 31 December 2011


For the past year I have been revealing a daily quotation from a calendar which a good friend gave me for Christmas. Each day I have been reminded of not only her, but how life is sometimes too complicated, or too busy, to 'this' or too 'that'. Here are a select few of those quotations that I've kept for posterity, because they mean something to me:

"Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind."
Zen saying

"Even dust can become a mountain." 
Japanese proverb

"It is imperative to base your life on yourself, to take responsibility for you own happiness." 
Josei Toda

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." 

"Turn your face to the sun and shadows will only fall behind you." 
Asian proverb

"Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk. Just live your dream."
Dalai Lama

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow." 
Mahatma Gandhi

"The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention." 
Japanese proverb

"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."
Matsuo Basho


My year has been full of change. I left the safety and comfort of a good job to set up a business with Tim. Not only that, but we left the familiar surroundings of London, my place of residence for 11 years and Tim's for 5+. I say place of residence as London was never home for either of us. I know we had good times there, I know life wasn't always grim, but it never had that 'I'm home' feeling when you returned from a trip away.

So with bags packed we moved north to Glossop. Our new life began at the start of April. Now, about 9 months later what can I say? Life is good. Our business is growing (sports & remedial massage) and we're still excited by it. I'd go as far as saying we're passionate about it. We have a good social life, both now members of Glossopdale Harriers, Tim also in Glossop Kinder Velo. Best of all, we have Kinder and Bleaklow as our back garden. What more could you need?

I feel so much more content with life now. I feel I have purpose and a real desire to keep moving forwards.


Sometimes the view is clear... 

...and sometimes it's not.

Either way, the area fails to let us down and keeps enticing and seducing us back out there to explore it's popular spots and hidden corners.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Peak 'O' Trial

My first race since moving to Glossop was chosen and the day arrived. In reality I only decided to run it just before Christmas and got to the Grouse thankful that the heavy rain of early morning had stopped. My plan was to just get all 5 checkpoints on the short course and finish. No aspirations to get in the top whatever, just enjoy myself. Registration dealt with and number pinned on leggings.

My race number
 My start time was 10:04, leaving in the second wave of starters. With just 2 minutes to study the map I was pleased to see I knew more or less where my first chosen checkpoint (CP) (#5 - you could get them in any order) was. "Off you go" shouted Gordon....and off I went. Up towards Monks Road, right and along until a track left....I leapfrogged up this track with Mrs Stagger and Helen who were doing the long course together. I knew where the stile was at Knarrs farm and was the first over....around the field and over the stile then after a short search I found my first ever checkpoint. What to do now? Luckily Mrs Stagger and a few others were upon me immediately and pointed out that there were boxes at the bottom of the map - thank you!  Clip. and off.

CP#3 was my next target in a clockwise direction that I'd chosen. Not that I'd made much of a decision at the start about the route I was taking! I knew the first couple of fields then after that I was on unknown territory - good nav practice for me. I came upon another runner who said the scale of the map was too small for him - for me it just fine. Not having run any other orienteering courses I've never used any other scale maps than 1:25k. Up past Rocks Farm onto Cown Edge. The other runner found the flag only a few seconds before I would have seen it and very helpfully shouted to me where it was. Clip. and off.

Now a long run round Coombes Edge....and a windy one too. I was being buffeted and nudged by the wind all the way down to CP#2. A lovely grassy run down - I'll be going there again. Then a bit of cautious heather bashing above the quarry - I didn't want to charge over the top of it. The same runner from #3 clipped just 30secs before me so saved a drawn out search in the quarry. Clip. and off.

But now where to go. I'd not had a chance to study where I was going to go so just climbed out of the quarry and pondered whether to run up the road from just north of the quarry or back to the path, joining the road further up. The nearer section of road had 2 of those 'very steep' markers on it so I took the path back eastwards joining the road higher up. CP#1 was my next target after the slog up the road. Whichever direction I was running the wind was straight into my face making breathing for me quite difficult. I pushed on, forcing myself to do a short run then walk, just about keeping in touch with another runner who'd passed me back where I'd joined the road. Left and past the house that's not marked on the map! Over the fields towards Whiteley Nab. I knew this bit so didn't need to study the map at all. Past the trees then down the north side of the Nab, then a bit of faffing trying to find CP#1 at the well....I dropped lucky again. I was in the right place but hadn't quite gone down far enough when two chaps searching for the CP found shouted waved "it's here" to his mate, bent over and clipped.....I beelined for it and ran both feet straight into the boggy well. Great. I'd had dry feet up until that point. Oh well, mudclaws aren't meant to be clean and shiny. Clip. and off.

Now for the best line to CP#4. My last CP. I felt pleased to have got this far and feel fairly ok. My time was over an hour so 1.30hr may just be feasible....perhaps. Not that I was too bothered, but under 1.30 would be nice. I contoured round on the path, making sure I didn't drop down to Herod Farm...then used the long wall above Chunal to handrail me to the southerly point. I had a suspicion where the CP would be - secret local knowledge of Des' favourite spot on that hill - it proved right. What I didn't know was how to get there precisely from above it.  I floundered a bit in the marshes north of the wall and got a tad distracted by a male runner heading into the clough until the voice of Tim came back to me...'ignore all other runners - run your own race'. Good advice. I went to where I thought the wall dropped off down the hill and it turned out good - over the wall and jumped almost straight onto the CP. Clip. and off.

And down - not my favourite, and my least comfortable part of fell running. I realised that if I were better at running downhill I could break 1.30hr but it was not to be today. After pushing up the grassy field and over the gate I managed only a few short running sections. My legs were tired and heavy. The wind was bothering me more than I should have let it, but my lungs were complaining. I force another short run on the road, walk a bit in the layby and then run the last 20m to the Grouse (can't finish walking!). I'm finished. yey. and I got all 5 CPs. 1:32:26 was my recorded time and 10.82km (6.72miles). Best of all I was first lady on the short course, but only just - I was apparently only 10 seconds faster than the next lady. That'll do nicely. My first win as a Glossopdale Harrier.

CP order: 5-3-2-1-4 (6&7 were for the long course)
A few things to note. I had incredibly cold feet for at least the first 2km. It puzzled me until they'd warmed up, or when I stopped noticing it. I'd been inside until only 5 mins before I started and they couldn't have gotten so cold so quickly. What I now realise is my shoes were still wet from running up Win Hill on Monday so the cold wind just whipped into them. I also had cold hands but had deliberately set off without gloves to stop faffage with map, compass and at CPs. As usual, my hands warmed up within 10 mins. Back at the pub I noticed my hand was aching from gripping onto the map so tightly. I didn't want to lose it in the wind. Must practice that a bit to get used to it. I feel like I could have run bits faster, or run more than walking had the wind been less. That's the joy of fell running. Even though I set out to do my own thing I can see how it's hard not to get competitive when you see another runner heading the direction as you. I was certainly pulled on and pushed myself harder because of people just up ahead of me than if I'd been running alone. Must get my Glossopdale Harriers vest for my next race.

Thanks to Des et al for organising the race, and to the Grouse for their hospitality, delicious soup and cakes. The log fire was most welcomed when I got back. Good to see familiar and new faces too.

Here's my garmin track if you're here and Tim's blog if you've not already seen it.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Headtorch Horrors

Upon deciding I need to run with the club lots next year came the realisation that either a) some of those runs will need to be in the dark, or b) I'll have to run more often during the lighter summer nights. And herein is a dilemma for me: I've never run in the dark before, well never off road anyway. I've barely done any hill walking at night - the views after all are a large part of why I walk or run so darkness makes that a somewhat pointless exercise.

Now I'm a fully paid up member of the Glossopdale Harriers I was a little excited by the prospect of a winter solstice run. So my hopes were that there might be a large turn out - I donned running gear and set off with Tim to join the head torch gang. My plan B was to do a little solo night navigation/off road running by head torch to see how I got on with it. Secretly I had hoped for a few members to take me under their wing and do a short but equally enjoyable easy night run. It wasn't to be. The 10 club members consisted of most of the fast way was I going to keep up with them so plan B it was to be for me.

The guys (I was the only lass that had turned out) headed up to Kinder Downfall via Kinder low end and were then descending somewhere west of the fall to the reservoir. For me, I took a steady run up the track to the reservoir and then turned left to the white cabin. Nothing too far - no need to be ambitious on my first dark run. I had darkness and navigation to deal with, so my aim was to break myself in gently.

The gate at the bottom of the cobbles was held open by a Pennine runner...most kind, thank you sir....I think he thought I was one of their stragglers, though stating my name didn't bring any recognition....just thanks from him that I'd given him a reason to have a pause from running.

At the top of the cobbles I got the map out....heading to the cabin was a new route for me and although easy in daytime I wanted to ensure I was on the right path. My map was an a4 photocopy which also added to the challenge - all black and white didn't help easy recognition of features so more time was spent ensuring I had the right black line and the wall I was following was the wall on the map, if you get my meaning. Note to self....take the full colour map next time!

Before heading up the hill I turned my light out and looked east....not much moonlight, cloud base above Kinder Scout, features easily recognised and yep, that's the guys over there I can see, about 8 or 9 lights bobbing up and down. They're making great progress along the edge towards Red Brook.

Returning to my run I follow the path upwards and diagonally across the slope....I'm now totally alone....and in total darkness apart from the beam from my head torch. It was quite mesmerising and surreal. My only night running prior to this run has been on road, without a torch on well (or fairly well) lit roads. This was a totally new experience. When I say run, what I mean is walk. The path was a fairly boggy, leaf sodden path  mixed in with plenty of ankle twisting rocks. I have no idea how anyone can run on this stuff. OK so it's uphill, and I'd more than likely be walking anyway...but run, no way. My body and head resist.

At the same time as my physical struggle I have an inwardly building psychological battle happening. I'm a good distance from the nearest dwelling. I have no real or logical concerns that a malicious person is about to jump out on me and harm me. Yet at the same time I have a nervousness growing that isn't settling. Now I'm really laying my heart out there for you all. I'm sure I can't be the only person who has some reservations about being out there, alone, in the darkness. It is all encompassing. It is totally irrational and I know that. Yet this inner voice plays cruel tricks on me. I fight it, it fights back, I refuse to give in.

I push myself to go on. Push myself to climb higher and further away from the 'saftey' of the car park at Bowden Bridge. I just have to get to the cabin. That's where I said I was going and that's where I shall go.

I work out the confusion of paths and look in the direction of the cabin, and sure enough, there it is about 200ft from where I'm standing. It's here that the voice inside my head which is saying irrational things takes hold and I chicken out completely from walking the final bit up to the cabin....I turn down hill, check the map so the confusion of paths is clear for the return leg and retreat downwards. A strange relief comes over me when I reach the familiar path and cobbles. I pause and ponder whether to head uphill instead of back to the car, knowing the lads will be at least 30-45mins behind me, and knowing what will turn out to be about 4km won't be long enough. Nope, I can't face another heebie-jeebie moment so it's down for me.

Back at the car I'm annoyed and disappointed I haven't done a better run, though realistically I can't figure out how I could have run any more in the dark...head torch beam bobbing, unstable ground underfoot and my lack of experience off road don't add up to a good combination. I need to build up to night running gradually. I know I'll have ages to wait if I just stop now so I run down the road towards Hayfield, back to the car, and then up the other lane for a bit and then settle in to wait for the others to get off the hill.

I've about 30 minutes to wait in the end....plenty of time to ponder my efforts and work out a strategy for how to throw the demons out of my head. I reduce it down to a couple of things...start short, start on familiar ground, and start with a bit of company. I've already lined up the latter so the first two will be easily dealt with. That said, if anyone has any tips on how to run in the dark I'd be most grateful. Essentially I guess it just boils down to experience and more time on the hill.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Strength training

It's been a while since I wrote about my training down at the S&P gym...I got a bit caught up in the fun of it all, and then got ill - starting with a cold that developed into a chest infection and wiping me out for a good 3 weeks totally, and then took another 2 weeks of lighter sessions. I've started a new training programme for the coming month and I'm most excited about it. I felt ready to train today, and excited about doing body weight chin ups - 4 sets of 2. I actually surprised myself and did all 4 sets. Brilliant. It really is very satisfying to see the progress I've made since I started back in July. Back then I was doing chins with the assistance of 2 massively strong giant rubber bands....and struggling to do 4 sets of 8. I can now do (or did last Thursday) 4 sets of 8 with the smallest band.  When I do my body weight sets I always warm up using the strongest band for 3 or 4 reps...doing that today just felt easy. I guess you can work out I'm quite chuffed with my progress!!

Session #1 - Mondays

Session #2 - Thursdays

I was told by Coach Keefe today that my 'finishers' (the metabolic training which comes after these sessions) will be stepped up a gear in the new be honest, I think I've been getting off a bit lightly with them. Maybe I've hidden that fact a bit, but there's no hiding anymore.

I also need to write down my goals (aspirations) for Coach Keefe - that way my training will be more focused and assist me to get to where I want to be....out in the hills running!!

Glossopdale Christmas Social

Yesterday was my second ever club run with the Glossopdale Harriers, and it was to be a fun one. Saturday morning brought a covering of snow, maybe an inch at best by home. But yesterday was much better.

Tim as camera man
It was the club social - a morning run and and afternoon of merriment, awards ceremony and socialising. I thought I'd make the effort to get out with the club given that I'm joining in a few weeks. I was disappointed Mr Budd couldn't join us due to his phantom toe injury but I'd announced I was going so run I did. It was strange though, him holding the camera and me running off up the track. Tables turned for once. Or so I thought.

Path up to Spring Cabin above Mossy Lea

It was also strange running on the white stuff....a new experience for me. Our route took us from Old Glossop up to James Thorn, a route I know well. The stony track was not totally snow covered, in parts a river was flowing down it so careful foot placement on the way up was called for - I didn't want icy cold feet at the start of a 2 hour snow run. That'd be daft. The track soon disappeared into fog and the run took on an eerie feeling as leaders in front and those behind me were fuzzed out of sight.

After a couple of regroups we all made it to the pond below James Thorn. We then split into A and B groups - the snow was making running a challenge to say the least and it's good for moral if the slower runners don't feel like they're holding back those that were bestowed with mountain hare genes at birth. It was here that a strange creature in mountaineering boots, crampons, walking sticks and a big rucksack came charging up the hill.....yey, Tim was chasing us. What a surprise, though I'd secretly thought he might do just that. I know he was utterly gutted not to be out running, so having done a few short walks in hard boots he'd discovered it didn't especially bother his toe injury.

Footsteps in the snow
So, with Tim joining the B group we turned northwards and into a icy blast of wind. I quickly discovered the jacket I'd borrowed from Tim wasn't windproof, as I'd I slipped on my Montane smock and was happily getting cosy again.

A few of the B group  heading north towards Dowstone Clough

It's here the terrain turned interesting. We'd been following a trod already flattened by the rest of the group, but now the 6 of us were route finding over peat groughs and into snow drifts - lots of fun, if a little hard going. There's no path anyway, so it really is just a matter of trying to find the best line. A brief stop was made very merry by the warming hip flask containing blackberry vodka, thanks to Tim for carrying that!  
Gladly the fog lifted and we were rewarded for our efforts with amazing views, the sun warming us a little, and sightings of a few real mountain hares who were disturbed from their snow holes by us.

Me in the blue jacket....attempting to stay upright!
Over the top of Dowstone Clough we now turned west and were soon at Dog Rock and without any delay we were swallowed up by the rest of the group who'd been up to Higher Shelf trig. I should have mentioned before, some of the club had turned up in fancy dress - most amusing. The image of a nun (John H) chasing a man in a kilt (John S) down Yellowslacks will stay with me for quite a while.

The A group running towards Yellowslacks
A brief chat ensued after the two groups had fully become one again then it was off...and off at a pace too. I've never run in snow before, not really walked in it much to be honest, so this was all a very new experience for me. So far I'd managed to keep up with the group...well the slower ones anyway. Now it was different. As soon as the slope took on a decent degree of downwards slope the whole lot of em were way I was keeping up so I slowed and walked the last bit.

Looking towards Glossop from Yellowslacks
How they managed to all stay upright running down Lightside is beyond me, but it did look fun! When I got to the track they'd all gone! I expect they thought I was walking off with Tim but he could have easily run down even in boots and crampons, it was I that was the slower one, I that didn't know how to run down a steep slope in snow, I that was scared of falling over and hurting myself. I'll work on that one - it's surely a mental battle I need to overcome. Still, some guidance or support on that final bit would have been good.

So, off home to shower and change then over to a club members house for an afternoon of good food, various homemade beverages and lots of socialising. There was also the awards ceremony for the club, which this year included a few new trophies, including best newcomer ...and that award goes to Tim...well done. Now he's got a trophy for the mantelpiece and is a happy lad.

As I wrote in my Aspirations blog I plan to join the Glossopdale Harriers....we I have done just that. Paid my dues yesterday and will be obtaining the club vest very soon. More thoughts and ponderings on running with a club will no doubt follow.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Aspirations for 2012

I'm not really one for making new years resolutions, but my thought process on how my training is progressing, how my running is going and my overall fitness has been on my mind for a few months. With the gains I've seen from my training at Strength & Performance I feel much more confident about how much I can push myself (or how much I should be pushing myself), and to gain clarity for the coming year I've decided to make some written notes about my aspirations for the year.

In 2012 I plan to run more. To achieve this very vague aim I shall be joining the Glossopdale Harriers (the local running club) and intend to join the club training runs at least twice a month. I'm not sure this is a realistic aim...just because life doesn't tend to include fixed things at regular times, so, we'll see how it goes. I was a little apprehensive of going running with the club after I'd been out with them once back in May this year. Coming from a very sporadic (at best) running background around the streets of London it was a fairly challenging 10.4km run that took me nearly 2 hours. Now I've done more running, and particularly more running off road, I think it's time I started to get on with it more seriously.

My backyard. Just waiting to be explored.
I also intend to run a few (some, no specific number or target) fell races. I received the FRA fixtures calendar yesterday and have highlighted all the local races - noting there are very few short ones!! I fully intend to have some fun, share conversations with other plodders at the back of the pack and generally immerse myself in the fell running community properly (rather than from behind the camera lens). Actually, I should set myself a number, just so I don't slack off too much.

In addition to just running more, I'd like to build up my distance. This is partly because my reasons for running in the hills years ago was so I could travel further in the same time. Walking in the hills just felt too slow, so it was good to stick in some jog-shuffle sections and travel a few kilometres more than on just a walk. Since moving to Glossop I've possibly lost a little of that exploration factor, but I intend to get it back. So far I seem to manage about an hour or 10km run. I need to get away from the figures and stats and get back to just plain exploration and enjoyment. I think some of that is accepting that fell runners do walk, even when they say they've been for a x-distance run! By the end of 2012 I would like to be able to 'run' 25km in a respectable time.

With regards to strength I'd just like to be fit, strong and healthy. Being strong is difficult to quantify. I'm not thinking I want to be a bulging muscular 100kg lifter. I'd just like to be lean and strong. To have the type of physique that is noticed for being healthy, and to feel proud of my body. Building strength is one thing that I do to help with running and being in the hills when walking. I'd like to be able to do 10 body weight chin ups. I can do one right now, and with 10 seconds rest I can do another. I think 10 is achievable and something not many women can do (perhaps not many men?). I'd be happy with that.

#1 - 24 GDH runs
#2 - run 3 fell races
#3 - cover 25km in one go
#4 - 10 body weight chin ups

It's amusing, I wanted five aims but can so far only come up with 4, and there they are. I'll review them monthly, and report back on progress as and when.

Friday, 16 December 2011


With just a spinkle of snow on the lower hills I took myself out for an hour's walk this afternoon. Here's a few photographs for you to enjoy:

I was rather hoping for the foggy mist to lift so I could get a few shots over towards Bleaklow....but it wasn't to be.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I appear to be on the mend. Taking a second course of antibiotics seems to have shifted the lurgy from my tonsils and I'm back out running. Yippee. I ran last Tuesday and for numerous reasons didn't get out as planned on Friday (one reason was seeing the doctor for meds).  I've managed a couple of almost full on sessions at the gym and strength is almost back to where I was about 5 weeks ago. The best bit is I feel like doing the training, and that's great.

Today's run was on road, I sort of chickened out going on the fell because I was only going for about 5 or 6 km and unless I drive I'd only get a couple of kilometres off road anyway. Not an excuse, just reality. But, the draw of the green hills was too much and at Old Glossop I hit the track up to Mossy Lea. Nothing taxingly off-road, I nice rocky track with amazingly stunning views up to Bleaklow.  So the shoes weren't ideal for the river bed that the track has turned into, and so I was dropping in the odd walking break...the scenery was worth it. I forced myself to run some of the inclines, walking only as a last resort. Grit and determination got me up the final pull above Mossy Lea Farm and it was downhill all the way home (with the exception of a little blip on road as I extended the direct route home via a longer loop that includes a steep first 50m).

The headwind on the final few kilometres was pressing into my lungs and they have paid for it. I've coughed like a good'en since getting home. Good news is that feels more like the asthma I deal with than infections. Next trip out should be Friday if snow doesn't block the Snake Pass and prevent me meeting a friend for a 10km loop of Ladybower Reservoir. I'll run either way though.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Wonderously Tame

What a wonderful day today is. I went out for my first run in way too long. There's been a few days of snow in Glossop, beautiful white hills just above town. This morning brought us slushy wet white stuff on the roads and pavements down here. I had a run planned for today and as it's been about 5 weeks since I last went out I just wanted an easy road run, so before venturing out I waited on the weather. Not being chicken, just realistic for the sake of my health. By lunchtime the pavements were clear of slush and the sky looked promising for a dry half hour. Perfect.

Shoes on. Garmin on. Gloves on. Buff on. Leggings on. Extra layer on top on. Montane smock on. Inhaler in a pocket. Phone in another. Key attached to bra strap. And I'm ready.

I really wasn't under any illusion that the run would be far in either distance or time - that was the point - keep it short, wake my legs and lungs up gently. I opted for a fairly flat run too. I am recovering from a chest infection after all and my tonsils are still not 100% (how annoying is that eh!?). But cabin fever and feeling strong after an almost full on training session at S&P yesterday won the day.

And it was just a little run, 20 minutes and 3.34km with about 38m elevation gain. Tame to say the least. But great to get out and move. I kept about 6min/km pace and ran the whole way. Now that's brilliant news. My pace hasn't dropped. I sense it won't take long until I'm back up to full fitness.

The lungs played up for a while once back at home, the pesky cough returning temporarily (I hope). I'll review how I feel in the morning - I feel positive all will be well - and then I'll plan my training for the rest of the month - returning to regular runs, full training at S&P and getting fitter fitter fitter.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


It looks like most of November is written off to the cold and chest infection. Only in the last few days have I felt like I could do anything, yet any slight exertion sets off the coughing so I am held back to light duties!  I ventured out yesterday, a walk up Bleaklow, with the hope that the windy weather and some exertion would blow away the cobwebs that are still lingering.

Looking up to 621 trig from Crooked Clough; sun not yet risen enough to bring the clough out of the shadows
Good news is that I didn't have any serious coughing fits, that could have been tempered by the fact I didn't do much elevation gain. Nonetheless, it was a good test of my lungs and I got in some navigation practice and local knowledge gathering for mountain rescue purposes.

Mist rising from Lady Clough to the south east
My route took me along the true left bank of Crooked Clough, up to the 621 trig, a meander along nice trods to James Thorn to see the Lancaster wreck, then a peer over into Ashton Clough at the Skytrain wreck.
Ashton Clough (lower section) - Skytrain remnants on near bank are hardly visible from this distance
Not wanting to make my lungs scream at me I saved the descent/ascent into and out of Ashton Clough for another day. The route back took me on a direct line to Lower Shelf Stones, successfully finding a spring that's not marked on the map - ok, it was hard not to miss it given it's directly below the crag, and very pretty too. I doubt you'd get a decent amount to drink out of it, but useful to know its there - perhaps it's more productive when it's been wetter weather?

Damp mossy patch showing life growing at the spring under Lower Shelf Stones. The view is looking towards 621 trig with a trod just visible

From Lower Shelf I beelined back to the trig point, taking a bearing from the map just for practice. Reassuringly the compass did point to the trig when I set off on the bearing.

Pausing to take a quick back-bearing to Lower Shelf Stones, noting the spring is just this side of  a lower, lonely boulder
I paused at the trig wondering if I should head towards Dog Rock then Hern Stones, but figured I had tested my 2weeks-of-no-exercise-body enough.

View towards Grinah Stones from 621 trig in a north-easterly direction
Checking the map I work out distance and estimate a time to be back at the car. I reach there ahead of schedule, but I had put a few hop-skips into my stride on the way down. My head is frustrated not to have been running, my lungs thank me profusely. Still, I've found several decent trods for my recovery runs. I think I'll get a lift to Snake summit sometime soon and run home - there's nothing beats eliminating the smugness of knowing you've skipped the 300 metre climb and can enjoy the moors fresh. The Shelf Moor fell race route is still nagging in my head as something to aim for. Perhaps in a few months I'll be there.

Taken on the way up, this is Gathering hill in the foreground with Kinder northern edge being kissed by the cloudbase

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Just when you think you're getting into the swing of things, running is getting stronger, you're more comfortable pushing up the hills, and bang. Chest Infection.

I ran two days in a row, on 1st November I ran 8.5km on my own up to the far end of Shelf Benches, then a steady 5km with Tim the following day. He is recovering from an issue with his heel so it was just a tester for him and a chance for me to stretch my legs for a second day. It went well.

The following day I did my gym training, on 5th November I was on a recovery day - an easy 40 minutes spin on the turbo. On 7th I was back in the gym but missed off the metabolic blaster at the end as I didn't feel 100%. Tim and I went for a walk on the 8th, wandering up Kinder Low to the Woolpacks on a wonderful claggy day. We had planned to go to the Lakes but swapped it for a couple of days holiday in the Peak instead - saving petrol, me not quite right and him still not 100% with his heel.

That was 9 days ago. Since then I've done nothing, apart from a couple of very short walks into town. A trip to the doctors today and I have antibiotics, instructions to stick my head over a bowl of hot water to steam my sinuses and there you have it. There is apparently a bug going round!! I can vouch for that.

So, yet again I find I cannot run. Tis most frustrating. I'm not even keen to get out walking which is all the more frustrating as the weather has been particularly mild and sunny for a few days. But, intelligent rest and following the doctors orders should have me back to reasonable fitness next week. 

Friday, 21 October 2011


Wednesday found me running on the road. Just a short 5km up to Hurst Reservoir at the far end of the golf course and a loop around the estate. Blimey it was chilly. The cold air was bitterly cold, it felt heavy on my lungs. I was regretting not taking my inhaler out with me as I struggled to get any sort of rhythm to my breathing. I was glad I'd only planned a short run, otherwise I would have needed to cut it short. A distraction on the way home saw 8 Canadian geese circling low over the golf course, always a delight to see. I know they head up to the reservoir at night time, perhaps these were heading that way to get some shut eye. I managed the 5km in just under 30 minutes, so my pace is keeping a steady 6min/km. I'm happy with that.

Today found me by water for the second time this week. Venue for today was Ladybower reservoir and I had a running partner, my oldest and dearest friend. We're aiming to meet up once a fortnight and run together - push each other and get some improvement in speed and distance. There was even mention of finding a fell race to do together in a few months. I'd say I'm a little faster than she is, but her ability to run for a longer time means I'm building up stamina I might not get when I run alone. We ran from Ashopton Bridge, up to Fairholmes and back down the far side - a distance of 9.2km. Our time was 58:16, averaged at 6:20min/km. For me that distance, in that time, is a minor achievement and running the whole way round feels very satisfying. It just shows that running with someone else motivates me, pushes me and gives me that determination not to stop when I know I would on solo runs.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Last night I was undecided whether to run then or this morning. I opted to run today and have a relatively lazy evening - though not a lazy day having been down at the gym for one of my twice weekly beastings. I shall write more on my gym progression soon.

This morning dawned, and I slept in. I just could not rouse myself to get out of bed early and do anything, let alone run. I have felt a bit off it the past few weeks - seeming to have a cold but it not developing into one properly. I've got a constant runny nose and just, well, don't feel 100%. So if I do sleep in I don't feel bad about it. If the body needs rest, it shall have it. After being up for an hour or so I set a time limit. I would run at 10am no matter how I felt. If I left it any later then I risked just watching the day go past doing research and other work related 'stuff'.

10am arrived and I got changed, ummed and arrred about what layers of clothes to wear and set off. I was road running, but didn't have a goal or objective as such. That's how most of my runs seem to be. I vaguely thought I'd like to be out for 45 minutes. Any more would be a bonus. The distance didn't matter. I headed out through the estate, making my first goal Old Glossop. If I could reach the bus turning circle and back that would be about 5km - a good enough run on the roads. I kept a nice pace up, under 6min/km - that's my usual 'good' pace - faster downhill, slower up. It evens out and over 30 minutes brings me to about 5km.

I forgot all about distance as I headed towards the swimming pool. I'd thought I might turn south, work my way through the streets and back home via Derbyshire Level...but then I turned North...up North Road. Now the challenge is to see if I can run all the way up to Cemetary Road. I'm battling with a road sweeper...he's gradually pulling away from me but then the road is fairly steep. Distance-wise I'm up for around 8km if I just loop back and go home via Woodhead Road. Sadly, but not surprisingly I don't run all the way up North Road...but my average pace with just a couple of really short walks stays under 7min/km. That'll do nicely. Even nicer, I catch the road sweeper up and overtake it. OK, it had to back up and re-do some of its work, but mentally it was good for me and spurred me on to keep the pace up to the top.

Reaching the top the weather is now quite fowl. Hard drizzle coming down in big sheets of wetness. Weirdly I don't feel all that damp, and not at all cold. I'm now heading gradually downhill, turn right and then left back towards Old Glossop. I choose to go past the scout hut, up and round to the bus turning circle...and feel a little sad I don't have fell shoes on - would have been nice to go up to Mossy Lea. No worries. I'm now about 7.5km done and around 45mins...hmmm. By rough calculations I've got about 1.5km if I go straight home...a little further and I could get to 10km...and if I keep up the pace I'll be around 1 hour. My magic target time.

Through the park and the plethora of dogs...what seemed like some sort of dog walking convention going on - actually lots of owners sheltering under trees. I can hear the rumble of the river - it's very swollen, likely burst its banks with the week's worth of rain that's been lashing down. And it is...torrents are flooding through the narrow section by the foot bridge.

Instead of turning left I go right and add a loop round the duck pond. The 10km distance is getting closer and I'm sustaining a decent pace - under 6min/km. I'm almost regretful the run is coming to an end soon but after 8.5km my legs are feeling it, but not protesting angrily. I push myself around a crescent that adds some distance on. Mentally running past home to reach a target just feels weird. The last push, the last 250m are up an incline. You can't call it a hill, but it is most definitely gaining elevation (on checking the stats there's only 17m elevation gain in the last km, but it feels worse!).

Before I know it I'm home. I think there was even a spurt eluding to a sprint at the very end as I tried to get my time under 58 minutes. Not to be. But I'm very proud of my 58:07. 57:38 is actual moving time...the stops must have been for roads but I count total time. Next time. My HR has stayed steady for most of the run, averaging around 169bpm, and average pace is 5:48min/km. I must be getting faster. Lovely. An aimless run with a great result.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I headed out onto Kinder on Friday with Tim...first run with him of any distance for quite a while and I was looking forward to it. The weather on Thursday was horrendous, thunder, hail, lightening, even reports of snow in places! Friday was better, still blustery and low cloud clinging to the top of Kinder and Bleaklow so I opted for ron hills, icebreaker long sleeved and gilet to keep the wind off me. The route was just short of 11km, pretty much uphill the whole way to the turning point, then back the same a nice downhill stretch for 5km. I found I was able to keep up a fairly steady pace on the way out, running the uphill bits without getting too much out of breath once the lungs had settled down from their initial shock of being used. we just had one steep push to get up onto Kinder which required walking, but having seen a fell race go up this way I know that most people walk it anyway. On the way down I turned my attention to making my brain stop working, something I hear fell runners saying about down hill technique - brain off, brakes off. It's not all that easy for me, but I'm practicing and allowing gravity to take hold a little more on each run. The one thing that is annoying is that I could probably let go a little more, but with the wind in my eyes and tears streaming down my face it could be quite dangerous...having to blink lots and constantly wipe my eyes takes momentary focus off the foot placement, or at least monitoring what ground is coming up. It wasn't really a day for sunglasses, though knowing they might help I wonder if running in clear or yellow glasses should be considered. Before I knew it we're back at the car...I'm slightly disappointed the run is over so quickly. It didn't feel like 1.5hrs of running but I'm determined to continue the slow build up of distance over time, rather than rushing a longer run and breaking myself. One thing I have learnt from the run is that I shall do my best to avoid running on paved paths from now on. They are not pleasant. Not at all. Wrong spacing of paving blocks, lumpy bits, slippery and no option other than to run on them in places since I do respect the reason for them being there, i.e. conservation. Best to plan them out of runs in future where possible.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Blustery Bogs

I was enlisted by a friend who's just moved to Glossop to show her a few local footpaths, help her get her bearings on the hills she can see from her garden, and perhaps a little instruction in map reading as its something she's not really done before. So, we met at 8am this morning and sat on a stone mulling over the map, looking at features and generally taking in the route we had planned - a circular walk you can see most of from her house.

Our first target is Cock Hill. No issues reaching this, just the noticeable chill to the wind which we've not had lately. There were several stops to point out features we were passing, what was coming up and what to expect from the terrain as we progressed. By the time we'd reached Glossop Low and over to Clough Edge I needed to put on my spare fleece, and was vaguely regretting not bringing more warm clothes. My friend openly admits to being a slow walker - and with the slow pace and frequent stops I was feeling the chill. Not too bad, but definitely noticeable.

From Glossop Low we headed east-ish towards Torside Castle, and turned south at the grouse butts, using them as a navigational aid to reach Dog Rock.  I was delighted the peat was fairly dry, enjoying testing my lightfootedness over the boggier parts of the path. With experience you can pretty much tell which bogs are going to be man-eaters and which will support your weight. I think my friend thought me mad constantly choosing to bash across the bogs while she avoided them. I guess I've just got used to them over the past six months. I was also in my INOV8 Roclites...enjoying not being in walking boots and perfectly comfortable over the 12km walk.

At Dog Rock the wind had really picked up, no time to sit and enjoy the view or the glorious sunshine fighting its way though the blustery clouds. A shame, it would have been nice to stop and review the map, pointing out the names of hills and cloughs but not to be today. A steady pace was set heading downwards, I was keen to be out of the wind. Soon gaining the Mossy Lea path we were almost back in Old Glossop and had been out on the hill about 3 much slower than I'm used to, but most enjoyable. Waving my friend goodbye we separated just before the bus turning circle and I did a quick jog over Shire Hill to get some warmth flowing. Home and a hot coffee sorted me out lovely.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


What a glorious morning it was yesterday....and today. We're having a blast of hot weather, unusual for October in England, and I'm enjoying the need to get out in the dawn hour before it gets too hot and humid to move. The early morning freshness is so invigorating, it makes you feel alive. And seeing the sunrise is always magical for me.

I've now run 3 days in a row. Up until now I've been doing 2 runs a week max, so 3 in 3 days is something unusual for me. Friday's run was an off-road excursion with a friend, doing about 8.5km in 1hr 15mins. No world records there, or personal best. But it's the first time we've run together for years, and the first decent catch up in months so it was easy to walk the uphill sections and chat away enjoying the easy path up to Shelf Benches.

I got the urge to run again yesterday, just an easy road run to get my legs moving and an attempt to keep a steady pace for 5km. Total time was 28:58 with an average of 5:47/km. Splits were 5:31, 5:57, 5:34, 5:54, 5:58. I'm happy with that. I had set off just about 7am, and as I looped back towards home I was greeted by about 40 canadian geese doing a few low passes over Shirebrook. Just magical how they fly and you can hear their wings beating.

I went to a concert last night, a fundraiser for Glossop Mountain Rescue Team, and bumped into a friend who's been trying to get me out running with her. I'm convinced she runs faster and too far for me so tend to pass on the invitations, not wanting to hold her back. Now, I'm not sure what came over me but I asked her if she was running this morning - I think she sometimes does on Sundays, but at about 10am. Knowing it was going to be a humid and hot day again I would only be going out in the dawn hours. To my surprise she agreed to head into the hills, leaving me to choose the route.

We met at 6.45am, just as it's not quite dark, just turning light. Heading along Derbyshire Level we turned left and up to the shooting cabin on Chunal Moor. I was surprising myself, running more of the uphill than I ever would do when I run alone. I even managed to run most of the path up to the cabin, after you've gone through the kissing gate. The sunrise was amazing - brilliant orange streaks in the sky, reflecting like neon strips on the clouds.

After heading up the path behind the cabin for a short while we took a heather bashing route and cut across towards Harry Hut - not much running on this bit, and a slight scratch on my shin from the heather. Oh, I should mention that we were running with Brae, a wonderfully trained collie. Even with sheep in the field or on the moor he has no need for a lead - just a few words and he's holding back, resisting his natural instinct to round all the sheep up! It's the second time I've run with him and he certainly helps to distract you when the hills are getting steeper.

We pick up a trod, then the path up to Harry Hut trig point. It's boggy under foot in places, but not squelchy boggy....just springy bog. Nice and easy going, easy pace, up to the trig. A brief pause to turn and look behind, admiring my back garden, then we're off down towards Wormstones. We pick up a trod to the left of where I've run before, and it proves to be a better one for running on - less stones and ruts.  That's the joy of running with someone else - you always learn a new variation on a route, even if you know the area well.

We're into our downhill stride now. I'm concentrating hard to keep up...she's running a little faster than I would normally but it's great for me to see what pace someone else runs at and do my best to keep up. I'm doing well, stride for stride...not too close but enough to watch what line she's taking. Then *bang* she's on the floor, ankle went under. And then *bang* I've done the same in my attempt to break and not run straight into her!!! I can feel pain in my ankle but sense it's not as bad as hers....but it's enough to make me sit down pretty damn quick. We look at each other and laugh....synchronised ankle sport for the hills?!

After circling ankles and rubbing them for a few moments we attempt a few tentative steps. Mine feels ok, she says hers does too. So, before you know it we're off down the hill once more...though this time the pace is a little slower and foot placement perhaps just that little bit more cautious. Down at Gnat Hole I'm taken a new route through the woods and up to Hague Street, then over a few fields I'd not yet run and down the rocky overgrown path back towards home.

Lessons learned from today's run. 1) I can run 3 days in a row and feel good; 2) I need to push myself harder as I can run up hills (perhaps I need to run with other people more often); 3) always take your phone - had my ankle turned more severely it would have been a lonely crawl back home - we were a mere 1.5 kilometres away from the nearest house but it would have turned a very pleasant run into something quite different.

Today's weather turned grey. I made the effort to get up early and I'm so glad. I had the best of the day, running in the hills and seeing a glorious sunrise.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Finally managed to run 5km without stopping. No walking breaks. Got lucky on road crossings so no pause for them either. Result.

It was a road run today. The weather was very blustery, wet underfoot and slight drizzle falling as I headed out at 7.20am. The few little hills I had on the run were all run up too - that's an improvement on the last time I ran the same hills when I needed to walk.

I held a steady pace so I could keep going without needing walk breaks. I don't know whether it's more a mental thing, or a physical one. I have thoughts for each side. Today was mental. Just keep going, steady steady. I can do it. I can do it. My legs felt strong but I've not had the same luck with my lungs lately so I promised myself a short walk break if I made it to 3km. That distance came and went. I carried on running. The 4km distance came and I felt like I wanted to stop but got determined to make it to 5. Then 5km came and I'm on a slight incline towards home....time to cool down so I walk a little, jog a little, walk the last 100m.

Excellent. I feel good for getting out early, running in the rain and getting to the 5km distance in 29 minutes.

As for the weather, it was windy. Woodhead road was closed this morning. That makes me feel even better about the run as my lungs were working well.

Saturday, 3 September 2011


Started to experiment with smoothie flavours since I have been using protein powder. Today's concoction was:

1 banana
1 teaspoon of flax (omega-3)
25gm whey protein powder
1 teaspoon peanut butter
7 or 8 heads of broccoli

and it actually tasted ok. no weird broccoli taste at all. since my efforts to lose weight/get leaner started I've been making smoothies with water, not milk. I think it makes them fresher on the palate.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Early Bird run

Out for 6.30am this morning heading out for a run with Tim. Glorious morning, lots of mist and haze around though could still make out hills in the distance. It felt good to be up so early, getting out on the path before anyone else. We had a steady uphill section followed by a flat bit, the uphill got me puffing and panting, probably not the best way to warm up at the start of a run! I got more into my stride on the flat...

I can't say too much about the location of this run...we were out to grab the DPFR September calendar box....and we succeeded :)

After a fair bit of bracken bashing to find a path which didn't exist we chose to head back up hill, find our original path then head to the hidden location from a different angle. The plan worked. Not 5 minutes back towards path #1 we find a slightly better than well worn trod which is pretty runable - I'm not yet adept at bracken running...something else to practice.

Down a little, then a steady uphill trod which I manage to run most of...give or take a few map check pauses. There's a discussion about wall angles, paths to take and which is the best route to approach the vague location we're heading to. Luckily the path we choose is a direct bee-line straight to the Calendar Box. Yey! It's not a particularly well hidden one this month, but it'd be a difficult one to find if you heather/bracken bashed from anywhere other than the trod we were on.

After a brief pause to sign our names in the log book (we were the first this month, bonus) we're retracing our steps to pick up another trod....and heading back to the car. We had about 1.5km on road at the end, including an uphill stretch I managed to run all the way up, quite chuffed with that one, and I ran all the way back to the car.

8.69km in total
total time is 1:38:43 but that did include map reading, bracken bashing, walking and photo shots of grouse (I'd post a pic but it would give the location away!).
Moving time 1:17:23
Average pace: 8:54/km (which isn't all that bad considering stopping times)

Moral of today's run. Get up early and get out there. Best time of day.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bog Bashing

With friends visiting at the weekend and the weather not dry enough to climb the running option was set in motion. Now where to go? I actually didn't want to go running. With Cor being here and her desire to do a route that didn't end up wrecking her with the 3 boys I didn't have much choice. To actually get out and run was a good choice. I had fun. The boys were off up James Thorn-Over Exposed-Shelf Benches-Dog Rock-Cock Hill. Too far and they'd run too fast for us. I didn't fancy a great uphill slog. I wanted to run. And be in the hills without being wrecked when I got up there. So we drove to the summit of the Snake Pass....had a tactical pause while the garmin got signal (aka dodging a heavy rain shower)...then ran along the Pennine Way northwards before cutting left up to 621 Trig Point. We'd turned a little earlier than the nice trod, but it was easy going, and we picked up the trod on the west side of the stream without losing any height.

A trot...walk....jog....and we're at the trig point. Quite windy too. There was a short run section where feet placement had to be done on an angle to hit the spot you were aiming for. Any lack of concentration and your foot would have been blown sideways!  We reckon that if we head a little further west we might get a glimpse of the boys heading up hill....and we do.

Looking south westwards...white dot is where the boys are....
There's only a short wait sitting on a blustery outcrop til the boys are with us. A brief discussion and they slightly alter their route so they run with us to Hern Stones....bog bashing all the way! There's another brief pause as we get to the plane wreck of Over Exposed - then we're off again.

I'm pushing my pace on this section a little. It's interesting when running with other people what happens to your pace. With Cor I was certainly being pushed faster than I probably would have on the trod, and now, with the boys, I'm keen to see just how much I can keep up. There's no way I can keep it's more like seeing how far behind I will be when they get to the stones, even though I know Tim isn't pushing himself to be quick. The ground is pretty wet, lots of mini-streams and marshy bits to cross. It's very liberating running over them, not knowing quite how deep your feet are going to sink in. The boggy bits are fun too....squelching down and up the peat tufts...keeping up a decent speed seems to work best, go too slow and you sink in further and get stuck more. There's also a bit of skill in choosing a good line down and up the bogs....not so much down, but you need to have your exit on the far side sorted or, as I did in one place, you come face to face with peat bog that is too steep and slightly over hanging. Then you're back to a walking pace and slipping around and back towards the bottom if your not quick enough. All good fun. I manage to get to Hern Stones relatively unscathed...muddy gloves, but then you're not really trying if you don't fall over. Just ask Tim if you don't believe me.

We regroup and have a brief pause at Hern Stones for a chunk of kendle mint cake...mmmmm.....and then the boys are heading northwards to Wain Stones while we turn east and back to the Pennine Way. The rain is holding off, but the clouds look threatening. I give Tim my spare kendle mint cake as the boys are more likely to need it than us. We soon pick up the paved path and turn south, heading back to the car. The run is mostly easy going under foot now, a few rocky bits that need careful foot placement but a mostly downhill run back to the car with just a blustery wind to contend with. With the increase in water up on Bleaklow the path is not so easy to pick out in paces as it weaves in and out of the bogs - there's a lot of weaving and crossing the river. I'm sure with practice you can just run down the river. I'll add that to my things to learn about fell running. Something I'm sure will be very handy as we head towards autumn and winter.

I feel determined to keep a decent pace up, even with the wind blowing straight into my face. I know that if I was out here alone today I would be having a few walk breaks, blaming the wind and my crappy lungs for needing a break. But, I keep a steady rhythm is kept as we pass a few groups of walkers....onwards, splashing through the puddles without a care now - feet are wet so it doesn't matter at all. I even see Cor not totally avoiding the puddles....(think she was secretly enjoying it)!

For stats geeks here's the garmin track. Do ignore the max HR - that has to be a garmin blip!

Back at the house we've just had time to have a drink and shower, stretch a little and then the boys are back. I'm really happy with the long as the laces are done up tight enough (so you don't get them sucked off in a bog) they are great. They don't hold the water, the grip is good, they're light and to be honest, I can hardly tell I'm wearing them. Here's our shoes drying out....all INVO8's!

The run was great. Running with friends is good. I seems to take the pressure off monitoring pace, being vaguely anxious about how far or how fast you're running, and it's a good laugh when you're negotiating the bogs, wondering who'll be the first to face plant or sink in a deep one.  Thanks for getting me out there Cor, a decent 7.58km run in about an hour. Good times.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Quick run

Did a quick 5km run on the road. Think I set off pretty fast owing to the music I'd chosen - dance beats do it every time! It felt ok though, definitely out of breath but able to keep the pace going.

Moving time of 25:59 for 5.05km. Happy with that.
First 2 kilometers were 4:44 and 4:46 and first km included waiting for traffic lights to cross main road. Nice.

Was a hot run. Should have been wearing shorts. Glad I didn't do a fell's nice to mix it up, and get some speed and strength in the legs.

Got my max HR up to 195bpm!!! Average at 170bpm.

I started to play with my stride length on the flat/downhill sections - stretching out a bit. Will do more of that on road runs....see how I can gain efficiency.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Blame it on the Bread?

We all need it (food that is, not just bread). Quite a few of us over indulge, gain a few pounds, get a bit lazy, stop being conscious of what we're stuffing into our mouths day after day, week after week. I've been there. But that's changed. At the end of June I was noticing my weight was creeping upwards. I have some clothes which are a guide to my weight and they were starting to feel a bit on the tight side. What to wear in a morning was starting to be dictated by what wouldn't pinch round the waist later in the day. Now I'm not saying I was obese. But in my mind I know there's a top limit to what weight I feel comfortable with, and what weight is just downright stupid. I was there.

So, we made a conscious choice to cut out bread for one week and see what it did to the number shown on the scales. I'm not obsessed with numbers, but it's helpful for monitoring. I was shocked with my weight and knew there had to be some serious change. It was reaching a magic number I don't ever want to cross over. I'm getting to a stage where change has to happen or the weight will just continue to creep upwards, new clothes will be a larger size...and the downward spiral begins. So the non-bread eating was stage one of a mini-experiment.

The non-eating bread thing was a bit of a wake up. I hadn't realised just how much of the lovely fluffy stuff we were eating. At the time we were learning to make our own, Tim was having mixed results with his artisan bread - some excellent if odd-shaped loaves were being baked. So so tasty. And with fresh bread you have to have real butter. And homemade lemon curd and jam. So the calories, as well as carbs, were sky high. It seemed like a really difficult thing to cut out bread - what would we eat instead?

But, we survived the first week. A little weight was lost. Without too much thought we just continued with the non-baking of bread. We didn't buy any bread. Though we had the occasional bit while out, either with a meal or for a snack. I'm not one for total exclusion on diets, somehow it just doesn't seem healthy. But this was turning into a mental challenge to see how I could cope without bread, and what it would do to my weight.

So far so good. I lost a kilo or so in a month without really trying that hard.  It did coincide with me increasing my exercise, so the combination will have helped. I'd had an issue with my left ITB/knee which stopped me running, and rehab was taking time as I wanted it to heal properly. It was, and I was pleased I'd taken a month out to recover fully.

On 21 July we had an assessment at S&P gym - to work out what level of fitness and strength we had. Then from the following week we started on a 4 week foundation course, down at the gym twice a week. I was back running twice weekly as well, and doing recovery and rest days in betweeen.  For food, I needed to alter the way I ate if I wanted to achieve my goals - lose some weight and get leaner. To do that, putting it simply, I needed to cut out carbs, and increase protein. There's some other rules, like not eating cereal for breakfast, but that's one I'm still working on. I think my reduction of bread intake had been a good kick start to lowering carbs.  Essentially if I eat carbs I need to earn them. So on days I work out at the gym I can have some carbs - rest days = no carbs.

This is where it gets interesting because Tim is able to stuff his face with pasta 24/7 - he's got totally different goals to me. He's doing fell races, and he doesn't need or want to lose any weight. It proves interesting at meal times. Sometimes we'll have a dinner where I can just exclude the rice or potatos; other times we'll eat totally different things.

So what's easy?
Being able to eat loads of meat. I'm downing plenty of clean meat - roasted chicken, rump steaks for lunch, rump steak for dinner, tuna, makeral (omega-3 fish oil is essential). Knowing I'm eating a really healthy diet helps keep up the motivation. The fun of making salads interesting a tasty.

And what's difficult?
Snacking. Adjusting from my lifelong eating patterns of having pretty much whatever I want for a snack, to a few brazil nuts, a protein shake, some fruit. No flapjack. There's a tough one. I make it and it's really nice. I'll continue to make it - Tim can munch through the whole tray full. I'll have a tiny bit as and when I'm allowed (that is if there's any left).
Another tough one is dinner times, given that Tim can have what he likes its making dinner choices really hard. But we're managing. And we'll continue to evolve our food choices so it will get easier.
Hunger pangs - I feel like I'm living with the constant niggle of feeling hungry. To offset that I'm drinking loads more water. Don't get me wrong, I'm not starving myself. But I'm not giving in to the hunger between meals with silly choices - flapjack, a crafty slice of toast and lemon curd, a mouthful of pasta.

In general I'm liking what I'm eating. It's a clean diet and I'm seeing the results. I've dropped about 4 kilos in 7 weeks. As I said earlier - I've increased my exercise, sticking to a good weekly routine now for 6 weeks, so the loss is a combination of food, exercise and keeping the two consistant.

I'll reach my target weight with the amazing support of Tim, some wise words from Sean at S&P and a lot of determination. I'm liking my body a lot more now, and that can only get better.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

S&P Gym - weeks 5-8

I got the new training programme yesterday and did the first session. Wow, that was a bit harder. Mostly because of the killer finisher - more technically called a metabolic killer I believe! Well that's what I'm calling it.

Here's the programme (finisher shown separately below):

Yesterday had me undertaking session 1. I'd had a good look at it and could see there was only 2 super sets. Nice. So that initial thought lulled me into a false sense of security. I had the exercises explained to me and off I went.

First up, Bulgarian Split Squats. These were just body weight today to get me used to the technique. It's actually harder than it looks - you have to maintain good balance (good core strength and pelvic floor control help) which is not easy when one foot is behind you on a bench and you squat down. I got the technique in the end, just need to make sure my planted foot is forward enough. 8 reps on each leg. I could feel the stretch quite significantly in the quads of my raised leg. Need to focus on the drive up and glute squeeze on the planted foot. By the 4th set these were really hurting.

Then Assisted Chins. Just what they say. Though this week I've progressed to just the green band looped over the top and one knee in it, rather than green and blue across the cage with both feet on it. Interesting I thought. But only 5 chins to do. First set seemed OK, 2nd not too bad, 3rd and they're getting harder, final set - oh my, they are tough. Really had to dig deep to get full clean chin ups at the end.

Final part of the first super set - Ring Press Ups. With much amusement on my part I took a fair while to grasp the position needed to do the press. In my head I see the rings as tough just to keep your body position stable, let alone do 10 press ups on. Let's just say all sets were hard. The 3rd particularly but having Sean there urging me to press it did help - no slacking when he's right in front of you! Not that I'd dare slack anyway - I'm sure they have hidden cameras!

So, 4 sets of A1-3. I managed to do so with 1 minute rest in between. I'm keen to time rest periods, otherwise you end up wandering about for 2-3 minutes, chatting to someone and focus slips. Having the stop watch keeps you focused and determined.

Now, onto super set B.
B1 - RDL to wall 3x12
B2 - DB Alt Standing Shoulder Press 3x10
B3 - DB Rows 3x12
B4 -Plank 3x45 seconds

B1 - I'd mastered the RLD technique over the previous 4 weeks so settled into these nicely. I think the weight will notch up one next week and progress over the next 4 weeks.

B2 - just as it says, dumbbell shoulder press, alternating sides. I started with 6kg not sure how that weight would be - as it turned out, I managed the 1st set OK, 2nd not too bad (starting to breath heavier), 3rd and I'm counting down the reps to make sure I reach 10 on each side, and the final set are just hard from rep4 onwards - but I manage it. To keep at 10 on each side I think I'll be sticking to 6kg for a few weeks. We'll see. Progression each week is nice but finishing the set in good form it just as important.

B3 - dumbbell rows with 7.5kg. Needed a few pointers on technique here - keeping elbow tight, rotating shoulders slightly and not pulling too far back. All sets completed without too many issues, but did feel tired in lower back towards the end. Will check technique with Sean again next week. Weight will increase for sure on this one next week.

B4 - here's the killer - after B1-3 then straight into plank. Oh my, that's tough. I'd been managing to increase time on the plank over the past 4 weeks quite nicely but today there was no way. So much so that on the final set I failed - managing only 35 seconds, rested for 5 then did 10 more seconds. Slightly disappointing. But boy was I tired. And weirdly starting to feel a bit sick too.

Now. Here's the kicker. They like to do a finisher with you down at the delightful S&P gym.  It's usually something to dread in a fun sort of way. But looking at what was in store for me, and another female athlete in the gym, was not going to be fun. Take a look:

So we start with 10m long, 2inch thick ropes - you have to beat your arms as though you're hitting drums. the ropes are heavy. Straight outside to drag the sled forwards 20m then backwards 20m - it's got 60kg of weight on it. Next up - 10 sledgehammer smashes onto a big tyre - on each side. (my first time on this piece of 'equipment' and technique needs a little work - still, it was nice getting some decent hits going). Finally, if you're still physically able to, it's a 10m bear crawl forwards then 10m backwards. And collapse. But don't rest too long - you've got 5 sets of those to do AFAP - As Fast As Possible. 

I didn't take note of the time but let me tell you, had the other woman given up I could have very easily joined her. As it was, she was up first and I followed...all the way through 5 sets, and all the way to near being sick. Just to check I wasn't going to actually be sick I took a steady jog to the end of the mill and back.  I wasn't. But that's the closest I've even been to illness though exercise/training.

So, reflecting on this a day after. I don't feel to bad. My shoulders are the main area of tension so I'll be cashing in a sports massage from Tim later on. Recovery run later for me today. Just a short one, maybe 30 minutes. Might do a road run too - less thinking involved and can keep a steady recovery pace easier than off-road.

Despite the hard work and sweat factor, training at S&P is wonderful. There's a great crowd of people get down there and just get on with it. No frills, no magazines to read. Just heavy shit to move. Love it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

S&P gym - training

There you have it. 4 weeks of foundation training complete at S&P gym. It's the first time I've ever had a structured training plan that involves strength and conditioning work, well actually it's probably the first time I've had a properly structured training plan at all. I've enjoyed it. It's meant that I've gone down to the gym and worked. My goals, as I've probably mentioned elsewhere, are to lose weight and get leaner. This has meant a low carb/high protein diet plus hard work in the gym. It's been tough some days. On the food side it's mostly tough when the food planning has gone awry. One could also say it's tough when the lunch choice is rump steak and a fresh salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing, but hey, someones got to do it!! 

I'll write more about the food side of things separately, it could take up some line space.

So here's what I've been doing for the past 4 weeks:

I have to admit, it's been really good having someone tell me what to do - it's made me work much harder than I would have if I'd just joined a regular gym. There was one Thursday session I could quite easily have missed (various reasons including house sitting elsewhere which made for a longer journey to the gym) - but I didn't want to a) let the S&P guys down b) let myself down by slacking and c) get behind Tim who's following his own programme but training on the same days as me.  I'm looking forward to what's coming in weeks 5-8 of the training; there'll be a new programme waiting for me when I get there tomorrow. It's with slight anxiety that the training will be hitting a new (ie harder) level, but also with excitement that I'm going to get pushed harder once more. The last week of foundation was starting to, not exactly get easier, but the familiar programme was not challenging my body to the extent I know the next few weeks will.

As a final note, a couple of the ladies who train at the gym have been competing in figure athlete competitions - now, seeing them at the gym training hard is a real inspiration. Sean keeps joking that I'm next. I'm firm in my statement that getting me on a stage posing is NOT going to happen. All the same, it's great training in the same venue as the ladies. Truly inspiring.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saturday wandering

Today is run day. I slip on my INOV8 Roclites after much deliberation over whether to go road or fell running. Fell is the choice I settle on, though I prepare myself for uphill walking and jogging what I can as the lungs permit me. Heading off from home I'm still not sure which way I'm going...vaguely towards Bleaklow. I don't fancy Mossy Lea/Shelf Bench today, so choose to make my way over Shire Hill and up Lightside to Yellowslacks. I'm ok running on the track in the bottom but come the uphill bit my lungs just don't play nice. I'm working out slowly that the more I think about it the more stressed I get about not being able to breath sufficiently to keep some uphill momentum going - the worse my breathing gets. Annoyingly I only figure this out later in the run as I settle down my breathing rate, oxygen gets in and muscles begin to work again without screaming in pain.

So, I walk all the way up to the slope to gain a great view of Glossop and over to Shelf Moor. Where now? I could head up to Dog Rock, then down via James Thorn. Or, as I chose, I could head to Cock Hill via Glossop Low. I'd read on the FRA forum about there being loads of big black flies out in force on Kinder. So far no sign of them. But as soon as I got heather bashing across to pick up the wooden boards and path to the shelter on top of Glossop Low there they were....hundreds of black flies. And they weren't shy about landing on me. One thing it did do was make me pick up my feet and hav a go at running through knee deep heather - that takes quite a bit of effort when, like me, you're not used to it. I had a few near misses with ankle twists in hidden holes, slowed a little to a fast walk, up and down the various water run offs and groughs, and catch sight of the wooden boards - lovely - I'll be able to pick up a bit of speed and leave the flies behind I hope. The plan works out and it's nice to be on squelching peat bog underfoot in between the boards.  Before I know it I'm at the top, quick turn south west and I'm on the path to Cock Hill. I say a cheery hello to some guy fixing a grouse butt without slowing pace. I'm not sure if there's a path/trod to the trig point from this direction so I just cut right after a short while and bash to the trig.

I check in with Tim - sending him a quick message with my location (he has no idea where I could be so to be safe I do this when I'm out alone) and take this snap.  The sky is starting to cloud over fairly significantly, and while I don't mind getting wet when running (it's nice to keep you cool), I'd prefer to be off the hill top if it starts hammering it down as these clouds could well do. Off I go, light footed and easy on the lungs down the nice path towards Moorside. There's a couple of horses with ponies in the field under the lower tree outcrop - one horse in particular doesn't seem to like my presence, then I realise it's foal is only a few metres away so I quick step it down the hill. I'm thankful it's still dry as I get lower down on the path - it turns quite rocky under foot and I'm certain my pace would be slower in the wet.

Next decision at Old Glossop - to go down through Manor Park, which I'd kind of planned on doing, or back up and over Shire Hill. I reckon I'll be near 10km by the time I get home on the latter and chose that way. Ok so it's got a kicker of a hill I'll have to walk but it's shorter. Working out vague timings I reckon I can get home in under1.5hrs.

distance: 9.61km
total time: 1:28:48
moving time: 1:23:07 (that allows for very short breathers and photo taking)
average moving pace: 8:38min/km

I'm slightly put out it's taken me 1.5hrs to do less than 10km. But, looking at the map I probably walked 3km of that in the uphill section and across the heather when I wasn't trying to run. Putting figures aside, I was very happy with the run. It was a glorious day (forgetting about the flies) to be out on the hill. I only saw 1 person close by and a couple of others in the distance. It was like the hill was all mine - how much better than that can it get right on your doorstep?

A final note - my INOV8 shoes are going great, no niggles at all. I am slightly on guard for damage to laces when bashing through heather following Tim's getting wrecked that way, but so far all good with mine.  I might get myself a pair of those sock gaitor things for over the shoes - stop all the bits getting in an itching the top of my feet...