Monday, 25 February 2013

New Chew

I missed this race last year so I was pleased I could make it this year. I prefer orienteering races and this one is just over the hill from me. It is also one of our club championship races this year, so there was some obligation to run it so I would get points on the table. The short score was the counter for us which suited me; 3.5hrs on the hill is more than enough. To be honest, I've not done a run over 2 hours since early December, and nothing consistently over 1.5hrs for some months. I therefore set myself the target of 2-2.5hrs, and depending on the spread of check points 5 or 6 as a minimum.

After some time mingling around registration and with kit check complete we were eventually lining up to get our start time and map. 9.48am and a map is in my hand. It looked horrible. Check points (CPs) spread from beyond Sykes Pillar and Wessenden Reservoir in the north to Loft Intake (SE) and Holme Moss mast to the east, plus there were lots of out of bounds areas. There didn't seem to be any way to do a short circular route with the option of grabbing an extra CP or two at the end if I mistimed my planning or had spare energy left. Nothing for it but to get running, I'm already 4 minutes into my time. Oh well, as I'm not planning on being out the full 3.5hrs that doesn't matter. I think knowing that I couldn't get a decent route done with the spread of CPs got me into a frustrated state of mind to start with. I just couldn't settle.

I won't do a running commentary of this race...there were ups, there were downs, my shoes were uncomfortable for unknown reasons, there were times my feet got wet in marshy boggy grass tuft land (and it was very cold water), there was a bit of snow, some ice, some cold wind, some welcomed sunshine, gorgeous views and sufficient cold air to make my lungs scream in objection. The good news is that I achieved what I set out to do: running around for 2.5hrs and clipped 5 CPs worth 30 points. It was rather frustrating that the CP which I clipped furthest out (I reckon about 5km from the start) was still only worth 10 points and the rest 5 points. I've heard that some races do the points a different way, those being closest worth most points. That way, those that can push and get to the distant peripheral CPs only ever stand the chance of making small incremental gains over those who get the central CPs. That seems a much fairer way of doing it. I guess you'll never please everyone whatever way you do it.

I've studied the map further since the race ended and there really wasn't any easy circular routes to do. I'm not saying I want an easy race, but the spread of CPs made it hard for me to do any sort of loop. In fact I pretty much did an out and back, then a small loop to get one of the CPs on the east side of Yeoman Hey Reservoir. The second road crossing over the A635 was a good 3km away over featureless, tufty unrunnable (for me) moorland. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't have been able to get there, and then back to the finish through the craggy valley of Greenfield Brook. The scoreless race would have been impossible for me to do as it took in too much of the terrain I can't run on, and realistically the distance covered alone would have been too much. I'm now left questioning whether to enter the next Dark & White mini mountain marathon next month after this race. On balance I think they're quite different, having their routes mostly set on footpaths makes it much more runnable. We'll see. I'm undecided.

Glossopdale Harriers had a fabulous day winning several prizes in both the short and long score. More on that below. Here's some photographs I took while plodding round the race:

Kit this point we don't know it, but Glossopdale's Caity who's having her kit checked here went on to be 1st Lady in the Short Score, great running.

Looking back towards Alderman's Hill where CP 'B' was located

My attack point, the Obelisk on the hill above CP 'A'

Under Shaw Rocks heading north to CP 'H'

Returning back to Dovestones Reservoir, totally alone I'm looking back to the Obelisk as I head up to the Sugar Loaf

Looking down onto Dovestones Reservoir before dropping down off Alderman's Hill

First lady in the Short Score just arrived at the finish with fellow Glossopdaler

Evidence of my short Short Score race

Well done Glossopdale ladies, first Lady and first F45 lady

Well done also to our club Captain, Julien Minshull...winner of the Short Score race

Crowds gathering to devour the delicious cakes and check out the results

Glossopdale's Carl Bedson takes 3rd place in the Long Score, excellent running

Great score board
Provisional results are out on the Saddleworth runners website. Thanks to the organisers for a good event, I know I'm in the minority when being critical of CP placements etc and I write this blog purely for self-reflection and memory and definitely not to criticise.  The event was run really well so thank you to the RO and Saddleworth, and thank you to the man who sorted out the amazing hot food and cakes, they were delicious. The sailing club is a great venue for a race, having changing rooms and plenty of indoor space really helped on such a chilly day.

Glossopdale Harriers did brilliantly, being a club championship race we had a good turn out but equally we achieved great results:

Short Score:
1st (Julien Minshull)
2nd (Mark Ollerenshaw)
3rd (Tom Young)
5th (Dave Hogg)
9th (John Stephenson)
10th (Caity Rice)
11th (Lindsay Palmer)
14th (Charlie Eaton)
18th (Becky Thompson/Alison Holt)
22nd (John Hewitt)
27th (me!)

Long Score
3rd (Carl Bedson) - so close to 1st!!
27th (Sue Clapham)

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Today's training was 5x 5minute hill cruise intervals. I did 4x 5mins last week and had no idea how I could have done a 5th. But with my pocket nestling 5 little pebbles I set off to do my best.

counting stones - one placed at the top of each rep - didn't trust myself to remember the count after the third rep

There's approximately 65m of ascent in each rep, and the aim is to keep my heart rate in zone 3 (154-167bpm) and climb into zone 4 (168-173bpm). Now for me, 170+bpm is just about tolerable, borderline anaerobic and therefore difficult to sustain for very long. I know that intervals/hill reps build up your tolerance to higher intensity work but apart from that the science behind it alludes me. One more thing on my reading list to research.

There's two things that I find difficult with these hill reps.

Firstly and most obviously it's the fact that I need to run for 5 minutes uphill. Finding the right gear (pace) that I can sustain, whilst pushing myself to be in the right heart rate zones has taken a little while to figure out, but I think I've got this one sussed. The more running I do the better I am at gauging my pace and how long that is sustainable.  It also helps to repeat the reps on different occasions on the same route/hill. On this route there's one short section that levels out a little bit, offering a brief period to slightly recover.

The second difficulty, which might not seem so bad, is that the recovery, downhill, section also needs to last 5 minutes. So I find myself shuffling down slowly thinking I'm taking a long time only to find that I've got nearly a minute to spare. This week I took a mental note of where on the uphill section I had reached at each minute. Using this knowledge I was better able to pace myself and use the full 5 minutes to recover on the downhill lap.

Brilliant blue skies offering some comfort as I trained

Here's my thoughts which were spinning round my head as I did the run today...

Steady run over to start of hill reps = keep my heart rate low, conserve energy. what a glorious day, sunny, ok so it's chilly....ignore that bit, my lungs can behave today. I choose to ignore the fact that cold air burns my lungs and leaves me gasping for breathe at the slightest of inclines. today, lungs will be ignored.
lap 1 = let's see what's in the tank today, turn at the top, that wasn't so bad. hang on. 4 more to do.
lap 2 = wow this is tough, this one and 3 more...
lap 3 = when I get to the top I'm over half way*
lap 4 =
Steady run home = might need a snooze later. oh, I can't run up this steady incline, my legs are a bit tired.

*half way on any run of any duration/distance/intensity is a good point for me. I know if I've got that far I have belief that I can repeat it all over again. it helped more so with today's run as halfway included 3 of the uphill reps, so effort-wise it was actually over halfway.

For any stat geeks out there he's my garmin track: Moderate Hill Cruise Intervals (5x5mins)

Snowdrops - a sign of spring

Looking ahead. Next week I'm doing the same thing all over again. Just 6 reps to do then. Joy. I just keep reminding myself that if it were easy then everyone would do it, and everyone would be super-fit.


No measurement but I'm one mat closer to the big box jump target. Here's what I jumped on Monday:

I jumped the right hand box + 11 mats
Training is on schedule for February, I've managed three strength and conditioning sessions, and three runs per week. I'm off to do hill reps shortly....they're going to hurt.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Box Jump

This week I jumped a whopping 27.5 inches in my Monday training session. I'm now 3.5 inches away from my 2013 target of jumping onto the big box (31 inches).

Just after take off...
...mid air...
...and land.
It's nice to see the progress I've made - I'm now jumping over double the height from where I started (box to my right). My target is to the right of where I'm landing.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Almost a year ago I wrote about my red dress and the illusions I held about my weight. Another item of clothing I have owned for a few years now are a pair of skinny jeans. Since moving north they've been a bit of a benchmark for where my weight is - if easy to put on I'm happy, a struggle means I need to work harder in my training. I bought them in the last year I lived in London, so they're maybe 3 years old now. I hardly wore them. Mostly because they really were a tight fit - and as skinny jeans should be, I suppose.

Well no more.

Here's the result of a couple of years of training sessions plus recovery practices (sports massage, soft tissue therapy, foam rollering, stretching, hydration and better nutrition).

12cm less than I used to measure judging by this belt

I have a few people to thank for helping me achieve the baggy skinny jeans look. First up is Tim, my partner. He's a rock. Too many reasons to list why he's top of the list. The guys down at S&P gym in Stockport, without the training programme written for me there my strength and conditioning sessions would be adhoc and inefficient to say the least. Nik Cook, for planning the running programme I do. I'm sure I'm not his easiest customer with my random and competing goals, but the hard work is paying off. Without the running programme I just would not get half as much running done. I'm motivated to get out there, but I'm also really good at finding reasons not to. What I have discovered over the past year or so is that I am very good at complying with what people tell me to do. I'd also say thank you to all the folk in Glossopdale Harriers - a great bunch who have definitely motivated me to get out there on good and rubbish weather days over the past year. So, thank you guys and galls. Couldn't have done it without you all.

ps. the title of this blog has nothing to do with me believing I'm skinny....just the name sewn into the back of the jeans. With 25% body fat I've a way to go before I count myself as skinny. I am however very happy with my weight :)

Friday, 8 February 2013


I'm on a drive to attain one of my 2013 aspirations, #3 in fact. That is, to run the Herod Farm Fell Race quicker than last year, and hopefully not feel quite so trashed as I summit the second climb and then have to push to coax my legs down the final descent. The push for the next couple of months is to do three strength and conditioning sessions, and three runs per week. Here's what I've done this week:

Sunday - 50 minute tempo run (10-30-10), 7.82 km on the Longdendale Trail - it was raining and bitterly cold

Monday - strength and conditioning session 1 - see here for what I'm doing in the training sessions

Tuesday - rest, it snowed. I'd planned to do my second tempo run but driving to the trail wasn't a safe option. ok so I wimped out. but I did do some bodyweight core training for 45 minutes

Wednesday - strength and conditioning session 2 and tempo run (10-30-10), 8.03km this time doing laps on the track from Old Glossop towards Mossy Lea farm

Thursday - rest, although I did go for an easy walk for an hour

Friday - strength and conditioning session 3 (at home, interesting use of the weights we have) and my LSD (long steady distance) run - 90 minutes and 13.25km

So, mission accomplished for this week. Here's a (poor quality) photo taken on my phone during today's run:

This is looking from Cemetery Road towards Whiteley Nab - the hill that will be conquered (twice) during the Herod Farm fell race, scheduled for the evening of 17 April. If you're interested to see how I got on last year have a read of the blog I wrote. The sky in that final photograph sort of shows how horrible the weather was, I'm hoping for better conditions this year.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Beast Mode Engaged

That's right folks. I have a new running programme and a new strength & conditioning programme so beast mode is engaged. After successfully conquering and completing my handstands last month I'm more motivated than ever to keep up the hard work. If I can do something that for years gripped me with fear then I can lift a few weights and push myself up a few hills. For the first time my running programme includes me building up some serious hill fitness - so lots of hill reps and some tabata work. I asked for it...let's hope the lungs and legs behave themselves.

Here's the strength work I'll be doing over the next month, three sessions per week:

Did the first session yesterday, managed 3/3/2/2/2 on the chins so room for improvement over the coming month
B2 looks...interesting....building on my handstand work. I may need help to start with.
I'll be doing this session at home, either on Fridays or Saturdays
Working on form with RDL's
In with the weekly training schedule I'll be doing plenty of recovery work too, including daily sessions with the foam roller, having plenty of sports massage, staying hydrated and ensuring I get quality sleep. I've been fairly disciplined this year in going to bed at 10.30pm and getting up at 6.30am. So far, with the exception of about 3 days, I've managed to stick to that schedule and it is certainly helping me feel more alert.

Friday, 1 February 2013


For the majority of time I'm really motivated to do some form of physical activity. I do enjoy it, and it isn't a chore. But. Sometimes I just don't feel like exercising. The sofa calls to me. A good book may grab my attention. The tv pulls me in and I spend ages flicking or watching some random programme. I find something to distract me from getting out there (or onto the turbo) to do something. To be honest I'm not really sure what it is that sometimes causes me to be lazy. There are plenty of valid reasons at the time. Snow on the ground. Ice. Too cold. Too windy. Too tired. Feeling not quite right. Girl stuff. But I think ultimately it comes down to being lazy and motivation evading me.

In January I made a concerted effort to do at least one hour of exercise a day. No pressure on what that was, or how strenuous. Just one hour, or more. Here's how I got on (the number at start is the date):

1 Walk (90)
2 Strength & conditioning session (75)
3 Walk (60)
4 Turbo easy spin (60)
5 Walk (60)
6 Walk (45) and fell run (41)
7 Run (69) and Strength & conditioning session (90)
8 Walk (90) and fell run (81)
9 Strength & conditioning session (90)
10 Tempo run (40) and Turbo spin ups (60)
11 Road run (32)
12 Park run (race) (26)
13 Lambs Longer Leg Fell race (47)
14 Strength & conditioning session (90) and easy Turbo (60)
15 Run in the snow (72)
16 Strength & conditioning session (90)
17 Easy walk (60) and road run (32) and easy Turbo (60)
18 Easy walk x 2 (60 + 90)
19 Walk/Sledging in snow (150)
20 (0)
21 Strength & conditioning session (90)
22 Walk in snow (150) and Easy walk (60)
23 (0)
24 Turbo spin ups (60)
25 Easy walk (40)
26 (0)
27 Run with club (75)
28 Strength & conditioning session (75)
29 (0)
30 Strength & conditioning session (75)
31 Easy walk (60)

So here's a bit of analysis, so that I may learn from the reasons I don't get active sometimes. I'm basing this on the fact that even when I don't feel like doing strenuous exercise or beasting myself with the weights, I can at least manage an easy 60 minute walk around the gorgeous hills outside my door.

11th only reasons I can find for doing a short run are that it was "chilly" which probably equates to flipping freezing, and I had an early client and an evening workshop. The next two days I had races scheduled so I was probably using those as a reason not to do too much, though I'm sure I could have done a very easy 28 minutes. But I did get out and active.

12th this was a race. I have no reason to do more in a day if I've done a race.

13th as per 12th. plus it was a flipping hard race, only 5km but 300m ascent.

20th zero activity. we had snow on the ground and I was on a course all day (about 50% of the time on my feet so I was active) and out of the house from 8.30am to 5.30pm. I could have done an easy turbo session.

23rd zero activity. this is the only day so far this month that I can actually say I didn't want to, and actually didn't do any exercise. I was seeing clients so on my feet, but lazyitis struck me on this day. This day coincides with girl stuff.

25th snow on the ground, very windy and cold but I did do a walk in the morning. Was busy with work too. I should have fitted in a short turbo session.

26th zero activity. busy morning and afternoon working. heavy rain, wind, thunder and lightening in evening but should have made time to do a turbo session before going out socialising. Is girl stuff still affecting my motivation?

29th zero activity. busy day working with clients (sports massage) and admin/paperwork. and a good dose of lazyitis again.

Looking over the month there's only 4 days with zero exercise, one of which I was on a course all day and I reckon 2 others affected by hormonal influences. Perhaps I should redefine these days as rest doesn't feel like I earned them though with the level of activity I did. Next month could be different, I've a new running programme, but more on that later. For now I'm pleased I've taken time to look at when and why I'm sometimes lazy. A useful analysis, for me anyway!